Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/19

Dear Friends,  One of our members suggested that I share the prayer I offered last Sunday in worship as a devotional this week.  So here is that prayer:

 

Gracious God, our good shepherd,

We come to you this morning as a needy flock.

                We are tired of pandemic.

                We are tired of numbers of new cases and testings and deaths.

                We are tired of feeling couped up, or unsafe.

                We are tired of changing instructions and mitigation measures.

                We are tired of masks and social distancing especially from our loved ones

                We are tired of the not knowing what happens next!

               

                We are weary of racial inequity

                We are weary of racial tensions and injustices that have plagued our land for centuries.

                We are weary of the tears and fears of those who have been harmed by our culture,

                                And our laws and our practices.

 

                We are exhausted from elections and politics and campaigns.

                We are exhausted from negative ads and scare tactics,

                We are exhausted by the news and yet we can hardly turn our eyes away.

                We are exhausted by division.

Have mercy on us and on your people in this land, we pray.

 

Lord Jesus, you said,

                “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

                So we come to you.

We come in our living rooms and studies, our kitchens and bedrooms.

We sit in the quiet of our homes,

                but we come so we may rest in your green pastures

                                We need to be fed.  We need to sit beside still waters.

                                We need to be brought back onto your paths of righteousness for your names sake.

                We need to be led through this present valley of the shadow

                And brought into you great banquet.

                We long for cups that over flow.

                We long to sense your goodness and mercy following us each day

                For surely it does, even when we are unaware.

 

Gracious Shepherd, nurture us in your grace and assured of your peace.

Save us from ourselves today.

                Save us for yourself that we might go with your disciples

                On mission to tell the good news of your compassion and your love

                                Which calls us to serve and to offer your kindness and patience and mercy to Others.

 

Move in our hearts today.

                Help us to breathe again.

                                Help us to breathe in your spirit. 

                                                Help us to breath in hope from your son our savior.  Amen.

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/18

Dear Friends,

I watched “Behind the Scenes” last night on You Tube.  This is the documentary Andy has created showcasing all the work being done by staff and volunteers to produce the Traditional and the Bridge@Home services each Sunday.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend it.  You can find it at: https://youtu.be/FRHcdKsxZqQ

I was actually very interested to see what other people are doing to create our worship services.  We have certainly talked to one another about our processes, but it was interesting to hear the details. 

My husband, Mike, watched it with me.  Mike commented at the end of our viewing on a couple of things I wanted to share with you.  First, he said we had some amazing technical talent in our church.  Andy McCaskey, Matt Kennedy and Tom LeFevre have some wonderful skill with video and audio recording and editing that most churches simply don’t have.  Mike also was stunned at the large number of volunteers, each contributing their bits each week.  Finally he said we had a remarkable cohesion in our production process.  We all get along.  We all help each other.  We all are intent on serving our church with the best of our energies and talents.  My husband mused that he hoped our church understood how fortunate we are to have all of these talented people working cooperatively for the glory of God.  I’m not sure I had quite realized how blessed we are until I heard it on the lips of my husband.

Paul writes, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”  I Corinthians 12: 4-6.  I am very grateful to have been called to work with all of you Spirit filled people in this time and place.

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/16

Dear Friends,

I woke up this morning with a Sesame Street song in my head.  It’s called the Yip Yip Family song.  The song features a Mom Martian and a Dad Martian who are clearly celebrating.  They have just had a baby and are rejoicing to be a family of three.  Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfwBEWBkxEY

I know I woke up with this song in my head because my oldest son Stephen and his wife are expecting their first baby in early April.  It’s a boy, and they have already settled on the same Samuel.  When they called to tell us, Stephen said his wife Elizabeth had been singing the Yip Yip ever since they found out she was pregnant.  The song has come to symbolize the joy our extended family members have as we wait for the birth of this baby boy.

I like the verse in the psalm 130:5.  “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” It reminds us that although there are difficult, even traumatic time in life, God continues to be our best hope to turn things around.  God continues to bring life into being and to turn sorrow into joy. 

I am rejoicing with Stephen and Elizabeth in their joy as they wait.  I wanted to share my joy with all of you.  God gives us joys, large and small, even in difficult times. 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/14

Dear friends,

Have you seen the trees outside?  They are spectacular right now.  I have to tell you that every time I walk outside I am surprised again by  the beautiful fall. 

I am pretty wrapped up right now in all of the things we are trying to do in the church.  Details for the  hiring a new Technology Outreach Coordinator, the creation of a meaningful Stewardship season, a safe Trunk or Treat for the Church neighborhood kids, working through the 21 day challenge, not to mention the ongoing conversations about whether we might be able to safely reopen…  it’s busy.  There are hours that pass as I bury my head in my work church that I forget that the world outside is gorgeous!  Then I step outside to drive to the church or take my dog for a walk and Wow!  God does great work!

