Greetings of peace, joy and solidarity! Today’s entry is actually a post I posted on Facebook. And Instagram. As you may know if you’ve been following the blog, I’m going through a Bible in a year project. I’m on is the book of Job at the moment. I always receive great inspiration and hope from this sometime is very dark and very disturbing book. The most powerful message is that God is always with us and for us. When life is suffocating and difficult, God is still working God’s will. I pray for all of us that as we continue living through this epidemic of COVID-19 as well as the epidemic of rampant racism and police brutality we remember that God is with us and for us. I pray for you. I pray for the souls of those who have been murdered. I pray for peace and assurance as well as the bestowing of hope upon those left behind. I pray for the police and lawyers and lawmakers that they would be given wisdom and hearts of compassion and justice according to the will of God. Amen.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
MotivationMonday – Black fathers are losing their wives, daughters and sons. Black daughters and sons are losing their fathers. Black mothers are losing their husbands and children. Black children are losing their mothers. Loss, murder, and countless numbers of tragedies and travesties befall people of all creeds and stations. #LordHelpUsAll.
Most authentically though, I speak from my own social location and to the issues burning most on my heart right now, which include the suffering and injustice perpetrated upon black bodies, minds and spirits.
I am a black daughter, mother, wife, sister, niece, aunt, friend, mentor, minister/teacher/preacher and advocate, and I want a better world for my people. We don’t know why horrific things happen and evil, power-hungry and vindictive people gain and maintain power. We wonder where God is in all of this and why setan is giving so much freedom to torment God’s people. We blame ourselves and we blame others and we seek solutions. Some of us are already in states of despair and some may be considering or have given into the temptation to self-destruct or comit suicide, because the pain is too much.
We’ve had enough for a very long time!!!!! I can’t answer your questions just like the book of Job doesn’t answer your questions, but I can help be the friends as they were at the end of chapter 2 before they started giving such fearful and condemning advice, they were good friends who sat silently with Job for seven days. I am with you not only for seven days but for as long as we need each other, which will be as long as there is life breath in you, because we are gods answers to each other’s prayers. As I read these verses from Job chapter 2, this is the message GOD put on my heart for you.
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.””
Father/Mother God, thank you for sending your only begotten son! He would not come down from the cross to save himself. He decided, O God, to die just to save me! May we learn to be so loving, so gracious, so courageous and so selfless. Change us, O God! Create in us clean hearts that we might truly be Christians who love selflessly, forgive endlessly and die to self purposefully as did the one we follow, Jesus the Christ. Amen
Story of Self (personal story)
Troubled, violent, bad-mouthed, out-of-control, hard-to- place! These are the words foster children hear carelessly and cruelly aimed at and about them. Apparently, I used to think, they also think we are death and dumb! When I was 16, I served time at McLaren Hall, which has since, thank the Good Lord, been closed. It wasn’t technically Juvey, but from what I gather, it wasn’t much better. At the time though, I didn’t know it was a harsh environment, because I was so used to abuse, it was only another form of the same. In fact, at least I was in a group institutional setting and the staff did not have as much time as foster parents had to home in on me. I was simply another case! Another teen with a bad attitude and a lack of gratitude for what the state had done for me. This makes me bleed for mercy upon the criminal on Jesus’ left. Some are blessed to find the light shining in the darkness, yet others can’t see, can’t rise and thus cannot hope. But for the grace of God go I.
That light for me came in the form of two female ministers who would come to McLaren to speak with the residents. Unlike most of the adults of my acquaintance, they seemed to see and hear us. They helped us find empowerment and constructive ways to voice and express our guilt, shame, rage and need for belonging.
In return, we gave them bad attitudes and disrespect. We challenged them, because we did not trust them or their God. If your God is real, tell him to give you something better to do and get us out of here! They warned us, as the man on the right reminded the man on Jesus’ left, not to test God, and to take responsibility for our own actions. We mocked them and God, at least I did, at least at first.
