Monday, May 28, 2018

A Memorial Day Prayer for Peace

on this Memorial Day
I remember,
and I pray for peace.

My grandfather died in war.
A college friend died in war.
So many lives lost in war.

I remember,
and I pray for peace.

I make this hymn text my prayer today:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine. 
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
I remember,
and I pray for peace.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Here! I'm over Here!

Isaiah 6:5-8

And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

Dear Lord,
"Here am I"
is a phrase said
by Isaiah, Samuel,
Abraham, Jacob, and others when called.

It's a willing response.
"Here am I!"
It is the very opposite
of Adam's response when called.
Adam was afraid and
hid himself because he was naked.

Here, Lord,
Isaiah claims
even confesses
his nakedness, his vulnerability:
"Woe is me!"
And when he hears your call,
he responds eagerly,
"Here am I!"

I imagine he's like a eager kid,
jumping up and down,
"Ooo! Ooooo! Me! Me!
Here! Here I am!
Pick me!
Send me!!"

I too must confess
my nakedness, my vulnerability:
sometimes when you call
I say,
"Here I am!
Send someone else."
but most often I say,
"Here I am!
Let me do that too.
Lord, I'll take that off your hands.
I can do it myself.
I got this!"

That's not what you want either.

teach me to partner
with you and with others
answering your call,
"Whom shall I send?"
Teach me to say,
"Here we are!
We will go with you, Lord!"

Friday, May 25, 2018

Holy Holy Holy

Isaiah 6:1-8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 





"Holy God, Holy One, Holy Three! 
Before all that is, you were God. 
Outside all we know, you are God. 
After all is finished, you will be God."1


1 excerpted from "Triple Praise" a prayer written by Gail Ramshaw

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Little Child Among Us

Mark 9:33-37
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

I am more certain now than ever 
that young and old need each other.
Certainly the young need the old to
share wisdom, 

As I work with more and more congregations, 
I see the need the old have for the young. 
Just the presence of the young 
gives hope, energy, and purpose to the old.
the sharing of perspectives,
the asking of questions,
even the rolling of eyes
can push the old to be clearer, better, 
more faithful, more patient, more like Jesus
not so much telling answers
but asking questions together.

in my 16 years of ministry, 
I am often moved by your Spirit 
through the voice of the Youth Sunday preacher, 
the question asked during children's Sunday school,
and the Bible study with middle schoolers 
at the Middle School Montreat Conference.

Lord Jesus,
you sets a little child 
as an example 
in the midst of your disciples
not for us to “worship” the child,
or even put the needs of the child first and foremost,
but rather to ask:
What are somethings we learn 
from the children in our midst?

I am excited 
to lead a cross generational Sunday School class. 

Together we will 
tell stories of faith,
ask questions,
and listen
to the voice of the Spirit
speaking through old and young.

come speak to us
through young and old
and open us to hear.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Peptalk for the Church

Peptalk for the Church by
Westminter Presbyterian youth group

Do not be afraid.
Love and care for another.
Always be truthful to yourself.
Be brave.
Spread the Word of God.
Never give up.
Trust in the Lord.
Do not be afraid of what might happen.
Remember that God is always with you.
God will ALWAYS be with you.
Never be afraid.

In the Toss of a Coin

A paraphrase of Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26 from ©2000 Nathan Nettleton

One day, after Jesus had been taken into heaven, there was a gathering of about one hundred twenty of his followers. Peter stood up and addressed them, saying: 
“Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled. What the Holy Spirit said through David about Judas has now happened. He was one of us, taking his place alongside us in this ministry, but in the end he was the one who showed the lynch mob where to arrest Jesus. 
“So we need a replacement for Judas — someone to stand with us as a primary witness to the resurrection life of Jesus. It should be someone who was in our company for the whole time Jesus was among us, right through from the day he was baptised by John to the day when he was taken into heaven. 
There were two nominations: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. The group prayed saying, “Lord, you know us all, through and through. Make it clear to us which of these two you are choosing to take on the task of ministry and leadership that Judas turned his back on.” And then, trusting God, they tossed a coin. On the fall of the coin, Matthias was declared to be the twelfth apostle.

in the toss of a coin
it all changed.
Only you know 
how the story might have gone differenly...

