Take heart

Good morning all! You made it to Friday!

Today’s scripture: Psalm 27:1-4, 13-14 (NRSV)

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple.

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

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This is definitely one of my favorite Psalms.  There are pieces of scripture, I don’t know about you, that just stick with me. So often it means that they have come through music at some point in my life.  There are parts of this Psalm (mainly the parts that I have pulled out this morning) that run through my head every once in a while.  What I love about this piece of poetry, this song, is that these words are so strong for when life seems pretty chaotic and hard things need to be done.

We live in a world that is fear based.  The news is full of it.  Facebook seems to revamp it and it pops up in our feeds.  Consumerism is based on it and we as humans sometimes thrive on it.  It fuels us at times or it keeps us from action.

BUT the psalmist (credited to David again) chides us to not live in it anymore….why? Because God is around us and that gives us courage even when we have to wait.

I went to visit someone the other day in the hospital.  The office had gotten a call that this person’s cancer has spread and she is nearing the end of life here on earth.  I hustled over to the hospital. This is someone who I have visited with and thoroughly enjoy our visits. She is full of life and story….my favorite people to hang out with.  I walked into the room to a big smile (not what I was expecting from the reports).  She was surrounded by some family members who quickly opened a spot next to her for me. I got the report that she was actually doing better and it isn’t as dire as we thought yet but yes her cancer is out of control and end of life is coming.  But she smiled at me and told me that her order for her memorial is in my office and what was going to happen next and….

I stopped her. “But my friend, what are you feeling? Aren’t you scared of all of this?”

She paused. Turned and looked at me directly in the eye.  Gave a HUGE smile and said, “My dear, why would I be afraid of death?  I am going to see God and I know it will all be ok.  This is what its about. I am not afraid.”

The rest of our visit was full of story and laughter and a hug at the end. I told her I wanted at least two more visits in the next months.  And I am sure it will happen.

There was so much peace and calm and joy in that room…not always what you find in a hospital room and I have been in a lot of them in my ten years of appointed ministry so far.  I walked out of that room so at peace and full of joy as well. What courage! But that’s it, right? When we are full of courage and heart there is no room for fear and it exudes from us and spreads.  What a gift I have received from this woman who is so confident and not afraid of death. It is part of how we live with God.

wow.

May this Psalm be full for you today. I am also attaching a song based on this Psalm that often gets stuck in my head. 🙂

Look up….

Good morning!

Today’s scripture:

Genesis 13:14-18 (NRSV)

14 The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17 Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18 So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord.

improv_every_look

Lately I have been noticing how often when I am walking somewhere or waiting for something I am looking at my phone. It is habit.  I start my way out the door and immediately reach into my pocket to grab what has become so familiar in my hand.  As I walk, I check my texts and my facebook page. I look up this or that. When I am waiting for something or someone, it is even worse. It is almost as if I can’t take the moment to see what is around me, who is around me, what is going on, or even pay attention to what is going on in me.

Last April I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with a group of clergy women.  At first, the most distressing part of the trip was not getting there but knowing that once I got there, I was cut off from my forms of communication. There is hardly any wireless in Cuba and definitely not the cell phone support for me to continue logging on.  I was worried about the church and my fiance at the time…what if they needed me? What if I needed them?  How would I let my family know that I was where I needed to be?  Plus…without FACEBOOK FOR A WHOLE 10 DAYS??? Whaaaa? Here is what I discovered….

1. The world still continued on even without me updating the facespace (as we call it around here sometimes).
2.  I was ok without constant communication.
3. I actually had time to think about what was going on in me.
4.  During those times of waiting or going from location to location, people talked to each other OR we paid attention to our surroundings.

At one point, we went to the ballet.  It was one of the most moving experiences in the arts that I have had and in between numbers, people turned and talked to one another about what they had just seen. They didn’t immediately reach for their pockets and put it on facebook or tune out for a moment. We all lived into the moment much more with each other. It was an incredible moment to be in. And we knew it and processed it and loved it.

