The views expressed here are those of each individual devotion writer. Thank you to our writers for their contributions to this ministry!

Friday, September 30, 2016


Scripture: And God saw all that he had made and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning- the sixth day. Genesis 1: 31

The U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey in partnership with Scripps Institute of Oceanography presented a study that the monarch population could possibly be quasi-extinct in 20 years. Not having seen many in the last few years, I was sad.

This year I may look out and see at least four large monarchs on my zinnias at one time just outside my office window. The sedum attracts a great number of them too. I was playing golf at Tiburon Golf Club by Omaha and we saw monarchs floating all around us. One came so close to me I was almost afraid to swing my driver for fear of hitting it. It seems like we are in a butterfly house this September. I have been taught that our ecological system is good when the butterflies are around.

These wonderful delights of nature are what God made and then said it was very good.

Prayer: Thank you for the information provided to farmers about how to have a balance in protecting these beautiful creatures and yet grow the food that the world needs. Thank you for this increase in the beautiful monarch. You are all mighty and all is possible for you. Amen.
Sandy Hilsabeck  

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Scripture: Then I saw a new heaven and earth; for the first earth had passed away. and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband:  and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.  He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, for the former things have passed away.

And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."  Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."  And he said to me. "It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment.  He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:1-7

"All good things must come to an end." This phrase, attributed to the great 14th century English poet and storyteller Geoffrey Chaucer aptly describes where we find ourselves in scripture today. Today, we are at the end of the circle of life, and Scripture is finding a way to wrap up the story, to find an appropriate ending.

The Book of Revelation used to intimidate me. I think it's because I didn't really understand it, and I didn't want to. I was in college when the first book in the Left Behind series was published, and being at a Christian College, I had friends who were reading it. I'm not sure my own Christian formation had ever included this book at the end of the Bible. All I knew was that it was the end of the Bible, I believed it was the foretelling of things to come, and I was intimidated and scared of it. Since that time, I've come to understand it more, through study and prayer and classroom. John's vision, or Revelation, on the Island of Patmos was the focus of the 2010-2011 Presbyterian Women's Study Book.

It's a vision of the end times.

The circle of life.

"All good things must come to an end."

Believe it or not, John's vision is a vision of hope to the Christian community in diaspora. It is a vision written and sent to seven churches in seven communities. Seven communities who are uncertain about how this will all end - when will Jesus return? Their faith is challenged to believe he will return at all, as time marches on, and they become more and more comfortable in their new communities. As they encounter different religions, different Gods, including money, materialism, and consumerism. And so, yes, Revelation is a message of hope to those who are growing hopeless, as well as a challenge to our complacency with the world as it is.

God created the world and called it good. This is how the Bible begins. God brings order out of chaos, breathes "ruach," life", into the world, desires to be in relationship with us, and we have messed it up. Sin, evil, selfishness, pride, call it what you want, but there are forces that have kept the world from being as God originally created it. Even Psalm 104, the beautiful and vivid retelling of creation, a Psalm of praise for all that God made, includes a few verses to remind us that creation is not as intended. In our country, conversations about racism, immigration, the economy, health care, education, and mental health bring about rhetoric that is inflammatory. I'm sorry to say that this election year has left all of us unsettled with its unsatisfactory solutions to our problems. In 1970, Joni Mitchell drew our attention to what happened when we paved paradise and put up a parking lot. But we still do it! Progress is domination! New is always better! Isn't it?

Unfortunately, many of us believe that is true. Our society tells us that the end of this circle of life means admitting defeat, admitting death. And so we strive to be like God. Underneath all of this is the fear that German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was right when he asserted that God is dead, and we have killed him. We have chosen to live in desperation instead of hope; chaos instead of faithfulness.

Dear friends, this message from Revelation is for us! We are the church in diaspora! This message challenges us to see the world the way it should be, the way it was created to be. It challenges us to see the good in others and in nature. It challenges us to be a people that cries out against injustice and oppression. It calls us to be a people that points to the presence of God among us. This passage challenges us.

And it gives us hope. "Christians are not called to escape into this new world but rather to partner with God in ways that will allow the power of God and the Lamb be experienced in this world. That is the reason why God comes down into the world to dwell with his people and that coming down is basically the New Jerusalem that comes out of heaven. In other words, Revelation does not rely on the notion of eternal life and John does not deny it either but what he believes is that this New Jerusalem begins in the present moment and every human being must experience its joy and goodness in the present moment.... It is a world where zip codes do not divide people but that all God's people have access to every area, including access to health care, education, transportation, housing, worship, and authentic life (Genesis 1-2)."

We end, then, at the beginning. I've never really thought about it that way before, not until I was reading and preparing for this sermon. But it's a thought and an insight that has changed the way I understand God, and God's relationship with me, and my relationship with you. In the beginning, God created the world, and declared it good. In the end, God re-creates the world, and it will be only good. Evil, uncertainly, violence, pride, sin, faithlessness, desperation, unbelief, it will all come to an end. In the beginning, God brought order out of the chaos. In the end, God will bring life out of the chaos.

