Remember

Remember

The word was in my consciousness even as I awoke.  Like I was dreaming but not, because I was already thinking of what this word could mean to me, to you. Remember is a big word.  It holds lots of life in it, lots of stories, lots to… remember.  I am surprised that the weight of this word hasn’t made it fall off the page this morning. I can’t seem to stop remembering.  I will give you a peek…

Remember what day it is. That is getting harder and harder as these days of staying home continue.  So many patterns have gone by the wayside.  I get up, find coffee, sit down and write. Work. About 12 or 1, I remember maybe it would be good to get dressed… anybody else?  Remember to watch where you step in the house.  We have an almost blind, definitely deaf Yorkie that rarely finds his “pads”.  Our floors have white squares of safety dotting the landscape.  He can’t see them, so I will leave that right there for you to figure out.  “Remember to put shoes on in the house” Jack says kindly, as I smash my toe on the table or step into a puddle. Remember that I love Jack, and remain stoic.  Remember to be kind. Remember to wash your hands following all the instructions.

Then there are the “rememberings” that we have about special people, special times in our lives.  Remembering the last time “we all got together”. How we didn’t appreciate it as much as we will the next time we get together to eat (we are Methodist), play, celebrate, or worship.  I remember that a year ago this week our worship team prepared a Good Friday worship event.  We set up stations for people to take a journey with Jesus during Holy Week. The magnificent settings with items made to touch and see from a corner darkened for prayer in the garden, to a hammer to hit as we hear his conviction, to chains and a whip, to the aroma of frankincense, the stories came alive.  The journey ended at a huge stone that took 3 men to move into place.  We had a connection with a company that made props for movies.  The company let us borrow it.  We were told that this stone had been used as the tomb stone for “The Passion”.  The team worked so hard to bring this together, but the best station was the one that Nancy Vermilyea suggested.  She said, “Why don’t we put a station after the stone to just sit and reflect on this journey Christ made for us?”  Chairs and candles to light as you settled were prepared.  Everyone said that was the most meaningful part, when they could just sit and remember what Christ did out of love for all humanity to reconcile us to God.

That remembrance carries the weight of the world in it.  It carries with it the heart of who we are, why we are followers and how we are to live for Christ each day.  Remembering.  Our community is grieving the loss of Easters remembered, the loss of weekly communion, the loss of fellowship.  We miss our “Wanda” hugs, laughter and the sweet spirit of God that hovers over us when we gather.  Those are gifts to hold close, but the best remembrance is the one that Christ gave us.  “Do this in remembrance of me” even as we eat and drink in our homes. Communion does hold a sacred place in our worship.  However it seems that we might be learning something new about communion.  Didn’t Jesus use the ordinary to bring about sacred?  Perhaps we are learning that ordinary is intended to be sacred.

In these times of separation, we are finding how important ordinary is.  We are finding out what is important as we remember what is being lost.  Family, friends, health, kindness, charity, mercy, compassion, selflessness… you can add to the list.  These sacred remembrances, whether personal or spiritual are changing us. 

“When This is all over.”  We are already making plans to return to the ordinary, comfortable ways we were living.  I pray we don’t.  I pray that we remember the attributes of Christ that were borne in us and others out of this tragic time. That our remembrances will make us better humans, stronger Christians.  To honor what Christ has done at a table with ordinary, Lord take our ordinary and keep making us extraordinary for You.

You are loved, remembered and cherished for who you are. Jesus said so.

Pastor Lisa

The moment the stone rolled away, remembering all that this signifies.  Jesus will triumph over death!
Remember Jesus.
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Comfort

Comfort

I was wondering why this word, Lord?  What in the world does this have to do with me?  Uncomfortable would be a good description of me as I write this. I don’t mean physically, but spiritually, emotionally. This is rare for me. I could tell even as I was headed for my first cup of coffee. I was so aggravated I could feel it in my chest.  Uncomfortable.  I don’t mean heart attack comfortable, I mean the kinda hold over from yesterdays events.   

