MAY 29, 2020

Come, Holy Spirit, Come

Did you know that we will be celebrating a very important birthday this weekend? Pentecost Sunday marks the birth-day of the church. In the Book of Acts, chapter 2, we learn that the Holy Spirit arrives just as Jesus promised.

A wind rushes through the house where the apostles are gathered and tongues of fire touched them. Miraculously the apostles could then speak a multitude of languages so that all the people gathered in Jerusalem could hear and understand that God raised Jesus to life had made him both Lord and Messiah (v.36).

Part of what Peter shared was an invitation for the listeners to change their lives. “Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.” (vs. 38-39 MSG).

Peter urged them to save themselves from corrupt ways of the present generation. And you know what? About three thousand were baptized and signed up that day. The church was born:

43-45 Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

46-47 They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved. (vs. 43-47).

Isn’t it amazing to think of all the ways we are becoming new creations? Looks like the Holy Spirit is blowing through Islington, too – from transforming our church building to opening our hearts and minds to new ways of being and doing ‘Church’.

Ask God to show you how the Holy Spirit is transforming your life and celebrate!

2 Corinthians 5:17

New Living Translation (NLT)

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

A Prayer from Voices United #376
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mould me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, move among us all;
make us one in heart and mind, make us one in love:
humble, caring, selfless, sharing.
Spirit of the Living God, fill our lives with love!
Amen.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 28, 2020

Living Water

Don’t you love the way a raindrop can hold a whole world within it? I am in awe at how drinking the ‘living water’ of Jesus opens us to what God has to offer: “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14).

God of Water and Life,
May your gift of ‘living water’ flow in me and through me so that I can splash others with your promises of hope.
Amen.

John 7: 37-39

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me,

38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.'”

39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 27, 2020

God’s Delight

Has observing nature at work ever filled you with awe? Think of a bee and the intricacies that are a part of bee-life. They are programmed to work as a community – in the hive and out. The health of their communities impacts the food systems of the world.

I am amazed by how such a small creature has such a great impact. I wonder if you ever stopped to think that God put the same care into creating you. What you do impacts the circles in which you moved.

Awesome God,
Keep me mindful of all the ways my life intersects with the lives of those around me. Help me gather and spread joy as I go about my day.
Amen.

Zephaniah 3:15-17

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

15 The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
God will take great delight in you;
in love God will [calm all your fears],
God will rejoice over you with singing […and buzzing].

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 26, 2020

A Plan for Us

Looking out on the wonder of the day awakening before me, I wondered if Creation was God’s original Bible. The opening chapter of Genesis reminds us that everything God created is “good,” and the creation of humans made it “very good.” I wonder if it was the plan for a cooperative relationship amongst all the parts of creation that made it all “very good.”


All-knowing One,
Fill me with the wonder of You and the gift of creation. Show me how to live in right relationship with others, the world and You, so together we can usher in a hope-filled future.
Amen

Jeremiah 29:11

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD,
plans for your welfare and not for harm,
plans to give you a future with hope. 

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 25, 2020

Light on our Path

The month of May is drawing to a close and we are struggling to find our way forward during these times of social distancing. Today’s photo is of a path that seems to go on forever with no end in sight. The path is cracked and the way is unclear but the dappled shade means the sun is shining. Even though we can’t see the sun, we can see evidence of its presence. May you be blessed to experience of the Son’s Presence in some way today.

My own prayer is like Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians.
Oh Gracious God,
Anoint the eyes of my heart and fill me with hope.
Amen

Ephesians 1:17-19

The Voice (VOICE)

17 God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, Father of Glory: I call out to You on behalf of Your people. Give them minds ready to receive wisdom and revelation so they will truly know You. 18 Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling them to embrace. Reveal to them the glorious riches You are preparing as their inheritance. 19 Let them see the full extent of Your power that is at work in those of us who believe, and may it be done according to Your might and power.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 22, 2020

Focus

These past several weeks have invited me to think deeply about many things.

Some of the challenges during this time may have first seemed ‘light and momentary troubles’ but, as the weeks have turned to months, they have become heavy burdens for many.
The one truth that threads its way through all of this is that ‘We are not alone.’ God is with us always, in more ways than we can imagine.