God tells Abram…look up now.  Look around and see God’s goodness and what God is promising to the people.  God pulls Abram’s eyes out of the nitty gritty of the moment to see further.  While Abram didn’t have a cell phone he could certainly get lots in the details of right now and conflict and unrest..instead, God says you have to raise your eyes to see.  Look above what we are mired in.  Zoom out to see what is beautiful before you.  Look all around.

We are called to look up today..not get bogged down…not get mired in the mess. What is God placing before you?

Peace,
C

PS.  The pic above is from Improv Everywhere.  This is one of their first “pranks” called Look Up More. It is a great video if you want to google it.  🙂

Once upon a time….

Good morning everyone!  We made it to mid week!

Today’s scripture:

Job 1The Message

1-3 Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East!

4-5 His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking. When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, “Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly.” Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they’d sinned.

6-7 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?”

Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”

God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”

9-10 Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!

11 “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”

12 God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of God.

13-15 Sometime later, while Job’s children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

16 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them—burned them to a crisp. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

17 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

18-19 While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

20 Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped:

21 Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
God’s name be ever blessed.

22 Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.

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When I was a little girl I was obsessed with these movies called, “Faerie Tale Theatre.” We would go to the video rental place and I would definitely negotiate with my brothers on bringing one home to watch. Later when they came out  on tv we recorded them on VHS and I would watch and re watch them.  They were the faerie tales put to the stage. My favorite has always been the dancing princesses although Rapunzel was a definite classic.  I just looked up a few clips and it all came flooding back to me. I bet I could play each one in my head to a line or even recite some of them.

I have always been very very captivated by fairy tales. I am not sure why. Even today I sometimes tune into the show, “Once upon a time” even though it is full of drama and pretty ridiculous (about a town here full of fairy tale figures that bounce between here and their alternate worlds).

What I loved about Faerie tale theatre and about the actual tales is not the romance that sometimes happens at the end, it is actually some of the dark stuff that happens to make it a really great story.  The show Faerie Tale Theatre was not about pink and princesses….as I look back, the filming was all pretty dark and at times the stories got pretty twisted.  They played out the consequences or the birds pecking at eyes (name that tale?) or the deep sadness that comes as losing someone you love.  They were made for children but didn’t gloss over every little thing. Usually they ended up in happiness but it took time to get there.  This is the stuff of a really really great story. There is the set up of location and context and all that was before this thing happened. There is the challenge and then the difficulties.  What happens in the mess is what makes it truly captivating and beautiful.

Maybe this is why I love the book of Job so much.  Job is a story told to the people to talk about things. Stories allow us a landscape to ask questions and make sense of stuff.  People are suffering…why? how do we deal with it? Where is God in all of us this mess?

Out of that set up comes this tension between God and humans, between humans and other humans, between the persecutor or challenger (Satan…notice not the devil) and God and most of all, out of all of this comes the beauty of poetry, response, and God’s whirlwind.

I love the set up of the story in today’s tale.  It is a really really great story. It helps us place ourselves in the midst of it.

What is the story you will talk about today?

 

If you want to just glance at production value…here is a 9 minute clip from The Frog Prince.   Robin Williams plays the frog… 🙂

Would you listen?

Hello all!  Hope this Tuesday finds you well!

Today’s scripture: Psalm 17:1-7 (NRSV)

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
let your eyes see the right.

If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
my mouth does not transgress.
As for what others do, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.

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Today’s scripture is a Psalm that functions as a prayer of deliverance from those who persecute David.  The Psalm is attributed to David and very well could have been one of his songs.  King David was known for his poetry and music.  The Psalms come from these beautiful poems across time and people in prayer to God. Some of hymns of praise and some are lament. Some are in between like this one and appeal to God for different things.

What struck me about today’s Psalm was the first few lines.  The hymn begins with a request of God to listen to David’s cry.  The NRSV version says, “Hear a just cause, attend to my cry, give ear to my prayer…”

That give ear to my prayer part was the part that got me to perk up.  There is a distinct plea from David to God to even pay attention to what is said.

hands-listen

How often do I just start talking with God without making sure I am in the right space for God to listen?  What if I asked God to join me in the conversation first? What if I asked God to give ear to what I am about to say?

