December 31

This is a day of hope.  We enter this day letting go of 2015, with the hope that next year will be different- better.  We make promises that we will stop this or do that.  We are told by the experts that making a Resolution with a friend will improve the chance that we may actually stick with it.  How about we make our promises with the Holy Spirit this year?  Let's consult the Spirit to see what God might want us to do or not do, then promise to check in with the Spirit to help us keep our Resolution.  We don't have to wait for a text or meet at a certain time in order to talk with the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is with us all the time, no matter where we are or what we are doing.  And- the Spirit wants us to succeed.  God wants us to become the best us that we can, and will even help us to do it, if we ask.

Gracious Spirit, please show us the person you want us to be and help us to become that person.  Amen.


December 29

This is the season of Christmas!  In the church calendar, Advent is celebrated until Christmas.  Then, we celebrate Christmas until Epiphany on January 6th- the Twelve Days of Christmas.  I get frustrated when the world seems to abandon Christmas on the 26th.  We spend so much time and energy on the month(s) leading up the the holiday, then POOF it's gone in a day.  Let's try to spend some significant time this Christmas season focusing on what it means for us that God loved us enough to be born as a helpless infant and live as a human.

Lord, help us to slow down and remember that Christmas isn't one day.  Help us to live the love and joy and peace of Christmas throughout the year, but especially as we enter the dark days of winter and the promise of a new year. In Jesus' name, Amen.


December 27

Prayer for those who are alone.

Dear Father,
We pray for those who don't have a place to go for the holidays.

Is there someone you know who is spending the holiday alone, or away from home? May we be aware of those we know and take the time to extend an invitation, stop for a visit, send a card, leave a small gift, or make a call. God challenges us to remember those among us who are alone and need the comfort of knowing others care.

Hebrews 3:2

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.


December 25

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!



December 23

Come and Worship!

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the new born King!
(Angels from the Realms of Glory, Lyrics by James Montgomery, 1816. Music by Henry Smart. In the public domain.)

Towson United Methodist Church
Christmas Eve Services at 5 pm, 8 pm and 11 pm.

Come and worship!


December 21

Gracious and holy Lord, there are so many things for which to be grateful, especially at this time of year.  Thank you for the tiny lights that shine in the darkness.  Thank you for the angel at the top on my tree. Thank you for Christmas cookies.  Thank you for the cheerful generosity that so many people show at this season.  Thank you for the ringing of bells.  Thank you for family, even the challenging members.  Thank you for the many people who buy and wrap and deliver gifts to those in need.  Thank you for Christmas carols.  Thank you for the old, old story renewed every year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, in whose name we pray.  Amen.


December 19

                In art and photography, perspective is defined as the ratio between the apparent size of an object and its distance from the observer; the greater the distance, the smaller the object appears. But in more practical terms, perspective also refers to our mental take on certain situations, from the trivial to the titanic. And just as in photography, the closer we are to our problems, the bigger they appear to be.
                Perspective is important in our lives, and to illustrate that, I have a quick exercise for everybody. First, find a copy of either a recent bulletin or the December/January edition of the High Spire. Look for the picture of the front door to the church (front page of the bulletin, back page of the High Spire). It looks like it normally does at this time of the year – two wreaths, one on each door, and the fruit centerpiece thing above it. Just a typical Christmas setup.
                But – as I discovered to my delight not that long ago – if you turn the picture upside-down, you get… Smiley Face! The wreaths become the eyes, and the fruit thing becomes the mouth. Now it turns into a friendly greeting, a warm invitation to come on in. Perspective is important.
                Trying to regain a balanced perspective is much easier said than done, but the Bible is rife with passages about turning our perspective on God. Paul says this best in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. In previous verses, he talks about God being the one who raised Jesus from the dead, and who will also raise us to be with Him. He then says, “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
                I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s tough to tear our eyes away from the mountain of problems facing us and focus them on God, but it is necessary for our well-being that we do so. Because we will come out on the other side eventually and realize God was with us the whole time.

     Lord, we know we can get caught up in our own perspectives on life. Be with us and show us how to see things from Your perspective. In Your Name we pray, AMEN.


December 17

I have been listening to our local radio station that plays Christmas music throughout the season. What a blessing to drive with the joy of Christmas ringing through the car!