God of all time,
Help me to keep my eyes on what is important and lasting.
Amen

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

New International Version (NIV)

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Photo credit: Dale Kucharczyk

MAY 21, 2020

Here Comes the Sun!

I peeked at the forecast for this week as I prepared these devotions. Delight filled me when I noticed that today, Thursday, the sun is supposed to be a constant companion.

I wonder if you can take time today to find a sunbeam and rest in it. Close your eyes and pretend you’re a cat without a care in the world.
Breathe in the possibility of letting go of your cares …. hold that breath and feel the warmth of God’s light …. Now release those cares as you breathe out.

Give thanks for that moment of freedom.Take it with you into your day.

Numbers 6:24-26

New Living Translation (NLT)

24
‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25
May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26
May the Lord show you favour
and give you peace.’

MAY 20, 2020

We Give Thanks

Holy One,

We give thanks for those who care for the sick at this difficult time.

For diligent family practitioners and experienced specialists,

We thank you.
For care-full nursing staff,
We thank you.
For cheerful housekeeping workers,
We thank you.
For attentive care aides,
We thank you.
For skilled x-ray technicians,
We thank you.
For administrators and support staff,
We thank you.

Holy One, we know that in hospitals and care homes,
in emergency rooms and in intensive care units,
the work of healing is dangerous and challenging,
We thank you for those willing to serve.
(time of silent reflection)

We acknowledge the sacrifice and continual pressure that is the lot of those who care,
We thank you for work they do for us, and for the communities to which we belong.

Holy One,
May your Love sustain them, your Peace surround them
and your Holy Spirit inspire them through the most challenging times,
Amen.

Colossians 3:16-17

The Message (MSG)

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.

Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense.

And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 19, 2020

A Prayer to Care

Be with me here, O Lord, I pray,
as I care for others today –
those assigned and those who cross my path,
as well as those with whom I start and end each day.
You know better than I, the words they need to hear;
make my words be kind – it means so much –
and help me impart knowledge with clarity and care.
In my hands, place Your healing touch;
offering comfort and peace, courage and strength.
Let Your love shine through all I do,
So those in need hear and feel You.
Amen

An Adaptation of a Nurse’s Prayer

2 Timothy 1:6-7

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

6 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

Mosaic floor of St John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong

Photo credit: Dale Kucharczyk

MAY 18, 2020

Holidays are Holy Days

Holy and perfect God,

You know I want to be available, to You, to others,
to all the calls I think need answering.

Help that desire sink deeply enough into my being
for me to understand that play and rest are also calls.

Those near and dear are here to be enjoyed
so on this holiday Monday, help me say “no”
to a least one worthy, but not urgent, task today.

Give me the ability to be open
to the life I am leading right now;
not the one I am planning to lead in the future.
Amen

Psalm 118:24

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 15, 2020

Hope

God of Hope,

You know all things – the lost and anxious feelings that disturb my peace as well as my need to share these concerns with you. Weary, confused and vulnerable, I struggle to escape from feeling as if I’m on a treadmill to nowhere.

It is easy to lose perspective. Lord, help me to settle my fears and anxious thoughts so that I can patiently await your divine direction. Provide me with the strength and courage I need to push through barriers, real or imagined and step out in faith. You will be there to show me the way. Shower me with the gentle rain of hope that will help me grow again. Amen.

Romans 5:3-5

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

3 And not only that, but we[a] also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 14, 2020

A Spiritual Daily Dozen

A modern version of a ‘prayer exercise’ from Audrey Stevens an Islington United Church  ‘saint’ 
 
Repeating these once or twice every morning, while breathing in and out deeply, helps to develop strength, stimulate life and release power. Each line comes from scripture and by repeating them you immerse yourself in God’s Word thereby entering into a relationship with Him.
 
