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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Scripture: Ruth 1:22-2:1-16

It's a happily ever after story, on the size and scale of Cinderella or Elsa. At the end of the story, we are told that Boaz and Ruth get married, and have a son. The women gather around Naomi, and shout praises to God - "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without family! May he become famous throughout all of Israel! He will renew your life and sustain your in your old age..." And the final scene of this amazing story is of this mother, now a grandmother, holding a newborn baby - a baby who will be great, who will be famous, indeed - his name is Obed, and he is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David, who becomes the unifying King of God's People.

So great is this story's ending, that the story gets retold and retold, becoming a part of the New Testament. No - it becomes the first part of the New Testament, from the beginning of Matthew's Gospel, where Matthew is giving the lineage of Jesus - the Messiah. "and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David." (Matthew 1:5-6).

It's a pretty good ending, a great happily ever after!

But anyone who is familiar with this story knows there's a lot of drama leading up to this moment. And not just drama. Devastation. Famine. Death. Separation. Leaving. As Thomas reminded us last week, this story begins with nothing but love, love between two women who have lost everything. The story begins in a foreign land, where Naomi, a Jew from Bethlehem, is living with her husband, her two sons, and their Moabite (foreign) wives, Ruth and Orpah. It only takes five verses in the story to paint the picture, "Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband."

Devastating! The whole reason Naomi and her husband Elimelech left their native Bethlehem was because of a famine! Which is such irony! That Bethlehem, literally meaning the house of bread, has no bread. But now, "The Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them..." And so Naomi decides to go home. To return. When Ruth and Orpah begin the journey with her, bound by duty, custom, and law, Naomi tells them to "turn back." A little play on words here...she is returning home, and tells them to "turn back" to their home. But Ruth refuses, and the two women travel together to Bethlehem.

Which is where our story for today picks up. The two women arrive in Bethlehem at an amazing time, at the beginning of the barley harvest. The stage is set, the scene prepared. Most of us have some connection with farming and the land, here, so we know what harvest means. It means abundance, celebrated by state fairs and contests for the largest pumpkin! Activity, work, harvesting, gathering, sorting, preserving, storing. This is the busiest time of the year, the most crucial to survival! The crops have come in! There is food on the table, plenty to share. It is a time of overwhelming abundance, surprise and delight at God's favor up on us again, a time of gratitude for what we have been given, and a time for sharing.

But Ruth and Naomi - they're new here. It's a subtly of this text...the introduction of Boaz. Boaz is Naomi's closest relative, and so we assume that he will care for Naomi at least. But, even though he's introduced here, it's done in such a way that leads us to believe they are not close family.

I've always pictured a happy reunion for this part. I even preached it, many years ago, in the beginning of my ministry. I imagined Ruth, waking up on the roof of the house, stretching and surveying the business of a foreign land. People in the town already on the move, out in the fields, carrying their bags and pulling wagons to hold their efforts from the day. I imagined the long kind of deep sleep when you've come home and know you are finally safe, groggy and disoriented, but also excited at the new day. (I also always imagined Ruth enjoying a cup of coffee, like in that Folgers ad.)

But that was before I knew. That was before I worked with people displaced from New Orleans' after Hurricane Katrina. I was in Detroit at the time, and one of our churches owned homes they rented to low income families, kind of like a Habitat for Humanity ministry. They started it to save Detroit, as the city folks fled to the suburbs and left the city itself starving. A famine, to be sure, as jobs, grocery stores were scarce to non-existent. The once glorious homes of the neighborhood were now burdens to heat and repair. Squatters moved in. And the church took over. They bought the houses, repaired them, turned them into apartments. They took church property and put houses on the church parking lot. When the Hurricane came, they had places for rent. The Presbytery had money for utilities. Good folks in the churches brought food and household goods. It was my job to screen the applicants for these houses - you know, make sure their story was legit, help them find connections in the community, identify skills that would turn into jobs.

That was my first experience with the weary eyes of being displaced. That's what we called it, displaced. Still in their own country, not technically refugees, some determined to go back home. Here's what I learned - I don't think you can fake that. It was easy to tell the people who were truly displaced, who truly had no one, who had no family. They only had what they brought, what they could put in their car, or take in a suitcase on the bus. And they know, somehow, they know that there is no turning back. It will never be the same. And they know, they know that this isn't home. And so life Your job at that point is to stay alive, and you forget, you forget that there ever was such a thing as joy, or safety, or...home. Because you have none. Even if you have shelter. You have no home.

