Friday, September 29, 2017

First Day of School


Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

 

That our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.
Psalms 144:12

 
It is often during this season and time of year, I think back to my first day of school and how excited I was. I can remember asking my Mother and Dad, how long are you staying. I wanted to get on with finding new friends and things to learn.

I trust our children today are still excited with the “first” day of school, with returning to school to see friends and teachers they may have not seen through the summer, and our older children, seeking challenge as they tackle the difficult courses in those chosen career of study. God is with these different ages as they seek to expand their wings and face life. God is there to help as they encounter difficult decisions and events.


Prayer: Gracious Lord give guidance to the parents and teachers who need your help for direction to our children. Help our children with knowledge and to have understanding for their lives, not only with the world things, but with the blessings which can only come from you. God also give them patience to understand some “ things” take time.

 

Shirley Flynn-Bell

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What Do You See?


And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Jesus) said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And (Jesus) said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But (the lawyer), desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”               Luke 10:25-29 (RSV)

I recently received this poster from the United Nations Refugee Agency… 


What do you see? A boatload of refugees. Terrorists and rapists? Or the world’s tired and poor—the wretched refuse longing to breathe free? Look closer…
 

Who do you see? White faces and black faces. Men, women, children. (What courage, as well as desperation, it must take to board this boat with your baby! ) Who do you see? Future Terrorists and gangsters? Or future cooks and housekeepers, construction workers and farm workers, restaurant owners and tax-payers.

This photo was taken by documentary photographer Massimo Sestini about 5 km north of the Libyan coast, just before the occupants were rescued by the Italian coastguard, on 7 June 2014. Look again…

 



What are they doing? Smiling at the helicopter hovering above them…because they know that they will not perish in the sea.

According to the United Nations 65M individuals have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict, violence, or persecution. 21M of these are refugees, and about half of those are children. Over half of the 21M are from just three countries: Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

This picture of a crowded blue vessel surrounded by the black void reminded me of another photograph  I had seen years before:

 
the earth as photographed by the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1969.

All humanity on that blue sphere gliding through the heavens…all of us seeking a future free of persecution and violence and war. That boatload of refugees on the poster is a microcosm of our earth.

I see our brothers and sisters.

Prayer: Oh God of Heaven and Earth, you loved this earth so much to send us your son. We read in Deuteronomy that you loves the sojourner, And we are commanded to  love the sojourner for we were sojourners in the land of Egypt. We pray that you will give us the vision to recognize our brothers and sisters where ever they are. Amen


Bill Wehrbein

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Asking for Assistance


Listen, Lord, as I pray!  

Pay attention when I groan.

You are my King and my God.

Answer my cry for help because I pray to You.

Each morning You listen to my prayer, as I bring my requests to You and wait for Your reply.
                                                  ~ From the beginning of Psalm 5.

 

When I was asked to write a devotion, I accepted a little reluctantly. I am thankful for many things but am tired of one medical problem. Many jobs are not accomplished due to pain. But when I look around there are those individuals that have so many more troubles. I try to pray for these persons when I hear about them. Can you imagine losing your home and car in a flood or fire?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, please take care of those persons around the world that are suffering in some manner. Those of us of Christian Faith know that You “have our backs,” so to speak.  We praise You and ask You for forgiveness for any sins that have occurred through us.  Amen.

Carol Budka

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Changes


 

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
 

As a project manager, one of my roles at work is to help with change control and change management.  What this means in everyday conversation is that I help our team to recognize changes in the workflow that will be significant, uncomfortable or painful for end users with a new tool or technology.  We will have multiple conversations around this, how best to tell the end user that the change is coming, how to help them prepare for the change, why we are doing it and what we think will be easier and better for them in the future. Recently, it feels like everywhere I go there are changes – some feel good, exciting, easy to accept.  Others are more challenging.  I want to resist, fight, argue, prove that I am right.   

 

It has been interesting for me to listen to some of the current commentary about Nebraska athletics and our expectation for tradition.  From basketball losses at the beginning of 2017, coaching changes, play calling, a big traditional game the day after a holiday and even athletic director roles, people are calling for a return to traditions.  I have heard so many times, that’s just not how things are here, the leaders making decisions don’t know us and they don’t understand our traditions.


At work, when I hear things like “this is the way we have always done it” I instinctively want to reveal reasons that the new way is better.  With sports or even at church, I sometimes feel like I am on the traditionalist bandwagon.  I have begun to wonder, are we reaching for what is familiar because we are afraid of the unknown?  Not only afraid of failing, but fearful because we cannot see the good in what is being offered, only that it is different. 