1. You are God; in You I put my trust. 
2. Your Presence is everywhere. 
3. Your Presence is in me, strengthening, inspiring, healing and perfecting me. 
4. Your Presence helps me to overcome fear and worry and anxiety. 
5. Your Presence surrounds me; in You I live, move and find my being. 
6. Your Presence gives me strength for all my needs. 
7. Your Presence gives me confidence and courage in every situation. 
8. Your Presence drives out resentment and hatred and tames anger. 
9. The inspiration of Your Presence gives me understanding, so that I may have clearness of vision, steadfastness of thought, and trueness of speech. 
10. Your Presence helps me battle evil and disease in all forms. 
11. Nothing can separate me from Your Presence. 
12. Praise be to You, O Lord, Who gives me Victory, through Jesus Christ, my Friend and Mentor, my Judge and Saviour.  Amen

John 3:8

The Voice (Voice)

8 The wind blows all around us as if it has a will of its own; we feel and hear it, but we do not understand where it has come from or where it will end up. Life in the Spirit is as if it were the wind of God.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 13, 2020

We All Belong to God

A Prayer:
Gracious God,
who created all we see and more.
Thank you for the sun and sky,
for all the things that like to fly and swim,
for refreshing rain that makes seeds sprout,
for the earth we know –
and the world unseen – for stars and night, and once again – the every morning sun. Amen.


Modified prayer of Myra Cohn Livingston in Graces by June Cotner

Acts 17:24-28

The Message (MSG)

24-28 “The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ 

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 12, 2020

Called to Care

Did you know that our Stephen Ministry team has been meeting twice on month on Tuesdays for the past 20 years? The team has changed over the years but the heart of the care remains the same.

The ministry is named for Stephen whose story can be read in Acts 6 and 7. Stephen was chosen to help provide caring ministry to those in need. Since the time of the Apostles, caring ministry has been considered a hallmark of the Christian faith community.

Stephen Ministers are trained to listen, care, pray, encourage, and offer emotional and spiritual support. If you’d like to learn more about Stephen Ministries visit www.stephenministry.org or email stephenministry@islingtonunited.org.

Compassionate God, Help us help others to believe that You are still here inspiring others to offer care as Stephen did in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

Galatians 6:2

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

A window in the Islington United Church sanctuary depicting Stephen.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 11, 2020

Known in Doubt

I wonder if you were as relieved as I was to hear James preach about doubt on Sunday, May 3. James explained that doubt and wonder are two faces of the same coin. Doubt opens us up to becoming alert to what refuels and refines our faith. Thank you, James, for the reassurance. 

James also shared this prayer by Thomas Merton.

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Amen.

John 20:24-29

Living Bible

24 One of the disciples, Thomas, “The Twin,” was not there at the time with the others. 25 When they kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord,” he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands—and put my fingers into them—and place my hand into his side.”
26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them and greeting them.
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger into my hands. Put your hand into my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas said.
29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. But blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.”

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 8, 2020

God Is Love

Prayer:
Dear God,
I know you love us and watch over us.
Thank you, o God, for being with us every day.
Thank you for Jesus,
who shows us your Way.
Thanks for the Spirit,
who helps us to pray.
You’re awesome, God,
we just have to say.
Help us, o God,
Be our strength and our peace.
Bless our family, friends, and world,
for your love will never cease.
Amen

 

Adapted from materials by Susan Lukey of High River United Church, Alberta

1 John 4:7

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 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.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 7, 2020

Dressed by God

The Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.

And where there is sadness, joy.
O divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive-
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

Colossians 3:12-17

New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 6, 2020

God is Enough

 The ‘Bookmark’ prayer of St. Teresa of Avila

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing upset you.
Everything changes.
God alone is unchanging.
With patience all things are possible.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.
Amen

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

Isaiah 55:10-13

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands

MAY 5, 2020

Breathe in the Stillness

You’re invited to stop right now and breathe …
Take in a deep breath that fills your lungs, hold it for a moment before letting it go, ever so slowly. Do this again a couple more times with your eyes closed.
Can you sense your heartbeat?
The indwelling presence of God pulses in and through you.

Prayer:
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be Still and know.
Be still.
Be.
Amen

Psalm 46: 1-3, 8-10

The Message (MSG)

46 1-3 God is a safe place to hide,
ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.
8-10 Attention, all! See the marvels of GOD!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

MAY 4, 2020

The Inescapable God

When I first saw this photo, I wondered how many of us were feeling the need to burst out beyond the borders that were hemming us in. Then King David’s words from Psalm 139 came to mind – God knows us better than we know ourselves. Maybe God is the One filling us with the desire to burst out to discover the ways God is showing up right where we are.