That's how these two women arrived in Bethlehem. Amid the activity of harvest - the gathering and the abundance of harvest - these two women show up bone weary, and needing to eat.

So Ruth says to Naomi, "Let me go and glean the fields of anyone who will let me." One scholar points out that this was the welfare system of the Bible, laws given in Leviticus, where landowners leave a portion of the harvest in the field so that those who are hungry can gather the leftovers. Gleaning the fields. You can imagine what happens. The landowners gather the good stuff, picking up each vegetable, each grain, examining it. If it's good, it goes in the Grade A pile. If it's not, perhaps the Grade B pile, to be sold for less money. And the food that's not worth it...the food you cannot sell because you wouldn't want to feed it to your pigs, that's what gets left. And that's what Ruth goes to glean.

But Naomi, she has a plan, and this is where Boaz comes into the picture. You see, Boaz owns land, and maybe, just maybe, if Ruth happens to find the right field, maybe it will be Boaz's. Maybe Boaz will find favor with Ruth, and look kindly on her. Maybe, just maybe, Boaz will help his family without it being a burden.

 And so a spark of hope flickers in Naomi's eye.

 Maybe, even though they are widows, they won't be burdens.

 Maybe, just maybe, this land of plenty will return their lives.

Tikva Frymer-Kensky, professor of Hebrew Bible at University of Chicago points out the Hebrew concept at play here. This is miqreh...more than a coincidence, more than providence, it's "a serendipitous happenstance that makes one wonder about causality."[1] Ruth, does indeed, glean in Boaz's field. Boaz, does indeed, notice her.

I wonder what Naomi was hoping for here? I wonder if she was hoping that Boaz would give extra portions to Ruth (which he does) and let it go at that? Enough to see them through the winter, until they can establish themselves as widows and start receiving the aid widows should get. I wonder if she understood that there's a reason the Bible is always talking about the outcast and the widow? And that because of culture and society, she had really just brought them both home to starve. Widows and orphans had no one to care for them, to provide for them. They were often just forgotten, except maybe at the holidays.

But remember...there is a happy ending here! This is a story of promise and hope! This is a story that weaves through the anointing of a shepherd to be a King and a carpenter to be the Messiah!

Phyllis Trible, theologian and author of "A Human Comedy" argues that Ruth is "A man's world [that] tells a woman's story...The aged Naomi and the youthful Ruth struggle for survival in a patriarchal environment. Those women bear their own burdens....No God promises them blessing; no man rushes to their rescue. They themselves risk bold decisions and shocking acts to work out their own salvation in the midst of the alien, the hostile and the unknown." (p.166)

We have long interpreted this story as a story of hope for those who are hopeless, strength for those who are weak, God's intention to include those on the margins of society. And for good reason. Boaz looks with favor upon Ruth, but he does not take advantage of her. In fact, even though the Biblical text leads us to believe there is a romance there, Boaz does not act on it. It's a mystery to the reader, those of us who celebrate that there is, indeed, someone to provide redemption for these two women.

For weeks, Ruth gleans, taking the best food, not the worst, eating at Boaz's table, until she's full. She's gathering more than enough food to provide for both Naomi and Ruth, but something else is now happening here. It's no longer a story of survival, it's a story of redemption, of salvation, of being brought back from the margins into the center of society. Until this story ends, as the women gather around Naomi and a newborn baby boy, praising God. And the next generation's story begins.

"[T]he message is indisputable, 'God is on the side of the marginalized.'2 Not that God is unconcerned about people who live on the center, but God's care for Naomi and Ruth are indications that God cares even when the world is indifferent. The implication is that 'Yahweh ... [is] God of the whole world.'" 3 Alphonetta wines, Methodist pastor in Texas.