I'd like to close this with a poem from Rick Fry, Lutheran Pastor and blogger:

It ends where it all began.

There will be a time when we make it through the darkest valleys

of cooking appliance bombs, bubble-bursting economies, bone-chilling diagnoses,

our own personal failures, dead-ends, loneliness and fears.

We will make our way through the shadows towards the shimmering river of life,

leading to the primordial garden,

where we will be healed by the leaves

and the sweet grainy fruit of the tree of life.

We will no longer turn our faces towards the wall in order to hide our shame.

Rather the Lamb will lead us to the New Jerusalem.

The gates will be open wide.

In thanksgiving we will enter.

No more hatred, envy, or fear.

God will be present among all the wandering people of the nations.

We will find ourselves streaming into this strange city

along with the peoples of different cultures,

peoples of times past and future.

We walk by a faint glimmer of light now,

yet it grows more defined as the glory of God halos the city skyline,

welcoming us home.

Creation III; September 25, 2016; Eastridge Presbyterian Church; Rev. Melodie Jones Pointon



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Where has Lady Wisdom gone?

Scripture: Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:  "How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you-when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them: but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm." Proverbs 1: 20-33

In the midst of our current presidential election and the turmoil throughout the world, it sometimes seems that Lady Wisdom is noticeably absent. Apparently, as we can see in the Biblical proverbs, Solomon, son of David, king of Israel, felt the same way thousands of years ago. He warns repeatedly against rejecting wisdom and describes its unfortunate results. Solomon also goes to great lengths to explain the benefits of possessing wisdom and where it can be found. For example, Solomon says in Chapter 2, "For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." In Chapter 9, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." 

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, we know that our nation and the world are in Your hands. But we also know that we are Your instruments. Please give us the wisdom to make right choices that will bring about peace and justice for all Your people. In Jesus's name we pray, Amen.

Judith Keller

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Scripture: One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them they must never give up. Luke 18:1

Jesus told the Parable of the "Persistent Widow." Luke 18:1-7.
Go to your Bible to read the Parable. The story showed the need
for constant or persistent prayer.  This means keeping our prayer
requests and needs continually before God as we live our faith
every day and believing he will answer.

Recently I flew to Denver for my daughter's surgery.  The night before the surgery, she and I prayed holding the wooden cross that Patty had sent for her.  Through the pain and recovery, she picked up the cross and squeezed it.  She was connecting with God.  I think of her often and with those thoughts I am continuing to pray for her.

My son and daughter-in-law are in the process of adopting 3 children. I am continually in thought and prayer for them. 

I am a member of the Eastridge Presbyterian Church's Prayer Chain. We are a team continually praying for those on the Prayer Chain. Remember the power of prayer and your power to pray. 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your gift of prayer. Prayer gives us an avenue to share our needs, requests, and praise with you. Amen.


Susan Taylor

Monday, September 26, 2016


Scripture: Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have. 1 Peter 3:15 (NCV)

A friend traveled with me this week and told a wonderful story. Her parents had always believed that when they die that will be the end of everything for them. Recently her mother and father were driving and her mother saw the face of Jesus in the clouds. It was so spectacular and meaningful to her that she told her husband (who could not see it from the driver's seat) and continued to tell everyone she met about the vision.

My prayer for them is that this changes everything and makes a huge difference in their lives. I will continue to pray they come to believe in Jesus and can have the HOPE we have of eternal life. How sweet this would be for my friend's parents who are in their eighties.

Prayer: Lord, help us all to be ready to answer everyone who questions our hope and belief in eternal life promised by you. Thank you for your merciful grace to us. Amen

Sandra Hilsabeck

Friday, September 23, 2016

Be Still and Know that I am God (Ps. 46:10)

Scripture: "Go and stand upon the mount [Elijah]... The Lord passed by and a great and strong wind rent the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. When Elijah heard it he wrapped his face in his mantle." 1 Kings 19:11-13

Having boarded the plane on my flight home I placed in the pocket of my seat the book I was reading and my journal, convinced that with a 10 hour flight I would have plenty of time to write an update. In doing so a still small voice said, "don't do that", but I paid no attention. After dinner was served and the lights were turned off I promptly fell asleep. I woke up shortly before breakfast was served. When the plane landed I retrieved my book and got off. It wasn't until I got home 5 hours later that I realized I'd left my journal in the pocket of the plane. Boy! Was I upset! Not only had I lost my reflections on all the trips I had taken, but I'd also written down thoughts I had had for possible future devotions.

