A Meal and Memories

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I was  away from home and decided to have lunch at a chain restaurant that I enjoy and do not have easy access to when I am at home. As I sat to eat the familiar flavors, I was not prepared for the many memories that accompanied this meal. Although I had never visited this location of this restaurant chain before the memories made it feel like I was a frequent guest here. It was at another of these restaurants where I was introduced to a friend’s friend who would go on to become her spouse. This restaurant chain hosted us many times after church as my husband and I had a few minutes of conversation before I went back to work and he went home to enjoy the rest of his weekend. This was where we would often eat with a dear friend who now lives too many hours away.

In addition to my delicious meal, I was met by loved ones who have shared similar tables with me. I was thankful for the memories many of which I had not remembered in some time.
This has me wondering where you encounter unexpected memories? Where are you surprised by thoughts of those you love who are gone or far away? And how do you react to those moments?
For me, it was a privilege to dine with family and friends who are family even if everyone else at the restaurant sawing me dining alone. I welcomed the memories and when I was done eating sent them messages to know I love them and how they are well!
It makes sense that Jesus said when you do this remember me. When we gather around tables, we remember. When we gather around the table in our places of worship, we remember Jesus. So wherever you find yourself eating, open yourself to the memories.
Surprising God, Thank you for coming to us in simple meals with chicken and rice and chopsticks. Thank you for meals shared with those we love and thank you for memories! Continue to surprise and remind of happy times. Each time we gather around a table, help us to remember. Amen.

A Day of Giving Thanks

A Day of Giving Thanks
Recently I was asked to reflect on a ministry in which I participated while working at a previous church. As I thought about what to say, I realized how thankful I was for my time spent with the children and all the adults who taught them. This time of reflection encouraged me to spend some time creating a gratitude list. Until I starting writing my list, I didn’t realize how much I needed this practice. So I invite you to take a few quiet moments and write a gratitude list. In the midst of all that is going on in my life and the world, it was helpful to pause and give thanks.
Dear God,
You are the giver of all good gifts. When I stop and consider all I have to be thankful for, I am amazed. Here is my gratitude list for today-
visits from loved ones
smiles
the churches where I was called to serve
delicious food
people who lend a helping hand
courage to speak out for what is right
when children giggle
planning and taking vacations
phone calls from people who know me
hospice patients and families
work colleagues
my husband
my whole family
opportunities to give back
prophets who speak the truth we need to hear
a good cup of tea and time to enjoy it.
Thank you, God, for all this and so much more. Encourage me to stop and take the time to be thankful often. Amen.

Call to Worship (Exodus 3: 1-15)

Call to Worship (Exodus 3: 1-15)
One-Come to this place to see what God has done.
All-We are here for burning bushes and holy ground.
One-Here you will find God on special days of celebration and ordinary days too.
All-We seek the God of our ancestors knowing we may be called to new places.
One-Listen for God’s call and know you do not go alone.
All-We are ready to worship and see God in this place. 

Benediction using Romans 12: 1-8

Benediction using Romans 12: 1-8
Go out into the world knowing you are God’s beloved children and knowing each person you meet is beloved by God. Be transformed by your time here in this place and by the people you meet here and when you leave this place. Be humble knowing you are blessed by God with talents and gifts just as every other person in the whole wide world is blessed by God with gifts and talents too. Look for God in those you meet. Spend more time listening than talking to those you love and those you try to love. And always remember that you are not alone because God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer is with you always. Amen!

Benediction-Psalm 133:1

Benediction-Psalm 133:1

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
And what does this look like in today’s world? We must ask for forgiveness for what we have done wrong and seek justice for all! We must listen to the stories of our kindred and seek justice for all! We must speak out against violence to any of our kindred and seek justice for all! We must work toward a day when all have enough food, equal opportunities, safety and security. And we look forward to the day we can say-How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!

 

Words in italics are Psalm 133:1 from the New Revised Standard Version.

The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

 

Recently, I was sick. Sore throat, fever, headache, coughing. It was terrible. I had no energy. I was not hungry. And possibly the worst part,  I could not talk for three days. No talking. No whispering. I communicated with my husband using hand gestures and texting. As I was not talking, I was thinking. Here are some things I learned-

I would not enjoy a week-long silent retreat!