I'm afraid that's a notion that gets challenged a lot. I almost said these days, but it's maybe just a growing reality for us. We are aware here, in this congregation, of the divisions in places around the world, in Northern Ireland, in the South Sudan. And we're growing every day in our awareness of the divisions in our own country. Even while politicians one very side urge us to embrace unity, the rhetoric of division is already out there. And I am very aware, on this Sunday before Thanksgiving, of our history in this land. I am proud of what we stand for as a country, but I also grieve our past, and am embarrassed by our behavior. And so, while not wanting this story to be political, I find myself wondering how it can NOT be political. I have spent the last year wondering how we will walk back from the brink. Because fear and hatred are powerful, and both are coming from somewhere really deep inside of us, on every side, in every person. But I have to be honest with you and tell you that I myself, am afraid and uncertain. And I wonder just how it is that we will every find a way out of this mess.

And then miqreh. Something unexpected happens.

For me, it happened a week ago, as I was unpacking my "treasures"...Christmas nativities. And as I was, I was telling the story (or trying to) of each one...the bear nativity I received for my birthday, the littlest nativity, made out of marbles, the hand carved nativity from a dear friend, the nativity made out of mud from the Mississippi River. And I got to this nativity from Ecuador. And Phoebe, who I thought wasn't listening, exclaimed, "Wait! Mama! I know this one! I learned it at church! And she started to sing...He's got the whole world in his hands."

And I think that is the message of Ruth. That is the importance of this story, for us, today, at this time, in this place. That's why I refuse to live in fear and uncertainty. Because miqreh. God is the God of the center, and of the margins, and of all the people in between. And I'm not sure how this will all work out. But I do believe that God is making a way, and that we are each called to be a part of it. I believe it is a story with potential for a great happily ever after. Amen.

Rev. Melodie Jones Pointon          Senior Pastor

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thankfulness In Prayer

Scripture: 1 Thess. 5:16-18   Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 

In addition to our Eastridge devotions, every morning I also read Sarah Young's, "Jesus Calling" devotion. Some pages are dog-eared for something that especially spoke to me. One of the pages is double dog-eared. Sara speaks of prayer, pouring out your concerns to God and being candid with Him. Then, we are to thank God for the answers that are on the way. I had never thought of that before. Yes I have learned to pray about my concerns and then give them over to God (okay most of the time I give them to God). But now after prayer, I thank Him for the answers "that He has set into motion long before you can discern results." The answer may or may not be the one I had wanted, but I have relinquished control to "Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." [Ephesians 3:20]

Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for the gift of prayer and the knowledge that you hear us whether the concern is great or small. May we learn to talk with you like an old friend, for you long to have fellowship with us all day long. Amen.

Cathy Schapmann

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Shelter From The Storm

Scripture: Ruth 1

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one;

stronger than magician ever spoke, 

or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.

- Charles Dickens, in Martin Chuzzlewit ("Tschaselwit")

Some geographical names carry a special weight: whenever you hear the name, you automatically think of the famous sons and daughters came from there. Plains, Georgia is one example for modern ears. In the same way, for biblical ears, when a story starts out in Bethlehem, everyone who knows only the least bit of Scripture listens up. Every child knows: Bethlehem may be a little town - but it is not just any little town.

That's where the story of Ruth begins. In Bethlehem.

It's an fascinating story: A tiny little book, only four chapters long, and one of the very few that carries the name of a woman.

It takes us back to ancient times: To the times when the Judges ruled in Israel, the text says. But these weren't the 'good old times': without a king or a functioning government, the promised land slipped ever deeper into chaos. But the most pressing problem was famine!

Names carry great meaning in the Book of Ruth. Bethlehem literally means the 'house of bread'. But... there is no bread in the house of bread! Nothing seems right about that. What's happening here - the reader wonders: Here, not only in our promised land, but in the city with this great name, where David later would be born and eventually the promised Messiah... There is no bread in the house of bread. Everything seems wrong about that.

The story zooms from the larger crisis to a personal example - to the story of Elimelech and his wife Naomi. History is never abstract, but always personal. The two realize they need to find means to support their family and seek better opportunities elsewhere. And so they do what so many family does in their situation: they immigrate to a different country, to find refuge, and hopefully a better life there.

To Moab, of all the places! Moab has a terrible reputation for biblical ears. Every child in Israel knows: Moab and Israel go way back... and not in a good way. Moab: that is the land of Israel's bitter enemies. If any way possible, you stay away from those people.