There’s a lot of stuff going on in our world right now that is consuming.  A lot of it is upsetting and disconcerting.  I highly recommend taking a walk outside and fixing your eyes on the colorful glory of God’s creation. 

You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands. (Is. 55:12)

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/13

Dear Friends,

I love some of the founding principles of our church.  At the heart of our identity as Presbyterians is an understand that we are the church together.  That means that when we come together, God speaks to us and through us and God works with us and through us.  There is a deep sense that community matters and that we are called love the community and build up the community.  Theologically we say we are the body of Christ.  In our Book of Order we read that Christ gives to the Church all the gifts necessary to be his body.  The Church stives to demonstrate these gifts in its life as a community in the world.  (I Cor 12: 27 – 28)

When I was first studying the government of the church I remember my professor telling me that the reason we discuss things before we vote in meetings is because we believe the Holy Spirit works among us and speaks through us when we gather.  So we need to listen to one another as if listening for the voice of God, because that is exactly what we are doing.

I am sharing some of this today because on Sunday we are having what I believe is a very important event in our church.  We are having a World Café to which every member and friend of the church is invited including the youth of the church!  We want to talk about what God is doing with us now and where God might be calling us in the future.  Every voice is important in this conversation because God speaks through us when we gather together.

We will be gathering Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM on zoom in order to keep us all safe.  Our Zoom wizard, Andy McCaskey will divide us up into tables of four for private conversations so everyone has the opportunity to be heard.  There are four questions and you will have a chance to travel to four different tables in our time together.  I personally think it will be an interesting and fun event! 

It would be helpful if you would register.  Just click on this link to sign up:  World Café Sign up!  Or you can just call Jessica at (574) 214-6965.  I hope you will join us.

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/12

Dear friends,

I was looking at this picture today and my eye was drawn to the stones on the beach.  There are so many stones on this beach in Cornwall.  It occurred to me how alike they all are and how, at the same time, they are each unique and different.  It reminded me of the apples game I sometimes have played with groups.  I give everyone an apple and ask them to look at it carefully.  I then ask the members of the group to compare themselves to the apple and to use the apple to describe themselves.  Then I put all of the apples back in a bowl and set them aside.  Later in the day I will put the apples all out on the table and ask each person there to find “their apple.”  Everyone always is able to do so.  I have never had anyone say, “I can’t find mine!”

I wonder if God sometimes looks at this sea of humanity and sees a beach full of stones or a huge bushel of apples.  Does God say, “There are so many of them.  They all look alike!”  I don’t think so.  I think God sees each of us uniquely with gifts and talents, quirks and kinks, troubles and joys.  This is the way parents see their children and the scriptures tell us God remembers us as a mother remembers her child.

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands  (Is. 49:15 – 16a)

Take heart in the constancy of our God.  We are so beloved, so uniquely special, our names are written in God’s hands.

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/10

Dear friends,

Here’s a prayer for Saturday evening as we prepare for the Lord’s day.  This prayer is adapted from Psalm 139: 17 – 18

How weighty to me

Are your thoughts O God.

How vast is the sum of them.

If I should count them,

They are more than the sand.

When I awake

I am still with you.

Be still

And aware of God’s presence

Within and all around.

Peace be with you,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/9

Dear friends,

It always surprises me when things are harder than they appear.  I should probably not be surprised because this is a common occurrence for me.  Things are just usually more difficult than I expect them to be.

My husband set about to paint the exterior of the house today.  Not the whole house!  Most of our house is brick, but there are a few additions that have wood siding or wood shakes.  We set out to paint these additions. It was a perfect day for painting. We started with the small attached one car garage which is more of a workroom for us.  It’s not very big and has only three sides to paint, one of which has a large garage door taking up most of the side.  You wouldn’t think this would be so hard.  But first there was all the pre-painting set up, moving the leaves away from the walls, clearing space for paint supplies, pinning the plants back.  There was the scraping and patching of the wood siding.  Finally we opened the can of new paint and set about our work.  That’s when I discovered I had to remember how to paint.  I always do the edging and I’m good at it, but every time I pick up a paint brush after a hiatus, I discover I have to figure out again how to hold the brush just right so as to not paint the trim while trying to paint the edges.  It’s been one of those days where everything was harder than it looked to be.