As we proceed with new plans in youth ministry, worship and leadership I want us to remember this verse in Thessalonians that reminds us to hold God’s teachings and to allow them to strengthen and encourage us.  We need to remember that one of the jobs for everyone in a church community is to share God’s word in an effort to strengthen others.  We need to do this for all ages.  It cannot only be done by leaders, by those paid, elected or appointed but by each one of us.  As we question the abandonment of traditions we are familiar with at Eastridge, we all need to look at the opportunities that the changes present and know that if we, as a church, decide that some of those traditions are worthwhile and necessary to what we want our church to be, then we must make the effort and take action and find ways to share in the glory of Christ.



Prayer: Most holy God, Thank you for sharing your word with us.  Give us comfort as we struggle to accept the changes in our personal lives and communities.  Help us to trust that we can share your word with new generations and that we can strengthen one another by reflecting your love. 

 
 
Christi Moock

Monday, September 25, 2017

Serenity Prayer

            
Be still and know that I am God, Psalm 46:10

                                         Serenity Prayer


   God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

   Courage to change the things I can;

   and Wisdom to know the difference.

   Living one day at a time;

   Enjoying one moment at a time;

   Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

   Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

   Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;

   that I may be reasonably Happy in this life and supremely happy with

   Him Forever in the next. Amen

I found this Prayer on a bookmark and it made me think and relate the words to me in my life. This prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr about 1934.  He used it in his sermons. It was adopted and popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups. The prayer has appeared in many versions through the years. Serenity means calm and cheerful.  The prayer asks God to grant us Serenity-calmness in dealing with different aspects of our life. Read through the
prayer many times and relate it to yourself.  Read it other times and come
back and read it again.  It has a way of sticking with me and facing life with God. I hope you come back to it many times.

Prayer:Dear Heavenly Father, Help us with Serenity, Courage, Wisdom, Living,Enjoying, Accepting, Taking, Trusting, Happy, and Forever.   AMEN




 

Susan Taylor

                        

 

 

 
             

Friday, September 22, 2017

Slow Dance


…He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul. Psalm 23

In cleaning out a kitchen drawer last spring, I found this poem.  It really spoke to me, as I have filled my time with many activities and need to heed these words.

                                                SLOW DANCE  

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round

or listened to the rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight

or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

 
You better slow down, don’t dance so fast. 

Time is short, the music won’t last.
 

Do you run through each day on the fly

When you ask, “How are you?” do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed

With the next hundred chores running through your head?

 

You’d better slow down, don’t dance so fast.

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

Ever told your child, “we’ll do it tomorrow”

And in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die

“Cause you never had time to call and say “Hi”?

You’d better slow down, don’t dance so fast.

Time is short, the music won’t last.

 

When you run so fast to get somewhere

You miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It’s like an unopened gift ….thrown away.

Life’s not a race.  Do take it slower. 

Hear the music before the song is over.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, help us to take the time to slow down and enjoy the many blessings you have given us. Help us to spend more time walking, loving and caring, and less time running and hurrying without noticing those around us. Let us spend more time talking with you and less time talking on our “devices”. We pray that all of us may have quiet time “by the still waters”. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Carolyn Brandle
 

 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Foundation


“Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock.  But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand.  The rain fell, the floods came and the wind blew and beat against that house.  It fell and was completely destroyed” Matthew 7:24-28. (Common English Bible)

 
When hearing of catastrophic natural disasters, it can prompt thoughts of these verses.  News reports provide an all-to-clear picture of rains, floods, and winds beating against the homes of rich and poor, young and old, stranger and friend.  As we have endured difficulties of our own, these verses have provided a spiritual path toward a stronger and closer relationship with Christ.  As we act on that relationship, how do we respond to feelings of helplessness in the face of recent events?  As Christians, the bedrock foundation of faith guides our response to both the spiritual and physical storms we encounter.  It is inspiring to know how differences and judgments that often so painfully divide us from our neighbors can be quickly set aside to reach out in love and concern.  Even if we are not part of a team of literal first responders, we can be attentive to opportunities to help. 

 
Prayer: Heavenly creator and sustainer, we pray for those persons affected by recent natural disasters and perhaps other storms in life.  We give thanks for individuals who step in to assist those in need and ask for their safety and strength.  Help us to listen and respond to Your message.  We ask for guidance and discernment in seeing ways to help those who are buffeted by the storms of life.  Amen

 
Barry & Alinda Stelk

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sermon notes: Brueggemann, August 20


Karl Barth once said something along the lines of, “ the preacher should hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”  Well, I’ve been reading the newspaper (or the app), and I’ve been watching tv, and, yes, I’ve even broken my own self imposed rule and peeked at Facebook.  And while I could certainly bring forward lots of different headlines this morning, I do believe that each of these headlines has affected us in different ways. 