Except... when you're desperate and hungry enough, those family stories suddenly no longer matter - and you seek your fortune even in a culture you despise.


But things don't go turn out quite as expected for our immigrant family:

First, Naomi's husband dies. Elimelech: Another name that carries a lot of meaning. "My God is king". And now he is dead. Has God abandoned her? Noemi is left a widow in a strange land. At this point, she probably would have turned back home. But in the meantime, their two sons had gotten married, to local women. They, for once are named right. Mahlon and Chilean - loosely but memorably translated "Sickly" and "Caput" - die, too. Ten years after leaving bread-less house of bread, the family is completely devastated.

John Ahn in his commentary put it like this: "This immigrant family experiences what most first-generation forced migrants encounter in times of plight and flight - suffering, loss, hardship, and pain in a new context - when they made their difficult journey to escape just such hardship."

It is the perfect storm:

Widowed and childless in a foreign country, Naomi's situation is absolutely hopeless. There is nothing that keeps her there, except her grief. And so she prepares herself for this shameful return home.

It is not clear why Naomi tells her daughters-in-law of ten years to 'go back' - whether it's an excuse to be rid of these foreign daughters-in-law, whether she was afraid what people would say when she came home with alien relatives in tow...? Maybe she was afraid they wouldn't even recognize her as one of their own, or will tell her, go back home...? But probably it was simply because she cared for them. Noemi knew all too well that there was nothing she could offer them, no support, but not even food to eat.

Go back to your people, you have a chance to start a new life... Naomi keeps brushing off her committed her daughters-in-law, and Finally, Orpah gives in. After a tearful embrace, she kisses her mother-in-law goodbye.

Ruth, however, doesn't let go of her. Quite literally: "Ruth clung to her", the text reads. It is the same word that also appears in the second chapter of the Bible: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh."

Ruth 'clings' to Naomi - even though she has nothing to offer her, even though as a foreigner, Ruth has absolutely nothing to expect, even though in the eyes of the Israelites, there can be nothing like a 'good Moabite'... And yet, Ruth clings to Naomi and says, "Don't press me to leave you. Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God."

Ruth clings to her - because Ruth means "Friend".

There are people who have asked: where is God in this story. Particularly, since God's name is barely mentioned, and when it is, it comes to us through those bitter words of Naomi. And yet, God is at work in the most unlikely places, through the most unlikely people: people who, like Ruth, act as unexpected friends who cling to each other despite all that separates us, and give each other shelter; and say to each other,what God has said to each and one of us in our baptism: that we belong to God and we belong to each other.

Response: From the Belhar Confession
We believe in one holy, universal Christian church, the unity of the communion of saints of the entire human family. And we believe that this unity of the people of God must be manifest and active, in that we love one another; that we give ourselves willingly and joyfully to one another, that we are share one baptism together, that we eat of one bread and drink of one cup together, that we confess one name, one Lord, for one cause, with one hope, which is the height and the breadth and the depth and the love of Christ, forever and ever. Amen.

 Rev. Thomas Dummermuth        Associate Pastor

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Giving Thanks

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:18  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 This is a month when several days are identified when special thanks is given.  As Christians, it shouldn't be necessary to encourage us to be mindful of such action.  Apostle Paul reminds us in his letters to the Thessalonians and Ephesians to be constantly on the alert to give thanks for all the wonderful things that God has entrusted to us.

One of those days of acknowledging special thanks is the day set aside to honor American veterans of all wars.  In his book, THE TIME OF OUR LIVES, Tom Brokow, that noted TV news analyst and reporter, tells us that we are living in a unique country, which over generations, has overcome great difficulties and became a stronger and a more exceptional nation after each adversity.  As a part of that history of our great country, it has been defended in warfare by individuals through their sacrifice and selflessness so that we as Americans can live in peace and comfort.

Let us follow Apostle Paul's guidance about giving thanks and remember our veterans in our prayers on that designated day. 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father:  We give you thanks for the many blessings we have received.  We give thanks and ask for guidance and care for those veterans of our wars who sacrificed for us living in this great country.  In Your Son's name we pray.  Amen.

