Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Day #2283

April 1, 2020 

The word for the day - thankful! For all this technology, even though it can sometimes drive us a bit crazy. Today I had a brief video chat with our godson. What fun to see him online and even “play a game” with him. I also had a chance to connect with a couple of the High School Youth through an online meeting. How good it was to do something almost “normal” on Wednesday, and to laugh and catch up! 

Yes, I am thankful - for phone calls, text messages, email - all of what helps us stay connected.

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2282

 March 31, 2020 

Tuesday’s Thoughts on Scripture comes from Matthew 21, verses 1-3: When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” (NRSV)

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. It will certainly be unlike any I have experienced, with virtual worship and all, but the event remains just as important. Sunday we will hear about Jesus coming into Jerusalem for his final time. He knows what he will face there, yet he still has things to do and preparations to make for the week. Part of his need includes finalizing how he will enter the city. Have you ever wondered why Jesus sent his disciples for a donkey? Why would the King of the Jews not come on a majestic white steed? Also, how does he know the owner will "send them immediately" when the disciples explain the Lord needs them? 

I believe Jesus came into Jerusalem humbly as one of the final indications that his kingdom was very different than the Jews expected. A white steed would indicate a very different type of king. Also, doesn’t Jesus know the heart and mind of us all, meaning he had no doubt what the donkey owner’s reaction would be. 

Yet, those words, “The Lord needs them,” can apply to so many things. The Lord needs our open hearts and minds. The Lord needs our willingness to serve. The Lord needs the church, the people, to be his hands and feet in the world now. The Lord needs our courage. The Lord needs our hope and trust. The Lord needs, the Lord needs us. What an honor and privilege that is! May we respond by sending/giving what he needs, immediately.

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2281

March 30, 2020 

This made me smile today and I thought it just might do the same for you:

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2280

March 29, 2020

Joint worship with several congregations - not a new concept. Live-streaming a joint worship service on Sunday morning with leaders from five Lutheran congregations - from the chapel of a funeral home - now that’s a new concept! But we did it. And it seemed to work. And we are thankful for the offer from a local funeral home to use their technology to share the word. 

Here we are trying to social distance yet show our joy in working together. 

That’s how we will ALL get through this - by working together. In fact, that might be the “best” thing we all will learn from this.

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2279

March 28, 2020 -

I saw this picture on FaceBook today and had to share it with my sister-in-law. What an appropriate commemoration this would be for the first quarter of 2020, don’t you think?! ;-) 

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2278

March 27, 2020 

You know, I don’t remember a single class in seminary that had to do with videography. So I am finding this "virtual" worship experience somewhat challenging, yet it is a labor of love. Actually, it is something I am glad to be learning. But…I’m also thankful for an underutilized and untapped (until now) talent in our musician who has skills as a film master. Thank you so much for your help!!!!

I have to admit, however, that because of what is happening in our world and our town, I repeated these words several times today, like a mantra: God is with us. God is with us. God is with us. 

Keep breathing, folks! God IS with us!

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2277

March 26, 2020

With sadness, I posted this note on the church FaceBook page today: 
Please note the decision has been made to close the office for regular hours until further notice. Please contact me for an appointment or for anything needed. Our Parish Administrator will be working from home. Thank you for your patience as we work through all this together. God bless and keep you. 
A little while later, I posted this update: 
A reminder - an office closure doesn’t mean the church is stopped. We, the people, are the church - and we are always open: open hearts, open minds, open hands, open to hope and healing and God’s mercy. And we, the church, are shining God’s light as we check in and on one another, 3 + 3 at 3:00 together, and pray. Always pray. Blessings. And prayers. 
Yes, we ARE the church, and as someone else posted on FaceBook: the church hasn’t closed, it’s been deployed. I am so grateful for the ways the church continues to be church! God loves you and so do I!

Blessings. And prayers.

PS 3 + 3 at 3:00 is reading scripture for three minutes and praying for three minutes at 3:00 pm. We are virtually being together as we immerse ourselves in the scripture and ascend our prayers to God. Won't you join us, too?!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day #2276

March 25, 2020

The word for the day - thankful. For notes and calls and emails. For the ways folks are helping out in caring for one another. For the dedication of staff and leadership. For colleagues. For an understanding hubby. For technology. For helpful companies and workers. For so many things! And for good news from many today - healing taking place, amazing healthcare workers, and more. 

Speaking of news, today is the Annunciation of Mary - the celebration of the day when the angel told Mary that she would become pregnant from the Holy Spirit and give birth to the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Can you imagine getting that news?!?!

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2275

March 24, 2020

Tuesday’s Thoughts on Scripture comes from Romans 8:11: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. (NRSV)

Romans chapter 8 is one of my favorites in scripture. After all, the reassurance that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” is at the end of the chapter. And the verse above is just as important a reassurance. The Spirit that raised Jesus dwells in us and therefore gives life to us. Abundant life. Hope-filled life. New life. Renewed life. Maybe not easy life, but full life. 

In these recent days, I have been trying to remember to focus on the main thing. I believe that the Spirit dwelling in us is the main thing. And that Spirit will not leave or forsake or deny us. Ever.

Blessings. And prayers.

PS We finally were able to make a quick trip to Freezeout Lake to see the snow geese. God’s creation is amazing. Every year hundreds, even thousands, of geese return to this spot. How do they know where to go? I don’t think it’s an accident, do you?