Holy Lord, thank you for the joy of  Advent.  Thank you for the bubbles of anticipation we feel as Christmas approaches. Thank you for the radio station that fills my drive times with this joy.  Please bless those who hear the music of that station and grant that they may be able to hear, through all the hype, the source of the joy that comes this time of year.  Amen.


December 15

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of my father's death.  He was killed in an auto accident.  This time of year isn't a merry one for some people; it certainly wasn't for us fifteen years ago.  Yet, the hope that we celebrate at Christmas is a hope for all people in all circumstances.  The birth of our Lord is the hope and life and light for all peoples everywhere, at all times.

Gracious and loving Lord, thank you for being a strong and loving presence in our lives at all times.  Thank you for giving us hope that lasts not only for this day, but for all time, for eternity.  We praise you and lay our lives before you.  Help me to be a beacon of hope and light to those who may be hurting this season.  In Jesus' name. Amen.


December 11

I pad down the hallway in my fuzzy socks.  The dog lifts his sleepy head to see what I'm doing. Usually, I walk through the living room without noticing the living room, intent on my mission to the kitchen.  Tonight, I stop and simply take in the beauty of the Christmas tree lights.  I have always loved Christmas tree lights.  They glow with a kind of magic in the dim room.  A peace and joy settles on me as I drink in the soft colors.  I breathe in the joy of this season.

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty and wonder of the Christmas season.  Thank you for small moments of gentle joy.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


December 9

      Recently a video was posted online that went viral. In the video, an elderly gentleman fakes his own death, so his adult children, who appear to be very busy with their careers and lives, will come home. Distraught, his children arrive at the family home where their father lives, only to find the dining room table set for Christmas dinner, and their elderly father standing in the doorway. It ends with the family sitting at the table, laughing and enjoying their time together. The idea of someone planning such a thing is pretty extreme, but what a powerful message. So many of us are busy to the point of distraction this time of year. Let us not forget to share Jesus' love with family and friends by making time to be with our loved ones. Sometimes we must eliminate a few events or chores on our busy schedule to make time for the important people in our lives. Time spent with loved ones is a precious gift.

Dear Father, I am thankful for the gift of family and friends. Amen


December 7

My grandfather was stationed in Hawaii during World War II, but it was after Pearl Harbor- probably as a result of Pearl Harbor.  He worked deciphering the codes of the Japanese communications, but that is all I know about his military service.  He didn't talk about his time in the Navy.  Certainly, his life changed as a result of Dec. 7th,, as did his wife's and the entire nation.  Life is like that.  We go along in our lives as though it will continue in the same old same old.  Then, something happens, and everything changes.  The change can be amazingly good or amazingly not good, but it is a significant change.

We rely on God , who does not change and who is our constant and firm foundation.  We look to God for direction and wisdom.  We pray that God will show us the way we should go in the midst of all the uncertainty of change.

O holy and mighty God, in the midst of violence and the threat of violence, in the frightening uncertainty of our world, help us to stay close to you.  There has always been reason to fear; help us to trust in you for our reason to be brave.  Help us to find peace in the presence of your Spirit.  Amen.


December 5

The Power of Prayer?

I was listening to my local National Public Radio station this morning.  They had a segment on "The Power of Prayer" - wondering if there really is any power to prayer.  The commentator brought up the alarmingly lengthy list of the latest massacres - those that have been identified as terrorist attacks and those of individuals who have purchased guns and ammunition and decided to murder innocent people.  He commented on the fact that after each event, someone is quoted to say: Our/My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.

Anyone reading this post has stopped whatever you were doing the first time you heard of another shooting - you've stopped, bowed your head, closed your eyes tightly, and reached out to God.  There is a myriad of requests you could have had running through your thoughts as you reached out to God.

The NPR commentator closed his segment by saying: the merit of your thoughts and prayers is based on what you DO after you say amen.  

Hmmmm.  Interesting comment to me.  Do we just go on with our life and forget about the madness for which we just prayed?  We tossed this horrible problem to God, but what do we expect God to do?  If we are God's hands, feet, and mouth, God will give strength and guidance - trust in God.  

So what can we do?  Begin by contacting your government representatives.  Let them know your feelings and opinions.