Lauren Holcombe

Monday, November 14, 2016


Scripture: Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world-like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don't h ide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine out for all.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Last Monday I walked out of a meeting and almost stepped on a Moss Rose plant that was growing in the crack in the sidewalk. The flower was dark bright pink and in full bloom. I looked around and did not see any other Moss Roses in the flower beds.

I thought about that plant and its flowers as I drove away.  That plant and its flowers are like a light for all to see in the world. We as Christians are to be a light in the world, the light of Jesus and not hide your light.

We as Christians should not be quiet when we should speak, we should help others with their needs, and we should not let sin put out our light.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Be with us as we daily keep the light of Jesus visible to others in our lives each day.  Amen

Susan Taylor          

Friday, November 11, 2016

Blessed Assurance

Scripture: But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful  assembly. Hebrews 12:22 (NIV)

 ...nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1:12

The other day Pastor Melody talked about one of her favorite hymns-Blessed Assurance-and how it was composed by Phoebe P. Knapp. I always associated this wonderful hymn with Fanny Crosby. Frequently, I feel that certain hymns were meant to be written-that the Holy Spirit put the right people in the right place at the right time.

Phoebe Palmer Knapp belonged to the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church and was the composer of music for many hymns as well as a pianist and organist. According to "Then Sings My Soul", Phoebe lived in luxury in the Knapp Mansion, a palatial residence in Brooklyn, where she entertained lavishly. She was an extravagant dresser with a wardrobe full of elaborate gowns and diamond tiaras. Her music room contained one of the finest collections of instruments in the country.

Fanny Crosby was a blind woman who lived in the slums of Manhattan and worked in the rescue missions. While she wrote hundreds of poems and hymns, she received very little payment for them and remained in a constant state of utter poverty. Fanny also belonged to the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church and was a friend as well as a frequent house guest of Phoebe Palmer Knapp. One day Phoebe took Fannie into her music room and played a new composition of her own. Fannie listened and then clapped her hands and exclaimed, 'why that says, 'Blessed Assurance!' She quickly composed the words, and the great hymn was born.

This unlikely combination of a rich socialite and a poor, blind, mission worker produced the perfect music and verse of this hymn. You can view the hymn on page 839 of our hymnal, noting the references of the scriptures above.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, you continue to amaze us with unlikely pairings that create beautiful things. Thank you for your love and caring for us. Thank you for musicians and poets such as Phoebe and Fanny who expressed their joyful spirits in praise.

"This is my story; this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long."

Nancy Hall

Thursday, November 10, 2016


A Shelter, A Dwelling, A Home

Scripture: Psalms 91, Psalms 84

It's a universal Psalm, nearly impossible to identify the circumstances of its writer. Some scholars believe it was written post battle or war, because of it's imagery - a fortress, a refuge - giving us the perspective of the warrior come home. Other scholars believe it's written post-exile, after the fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, when God's people were exiled from their land - out of their shell and seeking protection.

What makes this Psalm universal is its understanding and desire of protection, the noted vulnerability of the Psalmist, and the assurance and reassurance that God will take care of us, even in times of difficulty. Which is really what this Psalm is talking about. It's talking about being displaced, without a home, a refugee, in exile, in battle, in war. It's a Psalm seeking God's protection.

It gives a whole new meaning to home to me. Because for all the images of home for the holidays, we live in a world where home doesn't always provide the protection of a turtle shell.

This point came home to preacher Barbara Brown Taylor, and she shares the story in her sermon, "None of us is home yet." She says, " home is my sanctuary, the place where I rest, where I retire beyond the reach of the noisy world, where I am fed. It is where my bed is, and my books, and my Great-Aunt Alma's quilts; it's where I bathe and sleep and dream and rise.... My home is a promise I make to myself when I am to tired to go on. "You can go home soon," I tell myself.... Several months ago, I acted on the promise, leaving the church a little before dark after a long, hard day. Looking out into the parking lot I saw my lone car. I also saw Luther, a homeless man who spends his days walking between the big downtown Atlanta churches in shoes that do not fit. He drinks, and he has lung cancer, and he loves churches."

"'Hello, Luther,'" I said.... I asked him how he was and got the full answer. None of it made sense, but then [his] bottle was empty and things never seemed to get any better for Luther. Finally I wearied of his monologue and said, "Luther, I've got to go home now." No sooner had I said it that than I regretted it. What a thing to say to someone who did not have one!  What an excuse to use with him. The word hung between us for a moment until Luther brushed it aside. "This is my home," he said.'"

