Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent: Repent and prepare the way

Matthew 3:1-6
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John continues to cry out
calling for repentance,
making a way in the wilderness -
in the wild-ness of life.

As I await your coming,
give me the courage
to examine my life
to confess my sins
and to make different choices:
righteous choices,
choices for justice, kindness, and mercy,
choices of grace and peace,
choices of compassion and love,
choices worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Help me prepare the way
in my life,
in my family,
in my circle of influence,
in the world
for you.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Advent: Christ is Coming!

Romans 13:11-14
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

you are coming!!

And frankly this year,
I can't wait.
The world can't wait.

We need you.
We need salvation.
We need the salve you bring
not only to heal our wounds but also
to sooth our hurts.

So Come Lord Jesus!
Shine your light into our darknesses.
Lead us away from quarreling and jealousy
and into humility, compassion, and peace.

you are coming!
I can't wait.
Come quickly Lord.
Renew our joy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Prayers on Thanksgiving Day

Some thoughts to help us pray on Thanksgiving Day...

I especially liked these:

Thanksgiving Prayer “That We May be Renewed”Loving God,
bless our food and drink
our friendship and our laughter
that we may be renewed
in body, mind, and spirit
to work together
for the coming of your kingdom
of justice, love, and peace.
(By Maureen Edwards, printed in Blessed be our Table, Neil Paynter, Wild Goose 2003)

The Hand that Made the HandsFor the hands that tilled,
for the hands that harvested,
for the hands that processed,
for the hands that transported,
for the hands that stocked,
for the hands that sold,
for the hands that bought,
for the hands that prepared,
for the hands that will hold,
for the hand that made the hands,
our hearts are forever grateful.
(By Ewan Aitken, printed in Blessed be our Table, Neil Paynter, Wild Goose 2003)

For more Thanksgiving prayer ideas see:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Two Small Copper Coins

Luke 21:1-4
He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

too often I admire
the amazing saints
people like Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr
and think...
there's no way I could be like them.
There's no way I could be used by you like them.
They did such outstanding things with their lives.

But Lord Jesus,
you not only saw the simple widow
giving her two small copper coins
you highly valued her contribution!

I wonder:
What are my "two small copper coins" that you value?
In what small way did I give expression to my faith in you
that helped to build your Kingdom?

Remind me today
that the same eyes of Christ
that saw and valued the widow’s contribution,
Those same eyes of Christ
see the very best in all I do.

what gift you would like to put in the treasury today?

Today's prayer reflection is based on thoughts from:

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Come and See

John 1:35-46

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

it was a simple invitation:
"Come and see."

You did not try to convince them.
You did not try to argue them into faith.
You did not threaten them.
No, you simple invited them:
"Come and see."

Then Philip follows your lead.
He tells Nathanael what he has found in you.
And when Nathanael questions him,
instead of arguing or belittling or conjouling or forcing,
Philip simply extends the same invitation:
"Come and see."

Help me do the same.
Lord, you are the Lamb of God
who takes away the sins of the world.
Help me point to you.
And help me invite others to,
"Come and see!"

"Come and see" the Lord
that makes all the difference
in my life.
"Come and see."

May those be my words today.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Well of Salvation

Isaiah 12:1-5
You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth."

I have come to you
to draw from the wells of salvation.
You are the well of living waters
gushing forth
bubbling spring
constant and consistent cataract of clear cool water.

I knew too well
what happens
when I try to go
on my own strength --
I run out,
I run dry,
I burn out,
I crash...

Today I turn to you:
Be my strength.
Be my might.
Be my salvation.

I join with the voice of the prophet
and generations after him saying:
"Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing praise to the Lord,
for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth."

Let this be today!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Prayer for Election Day

A prayer for Election Day
written by Jill Duffield

Almighty God, 
as people go to the polls this day 
we pray first and foremost for peace. 
May the sense of community and connection 
be greater than any division or difference,
 no matter how entrenched. 

Knowing we will vote 
in schools, churches, synagogues,
and other communal gathering places,
may our commitment to care 
for one another grow 
as we stand in lines,
talk to our neighbors and 
recognize we have 
more in common 
than we often realize. 
May we show one another 
kindness and respect, 
today and in the days to come.

We thank you for the freedom 
to vote our conscience, 
of which you alone are Lord. 

After this election, 
we are keenly aware that 
even if the political rhetoric fades 
the acrimony it highlighted will remain.
Grant us the courage to step 
into the breaches and 
not shrink back into our enclaves of homogeneity. 

Send your Spirit to drive us 
to the places where you 
are already working to bring reconciliation.
Remind us relentlessly 
that you are greater than 
every category we devise, 
more powerful than 
any estrangement we have created, 
eternal, ever present and always calling forth 
justice, peace and abundant life. 

Show us today and everyday 
how to live in the love of Jesus Christ,
the perfect love
that casts out fear.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Opening our church to children and youth

Luke 18:15-17
People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

it is hard to imagine
your disciples trying to prevent
children from coming to you.

But I am afraid we disciples still do.
We make church an adult activity.
We build separate buildings for children and youth.
We hire experts to handle children and youth
while the pastor ministers to adults.

Or we parents fill our children's lives
with other activities that draw them away from you --
Sports, family trips, activities.

As a preacher,
I know I am guilty.
I sometimes use big words.
I write too much liturgy in the bulletin.
I expect a certain level of musical ability...

Forgive me for the barriers I put up
that keep children from being welcome
in worship,
in Bible study,
in prayer,
in pastoral care.

You are VERY clear:
"let the little children come to me;
for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs"!

So help us open not only our doors
to children and youth and their families
but also our worship,
our prayers,
our hymns,
our acts,
our mission,
our kindness,
our welcome,
our embrace.

Teach us to become
more like the children you seek to bless.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 149:1-9
Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.
to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,
to execute on them the judgment decreed. This is glory for all his faithful ones. Praise the Lord!

we praise you...
All your creation gives you praise!
Day after day,
year after year,
generation after generation,
You, O Lord, have been faithful.

You have heard our cries
and have come to alongside us
in our times of trial,
in our times of grief,
in our times of transition,
in our times of loneliness,
in our times of joy,
in our times of laughter,
in our times of love,
in our times of rebellion,
in our times of rage,
in our times of despair,
in our times of sadness,
in our times of peace,
in our times of quiet,
in our time,
in your time,
at just the right time,

So today we praise you!
We lift our voices with all the saints,
all the ones who kept the faith,
to sing our praise to you:

"Holy Holy Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Heaven and Earth are full of your glory!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!"