Good conversation is not just about talking at someone but having a back and forth with listening time on both ends, isn’t it? Why would we expect less from God? Why would we just start talking without making the space for God and for us to listen? Prayer takes on so many forms but what if I asked God to listen first? I know God will listen no matter what but what that does is put into a different space for me…the one talking at first. Am I ready to listen for what God has to say if I am just talking without being ready for either to respond?

So today this is what I am trying. Won’t you try it with me?
Peace,
C

Matching

Happy President’s Day all!  Hope you are well!

Today’s scripture:

1 John 2:3-6 The Message

2-3 Here’s how we can be sure that we know God in the right way: Keep his commandments.

4-6 If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.

animals-dressed-as-other-animals-13

I use a daily lectionary (or daily scripture lesson) from a united church of Christ site.  Each day it lists three scriptures to choose from. I try to do the devotional first thing in the morning unless I am travelling or things are crazy and I can’t get to it right away (like today).  When I open the scriptures, I read through each one and think about each one. I try not to plan ahead so I can sit with the scripture in the moment. If I really can’t think of where to go with each scripture, I try another daily scripture site but usually I try to sit with whatever scripture is presented. What stories come to me? What prayers? What ponderings? This makes me look at the world differently in these seasons.  Experiences that I have change into where God is showing up….like over dinner with friends last night or in worship yesterday morning or during conversations right after..or when we went on a group wine tasting yesterday later afternoon….

So I think about what images come to mind and then I start to write.  When I opened the scriptures today, I actually said out loud…”Oh geez, I don’t like any of them!”  Usually I can at least look to the Psalm for comfort or inspiration.  Didn’t work today.  The scripture I picked out of the three seems pretty up front. Pretty basic. The only way to really know God is to act accordingly. You can’t say that you know God and then not love people. In order to really say that you know God, you have to act like Jesus…you know, love people.

Your insides have to match your outsides.  Your actions need to represent what is inside of you and what God calls you to.  I guess we could make it more complicated but I am thinking it is pretty close to that kind of integrity. Like Ash Wednesday…if you mark yourself with ash, you have to be ready to live into the consequences..not the show of it.  That’s hypocritical.

Ok…easy to say, harder to maybe live out. Because we are human. And humans mess that stuff up. Lent is about realigning and stripping away the other stuff.  What will that look like for you?

And I am sorry to say that the only images I could conjure were images of dressing up animals as other animals.  Cute and funny but super confusing to us and them. It doesn’t match. It doesn’t work for long and it certainly isn’t right for all concerned.

I could have gone more saintly but today this is what happened….tomorrow will be a new day. 🙂

Courtney

A time for running…

Good morning! Happy Saturday!

Today’s scripture:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NRSV)

Everything Has Its Time

3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

seasons

What can be said about this scripture that hasn’t already been said? The song even says it so well…but it is refreshing to reflect again…

One of my best friends in the whole wide world asked me to join her in her New Year’s resolution and I said yes, it would become mine as well. She asked if we could do a 5k a month together for the year 2016.Jenny has joined the resolution and the three of us have been working on finding one a month to schedule.  We started by going to Bend a few weeks ago to do a 5k. It was icy and cold. It was sunny and beautiful but it was hard to walk on the ice. Jenny and I decided to walk it because of the ice. We slipped and slid through. I even fell in the middle of it. It was nice to think of it as a stroll and we got our worst time yet. In the middle of winter we started our trek at 9am.

Yesterday we created our own 5k around our neighborhood to fulfill our February 5k.  Six of us walked or jogged our 3.1 miles around Northeast.  Even through my snot, I walked a minute then jogged a minute to reach one of my best times yet. In the break in the rain, we started our jog at 5:30 pm.