Taylor goes on to say, "Home. What a compelling, elusive word that is. What a strong hunger the human heart has for home.... A safe place where one is known and a safe place from which to know the world: a nest, a family, a stable fortress in a vast and often frightening universe."

It is this insight that has changed the way I read and pray this Psalm - it is the Psalm, the prayer, praise, hymn of someone who has been in a storm and needed shelter, a refugee who needed refuge, someone who knows the terror of the night, and the arrows that fly by day. This is the prayer of someone who has longed for the safe space of the turtle shell, a place to crawl inside and wait until its safer out there in the world. This is the prayer of someone whose hunger for the safety of a home is matched only by the shield and buckler of the Lord, who knows what its like to walk among the snakes and not be touched, whose foot is not dashed against the stone, who has felt what it's like under the wings of God's protection, carried by angels to

What begins in this Psalm as the real world problems of war, exile, homelessness ends with a Psalm of praise that it is God, ultimately, who provides protection.

It is God who provides shelter.

It is God who provides a dwelling place.

It is God who provides a sanctuary. Amen.

November 6, 2016; Eastridge Presbyterian Church; Rev. Melodie Jones Pointon

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Our Fortress is God

Scripture: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Noel and I married in Colorado where Noel was working as an intern chaplain at the hospital where I worked.   When his internship was over we packed everything in our car and drove to Dubuque, Iowa.  There we settled into an old discarded, one room single officers quarters from World War 11.  The first night the seminary held a welcome back service.  I don't remember what the sermon was, but I will never forget the singing.  Forty to fifty male voices singing A Mighty Fortress is our God.  It was beautiful to the point of causing "goose bumps".

Though Martin Luther is usually thought of as the great Protestant Reformer, he was also a musician, having been born in an area of Germany known for its music.  He played the flute (recorder), worked with skilled musicians to create music for worship and  wrote hymns.  He wanted music to be a part of worshiping.   He wrote in the forward of a book, "Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.  It controls thoughts, mind and feelings.....A person who does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God... does not deserve to be called a human being."

Prayer:  Our Father, music really is next to the Word and we can't imagine  worship without it.  Thank you for inspiring our forefathers to write music which gives us a closer look at who you are and brings us closer to you, our mighty fortress in a very unsure and scary world. Amen.

Noel and Jane DeKalb                                noeldekalb@gmail

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Giving Thanks

Scripture: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

Giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

This is a month when several days are identified when special thanks is given.  As Christians, it shouldn't be necessary to encourage us to be mindful of such action.  Apostle Paul reminds us in his letters to the Thessalonians and Ephesians to be constantly on the alert to give thanks for all the wonderful things that God has entrusted to us.

One of those days of acknowledging special thanks is the day set aside to honor American veterans of all wars.  In his book, THE TIME OF OUR LIVES, Tom Brokow, that noted TV news analyst and reporter, tells us that we are living in a unique country, which over generations, has overcome great difficulties and became a stronger and a more exceptional nation after each adversity.  As a part of that history of our great country, it has been defended in warfare by individuals through their sacrifice and selflessness so that we as Americans can live in peace and comfort.

Let us follow Apostle Paul's guidance about giving thanks and remember our veterans in our prayers on that designated day.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father:  We give you thanks for the many blessings we have received.  We give thanks and ask for guidance and care for those veterans of our wars who sacrificed for us living in this great country.  In Your Son's name we pray.  Amen

Lauren Holcombe  

Monday, November 7, 2016


Scripture: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
I was a teenager during the war years, and needless to say there were no boys to date, no nylons, no gasoline, no butter, no tires, no coconut, no sugar, no coffee, and not much of anything in the way of commodities or materials,  But, we did have Grace.  Grace Jardine was a school nurse who was the sponsor of our senior high Youth Fellowship at our little Presbyterian Church.  And she was a real powerhouse.  She had access to gasoline, (being a school nurse,)  and she took car loads of us swimming, on picnics, to softball games, to youth rallies.  On Friday nights, Grace gathered the girls together to pray for and write to the boys from our youth fellowship (we called it CE, or Christian Endeavor) who were far away from home.   When one of the boys came home we would have a party, and shower him with attention. I guess the boys' mothers wondered who these girls were who were praying for their sons.  They were probably keeping their fingers crossed.