These women couldn’t save us or change us, or could they? Well, they, or rather, the Holy Spirit within them, did. I stand as a living testimony that God speaks through angels on earth, and years later, I give thanks to those ministers. We don’t know if the man on the left accepted Christ in the last moment, we are not told, and I do not know the fate of the teens I lived with at that time, but as the man on Jesus’ right, and as Jesus himself most of all caused many hearts to turn toward God, these women spoke power, truth and love into my story, and I have decided to ask Jesus to remember me when he comes into his Kingdom. Glory to God
Story of Us (scripture story)
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, today, you will be with me in paradise.” Having seen experienced the cruelty and injustice humans were/are prone to, Jesus the Christ made this astounding promise. Bloodied and beaten, already bruised for our transgressions and abandoned by many of his disciples, Jesus made his way to the Cross. Jesus is guilty of a multitude of sins. You ask how? Or perhaps you already know. Jesus, the lamb of God, the scapegoat, the Son of David has agreed to take upon himself the sins of the world! How could he stand and walk? As difficult as the walk would have been anyhow following the abuse suffered and with the physical heaviness of that old rugged cross, those burdens would have, I believe, been nothing in comparison to what Jesus the Christ carried in his spirit and in his heart; the guilt of humanity throughout history. Stoically, Jesus went on. Without protest, Jesus was hung and nailed painfully to the cross. And here, we stop to consider, the criminals hanging with him.
The words of the criminal on the left remind me of the temptation of Satan when Jesus was in the desert after receiving Baptism. Satan challenged Jesus at that time saying, “If you are the son of God, jump from this cliff. Surely, God will not allow you to stub your toe on a rock.” Jesus responds to Satan, It is written “do not put the Lord your God to the test.” The criminal on the left is definitely putting God to the test, rather or not he sees God as his God, and he is trying to tempt Jesus Christ who has been pushed to extreme limits, yet Jesus does not respond. Thanks be to Jesus, for he chose not to come down from the cross.
The man on the right is no less a criminal, yet he has the one vital key to salvation: he knows he is a criminal who deserves no less than death, and yet in faith and repentance, he asks Jesus to remember him and his acknowledgement of Jesus as an innocent man. Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom. We are all guilty and fall short of the Glory of God, but we pray nevertheless, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
We may not be able to see ourselves as worthy to sit in the seats of honor or even to enter the Kingdom. We may only ask to be remembered; remembered with compassion and perhaps affection. Yet Jesus offered the criminal on the right more. Jesus offered entry into that Kingdom. Jesus offered immediate words of forgiveness and absolution. Jesus offered immediate acceptance. He saw the heart of the criminal and Jesus sees your heart and mine!
We aren’t on the cross. Most of us aren’t on death Rowe or on a cross. Most of us are still carrying our crosses. At the same time, many of us are bearing the crosses of those who have fallen and stumbled, and some of those who have too many emotional and physical wounds to make it up life’s hills with the burden of their sins and decisions on their backs. So, we may understand a little of Jesus’ pain and understand our place in this grand story of love and sacrifice. Jesus’ has a message for us: don’t stop! Don’t let go! Just a little further! It hurts but letting go will hurt more and for longer.
Hold on my sister! Hold on my brother! Ask Jesus to remember you! Confess your crimes and acknowledge his sacrifice and the injustices done to him and countless of our powerless and marginalized sisters and brothers, and the reward may just be more than we dared hope. Jesus may turn to us and say, “today, tomorrow, whenever your time comes to end your race, you will be with me in Paradise.”
Story of Now (shared calling)
Today, we are under the shadow of coronavirus. We are not in physical churches, because we are under “shelter in place” and “stay at home” orders. Yesterday, we partook of the Lord’s Supper and observance, some of us, of Maundy Thursday, at home alone or a few family members or roommates. We hear the criminal on the left taunting us, “if you are the daughter, if you are the son of God, get down and save yourself and save us.” We have, I hope ignored that lying voice of self-centeredness, faithlessness and pride. I have heard louder the voice of my Savior saying, truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” because you have run a good race and stood firm until the end. Jesus sees my bad temper and cabin fever, and he loves me anyway. He sees every fear we allow to control us, and he loves us anyway. He is waiting for us to see our wrong-doings, confess we deserve nothing good and once we empty ourselves, we may be welcomed by him.
