Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘church’

Steps to a Lovely Life


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Be aware – Be sensitive –

Be quick to admit – Ask forgiveness –

Embrace the right – Reject the wrong –

Obey God – Trust – Endure – Mature.

Eph. 4:14-16

Easter Sadness


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I have heard holidays are sad times for some people. There are more suicides near the various holidays each year than at other times of the year. Have you heard that? Have you ever related to such sadness? I’m not THAT sad, but this was not a typical Happy Easter day.

I grew up in a typical American family in the center of California. At least I thought we were typical. Since then I have begun to question what is “normal” – is there such a thing as “typical”? In my world, I Love Lucy and Bugs Bunny made me laugh, Sundays were church and family time, gatherings at our house or at relatives’ homes were the norm for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, when I found myself in a funk this year as Easter approached and no family was coming to gather, I should not have been surprised, right? Wrong! I was caught off guard! Where is the laughing, carefree Bugs Bunny when you need him?

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Our church hosted a potluck after church today –  Easter Sunday; designed just for folks like Bob and me whose family is a thousand or more miles away. Ham would be provided. Last night I created my favorite comfort food for the occasion- scalloped potatoes Andre’ style. I put them in the garage refrigerator for safe-keeping. I spent an hour this morning up in my sanctuary, as usual, in prayer and Bible Study, in meditation as I listened to the robins singing outside the the window. “He is risen indeed!” Shake it off, Jan! ReJOYce! It’s Easter!! Pick up your music. Pick up your Easter lily. Pick up your spirits. Get to your house of worship!

We arrived at church 45 minutes early to practice with the choir. Surely potatoes au gratin and “Up From the Grave He Arose” would lift my sagging spirits. Oh no! I forgot the potatoes where I had safely stored them in the garage refrigerator last night! A dear friend, Susan, who arrived early to work on the potluck volunteered to drive back to our house to get them. Only five minutes away, thank God! Christian friend to the rescue! God bless her. She put them in the church oven and returned to her seat in the pew just as the service started.

I perused the church bulletin. The songs were not “He Lives!” or “Hallelujah, He is Risen.” Instead, “Low in the Grave He Lay” and “In His Time” with a sermon topic, “Failure.” What? Here I am feeling low, missing family, beating myself up for forgetting to bring the potatoes, and the sermon topic is about FAILURE? I drew a sad face next to it! I was not prepared for a downer message from the pulpit! But then as the service began, we all sang, “He Has Made Me Glad!” and the choir sang, “In Christ Alone/Solid Rock.” My spirits were lifting and I paid particular attention to the words of the next song, “Hymn of Promise,” by Natalie Sleethe. The second verse especially spoke to me:

   “There’s a song in every silence, speaking word and melody;
   There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
   From the past will come the future; what it holds a mystery,
   Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

What a wonderful segue into the sermon. Listen carefully, Jan. Take your sermon notes in poetry – as you usually do – and see what “Failure,” as spoken by Reverend Jean Johnson, says to you:

Silence is in Failure.
Shouts in Victory.
Resilience lies in Failure –
Lessons there for you and me.

Moral Victory or Losing?
Which lesson do you see?
Is the score the truest measure
Of a win for you and me?

Defeat: Success is gone.
Rationalization: Better now.
Reality: Acknowledgement –
There’s a future – somehow!

Failure feels miserable.
Hope seems surely gone.
But the loss is temporary.
New beginnings greet the dawn.

God doesn’t call it quits.
He fills our loss with LOVE.
His peace is ours eternal;
Ours is Victory from above.

Christ defeated death and darkness.
Shouts of VICTORY ring ever true.
His resurrection is our promise.
Hope rings eternal for me and you.

Amen? Amen!

I drew a cross next to that sad face – and on the other side of the cross, a happy face.

No need to stay in a funk! Listen to the last verse of Natalie Seethe’s “Hymn of Promise.”

“In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity:
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

Thank You, God. Thank You for Jesus… for His life, His death, and His resurrection. Thank You for the promise of Eternity. Thank you for helping me see You, the source of all life and hope, all joy and peace, all compassion and justice – alive and victorious this day and always. May my life be a witness to the new life You offer. You are new every morning. So am I! Happy Easter!

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Good News


This is the season of Lent. It’s the nine weeks leading up to Easter when we prepare for the remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection by focusing on the Good News of His life. Here are my sermon notes from yesterday’s Lenten message delivered by Pastor Jean Johnson at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church. It’s worth pondering.

 

I have Good News to share today:
Jesus came to us with JOY to proclaim!
He was rejected for the words He spoke,
Rejected for His deeds in God’s name.

Cruelty, rejection, brutality could not
Turn God against us – no way!
The horrible, humiliating crucifixion
Did not stop God, who is with us this day.

God has drawn nearer to us;
He has taken up residency in this place.
He is busy continuing to create for us
Our future in a blessed, glorious, eternal space.

Faith comes through hearing, so we sit
And listen to preaching and reading
Of the scripture and reflections on The Word.
It’s the Good New we are hearing and heeding.

Or are we?

 

What are we doing to Live His Word and prepare our hearts for Him today? I am praying for my life to be a reflection of Christ’s teaching, a mirror of love that reflects the fruits of the spirit: love, compassion, generosity, gentleness, self-control, gratitude, joy, and kindness. Join me, my friends, as we pray together for the Good News to sink in and Christ’s life to find full meaning in our hearts. Have a happy and reflective Lenten Season!