Can the Power of Prayer lead to PEACE ON EARTH?  I pray it does!


December 3

It was only about the third year in our marriage when my wife came home with a last minute toy she’d purchased for our son for Christmas.  It was a plastic jeep he could sit on and ride.  He was at that point too small to ride it, but she said he’d grow into it.  I thought her purchase a bit premature and foolish.  But it turned out to be one of the best gifts she ever bought him. Our son began riding it all the time.  It was his favorite toy.  There were some hills around the house, and he’d ride it down those hills as fast as he could.

            At last, the wheels and the rudimentary steering system wore out.  But my father was handy with a metal lathe and a welding machine, and he crafted from some metal a steering system and wheel supports that would outlast our son’s youth and the toy’s plastic body.  When I stop and think on that Christmas gift so early in our life as a family, I’m amazed at what a life it took on.  It gave our son endless hours of pleasure.  It was acquired in love; it was repaired with love; it was a symbol of our family circle.

            God at Christmas took a manger—a dirty, scruffy manger, and made it the symbol of a royal bed for God’s beloved Son. Back of that symbol stands the affirmation of the Gospel according to John: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Thank you God for your love—a love that transforms our things such as mangers and our ordinary human lives so that your love shines through. Amen.


November 29

Today is the fist Sunday of Advent.  This is the season of anticipation and promise.  We remind ourselves of God's promise to come again and the promise of eternal life.  This is the season of anticipating our annual celebration of God becoming a human, of Jesus being born.  This is the time when we break open the awe and child-like wonder we feel because God loves us THAT much.

Thank you, Lord, for your great love, so great that you chose to be born as a helpless baby in a manger.  Help us to love with that depth and commitment.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


November 27

Emmanuel….God is With Us

As we enter the season of Advent, the recent events in Paris and other countries cause us to find a balance between fear and joy. In the book of Matthew we are told the story of Joseph and witness firsthand his fear when he hears Mary is pregnant with a child that is not his. Of course Joseph was afraid. A woman pregnant with a child out of wedlock was the target for severe punishment, but Joseph believed in the presence of God. He took Mary for his wife and welcomed the Christ child.

While Joseph thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, Joseph, descendent of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him, Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
(Matthew 1: 20-21) New Century Version

As we make sense of the fear in our world, remember Joseph's reaction to the angel's message.  He shows us we can trust God in the midst of great sorrow, fear, hardship, or challenge. God provides reassurance to know no matter the issue, he is with us. Do not be afraid; Emmanuel, God is with us.


November 23

Dear Father,
In this season of Thanksgiving, help me to have a grateful heart and a willing spirit to be your hands and feet to others.
Change me, Lord. I get so focused on my wants, fears, and disappointments. Help me to see the wonderful things you have done for me.  Open my eyes to see the blessings in each moment.
Challenge, me, Lord. Help me to let go of the things that keep me from you such as anger toward others, impatience, and self-involved busyness.
Comfort me, Lord. Settle my mind and fill my heart with your love.
Chose me, Lord. Help me to use the gifts you have given me to minister to others. Teach me how to reach out and thank others for what they mean to me.

This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:23


November 21

"Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary!
Praise God in his fortress, the sky!
Praise God in his mighty acts!
Praise God as suits his incredible greatness!
Praise God with the blast of the ram's horn!
Praise God with lute and lyre!
Praise God with drum and dance!
Praise God with strings and pipe!
Praise God with loud cymbals!
Let every living thing praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!"

-Psalm 150


November 19

            In writing, particularly in journalism, one of the first things people learn is how to answer the six basic questions for a good story: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? If you can answer these six questions, you’ll have a decent story.
            We apply these questions to our lives all the time, because they’re useful questions to ask when we need information, from simple things like, “What time is it?” to the really hard questions like, “Why does air exist?”
            These questions can also be important for us to ask ourselves when and if we consider our gifts and how we can use them to bless others. The questions can be boiled down to these six (you may have variants of them, and that’s perfectly okay):
1.      WHO would be blessed by my gifts?
2.      WHAT are my gifts?
3.      WHERE will I be called upon to use my gifts?
4.      WHEN will I be called upon to use my gifts?
5.      WHY would a particular person need to be blessed?
6.      HOW can I use my gifts to be a blessing to someone?
The easiest question to answer here is probably Number 2, the “What” question. From there, the answers to “Who” and “How” may follow. Most times, though, these are not easy questions to answer, because unless we receive a direct tip from God – which can happen – we cannot know beforehand who needs to be blessed, when or where we will be called upon to put our gifts to use, why a particular person needs to be blessed, or how to go about doing all of this. These questions are usually answered only after the event has happened, and it all comes together in that light bulb inspiration moment.
While it’s comforting to know that God doesn’t require us to have every gift, the knowledge that we have these gifts carries with it a great responsibility – a responsibility to be at the ready to use our gifts to bless others. And in so doing, we ourselves will be blessed.