I don’t know how much longer I, an extrovert, and all the rest of us, will be forced to shelter in place. I do know we are invited to ask Jesus to come into our shelters and be our shelter. If we are homeless, Jesus wants to be our shelter. We have the opportunity to come out of this a more just, humble, merciful, faithful and loving community. But are we willing? We will overcome. This is my prayer.
Holy God of love and life, we are gathered from around the word via technology. We thank you for this virtual community as well as our physical communities. We thank you for the example of the criminal on the right and the criminal on the left. May we be more like the man in the middle; more like Jesus, the Christ! Thank you for the graciousness and mercy of Jesus Christ. Infuse us with the Spirit that we may come through these current struggles stronger, more faithful and ready to be instruments of healing and peace. We love you. We pray all this and more in the name of Jesus Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit, giving you, O God, all the glory and honor forever, Amen!
Greetings of fellowship and peace, today, we celebrate the #LastSupper. Jesus ate in the presence of his friends and his enemies. This is community on earth for better or for worse. We are called to bring healing and reconciliation the best we can with many as we can. Holy Spirit, impart the grace, mercy, wisdom and sacrificial nature of Jesus to each of us. Amen!
Jesus knew at the Passover feast that Judas would betray him. Who won broke bread with, especially the Passover meal, would’ve been a big deal in a big declaration, and yet Jesus made it for the one who betrayed him as well as those who did not. We are remember Judas, Thomas and Peter most specifically, because Scripture tells us of the ways they turned their back on Jesus. Still, they aren’t likely the only disciples who stumbled, and that the one of us who have never stumbled be the first one to cast the first stone. I find it more therapeutic and healing to discover when I have been Judith. That teaches humility and wisdom, and empowers me to move forward and never seen in quite the same way again by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tonight, I don’t wanna focus on the disciples, though. I want to focus on Jesus and his actions. Jesus broke bread symbolizing the breaking of his body and just hours now. He poured and drink the blood, symbolizing the pouring out of his blood for us in hours from now. He predicts his death and that he would not drink or eat with the disciples again until he returned and then they go to the mount of olives. Jesus lead the action as Jesus leads to the church today. If Jesus is not the head of the church, we are not the body. Let us choose tonight, tomorrow and forever more to be the body of Christ with Christ at the head.,, Holy Spirit, come! Thank you that you hear our prayers! Amen!￼￼
Now, after finish prepping for tomorrow Good Friday service! Yes, #GoodFriday! it is not good because we are good! It is not good because the disciples were good. It is good because we have the promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ if only we would take hold of the promise and clean fast to the promise. Good God who loves us so much that he came in the form of a helpless human child, grew up as a human boy and died The criminals death we all deserve. He for gave us! He pleaded for mercy and grace to be given to each of us. We pray that we all believeregardless of our sins Would be forgiving and excepted into the family. This is why Friday is good.
Tomorrow at noon, we will host a special worship and I’ll include the YouTube link below for any who want to view. I preach on Luke 23:43:
Greetings of peace and hope! Happy Passover to my Jewish friends. We are all tight together in the circle of life and I am eternally grateful for the Jewish people throughout history who have done so much to stand for justice and equality for everyone. As I write this line, I am thinking back to the interfaith dialogue’s I attended every year in seminary. I am thinking back on human history and I am thinking of my connection with Clergy-Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE). In this group welcome clergy and lady from our faith traditions United for purposes of justice bed for youth, and the immigrant, the imprisoned, the ethnic minority, etc. Thanks be to God for such connection, commitment and unity.
Warning of Persecution – Matthew 24:9-10
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,” (Matthew 24:9-10 NIV).