Yesterday was a series of frustrations from trying to do the right thing.  Progress was littered with HUGE (in my mind) boulders that dropped in my way.  Just to say, things  resolved.  However the feelings of the day did not.  I woke up wondering why… why some people are so kind and some people are so rude.  Why some people care and others seem not to give a flip about anyone or anything.  Why is it that now I could be sewing masks for others which should make me happy as a clam (??), and instead every step of the way seems to lead me to more frustration.  Not enough cord, not the right fabric, not… whatever!

You get me, I suspect.  And looming not to far in the distant is “and you can’t go get what you want when you want it”.  Ahh, there it is.  The real source of frustration.  The Rolling Stones must have even had these moments, spurring the famous song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.      Tell me about it.

And so God did.  Listen to my questions, let me be me. Let me find and identify where I am in my soul so that I could begin to receive what God has to offer.  Comfort.  I didn’t know what I needed until I began to search for one of my favorite scriptures that begins with “Comfort, Oh Comfort my people”.  It’s a plea for the Lord to come and surround God’s people with God’s presence.  As I searched for that, found that comfort is scattered through the Bible.  So I (selectively) read them as they came, starting with Genesis.  Look what I found!!

“Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.“ Genesis 24: 13. God sends others, not just partners but family and friends to bring comfort when we grieve.

 

“When I say, “My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint” Job 7: 13 God gets us when we are just flat on our backs, couch potatoes and all, and hears us.

 

This is my comfort in my distress, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119.50 Comfort comes from the presence of God. God’s good intentions will bring me just the comfort I need.  Not what I “want” but what will really ease my soul.  Perspective. That is the perfect treatment.

 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. Psalm 23: 4  Such delight is found in these familiar words! I remember Psalm 23.  Soul nourishing remembrance of the character of God, who will not leave us.  I take a deep breath and remember the words again.  Calm, peace, assurance is bringing me to a place of peace.

Finally, I get to the scripture I was looking for…

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.

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 12.1-8.

There.  God has done it again.  The first words are what I remembered, the following words expand on how to make room for God to come to us finishing with a phrase of strength and confidence.    

Comfort. Direction. Peace. Hope. Love. Mercy. Healing.  That and so much more. The living word of God is sufficient for all things. 

Spend time in prayer, listen to your heart and speak your needs of the Lord. Spend time in the Word, and search for God’s teaching and blessing.  I know God will meet you where you are.  God always does.  In the words of the Stones, “But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find, You get what you need”.

May these words comfort you, easing the moments of life that diminish the joy God intends.  You are loved, you are heard and I care.  God cares. 

Pastor Lisa

When we awaken with troubled souls and aching hearts let us sing this song together.  I deeply love and miss our times of worship!  I pray as we listen to this, our hearts be connected in spirit by our Lord at the foot of God’s throne.  Worship the One who is Worthy!
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Closed

Closed

We are hearing this word a lot.  Businesses closed. Borders are closed.  Doors to homes are closed to neighbors, friends and family. And still we try to open what is closed.  Human nature at it’s most natural response.  Change what is closed to suit our curiosity, our need to control… you get it.  Whole books and movies have centered around closed “doors” that people open – just think “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and take it from there.

I can’t remember the first time I closed something. I do remember teaching our girls about closed.  There were even games to refine their skills.  Probably started with a cabinet door or drawer.  Toddler opens cabinet door.  Mommy excitedly says,  “look what you can do!”. Followed by Mommy seeing toddler reaching for pots and pans, Tupperware, mixer, food processor and saying in shock, “let’s close the cabinet door now!”.  That solved that, right? Nope.  The taller we get, the more we try every single thing that has a top, a door, a moving part that is constructed to keep something shut (closed).  The older we get the less we think about how we learned to close something.

Some of us are better at closing things than others.  Refrigerator doors are getting a real workout right now.  It has always been more fun to open than close.  Unless you are the one using a door to express how you feel, and it is being slammed to make a point… I’m out of here and I want you to know it.  Or maybe it’s “I am leaving angry!*/# – & !”.  Sure, closed with a slam could also mean “I am in a big hurry!”.

