Fear Not

Fear Not

Amidst all the adjustments we face with sheltering in, additional events appear to be piling in on top of the world pandemic.  I am talking about more than running out of toilet paper or even loosing power.  Whether minor inconveniences to major crisis, each holds its own particular power over our mindset and actions. 

Easter weekend we heard warnings of significantly severe weather for North Georgia.  Throughout Easter Day, we were shown examples of where tornados could hit.  By evening, a majority of Georgia was under watch.  Going to bed? You can but you better prepare, affix your phone to the app’s that send warnings, get your radio, shoes (and pants!) and prepare a place of shelter.

If it isn’t tornado’s, its toilet paper. Some fears are more well founded than others.  I have entertained fear enough to know:  Fear. Don’t. Care.

Fact and truth have no grounding in a certain kind of fear.  The kind of fear I’m talking about isn’t reasonable, precautionary fear.  I am talking about the runaway, stockpiling, shut downing kind of fear. Our imagination, our worst thoughts, our runaway ideas of how circumstances will play out, become a playground for fear.  I don’t have to tell you that, you know it.  Just a reminder.

We know how fear affects us. It takes away faith in ourselves, diminishes our trust in Jesus Christ, and hands fear over to its companion.  The Liar.  The Liar takes hold of all the loose, waiving, moving parts of fear jumping around seeking attention.  Fear is having a party, only its not the kind you want to join. This party, turns our minds and spirits into lockdown. Immobilized by fear, the companions called inertia, depression, hopelessness…. you may recognize some of these mindsets join in.

Good grief!  I am tired of the power of fear!  Enough time spent speaking of it, reading about it, listening to fear mongering news, speeches and predictions.  We have a choice to engage in rebellion!  Yes, I say rebellion.  Kick back on the Evil one, who would love to keep us in chaos, sheltered in not just in body but in mind.  Stand firm in the truth, not in lies!  We are Easter people.  

The resurrection is not just a spiritual event that happened for humanity.  Jesus triumph over death may have taken three days, but in those days, Christ rebuked and conquered all the sins of the world, all the tools of evil’s trade to break us, all the lies that would have held power over us.  Gone! Done!

The resurrection is a message to our daily life.  Christ revealed more than can be written on any page.  However, there is a part of me that says that the first words after His resurrection, spoken to the disciples behind locked doors, may be some of the most important.  Words that hold true in living life with it’s fears, tribulation, sorrow, death and all manner of human conditions we face. 

“… Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  John 20:19b, 21-22

I love you, I am praying for you, and God would have you hold peace as God’s good gift to you.  Pastor Lisa

Jesus Christ is the Truth.  Do not let fear overcome, but hear Jesus’ Words “Peace be with you” each day!


In- Between Maundy Thursday

In-between

I am feeling quite in-between things.  That would describe how my emotions, feelings and reality appear to me.  Today.  I am looking forward to Easter and all that it means to me spiritually, to my faith, and not looking forward to the isolation our community will for every good reason, experience it.  I am feeling pretty good emotionally, but there are moments when irritation and frustration surface. I am quite sure it is related to our social isolation.  Between reality and my feeble adjustments to being limited, shut in, confined, however you see it, it ain’t where I want to be. Anybody else?  

We can do things to make it better – things like listen to music, read a good book, read the Bible, dance, plant a garden, pull some weeds, watch the birds, sit outside and be blessed with the breaking of spring with its buds, flowers and smells of fresh rain. I pray you have a list of things you are discovering as you negotiate these in-between times.  Times when you are not where you want to be and unable to gain purchase in the land of where you do want to be.

Today is Maudy Thursday.  Today we remember how Jesus gathered his disciples for what would be their last meal.  He would wash their feet and teach them to remember him with simple table food of wine and bread.  Later on that night, Jesus took them to the Garden to pray and prepare for His suffering and death.  The tears that fell like blood from his brow tell me that Jesus was facing the most difficult in-between place one could imagine. 

Knowing what will happen when it is terrible is… terrible.  Feeling like you can’t change it, unable to control the outcome, being helpless in the face of death, Jesus lived those moments as a human.  Fully into the moment the Divine allowed him to be present with us in our own fears and mortality.  The Divine stood back as Human was fully present. There was no in-between that night, nor in the days to come.  It would be three days before the in-between was banished.  We can not go beyond this maundy day of horribleness without bringing our soul into remembering Jesus final witness of such love at a dinner table, such humility found in the cleansing of dusty feet, such grace in the taste of wine and the aroma of the bread as it’s broken and tasted.

It is hard to sit in the in-between.  I am with you in that.  So is Jesus.  He used his wisdom of that circumstance, of his awareness, impending suffering, pain and death to reveal God’s love.  He used what he felt, what he knew to be real and embody God’s nature one last time.  So can we.  So we will.  Most especially in this in-between time of a pandemic. All humanity is facing into this terrible crisis.  What we know about our God who understands and compassionately accompanies us, especially in the in-between, is desperately needed today.  Right now.  In the name of Jesus, may we be Christ for the world.  One gentle act at a time.

You are loved, you are prayed for, and you are not alone.

Pastor Lisa
“When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.” Luke 22: 14

“Stay with Us” a plea for Jesus to remain with us in the darkness.  Powerful in words, sung a cappella with such sweet, longing beauty.


