Thursday, February 22, 2018

Love


I am like an olive tree growing in God’s house, and I can count on his love forever and ever. Psalm 50:8
 

This is the month of the year we claim as the “Love” month. Should we consider that every month should contain that Love and months be made up of Love.


Support Excerpt from Praise

How do you love someone you can’t see, hear, or touch? The same way you love an unborn child. You learn everything you can about what that child is like. You speak to the child, even though it can’t speak back. When you finally are able to see and hold that child, you find you are already in love with the child. Yes, you can love someone you cannot see. As for God, His love for us transcends eternity. We’re His child, whom He has loved since before there was time.


 
May we take these words and share more love and respect to those we hold so dear.
 

Prayer: Gracious Lord, thanks for the love you share with us and help us to share love with others and be thankful for family, friends and new friends out there we do not yet know.


Shirley Flynn-Bell

 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Words for the Ages


The Lord bless you and keep you, The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 

Recently I have been reading the book—Rabbi Jesus, an Intimate Biography by Bruce Chilton. It focuses on the Jewish Life and Teaching that Inspired Christianity. The book notes that Jesus was probably born at the time of year that was cool and clear. Guests at Jesus’s circumcision would wear rough woolen cloaks over their basic flax tunics for warmth. Beside Jesus’s home, would be a central courtyard. Mary would give Joseph the baby who carried him into the courtyard reenacting Abraham’s willingness to circumcise Isaac on the eighth day and even, if necessary, to sacrifice his son. A skilled village dignitary would perform the circumcision and then carry away the unclean foreskin on a broken pottery shard and dispose of it in an abandoned spot outside the village. The wound was then dressed in a combination of wine and olive oil with balm from a terebinth tree and cumin. A drop of this same wine was given to Jesus to lessen the pain. Then the wine was given out for the celebration afterwards along with bread, meat, and lamb stew with leeks, lentils, and onions. The elders who joined in the ceremony were inspired that such rituals were needed for the survival and prosperity of Israel.  Jesus’s circumcision represented the endurance of the people of  God. Each elder had a role in this perpetuation, but only one elder, descended from the tribe of Levi, was authorized to give the infant the priestly blessing—


“The Lord bless you and keep you, The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

This familiar blessing or benediction was very familiar for me—I’ve heard it all my life either from a pastor’s closing of worship, or sung as a response by a church choir. I had no idea how old it was. It was given to Moses from God when the Israelites were still wandering in the desert. It is ancient and still gives us the promise of God’s graciousness and peace.


Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for being with your people throughout the ages. Thank you that the rituals that we celebrate draw us closer to you. Help us remember that Jesus was a Jew and his life revolved around the practices of the Jewish communities. Help us to have your peace as we prepare for Lent. Amen.


Nancy Hall

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Strengthening our Faith


From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Matthew 16:21 

We are about to enter a special time in our Christian calendar with the beginning of Lent. With these 40 days of celebration before Easter, we have an opportunity to really focus on those last days of Jesus' life. Lent provides a time for us to review what our personal relationship with God really is. It is a time of remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.  As we again read and study the passages of scripture which focus on the events of Jesus' last days before His crucifixion, we can better understand the suffering, death, and resurrection He experienced for each of us.

At the beginning of Lent, I choose to review the events of this last period of Jesus' life as found in Luke chapters 22, 23, and 24. By doing so, the events of the disciples' last supper, Peter's denial, the betrayal, arrest, trial, death sentence, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection are relived.  I'm sure by rereading those chapters during this period of Lent, an excitement and strengthening of your Christian faith will occur for you, too.

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, help us to better recognize and understand the sacrifice that Your Son experienced for our sake.  Help us to be guided by the lessons we learn in the scripture to deepen and expand our faith.  Amen

Lauren Holcombe

Monday, February 19, 2018

President's Day





First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The End of the Story


Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

The ending of a story is arguably the most important part. I’m thinking of a couple of examples in movies. One, seen just recently, Mudbound, has an ending that was important to me to make other parts of the movie palatable. The movie’s ending may not have been realistic, but I needed it in order to feel all right at that point in the story. You’ll need to see the movie yourself to see what I mean!

In another favorite Christmas film, The Family Stone, the ending is sad, bittersweet, and totally realistic. Death is a part of life. In this case, I didn’t “need” the ending to be something redemptive in order to go forward feeling good about what I had seen.

With Christ we know how the story ends…He has promised us eternal life with Him. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring, just as certainly as we know that we will go through trials while here on earth. But knowing that God is with us, and knowing the “end of the story”, we have peace and comfort to go on.

Prayer: Dear Lord: Some days are easier than others, and sometimes it’s hard not knowing what our future holds. Calm us, reassure us, let us know that you’re with us. Thank you for your promise of eternal life. Amen.

Donna Gustafson

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Grief and Loss


Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

For God so loved the world that he gave us he one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

We recently lost a member of our Red Hat group totally unexpectedly. One member said to me I can’t stop crying, she said I don’t know why but it feels like I lost an immediate family member and we were not that close. Another member said to me I am sad, but I haven’t shed a tear. Other members were busying themselves about arrangements and attending the funeral expressing their loss but avoiding the feeling. 

I remember a member of my previous church and every time she mentioned her mother she broke into tears for years as if it had just happened. A cousin who has lost her son to suicide seems obsessed and is constantly posting her memories and sorrow on Facebook. A walking friend lost her husband and she includes her grief in every gathering. The last two were told by their friends that they needed to get over it. It was time to move on. 

I have noticed that when a grief or loss of someone happens or if a way of life changes we seem to expect people to grieve for a few weeks and then move on as if nothing happened. Yet the loss was a part of their everyday lives. I have experienced from my own loss the fact that I would expect the person to come through the door as if they had just been gone on an errand.  I would think of something and then remember I couldn’t just tell them or call them to tell them.  A friend of mine, after losing his mother, said to me I can’t envision how to continue and when does the pain stop. From my own loss of my father, I said I don’t think you ever get over the pain, you just learn to live with the loss with the hope of seeing them in Heaven. Your days become busy again with family and friends making new memories. But the pain of loss is still there.

As I have gotten older, I realize that every person has to deal with their loss in their own way and in their own time frame. It is not up to someone else to tell a person it is time to move on. I even become frustrated when I hear someone tell a person grieving you need to get over it and live your life. I wish they would suggest they may want to seek assistance to learn to live with it. I also recognize that it is okay to add memories of the person or loss to a conversation and that is okay and is helpful to everyone.  

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, We pray for those who are grieving from the loss of a loved one or a loss of a way of life. We pray that we support them, help them and understand that their way and time of grieving is okay. Help us to understand that only you know the process or time frame for each of us in our grief. Help us remember that because you gave us your Son that we will have eternal life with those we miss here on earth. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Lori Hood