We are in a big hurry to move past this time of “sheltering in”. I’m getting tired of that gentle phrase aren’t you?  Let’s just say the truth, “we are closed in. Locked away, shut behind doors, staring out windows longing to touch.”  That too, is a most natural response.

We are learning things behind these closed doors.  It’s not just us, its the whole world.  Facing the implications and reality of closed has changed us as we mindfully operate in the mindset of NOT opening ourselves and others to exposure to illness and death.  Seeing again, that we are masters of adaptation, using 3-D computers to make masks for medical personnel to keep them safe and whole companies re-setting their business to help with shortages. take Lands End. This outdoorsy high end mail order company is now refitted production to make medical masks! We are learners on a curve so steep its a mountain to continue business – sit down restaurants are now delivering, wholesalers are filling orders directly to homes – heck – Edible Arrangements are delivering uncut fresh fruit with no delivery charge! We can adapt.

Worship centers are closed.  Easter is coming, and we are trying to open the church doors some way, bringing some semblance of what we are used to, familiar with. And there is a child safety lock hampering our normal way of worship. The door is able to be cracked, but the monster is still behind it.  It is not time to open that door yet.  And it will be o.k.  In fact it might even be the best Easter yet as we get back to the basics of what it was like to have Easter morning without all the trappings we have added to it over time.

I encourage you in heart and spirit to journey this week with Jesus.  Walk the road to Jerusalem that leads to the cross.  Join in the spare, real experience of Christ, where there were no songs, prayers, readings, lighting and extinguishing of candles, no flowering of crosses. No scents of lilies or sounds of magnificent praise and triumphant resurrection.  Not yet.

This Holy Week, walk in simplicity.  Behind the doors of daily life, let Christ reveal the power of closed for its own sake.  Closed is a wealth of teaching that our Rabbi will reveal as we listen with “ears to hear”.  We will not be able to embrace what will be opened on Easter morning without facing into what is closed. 

God can turn all things to good, accompanying us in the darkest of times, bringing light to our souls and promise to each day.  

Closed is nothing in the face of our God! I love you, I am praying for you and God is with you.  

Pastor Lisa

For the words we long to sing together, let us sing along with this precious hymn.
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Break

Break
It’s what I desperately need right now.  Do you?  I need to stop and see the sunshine, talk to my sweet husband, cook something healthy… how you doin’?

Please forgive me for not doing a fuller writing for you, however, the impact on my time due to the Virus has finally caught up. Not complaining mind you, just aware that it is time for respite from all things work-related.  Just for the rest of the day.  

Today, I am sharing my favorite blogger’s post for Friday, April 3. I will be back with you tomorrow.  Sean of the South’s take on the current “shelter in” is worth your read! You will laugh… and you will think about what might be breaking for other reasons…

I love you, I am praying for you, and you are important to me and to God.

Pastor Lisa

Sean of the South Sean Dietrich
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Unexpected

Unexpected

Sometimes what we need is an unexpected surprise.  This morning while I waited for today’s word, Lucy our black Lab was prancing all around the den.  Our recent order of dog food contained a gift for her.  You would have thought it was Christmas.  It was just a yellow rope with a knot on each end. Lucy was acting like  Ralphie Parker, in “The Christmas Story” for a few minutes.  She got her “official Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.” It was easy to see that this had given her a great start to her day!

I can remember the unexpected surprises of my life.  I won’t begin to share them all but one memory is the time my brother closed the door (with a mirror hung on it) in my parent’s bedroom. He did know I was in there taking a shower.  Evidently the sun had gone down leaving barely enough light to negotiate out of the room. Knowing the room layout, I confidently walked towards my bedroom.  I saw the reflection of light on the mirror just enough to think it was light from the hallway.  I plowed right into the door. It must have sounded like a hard headed object hitting an immovable force.  All I could hear was my brother laughing. Belly laughing.  I can still hear him. I still owe him one.

Not all unexpected surprises are that funny.  This pandemic is certainly unexpected.  We can almost say we were surprised, but that would be disingenuous.  If you watch the news, you could see the problems.  But distance may have allowed us to think we were immune.  Nope.  So we are now learning how to face into this time.  In order to survive, we are necessarily taking huge steps to stop the spread of the virus.  Shelter in. Sanitize. Pray. Listen.