This was not the first time I hadn't listened to the "still small voice". How many opportunities had I missed for not listening. How often I could have avoided misconceptions if I'd only listened. Elijah was tired of his life being constantly threatened for opposing a powerful king, and by Baal's priests who were leading the Israelites into idolatry.   He feels he is the only one left serving the Lord. He wanted God to show His power as He had in the past.

When I listen to the evening news reporting so much violence at every level and nothing to make it stop seems to happen, I feel just as Elijah must have. But then I remember the psalmist when expressing these same thoughts God says: "My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts."

God goes on to show Elijah that there are "seven thousand in Israel who have not bent their knees to Baal, and whose lips have not kissed him", who have also heard the "still small voice. "Having had the opportunity to visit churches in other lands gives me that same picture of hope.

Prayer: We praise your name, oh God our Father, and give you thanks for the "still small voice" which guides us and which we often ignore.  We thank you for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who remind us to pay more attention to your voice.  Amen.

Devotion by Joanna Kennedy taken from archives (03-21-13) Prayer added by the devotional editor.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gardeners of Creation

Scripture: In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up-for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground- then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made 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 the knowledge of good and evil.

A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. Genesis 2:4-15

Sermon Meditation :

Every Spring, I feel like wanting to be a gardener. Because planting is exciting! Weeding on the other hand - well, not so much. That's where I usually fail... There is something ironic about the fact that I need to fight weed and pest to make salad. I know many will deem this is completely innocent. But it reveals something about the world we live in. That we need to kill to survive. We push out other creatures, beings that breathe as well, in order to establish and expand our habitat.

Recently I read the scary statistic that in a stunningly short time a fourth of all species have vanished from our planet. Birds, critters, fish, mammals, as well as plants. Old species of fruit and grain are extinct. I find this loss of the diversity troubling. But one of the terrifying things is the destruction of whole habitats. It's been more than six years since the the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank. Through live stream, we could follow how billions of barrels of oil gushed unhindered into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving death for oceans, fish, beaches and wetlands...

This image reminds me of a scene from The Black Spider, a novel every Swiss pupil read in middle school:  A legendary lethal black spider is trapped behind a window post, until one day a foolish farmhand removes the plug, releasing the spider and unleashing the black plague which kills almost the entire village.

When we see destruction of epic proportion going on, singing psalms may seem a little naive. Nature is a battle field where the strongest survive. And from the perspective of a gardener of the world, I imagine the human race must appear like a pest...

The world is not a harmonious paradise. Why are things this way? Where that black spider comes from?  There's no simple answer. Even the creation stories in the Bible don't give much explanation. But they invite us to ask ourselves, who we are.

They are really two stories: The first tells us the beginning of life in the universe: How the creator brings order in the chaos, shines light into darkness, dries swamps and waters deserts - and life abounds! It is the spring fever version of creation. Everything was good. And the creation of the humans on the sixth day even: very good.

The second story begins with a garden - in Persian 'paradise'. God takes Adam and Eve and puts them in the garden - to till it and keep it. I imagine they didn't have to put up with critters or weeds... But we know things didn't stay that way. That's what the second story eventually talks about: Another character appears, a creepy creature. The snake engages Eve in a conversation and promotes this very special fruit: it is supposed to offer so much more nutritional value, but even more enjoyment. It will awaken within the human beings their full potential to attain wisdom. The prospects are too tempting! And so Eve and Adam eat from the fruit - and immediately, this miracle food has consequences. It is as if someone had pulled the plug, and hidden things burst out to light. Yes: They recognize good and evil, and for the first time experience shame. Eventually, the owner of the garden appears and sets the food down: No more admittance to the paradise, but instead painful labor, no more equality, but work by the sweat of your face. The lecture is long and hard, but ends somewhat conciliatory, when the God expresses care by making them their first garments.

These first stories of the Bible don't explain things. They tell a story. Much remains unresolved. And yet, we see who we really are: On one hand God-like - and yet, deeply divided. No day goes by that we are not confronted with this conflict - within us, in relationships to loved and not so loved ones... and in our relationship with the world around us. And the other thing is true, too: there's no easy a way back. The way back to paradise is closed. We are not vegan. Being human means to be violent. We don't need a Bible to realize that. But there is more in it: We're reminded of our true identity. And that's why we talk about these stories. There's a reason the Bible doesn't start with the Fall. It begins with a light. A beam of light that doesn't come out of me, but falls upon me. There's a spark in me that understands the will of the creator. When we pray: Thy will be done, then we pray to overcome this conflict, we pray for deliverance from evil. I can only pray like this because God's Word, like a lantern, enlightens and sanctifies our innate urge for survival, and we realize instead: that's not who we truly are. We do not want to kill. We want to live and let live, we want to support and care, and create and reconcile. We feel sorry for the suffering we have caused, just as we are sorry for the harm humanity brings about God's beautiful garden.