Prayer:
Inescapable God, companion in our bubbles,
Open our hearts to your power moving
around us, between us and within us.
Burst the bubbles of discontentment that threaten to dim the Light of Your Love. Amen.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

Psalm 139:1-10

New International Version (NIV)

1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

MAY 2, 2020

Easter Mystery in Extraordinary Times

MAY 1, 2020

Celebrate

Now is the time
To free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self.
Awaken to the wonder
Of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness watchful and near.
Encourages you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given.
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.

By John O’Donohue, An Abundance of Blessings

Psalm 47:1

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

April 30, 2020

For Equilibrium

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the depths the laughter of God.

By John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us

Matthew 11:28-30

The Message (MSG)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

April 29, 2020

Trust

From where we are
to where God needs us to be.
From the security of what we know
to the adventure of what God reveals.
Trust that the fabric of this world can be refashioned,
until it resembles the shape of God’s kingdom,
because good things have been prepared
for those who love God.
Go in peace.
You are blessed and can be a blessing.
Amen.

Proverbs 3:5-6

New International Version

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Photo credit: Dale Kucharczyk

April 28, 2020

We Need Each Other

I do not stand alone
but with others to support me,
I will stand my ground.

I do not see the way
but with others to walk with me,
I can make my path.

I do not possess the truth
but with others to witness to what they know,
I will be able to discern what is right.

I cannot master all skills
but with others who will lend their accomplishments,
I can do enough.

I cannot carry every burden
but with others to share it,
I may bear my own load.

I cannot meet all needs
but with others to nourish and replenish me,
I will be able to give enough.

I do not have limitless choice
but with others to consult,
I will make my own choices gladly.

I will not always be consistent
but with others to laugh with me I will regain my equanimity silence

I am not invincible
but with others to reach out a hand,
I may learn from my mistakes and start again.

I cannot be perfect
but with others to make up the shortfall of my imperfections,
I can be content to be good enough.

‘A Statement of Interdependence’ from Peace Church United Methodist in Munich, Germany

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

New International Version

9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

April 27, 2020

The Secret Is Within Us

I wonder if the disciples on the road to Emmaus realized what they were saying when they asked Jesus to ‘stay with us’.

When we eat the bread that is broken for us during communion, we consume many gifts from the body of God’s creation. Grains of wheat that were planted in the earth, warmed by the sun and watered by the rain are ground into flour that becomes the bread. When that bread of life is eaten it becomes part of us empowering us to nourish others. I wonder if Jesus disappeared from the sight of the disciples because His Spirit now lived within them.

Prayer:

Almighty God,

Make our heart burn with the desire to get to know the You that lives and moves in and through us.

Amen

Luke 24:28-32

New International Version

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

 

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

April 25, 2020

April 24, 2020

God of my life, I welcome this new day.
It’s your gift to me – the first day of the rest of my life.
I thank you for the sleep that’s refreshed me.
I thank you for the chance to begin life all over again.
Lord, this day is full of promise and opportunity;
help me waste none of it.
This day is full of mystery and the unknown;
help me face it without fear and anxiety.
This day is full of beauty and adventure;
help me to be fully alive to it all.

During this day may I become
a more thoughtful person,
a more prayerful person,
a more generous and kindly person.
Help me not be turned in on myself,
but let me sensitive and helpful to others.
Let me do nothing today that will harm anyone,
but let me help, at least a little,
to make life more pleasant for those I meet.
When night comes, may I look back on this day without regrets;
and may nobody be unhappy because of anything I have done
or anything I have failed to do.

Lord, bless this day for me and for all of us.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen

Found in an obituary from The Globe and Mail

Psalm 5:3

New International Version

3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

April 23, 2020

Let Us Give Thanks

Let us give thanks to our Creator
for the Creator is always with us.

God is with us in the call of a loon
and in the flight of an eagle.

Our Creator is with us in the changing of the seasons.

God is with us when we gather together
and when we are alone.

Our Creator is with us in our giftedness
and in our search for new understandings of ourselves,
new visions of our communities.

Let us give thanks to God, our Creator.