This surprise has been like hitting a door in the dark. (Sorry, I just had too!). We are stunned, we have to stop and figure out what is happening. Then open the door and proceed.  We are all having to learn new things.  I am learning that I can do more on a computer than I wanted to.  I now can post this on MailChimp and Facebook.  I can upload videos too!  I can record sermons all by myself, and today we will see if I indeed can create a Zoom meeting (an online live video meeting).  I wouldn’t have voluntarily done any of these things.

 

I have found new depths of gratitude for the church people I serve, the Bishop who leads us and an exceptional DS.  Yesterday was my “day of the door”.  With every interaction, I was moved to tears by the sheer reality of missing them, of witnessing the many ways that folks are doing all they can to support one another.  People with good hearts made pure in the love of Jesus Christ. 

This time is hard. We are learning how to negotiate all kinds of circumstances, from getting groceries to maintaining our social life in new ways, to discovering a new appreciation for all that we do have in place.  The love of family, of friends, of a community that cares, a place of worship that continues “in spite of” the unexpected circumstances.  Not so unexpected, God continues to abide with us, showing up in the moments that reveal hope, promise and assurance. 

How are you doing with all of this unexpected stuff?

Wishing that you find a yellow rope with a knot on it today that will bring you joy.  Hoping you don’t have a brother that will surprise you by shutting the door you thought was open.  Praying that you are discovering that in Christ you are resilient and strong no matter what unexpected surprises come your way.

You are loved, prayed for and by God’s mercy and grace, you are strong in the Lord.

Pastor Lisa

    For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.” Acts 17: 23-25

Unexpected surprise!!
In case you want to remember Ralphie’s Christmas wish!
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Perverse

*dictionary.com  If you want to know more about me, all 5 definitions could be applied at various times
Perverse

There. I did it. I wrote the word that kept coming to me.  I didn’t want to, its not the best word. (That is a whole other reflection!)  and there it is.  I was actually doing what the word was for today.  The word that God gives is not only for you, its for me too. 

So I am just sayin’, the Holy Spirit pointed out that I am perverse this morning.  I mean not today, (?? Did i just write that??) but there are times.  Just for clarification I checked the definition: willfully determined or disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary.*

I think I heard a mike drop somewhere. 

Well, at least I am in good company!  Paul expresses this perverse nature we all struggle with, saying “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15. See how it is – we all have that sin nature that we struggle with.  Some of us may be more capable of refraining from being perverse.  At times we can all be stronger or weaker.  

The first thing is to face into is that we all have an easy time doing what we want.  I have never had a hard time going “my way” about life.  Growing in faith and action, requires intentional reflection, mindfulness, prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will accompany us, revealing, re-directing us, giving us strength to overcome self and become more Christ like in our ways. Whether it is a matter of curbing our anger to show mercy, refraining from judgement and showing grace, or some of those difficult ones like giving up destructive habits and actions that destroy us emotionally and physically, you get the picture.  Being perverse, contrary to what we know God is revealing to us produces outcomes that are harmful to us and to others.

Perversity would have me believe that I am immune to the pandemic, going my way and perhaps catching it or worse spreading the virus.  Perversity would tell me to stock up on essentials (filling our pantry so that it overflows into other spaces and places).  Perversity would have me – oh you know.  You have your own ways.

And I love you in spite of these ways, just as God loves us even though God knows our every thought, motive and plan.  Such grace warrants our attention and our efforts to respond from that same spiritual place of mercy for ourselves and others.  Forgiven for our humanity, God keeps on keeping on loving us into our best self.  As Paul says later in Romans 8: 31b “If God is for us, who is against us?”

Wow. Take that perverse nature!  God says, “I’ve got this!”. Mike drop.

I love you, I am praying for you, and God is our greatest resource in all things.