So I’d like to do something a little different today. 

I want to invite you to close your eyes, and think about this past week.  Think about what it has been for you.  The headlines are many, from Charlottesville, to the first day of school, to house explosion, to Barcelona, to Steve Bannon, to refugees, to bank accounts. 

What’s your headline?

Our theologian today is Walter Brueggemann.  As you may have noticed, or read, Brueggemann is one of those theologians who is actually still alive.  He’s not a dead white guy.  No, he in fact, is still just as active in speaking engagements around the country and the world as he ever was, maybe even more so since his recent retirement from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.  Brueggemann is easily recognized as the world’s foremost Old Testament Scholar.  This guy literally wrote the book, the textbook, about the Old Testament.  He has written well over 100 books, countless essays and articles, and has spoken in churches of almost every denomination (and non-denomination).  And – he’s from Nebraska.

Really.  He’s from Tilden, Nebraska, in Madison County.  At his core, he’s just like you and me.  A farmer at heart, connected to the land and the earth and seasons.  I actually met Brueggeman when I was in seminary, as he came to give a series of lectures that eventually became his book, Ichabod Toward Home.  One of my several jobs while I was in seminary was to drive the seminary van to the airport to pick up dignitaries and guests of the seminary.  When I drew Brueggeman’s name, I jumped internally with joy.  For those of us at Princeton, he was, among other things, known for being the brother-in-law to our Old Testament scholar, Patrick Miller; and – they, together, were known for being as close as brothers.  They loved God, loved their families, loved the Bible, and loved the World Wrestling Federation.  Not only did I get to have a conversation with Brueggemann, I was invited into the Millers house for coffee and cookies when I brought their guest to them.  For the better part of an hour, I forgot my studies and listened to these two brilliant men talk about life, God, and…wrestling.

            And here’s what I learned…

            That the great question for Walter Brueggmann is this:  does the Bible have anything to say to God’s people today? 

            At the time, it was a largely theoretical question.  It was February of 2001, and I lived in a snowy, idyllic world of an Ivy League town. 

            But – I doubt the conversation would have come to any different conclusion had it happened just 7 months later, after September 11, when that same town and community was covered with smoke and ash.

Yes, yes it does.
In fact, the argument went, when we study the Bible during times of uncertainty, trauma, and injustice, that we discover just how relevant it is.

Barth again – the Bible in one hand, newspaper in the other.

Back to those headlines, and how they make us feel.

It was Wednesday before I really got around to researching what happened in Charlottesville.  I’ve been busy.  With the Big Event All-nighter, family celebrations, the beginning of school, the house explosion, and various other daily tasks and worries, I just didn’t get around to it.  (That’s horrible to admit, but it’s the truth).  When I did, I entered an abyss.  Not necessarily because of Charlottesville.  But because of all of it.  All of it together.  And I did.  I cried.  I sat in my office and I cried.  I cried because I am grateful for you, to be in this place, to be able to send my children to one of the finest school systems in the country, to be able to open our hearts to refugees, to be able to worship freely.  I cried because I am a woman, and therefore a minority.  I have experienced prejudice, not being considered or hired for a job, or having been paid less, or treated differently.  I cried because I am white, educated, and privileged.  And even while I feel I have worked hard for these things, I also know that I have benefited from a system that has allowed me to benefit from these systems.  I cried because…

Jesus wept.  It’s okay to cry. 

It is in these moments that the realization that the world is a broken and unjust place breaks into the every day reality and business of our lives.  Most of the time, most of us fall into what Brueggemann calls the “royal consciousness,” and defines as “achievable satiation.”  Or, when you have the power to be able to arrange your life in such a way that you believe you have the power and control to arrange your life.  Contentment.  Satiation.  Freedom.  For us, it means nice houses with meaningful work, money in the bank, and food in our stomachs.  Cars that start every time, and good grades.  When we love our lifestyle more than we love the giver of life, that is the royal consciousness. 

It’s not sustainable.  That kind of satiated life.  It will come to an end.

It is then, when we are able to accept the reality of the ending that we are pushed to imagine a new beginning, or what Brueggemann calls an “alternative consciousness.”  A new picture.  A new vision.  A new reality. 

First we must say good-bye to the old reality.  And mourn its loss.

For the slaves in Egypt, it meant 40 years of wandering in the desert to understand that gathering manna daily was better than working in the Pharoah’s storehouses.

For King Solomon, it meant acknowledging that the ornate extravagance of the temple actually distanced God from God’s nation.

