Thursday, April 29, 2021

Your prayers matter!

"Pray without ceasing"
I Corinthians 5:17

I received an email 
from a member of my church recently.
Her husband's health is in decline;
COVID-19 and health concerns have kept them home-bound these days.
In her email she remembered ways she had served you through the church in the past,
then she wrote, "I cannot do much, but pray now."
Yes, she can PRAY!
And her prayers matter.

I was reminded of another conversation from 25 years ago.
A woman I met in church when I was in college.
I do not remember her name.
But what she told me has always stuck with me. 
She said, 
"I may not be able to do much, 
but I can pray. 
I pray for my church, my family, the world, 
and many other things every day. 
I do my best work on my knees in prayer." 
She was a prayer warrior.

there are many who feel like they can't do much now.
But they can pray!
Those prayers matter.

I call on all those who feel like they can't do much now.
I call on them to claim the role of prayer warrior.
Pray through the prayer list from church. 
Pray through your family by name. 
Pray through the church directory (new or old). 
Pray through the headlines of the newspaper.
Pray for each household in the neighborhood.
for you, O Lord, are doing great things through those prayers!


Monday, April 26, 2021

The Spiritual Discipline of Celebrating

"Through the spiritual discipline of celebrating,
we delight in
relationships, and
that help us remember and anticipate
God's abundant
beauty, and
--adapted from "The Practice of Celebrating: Delight in Action" by Chris Schoon

it's a new thought for me:
The Spiritual Discipline of Celebrating!
I have studied and practiced
the spiritual disciplines of
Bible reading,
walking labyrinths,
honoring the body.

But I have not thought of or read about
the Spiritual Discipline of Celebrating!
The word discipline often sounds hard, but 
a discipline of celebrating! now that sounds like fun.

We celebrate the successes of others.
We celebrate the beauty and goodness of God's creation.
We celebrate the moments of joy in life.
Beholding the colors on a butterfly’s wings; 
marveling at the intricate design of a telescope 
that allows us to see stars, planets, and galaxies; 
and even witnessing with awe the miracle of birth: 
whether human, giraffe, or sea turtle.

renew my perspective on life.
Give me new eyes to watch for celebrations around me.
Help me celebrate with you today!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Futuring the Church: Winter Growth

from author Katherine May on the seasons of life:

"We are in the habit of imagining our lives to be linear, a long march from birth to death in which we mass our powers, only to surrender them again, all the while slowly losing our youthful beauty. This is a brutal untruth. Life meanders like a path through the woods. We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again."

Source: Wintering

I have been thinking a lot
about the future of the church,
especially the congregation I serve.

From some measurements,
we are inclined to say,
"The church is in decline."
Membership numbers are decreasing.
Members are aging, in some ways becoming less able.
Buildings are aging, needing more repairs.
In those ways, it seems the church is declining.

But that seems like looking at a tree in winter
when the leaves are gone,
when the fruit has passed,
and declaring the tree dead, only good for firewood.
Don't we know that in winter trees are still growing?
Roots going deeper,
Trunks becoming stronger,
Branches being trimmed ready for new growth,
Cells storing energy for new leaves to come bursting forth.

Perhaps it is better to say,
"This congregation is in a season of winter."
Much is happening deep within
that cannot be measured with the naked eye.

We are becoming more rooted in our faith,
through Spiritual practices,
like prayer, Bible study, giving, 
listening to the needs and hurts of the community, 
in which we live and serve.

We are drawing renewed strength from our core beliefs.
Reexamining who we are as followers of Christ.
Reexamining the neighborhood and neighbors we are called to serve.

Some things are being trimmed away.
Programs and practices that no longer support
our mission or ministry are coming to an end.

The Holy Spirit is preparing us to produce new fruit.

remind us of the growth that comes in winter.
Give us the eyes of faith to see below the surface.
the church is yours.
Give us faith to trust that you will bring about our winter growth.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Halleluiah! He's coming again!

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
Halleluiah! and he is coming again!

this day calls for celebration and dancing!
This day calls for all ages, nations, races to rejoice!
You have conquered death.

Today, Lord,
"I rejoice, I am so glad
That Man that gave His all for me is coming back
Let everyone hear
Let every heart rejoice
That Man who gave His all for you is coming back"

I join my voice, my body, in praise and dancing!

Click to join this celebration in music and dance:

The above song shared by a member of my church from Nigeria. Thank you, Ifeanyi!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Ah, Holy Jesus

"Ah, Holy Jesus"

Click the link below to listen to this hymn:

this is one of my favorite hymns for Holy Week.
It helps me connect clearly
your suffering, your death
being for me and for my sake.

The hymn tune,
forboding and gut-wrenching,
embodies the heartfelt anguish
realizing that it was I,
I crucified you.

As I listen,
as I sing,
I am profoundly aware
of the depth of your love for me
and I am moved in awe and wonder
and gratitude to live my life for you.
May it be so this day
and all of my days.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Jesus Died For Them - Poem by Dave Hopwood

"Jesus Died For Them"
poem by Dave Hopwood
shared from:

Judas betrayed Jesus,
Peter denied Jesus,
Thomas doubted Jesus:
Jesus died for them.

Pilate rejected Jesus,
Herod taunted Jesus,
Caiaphas framed Jesus:
Jesus died for them.

The soldiers crucified Jesus,
the disciples deserted Jesus,
the people laughed at Jesus:
Jesus died for them.

Mary wept for Jesus,
the women anointed Jesus,
Joseph buried Jesus:
Jesus rose for them.

We have doubted Jesus,
we have denied Jesus,
we rejected Jesus:
but Jesus died for us.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Stay with me

"Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray."

Listen using the link below:

this haunting melody,
this haunting prayer -- 
is it your prayer?

This night
as you take Peter, James and John,
as you go a stone's throw further
is this what you asked of them?

Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

is this your prayer?
Asking us to 
stay awake, pay attention,
attend to you in our prayers?

Stay with me;
Remain her with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

is this your prayer?
Asking God to
keep watch over you
as you make your way
into the depths of your suffering
and death?

Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

is it MY prayer?
As I am faced
with the ways I betray you,
with the ways I deny you,
with the ways I run away and hide in fear.

this is my prayer:
Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.

Watch over my life;
Do not leave me to my own devices.
Rather, Lord, open the way
lead me away from temptation
and into your redemptive love.

Stay with me;
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray;
Watch and pray.