Thursday, March 22, 2018

Journey to Jerusalem: Scattered


Journey to Jerusalem: Scattered

Acts 8:1,4

That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria.... Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word.

Lord,
gathering and scattering
is the weekly rhythm of worship.
Gathered by the power of your Holy Spirit
the community comes together
to worship you in spirit and truth
Then your same Spirit scatters us--
sending us forth into witness and mission
driving us into the wilderness
scattering us to be the leaven of your grace
in the dough of the world.

Gathering and scattering
is the rhythm of worship;
it's the rhythm of life.

Lord,
you know that
left to my human tendency
I love comfort, familiarity,
status quo,
the way we've always done it...
So like a mother eagle,
you push us out of the nest,
out of our comfort,
out of our security,
so that we will fly!

Today I found out that
two of my trusted colleagues
in ministry are moving.
For the past year,
answering your call has meant
gathering together regularly,
praying together,
sharing ideas together,
encouraging one another...
But now in the wisdom of your Spirit
you are scattering us...
one to California,
one to Tampa, Florida,
others to remind here.

On the Journey to Jerusalem, Lord,
we meet other disciples on the way.
Gathered in their company
we learn and grow and
seek to follow you more faithfully.
But when the time comes,
by the guidance of your Spirit,
we are scattered,
and in our going in different ways
you use us to proclaim your Word
from place to place.

So walk with us, Lord,
on our various paths
until the day we meet
at last at your Heavenly Banquet
Homecoming Feast!
Amen.


___________
Track and share your miles by clicking here.

At Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles from Columbia, SC to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

You are invited to track and send your miles to our church office, we will post those miles online and on banners in the sanctuary and in our fellowship building.  Together we will make our journey to Jerusalem!

I challenge you:

  1. How many miles is it from your community to Jerusalem?
  2. Invite others to make the journey with you.
  3. And pray together along the way.
  4. Warning: the journey will be painful; there will be suffering; we will witness betrayal, denial, and death.  And yet, resurrection awaits us!
  5. See you in Jerusalem at the empty tomb on Easter morning!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Journey to Jerusalem: Child of God


Journey to Jerusalem: Child of God

Lord,
I revel in knowing that
I AM A CHILD OF GOD.

It is a truth that my parents instilled in me.
Because of their love,
demonstrated and told to me
over and over and over again.
I know that I am
"Beloved!"

Yesterday in worship,
we celebrated baptism.
Three children stood with their family
and received the gift of baptism.

As the bapitzer,
I said the same thing
to each one,
"Child of God,
I baptize you
in the name of
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
with water pouring from my hands
washing over their heads
and dripping onto the floor.

And then with my thumb,
I traced the cross of Christ
on their forehead and said,
"May the blessings of
God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you
this day and everyday.
Amen."

Lord Jesus,
it is an important reminder.
On our way to Jerusalem,
as we face difficulty,
as humanity does its worst,
as sin and evil seem to take charge,
we need to remember the truth:

"I am a Child of God,
sealed by the Holy Spirit,
marked with the Cross of Christ forever,
and nothing anyone can say or do
will ever change that."



Young or old,
Lord Jesus,
remind us all
that NO MATTER WHAT
we belong to you,
we are loved by you,
we are made in your image,
we are children of God,
and we are beloved!

That's what I want my son
to grow up knowing
to the core of his being.
That's what I want the three I baptized Sunday
to know to the core of their being.
That's the truth
you reveal to the WHOLE WORLD
in Jesus' living, loving, suffering, dying, and rising again:
"We are the beloved Children of God,
sealed by the Holy Spirit,
marked with the Cross of Christ forever,
and nothing anyone can say or do
will ever change that."

THANKS BE TO GOD!!
AMEN.





___________
Track and share your miles by clicking here.

At Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles from Columbia, SC to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

You are invited to track and send your miles to our church office, we will post those miles online and on banners in the sanctuary and in our fellowship building.  Together we will make our journey to Jerusalem!