 Lord, we have questions. You have the answers. Help us to discern the answers to these questions and use this knowledge to be a blessing to others. Amen.


November 17

I am feeling a bit blue today.  I feel as though with all the planing I am doing for the upcoming holidays, I am missing the joys of today.  I do need to finish plans for Thanksgiving and start nailing down plans for Christmas,but I also need to enjoy the last of the Fall leaves and the people and events that are happening right now.

Most Holy and Awesome God, please help me to remember that I have only the time before me now.  You have things for me to do this day.  You have placed people into my life today who need my attention and care.  Help me to hear your voice in the midst of my days.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


November 15

One of the reasons that I enjoy Thanksgiving so much is the lack of gift giving.  Don't get me wrong, I love giving and receiving gifts.  It just is so peaceful not to worry about what to give someone: no stress to find the perfect gift.  We gather to eat a delicious meal and spend time enjoying one another's company.

Gracious Lord, thank you for family and friends.  Thank you that we can be together and celebrate our many blessings.  Amen.


November 11

My grandmother's grandfather fought in the Civil War and came home a changed man.  He was actually a young man when he fell victim to heatstroke in the war.  He suffered all his life from the effects of that.  As she told me the story, he couldn't bear to be in the sun for very long and needed to stay as cool as was possible in those days in the summer; before AC, of course.

Those of us who have never been in war don't know the many, many hardships.  We think of bombs, and guns, and lack of home comforts. We may think of the loneliness and fear.  But, there are other hardships such as climate and food and many more that I can't even imagine.

Almighty God, please be near our men and women in the military and those who serve the military.  Grant them strength, wisdom, and courage.  Help them to feel that you are near and to know that they are loved.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


November 9

Walking in the mornings this week with my neighbor was wonderful. We were surrounded by the beauty of this autumn season, and we both agreed that it looked like God had dabbed the trees with a paintbrush to produce such magnificent fall colors. I am not only thankful for the beauty of these fall mornings, but also for our friendship. My neighbor and I have been walking in the morning for almost thirty years, and during this time we have developed a special friendship. Over the years, we have shared our joyful times and our difficult times. My friend is very special because not only does she listen, but she gives encouragement when needed. More importantly we pray for each other; whether they are prayers of thanks, comfort, strength, or guidance. I realize what a blessing it is to have had the opportunity to walk with such a special friend all these years.

Father, I thank you for the gift of friendship. Amen


November 7

What a gift God has given to us in the diversity of food we can eat!  Peanut butter is very different from a cut of beef or a slice of melon.  The taste of a mushroom is so different from the taste of an apple.  The consistency of pumpkin is so different from the texture of an almond.  We need to eat to survive, but God could have made our food boring - all the same color and texture and taste.

"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it.  Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.' Then God said, 'I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces seeds within it.  These will be your food.'"  -Genesis 1: 28-29

Gracious and generous Lord, thank you for all the wonders with which you fill the earth.  Thank you for all the food you give us to eat.  Thank you for all your love.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


November 5

When was the last time you sat with a friend 
and listened?

Years ago I went to an informal seminar.  One of the speakers was a Rabbi.  She emphasized the necessity of a sabbath.  She said a sabbath does not have to be the day that was assigned by humans - Saturday or Sunday, whichever your faith deems as the Sabbath Day.  She said it is the 7th day.  She said, "Pick a day and make it your Sabbath."

Okay, so I pick a day.  The Rabbi went on, "Now, turn off your electronics.  Look around.  Sit down with a friend or your family.  Listen.  And acknowledge you are listening.  Take a look at and care for the world God has created for you."