I enjoy the sound of my own voice.

I enjoy communicating with others.

 

“But God definitely listened. God heard the sound of my prayer.” –Psalm 66:19

 

God, you hear my prayers whether I say them out loud or hold them in my heart. You know me when I feel well and when I feel terrible. And through all my days, you love me and I am thankful for your love. I pray for all those who are feeling unwell today. Ease their pain. Grant them rest. Blanket them with your love. In your healing and holy name, we pray. Amen.

 

Stopping By a Church

I love visiting churches. I love hearing stories from church members as they celebrate their history and their hopes for the future. Earlier this summer, my Dad and I were walking through Ketchikan, Alaska and discovered St. John’s Episcopal Church was open to visitors. We opened the door and climbed the steps to step into their sanctuary. We were greeted by a very welcoming church member who told us the history of her church.
In 1904, when the church building was completed, it was at the water’s edge. You could tie your boat up at the front door and come into worship. As the town has expanded they have created land farther into the water and now you can drive or walk to the church. I took pictures of some of the stained glass windows that date from the 1930s.
I recommend you stop in the next time you pass a church that is open for visitors. You never know what or who you might meet inside.
Loving God, Thank you for your faithful communities across the world who share your love. Thank you for open doors and open hearts. Give us the courage to stop and strike up a conversation. Open our eyes to see you in each other. Amen.

Call Out to God (Based on Psalm 17)

Call Out to God (based on Psalm 17)

Faithful God, I am calling out to you! Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry. Listen to me, God, I need you now! From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right. Now, God, is when I need you. Be here with me. I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words. Listen to me, God, I need you now! Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. My hope is in you, Faithful God. Answer me when I call unto you. Amen.

The words in italics are Psalm 17 from the New Revised Standard Version.

Worship Words for a Time of Waiting

Recently, I spent a long period of time waiting for an answer. I spent my time watching tv, eating comfort foods, and worrying. I wrote this piece afterward to help myself the next time I find myself in a time of worrying and waiting. I recommend repeating this ritual each time that the concern comes to mind.

 

Light a candle, take three deep calming breaths, and pray.

Faithful God, I pass this concern on to you. It is too much for me to carry and hold on my own. Hold those in my heart in your loving hands. Amen.

 

“So now, Lord, what should I be waiting for? My hope is set on you.” – Psalm 39:7

“Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?” –Matthew 6:27

 

Watch the flickering candle while taking three deep calming breaths and pray.

Faithful God, Again I pass my worry to you. Quiet my mind and calm my spirit. Be with me and those on my heart. Amen.

 

Worship Words-Psalm 105

Encouraging the participation of as many people as possible in each worship service is very important. This requires that we look at the service and see where people are excluded who cannot read, who cannot stand up for long periods of time, who cannot see the printed words, etc. I’ve rewritten Sunday’s Psalm (Psalm 105:1-11, 45b) to make it more inclusive and participatory. It could be used as a call to worship, read with the rest of the Scriptures, or a litany somewhere in your service. Before reading the Psalm, the reader will need to instruct the congregation that their role is to repeat the phrase, Praise the Lord!, whenever the reader pauses and raises a hand.
Because this reading is responsive, there is no need to print it in the bulletin or project it on the screen. This change encourages people to look around and look up while responding to the Scripture reading.

One-O give thanks to the Lord, call on God’s name, make known God’s deeds among the peoples.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Sing to the Lord, sing praises to God; tell of all God’s wonderful works.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Glory in God’s holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Seek the Lord’s strength; seek God’s presence continually.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Remember the wonderful works God has done, God’s miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-O offspring of God’s servant Abraham, children of Jacob, the chosen ones.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-The Lord is our God; God’s judgments are in all the earth.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-God is mindful of the covenant forever, of the word was commanded, for a thousand generations,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-the covenant that God made with Abraham, the sworn promise to Isaac,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-which God confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.”

All-Praise the Lord!

Psalm 105 is quoted using the New Revised Standard Version.