I challenge you:

  1. How many miles is it from your community to Jerusalem?
  2. Invite others to make the journey with you.
  3. And pray together along the way.
  4. Warning: the journey will be painful; there will be suffering; we will witness betrayal, denial, and death.  And yet, resurrection awaits us!
  5. See you in Jerusalem at the empty tomb on Easter morning!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Journey to Jerusalem: In This Together


Journey to Jerusalem: In This Together


Lord,
One word keeps coming up lately.
I heard it while on spiritual retreat.
I heard while teaching Bible study recently.
I witnessed it and its devastating power.
The word -- Isolation.
One of Evil's weapons -- Isolation.

Lord,
sometimes we call it, "Independence,"
but that's a lie.
For we are most able to be fully human when we acknowledge
our dependence on you
and our interdependence on one another.

Lord,
I've seen it in the spiral of depression.
Isolating from others.
Drawing back from those who really care.
Pulling away from support systems.
Alone. Lonely. Isolated.

Lord Jesus,
that's why Emmanuel is so powerful.
Emmanuel means, "God is WITH us."
Your Incarnation is a felt physical reminder,
"God is WITH us."
The Psalmist knows the truth:
"Even though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil,
for
THOU ART WITH ME" (from Psalm 23)

On this Journey to Jerusalem,
we are NOT alone;
we are NOT isolated.
You are WITH us.
Indeed, even you traveled this painful way to the cross
surrounded by others --
disciples, family, friends, betrayers, deniers, crucifiers.

Ironically,
while crying out, "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
you were not isolated...
Your mother looked on in grief.
Your disciples watch in horror.
The thieves crucified with you were there
-- repentant and unrepentant they were there.

No, Lord, we are in this together.
We are walking this hard path together.
We are facing the uphill battle together.

"Be strong and bold; 
have no fear or dread of them, 
because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; 
he will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

"And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Thanks be to God!
Amen.


___________
Track and share your miles by clicking here.

At Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles from Columbia, SC to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

You are invited to track and send your miles to our church office, we will post those miles online and on banners in the sanctuary and in our fellowship building.  Together we will make our journey to Jerusalem!

I challenge you:

  1. How many miles is it from your community to Jerusalem?
  2. Invite others to make the journey with you.
  3. And pray together along the way.
  4. Warning: the journey will be painful; there will be suffering; we will witness betrayal, denial, and death.  And yet, resurrection awaits us!
  5. See you in Jerusalem at the empty tomb on Easter morning!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Journey to Jerusalem: Climbing the Mountain


Journey to Jerusalem: Climbing the Mountain


Exodus 19:16-25
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain.

Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.” Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’” The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.”

So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Lord,
Mountains have always had special meaning to me.
As a little boy, traveling over the mountains
meant a visit to Grandparents
in Danville, Kentucky or Kingsport, Tennessee
either way required going across the mountains.

Then in high school,
there were those powerful Spirit-filled
times in Montreat, North Carolina.
Then in college and beyond,
hiking in those same Blue Ridge Mountains.

I remember one time
crossing the dam in Montreat at Lake Susan;
my family and I bumped into
Dr. Cliff McLeod, the pastor who had baptized me.
Cliff asked us why were visiting...
then he says,
"You know Montreat is the first stop on the way to heaven!"

Indeed, Lord, many of us feel that way.
Even Billy Graham, one of your faithful servants,
now seated at your Heavenly Banquet,
lived most of his days in the Montreat Mountains.

In Celtic Christianity, these are known as "Thin Places"--
places were the distance between
heaven and earth, sacred and ordinary, divine and human
are thin.

Mount Sinai was certainly a "Thin Place."
Your glory rested on the mountain like a cloud of smoke and fog.
Your voice thundered.
Your presence was undeniable.

On our Lenten Journey to Jerusalem
we are climbing another mountain
one that lead up to another Thin Place:
to Jerusalem,
to Mount Zion,
to the Mount of Olives,
to Calvary.
Your presence, Lord,
was clear in those places too--
the footsteps, healing touches, bodily presence of Jesus.
the voice of love, the voice of teaching, the voice of challenge, the voice of Jesus.
the cross of Christ, the Lamb of Sacrifice, the blood of glory.

This year, Lord,
thin the hardness of our hearts
that the distance be thin
between your loving presence
and our grateful obedience.
In the name of the one
who IS the Thin Place,
Jesus Christ. Amen.