Jo Dee Messina sings,

"Heads Carolina, tails California
Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer
Up in the mountains, down by the ocean
Where don't matter long as we're goin'
Somewhere together, I got a quarter
Heads Carolina, tails California"

I can't imagine how things might have gone
with just one decision made differently.

Just one example... Lord you remember...
The car was packed.
I was getting in
on my way to an interview
when I got the call.
A friend, a neighbor, 
a saint of a man in my congregation
was at the hospital.
He was very sick.
I debated briefly not going,
not going to the hospital that is,
so I called the committee chairman and 
told him I could not come
I needed to be pastor here at little bit longer.
Of course, he understood. 
Actually I think it made him wish I'd come all the more.
So instead of driving to an interview,
I drove to the hospital where over the next short hours
I sat with a beloved saint of God, my neighbor, my friend.
I held his hand as he died.
I was right where God needed me to be.

I never did go to that interview.
But I did not stay either.
Another call came.
God pointed me in a new direction.
And here I am.

it wasn't a coin toss... 
but it might have been.
Heads Carolina, tails California.
Where don't matter long as we're goin'
Somewhere together, Lord
I got a quarter
Heads Carolina, tails California

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Practicing Gratitude

recently I heard someone talk about gratitude
not as an attitude, but as a practice --
a daily lived out disciplined practice.
Similar to all those years
I practiced piano or trumpet...

So, I'm trying to practice gratitude.
Practicing saying, "Thank you."
Disciplining myself to make lists of things
for which I am grateful.

Here's one for today:
Thank you, God, for work that gives me joy.
Thank you for the ability and opportunities I had today to help someone else.
Thank you for a delicious dinner fixed by my wife of vegetables and quiche!
Thank you for my son's willingness to help set the table without being asked.
Thank you for the joy of watching him swim at swim lessons.
Thank you for the quiet of the night that gives me space to think.
Thank you for the gift of family and time to celebrate together.

Yes, Lord,
it's an incomplete list.
But hey that's what practice is about...
learning the rhythms, the notes, the sound,
the feel of the keys beneath my fingers,
working on the hard places and enjoying the successes...

So Lord,
in my practice of gratitude,
teach me the rhythms of thanksgiving,
the notes, the sounds of Thank you,
help me feel the joy in my body,
working through the hard places of life and
savoring the graces.

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be...

Friday, May 4, 2018

Holy Spirit fall on me

Acts 10:44-48
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Holy Spirit,
The Bible book is entitled,
"The Acts of the Apostles",
which, of course, it is.

But it seems to me another title could be,
"The Work of the Holy Spirit",
and maybe like Mark's gospel,
it could begin with the words,
"Beginning the work of the Holy Spirit
in the world through the Word
in the lives of people and communities."

Today I pray, O Spirit, fall upon me
enable me to
hear the Word,
follow the Word,
live the Word,
and share the Word
with those I meet today.

I end my prayer with a hymn:
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018


Lord Jesus,
Late April, early May
is a season of birthdays in my family:
my son, my mother,
my mother-in-law, a niece,
and one my grandmothers.
That's a lot of celebrations.
That's a lot of cake!!

Birthdays for me 
are a reminder of your gift of life.
Each year on my birthday
my parents retell the story of my being born.
And each year I look forward to hear it again,
my own nativity.
It's a story of wonder, laughter, and miracle.

I've continued the tradition with my son.
Year after year, I tell the story of his birth;
the story is filled with wonder, amazement,
fear and trembling, and miracle.

Lord Jesus,
soon it will be the church's birthday, Pentecost
-- the day you sent the Holy Spirit in power
and gave birth to the church.
Year after year, we tell the story again;
it's a story of wonder, amazement, laughter,
fear and trembling, and miracle.

We celebrate.
We sing.
We wear red to symbolize the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes, we even eat CAKE!!

Thank you, God, for life!
Thank you, God, for birthdays!