For the prophet Jeremiah, it meant “articulating the grief” the King worked so hard to deny – the hunger of the people, the lawlessness of the people, the indentured servitude of the Babylonian King – by breaking pottery and enduring physical suffering. 

When endings and death become our reality, we weep.  “Tears are a way of solidarity in pain when no other form of solidarity remains.”

“I used to think it curious that when having to quote scripture on demand someone would inevitably say, “Jesus wept.”  But now I understand,” Brueggemann says.  “Jesus knew what we numb ones must always learn again:  (a) that weeping must be real because endings are real and (b) that weeping permits newness.”[1]

The reality of death will always break in.  Just as it did when Lazarus died, and Jesus cried.  The reality of death, of endings, will break in.  And when it does, we weep. 

The task of the prophet is to address the ending of the royal consciousness even while drawing attention to the vision of the new life offered to us.  He calls it an alternative consciousness, an awareness that there is something more, a longing inside of us that cannot be filled by anything other than God.

            Resurrection hope.  That’s what he says we need. 

            And I feel it. 

I feel the despair and hopelessness of the women at the tomb, and the two on the road to Emmaus.  The confusion about the ending they’ve just witnessed and the grief they still experience.  They are in the midst of it.  “The wrenching of Friday had left only the despair of Saturday and there was no reason to expect Sunday after that Friday.  There is not any way to explain the resurrection out of the previously existing reality.  The resurrection can only be received and affirmed and celebrated as the new action of God whose province it is to create new futures for people and to let them be amazed in the midst of despair.”[2]

Friends, our God is a God who is speaking this truth to us, even today, now, at this moment.  In the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Do not remember the former things,

   or consider the things of old.

I am about to do a new thing;

   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

 
 
This is the new reality for us, as Christians.  It is how we deal with the headlines in the news.  We look to Jesus Christ, and the new reality that God is creating an alternate way.  It does not have to be like this.  But we cannot continue living as though everything is okay.  We must live as though the alternative reality of new life in Jesus Christ is already here.  We must acknowledge the pain, sin, and injustice of the world.  We must then be motivated, energized, to offer a picture of what that new life looks like.  We must do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. 














[1] Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, pg 60-61.


[2] Ibid, pg 106-107.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

One Day at a Time


Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34  

 
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of putting together a program for a local assisted living facility where the residents gave me a list of their favorite songs to include in their own “personalized” music program. As I perused their list of suggestions from “way back when”, most of the song titles I recognized while a few others were vaguely familiar. The chorus of one of those “vaguely familiar” requests has been speaking to my heart this past week and made me pause and reflect while I read the message of the words again today.

 

“One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that's all I'm asking from you. 

Just give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do. 

Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never be mine. 

Lord help me today, show me the way, one day at a time.”  *

 
In Matthew 6: 25-34, Jesus asks of us, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” and then tells us to have faith in God’s plans for our lives by lovingly stating, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”  What a blessing it would be for each of us to do our best to take “one day at a time”, trusting God to be by our side each minute of each day as He takes the burdens of our lives and places them upon His heart.

 
PRAYER: Precious Lord and Gracious Savior, at times I’m such a “worry wart”, thinking about what might be coming tomorrow instead of trusting your promises and living in the present, one day at a time, as you have requested. As I wake each morning, may my thoughts and prayers center on your gracious plans for my day and then proceed through the day, doing what needs to be done. At night, please help me to remember to give my worries to you, so as the morning dawns once again, I am refreshed and ready for the challenges and accomplishments the day has in store.  Amen

 

Patty Niemann (originally published August 2011)

 

* ONE DAY AT A TIME, SWEET JESUS

(words and music by Marijohn Wilkins / Kris Kristofferson)

 

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Heart to Volunteer


"Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

 
My spirit is always wanting to volunteer and help! Whether it be at my kids’ schools, cheerleading, booster parent, or making a friend a meal. God has blessed me with the personality to put myself out there for others without being shy or embarrassed. Most days I do this with a joyful heart! However there are other days when I say out loud "Why did I sign up for this?" or grumble that I don't have the time to help.
 

I have learned through the years to only say yes or volunteer when I can be a blessing to others and humble myself to do the tasks with a happy heart. This only comes from asking God to help me serve others with a true joy in my heart!
 

Dear Lord, please help us to realize our strengths that you have bestowed upon us and use them wisely to be more Christ like. Help us to reflect, recharge, and reconnect where you need us. We want to glorify you and spread your word through our actions. In Your Name - Amen!  
 
