Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/25

Hello friends,

 

Today was a milestone day for me.  I believe today was the last day I had to “film” worship without you.  I completed our holy week services yesterday and filmed the Palm Sunday service (twice: Bridge and Traditional) today.  Next Sunday I am so looking forward to doing worship with you in person!  And in the weeks that follow, our plan is to in person worship, outside, until it is possible to bring worship safely inside.  (Pray that our numbers continue to decline!)

 

I don’t mind telling you this has been a long haul.  I know many of you deeply miss in person worship, and I want to tell you I do as well.  It’s not easy to cart piles of equipment to the sanctuary, set everything up, test the lights, the sound, the framing of the video only to film to an empty room!  I could imagine you sitting in the pews in the beginning but that memory has faded over time and it has become more difficult in so many ways.  Perhaps even more challenging has been the filming of the Bridge at home.  I would look at the little dot of my camera and say the names of the Bridge members as I began to lead worship, but it’s just not the same.  I am deeply grateful that it appears this chapter in our life together as a congregation is coming to a close.

 

There are, of course, new challenges of which I want you to be aware.  This is not as simple as going back to life as we knew it.  There are still precautions to take.  We have young families and young people among us who are not vaccinated.  Many of them were adamant when we closed down originally that we were making the right decision for our older members.  These young people insisted we take action to protect our senior members.  They were all for it.  Now the population at risk is our younger people and I hope you join me in being just as adamant that we protect them while they wait their turn for vaccination.

 

There are also many technical challenges.  We have bought new sound equipment so everyone can hear well when we are outside.  We are also trying to figure out how to stream so we can continue to offer our services to people who are not comfortable coming out yet and also for people who have connected to our church from places far away.  I keep learning of people in other communities who are watching our services.  What a great thing to be able to provide worship for those at a distance!

 

We will, of course, figure it all out.  It just may take a little time to get up to speed the way we want to.  I know you will be patient as you have been this entire year.  I love this passage from Isaiah.  I think it captures how I feel today – hopeful!

 

“Forget the former things;

    do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!

    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

    and streams in the wasteland.  Is. 43: 18-19

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/24

Dear friends,

 

I have to say I found myself in a bit of a funk earlier.  So I got out facebook and turned to the page of a friend of mine who is more often than not in a positive place.  I started scrolling through her newsfeed for funny or inspiring things.  She did not disappoint.  I found this poster about having trouble falling asleep.  I laughed out load.  I suppose I found it so funny because this looks like a description of me trying to fall asleep on a pretty regular basis.  I struggle to get my brain to turn off at night.

 

I share it with you today, not to talk about sleep difficulties but to talk about how helpful humor is when you’re feeling a little off.  A good “funny” usually pulls me out of the grumps.  Actually many years ago the great pastor and theologian Johnathan Edwards espoused the value of humor.  Johnathan Edwards lived during the time of the Great Awakening when people were going to revival meetings and being “filled with the Spirit.”  Some of the pastors in more traditional churches asked Edwards to write about the true signs that someone was filled with the Spirit.  So he did write such a book, and in it he said one of the signs of the Spirit in our lives is humor.  That makes sense to me especially when humor is offered as a kindness to lift someone’s spirits.

 

Here are a couple of scriptures for your edification tonight:

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  Psalm 126:2

“Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” Gen 21:6

 

I hope you laugh tonight.

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/23

Dear friends,

I just wandered downstairs for a moment.  Theo, who had been sleeping on the couch, hopped down, stretched and then shook his whole body.  Theo is fun to watch shake because he’s so long.  Whenever a dog shakes, the shake always originates with the head and moves down through the whole body.  I first learned this trick years ago when I owned a horse.  Whenever I gave my horse a bath, I tried to stay near her head in order to stop a shake.  If I saw the shake beginning at the head and held her head still, I could stop the shake from soaking me from head to foot.  Anyway, watching Theo shake is funny because it takes so long for that shake to move from his head all the way down his long body and out the end of his tail.