Our generation is facing incredible environmental challenges. If we don't find the plug soon, we risk to desert the very garden that nourishes us. But we change ourselves with flaming appeals with shoulds and don'ts.  I found powerful what Gus Speth, US professor of environmental law said:  "I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change.  I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems.  I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don't know how to do that."

What we need is a cultural and spiritual transformation! In other words: We need to be renewed in our thinking and our feeling and our living by the very same Creator Spirit who has created us in the first place who breathes in everything that has breath, who suffers with us and rejoices with us, who prays with us and praises with us.  God's Holy Spirit: who is the lover of life.

And therefore, I don't want to stop gardening: Because that is what we are called to be:  gardeners, called to "till it and keep", to take care of this piece of land: of this community, of this congregation, of our home.

We are gardeners, hoping for new beginnings. And so I pray that God give us strength and wisdom, to plug the holes where the thick pitch is gushing out and black spiders are slipping through. When I pray: Thy will be done, I want to practice non-violence, as good as I can.

When I pray: Your Kingdom come, I will still hope for people who have a spark of common sense. I won't stop singing under the shower and humming when I walk through the neighborhood, because despite everything I see God's hand at work. Some may find this naive, but that doesn't bother me.  Because in the end, even ants, drain flies and mosquitoes in their very own way are praising their creator.  And someday we, too, will come to this conclusion: "It was very good."

(Sermon held on 9/18/2018)

Prayer: Creator of all things seen and unseen, you blew the Spirit of Christ into apostles and disciple senslaved by sin, freeing your people from death and captivating us with your steadfast love. In your Spirit, let us show the peace of Christ to a world of violence, share the bread of heaven with a world of hunger, offer springs of living water to a world of pollution, and lead the way of truth and life with the gifts of faith, hope, and love until you bring the fullness of your new creation. Amen

 Thomas Dummermuth           

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Devotion Dedicated to Fall and the Beauty of the Seasons

Scripture: He will once again fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled.  Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh. Luke 6:21

As I look out my window on this wonderful fall day, I can't think of anything more beautiful than an autumn afternoon. I can still see birds and flowers, a Monarch butterfly, a blue sky, a few fluffy white clouds, lots of beautiful colored leaves, and bright sunshine.

I could never be happy in a place that doesn't have the change of seasons. I love to visit those places, but I wouldn't want to live there.

I am reminded of one of my favorite poems, by John Keats. I will quote part of it for you: "Beauty is truth, truth is beauty, that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Two years ago, ironically, here at Eastmont I moved into the addition called, "The Seasons". I feel that is an appropriate place for me since I don't like "Eternal Summer". But "The Seasons" is great!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for all the blessings you have given us.  We are so lucky to have a lovely and safe place to live, and good friends to share our lives.  Thank you for Eastridge Presbyterian Church and the love and happiness its members have brought to me.  I treasure all my memories of Eastridge.

Gerry Draney   

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Magic Moments brings Contentment

Scripture:......for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.  Philippians 4:11b

"Seize the day.  Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars."   With this statement Henry Van Dyke connects special moments, which we'll call "magic moments", with our contentment with life  When we take the time to think about it, we see that we all have these special moments.     

To determine what constitutes magic moments for you, make a list of the things you now do that give you joy.  When you have your list, prioritize it so that the things that give you the most pleasure are at the top of the list.  When you take a close look at your list you will be surprised to discover you do enjoy the simple things you do every day.  We were!  We found the mundane contains magic moments.  Included on our list was sitting out on our patio sipping a cold beverage after doing yard work.  Cooking together, then enjoying the meal while watching a movie on T.V.  Our list goes on but you get the idea.  We make these moment just going about our daily lives.  Our most special "magic moment" is when we take time to connect to God and His love.  Now here is another surprise, sharing these moments increases your contentment because Magic Moments are contagious.

Prayer: Dear Father, help us to seize the day and be glad of life because we do have much to be thank full for. Give us opportunities to share your love with others and remind us that connecting with you in prayer is the best Magic Moment we can have. Amen.

Noel and Jane DeKalb

Monday, September 19, 2016

Teach Yourself When Teaching Others

Scripture:  If you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, and instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? Romans 2: 19.

I have a friend who researched and wrote a great curriculum for youth and presented it in six lessons. One time he felt they were not understanding the material but they were having a great time with the activities he added to the classes. The children even followed him out wanting more teaching from him. Lori Snyder had a great understanding of what was happening to him as she wrote in an old devotion:

The children just want to love and be loved...and to do lots of things with glitter. I think, after reviewing these instructions, that I'll be spending less time worrying about how to teach them about Hezekiah, and just keep showing them through words and actions the love that God has for them in their daily lives. In fact, maybe less worry and more glue and glitter would be a good idea in other areas of my life?