This prediction almost immediately proved to be true. The nature of Biblical prophecies is that each usually has an immediate and a future fulfillment. They are also true to the nature of God as revealed in history. The prophet Daniel especially comes to mind especially since I chose the image of the lion, as women who especially endeared and persecution because of his God. We’ve seen it throughout history until this day. Jesus in most of his disciples were killed in hideous ways.
Lord grant us the strength, courage, faith and wisdom to stand strong when we are challenged to publicly Profess our love and faith in you no matter the cost. It may cost us reputation, employment, freedom or even our lives, but all of those gifts belong to you anyhow, and maybe be able to interest them back into your hands if they are demanded of us. Amen!
Warning to Be Ready & Stat Ready
This current crisis has made it blatantly apparent apparent that many of us were not ready for cOVID-19 or anything of its magnitude. We weren’t ready emotionally, because everyone panicked. We weren’t ready physically, maybe, because we didn’t have emergency kit and food supplies stocked up. And some of us are good even months into this thing without having to take any extraordinary shopping trips. It’s hard to know when we’re ready and we were unnecessarily fearful and panicked and that goes into the whole emotional readiness factor. Each of us need to evaluate regularly what our emotional, spiritual as well as physical readiness is.
I hope that you feel prepared and ready to finish coping with this epidemic, and I hope you have r you areemaining connected with God who is the source of our strength.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13 NIV).
No, don’t look at the time I post these blogs or you will come to the wrong conclusion regarding my timeliness and readiness. LOL! All of us run out of supplies or forget things we need at times, but God wants us to make sure that we are spiritually ready when he comes back. as we journey with Christ to the cross now, we are required to have open hearts and open minds, seek justice, love mercy and have faith. These things are what it means to be ready. And well the five who had enough oil refused to share with the five who didn’t out of fear or concern that they would not have enough, but that same fear not stop us here in today from doing everything we can to get others ready so that at the crucial point, everyone who wants to be ready will be ready.
Lord, help us be ready for your return and for you to take us to be with you at all times and every place. Amen.
Woe to the Blind Guide
These woes deal so much with hypocrisy, misleading teachings, pride and greed. For some reason, this segment is what jumped out at me. The section of scripture is called “Woe to blind guides” and it talks about how the teachers of the law and religious leaders have missed the point entirely in our misleading the people. They do things like worshiping the altar instead of the lamb, Jesus Christ, on the altar. Today, we might say worshiping the church building instead of the one who caused us to be church. We need to go deeper and deeply understand who it is we worship and why we worship in order that we do not lead astray the people.
“Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it” (Matthew 23:20-22).
First, there’s the issue with the swearing in any case, as we are told in Scripture that we should let our yes be yes and our no be no, and not swear, because we have no power to make anything happen or not happen, it is all by the power and grace of God. This also seems to be warning against idolatry and materialism, because Coveting and loving objects does most definitely distract us from worshiping God. In my own life, I see the current stage is being a time of pruning. It’s pretty painful! I hope you’re coping well. I hope at the end of this and even through this God is being praised and thanked, because God never makes a mistake or Misstep.
So, A Closing Blessing
Father God, help us stay ready, protect us from the temptation of greed and idolatry and shortsightedness, Help us endure until the end. We don’t understand your message or your timing, but we know that the world is in your hands and we ask that you grant us the faith in the insurance to walk in the truth as we run, walk, crawl and sometimes fall on the way to the cross with Jesus Christ. Amen!
Greetings of peace and hope! Yesterday, on Holy Monday, I told you I would name today/Tuesday #TellTheTaleTuesday. Instead, I have dubbed it #TellTheTruthTuesday In honor of the refrain “truly I tell you…” occurs here in Matthew 25 as well as throughout the Gospels. May the truth of the word of God guide your life today and every day.
Please read the entire Scripture passage by clicking the Button below to open the scripture in a new tab.
I hope we are able as a community to rejoice when we are the sheep, repent when we are the goats, and ask for the Holy Spirit to increase the frequency which with which we identify with this sheep, and Eradicate those times we are or are tinted to be the goats. May justice and mercy guide your life today and every day along your journey.
