Monday Morning Meditation 8-10-20

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Mt.14:28-31

I have asked the congregation to video parts of the Apostles’ Creed.  I’m attempting to create a video “mash up” for online worship and I’ve gotten some feedback from congregation members saying they are not technically adept at doing this.

Okay I get that, however in March I had precisely six days to figure out how to record and upload a Sunday worship service.  In a matter of hours, we went from “we will hold worship as long as we can” to “sorry, the sanctuary is closed”.  I have not had any video training and have learned the “sink or swim” method to provide on-line worship content.  Since those early days, the service has improved (at least I think so), and I’ve done a lot of other creative on-line things.

This brings me back to the Apostles’ Creed.  I want to create a mash up video with various members speaking different lines.  I’m asking members to do a short line of the creed.  You may think that is hard, but it is the easy part.  I need to figure out how to do the overall video.  And I have no clue…yet.  But I will figure it out if you do your part.

Brothers and sisters, can you please step out of the boat and walk on water?  This can be a great thing!

But only if you have a little faith in what you can do.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 8-3-20

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.  John 1:1-5

You could say we are living in a time of darkness right now, a time of uncertainty, a time of mistrust, a time of crisis.  So many things are going on that propel that darkness – the ongoing virus that still limits what we can do, ongoing protests against racial inequality, ongoing battles that try to undermine the peaceful protests and undermine the battle against the virus.

Many people are posting about their heart’s mission during this time as well – I’ve seen more posts against human trafficking lately (and I applaud those bringing this issue into the light).  It seems there is no end to the list of things we can battle against.  And think about it – that’s the point.  We live in a fallen world that is filled with darkness.

But there is light.  In the beginning, when God started creating, God said “Let there be light.”  And as John has told us, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.

Brothers and sisters, the darkness shall never overcome the light.  Even in these days of ongoing strife, the darkness will not overcome the light.  Especially when we follow the Light, for He said “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).

See how it works?  The Word (Jesus) is also the Light, and He, dwelling within us, makes us the light.  We are to shine.  Even in these difficult days, shine with Christ’s light.  It will make all the difference.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-27-20

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Who needs an encouraging word right now?  I know I do.  Last week was one of clean up.  I took some days off and began to clean my home office.  One day in March it became my home office, my church office and a recording studio.  Piles of things were added, and nothing was removed.  I had boxes of files, worship service cd’s, recording and duplicating equipment and more crammed into the little room.

We started (again) the process of going through books and parting with the ones we should part with.  And we had the ups and downs everyone faces in this time.

It was not a vacation of relaxation and respite, rather time away from the daily to clean up and prepare for more.

But then, I received a text from someone I have not heard from in a while, with a word of encouragement.  It was nice to get this.  Especially last week, when I needed a good word.

Do you need an encouraging word?

Has God placed the name of someone on your heart that might need an encouraging word?

The two go hand in hand, for if we are all listening for the Holy Spirit, we will hear the names we should encourage.  And if we follow the Spirit, we will encourage each other.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…

Peace,

Pastor Bill

A Perspective from Clergy

Our Presbytery has graciously hosted a weekly Zoom meeting for clergy to check in, talk about our situations and support each other.  I’ve participated in this almost every week since mid-March.

And here is my biggest take-away from these calls:  The Pastors (including me) are hurting.  Not having in-person worship hurts.

The conflicting information we get from the various sources is frustrating and makes decision making difficult. And that hurts.

The “Sink or Swim Learning Method” of creating meaningful online worship has brought about a number of struggles and that hurts.

For those congregations who have resumed in-person worship, the various restrictions (no contact, no singing, no greeting, sitting apart, wearing masks, limiting doors, bathrooms and the rest) is depressing.

Personally, I know clergy who are struggling with sick parents, sick children, financial concerns and family struggles.  Just like everyone else.

Everyone faces different conflicts on a regular basis, and each of us have difficulties due to this ongoing situation.  And that goes for Pastors as well.

If you would be so kind, please pray for Pastors.  And know we are praying for you.

Thanks

Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-13-20

Last week I wrote about my confusion and complete exhaustion over the various situations we are facing.  And many of you commented on feeling the same way.  This week I want to spend more time in a different direction.  While more planning to reopen needs to happen, more dissemination of information is necessary, I want to get away from a lot of the various commentary.  Instead, I need to focus on some positive things in my life.