So far we are signed up for five 5ks…we have one set up for March in Corvallis in the middle of the day…April we are walking against MS…and in August we will be running through bubbles…so far. And what I find myself most excited about is the chance to jog through the spaces and the seasons. Each experience is a totally different one in a different setting in different weather. The prep is a little different as we prep for ice, rain, sun….do we need to layer?  Do I need my fleece? Head phones?

Last night as I jogged along I found myself by myself just processing.  It was that reflection time that I so yearned for yesterday. My therapist has done some reading lately that we process better when we are moving and this is becoming the perfect outlet for that as I train and prep and then run the race.  Through the seasons…there is a time for it all and as I jog along at my slow pace I just kept thinking…I can do anything for a minute. I can jog for a minute and then walk for a minute and think through it all. There is a time for everything.

God’s persistence

Good morning and happy Friday!

Today’s scripture:

Exodus 6:1-13The Message

6 God said to Moses, “Now you’ll see what I’ll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he’ll send them out free; with a strong hand he’ll drive them out of his land.”

2-6 God continued speaking to Moses, reassuring him, “I am God. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as The Strong God, but by my name God (I-Am-Present) I was not known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the country in which they lived as sojourners. But now I’ve heard the groanings of the Israelites whom the Egyptians continue to enslave and I’ve remembered my covenant. Therefore tell the Israelites:

6-8 “I am God. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am God, your God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God.

But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions.

10-11 Then God said to Moses, “Go and speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt so that he will release the Israelites from his land.”

12 Moses answered God, “Look—the Israelites won’t even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter.”

13 But God again laid out the facts to Moses and Aaron regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he again commanded them to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

persistence-12-1

This morning as I was reading through the scriptures and sipping my coffee, what struck me was the amazing amount of persistence that God pursues us with.  Over and over again, God talks to Moses and says, “Tell my people….” Then Moses goes to the people and they don’t listen. Then Moses goes back to God and says to God that they aren’t listening and he isn’t the right guy. So God tells him the message again and sends him back to the people. This happens over and over and over again.  God keeps giving this awesome message of a new way of being, Moses tells them, they don’t listen and complain a lot, Moses goes back to God defeated and the cycle repeats.  I find myself in the story thinking, “these people are being dumb!”  And yet when I think about my own life…how many times does God have to give me a message before I listen?

I think about my own call story and over and over again God places ministry in front of me and I wasn’t having it.  God’s persistence continues to call me to these sacred spaces as I actively resist where God is calling me to next.

Is it out of fear that I turn the other direction? Is it out of my own weakness that I can’t see what God is saying over and over again? My own discomfort? My lack of vision? Or just because I am human? Probably all of the above to some level.

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Although if I am honest with myself and spend just a little more time in reflection, prayer and discernment, I know which direction God is leading if I am not running around acting too busy. If I am honest with myself and God, I might be led a little easier and with a little less fear into the new ways of being.

So today I am actually trying to take my day off and spend a little time in rest (get over this nasty cold) and a little time in listening and being.  Last night I found myself in unexplained anxiety which signals to me today that I need to sit with God a little bit more.

Where are you today? What is holding you back from seeing God’s great persistence?

Peace,
C

 

Holy Ground

Good morning!  Did you get your ash in church last night?

Today’s scripture:

Acts 7:30-34 (NRSV)

30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.’

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One of my favorite preachers of all time is a woman by the name of Barbara Brown Taylor and I remember so clearly the first time I heard her preach….
I was just beginning my journey of ministry and I went to the Festival of Homiletics. It is basically comicon for preachers. We really nerd it up when we talk about preaching and exegesis and…crazy things like…eschatology and…well, you get the idea. This conference is highlighting the best preachers. They preach and then they lecture about preaching. You get to see them in their art and then you get tips. I love it. I have been 3 times and gain sooo much each time I go.

Back to Barbara…I remember her sermon so clearly because she walked up to the pulpit and just before entering the space to preach she took off her shoes and then stepped up into the pulpit to give us the word. She was standing on holy ground.  She knew that her job was so much not her ego and her space that she took off her shoes to acknowledge God in our midst.