 

As I thought about this it occurred to me that a lot of what we do as human beings begins with our heads.  Our thoughts affect so much!  Our thoughts determine what we do with our bodies.  Our thought deeply affect how we feel.  Our thoughts affect the decision we make.  It all begins in our heads.  That’s why I believe it’s useful to turn our thoughts to God and God’s purposes for our lives.  I hope these daily devotionals have served that purpose through this year of pandemic.  We need small reminders each day that we belong to God, and we are created to enjoy and serve our Lord.

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/22

Dear friends,

 

I like a good list.  I started this Monday morning with a flurry of details in my brain that were weighing me down.  This reopening business is not a walk in the park especially when one is trying to be careful with the health of beloved others.  There is a lot to do!

 

So the first thing I did was to make a list.  I checked over my previous lists, notes from recent meetings and emails and compiled a long list.  Now all I had to do was work through all of the items on my list.  I started to feel a little better.  As of late in this afternoon I have struck seven items off my list and I am feeling almost relaxed!  I like a good list.

 

I wish growing up in Christ was as simple as making a list.  Paul has a list of sorts in Romans 5: 3 – 5.  He writes, “We have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us.  (New Century Version)  It would appear Paul has an ordered list here.

1. Troubles produces

2. patience which produces

3. character which produces

4. Hope!

The only trouble with this list, however, is the list seems to repeat itself often.  Even if we make it from trouble to patience to character to hope… it seems troubles come back around frequently and sends us through the list again.  I guess it’s just hard to get a place where we can cross off patience, character and hope as completed learnings.  I know I get to relearn all of these frequently! Paul reminds us however that God’s love which God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit sustains us as we continue to grow up in Christ into maturity.

 

Be of good courage.  God isn’t finished with us yet!

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/20

Dear friends,

 

Well, the vaccine knocked me out yesterday, but I am pretty much back to myself today and feeling good to have the second shot working in my system creating antibodies.

 

Today I was out in the car with Mike briefly for an errand, and as we were returning home I noticed a large decal on a truck that read, “Hated Locally.”  Mike and I both thought it was odd, and Mike suggested it might be the name of a band.  So I looked it up online.  It’s not the name of a band.  In fact in all of my searching online, I could find lots of stores where I could buy the “Hated Locally” decal, bumper stickers and clothing with that phrase, but I couldn’t find any indication of what it meant.  So I guess it means was it advertises, that the owner of that decal is proud to be hated by his or her neighbors.  Can that really be true?

 

In the wake of the shootings of eight people in Atlanta four days ago, President Biden said yesterday “hate can have no safe harbor in America.”  I hope he’s right.  While I may not be clear about whether or not hate can find a haven in America, I am certain hate has no place among Jesus’ followers.  Jesus is the one who told us the second most important commandment is to “love our neighbors as ourselves” behind the command to love God with everything we’ve got.  Then he went on to suggest to his followers that those neighbors we should love include people we may be inclined to hate (see the story of the Good Samaritan.)  Jesus also called us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  And the early church made a hugely positive impression wherever it was nested because the followers of Jesus loved everyone around them so completely.

 

One of my favorite songs in the church has as it’s refrain, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.  Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”  There simply is no room for hate among Jesus’ followers.  It’s not part of who we are. No doubt some of us will struggle from time to time to let go of hate.  It takes work to practice love of enemies and annoying people and mean people and people who persecute us with hateful talk and hateful actions.  But we are called to love – that’s all.

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/18b

Dear friends,

 

I got my second vaccine today at Elkhart General hospital and wanted to tell you a little about it.  First, the vaccination center was well organized and professional.  I didn’t have to wait in line at all.  I answered a few questions and they zipped me into a station where I promptly got my shot.  It didn’t hurt in the least.  If fact I wondered if they had done anything at the time.  I am feeling a little tired at the moment, so it must have been the real thing.  I waited my 15 minutes and headed home. 