Prayer: Dear Lord in heaven, help us to teach love in all that we do and remember it is the greatest commandment. Let us know that in giving of our time we have given the greatest we can give. Teach us to grow with every lesson we teach. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck


Scripture: To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.  Daniel 1: 17

The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah:  so they entered the king's service.  Daniel 1:19

In reading through the book of Daniel, I am always amazed at how Daniel and his friends stood up for their beliefs.  The first three chapters of the book describe the spiritual integrity of Daniel and his three friends.  Selected for government service, they resist the pressure to conform to their pagan environment and instead take a clear-cut stand for the God of Israel.  Whether in matters of diet, truthfulness, or spiritual discipline, the four young men live out their convictions---even at the risk of their lives.

Not only did they make decisive decisions, they also made discerning decisions.  When faced with a three-year "Bachelor of Babylonia" training program, they accepted their new Babylonian names, but rejected their new diet.  Why?  Because it was the only part of the training program contrary to the law of God. Think about our culture --- what can I accept and what must I reject.  Like Daniel and his friends, can we dare to stand alone in matters where our convictions and culture clash?

Prayer: Lord, help us to look at and know our own beliefs for you.  Let us know and be willing to stand for them and for you.We often need your strength to do what we know is right for you. Give us that strength.  Amen

Marilyn (Jones) Albin      

Friday, September 16, 2016


On Eagles' Wings

Scripture: Isaiah 40: 28-31.  Don't you know?  Haven't you heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God; he created all the world.  He never grows tired or weary. No one understands his thoughts.  He strengthens those who are weak and tired.  Even those who are young grow weak; young men can fall exhausted.   But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed.  They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.

This is my favorite passage in the whole Bible.  I guess it's my favorite because the eagle is our national  bird, and it is a very noble bird.   It's sort of like God in that respect.  It watches over, feeds its young, hunts food and guards it's young and at one point in an eagle's life, the female tears out all her old feathers, cleans herself up and becomes a totally new being.   Just like Christians can become new in Christ.

The author also emphasizes that those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed, they will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.  The author is saying that God will help us if we are tired or weak, and he knows if we are suffering and feel like we can't go on with our journey.  He is there for us, and he knows we are struggling.  He'll be with us all the way. 

But, we have to listen to God.  As the old hymn says, "Trust and obey, there is no other way." 

Prayer: DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER, We thank you for your loving care.   Thank you for the wonderful eagle, our intelligent and beautiful national symbol.  May he be the symbol of loyalty and faithfulness to us, and an example to the whole world, that our strength will be strong.  Help us to fight evil in a flawed world.

Gerry Draney

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Belief That Sustains Through Trials

Scripture: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, Genesis 1:1 

I have believed this verse since I was a very young child, I've never really thought about what it would be like to think differently. Since I believe that the same God that created the universe also created me, then I must believe I am not a random act, my life is not an accident. Since I'm created by God, then I am part of His plan. I have a reason to be, a purpose for living. I have a history and a future. God knows me and loves me as His own. God will ensure His objectives are achieved. He will never abandon me. All that remains is to live in a close enough relationship with the creator God and the community of believers so that I may live the purpose God has for me.

After realizing God had a plan for me, it gave me peace in everything. I can now look back and see he had me take up college again so I learned to journal which led to my writing. He put tennis in front of me so I would have knowledge to coach when asked. I didn't know I needed these but God did and set them before me at exactly the right time.

God has a plan for your life too and HE will not abandon you. You have a purpose for being here.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to trust you to reveal the plan you have for our lives. Give us the wisdom to ask for your plan and the knowledge and desire to fulfill your plan. Lastly, help us to understand all you have placed in front of us and to act accordingly. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Monday, September 12, 2016

Presbyterian Youth Triennium

Scripture: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." 1 Tim. 1:15

A group of 19 young adults from the Presbytery of Yukon faced some significant travel challenges when they went to West Lafayette, Indiana, for this year's Presbyterian Youth Triennium.

The delegation came from all parts of Alaska, from Barrow in the north to Anchorage in the south, where average temperatures in July range from 60 to 70 degrees during the day and 40 to 50 degrees in the evening. Indiana greeted them with temperatures approaching or exceeding 90 degrees and humidity that ranged from the high 70s to mid-80s each day. As if that wasn't enough of an adjustment, the group was assigned to a dormitory without air conditioning.

Considering that all were first-timers at the five-day event, you might think the combination of weather, extended travel, and even the fact that it gets dark in the summer might have dampened their enthusiasm for worship and communion with nearly 5,000 colleagues. But the resilience of youth triumphed. Whether it was tracing and cutting out fabric so Ugandan women could sew together shoes and create their own revenue stream, meeting fellow Presbyterians from other countries, or confessing their sins in written form during small group meetings, each participant seemingly found his or her own path amid a range of activities.

Amanda, 22, a volunteer mentoring the delegation, shared what stood out to her at Triennium.

"Our church is comprised of mostly older adults. We have youth groups and I've been to youth conferences in Anchorage, but not many of us are Presbyterians, so it's impressive to me to see the numbers and how involved Presbyterian youth are," she said.