Sheep on the Right & Goats on the Left
As we journey to the cross, it is vital that we realize we serve a God of action; not in action. Many times we think it is OK or sufficient to avoid doing harm not realizing that in non-action itself often causes harm in matters of justice and social well-being. So, here we are given a contrast of good versus evil, action versus in action, Justice versus apathy and right versus left.
I’m a United Methodist, and in the beloved words of our founder, John Wesley, let’s say it together!
Just recently, one of the social justice agencies I am a part of hosted and event where they went to Los Angeles City Hall and honk their horn‘s for release of immigrants, and I wasn’t able to attend. I don’t drive so I miss out on a lot of these sorts of events but what I could do and it therefore I do is post on social media, talk to friends and family about it and pray. Those are things almost all of us are able to do. In my apartment, we’ve spent entire days clearing out our closet of perfectly good clothes that we will not wear to donate to shelters and clothing closets. We don’t have much money, but both my husband and I have been known to buy food or donuts for those in need in our neighborhood and drop spare cash and change when we could. Getting around is difficult, but I am really good at technology and I love doing research and writing and composing letters, so I often do those for family, friends, church and other places.
I’m not tooting my own horn. What I’m doing is showing that being a sheep requires only that we have open hearts and minds, are willing to love our neighbors, think outside of the box and commit to following Jesus.
No, I’m not always a sheep, and I don’t think any of us always are. Lent is a time for confession, so although you may not look up to me anymore after I confess, I will model what we all need to do regularly. I frequently lose my temper with my husband and son, which may not seem like a deadly sin, but it is. It is not loving. I’ve been guilty of passing judgment on homeless people or on immigrants because I don’t understand them and haven’t always wanted to. That is unjust and unloving.not Loving. So not surprisingly, my goat qualities aren’t popping to the forefront right now, but I have them in God knows! I can be self-centered, angry, fearful and anxious, lazy and unmotivated, and abrupt. Create in me a clean heart, Lord, and help me to have the spirit of Jesus. Amen!
What Does Jesus Say to/about His Faithful Sheep?
This is the perfect time to ponder when we have done good to Jesus through doing good to those Jesus died for.
What are some ways you can clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit/communicate in writing with the sick or the imprisoned during this time?
When we do all we can for as many as we can however we can for as long as we can, when we asked Jesus when we showed love to him, he will tell us that we did our holiest and most just work when we served the needs of the least amongst us.
We Don’t Want to Hear….
The opposite of the blessing, which is the curse. When the judgement comes, it is too late to change our actions. FEAR NOT, for if you are reading this, you have time. I have time! Though, None can know how much.
Holy spirit, please help me where I am weak, help us were we are weak and have failed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, provide for the widow and orphan and immigrant in our midst. Amen! Please help us so that we do not hear the rebuke
Whenever we have not been just, merciful and loving to other people, animals and even creation, we have not been just and loving to God. As we continue this journey toward the cross, I pray that we think more about this and about ways we might still change and thus change the world.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
May God bless you for all the good you have done in the world and all the good you will do. May God remove any tendency we have to overly criticize ourselves for what we have not done as well as remove any pride so may have for what they have done. May the glory be given to God always in in all places for our victories. Our victory is in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit granted us by God. May God protect you and hold you up as you continue toward the cross and Contuie following the light and love of Jesus Christ and the cloud of witnesses and disciples in his wake. Amen!
Greetings of peace, love and hope! I hope you are finding you are continuing to stay on the sunny side of life as the rain and clouds continue to make life messy. In these challenges of “Shelter in Place” and covid-19, there are opportunities to love a little deeper and shine a little brighter as the reflections of God’s life we are called to be. Perhaps it helps and motivates and emboldens you as it does me to remember that Jesus, a flesh and blood man, was headed facing his own challenges this time so many years ago. Let us take up our crosses and follow our commander and champion.
Throughout this week, I will post daily as your journeying partner.
MONDAY – Today, Holy Monday, I aim to motivate you with pointing out how Jesus is the light and direction. Jesus has told us how to remain strong. So, we will focus on the light of Christ, and the greatest commandments of Christ Today.
TUESDAY – Tomorrow, on Holy Tuesday, we will explore some of the paribles Jesus told in the Temple of Jerusalem as he continued to prepare the people for his coming crucifixion and resurrection. I am calling tomorrow “TellTheTaleTuesday.
WEDNESDAY – On Holy Wednesday, we will observe what I am calling #WoesAndWarningWednesday. In Jerusalem, Jesus reprimands the prople–especially the religious leaders and teachers of Jewish law– for dishonoring the spirit if not the letter of the Mosaic Law. Since knowledge is power and sometimes ignorance causes us to sin, Wednesday will be spent exploring the follies we fall into and will avoid when we full-heartedly follow Jesus and by the power of the Holy Sprit.
THURSDAY – Thursday is called Maundy Thursday. On this day, we celebra the Last Supper in remembrance of the Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples before his crucifiction, so I invite you to reflect on this event with me.
FRIDAY – Good Friday is the day we commemorate the crucifiction of Jesus Christ. It is good, because without Jesus’ willing death on our behalf, we would have no hope of eternal life. So, we will pause to remember, reflect and repent on Friday.
SATURDAY – Saturday is vital though it seems to be a day we often overlook. It is a day people set up their Easter Egg Hunts and make last-minute preparations for Sunday Festivities. People cook, play and engage in other activities. I mean to condemn noone. Jesus came to save the world; not com=ndemn the world. My aim is to make us findful of the fact that on Holy Sunday, Jesus is fighting the forces of death and damnation, and rescuing the souls of the prophets and other faithful persons who had already died. It is a day of silence, because the disciples did not yet understand this, and only knew their leader and beloved teacher was gone and their hopes with him. Even once the apostles and Early Church understood, we they observed the silence of Jesus’ desension. So, I will find a way to help us reflect upon this time of silence and seporation of Jesus from God. Jesus died that we might live and live abundantly.
SUNDAY – That rest and silence empties us for the joy of the Resurrection of Christ on Resurrection Sunday/Easter. We will rejoice on that day. Come rejoice and give thanks with me on that day, and share with me how you and yours celebrated!
Motivation Monday: Love and Light
Before we are strong enough to not only carry our own crosses and help carry those of others, we must recieve the mental, spiritual and physical nourishment for the journey. Am I right? Scripture gives us the spiritual nourishment and armor. Jesus reveals that he is the Light and the way back in John 3:16. Here, in John 12:46, he re-affirms he is the Light, and when we commit to keeping our eyes upon him, we will get where we want to go.
Jesus is the Light. Jesus sheds light on those behaviors, attitudes and heart conditions most pleasing to God! In the Jerusalem Temple, he is asked what the greatest command is. He answers not only with the greatest, but adds a second command, which actually is a second part of the whole. Jesus sheads light upon the truth that we cannot love God with our whole being without loving our neighbor.
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40, NLT). https://www.bible.com/bible/116/mat.22.36-40.nlt
Especially now, I am mindful that the most powerful demonstration of our love for God is our love, service, mercy and kindness to our fellow human-beings. Love is the only light, which will bring us through this epadimic stronger and more whole than ever before. Without love, we will make it through, but we will be broken and destitute. Love, my sisters and brothers! Love! Love, as Jesus practiced it, is emotional, yes, yes, it is also active and consistant. It gives to each what she or he needs. In this way, LOVE! And may that love come back to you in abundance!
Jesus Christ, thank you for being love and light. Thank you for coming to brighten and straighten the path for us on this journey to the cross. We need you, O Lord, to be with us. Heal us Lord, and empower us to be the healing force for those around us. You know our prayers, our sorrows and our fears. Lord, take our sorrows and fears and transform them into hope and faith. May your faith and love infuse us, Lord Jesus. When the sick, homeless, orphan, imprisoned and immigrant see us, may they see you. We love you! Amen!