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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Fear Not

Fear Not

Amidst all the adjustments we face with sheltering in, additional events appear to be piling in on top of the world pandemic.  I am talking about more than running out of toilet paper or even loosing power.  Whether minor inconveniences to major crisis, each holds its own particular power over our mindset and actions. 

Easter weekend we heard warnings of significantly severe weather for North Georgia.  Throughout Easter Day, we were shown examples of where tornados could hit.  By evening, a majority of Georgia was under watch.  Going to bed? You can but you better prepare, affix your phone to the app’s that send warnings, get your radio, shoes (and pants!) and prepare a place of shelter.

If it isn’t tornado’s, its toilet paper. Some fears are more well founded than others.  I have entertained fear enough to know:  Fear. Don’t. Care.

Fact and truth have no grounding in a certain kind of fear.  The kind of fear I’m talking about isn’t reasonable, precautionary fear.  I am talking about the runaway, stockpiling, shut downing kind of fear. Our imagination, our worst thoughts, our runaway ideas of how circumstances will play out, become a playground for fear.  I don’t have to tell you that, you know it.  Just a reminder.

We know how fear affects us. It takes away faith in ourselves, diminishes our trust in Jesus Christ, and hands fear over to its companion.  The Liar.  The Liar takes hold of all the loose, waiving, moving parts of fear jumping around seeking attention.  Fear is having a party, only its not the kind you want to join. This party, turns our minds and spirits into lockdown. Immobilized by fear, the companions called inertia, depression, hopelessness…. you may recognize some of these mindsets join in.

Good grief!  I am tired of the power of fear!  Enough time spent speaking of it, reading about it, listening to fear mongering news, speeches and predictions.  We have a choice to engage in rebellion!  Yes, I say rebellion.  Kick back on the Evil one, who would love to keep us in chaos, sheltered in not just in body but in mind.  Stand firm in the truth, not in lies!  We are Easter people.  

The resurrection is not just a spiritual event that happened for humanity.  Jesus triumph over death may have taken three days, but in those days, Christ rebuked and conquered all the sins of the world, all the tools of evil’s trade to break us, all the lies that would have held power over us.  Gone! Done!

The resurrection is a message to our daily life.  Christ revealed more than can be written on any page.  However, there is a part of me that says that the first words after His resurrection, spoken to the disciples behind locked doors, may be some of the most important.  Words that hold true in living life with it’s fears, tribulation, sorrow, death and all manner of human conditions we face. 

“… Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  John 20:19b, 21-22

I love you, I am praying for you, and God would have you hold peace as God’s good gift to you.  Pastor Lisa

Jesus Christ is the Truth.  Do not let fear overcome, but hear Jesus’ Words “Peace be with you” each day!


In- Between Maundy Thursday

In-between

I am feeling quite in-between things.  That would describe how my emotions, feelings and reality appear to me.  Today.  I am looking forward to Easter and all that it means to me spiritually, to my faith, and not looking forward to the isolation our community will for every good reason, experience it.  I am feeling pretty good emotionally, but there are moments when irritation and frustration surface. I am quite sure it is related to our social isolation.  Between reality and my feeble adjustments to being limited, shut in, confined, however you see it, it ain’t where I want to be. Anybody else?  

We can do things to make it better – things like listen to music, read a good book, read the Bible, dance, plant a garden, pull some weeds, watch the birds, sit outside and be blessed with the breaking of spring with its buds, flowers and smells of fresh rain. I pray you have a list of things you are discovering as you negotiate these in-between times.  Times when you are not where you want to be and unable to gain purchase in the land of where you do want to be.

Today is Maudy Thursday.  Today we remember how Jesus gathered his disciples for what would be their last meal.  He would wash their feet and teach them to remember him with simple table food of wine and bread.  Later on that night, Jesus took them to the Garden to pray and prepare for His suffering and death.  The tears that fell like blood from his brow tell me that Jesus was facing the most difficult in-between place one could imagine. 

Knowing what will happen when it is terrible is… terrible.  Feeling like you can’t change it, unable to control the outcome, being helpless in the face of death, Jesus lived those moments as a human.  Fully into the moment the Divine allowed him to be present with us in our own fears and mortality.  The Divine stood back as Human was fully present. There was no in-between that night, nor in the days to come.  It would be three days before the in-between was banished.  We can not go beyond this maundy day of horribleness without bringing our soul into remembering Jesus final witness of such love at a dinner table, such humility found in the cleansing of dusty feet, such grace in the taste of wine and the aroma of the bread as it’s broken and tasted.

It is hard to sit in the in-between.  I am with you in that.  So is Jesus.  He used his wisdom of that circumstance, of his awareness, impending suffering, pain and death to reveal God’s love.  He used what he felt, what he knew to be real and embody God’s nature one last time.  So can we.  So we will.  Most especially in this in-between time of a pandemic. All humanity is facing into this terrible crisis.  What we know about our God who understands and compassionately accompanies us, especially in the in-between, is desperately needed today.  Right now.  In the name of Jesus, may we be Christ for the world.  One gentle act at a time.

You are loved, you are prayed for, and you are not alone.

Pastor Lisa
“When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.” Luke 22: 14

“Stay with Us” a plea for Jesus to remain with us in the darkness.  Powerful in words, sung a cappella with such sweet, longing beauty.


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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