On Sunday nights our church always had a big hymn-sing, and the kids were expected to attend.  We also had a very favorite song that was always requested.  It was called "WONDERFUL GRACE OF JESUS."   Many dozens of times did we join in the chorus.

That old hymn is still in most of today's hymnbooks.  It goes like this:  "Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin; how shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?  Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free, for the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me."    

Prayer: Dear God, We thank you so much for the for the life of Grace Jardine, who was a wonderful influence and gift to many young people.    Amen

Gerry Draney

Thursday, November 3, 2016



Scripture: "But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us."  Romans 5:8

I recently learned about a family that celebrates Christ-Giving. Instead of a family gathering at Thanksgiving and another at Christmas, they combine the two in one celebration. I know of other families or individuals that celebrate Thanksgiving  and/or Christmas by serving a holiday meal at a homeless shelter.

All of us may not be able to physically serve a meal at a shelter. However, through our church giving, we can show our gratitude and participate in this act of love and caring. Our giving can be inspired and instructed by Christ's inexpressible gift.

It seems appropriate that our stewardship emphasis comes at Thanksgiving time. We can count our blessings and give thanks with full plates and full hearts. This year our church stewardship theme invites us to examine all areas of our life and embrace "Grateful Living."

We can certainly celebrate a life of joy and thanksgiving every day all year long. Each of us can prayerfully consider what we are able to give of our time, talents, and resources in 2017. By pledging at this time, we can help our church leadership plan ahead and use our gifts wisely.

Prayer: Dear God, remind us that each of us has received much for which we can be thankful. Help us to show our gratitude not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas but all year long. Amen.

Lois Poppe

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"The Kingdom of Heaven is Like. . ."

Scripture: The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.  Matthew 13:44

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls;  when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it. Matthew 13:45-46

Fritz Kunkel pointed out in his book Creation Continues, that the first parable pictures the kingdom as a treasure that we search for and find. However, in the second parable we are the pearls, the treasure found by God. According to Fritz Kunkel, the kingdom of God is both His presence found within and our own search and acceptance of His presence. When we answer His call, we become the fine pearls whom God holds in great value. We should hold fast to this knowledge because it gives us the power to overcome life's difficulties. As Christians we are the building blocks of His church on earth. God lives in each one of us.

Prayer: Your ways are hard for us to understand. We were taught as children that you reside in heaven someplace out in space.  Now we are told that you live within each one of us and that together we form your Kingdom on earth. Continue to teach us your way and help us to walk in them. Amen.

Noel and Jane DeKalb     

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Peace: Everything in His timing, including peace

Scripture: The worst of my fears has come true, what I've dreaded most has happened. My repose is shattered, my peace destroyed. No rest for me, ever-death has invaded life. Job 3:25-26 (Message)

God makes his people strong. God gives his people peace. Psalms 29:11 (Message)

The people who walk in darkness shall see a great Light-a Light that will shine on all those who live in the land of the shadow of death. In that glorious day of peace there will no longer be issuing of battle gear; no more the blood-stained uniforms of war; all such will be burned. Isaiah 9: 2 & 5 (The Living Bible)

At Christmas we sing of the "silent night", the little Lord Jesus asleep peacefully on the hay, "of peace on earth" and the quiet "little town of Bethlehem." Job had fears and his peace was destroyed; death invaded his life.

We may not have had the president we wanted picked by the voters. Our family may have become broken, we may have had to move out of our home or we may have a rift with a friend or family member. We must listen to the words of Silent Night, Away in a Manger,I heard the Bells on Christmas Day and O Little Town of Bethlehem. Let the calming words bless us, giving us peace. Because the coming of the Messiah has won over death. Jesus was born according to the exact timing of God and he will appear again on the day the Lord knows with a great Light.

Prayer: Our Father who is in heaven, thank you for your promise of a room in your house for us sinners. Thank you for Jesus who overcame death and gives us hope. As we sing the Christmas hymns help us to carefully and earnestly hear them. Almighty God, your timing is perfect for us. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck