January 20, 2021
Dear Church Family and Friends,
When I’m out for a jog and face a hill I try not to look up, but rather keep my gaze a little bit ahead of me and draw my focus within to my stride and breath. It’s easy to look to the top of the hill and become overwhelmed. The mind is an amazing thing and loves to tap into our weakness telling us we can’t do it, we’re too tired, whatever to make us give up. Yet, there is another voice in our minds that reaches deep for our strengths, the conscious awareness that we are every bit capable of achieving our goals. Silencing the negative is difficult, but with focus in the right place we can actually discover there is more power within us than we think.
This works not just in running, but whenever the way seems difficult to travel. I consider this in light of where we find ourselves in the history of our country when differences are being magnified and common ground seems less attainable. When we try to consider how to approach the days ahead, it is essential that we set our focus on the immediate actions that we can take, those things right in front of us, within our own grasp. In that vein, Al, John and I tolled the church bell last night along with churches throughout our nation to remember the 400,000 lives lost to the pandemic and we rang it for unity. In order to overcome the challenges before us, we must look to what we each can do. Our actions and our words can work to bring much needed healing and peace.
One of my favorite Bible verses is from Mark 9:24 when a father seeking to have Jesus heal his son, responds to Jesus saying, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” As we face this time in our history we might wonder how on earth things are going to get better, can we get beyond these days? Perhaps our best response can be a sincere, “I believe we will and can. God, help the part of me that is filled with doubt.”
Blessings and peace,
January 13, 2020
Dear Friends and Church Family,
Today my reflection is the work of Richard Rohr. After two friends told me about his daily meditations some time ago, I signed up to receive his emails. In the midst of our current circumstances as a nation, I share a portion of today’s with you below.
May we find hope and renewed commitment to follow in the ways of love as Jesus exemplified.
Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
From the Center for Action and Contemplation
Love Is the Protagonist
Like me, Brian McLaren has spent many decades “on the edge of the inside” of the institutional Church. Although he often critiques the stories told by Christian denominations, he has never tired of the Jesus story or failed to believe in its power to transform the world. Brian and Gareth Higgins write:
Jesus came to subvert all stories of violence and harm, not repeat them.
Instead of patriarchal stories of domination, he taught and embodied service, reconciliation, and self-giving.
Instead of stories of violent revolution or revenge on the one hand or compliant submission on the other, he taught and modeled transformative nonviolent resistance.
Instead of the purification stories of scapegoating or ethnic cleansing, he encountered and engaged the other with respect, welcome, neighborliness, and mutuality.
Instead of inhabiting a competitive story of accumulation, he advocated stewardship, generosity, sharing, and a vision of abundance for all.
Instead of advocating escapist stories of isolation, he sent his followers into the world to be agents of positive change, like salt, light, and yeast.
And instead of leaving the oppressed in stories of victimization, he empowered them with a vision of faith, hope, and love that could change the world.
January 7, 2021
Dear Friends and Church Family,
On one hand, this morning has felt like any other morning – let the dog out, let him back in and feed him, make a fire in the wood stove, pour a cup of coffee that was set to brew at 5 a.m., sit to meditate, pray, breathe in the morning air. On the other hand, this morning is not like other mornings. I didn’t wake up in a peaceful state. And while I met the needs of Bentley, the wood stove and poured my cup of coffee, I came to my quiet reflective time with a heaviness of heart struggling to take in what took place at our Capitol on Wednesday and yet, is there really any surprise? A fueled fire can get pretty hot. This I know from burning firewood for heat all these years. This we know when people are stirred up over a cause and rather than put their emotions in check, they are encouraged and provoked until the fire begins to burn out of control. And it did figuratively speaking, within our Capitol on January 6, 2021. A day that will forever be etched in our minds and written in our history books. A fragile day in our democracy.
I want to think that this moment in our history will be a wakeup call for everyone of us. Clearly, there is plenty of heartache, fear, and worry in our country. We know this to be true. And we know, as well that the only answer is to come together in compassion, kindness and love not just for those we are comfortable with, but even more so with those we hold at a distance. We know that hatred, violence, disrespect, discord are outward signs of inner pain. With that in mind, as people who have put our confidence in hope and love, how can we move forward compassionately and openly in search of common ground?
President Lincoln’s words, “our better angels”, have oft been used lately, each time with a yearning to invoke that which is in us to strive toward harmony and peace. As we begin this new day, may we indeed, rise up to be beacons of hope and demonstrate with our own lives a sense of goodness and love. It is the only way forward.
Keoka Lake , KLA photo
January 1, 2021
Dear Church Family and Friends,
Surely, our “Happy” in Happy New Years is shared with a tremendous amount of relief and hope. On the threshold of 2021 we look back to the past year with all of its challenge and heartache, but not without recognizing that in the midst of it all the bright light of hope has never faded. For all the stories of worry and fear, sorrow and loss, there have been, as well, stories of kindness and compassion, love and care. We have witnessed immeasurable acts of goodness – people putting others before themselves, supporting the local community and those who have been in need. Even the darkest moments in life are graced with rays of hope. When we choose to live in the light, to live with gratitude and allow a positive outlook to dominate our lives, darkness cannot succeed.
A few mornings ago, I took my usual walk outside with my cup of coffee and sat in one of our Adirondack chairs to watch the moon set in the west as the horizon in the east began to lighten. It has become my morning meditation – bundled up for warmth, hot coffee in my cup, my dog at my feet relishing the petting and extra attention. While the full moon setting is beautiful to witness, other mornings the sky is full of stars and sometimes its cloudy with little but the stillness and quite. Those are the external things, but within I practice peace and calm, gratitude and wonder. I never fail to find it within when I take those moments “away”.
May you find places of peace and calm in this New Year; places that fill you with hope and allow you to see the light of possibility in each new day.