I see parents walking with the children, looking at their phones.  Rush, rush, rush.  Facebook, Twitter, internet, email, text messages - well, we are reading - but are we listening?

Lord, help me slow down once a week and pay attention to You and the friends, family, and nature you have created for me.  Because when I appreciate them, I am appreciating You.


November 3

When one thinks or speaks of November, no word comes more powerfully to mind than the word “thanks”---it is the month of Thanksgiving.  Other words follow closely---“leaves” (for it is a month of much color), “veterans” (for it is the month we honor them on Veterans Day), “chill” (for it is the month of our first consistently chilly consecutive days), “time change” (for we fall back to standard time in November). But those all take second place. Thanksgiving is November’s big holiday, and to be thankful is November’s number one mandate to us.

            And while the day originated as and still is a national holiday, being thankful is not just an appropriate personal stance for an American; being thankful is a most appropriate stance for any human being. We need to be  thankful for many things:  others who, living or dead, have influenced our lives in significant ways.  Others, family or not, who have had much to do with who we are.  Others, whose names we know or may not know, have touched our lives by the quality of their lives and their living.

            And basic to all of this stands the ultimate word of wisdom given expression in the first verse of Psalm 107: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever.”  Our lives are set in a worthy direction when we recognize that we are creatures together of a God whose goodness is lasting, unfailing, and eternal.

            The word for every day in November is “thankfulness”!

            Oh God, thank you that you are always good, and from that goodness comes our forgiveness, our calling, our journeys in life. Blessed is your name.  Amen.


October 29

Autumn is a time of brilliant color.  The reds and golds make me think of fire and warmth, but Autumn is a time of chilly weather.  It is the chill that causes the fiery colors!  Sometimes, it is the opposite of what we expect or plan that gives us the best and most life giving result.

Thank you, God, for surprises.  Thank you for turning the "chill" into awe inspiring beauty in our lives.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


October 27

As I took a walk the other day, signs of fall were apparent. As the first cool breeze arrived, leaves floated softly from trees. The falling leaves reminded me of the blessings we receive from God.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for all the blessings you provide. Like the floating leaves, may our blessings be bountiful and noticed. Help us see blessings in the people we meet each day and the situations we encounter. Provide the wisdom to recognize each blessing, both the obvious, and not so obvious. Encourage us to share with others how we, as well as they, have been blessed. May we discern the blessings in our lives are the result of your hand.
There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.
Deuteronomy 12:7 New International Version (NIV)


October 25

Matthew 25:14-30English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

In this parable Jesus emphasizes the importance of using your God- given gifts to the best of your ability. If you are a natural athlete, a math genius, a great writer, or a public speaker, God has given you those gifts. To not use them to achieve your best is to sacrifice those gifts. Jesus tells us to take risks and overcome our obstacles in order to achieve that ultimate goal. Use your strengths to serve God, and he will be pleased. To accept "normal" will result in harsh judgment.


October 23

You’re Invited

            You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you. Fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.  We see it taking shape day after day – a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.  Ephesians 2:19 -22. The Message.


October 21

I was recently with a group of young children who were talking about what they wanted to be for Halloween.  It struck me that we say, "what I want to be" rather than, "what costume I will wear".  When I was young I didn't literally mean that I wanted to BE someone or something else for Halloween.  But, I also didn't just mean that I had a good costume to wear.  In some sort of, partly, kind of way, I did want to step out of myself to become what I was wearing.  At least, I was not completely who I normally was; I was perceived differently and treated differently.

Young children do take on what they perceive to be behaviors of the characters they "become" for Halloween.  They growl like monsters or step royally like a princess or cackle-laugh like a witch.

God has created us to be who we are, but also to be the person God created us to become.  God loves us completely as the person we are now, but has plans for us to become an amazing person, if we work with the Spirit to become that person.

Let's follow the example of the children and take on the characteristics of the persons God wants us to be!