Lenten greetings of peace, love and joy! Today is a special day! It is the 13th day of Lent. It is also the day that my devotion entry has been published by #PictureLent. I will include the link to it below so that you may see my contribution as well as the contributions of the other authors all the way up through Easter. I’ve also included the text here, because what are our personal blogs for it not to showcase the gifts and talents God has blessed us with??? Make sure you let me know what you think of what you read, and how God is blessing you through this look at Psalm 128.
Gardens, Children and Ministry
Walking this journey to the Cross with Christ is often demanding, rigorous and disorienting. I pray that you also experience Lent as hope-filled, energizing, and life-giving. On this, the 13th day of Lent, let us take a moment to breathe in that hope and life God provides as we breathe out the struggle and disorientation life sometimes offers. As the Psalmist prays for abundant blessings on Israel, I pray for abundant blessings upon you, your family and community.
As we walk, work, eat and drink, play and love, we seek to find the balance most pleasing to God. If we have children, we hold their hands so that they remain close to us and close to Christ. Scripture says we are blessed if we walk in the way of the righteous. So, I implore you to persevere on this journey to the Cross.
The Psalmist confidently asserts that all who fear/revere/respect and obey the Lord will be abundantly blessed. For Israel, if a person had fruitful lands and many sons, these were signs of God’s favor. Thus, the man blessed with a wife who bore many children who in turn worked the land and bore more children would have been seen as most highly favored.
Today, bearing numerous children and working the fields and vineyards may not be the symbols of fruitfulness in our culture. However, many of us, myself included, find happiness and blessing through our relationships with others, including our spouses, children, family, and friends. Lent is an ideal time to ponder the gifts God has given and still has in store for us. Now may be an ideal time to identify the gifts and talents we possess and how God is calling us to employ them for the journey.
Even today, we identify with the blessing of fruitful soil. Many of us live in urban areas where we are fortunate if we have small gardens where we may plant flowers, cucumbers, squash and potatoes. Yet, when we look around, we see the land bearing fruit. Down the street from my apartment, there is a family who grows oranges and another who grows grapefruit. Thank God for this fruitfulness.
Every summer, the children who participate in Saint Mark United Methodist Church, Los Angeles’ summer enrichment program work in the garden. We provide cups/containers and they plant and water their projects. At summer’s end, they take home the fruits of their labor. The children also help tend the garden and sometimes take home vegetables if they are ripe. God’s ministry through us is bearing much good fruit: literal crops planted, harvested and eaten; children and families who have the means to plant and eat healthy food; and a church and community better able to appreciate the amazingness of God’s creation and the vitality of our service as stewards. Inthese endeavors and others, only God truly knows how fruitful our prayers, plantings and plucking-up will be. Lord, bless your faithful people with fruitfulness.
Let Us Pray
Lord, take our stumbling, sometimes grudging and often uncertain steps, infuse them with your grace and assurance, and remind us that you are the source of our blessings and fruitfulness. You have given us Scripture to make straight and give light to our path. We give you thanks. Bless us, O Lord, as we scatter the seeds you have entrusted to us. May they bear fruit for your Kingdom for generations to come. Amen!
Let Us Do
Fruitfulness Bag: Put together at least one non perishable food bag to give away to a person in need. Please include applesauce or some other non perishable fruit cup, and if you include a juice pouch or box, please make sure it is 100% fruit juice. Preparing one bag for each household member or group member (if you are participating as part of a group or household) would be ideal.
Let Us Reflect
In which ways has your life been fruitful (children, spouse, ministry, acts of kindness, answers to prayers, etc.)?
How is your observance of Lent pruning you for greater fruitfulness for God?
Discuss Holy and fruitful fear vs. debilitating and counterproductive fear. Which fear does God desire of us, and how does our understanding of fear impact our understanding of and relationship with God?
In the photo, you will notice that I put one verse above the cross and the other below. This is to highlight the importance of the cross in our journey with Christ. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, and we can find contentment in any situation that life throws at us. It is through the Christ and through his cross that we have this joy and assurance.