___________
Track and share your miles by clicking here.

At Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles from Columbia, SC to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

You are invited to track and send your miles to our church office, we will post those miles online and on banners in the sanctuary and in our fellowship building.  Together we will make our journey to Jerusalem!

I challenge you:

  1. How many miles is it from your community to Jerusalem?
  2. Invite others to make the journey with you.
  3. And pray together along the way.
  4. Warning: the journey will be painful; there will be suffering; we will witness betrayal, denial, and death.  And yet, resurrection awaits us!
  5. See you in Jerusalem at the empty tomb on Easter morning!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Journey to Jerusalem: With Hearts held high


Journey to Jerusalem: With Hearts held high


Today I went hiking
with a group on a men's retreat.

I was reminded of the below song. It is a reminder of our Mountain Top experiences of God. As we leave the mountain top, we leave encouraged, strengthened, renewed.

On our Journey to Jerusalem,
let us go with hearts held high.
We follow Jesus who goes before us.
We walk with the believers of every time and place right beside us.
And even our broken cups, God fills to overflowing.

"Walk Down This Mountain" by Bebo Norman

It's a better place
Standing high upon this mountain
I've seen your face
‎Full of the light that holiest height can show
‎Blessed hand is why you you've given
‎But you've been given all you'll ever need
‎To know

‎Chorus:
‎So walk down this mountain
‎ With your heart held high
‎ Follow in the footsteps of your maker
‎ With this love that's gone before you
‎And these people at your side
‎If you offer up your broken cup
‎You will taste the meaning of this life

‎Well it's a common ground
‎And I see you're all still standing
‎ But just look around and you'll find
‎The very face of God
‎ He's walking down into the distance
‎He's walking down to where the masses are  (Chorus)

‎We're standing in a place of peace
‎ And this is how the world should be
‎ How the world should be
‎(Walk down this mountain with your heart held high)
‎How the world should be
‎(Walk down this mountain with you heart held high)
‎How the world should be
‎(Walk down this mountain with your heart held high)
‎How the world should be . (Chorus)

Click below to hear the song:


___________
Track and share your miles by clicking here.

At Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles from Columbia, SC to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

You are invited to track and send your miles to our church office, we will post those miles online and on banners in the sanctuary and in our fellowship building.  Together we will make our journey to Jerusalem!

I challenge you:

  1. How many miles is it from your community to Jerusalem?
  2. Invite others to make the journey with you.
  3. And pray together along the way.
  4. Warning: the journey will be painful; there will be suffering; we will witness betrayal, denial, and death.  And yet, resurrection awaits us!
  5. See you in Jerusalem at the empty tomb on Easter morning!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL


Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

Again this year I invite you to join on the Journey to Jerusalem.

Add a physical journey to our spiritual Journey of Lent...

  • a journey that starts with the Ashes of Wednesday,
  • a journey that wanders through the 40 wilderness days of Lent,
  • a journey that includes betrayal, denial, and suffering,
  • a journey that rises to a climax at cruel Cross,
  • a journey that grieves the Silence of Saturday, &
  • a journey that erupts in HALLELUIA on Easter Sunday.

There are 6,284 miles from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel.

The Journey begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14 at 7pm
LET'S GO.
Track the miles you walk, run, cycle, swim, etc.

In worship at Westminster,
here on my blog almostdailyprayers.com, and
in our daily activity,
together we will make the Journey to Jerusalem,
a journey that leads to the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus Christ.

Our Lenten journey begins today on Ash Wednesday.  During Lent and especially during Holy Week, Christians have made pilgrimage to Jerusalem one of our spiritual disciplines.  When traveling to Israel became less possible because of cost and distance, pilgrimage became more of a spiritual act and less a physical act.

This year I am challenging you to make the pilgrimage physical again.  At Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles from Columbia, SC to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

You are invited to track and send your miles to our church office, we will post those miles online and on banners in the sanctuary and in our fellowship building.  Together we will make our journey to Jerusalem!

I challenge you:

  1. How many miles is it from your community to Jerusalem?
  2. Invite others to make the journey with you.
  3. And pray together along the way.
  4. Warning: the journey will be painful; there will be suffering; we will witness betrayal, denial, and death.  And yet, resurrection awaits us!
  5. See you in Jerusalem at the empty tomb on Easter morning!