October 19

Words, to me, are a source of delight. We can do so many things with them. We can notice quirky facts about them, such as, “There are no words in the English language that rhyme with the word ‘angel.’” Or we can make up jokes about them, such as, “Did you know that in the dictionary, under ‘redundant,’ it says, ‘See redundant’?”
            Or we can be totally confused by some of the things we say. For example, ‘alter’ and ‘change’ are synonyms, but ‘altering your trousers’ and ‘changing your trousers’ are two totally different things. Or, why do wear a pair of pants but just one shirt?
            Words are one of the best tools we have for communication. As with any tool, however, there’s a correct way to use it, and there’s also an incorrect way to use it. With the Internet running rampant now, our world has become a place in which anything we say can be seen, heard, and read by people who know what we mean, and by people whose thoughts take them to a totally different universe.
            Words have enormous power. They have the power to raise someone up, and they also have the power to tear people down. So how do we tame them and use them in the best possible way? We have to learn how to tame our tongues. And that is by no means easy.
            James is very clear on this. In James 3:7-9, 10b, he says, “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God… Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (NLT)
            So if we can’t tame the tongue, why should we try? The simple answer is we can’t do this by ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit to help us learn self-control. It will take time to learn, but if we apply ourselves to learning the art of self-control, then the blind rage that seems to be overtaking our public discourse might just lessen. Gradually, almost imperceptibly at first, and then, with ever-increasing vigor, love will win the day, and the words we speak will not be double-edged swords.
            It won’t be easy, but in the end, it will be well worth the effort.

Lord, we have used and misused the words You have given us. Through the Holy Spirit, help us to learn how to use words to nurture the best of us, rather than bring out the worst. Amen.


October 17

Have you ever been somewhere you did not expect to be, doing something you did not expect to be doing?  But- you know it is the right thing to do?

Thank you, almighty God, for being in charge.  Thank you for taking care of me and using me to take care of others.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


October 15

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

 Everything on earth has its own time and its own season.
  There is a time for birth and death, planting and reaping,
  for killing and healing, destroying and building,
  for crying and laughing, weeping and dancing,
  for throwing stones and gathering stones, embracing and parting.
  There is a time for finding and losing, keeping and giving, for tearing and sewing, listening and speaking.
  There is also a time for love and hate, for war and peace.

Let us embrace the season of Fall with it's many visual changes from the luscious color of the changing leaves on the trees, the harvest of those final crops in the fields, and the acorns falling from the trees. These are all reminders of God's provisions for the seasons ahead. May we prepare ourselves for this and each season knowing that God is in charge of our lives and provides for us.

Dear God,
We thank you for the seasons knowing you provide for us, and that there is a time for everything.  We know you are part of this change and transformation. God of life, help us to believe and trust in you as you guide our daily lives.


October 13

I'm not sure if it is anecdotal or if there are real scientific studies, but some parts of nature are calming for us humans.  Watching fish swim is calming.  Petting furry creatures is calming.  A purring cat is calming.  Is it the slower pace or the connection with living beings who are not us or that those living beings are accepting of us?  Regardless of the reason, those calming parts of nature are gifts for us. God knows how we are wired and created parts of the world with which we can connect.

Creator and Sustainer, thank you for the gifts of the rest of the world.  Thank you for filling the world with animals and allowing us the privilege of relationships with them.  Help us to be blessings for them as they are blessings for us.  In Jesus' name. Amen. 


October 11

There are some things that are good for me but I really hate them, kale, for example.  I dislike the taste of kale and the taste of okra.  I know that there are foods that are good for me and which I also enjoy.  But, eating them isn't as wonderful as eating ice cream.  Discipline is difficult!  The spiritual disciplines can be difficult, too.  Fortunately, there are a lot of spiritual disciplines.  Prayer is often considered a spiritual discipline and I suppose there are ways to pray that are very disciplined.  But, I have always considered prayer an ongoing conversation with God.  At certain times, I try to listen more than talk, but I more or less talk with God all day.  Fasting is a spiritual discipline which I find very difficult.   I guess fasting is like kale for me, while prayer is like ice cream.

Gracious Lord, I thank you for creating a variety of people and preferences.  Thank you for ice cream!  Please be with me to help me become molded more fully into the person you created me to be, even if it is difficult.  In Jesus' name. Amen.


October 9

Lately I have been thinking about how important the time is that I spend in fellowship with my Christian friends. As Christians, we have in common the belief in Jesus Christ, as our Savior. We experience a very special bond because of this common belief. The time spent with other Christians in fellowship helps us to grow our faith. Fellowship involves sharing our joys and pain. Other Christians usually are very thankful when I tell them I will pray for them. There is a special connection between those who pray for someone and those persons we lift up in prayer. Being in fellowship with other Christians encourages a deeper relationship with Christ.

