Monday Morning Meditation 2/17/20

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

This verse is one of the many scriptures where Jesus goes away to be alone in prayer.  Prayer is one of those interesting concepts.  There are times when we should pray together and there are times we should pray alone.

Our corporate prayer, such as the Prayers of the People during worship are important times that we join together praising God and asking for God’s intercessions.  That prayer time is a special time we are connected in our godly communication.

Then there is the personal time that we must spend with God.  We need those moments to get away from all distractions including other people.  This prayer time allows us to truly be with God and allows God to show us His will for our lives.

And, unfortunately, many of us get so “busy” doing things that we sometimes miss out on this prayer time.

As you begin this new week, find a few moments to get away.  Turn off the phone, tune out of the world and seek God in prayer.  Allow God to speak to you and experience God’s presence.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 2/10/20

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.  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, 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 11:39-12:2

Sunday night was a viewing followed by a Monday morning funeral.  The family put together a ton of pictures as well as a digital photo display on a screen.  Many people came in to visit with the family, to pay their respects and to mourn.

I was looking at the pictures, as well as the visitors, and the passage from Hebrews struck me.  We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, not only those mentioned in Hebrews, but also those who have gone before us.  I was looking at pictures of people who I have conducted funerals for, and shaking hands with people who attended those funerals.

I also saw pictures of weddings and births – another wonderful part of the cycle of life.  They too are witnesses of God’s gifts.  Every time a child is born, we rejoice.  Every time a person is baptized, we rejoice.  A wedding brings joy.  And so does a death.  While we mourn the loss we also celebrate the joy of our lives with our loved one.  And we celebrate the victory of eternal life through Jesus.

In this latest round of illnesses and funerals, I am again reminded of that great cloud of witnesses and their example of faith.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 2/3/20

As we begin the journey that is 2020, I am taking some liberty with the vision idea and that in this New Year we use all of our senses to experience God’s presence.

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. Acts 6:5-6

The past two Sundays we have ordained and installed new officers.  In the Presbyterian Church, Elders, Deacons and Ministers of Word and Sacrament are ordained.  We do this by laying hands on the person as we pray over them.  And just like Baptism, when I lay hands on someone, and pray over them, there is something special going on.  God’s presence is felt much stronger as a person is ordained and commissioned for their special calling.

But laying hands is not just for ordination.  Throughout scripture the laying on of hands means healing (see Luke 4:40), receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17), and a general blessing (Mark 10:16).

The sense of touch is incredibly important.  From birth to death, holding someone brings comfort.  We can use touch in our daily lives to bless each other, whether holding hands during prayer, or touching someone you visit, or laying hands to pray over your children or pray for one’s healing.

Teresa of Avila is attributed with saying “Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world…”  Yours.  As you continue this new journey into 2020, consider how you can bless others with your hands.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 1/27/20

As we begin the journey that is 2020, I am taking some liberty with the vision idea and that in this New Year we use all of our senses to experience God’s presence.  Today we talk about the sense of smell.

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.  Psalm 141:2

All it takes is a grape vine.  If I walk under a grape vine and smell the grapes, I’m taken back to my youth, visiting my aunt Marie who had grape vines in her back yard.  The smell reminds me of a different time.  In historic worship, incense has been used since the Old Testament and if you walk into a church that still uses incense, you can tell immediately something holy is present.  Aromatic oils and scented candles can help us remove ourselves from the busy-ness of our lives and enter into a more worshipful experience.  The scent creates a spiritual atmosphere of cleansing and healing, and studies have proven that some incense actually does purify the air with antibacterial, fungicidal and insecticidal properties! Maybe you can create a more spiritual prayer area through scent.  See if it changes your prayer time.

Malachi 1:11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

AARON-WITH-INCENSE-ALTAR

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 1/20/20

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.  Psalm 5:3

No great meditation today.  No lengthy exposition or eloquent writing.  Our congregation and community is filled with sorrow and grief.  We have a lot of people sick, hurting and grieving; we have had some deaths and are expecting others.  We, quite frankly, need God.

So this morning no meditation, only my sincere prayer for you.  May God be with you, may God bring you healing, may God bless you this day.

Amen.

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 1/13/20

As we begin the journey that is 2020, I am taking some liberty with the vision idea and that in this New Year we use all of our senses to experience God’s presence.  Today we listen for God.

Did you know that normal hearing ranges from 0 to 20 dB in all frequencies?  I didn’t but recently someone told me this.  Another person told me there is a specific frequency that heals (certain sounds at this frequency can calm the body and allow the healing process to happen).

As I thought about those two statements, I thought about our senses and God.  Too often we cannot hear God’s voice because we are focused on the wrong decibels or frequencies.

I know every sound in my house.  Every single one.  I can tell if something is wrong by listening.  I can hear the refrigerator making its strange whine, or the water as it flows through the pipes.  I know if it is a normal sound or a problem.  This was quite helpful one night when a pipe was leaking and I caught it before total calamity in the basement.

And this type of attention to sound is important – we should be aware of our surroundings and hear all sorts of things.  But the most important is to focus on God’s voice, which in my opinion, is not the same decibel or frequency that we normally listen for.

1 Kings 19:11-13
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Notice how God’s voice was not in any of the loud noises, rather the still gentle whisper.  It takes special effort to listen to the whispers – especially when the loud is so prevalent in society.  Yet we can listen for God’s voice – we just need to relax, focus and tune out all the other noises we hear.  Then we can hear God.
As you journey through this New Year, stop and listen for God’s voice.

Peace

Pastor Bill

 

 

Monday Morning Meditation 1/6/20

Experience God with 20/20 Vision
As we begin the journey that is 2020, I am taking some liberty with the vision idea and that in this New Year we use all of our senses to experience God’s presence.
vision chart.jpg
And, of course, we first begin with sight.  Genesis 2:9 says “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”  All around us is the beauty of nature.  Can you see God in nature?  Can you see the beauty of creation as a visual reminder of God’s presence in the world?

Yet we sometimes forget we, too, are a part of nature.  We were also created by the beautiful artist known as God and therefore we can see God in each other.  One of the themes I always teach is the “Imago Dei”, the Image of God.  For we were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), therefore we should recognize the image of God in all we meet.  Even if they are different, they, too, are created in God’s image.

When we look hard enough, when we open our eyes with 20/20 vision, we can see God’s acts through others, those “random acts of kindness”, those instances when we see Godly actions, those times when we see God in a smile, or twinkling eyes of children. 

This year use your 20/20 vision.  Look for the beauty of the earth, look for the Image of God in others, and be the Image of God by letting your light shine before others (Mt. 5:16).

Grace and peace,

Pastor Bill