Monday Joy

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
– Lamentations 3:22-26

I often think of how gracious God was in giving us something new every morning. The new expression of sunrise, while the rhythm remains steadfast. The new song of the birds, though the familiar melodies. The new breath in our lungs and the new beats of our hearts…that have never before been expressed!

Every moment of every day is an unfolding of something new God is creating. While that “new” is being discovered and lived one hour at a time, there is also a steadfast presence that does not change. The love and grace of God is always available and ready to be offered. The peace that only God can give, is accessible in the humble asking.

However we come into this Monday, God is right here with us. On game or not; feeling it or not; scared to death or celebrating your greatest accomplishments…the presence of the Creator is standing at your side. Listen for that voice as you walk through this week. It is far beyond the opinions and noise that swirls around with hope of distracting us from God’s wisdom that comes in the pause. Listen.

God, this morning we pause to reconnect and remember your presence and faithfulness. We embrace the mercies you give for this day. We give thanks for the compassion and love you hold; ready to come quickly and abundantly as we seek. It is our desire to honor you with the gift of life you have provided today. Help us, Holy Spirit, to do it well. We welcome your JOY into our lives. We love you, LORD, and we trust you completely. Amen.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 15:11

Dance at Sunset

After so many days of heat, the rain was all blessing. I watched the steam rising up from the pavement, it was as if the whole of creation was sighing with relief. The grass and trees must have been shouting “thank you” as water dripped from their dry, exhausted foliage.

Tonight the sunset seemed to announce the joy we feel. I will not attempt to add to its beauty with words. I offer glimpses and a prayer. Whether it is for tonight or the morning coming, may our confidence in our Creator be strengthened. May our joy be ever present.

Lord, we see your creativity in the ordinary rhythms of nature and we are overwhelmed with your beauty. The skies dance at your hand! The sunset follows its path, a practice set in place by You that unfolds every day. Nothing is out of place. And yet, every setting of the sun is for that moment in history; it will never occur again in exactly this way. You, LORD, amaze us!
Help us to trust you with our days. Allow us the gift of witnessing your presence in our lives and in our world. Please continue the redeeming work of equipping and maturing us for your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We are in awe of you, Lord, and we are grateful.
Please grant peace to those who sleep; and inspiration to those waking. We welcome you into the spaces of this night that leave us wanting. We welcome your joy as the morning breaks fully open. You, Lord, are the only One who holds this night. You are the only One who holds the dawning of a new day. Help us to honor you by living it fully, with gratitude and joy. We trust you, Father, and we love you. Thank you for the gift of this dance. Amen.

HUMILITY: Proverbs 30:1-6

“I am weary, God,
    but I can prevail. 
Surely I am only a brute, not a man;
    I do not have human understanding.”

I have not learned wisdom,
    nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
    Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
    Surely you know!

“Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

– Proverbs 30:1-6

It turns out that even though we humans can engage in the intimacy of relationship with our Creator, there remains so much we do not know.

I find myself truly dependent on the wisdom of the Lord to guide me in all things. Without divine help, my own steps lead me where grace is illusive, and burdens pile up without reason.  There is a lot of freedom in knowing how much God can do, when we can do nothing! 

Listening to these Proverbs as I walk this morning, I hear Jesus speaking too:  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 15:4

Morning walk; late June 2022

Lord, where your people are weary, please provide hope and strength today. Where sorrow has interrupted the best of plans, give your peace that refuses to abandon.  Be our refuge and shield; our joy and strength. Our hope is in you, and it is good; we trust you completely! Amen. 

You’re Going to Be Okay

Proverbs 17:1

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting and strife.
– Proverbs 17:1

Morning fog rising, summer 2022

May the peace of Christ be in your home;
in your waking and work,
your coming and going.
May joy and laughter take a seat

at your table;
and your rest bring refreshment

to your soul. Amen.

Patience

“A patient man has great understanding, but a quick tempered man displays folly.” – Proverbs 14:29

Perhaps one of the blessings that comes with time is patience. Whether in seasons of success or suffering, this virtue seems to never fail. It is like a muscle that develops over years of training. You can’t get there quickly; you just have to take one step at a time.

It is also a total act of trust for me. To be patient now means that I trust God. In training or healing; in work that takes years to reach completion; even muddling my way through the unknown with confidence that God is working all things out…patience is gained through living it.

In a season of difficulty many years ago I came upon this quote by Mother Teresa. It was written on a card where I could keep it visible in my daily routine. Over time the words lodged deep within me. And lodging there, this became a prayer of trust and patience for me. I’m still receiving blessings from that wisdom…poured into me by someone who knew well the path.

Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
– Mother Teresa

God of patience and mercy, thank you for never giving up on us. Help us to trust you in moments we want to act too quickly or walk away too soon. We need never to give up on what you are doing in our lives and in the world. Thank you for your faithfulness and love. We trust you completely. Amen.

Prayer for Tonight

I call on the Lord in my distress,
    and he answers me.
Save me, Lord,
    from lying lips
    and from deceitful tongues.

What will he do to you,
    and what more besides,
    you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
    with burning coals of the broom bush.

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
    that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
    among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
    but when I speak, they are for war. – Psalm 120 (NIV)

Sometimes the Psalms give us words to offer when we have none. They give us voice in prayer, lament and hope. The prayers of the people all over the world are what unite us tonight. We are calling on our Creator God for divine help; for peace that only God can bring.

Holy God, for all who are in need of your peace tonight, please rush in closely and quickly to each one. We ask humbly and boldly for the resurrected Christ to stand in the midst of people seeking shelter; in the middle of streets where war is raging. We pray the resurrected Christ is standing near each leader and decision maker giving them wisdom and discernment; correcting when it is needed and giving courage that is beyond anything we can create. We pray that our own hearts and spirits remain steadfast, humble and faithful in all the ways you call us to be present in this time. And we ask, Holy God, that you help us to always be instruments of your peace in every place we are right now. We are not people who wage war. Amen.

Statue of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. @ Abbey of Gethsemane in KY.

PRAYER OF ST FRANCIS – Sarah McLachlan

Reflection on All Saints Day, 2021

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
- Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 5:4


Sitting on the granite tombstone of my great grandfather; it always seemed so big. On this day it was a seat that held me up when my body was overwhelmed with grief. My shivering from the freezing cold had subsided under the heaviness of my crying. 

I was broken. There in the middle of the deep Golden Pond woods where no one could hear, I lay my flowers on my brother’s grave and sat on the tombstone of my ancestors. And cried. I couldn’t stop. Every breath was too deep and too hard. How would I ever be able to stop? 

She walked out of the woods and straight to the flowers. The dirt still looked fresh on his grave, even though the frozen ground and flurries held the space. She smelled the flowers, as if to acknowledge their beauty.  And then, she held me. She stared right at me, and my heaving sighs stilled. She didn’t look at me with fear as if to jump quickly away if I made a move. She held my eyes. Her compassion surrounded me. My tears stopped. My breath became so slow and present. She wasn’t leaving. I couldn’t move. 


She kept holding my gaze. As if to say:“Why are you crying? He is not here. He has gone on. You will see him again.” 
Her presence was comfort for my breaking heart. Her compassion immeasurable. She lingered.

Just as quietly as she arrived, she turned and walked slowly back into the woods.  It has been a long time since that moment. I still remember her compassion. When I pause to think of this kindness, I am deeply comforted. People also reached out to us during those early months of our grieving. And still…nearly 42 years later, people are still reaching out to say, “I remember”.  Whether it is a word or a faded picture or a story he left on their lives; presence of spirit brings comfort. 

On All Saints Day we remember the people of faith who have gone before us. In our church we will celebrate them with banners and singing and joy in worship.  When we gather this Sunday, we will share Holy Communion with the shared belief that one day we will all feast together at the heavenly banquet. It is a glimpse into heaven on earth. One of our most holy days. 

I got up from my great grandfather’s tombstone and stood over the dirt where my brother’s body is buried. The flowers were beautiful even though I knew the cold January air would only hold them for a little while. I walked slowly back to my car. Comforted and in peace.

I knew there would be more days of mourning, some of which would still leave me holding my stomach and heaving with tears. But this moment with God and a doe who came to visit me in my grief is also part of my story, and it never stops giving peace.

God, please bring comfort to your people who are grieving. Open our minds and spirits to receive you in whatever ways you offer your love and compassion to us today. Help us to celebrate the lives of all who have gone before us, and to honor the lingering gift of their love. Amen. 

What to do when someone you love is grieving: 
You don’t have to have the perfect words to say. Sometimes presence is enough. Often, it is enough. Write the letter. Make the call. Stop by. Offer your hand. Give a hug.  God takes care of the rest. Trust.

A Prayer After Labor Day

After Labor Day we rush
into the months
forgetting quickly the blessing
of days and moments.
Help us, Lord, just today
to take the moments into account;
hold each as precious gifts;
stop to tend to the neighbor
whose name we still don’t know.
Protect us from filling our
months, seasons and remaining year
with frivolous busyness
while you are inviting us into
something bigger than we can see.
Help us, Creator, just today
to appreciate conversations that
shape us for peace;
to love without question;
pray without ceasing;
plan without striving.
Let this “after Labor Day” moment
be like no other
leading us into Grace for these days.
Amen and Amen.

Fancher Falls