The camaraderie at the event and the connectivity of Presbyterians made the biggest impression on Tanner, 16.

"Everybody is friendly; people will walk up and just start a conversation even though they don't know you," he said. "In Alaska there aren't that many Presbyterians, so you don't have that connection like you do [at Triennium]. That's new and unique."

Stevie, 16, found the small group meetings and the opportunity to meet Presbyterians from other cultures fascinating.

"The global partners event stood out to me because there was someone from Japan and a few people from other countries. It was interesting to hear about different cultures and lifestyles," he said. "They talked about what's a normal day for them, how their school system works, and what they eat for meals. It was very interesting."

Many in the Yukon delegation cited the passion and enthusiasm that the young adults had for worship. Kailen, 15, said one of her biggest impressions from the event was her takeaway from worship: "You can take a little from everybody-more ways to pray, how to get to know God better, get closer to him and feel comfortable with him through prayer."

Alfred, 16, concurred.

"Worship stood out to me the most," he said. "It was really awesome and really touched my heart."

Scott O'Neill, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency


Today's Focus: Presbytery of Yukon

Let us join in prayer for: Presbytery Staff: Rev. Curt Karns, Executive Presbyter; Ruling Elder Sharon Rayt, Stated Clerk; Melissa O'Malley, Administrative Assistant; Mary Kron, Treasurer

PC(USA) Agencies' Staff: Almir Dias, PMA; Christy Dickson, FDN

Let us pray: Bless the youth in our communities who, without reservation, help others in need. Lord, keep them in your heart and give them the strength to continue their mission. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.



Overcoming Negative Values

Scripture: Proverbs 4:14.  Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evildoers.
Proverbs 22:6.  Train children in the right way and when old they will not stray.

We all are living in a populated society where a variety of personal values are practiced and interchanged.  It seems that daily news items inform us of a newly revealed "scam" that has occurred.  Or, that some innocent person has been taken advantage of or harmed in some way.  There appears to be too many who want to harm or destroy others.  How can we overcome this type of destructive character that some others have?

As I was growing and maturing, I remember being advised by adults to be aware of the action of others my age and recognize that I would develop and be known by the standards similar to those with whom I associated and accompanied.  Our value system can be influenced through our relationships, in addition to the teachings we receive.  Therefore, parents, educational institutions, and Christianity have a huge task to prevent and overcome negative values and attitudes, and to develop positive action and beliefs instead.

The programs of our Eastridge Church are so important in our local task to do this.  Our worship and Christian Education programs will promote and teach the positive values and Christian attitudes needed in our society today. 

Jesus said, "Let your life so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  The people around us need to see that the results of a Christian's life do make a difference between how the Christian lives and how others live!  May our lives at Eastridge Church reflect the Lord we love and about whom we have been taught.

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father:  We pray for Your guidance and direction so that our culture may reflect the standards of Your creation.  Help us to establish and share these Christian values that follow the teachings of Your Son that He brought to this earth.  Amen

Lauren Holcombe

Friday, September 9, 2016


Scripture: Matthew 9:22  Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, "Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well". 

Duke Ellington:  Every man prays in his own language, and there is no language God does not understand.

My 29-year-old daughter Becca is at the Mayo Clinic, where she had all three of her liver transplants for a disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).  She has spent the last couple of years living out a dream in South Korea, where she met a Korean veterinarian who donated part of his liver to his mother for transplant.  They married a year ago.  This summer she was hospitalized for sudden abdominal pain, fevers, and infection that caused enough inflammation in her liver that the ducts stopped working. 

After a month of IV antibiotics in Korea, the doctors recommended that she consider interventional radiology or transplant.  Her father and I flew her back here, and she has been treated with continued IV antibiotics and blood transfusions, as well as procedures with interventional radiology that have involved installing and periodically manipulating a drain to try to clear infection and open up ducts.  We are in the midst of a long process of trying to kick a non-working liver back to functioning despite some failure. 

I put a plea on Facebook for prayers, and have continued to ask for specific prayers relating to Becca's urgent needs.  At the same time, I have encouraged all of us to pray for one another, and for all those in need.  The supportive response has been overwhelming, and all my hopes have been fortified by others' faith.  The doctors even noticed some positive small changes in Rebecca's situation that they couldn't really explain after studying before/after scans and ultrasounds. 

My daughter is going through a very demanding and difficult process, but she is bolstered by the kind thoughts expressed to her or prayed over her; we have renewed and strengthened old friendships as well as made new friends through this experience.  After my initial shock and despair at the Korean doctors' diagnosis, I have walked a steady pathway of outrageous hope, and others are walking with me. 