Pastor Lisa
 
*dictionary.com  If you want to know more about me, all 5 definitions could be applied at various times

https://youtu.be/e37m3I5eH8g

 
Lord, I Need You.Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You



Remember

Remember

The word was in my consciousness even as I awoke.  Like I was dreaming but not, because I was already thinking of what this word could mean to me, to you. Remember is a big word.  It holds lots of life in it, lots of stories, lots to… remember.  I am surprised that the weight of this word hasn’t made it fall off the page this morning. I can’t seem to stop remembering.  I will give you a peek…

Remember what day it is. That is getting harder and harder as these days of staying home continue.  So many patterns have gone by the wayside.  I get up, find coffee, sit down and write. Work. About 12 or 1, I remember maybe it would be good to get dressed… anybody else?  Remember to watch where you step in the house.  We have an almost blind, definitely deaf Yorkie that rarely finds his “pads”.  Our floors have white squares of safety dotting the landscape.  He can’t see them, so I will leave that right there for you to figure out.  “Remember to put shoes on in the house” Jack says kindly, as I smash my toe on the table or step into a puddle. Remember that I love Jack, and remain stoic.  Remember to be kind. Remember to wash your hands following all the instructions.

Then there are the “rememberings” that we have about special people, special times in our lives.  Remembering the last time “we all got together”. How we didn’t appreciate it as much as we will the next time we get together to eat (we are Methodist), play, celebrate, or worship.  I remember that a year ago this week our worship team prepared a Good Friday worship event.  We set up stations for people to take a journey with Jesus during Holy Week. The magnificent settings with items made to touch and see from a corner darkened for prayer in the garden, to a hammer to hit as we hear his conviction, to chains and a whip, to the aroma of frankincense, the stories came alive.  The journey ended at a huge stone that took 3 men to move into place.  We had a connection with a company that made props for movies.  The company let us borrow it.  We were told that this stone had been used as the tomb stone for “The Passion”.  The team worked so hard to bring this together, but the best station was the one that Nancy Vermilyea suggested.  She said, “Why don’t we put a station after the stone to just sit and reflect on this journey Christ made for us?”  Chairs and candles to light as you settled were prepared.  Everyone said that was the most meaningful part, when they could just sit and remember what Christ did out of love for all humanity to reconcile us to God.

That remembrance carries the weight of the world in it.  It carries with it the heart of who we are, why we are followers and how we are to live for Christ each day.  Remembering.  Our community is grieving the loss of Easters remembered, the loss of weekly communion, the loss of fellowship.  We miss our “Wanda” hugs, laughter and the sweet spirit of God that hovers over us when we gather.  Those are gifts to hold close, but the best remembrance is the one that Christ gave us.  “Do this in remembrance of me” even as we eat and drink in our homes. Communion does hold a sacred place in our worship.  However it seems that we might be learning something new about communion.  Didn’t Jesus use the ordinary to bring about sacred?  Perhaps we are learning that ordinary is intended to be sacred.

In these times of separation, we are finding how important ordinary is.  We are finding out what is important as we remember what is being lost.  Family, friends, health, kindness, charity, mercy, compassion, selflessness… you can add to the list.  These sacred remembrances, whether personal or spiritual are changing us. 

“When This is all over.”  We are already making plans to return to the ordinary, comfortable ways we were living.  I pray we don’t.  I pray that we remember the attributes of Christ that were borne in us and others out of this tragic time. That our remembrances will make us better humans, stronger Christians.  To honor what Christ has done at a table with ordinary, Lord take our ordinary and keep making us extraordinary for You.

You are loved, remembered and cherished for who you are. Jesus said so.

Pastor Lisa

The moment the stone rolled away, remembering all that this signifies.  Jesus will triumph over death!
Remember Jesus.
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Comfort

Comfort

I was wondering why this word, Lord?  What in the world does this have to do with me?  Uncomfortable would be a good description of me as I write this. I don’t mean physically, but spiritually, emotionally. This is rare for me. I could tell even as I was headed for my first cup of coffee. I was so aggravated I could feel it in my chest.  Uncomfortable.  I don’t mean heart attack comfortable, I mean the kinda hold over from yesterdays events.   