Day #2274

March 23, 2020 

In the midst of everything, the shortage of toilet paper seems to be the least understandable. But, I found this made me smile, because it made me think about my mom. She always tried to be prepared and fully stocked, so I could imagine this happening with her. :-)

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2273

March 22, 2020

This was shared in Guideposts magazine from pocket.praise and it was just what I needed at the end of today: “Sometimes God will put a Goliath in your life for you to find a David within you.”

The Goliath was the difficulty I had in uploading a video recording of a worship service for the website. I began last night trying to upload the recording and it simply would not work. I did what I always do, but received an error message. I tried again. And again. I tried changing the length of the video. I tried closing the app and reopening it. I tried begging (yes, I know it’s a machine and begging doesn’t affect it, but I was desperate). I tried praying over it. I tried walking away for a while. I did everything I knew to do and finally had to give up last night. This morning didn’t start out much different. Until it finally worked. And I cried. Real tears of relief! I suppose finding the David within me was about not giving up. Or maybe it was just plain being stubborn. After all, there are a LOT of "I" statements in that story. 

Also, remember that market who was “flash mob shopped” (see Day #2244). Well, they have decided to stop all of their advertising in order to redirect that portion of their budget toward donations and products for local food banks, meal programs and others in need at this time. They only ask for folks to keep them in mind when recommending grocers to family and friends. WOW! What a gift to the community! Better believe the community will remember this act of sharing. 

I am encouraged and uplifted by so many good things happening in the midst of what seems like only darkness. Nope!! God is with us, and the Light shines. 

Blessings. And prayers. 

Day #2272

March 21, 2020

Waking up to a day that included saying goodbye to a good man and being with a deeply grieving family, I was comforted by these words from Richard Rohr's Meditation. He quotes this from Rev. Aaron Graham: 
We need to be reminded that our cries are not too much for God. [God] laments with us. In fact, [God] wants us to come to the [Divine Presence] in our anger, in our fear, in our loneliness, in our hurt, and in our confusion. 
May this reminder bring you comfort, also, that God hears our cries and joins with us in them. Always. 

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2271

March 20, 2020

For about five minutes today, I stepped onto our back deck, raised my face to the warmth of the sun, and just stood there soaking in the sun, soaking in the warmth, and breathing. Just breathing in the reassurance of God’s presence and letting go of the stress of the week. 

I was amazed and strengthened by how much better I felt after just five minutes. Those moments were a true stress-reliever. I hope you have the same opportunity soon. The warmth of the sun, created by God, is healing!

Blessings. And prayers.

Day #2270

March 19, 2020

After a very long day of meetings, conversation, planning and recording a mid-week service for folks to watch online, the council finalized the decision to suspend gathering for worship at least through April 5th. It’s the hardest decision I have had to be a part of in a long while. I know how important it is to gather and worship together when the world around us is in chaos. So, we are doing what we can to help us gather “virtually.” Recorded worship services to view online on the church website. Prayer together for 3 minutes at 3:00 pm from wherever we are (3 at 3:00). Extra newsletters. Mailing CD recordings of worship services. Daily emails. And prayer - LOTS of prayer. No matter what, I believe deep in my heart that God is with us in the midst of all this, giving us strength and guidance. 

And then there was this email from a company who sells clerical robes, shirts, stoles, etc., called WomenSpirit. It brought tears to my eyes. 
As a minister, you provide a point of light in the darkness with your words of reassurance and strength. This is the challenge you answered when accepting your vocational calling in the beginning; a commitment to offer compassion and understanding when people turn to you for the intangibles that make life bearable in stressful times.    
Human fears -- basic ones -- about loss of life, loss of livelihood and the uncertainty about what is coming are causing extreme anxiety for everyone. At Sacred Stitches, we are committed to supporting you as you support your congregations. Material goods mean nothing when faced with the dire situation we are in now. But messaging is powerful. It is in times of great duress, such as the world is experiencing now, that people search for spiritual comfort to provide hope and direction. Your words, your professional presence, will provide this for all that hear your message.    
Thank you for sharing your gifts and being a calm, reassuring voice. 
The staff at WomenSpirit and Abiding Spirit dba Sacred Stitches
Oh how those words and encouragement, alongside messages from many others, is more helpful than you can imagine. We are in this all together. And we are not alone!

Blessings. And prayers. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Day #2269

March 18, 2020 

After quite a while of not having to go to the grocery, hubby and I needed to venture there today. A few essentials were all we needed (NO TP was included - haha!). Folks had been telling me how empty shelves were, that items like meat and vegetables were scarce or non-existent. Well, we witnessed this firsthand. My goodness!! 

Some may wonder where God is in the midst of all this? Right here! And in the hearts of those who do things like the following that was shared by members: news is that school food pantries, which are available even though schools are closed, are in dire need in the midst of the pandemic crisis. So, while shopping at Sam’s for some other items, they were including things the pantries could use. When they ran into a friend and she discovered what the shopping included and why, she reached into her purse and gave them $200 in cash to help buy food for the schools. When the food was delivered, the ladies helping unload it were in tears. 

Tell me God isn’t right here! And that is only one example of ways I have witnessed folks helping. Thank you, everyone, for sharing them with me. And thank you for what you are doing. It is amazing and inspiring. Thanks be to God for your witness of how to be in this together!

Blessings. And prayers.