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Daily Update

Watch this space for regular updates about services and ways to connect in this rapidly changing time. Also, I’ll be posting a daily devotional on this page. If you would like to receive a daily text prayer, just text JOIN to (844) 215-9703

Daily Devotional 3.30.20

To Bless the Space Between Us
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
 
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
~ John O’Donohue ~
(A Book of Blessings)

Daily Devotional 3.28.20

By Rev, Sheryl Johnson

The season of Lent is often referred to a wilderness experience, remembering the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert near the end of his life. I have often thought of myself as a person who loves the wilderness — that is, when it comes in the form of gorgeous scenery on hikes, camping trips with good friends, seeing new places and landscapes, and so forth. Usually my “wilderness” experiences are planned and prepared for – happen where and how I decide – and I know how long they will last.  

I have to say that this experience these past weeks has been a very different form of wilderness. Perhaps truer to the disorientation that Lent is “supposed” to provide. Deleting regular activities from my Google calendar, not being sure what is coming, who it will affect, when it will end. Rather than an exciting new wilderness to explore, it is a season of not going anywhere. Yet, these familiar places – like the grocery store, my neighborhood streets, even my home – feel strange. Strange and distressing news is becoming familiar. Familiar habits – like hand washing – feel urgent and critically important. It all brings me to a different type of wilderness.

But I believe that the purpose of the disorientation of Lent is re-orientation. Re-orientation toward what really matters, toward the kingdom of God, toward what should be. And some of that is emerging and visible too – pointing us toward the new life that I believe is coming. It doesn’t mean that suffering needs to happen or that it is in any way God’s will. It doesn’t mean that everything from before was bad and needed to change. But it does mean, I believe, that this is a “kairos” moment, a critical time of possibility to live into new and better ways of being. To upend unjust systems that became entrenched and to expand our horizon of possibility toward what could be. 

May God be with us in this time, afflicting us in the places where we have been too comfortable and comforting us in all of the ways we are afflicted. 

Daily Devotional 3.26.20

Perhaps our developing response to the coronavirus is Act I of a drama with two Acts. Already, resilient communities, many of them led by churches, are responding by letting go of old assumptions and making space for new behaviors. Entrepreneurs, communities, and businesses are creating new ways to connect, support, care for, and be in solidarity with one another.

As this new normal settles in, perhaps we will recognize in our relationships:

  • the unifying power of shared vulnerability
  • the expansive fullness of interdependence
  • the contagious generosity of caring for the least of these among us

The coronavirus crisis presents the church with an opportunity to help humanity reorient what we prize: spiritual and moral growth in place of material growth, resilience in place of fear, interdependence in place of rugged individualism, cooperation in place of competition, sharing in place of hoarding.

Let us pray that in Act II, we will commit to use all of our abilities to rebuild civilization’s foundation upon the cornerstone of environmental and economic justice for all and a livable world for our children.

(From Rev. Jim Antal, UCC Minister, author of Climate Church, Climate World

Daily Devotional 3.25.20

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.”

There’s a lot to be frightened about in these times. While we can take solace in the words Jesus spoke so often, “do not be afraid,” we are human and fear is a core emotion. Like many emotions, fear has a place and serves a purpose in protecting us at times. However, Jesus’ invitation to not be afraid is something we can reflect on, especially now. It would be unreasonable for God to ask us never to be afraid, or never to fear. So what is the invitation? I believe we are being asked to refuse to let fear rule us, or to “live in fear.” We are invited byt the Source of Love itself to return to love and to live in love. Fear will rise up, grab us by the throat at times, make our breathing shallow and rapid, make our stomach flip and our minds race. When that happens, we can embrace that fear, try and understand what it is telling us, then we can let it move through us and let it go. It may be a visitor from time to time, but don’t let it take up residence. This is where our faith comes in—this is where we pray, or sing,– “even when I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

Friends, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, of power and a sound mind. Love that overcomes any obstacle, power that reminds us we do not have to go it alone, and a sound mind that can channel a peace that passes all understanding. Today, may you live in love.

Daily Devotional 3.23.20

https://www.facebook.com/CCSM.UCC/videos/231364231381726/

 

Daily Devotional 3.20.20

Jorge offers this as our devotional today:
 
“And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened,
and rested, and exercised, and made art,
and played games, and learned new ways of being,
and were still.
And listened more deeply.
 
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
 
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed,
and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses,
and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.”
 
— attributed to Kitty O’Meara

Daily Devotional 3.19.20

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’  (Mark 4:35-41)

God, in the midst of the storm,

You are in the unruly sea;

You are in the boat with us.

Speak peace to the waves,

Speak peace to the boat,

Speak peace to us.

Because our boat feels very small and fragile right now

And we need to know you care,

And we need to know that we are not alone.

Because sometimes Your peace and presence

is all we have.

Amen.

Daily Devotional 3.18.20

If we all develop these “habits” we will truly emerge from this time a kinder, gentler people.

 

Daily Devotional 3.17.20

Day one of official sheltering in place.

I started yesterday but today its official.

I admit, I woke up this morning and thought—“here we go again, same as yesterday.” I guess I could have turned it into a prayer, but I didn’t. Not at that point anyway. I like a lot of activity, variety and stimulation. One of the reasons I love what I do is that no two days are the same. There are so many different aspects to being a minister. So this morning I got up and went outside to our hot tub (we are blessed to have a small hot tub which I use as my early morning meditation time). Most mornings I watch the dawn unfold into a new day while listening to the birds chirping away in the tree above me. This morning I looked up and noticed there were roses that had just bloomed on our climbing rose that intertwines itself with the tree. The roses weren’t there yesterday—or if they were, I didn’t notice them. But today I noticed the roses…and my internal landscape begin to shift. I took in their simple beauty. I thought of Wendell Berry’s poem The Peace of Wild Things.

 

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world and am free.

 

Today may you rest in the grace and beauty of the world. May you remember the (paraphrased) words of Jesus, Try not to worry. Release your anxiety. Consider the lilies and roses of the field, they do not toil or spin, yet God takes care of them and clothes them with beauty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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