People of all faiths have prayed for us, and the intention behind all this is powerful.  When people pray from their hearts, the effectiveness is undeniable.  When someone cradles your child, you know you have a friend for eternity.  I did share one prayer on facebook, from the Taize tradition. My daughters and I have all been Taize musicians together, so that speaks deeply to us, and I thought others would like to share in that form of worship with the prayer, which I pray with you below.  I hope you find whatever healing you most yearn for.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, Spirit of the Living God, You breathe in us on all that is inadequate and fragile. You make living water spring even from our hurts themselves. And through You, the valley of tears becomes a place of wellsprings.  So, in an inner life with neither beginning nor end, Your continual presence makes new freshness break through.  Amen.

Mollie Manner



Thursday, September 8, 2016

God's call to Abram

Scripture: Genesis 12: 1-12: The LORD had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.  He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.  Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev. Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.  As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live.

            One of the sure signs of fall at our house is the change in our TV watching patterns - and not just on Game Day (Go Big Red!) No, another sure sign of fall is that magical month of September, when Steve researches the new TV shows, picks out some that he would like, that I would like, and that we would like together. For several weeks, we give new shows a try, always making sure to record at least two episodes (pilots rarely make us want to watch more). It's a system that's worked for us, and we've ended up with some wonderful shows. But our favorite shows are really just old shows told in new ways.

            It's true. We like the "revival" shows like Hawaii Five-O, with it's opening shot throwback to the original. I wasn't so sure about watching it, until Steve convinced me that it would also remind me of the long past days of Lost. It's filmed in the same place, Hawaii, and it's got several of the characters. Another one of our favorites is Elementary, a modern day adaptation of Sherlock Homes and Dr. Watson. Set in New York City, the Holmes character is a quirky, obsessive, rehabilitated drug addict who works as a contract detective with NYPD. Dr. Watson is excellently played by Lucy Liu, who gives the story a strong female lead, a former medical doctor turned private drug rehab caretaker. And, of course, when we learned McGyver would be making a comeback appearance, we were ready to set our DVR. After all, McGyver is a character whose name has been officially turned into a verb and admitted to the Oxford English Dictionary!

            John Buchanan, former editor of the Christian Century wrote about our love of old stories turned new in a 2008 editorial. "Students of Shakespeare know that the bard didn't create his material solely out of his own imagination," he wrote, "but instead masterfully recrafted stories that were centuries old. And Shakespeare's own dramas have been repeatedly reimagined in contemporary settings. Two novels receiving critical attention these days are both based on Hamlet: Lin Enger's Undiscovered Country is set in small-town Minnesota, and David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle takes place on a Wisconsin farm. When an NPR book reviewer asked the two authors why novelists keep returning to these old stories, the two agreed that it's because the stories are so good. Enger added, "'Shakespeare is particularly adaptable because the conflicts he chronicles-between vengeance and justice, and vengeance and forgiveness-are . . . the oldest moral dilemmas that human beings face.'" Buchanan continues, "I was reminded of the power of old stories in another way recently when I read the Shakespearean tragedy/comedy/ morality tale story found in the book of Genesis. There is romance, deception, theft and, if you read between the lines, eros. And, not unlike a Shakespeare play, all this happens in one family."

            It's an old story, our scripture text for today. It is one of the most well known and studied texts in the Bible. What didn't appear in the write up in the Lamp is that this Scripture was the focus of Ross Whiston's first sermon. Which made me smile, because it was mine, too. Which made Thomas smile, because it was his, too. As it turns out, when I shared that information with clergy friends from all different denominations who are now in various parts of the country and world, most of them preached their first sermon on this text.

            Why? Well, as Ross points out, this story is comforting to us as we travel this journey of life. It's again one of those stories that is well known to us, at least four verse of it, and connects the first 11 chapters of Genesis with the rest of the story, with our story today. The Call of Abram and Sarai is the fulcrum, foundational text of the Bible. It moves us from the story of creation, or, actually, two accounts of the story of creation through Cain and Abel and Noah, and the Tower of Babel. If there is a message of the first 11 Chapters of Genesis, it's that humanity keeps tainting this creation God has made. Cain and Abel turn to violence, Noah has to build an ark because there is only evil continually in the people, and the people build a tower in order to "make a name for ourselves." The first 11 Chapters show us a picture of humanity that is at direct odds with God making us in his image and declaring us good. Nine generations after the tower of Babel, the time is right for God to change his way with humanity. No longer a God that deals first with punishment and discipline, God chooses to be a God of call, promise, and blessing.

            "Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go." Perhaps one of the reasons this call story resonates with so many of us is because it lacks so many details. We do not know where Abram is, what he is doing. There is no story here of fishing, or hiding in a tree, or meeting Jesus at a well. There is simply a direction, "Go."

            Or, actually, for the English teachers among us, we should note that the call comes in the form of an imperative. "Go." My children know that there is a difference between when we ask them to do something with a "Phoebe would you please..." and the short, clipped direction with both a subject and object that are understood. "Go."