Paul said something like this in the book of Hebrews.  He was talking about persevering in our faith.  He wrote, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12: 1-2) 

Paul knew the life of faith is not easy.  It certainly was not easy for Paul.  He endured great troubles and even persecution for sharing his faith with others.  Paul knew there were a couple of things to help him in his race.  The first was other people of faith who had gone before him, who were great examples of faithfulness and Paul believed he could sense them around him cheering him on.  Secondly he was always looking to Jesus to lead the way.  He remembered that Jesus had endured the shame and agony of the cross to achieve his goal of bringing his father’s sheep home.  So Paul says to us, ‘don’t you give up.’

We are called to patiently practice our faith… to be children of whom our Father in heaven may be proud and to be co-workers with Christ bringing light into the darkness.  It’s harder than it looks, but we don’t run this race alone.

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/8

Dear Friends,

True confessions… I play video games.  Well that’s not quite true.  I only play one video game – a game called Civilization.  My youngest son taught me to play.  I kept watching him play out of the corner of my eye and the images on the screen intrigued me. The game wasn’t as violent as many of my son’s games were.  In fact it seemed quite civilized.  So as a way of connecting with my boys… I learned to play.

So for those of you for whom video games are anathema, let me tell you a bit about this game.  You begin as the leader of a nation back in the stone age and move forward in time developing your cities, industries, population, culture and religion.  I, of course, always choose to be Christian – usually protestant.  I especially enjoy building world wonders like the Mont St. Michaels or the Oracle at Delphi.  My favorite part of this game, however, is building Missionaries and Apostles!  Missionaries and Apostles can be sent to other civilizations to convert the masses.  When I play my game, I typically make and send out lots and lots of missionaries and Apostles and find this extraordinarily satisfying! Additionally I always win the game when I do this.  My sons really laugh at me for this. 

I was thinking about why this is so satisfying tonight.  I think the truth is that the process of sharing one’s faith and being an ambassador for God is not a simple thing.  Sharing something so personal as one’s relationship with our Lord takes thoughtful articulation, a remarkable demonstration of love and a lifestyle that is a witness to the power of God in one’s life.  This is not at all easy.  The whole process of “giving away your faith” takes time and attentiveness and passion.  It is, however, something that has always been a deep desire in my life.  I want to give away my faith. 

The truth is converting the masses on Civilization is just a game.  It has no real meaning and probably is a shallow representation of the forced conversions of whole civilizations that were common place in the Middle Ages – not anything we would ever want to emulate.  Gee… I hope I didn’t just spoil my game for myself.  I may have to go back to pursuing a cultural victory. 

Jesus calls us to go and make disciples, to give away our faith.  This is actually a lovely gift to offer someone.  My relationship with God in Jesus Christ is precious and has guided my life for almost 50 years now.  Nothing is more important.  Why wouldn’t I want to share God?

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 10/7

Dear friends,

The Bridge band did a song for worship a couple of weeks ago that was new to me.  The song is King of Glory (You Restore My Soul) by All Sons & Daughters.  The music caught my attention first, but when I listened carefully to the lyrics, I was sold.  I set the song to playing on my phone and replayed it periodically all day long.  The first verse, in particular, speaks to me.

 

I know a place where I can find You

Here in the valley of the shadows

Give me eyes to see

Where You’re leading me

 

It is a fascinating thought that the place we can find God is in the valley of the shadows and yet, this is exactly where I have found God so many times in my life.  It seems that when life is going along swimmingly, I am too busy with all of the details and too wrapped up in the “happy” to give much thought to God.  It’s when life is hard that I turn to God again and again.  We’ve been studying the lives of the great patriarchs and matriarchs of the  faith in the book of Genesis in both of my weekly Bible studies.  Consistently the great people of the faith turned to God for help when they were in trouble and prayed with great passion.

 

I imagine God has been getting a lot of attention in 2020.  I know I feel like we are living in the valley of the shadow.  Certainly there are moments of light and happiness, but I can’t help feeling there is a shadow following me around.  I am frustrated by restrictions and worn out with worrying about what’s safe and what might not be safe.  So maybe it’s just best to accept our reality.  We are living in the valley of the shadows, and I for one, am looking for where God is leading me and leading us.

 

Our hope, however, is in the Lord.  We look to the Lord to restore our sense of well being and peace while we are living in the valley of the shadows.  This is not the same as living in denial and suggesting everything is just fine.  It is to accept the valley of the shadows and to know that we can and often do meet God in such places and that there is hope.  Darkness will give way to light.  Here’s the chorus from the song, King of Glory:

 

You restore my soul

I’m Yours alone

Oh King of glory

When dark gives way to light

Your hope will rise

Oh King of glory

 

Lean into the shadows today and look for the light of God leading us.  We may not know where we are going yet or how we get out of this valley, but I trust the one who leads us.

 

Here’s the link for the song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K556S6jGJQ

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



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