Monday, September 19, 2016

Give us faith to go out with good courage...

"Lord God,
you have called 
your servants to ventures 
of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths as yet untrodden,
through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out 
with good courage,
not knowing where we go,
but only that your hand is leading us
and your love supporting us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
-- from the Book of Common Prayer

I have prayed 
that prayer many times
as I pack
to move my family
to Columbia, South Carolina.
I trust that 
you are with us,
you are leading us,
you are going before us,
walking beside us,
holding us...

But not just for us;
You are doing the same
for our friends
we leave behind.
I leave the beloved people
of Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church
with the good courage,
knowing that while 
we do not know where the path leads,
I DO KNOW that your hand is leading them
and your love supporting them;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Over the past five years, it has been my privilege to serve as pastor of Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church.  Sunday, September 25, 2016 is my last Sunday leading worship in Elizabethtown, NC.

In October I will begin a new chapter serving as pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Lord, pray with us...

1 Timothy 2:1-6
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For:
there is one God;
there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself a ransom for all
—this was attested at the right time.

today I pray
for others.
Supply their needs;
Hear their cries;
Make your presence real and felt;
Use me to stand in the gap
to be Your hands and feet
Your listening ear,
Your eyes of compassion,
Your embrace of grace.

Today, I also pray for
kings, leaders,
those in positions of high authority...
Thank you for the opportunities for them to lead,
for without you they have no power.
Lord, give them wisdom to rule with equity,
give them courage to lead with humility,
give them grace to serve the good of all,
give them peace to lead us into peace,
give them the power to lay down power for peace.

Lord Jesus,
you are the One mediator
between the world and God --
a world of great need,
a world deeply broken,
a world that you love,
a world you gave yourself for,
a God who created us,
a God who sustains us,
a God who loves us,
a God who forgives us,
a God who heals us,
a God who sends you to us daily!

Lord Jesus,
hear my prayers,
and pray with me,
and pray for me!

Learn more here:

-Who are the important leaders in our world? Who has extra responsibility to help people?
-How could we pray for those important leaders? How can we thank God for them? How could we ask God to help them?
-Who are the unnoticed, invisible people around us? Who might not have anyone praying for them?
-How could we pray for some of those people? How can we thank God for them? How could we ask God to help them?

Spend some time praying for the important leaders and the everyday people you noticed in your conversation. Be sure to include both thanksgiving and petitions as part of your prayer.

Dear God, you love all people,
those the world says are important
and those the world never notices at all.
Help us learn to love all people
by praying for them—giving thanks for their lives and asking for you to help them. Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Speak, Lord, for Your Servant is Listening

1 Samuel 3:1-11
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.

Calling Christ,
your voice calls us
by name.
Sometimes we confuse your voice
with that of
a loved one,
a mentor,
a friend,
a stranger...

And yet,
you keep calling.
We, like the boy Samuel,
run to others saying,
"Here I am, for you called me."
But really it's your voice.

I have heard your voice before.
Sometimes it sounded
like Jeff Aiken, my childhood preacher,
like Wayne Hogan, an elder in my home church,
like my parents, as they prayed for me,
like Bobby Wilkes, a mentor pastor,
like Wayne Edge, a nominating committee chairman...
But each time
it was You, Lord.
You were calling my name
inviting me to listen
to the new thing you were doing!

And now it has happened again,
this time Your voice sounds
like Elisa Edwards and
the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC.
You are again calling my name
asking me to listen
to respond to a new thing you are doing.

Help us listen deeply
to your voice.
Teach us, as Eli taught Samuel,
to respond saying,
"Speak, Lord,
for your servant is listening."
And make us open
to hear where you are leading us.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Geese in Flight

I Corinthians 12:12-18
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

I heard a flock of geese
flying overhead.
When I looked up,
I saw them in flying in unison
in their V formation.

Science has taught us
when geese fly together, 
each goose provides additional lift 
and reduces air resistance 
for the goose flying behind it. 
By flying together in a v-formation, 
scientists estimate that the whole flock 
can fly about 70% farther 
with the same amount of energy 
than if each goose flew alone. 

I think it interesting 
in Celtic Christianity
the Wild Goose is a visual symbol 
for your Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul wrote
that the church is One Body, 
Your Body.
We, the church,
this motley crew
an unlikely bunch
united by the binding work of your Spirit
in faith in Jesus Christ.
We are in this together.

When we fly in formation togther,
we are have more power and endurance
to be your strong witness
pointing beyond ourselves
to the life changing power of your love
for the world.

So come, Great Wild Goose,
and show the church how to fly!
Lead us to fly
with you and together
united in formation
with Jesus Christ
our Lord and Savior.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

In the Potter's hands

Jeremiah 18:1-11
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "Come, go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words." So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
Then the word of the LORD came to me:
Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the LORD. Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the LORD: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

We are the clay
in your hand, O Lord.
You shape us and mold us
as you see fit.

By your grace,
when we are "spoiled" in your hand,
you rework us,
redeem us,
shape us into something good
by your grace.

Help me change my ways.
Smooth the rough places in my life.
Craft me into something useful or beautiful
as seems good to you.

You are the potter;
I am the clay.
My life is in your hands.