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Dear Friends:

Someone asked in a FB group what is the advantage of being a member of presbytery. I wonder if you are asking, “what is the advantage of being a Presbyterian?” I have been Presbyterian all my life so it is easy to forget that most people in our churches had to make a conscious choice. In fact, I did as well.

In childhood my extended family ranged from following Judaism, Southern Baptist, Episcopal, Seventh Day Adventist, and Roman Catholic. At one time or another I have visited churches in these traditions and few others. The reason I remained a Presbyterian, in the PC (USA), is our theology and practice. Not because of an advantage, but because of a charge, a purpose, a reason to be this kind of follower of Jesus. In particular visits, I sensed a great deal of isolationism, of us against them, and of judegment that they alone had the gospel of salvation, all of which disturbed my soul. 

We Presbyterians don’t always get it right, but listen to what our polity (Book of Order) has to say and you will see that we intend to put our theolgoy to work in our lives, not just a sermon and prayer on Sundays. We seek the day when all God’s people will be united in Christ in fact as well as aspiration and prayer.

“Because in Christ the Church is one, it strives to be one. … Division into different denominations obscures but does not destroy unity in Christ…. [The PCUSA] is committed to the reduction of that obscurity.” (F-1..0302a)

“The unity of believers in Christ is reflected in the rich diversity of the Church’s membership…. There is therefore no place in the life of the church for discrimination against any person.” (F-1.0403)

This week, the second Sunday of Lent and the last Sunday dedicated to Black History Month, we are charged by Christ to “take up our cross.” We are invited to consider the ways our churches still represent as sorrowful era of segregation and how racism is institutionalized within the systems of our culture. We are challenged to be Christians first, and I suggest, we are challenged to be Presbyterians.

With the divisions in our society, I also lift up to you the vision of this particular church, “to be a beacon of peace and love where everybody belongs.” What specific actions can we take, concrete physical responses to the call of God to become in our daily lives, a sanctuary where anyone, and everyone, can find the peace of Christ with us?

There’s work to be done, Presbyterians. Let’s talk about it, saints. Let’s do something for the glory of God. Interrupt the silence, saints of God!

Peace, Beverly


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What R U Up 2

Dear Friends:

What R U UP 2? This Lenten theme, with the images of hot air balloons, invites us to be lifted above the fray of this earthly life into the heavens where the noisy world can recede into the silent observable creation in all its beauty.

But “what goes up, must come down.” When the Spirit sets us gently back on earth, we are invited to walk with Jesus and see what God is doing right before our eyes. Along the way we are to wonder at the grace and love all around us. We are able to offer every little thing we can do to that mission as well. This Lent—don’t give up on God or yourself or your neighbor or even your enemy! Let’s look at the world with the love that sees as God sees.
 
Where there is heartache, let us bind up the sorrow and grief with our prayers, our thoughts, our outstretched arms, our open ears and our lovingkindness. Where there is violence, let us free the wounded with hearts of kind and loving reconciling and healing works and free the perpetrators with minds focused on justice. Where there is aimlessness and despair, let us invite others to walk with us, and opening our hands in friendship and our strength of community.
 
In other words, let’s get up to something good with all our mind and heart and soul and strength, to love God and love each other, in every little thing we do or say. Note, here’s a link to the journal for Lent to help you think about the little things you do that make a big impact for the peace of God.

 Bits and Pieces for the Journey

DAILY JOURNAL  18a_what_r_u_up_2_-_Guided_Journal_Plain_Word_Version.docx

How about a playlist for the journey?

You Raise Me Up,  Changes, The Lord’s Prayer, and another version, which we may sing during Lent.

And a few others: Love’s in Need of Love Today,  Somebody Like Me  More next week. See you Sunday!

Peace,
RevBev
 
What R U Up 2? is copyright liturgy and media from Worship Design Studio and used by purchase of license for the Lenten season 2024.

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No Shoes Sunday

What R U Up 2?

How about a No Shoes Sunday?

At a crucial moment in Jesus’s life he “runs away,” up a mountain to pray. While there, another amazing crack in the border between heaven and earth opens up. But this time, it’s not just dear old dad’s voice that reverberates through the air. And it’s not just Jesus who experiences the inbreaking of God’s kin-dom.

This time, Jesus has witnesses! The disciples were astounded and knew they were standing on holy ground!

We call it Transfiguration Sunday.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if heaven opened to us one Sunday in worship? Like, really, broke open and shined us all up for our missionary calling? Just in case, this Sunday is a “No Shoes Sunday,” as in Exodus 3: 4-6

So, wear your good socks or bring your indoor slippers.

