I was on my iPhone, causally scrolling through my Twitter feed, when I realized that there were a lot of things being said about Paris. I turned the news on, and saw the reports of what would be multiple attacks across the city, killing hundreds. I like many have been in a state of shock over the events. To the point that my journaling was just a list of words or phrases, no complete sentences, reflecting the impossibility of complete thoughts forming.
Today, I attempted to form that list of words and phrases into a prayer:
I left the house, most likely barefoot, and started walking through the woods. There was a path that had been worn in the dirt from all the other times I had walked this path. It is what I did when I needed to clear my head, ponder something, or escape from the stressors of teenage life. I would later have the epiphany that what was really happening was prayer. I was communing with the Creator.
There was an old stump by the creek where I would go and sit and think . . . . .I mean, pray.
I had moved some of my cross necklaces that were hanging on the hook where I hang my alb. They were getting tangled up and just becoming a mess. So I took them down to set them aside until I could come up with a better solution.
The day proceeded on. I left work, went home for lunch, got a haircut. All pretty normal things. I had a meeting with a couple getting married this coming summer and needed to take Baby J with me. We loaded up and got to the office about forty-five minutes before the meeting was scheduled.
In a good mood, Baby J explored my office. Playing with the toys that were there only occasionally. At some point, she discovered the crosses I had earlier that day set aside. One cross, a wooden cross I brought back from Costa Rica one year, became her favorite.
Baby J has hit a milestone. She now sits up with very little help, or without her arms extended out for balance. And she is quite proud of herself.
Every once and awhile though, she’ll get super excited about this newfound ability and falls face first.
In the Virginia Conference, today (Pentecost Sunday) is a Day of Prayer. Bishop Cho has asked the churches to be in prayer for renewal and revival for the church. I tailored the prayer of confession in today’s traditional services for the occasion:
Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have done harm when we should have done good. We have not stayed in love with you. We have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us. Renew us. Free us to be the church you have called us to be. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, transform us and shape us so that we may make disciples for the transformation of the world.
Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children. (Matthew 5:9, Common English Bible)
There have been a lot of troubling images out of the city of Baltimore. These images of violence fill our TV and computer screens. And let’s be honest, at times, they are a little bit more than we can handle. The tension in our society over justice for all people seems to have collied in the streets of Baltimore this week.
Questions are being raised by many, especially those in the church, as to how we should respond. What does justice look like? What role does the church play in such discussions? Where is God calling us to be a part of this?
My father-in-law was in town a few weeks ago. We took him up to the Blue Ridge Parkway one day to explore the mountains and its trails. Spring has just started and the trees are still barren and dry leaves still litter the ground.
Yet, there were signs of spring.
by Rev. Alan Combs
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These words come at the beginning of Psalm 22. Immediately, the biblical scholar-wannabe in me asks a biblical scholar-wannabe question. How much of Psalm 22 did Jesus mean? Psalm 22 forms two distinct parts. The first eighteen verses or so are full of pain, oppression, and despair. They feel very much like what Jesus might have had in mind while hanging on the cross, blood pouring from his nailed hands and feet, struggling to breathe.
But then Psalm 22 changes at verse twenty-five. “From you comes my praise in the great congregation,” the Psalmist declares. The Psalm shifts to a prayer of deliverance. Yes many “strong bulls of Bashan” (I want to start a band called “Strong Bulls of Bashan) surround the Psalmist (22.12), and yes “I can count all my bones,” (22.17) but at the end of the day “dominion belongs to the Lord,” (22.18) so much so, that “All who go down to the dust shall bow before the Lord, and I shall live for God” (22.28).
by Minoka Gunesekera
Read Exodus 12:1-14
Many times when I go home from seminary I eat with my closest friends and family. It has become almost a ritual. The food and the actions may not be very unique, but when my community gathers for a meal it shows me an example of God’s love and devotion. And those moments of love I hold in my heart when I am away and I feel like I am about to walk into an “impending plague” or a time of trial. Just like the memory of these meals, God’s protection follows us when we feel like we need to be rescued, not because we did anything to deserve it but because that is God’s expression of mercy.