How To Thrive By 45
“How To Thrive By 45” is a pretty good study plan. It’s one of the YouVersion ( https://www.bible.com/en/reading-plans/3457), and study devotions I’m doing. I’ve decided to include that here and in my scripture journal today, because the scripture is my favorite. Philippians 4:12-13.
When Jesus is truly our Lord, we can find contentment and all sorts of adverseconditions as well as the more pleasant ones, and remember to glorify God in all of them. I have a ring thanks to my husband that reminds me of Phil. 4:13 which is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. He really understands me.
Me & Hubby After 2020 Primaries
I think these are vital verses to remember as we journey with Christ and each other toward the cross and beyond this Lenten season.
God Bless You
Blessed be! Today and every day, be thankful! Be courageous! Be humble! Be love! Yes, I said “Be“ Love.
This passage has always made me sad. It’s just a for shadowing of the sadness I felt at reading of Jesus on the cross or experiencing the lamb who is the only one who could open the seven seals. We are to repent! And mean it!
https://www.bible.com/bible/111/lev.16.20-22.niv““When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.”
Leviticus 16:20-22 NIV
Lord Jesus, I thank you for inviting us on this journey. I thank you that those of us who have made it this far or at least this committed to the journey and we thank you for the power we know you will give us to go all the way with you to the cross and glory. Thank you for being the ultimate scapegoat, sacrifice and atonement for our sins. May we be better and may we become more like you. In Jesus precious and holy name we pray, by the power and the gift of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon us by God the father, amen!￼￼
We are in the second week of Eastertide, and I haven’t blogged in weeks. Lent was so heavy this year. So much death, so much injustice, so much disillusionment and of course so much to do! I know my sufferings were nothing compared to that suffered by our Christ on the cross, but Lord!!! Jesus, it was tough. I hope you made it through intact, and that your struggles, Temptations and blessings remind you of the Jesus who chose us and loves us whoever and wherever we are. I’m praying for us all. It is a season of resurrection, new life and new Hope and I hope you are experiencing just that today.
So, What Do I Have To Say Tonight?
Confirmation Experience 2019 is taking place as a partnership/collaboration between Saint Mark and Holman! These are both united Methodist churches in Los Angeles. Let’s pause for a brief exclamation for those who may not know what Christian Confirmation is. No, it isn’t only for Catholics. (A Question/sentiment I get a lot).
In the United Methodist Church, we believe in infant baptism, because we believe that baptism is a gift of grace from God. Just as God chose us even before we knew to choose God, the infant is baptized into the body of Christ without knowing to choose to do so. However, at some point, everyone must make a choice. So, at adolescence, we have a right of passage where youth choose to accept the grace freely given and accep membership in the church inherited. These beloved young people take a series of classes where they learn about God and the church, receive practical instruction on discipleship and ministry and experience life as members of a community and at the end we pray they choose to become full and active members of the church. The choice is theirs.
Session ONE Is Tomorrow
Session 1 is going to be fun, and if it goes well, it’ll definitely set the tone for the rest of the sessions. It will of course be the longest, because it includes our mission project. The youths and their teams, including a mentor and parent/guardian per youth, will work together to create Manna Bags.These bagsWill comprise of non-perishable items the families can carry with them and pass out as needed when out and about in their cars. Following that, we will have pizza, and then, our first class, which is all about loving together, living together and traveling together will take place. Rather befitting! A huge part of this will be starting off by identifying ways we can pray for one another and our world, be present for each other and those hurting in our world, share our gifts with those who need them, serve each other and others, and bear witness to the grace and the love of God with all we come in contact with. This is all life together, and we hope to impart to our young people and those who surround them with the belief and knowledge that Christianity is an active faith calling for active discipleship and storytelling. We have to know who we are before we can tell others and invite others to travel together with us. So, keep us in your prayers!
Until I Write Again….
Be wise, gentle, courageous, bold, faithful and hopeful. When we seek God, God is found and when we don’t feel the presence of God, let us keep reaching and praying and asking that God reveal God’s self to us. Christ has risen and so too have we. Not fully, but within from the holder of the grave. God bless you.