Becky Rankin
 

 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Waiting before Working


Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 

 
The “Jesus Calling” devotion book by Sarah Young sits on our bathroom counter.  I read the devotion during my morning routine, somewhere around putting on the moisturizer or drying my hair.   Her August 29 devotion has stuck with me:

“Demonstrate your trust in me by sitting quietly in My Presence.  Put aside all that is waiting to be done, and refuse to worry about anything. This sacred time together strengths you and prepares you to face whatever the day will bring.  …When you spend time with me, I restore your sense of direction.”
 

Ouch!  So reading, pondering and talking to God about the devotion in the midst of my morning routine is probably good, but I think God wants my full attention before I even begin my day.  I need to work on that.  Being a morning person, I usually say a quick “Good Morning Lord” before heading to the shower and going over the day’s list of things to do.  Reading the devotion falls somewhere in the middle.


During an extremely overloaded time at work, I began praying “What project is next Lord?” He would answer that prayer with what needed to be done at that moment.  I kept asking that question all day long and He was faithful in answering all of them.
 

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for always waiting on me to call your name.  I  want to be close to you but so often do not stop long enough to enjoy a conversation with you, only a quick thank you or short prayer.  You feel just like I do as a parent when I cherish a small quick conversation or visit with my children.  Forgive me. 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Amen.

 
Cathy Schapmann

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Staying Positive


Keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise:  things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable or commendable. Philippians 4:8   

This verse is on my refrigerator as I need to see it often.  It especially speaks to me, to my tendency to see and even dwell on the negative or shortcomings of myself, my life, my spouse, my daughter, granddaughter, friends.  I so wish I had rose colored glasses and could only see a "rosy" picture of my world and of others.  My sister and I tease about having rose colored glasses often. 

This verse helps remind me that I can have rose colored glasses.  Paul's words encourage me to see myself, others and situations in a positive, more grateful way.  When I do that, I feel contentment and joy, just as Paul directed and God wants for me.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, the author of love and joy, thank you for all the goodness and wonderful people in my life.  Just as you do not judge harshly but instead forgive and love us always, guide me to do that with the people in my life.  I long to be a source of validation and encouragement for all, especially for those closest to me.

 
Connie Barry

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Impossible to Comprehend


And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was day- the fourth day. Genesis 1: 14-19

I was all set to ride my bike to the Roca Berry Farm and see the August 21, 2017 eclipse. The tickets and lunches were ordered and received. Preparing to put it on the calendar I noticed I had to be at Lincoln Surgical Hospital for eye surgery on the very same day. OK, as I do often, I worked on a way to do both things. No, the next date available for surgery was too late to take. No, the doctor said I cannot ride my bike the afternoon of the surgery, it would be too dangerous.
 
I settled in and decided to watch the eclipse from our circle. Lo and behold, the people at Roca Berry Farms did not have the beautiful view we had right here in Lincoln.

Amazing, amazing, what a place God used to set our earth in the universe. How could he create all of this in such a way man could calculate the exact time the moon would cover the sun in a total eclipse. Calculations were made for each area on earth. Men and women who can do that are amazing too, but God set it all up and tells us about it in His book our Bible.

PRAYER: Oh Lord, God Almighty, how little I seem. You control all. You planned the total eclipse before you put the sun and the moon in the sky. You created us allowing us to see this magnificent sight that happens so far above us all. It is beyond words. Thank you, Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Coming Home


And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them.   Mark 2:1-2 

And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. Mark 1:21  

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you. Mark 16:7

 
Recently a theme at church has been “ home”. When I think about home, I think about Sioux City, not just my original home, but the home to many of my family and friends. There were visits to the grandparents, picnics in the parks, large family holiday meals and get-togethers, hiking through the loess hills, school activities, and attending church –a place where you were always welcome and loved.  For Jesus, home was Galilee. Mark talks about the early ministry of Jesus being close to his home. There were important landmarks including the Sea of Galilee, the River Jordan, the synagogue at Capernaum, a special lonely place where he could pray, and climbing up into the hills. In reading Mark, I suddenly realized that for Jesus—home was also his family, friends, neighbors, and his church. Much of his time there was spent in preaching and healing those around him who he probably knew.  He called people by name, not just his disciples, but people like Levi the son of Alphaeus—the tax collector. He frequently ate with friends in their homes. He enjoyed nature and those familiar places where he could be himself, rest, and be refreshed. In Mark 16:7, after the crucifixion, the Mary’s are told to tell the disciples that Jesus is going to Galilee, that they will see him there. He was going home—home where his ministry started, home where he had family, neighbors, and friends, and the special place where they would meet again.

 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for home—not just our family, but our neighbors, friends, community, and especially our church. Thank you for people who know us by name and care about us. Thank you for our church where we are always welcome and loved. Amen.

 

Nancy Hall