And while you’re here

You can vote for your Super Bowl favorite by helping the youth with the Souper Bowl of Caring! Bring your vote (a canned item) and cheer on your favorite team! So wear your team colors: 49ers: red and gold; Chiefs: red and gold; Swifties: Purple and sparkles

Back to the first question

What R U Up 2? This is the theme for Lent and Easter this year. Instead of simply giving up something which is so often like a redo of our already broken New Year’s resolutions, we will be finding, claiming, creating the simple things of daily life that help us follow Jesus right up that mountain into a mission of changing the world.
 
Hope to see at the Ash Wednesday Pancake Supper and Worship service! Come celebrate your truest valentine who reminds us the greatest commandment is Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength!
 
Peace,
RevBev
IMAGES:  Anonymous. Transfiguration, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=58833 [retrieved February 8, 2024]

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Let the Son Shine

Dear Friends:
Friday is a holiday.
Let the Son shine. Obviously not talking about Groundhog Day. February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation, one of the oldest recorded celebrations of the Christian church, dating from the mid-300s. This ritual recalls Mary’s day of purification and the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. This is his “baby dedication.” At that time a righteous guy named Simeon spontaneously recognized that this baby was the Messiah and he praised God saying,
“my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2: 30-32 

Some Christians do not take down their Christmas decorations until after this day. It is also called Candlemas because people bring their candles to their church and present them for a blessing. They are used throughout the rest of the year to represent the light of Christ. For a fun review of customs around the world check out the Candlemas page of Wikipedia.

While Groundhog Day suggests that seeing the light of the sun, and thus our shadow, means that the winter is a long way off, this Christian feast day invites us to rejoice in the providence of God in any season. Even though, or perhaps because, we know our shadow side (the sin and darkness all around and within us) we honor the gift and calling to be light in the world as Christ is the light.

Here’s a devotional ritual and a blessing for your candles. Maybe you can offer a dinner time ritual with your family and shadows or not, dedicate yourselves to letting your light shine.

(light a candle)

Read John 1: 1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.

Read Matthew 5: 14-16  

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Talk about: What parts of yourself would you like to hide from? Where do you see yourself a light that helps others? If you came out of hibernation, and saw the light of Christ, and your shadow, would you crawl back in bed and hide from yourself and the world? Or would you come out rejoicing in the light you see and bear?

(pray)

By your grace, O Lord, you appoint us to be a light of hope, a beacon of peace and love, shining in the world. Like a candle shining in the darkness, may our lives be a light of hope that tells the story of Jesus and his love. Praise and honor to you, O God, in the name of Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, amen.
 
(sing-kids version) This Little Light of Mine
(or here Spiritual Version-Odetta): This Little Light of Mine
 
Images: By Unknown author – (2003) Icônes arabes : art chrétien du Levant, France: Institut du monde arabe (France), pp. 22−39 ISBN: 2914338074., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97456761; “Church candles” by John Christian Fjellestad is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Children, Couli, and Christ

January 25, 2024

I’m watching a children’s baking show. A bunch of 9- to 12- year old kids are making amazing food in a 3-hour time limit in a TV studio with lights and directors and cameras and people they have just met. I don’t even know what a “couli” is and they are designing, and creating deliciousness without recipes!

Are we too careful with Christ, with the good news of Jesus? How can churches better empower youth and children to lead? Is it possible we’ve created the bread of heaven for adults who fit our prescribed criteria in such a way that by the time you’ve gotten to fourth grade you realize the church has less confidence in your potential than anyone else in your whole world?

Jesus said we should let the kids come to him. The Bible says a child shall lead us. Indeed, he was only 12 when he stupefied the Temple preachers of the law with his wisdom and understanding.

What might we learn about, “Jesus loves me,” if we hear from the kids instead of talking down to them? I don’t know if I have the answers—because I probably haven’t listened to them well enough. Shall we?

Thanks be to God for the kids in our lives who remind us to “taste and see the Lord is good!”

 

Peace,
Beverly

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Venite adoremus Dominum

 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Venite adoremus Dominum!
Come let us worship the Lord! The snow lay on the ground;
the stars shone bright, when Christ our Lord was born on Christmas night.”

This became my favorite song this Christmas. Mostly the refrain. I found myself humming it over and over. Of course it helped that we did actually sing the tune throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons. However, when I looked out the window this week, with the snow on the ground, and the moon shining bright, I felt a certain peace as I hummed the song. Even now, as I write, and listen to the video, I have a smile on my face and calm heart.

Congregational singing, and congregational memorization of songs and prayers and scriptures, have power to help us through tough times, to refresh us during tiredness, and to enhance the joy of a special moment.

When we recite particular phrases, or sing refrains, doxologies, glorias, over and over, we are teaching one another to hold onto pieces of faith that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Between now and Ash Wednesday, I encourage you to practice during the week the refrains of sharing God’s peace with one another.

Hymn 609: Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow

Hymn 448: Peace of God Be with You

 You might even try memorizing a Scripture:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world
to be holy and blameless before him in love.
Ephesians 1: 2-4
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,
RevBev

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2022 Blog Posts are archived HERE.