Sunday, June 28, 2015

Song for Sunday: Charlie on the MTA

Been spending a lot of time on the "tube" -- the London Underground, which includes the oldest underground station in the world. (Baker St.)

So ... today's song for Sunday is  fun old political song about "the man who never returned."

Here's a link to the Kingston Trio's version:

What's your favorite song about going places?

You can't get there by subway but the Christian Youth Conference at Ocean Park is amazing! Send your high school teens to this leadership and discipleship program for the first two weeks of August 2015 in southern Maine. We're celebrating 100 years!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Thoughts on a Prayer Service

I attended Evensong at Westminster Abbey yesterday. Pretty amazing, eh? I am very blessed to have this 10 days of visiting family and seeing important historical and literary places in England with my son. We will then, with my husband,  get to visit family all over England with a few more educational trips thrown in.

This amazing blessing shows how much I have. Which brings me back to Sung Evensong at Westminster Abbey.

The general confession from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer was read in unison. It goes like this:

O God, Our Father, , we have sinned against in thee in thought, word, and deed:. we have not loved thee with all our heart; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee; cleanse us from our sins; and help us to overcome our faults; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Later in the service we heard this reading from the New Testament:

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

The juxtaposition struck me, especially in light of my "wealth." (I am a lower middle class American by income.Globally, that's a lot of wealth.) From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Time for prayer and loving my neighbor more.

CYC is a two week conference for high school teens on the beautiful southern coast of Maine. August 2-15. Check it out here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Song for Sunday: We Shall Overcome (for Emmanuel AME Church)

There are no words. 

Even if my voice could reach them, there is nothing I could say that would comfort the members of the Emmanual AME Church. Were I there, I could do no more than stand with them as they mourned fathers, mothers, children, pastors and Christian brothers and sisters. Sometmes that's the best thing to do. 

I am amazed at the faith of these people. Even the secular press has noticed how unshakeable it is. These people have forgiven - freely and fully, it seems- a man who, after being welcomed by them,  committed a hate crime against them, who hurled racial invectives as he killed them, who seemed intent on starting a race war between blacks and whites. The congregation of this church will not help him succeed in that last. 

Just as I have no words of comfort, I have no song of comfort to offer. So, for today's Song for Sunday, I turn to a song of hope, the song that rang through the Civil Rights Movement, a song that still speaks of solidarity. Join me in this prayer and sing with me, and those in this link:

 "We shall overcome, 
We shall overcome, 
Deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday."

God grant us peace. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Song for Sunday: The Marvelous Toy

"I never knew just what it was, and I guess I never will!"

I am in the mood for fun, and this song is fun. We used to sing it a lot at  the youth conference, years and years ago. We had a lot of enthusiasm.

So here's a link to a version by Peter, Paul, and Mary. Enjoy it!

What song brings back memories of fun for you?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Surprised by Gratitude (While Cleaning)

I am spring cleaning. Yes, I am weeks late. That's just how I roll.

In the process, I became very grateful for the tilt-in windows that make this possible. So much easier than the old style windows.

Then, I became grateful that I have windows at all. Windows that let in light. That allow air to enter when open, that protect from the elements when closed. Millions of people around the world either live in dark, windowless spaces or have uncovered openings in their walls.

I realized how thankful I am that I can spare water to mix with vinegar to wash my windows. In some places, water is too precious for that. Every drop is needed for drinking.

Even the fact that I have lesiure for spring cleaning is cause for gratitude. For many procuring water, and growing, gathering and preparing food are tasks that overwhelm their time. The basic tasks of survival make cleaning house a luxury.

I have so much. And I hardly ever realize it. It is sin to be so profligate and so unmindful of my blessings as I live my daily life.

That has been my reflection as I washed my windows. God grant I do not forget it.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Letting God Work

This story came to mind.

Two alcoholics in Britain attended a revival meeting and committed their lives to Jesus. Years later they met. The first said, "Since that night, praise God, I have never wanted a drink." The other said, "Since that night I have wanted a drink every single day but, praise God, He has given me the strength to resist every time."

This story may be apocryphal, but I do know people have given very similar testimonies. It shows how God works differently with each person.

Then I remembered this old story from the youth conferene I voluneer for (now called CYC.) It shows how God can work through love and acceptance to change a life -- and was just one example of this at the conference. It was described by Rev. John Douhan, quoted in Christian Youth Conference: A History.

Where else does a young man appear on his first day of camp, draped over the fence at the girls' camp, with cigarettes in each hand and puffing so much that he appears to be in a cloud? The staff did not admonish, did not scold, and gave no lectures on the health benefits of quitting. By the third day he was down to one cigarette and by the fourth day there were none! Following his three years at the Conference, he entered the service of his country and served as a Chaplain's assistent. 

Then I started reading the book The Core Realities of Youth Ministry by Mike Yaconelli and came across this quote from youth worker Heather Flies:

    During our end-end-of-junior-high trip, all the students are required to give testimonies of their faith. We encourage them to be authentic and specific. Typically, the testimonies begin, "I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Christ when I was 3 1/2 years old..." One year though, toward the end of the testimonies, Ted stood to give his. In about six minutes he genuinely explained that he had not yet put his faith in Christ and wasn't sure if he would do it. at this points looks of shock and anxiety spread across the faces of my other students. Immediately following our session, many came up to me and said, "We have to do something! Should we all write him notes?" They wanted so much to fix Ted.      Instead of starting a letter-writing campaign, I encouraged them to do what they were already doing --loving and accepting Ted and letting Christ's light shine through them, to be present for him so he could experience God's presence. "That's it?" they asked. "Yep."    God is still working on Ted and my kids are still working to let God work on Ted. 

I sense a theme here.. a message from God to me, perhaps. "Love." "Be present so others can sense my presence." "Let me work." 

Time for some meditaton, some self-evaluation, some prayer.

What messages has God been sending you?

CYC, the Christian Youth Conference at Ocean Park, provides a safe place and loving, accepting community for teens to meet God and experience Christian community. Check it out!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Praying with the Armor

The Armor of God, described in Ephesians 6 is compelling.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

We are commanded to put on the full of armor of God. Of God.

I offer this prayer to help us do it. I offer it knowing that if I trusted my own armor I'd be in trouble. I remember that the standard isn't any other human being, but God himself. I can not compare my righteousness, my truth or anything else of mine to Him or His favorably. I will always fall short. Thank God for His mercy!!

Lord, put upon my head the helmet of your salvation, because I can not save myself, only you can save me.

Lord, put upon my torso the breastplace of your righteousness. It must be yours, because mine is truly like filthy rags, so full of holes the enemy could do me a world of hurt if I rode into battle with it. 

Lord, place around my waist the belt of your truth. Only your truth, and your understanding of truth, is sure. Only yours is the right one.

Lord, place upon my feet the readiness that comes from your good news of peace. Only you give such good news, such peace. I can not find it on my own. I cannot make ready for you or to share your kingdom by myself. 

In the precious name of Jesus I pray. Amen.