Looking for Tranquility?


Sermon by Pastor Jean Johnson
Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
Ennis, Montana
Based on scripture – Mark 10:35-45
Notes by JanBeek –  October 21, 2012

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Are you looking for tranquility?
Is the church your source of peaceful speech?
Is Jesus Christ the answer to all your troubles, friend?
If you itch or hurt, can the church’s arms reach?

Jesus’ disciples, James and John, believed
Sitting at Christ’s side was their goal.
Rubbing elbows with God would produce
Peace and comfort to fill every hole.

Jesus told His disciples they were clueless.
They didn’t understand the pain He’d endure.
They told Him, “Yes, we can drink of Your cup.
We can be baptized with You, oh sure!”

Were they really able to share it all?
Like them, we need to understand:
Following requires sharing the suffering,
Living with the pain discipleship demands.

To proclaim the Good News is to tell
The Truth of what God’s message includes.
Walking and talking like Jesus means
Nails and the cross, as well as the love He exudes.

Are you looking for tranquility?
Is the Peace of Christ what you need?
Remember that path is rough and tough.
But the pain is worth the cost –  indeed!

In the Shade of the Shrub


     Some of you know that I am in the habit of taking notes in poetry form while I listen to the sermon in church on Sundays. Through my filter, I condense the 20 minute message to a few stanzas. I enjoy sharing with our pastor what I have written. It’s fun to hear what someone else thought was the “meat of the message,” don’t you think? Then, it’s fun for me to have her say, “Right on! You got it!” This is what I “caught” as I listened this Father’s Day Sunday. The message was based on (or sprouted from) Mark 4:26-34. Check it out!

The Shade of the Shrub
 

Jesus meets His people
In the shade of the shrub.
It started as a small seed
And grew to a small stub.

Then somebody watered it
With care and compassionate love,
And that stub grew to a healthy plant –
Maybe a weed – but with many a hug!

The shrub is the church collective:
A seed, to a stub, to a shrub.
We meet Jesus in the shadows and
Cast His light on the soil at our hub.

The hub of the church is God,
Whose light we shine in the darkness.
With love and compassion we grow
God’s Kingdom on this earth’s starkness.

We, my friends, are the growing shrub.
Christ is at work in us all.
We are a weed in the process of spreading
God’s Love. May we grow strong and tall!

Amen? 

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Pentecost Sunday


If I were creating human beings as God did in the beginning of time, I’d add a part that I think God forgot to include. He put a belly button on our abdomen, but I’d have a button on each person’s chest. The button would be like Siri on my new iPhone. Press it and “Presto!” I could ask my brain to speak in whatever language I needed at the moment. I could ask it to translate what I am hearing. I could ask it questions and the button would activate a response! Isn’t that what God did for the people in the temple on that first Pentecost Sunday around AD70? With the help of the Holy Spirit, the people spoke in languages previously unknown to them.

This coming Sunday, May 27,2012, is known on the Christian calendar as Pentecost Sunday. Catholics and Protestants alike celebrate this Holy Day.  On the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox calendars, the date for Pentecost Sunday is June 3rd. Historically it is the day the Holy Spirit descended with tongues of fire on the apostles and other followers of Jesus. Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday. It commemorates the “Birthday of the Church.”  Red is the ceremonial color of Pentecost, depicting the color of the flame – and the movement of the Holy Spirit. The ways in which churches celebrate this event in its liturgical calendar are as rich and varied as the churches are themselves. Red flowers might adorn the alters, symbolizing the renewal of life, the coming of the warmth of summer, and the growth of the church at and from the first Pentecost. Music that is especially composed for Pentecost often is performed on this special day. I will sing with a small group of friends. Our song is an example of a Pentecostal message. The words are beautiful:

(Refrain) Send down the fire of your justice,
Send down the rains of your love;
Come send down the Spirit, breathe life in your people,
and we shall be the people of God.

(Verse One) Call us to be your compassion,
Teach us the song of your love;
Give us hearts that sing,
Give us deeds that ring,
Make us ring with the song of your love.

(Verse Two) Call us to learn of your mercy,
Teach us the way of your peace;
Give us hearts that feel,
Give us hands that heal,
Make us walk in the way of your peace.

There are two other verses, each as beautiful as these. If you Google “Send Down the Fire,” you will discover other songs with that title, but the one with these words that I appreciated most is found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wai-9zpmXQY.  The students are listed as LOMC Swing Choir Tour — 2009. Their motions add to the meaning of the lyrics. I have asked what LOMC stands for and am awaiting an answer. Meantime, I encourage you to go and celebrate this Pentecost Sunday with the true meaning of the day. Join these YouTube singers with “hearts that sing” and “hearts that feel.” Move into the world with “deeds that ring” and “hands that heal” as  you walk in the way of Christ’s peace. Be His compassion!

You may not have a Siri button built into your chest. You may not be able to speak in tongues and be understood in all kinds of languages, but you have a love button built into your chest. It was planted there by the Holy Spirit. Go out this Pentecost Sunday and use your love to teach others of God’s mercy and His desire for us  to live together as one people throughout the world – working for peace on earth.

I am only one person and I can’t do everything, but I am one who can make a difference to one. Maybe the one will be you. Happy Pentecost Sunday. Use your love button! God Bless You.

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