 

I also want to mention why I am getting the vaccine.  I suppose first and foremost I don’t want to get Covid 19!  I have a bad track record with respiratory viruses (bronchitis and pneumonia) and didn’t want to deal with this super virus.  I’m happy to protect my health.  I also wanted to protect my family.  I want to be able to be around my parents in their 90s and to visit my children who live at a distance from me.  The vaccine allows these visits to happen without worrying I might make my loved ones sick.  I also wanted to protect my church family.  As a pastor I am generally in contact with a lot of people.  I don’t want to be responsible for making anyone in our church sick!

 

Finally I want to do my part for our community.  I believe as Christian people we are called to interdependence.  That is, we are called to connected living with one another and our community.  We are called to care deeply about our neighbors, to love them, to want what is best for them and to seek their highest good.  That means if there is something I can do to protect my neighbor from getting this terrible virus, I will do it.  I will wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from others and get a vaccine.

 

The Apostle John wrote:  7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.  (I John 4: 7-8, 11-12)

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/18

Dear friends, 

St. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland in the fifth century and wrote his “Breastplate” prayer in 433 A.D.  Below is my favorite part of his prayer – an appropriate prayer for St. Patrick’s day and any day.

 

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

Peace,
Pastor Sally


Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/15

Dear friends, 

 

The picture seen here was posted by a friend of mine on her Facebook page.  She’s a doctor and was reposting something a friend of hers had posted.  She writes: “This is not a beautiful woven tapestry. It is not a painting. It is the most detailed image of a human cell to date, obtained by radiography, nuclear magnetic resonance and cryoelectron microscopy.”

 

It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?  I am astounded at it’s beauty, it’s intricacy and it’s complexity.  This is the creation of a “gifted” mind.  I can’t imagine that this could have just happened by a series of accidents.  This to me is evidence of God.

 

The psalmist writes, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Psalm 139:14.  I say, “Amen.”

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/13

Dear Friends,

Here’s a prayer for Saturday.

 

Come to our houses, Lord Jesus…

 

To the tables where we eat,

And the places where we argue,

And the rooms where we sleep

Or lie awake,

Wondering if our life is worthwhile.

 

Come to our houses

To broaden our hospitality

And deepen our conversation

And keep our souls company.

 

And come to our houses of prayer,

To save our churches

From being so absorbed with what needs to be done,

That our plans have no place

For any hint of salvation

Or of all things being made new.

 

And come to this place

As week by week we meet you,

And show us the cross we must carry

So that we may be shaped by your love. 

Amen.

 

(from Present on Earth by Wild Goose Publishing)

 

Have a blessed Saturday,

Pr. Sally



Pastor Sally’s Devotional 3/12

Dear friends,

 

My husband said something funny to me at lunch today.  Some of you know that Mike is serving as the Transitional pastor of one of the Presbyterian churches in Battle Creek.  He is thoroughly enjoying his work, and it seems the people in the church are very much enjoying him.  He was commenting, however, on how very different he is from their previous pastor.  “I’m extroverted and gregarious,” Mike said. “Their previous pastor was introverted and introspective.”  “I’m focused on connecting with people.”  “He was the consummate administrator.”  Then Mike added, “If you combined the two of us, you’d have the perfect pastor!”  I laughed.

 

Isn’t it true that we are never everybody’s cup of tea.  Whether you are a pastor or a school teacher or a banker or a business man/woman, a volunteer, or a mom or dad, son or daughter….  It seems someone appreciates some of your personality qualities, gifts and skills, while someone else wishes you were a little different in one aspect or another.  But the truth is we are who we are, gifted and skilled as God created us to be.  Paul put it this way:  “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  (I Cor 12: 7)

 

How boring if we were all the same, and boring if we were all “perfect!”  As it is God has made us all unique with different abilities, different gifts, different opinions so we could help each other and learn from each other and work together.  The added bonus is that we get to develop a gracious spirit along the way!

 

Peace,

Pr. Sally



^