Yesterday was a series of frustrations from trying to do the right thing.  Progress was littered with HUGE (in my mind) boulders that dropped in my way.  Just to say, things  resolved.  However the feelings of the day did not.  I woke up wondering why… why some people are so kind and some people are so rude.  Why some people care and others seem not to give a flip about anyone or anything.  Why is it that now I could be sewing masks for others which should make me happy as a clam (??), and instead every step of the way seems to lead me to more frustration.  Not enough cord, not the right fabric, not… whatever!

You get me, I suspect.  And looming not to far in the distant is “and you can’t go get what you want when you want it”.  Ahh, there it is.  The real source of frustration.  The Rolling Stones must have even had these moments, spurring the famous song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.      Tell me about it.

And so God did.  Listen to my questions, let me be me. Let me find and identify where I am in my soul so that I could begin to receive what God has to offer.  Comfort.  I didn’t know what I needed until I began to search for one of my favorite scriptures that begins with “Comfort, Oh Comfort my people”.  It’s a plea for the Lord to come and surround God’s people with God’s presence.  As I searched for that, found that comfort is scattered through the Bible.  So I (selectively) read them as they came, starting with Genesis.  Look what I found!!

“Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.“ Genesis 24: 13. God sends others, not just partners but family and friends to bring comfort when we grieve.

 

“When I say, “My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint” Job 7: 13 God gets us when we are just flat on our backs, couch potatoes and all, and hears us.

 

This is my comfort in my distress, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119.50 Comfort comes from the presence of God. God’s good intentions will bring me just the comfort I need.  Not what I “want” but what will really ease my soul.  Perspective. That is the perfect treatment.

 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. Psalm 23: 4  Such delight is found in these familiar words! I remember Psalm 23.  Soul nourishing remembrance of the character of God, who will not leave us.  I take a deep breath and remember the words again.  Calm, peace, assurance is bringing me to a place of peace.

Finally, I get to the scripture I was looking for…

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.

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 12.1-8.

There.  God has done it again.  The first words are what I remembered, the following words expand on how to make room for God to come to us finishing with a phrase of strength and confidence.    

Comfort. Direction. Peace. Hope. Love. Mercy. Healing.  That and so much more. The living word of God is sufficient for all things. 

Spend time in prayer, listen to your heart and speak your needs of the Lord. Spend time in the Word, and search for God’s teaching and blessing.  I know God will meet you where you are.  God always does.  In the words of the Stones, “But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find, You get what you need”.

May these words comfort you, easing the moments of life that diminish the joy God intends.  You are loved, you are heard and I care.  God cares. 

Pastor Lisa

When we awaken with troubled souls and aching hearts let us sing this song together.  I deeply love and miss our times of worship!  I pray as we listen to this, our hearts be connected in spirit by our Lord at the foot of God’s throne.  Worship the One who is Worthy!
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Closed

Closed

We are hearing this word a lot.  Businesses closed. Borders are closed.  Doors to homes are closed to neighbors, friends and family. And still we try to open what is closed.  Human nature at it’s most natural response.  Change what is closed to suit our curiosity, our need to control… you get it.  Whole books and movies have centered around closed “doors” that people open – just think “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and take it from there.

I can’t remember the first time I closed something. I do remember teaching our girls about closed.  There were even games to refine their skills.  Probably started with a cabinet door or drawer.  Toddler opens cabinet door.  Mommy excitedly says,  “look what you can do!”. Followed by Mommy seeing toddler reaching for pots and pans, Tupperware, mixer, food processor and saying in shock, “let’s close the cabinet door now!”.  That solved that, right? Nope.  The taller we get, the more we try every single thing that has a top, a door, a moving part that is constructed to keep something shut (closed).  The older we get the less we think about how we learned to close something.

Some of us are better at closing things than others.  Refrigerator doors are getting a real workout right now.  It has always been more fun to open than close.  Unless you are the one using a door to express how you feel, and it is being slammed to make a point… I’m out of here and I want you to know it.  Or maybe it’s “I am leaving angry!*/# – & !”.  Sure, closed with a slam could also mean “I am in a big hurry!”.