—A prayer from The Dancing Sun (United Church of Canada/Anglican Church of Canada)

2 Isaiah 40: 28-31

New Revised Standard Version

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

April 22, 2020

O Guiding Light,
Where, O where can I turn for help?
I am lost in a maze of decisions,
afraid of making a wrong turn.

Help me recall the promises I learned as a child.
Help me believe them again.

I turn to your word, the compass that will direct my path.
I’m not stuck in a maze full of dead ends
but on a trail whose design is hidden from my eyes.

Because You are my guide and protector.
I will trust that even a poor choice can be redirected,
leading me where You would have me go.

Provide the courage I need to just take a step.
Thank you for watching over me.
Amen

Psalm 121

1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

April 21, 2020

Jesus the Light of the World

“Once there was someone who did such amazing things, and said such wonderful things that people just had to follow him. And they often asked him questions, one time they asked him who he was and he said I am the Light.”

I wonder if you have noticed that these words are often repeated when the Christ candle is lit as we gather for worship in the sanctuary and when the children gather for Godly Play. I love knowing that I can go to Jesus with my questions and that somehow a response will rise up that could be a clear answer or more often an encouragement to look at the question or problem from a different perspective.

God of perspective,
Thank you for all the ways you catch my attention when I get bogged down by news or events that make my heart heavy. Help me keep my eyes on the lighthouse ahead instead of the waves around me as You guide me to safety.
Amen

John 8:12

New Revised Standard Version

12 … “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace

April 20, 2020

Easter Morning Musings

By Jason Locke

As I rise to greet this morning I am reflecting a little on the dullness of the outdoors and the rather embarrassing (perhaps even childish) fact that I kind of expected to wake up this morning and feel totally energized and different from yesterday. I thought perhaps the sky would break open and the risen Christ would appear riding a white horse, with a trumpet in his right hand and a vaccine in his left. I chuckle as I write that, but it’s what I wanted. Just like Jesus’ disciples wanted a conquering hero, I wanted the same thing this morning too. And they didn’t get it – instead they got a risen Christ who was empowering those around him to pick up the work and invite others into a new way of living and loving. 

It’s not that following Jesus is drab or boring – but would a little ‘swoop in and save the day’ really be so bad!? Lol … perhaps it would be.
Maybe faith does grow best over time, with patience and careful pruning. Perhaps the flashy David Blaine faith my imagination sometimes wishes for would be a recipe for all sorts of disasters. Baby-step resurrection is still resurrection; small sprouts are still new life. 

This morning the Christian faith feels to be a little like the opposite of ‘death by a million pin pricks’. It is life by a million moments of differing sizes – tons of intricate instances and mini-episodes. And in the moment where I wish most deeply for a John Deer to plow the field quickly, a small trembling hand plants another seed … new life, tended to in a garden, by a tomb; on a balcony, overlooking the city; in a youth shelter, surrounded by courageous volunteers; in front of a computer screen, inundated by an onslaught of website updates; at home grant-writing, puppy-sitting and self-caring; on a chesterfield, speaking on the phone for 1000s of minutes; in a condo – praying that our church won’t implode or fall apart with all the stress; in the tight-quarters of a home office – administrating against the current of often-unreliable technology. It seems that resurrection is all around us: in our persistence, in our prayers, in our service, in our care … in you, dear friends. 

Maybe with all the bustle, I stopped noticing. Oops…my bad. As I let my heart embrace, once again, the hope of the resurrection, I am going to start in this place – – that far from being a new feeling, it is the very foundation on which our faith is ever-forming. It isn’t the place our lives eventually get to – as though our lives unfold year after year in lectionary time and we happen to stumble on resurrection, each year, sometime around my birthday … far from it. It’s the place we start. Every act of love reminds us that life is springing-up despite death. 

So, Happy Easter to you! May it be filled with family hugs, virtual hugs, Easter bunnies, scalloped potatoes (if you enjoy that sort of thing), chocolate (in whatever volume you feel suitable/necessary) and joy beyond measure – even in the midst of gloom and dullness. May hope spring up from the ground all around us as we step into the strangest of Easters.

P.S. Please, God, inspire a smart person to find a breakthrough cure for this terrible virus.

1 Peter 1:3 - A Living Hope

Good News Translation

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 

Photo credit: Mary Beth Wallace