            Lectionary texts typically omit the last part of chapter 11, but it's got some pretty necessary context for the story of Abram. It's here that we are told that Abram is one of three brothers of Terah, and that their story begins in the city of Ur of the Chaldeans. One of Terah's son's, Haran, dies in Ur, Abram and his wife Sarai are childless and so are raising Haran's son Lot as their own child, and Nahor, the third son, is married and has two children. As a group, their father, Terah moves the whole family from the city of Ur with the intention of settling in Canaan. God calls us to something that began long before we were aware of it even happening.

            But along the way, the stop just 600 miles east of Ur, in the town of Haran and settle there. God calls us mid journey.

            "Now the Lord says, 'Go from.'" God calls us out of our current circumstances. Wilma Ann Bailey, Mennonite Theologian points out, "Interestingly enough, Abram is not promised that life will be better in Canaan. He is told that his name will become great, that he will be made into a great people (goy) and that he will be a blessing, but not that he will be materially better off. Actually it's almost guaranteed that at first-when he's left behind his known language of communication, his reputation, his kin network, his knowledge of a place and how to survive in it-life will be worse."

            God's promise to Abram is a one day, future promise, that will be lived out not through Abram, but is a promise for his descendants, for his family. God will show him the land, so he will see the land, but the promise will not be fully realized through others.

            No action here to agreed upon terms, but the promise of what will happen - there's no debating of the terms and conditions, in fact, there's no conditions. Abram goes. That's what he does. He takes Sarai and Lot, and everything they have acquired in Haran. There's no if you, then I. This is a promise that rests fully on God's commitment to the promise, to Abram and his family. They travel 400 miles, to the land God has promised, and it is there that Abram first builds an altar in the world. It is there that Abram worships God. "Ab[ram] will repeat this pattern over and over through his journey... he'll get so far, or realize he's made a mistake, or sometimes not even realize he made a mess- and we'll see him, (and his descendants after him), stop, take a breath, go back and seek God again... or God sometimes just shows up at the right time... but as an affirmation of God showing up, Abram builds an altar."[1] And no matter what, as we will see time after time, God keeps his promise to Abram...

            And that is the pivot for the Biblical narrative. The rest of the story is God living out God's promises, even though Abram and his descendants prove to be...not perfect. It's the very next story, beginning in verse 10, when Abram lies about his relationship to Sarai. It's the first in a long line of stories about humanity trying to live out the promise in less than ideal circumstances, and not doing the right thing.

            God blesses us. This word bless is key to our understanding of who we are and what we have. This is its first appearance in the book of Genesis, but not the last. It appears 88 times in Genesis alone.

            It's a word that's thrown around in circles of the faithful, "You're a blessing," "I've been blessed," "I have so many blessings." It is key to our understanding of how we are to journey through life. God's call, promise, and blessing are intensely personal and intimate - for us individually. As we map out our journey, we are called to identify and celebrate God's blessings, thankful for what we have received. We are called to be a glass half full people, not because we have rose colored glasses and are out of touch with the world. But because we have reason to believe that God makes good on his promises. Especially in the Reformed tradition, we understand that we respond to God's promises by acknowledging our blessings and returning them to God. We respond to God's promises by returning our blessings to God.

            And then we share them. Those promises aren't just for us. It's a key phrase and belief - blessed to be a blessing. We receive good news and share good news with others. It's a vital part of what we believe, especially as Christians. Part of our imperative is to share the story with others. And so while the call is intensely personal, "The Lord said to Abram, 'Go,'" the promise and blessing is to be shared wildly. The blessing is to be extended to others, so that they might know their (they're) blessings, too.

            Maggi Dawn, Theologian and Dean of Yale University Chapel "...what we can see is that God's call to Abram isn't something he's never imagined before. It's a call to resume a journey he has already begun years earlier, but for some reason has forgotten or given up on. The call of God can be as simple as a reminder of something we used to do and have somehow stopped, something we started and never finished. The call of God might be quite the opposite of mysterious: it may be a question that asks why we've settled down, or why we've given up, and that gently prods us to start again"

            God is a God of call, promise and blessing, to you. In this passage God moves from the God who desires relationship with humanity to a God who initiated relationship with humanity. Where does God's call find you today? Are you mid-way on a journey that you began years ago, needing a "go" to keep you moving? Or perhaps you've arrived at the destination of your calling and are watching the blessing live on through your children and grandchildren, God's call, promise and blessing to all generations. Maybe you're just at the beginning of exploring that call, and where it means you're meant to go. Or, you've just unloaded the moving truck and now have to build a life in this place of promise. Or, maybe, just maybe, you're unsure about it all, and whether or not God really is calling you. For all of us, this story is true. God's calling is a calling of promise and blessing, no matter where we are on our journey. Amen.

Melodie Jones-Pointon
[1] Rev. Linda Pepe, Moorestown, NJ.