Paul said in Philippians 4:8:  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

This is my goal for this week, to give more focus on what God has done and is doing in my life; to focus more on the blessings, more on the positive than the negative.

Sunday evening, before the storms, my family went on a creek walk.  We do this often, we go to a local creek, get in and explore.  It was time with family, a respite from the heat, and a great example of multiple blessings from God.  Afterwards, we had dinner and watched a musical.  We had plenty of food and were able to partake in the gift of music – more blessings.

While I have plenty of things to agonize about, while there are still lots of things to deal with, I definitely need to shift my focus to the blessings.  Join me in this.  Let us together pray in thanksgiving for our blessings, focus on the lovely and admirable, the excellent and praiseworthy.  And in doing that, God will provide the rest of the answers.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-6-20

I am tired.  I am completely exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually.  And many others are as well.

This ongoing pandemic is creating a lot of stress and anxiety in people.

The ongoing battle over who’s truth is actually truth regarding Covid is exhausting.  One doctor says one thing, another says something else, and a whole lot of people with absolutely no training in medicine or infectious diseases seem to sway a lot of opinions, especially on social media.

Add to that the continuing civil unrest in our nation and an upcoming election that will bring about more negativity.

It is getting hard to even know what to pray for these days.  Do we pray for a vaccine? Do we pray that the virus just “goes away”?  Do we just pray for everyone to just get along?  How do we even pray for this situation?

Sometimes we just go to God in silence and let God guide us.

Romans 8:26-29

26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.

There are prayer times when we need to be bold in asking, and there are times when we need to allow God to tell us what to pray for – so that our hearts and minds can be in God’s direction.

This is one of those times.

You might think things are not as bad as reports indicate.  You might think things are worse than reported.  You might be genuinely confused and concerned (like me).  We may not agree on any of today’s crisis topics but we can agree on one thing.  We need to pray.  And instead of telling God what to do, we need to allow God to direct us.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 6-29-20

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing. Luke 13:17

This is one verse of a great Gospel story.  Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath and the religious authorities go after him.  He did, after all, break the Sabbath law, didn’t he?

But Jesus reminds us often that the Sabbath is for humanity – it is a time of rest and a time to remember what God has given us.  Sabbath is a great gift from God.  It is more than just a worship service, more than “going to church”, rather Sabbath is a day to get away from the grind, a day to live into God’s promises.  Sabbath is important.  Sabbath is healing and that is what Jesus did.  He healed people on the Sabbath.

And they rejoiced.

Today as we begin a new work week, today as we near the end of another month, today as we live under the current conditions, think about all the wonderful things Jesus is doing among us.  Get away from the tiring bad news.  Consider God’s presence.

And rejoice.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 6-22-20

Summer officially began yesterday and that was evident in our neighborhood.  It seemed quieter than normal.  Looked like a lot of families went away, maybe for a Father’s Day weekend, maybe for a week’s vacation.  There was certainly less going on yesterday than most Sundays.

And that is always the description of summer, a slower pace, time off, time with family, time away.  Even with the current situation, many people are talking about their planned vacations.

For us, however, things are not slowing down.  The weekly worship continues as we ponder how and when to return to the sanctuary.  The daily ministry continues, although greatly changed since mid-March.  And I look at the continuing pile of reading, writing and other spiritual endeavors I’ve yet to get to do.  It can be overwhelming.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Ps. 46:10

I cut down some tree branches, and have much more yardwork to do.  There are some bushes that just need to go, and others that need to be trimmed.  We have a spot where a tree came down that needs something planted and we still need to tend the garden.  Lots to do.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Ps. 46:10

Our basement needs to be cleaned out and we need to get rid of unneeded items.  It is a daunting task that will take some time, and it is always before us.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Ps. 46:10

Brothers and sisters, the summer can be a time of rest for all of us.  And yes, it can be a time to get a lot of things done as well.  It can be a time of change (rather it WILL be a time of change), and a time of growth.  And if we are still, if we recognize God among us, if we allow God to take charge, it can bring us peace.

Pastor Bill