Dear Lord,

I am thankful for the times of fellowship with my Christian friends. Amen


October 7

Thank you, Lord God, for our youngest children.  Thank you for their curiosity.  Thank you for their questions and honesty.  Thank you for the joy with which they learn.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


October 5

Consider the kitten and puppy...

If you have ever had a cat or dog from weeks old, you know this is soooo cute.  Probably because you feel peace when you see this.  There is lots of action and curiosity while they are awake ... and as I say to my puppy, "If you keep looking for trouble, trouble will find you."

There is so much for us to learn from kittens and puppies.  They trust us totally.  They depend on us for every need.  They need love and attention.  And they look to us for discipline and to set boundaries.

It seems we are are like puppies and kittens when it comes to God.  We are needy and we are constantly searching.

Put your trust in God and maybe you'll be able to sleep like these two!


October 3

Every now and then I overbook myself.  I did that a few weeks ago.  I said “yes” to too many requests, and then that got complicated by two sets of people—one family and another friends—who called to see about stopping by for a few hours, one set on Saturday and the other on Sunday. The requests I had said “yes” to were ones I could have turned down when asked, but not now.  The one for visitors to stop by were requests to which I could not say no for very personal reasons; they lived out of town and it meant an awful lot to see them just now.  I fretted privately about how all of this would work out only to discover when the weekend was over, it all worked out fine.  It was a big boost to see family and friends; the other plans worked out fine timewise.  In addition, in the doing of the latter plans, I unexpectedly had an opportunity to be helpful to someone who was facing a very upsetting and traumatizing situation and needed an ear to talk even  more than she needed me to cover a task she’d asked me to do.

                It was busy, but in the course of two days, God touched needs in my life and the lives of others—family  and friends and the person facing a trauma. All of us were uplifted and blest. 

                It’s good to be reminded that God can override our over-planning or lack of it and make moments special with God’s abundant grace.

                “O God, thank you for moments when your words to Paul the Apostle become words to us: ‘…my grace is sufficient for you,”.   Amen 


October 1

"Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee."  St. Augustine

     Much is said in the church about knowing God. Yet Christians throughout the ages have agreed that there cannot be deep knowledge of God without deep knowledge of the self. Just like you cannot truly love God without truly coming to love yourself and others, knowing yourself is inextricably linked to knowing God.  Paradoxically,  the more you become like Christ and the more you become authentically yourself.

   Pope Francis mentioned Thomas Merton last week in his address to Congress.  One of the topics Merton is best known for is the way he makes clear the difference between the false self and the true self. He exposes the false selves that we may hide behind and calls us to discover the true self that emerges from our uniqueness in Christ. When we are free from illusions about ourselves, our emerging self-understanding leads to the fulfillment of our God-given purpose in life.

     Christian spirituality involves a transformation of the self that occurs only when God and self are both deeply known.  The self is not God, but it is the place where we meet God. Genuine self-knowledge revitalizes our spiritual life and opens the door to becoming who God has created us to be. Rest assured, no one needs to keep trying to be someone they are not. But we will all deepen our experience of God through discovering the gift of being ourselves.


September 29

That first cup of coffee can be vital to the start of the day, not only for me, but also for many people.  What would the world be like if a time of prayer and a passage of scripture were just as vital to the start of the day for just as many people as that cup of coffee?

Holy Lord, thank you for coffee and the wonderful drink that starts so many days.  Thank you for giving us those days.  Help us to find you and time spent with you even more essential than that cup of coffee.  Amen.


September 27

It has been 10 years since my father passed away. It is reasonable to think over time, the loss would be easier to handle, but there are many days I miss his presence and wish he was on the other end of the phone. Dealing with the loss of someone dear to us is a difficult experience.

The first year my father died, I discussed with my brothers we consider doing something our father would enjoy. It did not take long for us to agree attending a Red Sox baseball game would definitely be Dad's idea of a good time. Dad followed the Boston Red Sox all his life and was a diehard fan. As children, my two brothers and I grew up loving the game of baseball.