Our Acts passage is about remembering what it means to be on holy ground. This is the storyteller retelling the story of the people of Moses. It is not the exodus passage but it is the retelling of the Exodus to a people who have forgotten what it means to take off their shoes. They had forgotten about God creating space to be holy. They had forgotten what it was like to take off their sandals and recognize the holiness around them.

Don’t we also need reminders? This season is full of them. Last night as we were marked with ash, it because sacred and holy. I almost took off my shoes. Sometimes I wander down to the sanctuary, kick off my shoes and pray. I desperately need the reminders of holiness in the mundane and every day. When Moses approached the bush, he had probably been in that spot a million times before and never noticed the holiness of it. God takes the ordinary, the everyday and lights it on fire….if we but look and take space and take off our shoes.

What is holy ground for you? Where will you take off your shoes and stay for a bit? Can you find some today?

Our journey begins…

Hello! You are receiving this email because you are part of a daily devotional list for Lent 2016. If you would like to not be, feel free to unsubscribe. If you think I have missed someone, send them this email and they can subscribe. Thank you for being part of my Lenten journey. Each day I will put a scripture before us and then share a short devotional. I LOVE getting emails back (don’t think that I am too busy to read and respond :)).  If you are called to write a devotional, I also LOVE highlighting guests on my day to day reflections.  I will be writing each day (hopefully in the morning) until Easter.  I am honored to journey with you!

Today’s scripture: Matthew 6:16-21  (NRSV)

16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a]

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[b]consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust[c] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

ash-wednesday

I have a confession to make…I love Ash Wednesday and I absolutely hate having ash on my head.  I know it is all part of the gig but when it is my turn to have the ash and oil smeared on my head, it takes everything in me not to cringe.  I also must admit that when I get home, it is the first thing to be wiped off.  I love the symbolism of walking around during the day and seeing smudges on foreheads and being a smudge. I love recognizing that I am mortal and seeing it in the world and yet, it doesn’t feel good. It feels…well…smudgy. The oil feels so present which is also part of the deal.

One year I even tried to just get my hand smudged with ash. I figured it would be the same, right? It wasn’t…it felt out of place.

The thing is…it is good for me to be uncomfortable during Ash Wednesday. It is good for me to feel something on my forehead. I don’t do it for the show, I do it because it is real and now. I do it because it connects me to the earth and to another human being. I do it because we will die and there is death and it matters moment to moment.  I do it to clear away the other stuff to get closer to God.

I endure the ash because it begins a season of pruning, of clearing away, of finding me again. I do it to begin Lent. So today I will mark others with ash and I will be marked with ash yet again.

Peace,
Courtney

 

Good morning all!

Today’s scripture:

Luke 1:68-79New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us
    in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71     that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
    and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
    to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness
    before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God,
    the dawn from on high will break upon us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”― Martin Luther King Jr

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I really have no words about what happened yesterday in the world.  My heart broke when I came back to my office and I started seeing what was happening on the news.  I just kept saying, “Lord, have mercy…” out loud.  In moments like these, the questions about what actions next are present. Obviously, something needs to be done.  Shootings as normative are not acceptable and yet…and yet…what do we do?

Last year at about this time, I was fighting a different battle by trying to stand with an everyday congregation and offer them stability and comfort.  Deep in my soul there is a passion for equality with our homeless brothers and sisters. Last year at about this time, the city had said no to that plan and was forcing us to consider kicking people off of the property. What could we do? The only thing we could even imagine was to have a candlelight vigil to pray and then to call for action because we figured the darkness cannot win. Only light drives out darkness and we must come together as community.

Fear wants isolation. If we are isolated from one another, we can’t do anything.  Fear wants us to not hope because hope causes us to create new solutions.  Fear wants us to hide because hiding means we can’t overcome.  Fear wants us to hate the other because love will call us to transformation.  So we have to not give into fear but instead put our light together, come together as community, get innovative and creative and not treat each other as the other but as “us.”

Today light a candle and find your people. It is time to pray and then to act.  Love will win. There will be light and we will stick together. Amen.