We are in a big hurry to move past this time of “sheltering in”. I’m getting tired of that gentle phrase aren’t you?  Let’s just say the truth, “we are closed in. Locked away, shut behind doors, staring out windows longing to touch.”  That too, is a most natural response.

We are learning things behind these closed doors.  It’s not just us, its the whole world.  Facing the implications and reality of closed has changed us as we mindfully operate in the mindset of NOT opening ourselves and others to exposure to illness and death.  Seeing again, that we are masters of adaptation, using 3-D computers to make masks for medical personnel to keep them safe and whole companies re-setting their business to help with shortages. take Lands End. This outdoorsy high end mail order company is now refitted production to make medical masks! We are learners on a curve so steep its a mountain to continue business – sit down restaurants are now delivering, wholesalers are filling orders directly to homes – heck – Edible Arrangements are delivering uncut fresh fruit with no delivery charge! We can adapt.

Worship centers are closed.  Easter is coming, and we are trying to open the church doors some way, bringing some semblance of what we are used to, familiar with. And there is a child safety lock hampering our normal way of worship. The door is able to be cracked, but the monster is still behind it.  It is not time to open that door yet.  And it will be o.k.  In fact it might even be the best Easter yet as we get back to the basics of what it was like to have Easter morning without all the trappings we have added to it over time.

I encourage you in heart and spirit to journey this week with Jesus.  Walk the road to Jerusalem that leads to the cross.  Join in the spare, real experience of Christ, where there were no songs, prayers, readings, lighting and extinguishing of candles, no flowering of crosses. No scents of lilies or sounds of magnificent praise and triumphant resurrection.  Not yet.

This Holy Week, walk in simplicity.  Behind the doors of daily life, let Christ reveal the power of closed for its own sake.  Closed is a wealth of teaching that our Rabbi will reveal as we listen with “ears to hear”.  We will not be able to embrace what will be opened on Easter morning without facing into what is closed. 

God can turn all things to good, accompanying us in the darkest of times, bringing light to our souls and promise to each day.  

Closed is nothing in the face of our God! I love you, I am praying for you and God is with you.  

Pastor Lisa

For the words we long to sing together, let us sing along with this precious hymn.
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Break

Break
It’s what I desperately need right now.  Do you?  I need to stop and see the sunshine, talk to my sweet husband, cook something healthy… how you doin’?

Please forgive me for not doing a fuller writing for you, however, the impact on my time due to the Virus has finally caught up. Not complaining mind you, just aware that it is time for respite from all things work-related.  Just for the rest of the day.  

Today, I am sharing my favorite blogger’s post for Friday, April 3. I will be back with you tomorrow.  Sean of the South’s take on the current “shelter in” is worth your read! You will laugh… and you will think about what might be breaking for other reasons…

I love you, I am praying for you, and you are important to me and to God.

Pastor Lisa

Sean of the South Sean Dietrich
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Unexpected

Unexpected

Sometimes what we need is an unexpected surprise.  This morning while I waited for today’s word, Lucy our black Lab was prancing all around the den.  Our recent order of dog food contained a gift for her.  You would have thought it was Christmas.  It was just a yellow rope with a knot on each end. Lucy was acting like  Ralphie Parker, in “The Christmas Story” for a few minutes.  She got her “official Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.” It was easy to see that this had given her a great start to her day!

I can remember the unexpected surprises of my life.  I won’t begin to share them all but one memory is the time my brother closed the door (with a mirror hung on it) in my parent’s bedroom. He did know I was in there taking a shower.  Evidently the sun had gone down leaving barely enough light to negotiate out of the room. Knowing the room layout, I confidently walked towards my bedroom.  I saw the reflection of light on the mirror just enough to think it was light from the hallway.  I plowed right into the door. It must have sounded like a hard headed object hitting an immovable force.  All I could hear was my brother laughing. Belly laughing.  I can still hear him. I still owe him one.

Not all unexpected surprises are that funny.  This pandemic is certainly unexpected.  We can almost say we were surprised, but that would be disingenuous.  If you watch the news, you could see the problems.  But distance may have allowed us to think we were immune.  Nope.  So we are now learning how to face into this time.  In order to survive, we are necessarily taking huge steps to stop the spread of the virus.  Shelter in. Sanitize. Pray. Listen.

This surprise has been like hitting a door in the dark. (Sorry, I just had too!). We are stunned, we have to stop and figure out what is happening. Then open the door and proceed.  We are all having to learn new things.  I am learning that I can do more on a computer than I wanted to.  I now can post this on MailChimp and Facebook.  I can upload videos too!  I can record sermons all by myself, and today we will see if I indeed can create a Zoom meeting (an online live video meeting).  I wouldn’t have voluntarily done any of these things.

 

I have found new depths of gratitude for the church people I serve, the Bishop who leads us and an exceptional DS.  Yesterday was my “day of the door”.  With every interaction, I was moved to tears by the sheer reality of missing them, of witnessing the many ways that folks are doing all they can to support one another.  People with good hearts made pure in the love of Jesus Christ. 

This time is hard. We are learning how to negotiate all kinds of circumstances, from getting groceries to maintaining our social life in new ways, to discovering a new appreciation for all that we do have in place.  The love of family, of friends, of a community that cares, a place of worship that continues “in spite of” the unexpected circumstances.  Not so unexpected, God continues to abide with us, showing up in the moments that reveal hope, promise and assurance. 

How are you doing with all of this unexpected stuff?

Wishing that you find a yellow rope with a knot on it today that will bring you joy.  Hoping you don’t have a brother that will surprise you by shutting the door you thought was open.  Praying that you are discovering that in Christ you are resilient and strong no matter what unexpected surprises come your way.

You are loved, prayed for and by God’s mercy and grace, you are strong in the Lord.

Pastor Lisa

    For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.” Acts 17: 23-25

Unexpected surprise!!
In case you want to remember Ralphie’s Christmas wish!
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Perverse

*dictionary.com  If you want to know more about me, all 5 definitions could be applied at various times
Perverse

There. I did it. I wrote the word that kept coming to me.  I didn’t want to, its not the best word. (That is a whole other reflection!)  and there it is.  I was actually doing what the word was for today.  The word that God gives is not only for you, its for me too. 

So I am just sayin’, the Holy Spirit pointed out that I am perverse this morning.  I mean not today, (?? Did i just write that??) but there are times.  Just for clarification I checked the definition: willfully determined or disposed to go counter to what is expected or desired; contrary.*

I think I heard a mike drop somewhere. 

Well, at least I am in good company!  Paul expresses this perverse nature we all struggle with, saying “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15. See how it is – we all have that sin nature that we struggle with.  Some of us may be more capable of refraining from being perverse.  At times we can all be stronger or weaker.  

The first thing is to face into is that we all have an easy time doing what we want.  I have never had a hard time going “my way” about life.  Growing in faith and action, requires intentional reflection, mindfulness, prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will accompany us, revealing, re-directing us, giving us strength to overcome self and become more Christ like in our ways. Whether it is a matter of curbing our anger to show mercy, refraining from judgement and showing grace, or some of those difficult ones like giving up destructive habits and actions that destroy us emotionally and physically, you get the picture.  Being perverse, contrary to what we know God is revealing to us produces outcomes that are harmful to us and to others.

Perversity would have me believe that I am immune to the pandemic, going my way and perhaps catching it or worse spreading the virus.  Perversity would tell me to stock up on essentials (filling our pantry so that it overflows into other spaces and places).  Perversity would have me – oh you know.  You have your own ways.

And I love you in spite of these ways, just as God loves us even though God knows our every thought, motive and plan.  Such grace warrants our attention and our efforts to respond from that same spiritual place of mercy for ourselves and others.  Forgiven for our humanity, God keeps on keeping on loving us into our best self.  As Paul says later in Romans 8: 31b “If God is for us, who is against us?”

Wow. Take that perverse nature!  God says, “I’ve got this!”. Mike drop.

I love you, I am praying for you, and God is our greatest resource in all things.

Pastor Lisa
 
*dictionary.com  If you want to know more about me, all 5 definitions could be applied at various times

https://youtu.be/e37m3I5eH8g

 
Lord, I Need You.Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You