The first summer after my Dad passed the three of us, and our spouses selected an Oriole vs. Red Sox game to attend.  This year we celebrated our tenth annual baseball game and the group has grown to 22. Extended family, friends, and grandchildren all enjoy our tradition. The annual game is about baseball and our Dad. My brother gets to the game early to watch batting practice; my other brother gets a hotdog at my Dad's favorite place.  I smile at how my father would have enjoyed the event and been proud of the way we chose to honor his memory. Over time the tears have been replaced by smiles and laughter.

If you have lost a loved one, or know of someone who is grieving a loss, select something to do they loved. Enjoying their favorite activity will hold your loved ones close.

Weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

                                          Psalm 30:5b (NIV)


September 25

One of the hardest things I am doing right now is not nagging.  The person whose responsibility it is to complete a goal knows that it needs to be done.  I can't help them do it.  I almost wish that I could take over and do it myself, but that would not be the most helpful way to handle the situation for the other person- even though it would get the job done.  I wonder if God feels that way about me, maybe a lot!

Gracious God, thank you for helping me to grow.  Thank you for granting me wisdom and strength so that I may do what you ask me to do.  Thank you for granting me grace when I fail to do that which you ask me to do.  Thank you for loving me.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


September 23

Dear Father,
I come to you today overwhelmed by the responsibilities and stresses of life. I want so badly to ask you to remove them so that I may find comfort and peace.
Scripture says you love me. So, why do you let me hurt like this?
As I read more of your word, I realize there is another prayer I might offer instead.  It would go something like this:

Dear Father,
I come to you overwhelmed by the responsibilities and stresses of life. Please strengthen me and teach me so that I may, in turn, strengthen others who are struggling with similar issues. By seeking strength in you and reaching out to help others, may I find the comfort and peace only you can provide.

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4. CEB


September 21

I used to fight sleep.  Even as an infant, I preferred to see what was happening around me and I fought going to sleep.  When I had my own children, I discovered the benefits of napping!  I used to wonder why God created us with a need for sleep. What a waste of time, I would think.  Surely, God could have created another way for us to get the same benefits we get from sleep.  Well, I'm sure that God could have created an alternative to sleep, but now I appreciate those hours away- completely away from all the world presses upon me.  Yet another lesson which God has chosen to teach me through children!

Precious Lord, you are so wise and so loving.  Thank you for creating us with the need for sleep.  Thank you for the joy of holding a sleeping baby and watching a child sleep.  Thank you for the dark and quiet hours of renewal.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


September 19

            When you were in school, did you ever notice that simply because you weren’t allowed to laugh, it made the laughing that much better? That there was something about trying to hold it in that made you laugh even harder? And it wasn’t just in school; church was the same way. In fact, any social situation that required total seriousness often became the theatre of suppressed laughter.
            Laughter is a great release. I mean, we’ve all heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but how often do we hear of laughter in relation to God? In the Old Testament, a good bit of what we read about God boils down to wrath, vengeance, and judgment – not exactly “ha-ha” topics. Yet we also read of laughter in the Old Testament. Sarah laughs at the absurd notion that she will give birth at an age that everybody would consider physically impossible at which to give birth.
            I also imagine King David laughing merrily while he is dancing in his underclothes, and in the very beginning, I can also imagine God laughing with delight as He basked in the glow of creation and saw that it was very good, indeed.
            The Bible also tells us – in one of the most famous passages in probably one of the least-read books of the Bible, Ecclesiastes – that among the many things that there is a time for, there is a time to laugh. The trick is knowing when.
            I actually am thankful that God has a sense of humor, although I must confess that I think that sense of humor is sometimes a little on the weird side. Personally, I cannot fathom why we would want to make God a cold, emotionless, uncaring deity. I would far rather serve a God who laughs when we laugh and weeps when we weep than a God who sits back and does nothing, whether we laugh or cry.
            In other words, I would want to serve a God who cares deeply for us.

Lord, you have given us this wonderful gift of laughter. Grant us the wisdom to use it when we can use it to enrich lives and not tear them down. Amen.


September 17

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your heart quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."
(Phil. 4:6-7)

What a powerful thing PRAYER can be. We should not take for granted that amazing one on one conversation with God. How often do we try to balance our lives ourselves?

Instead of saying, I can't, ask for God's help. The love of God is only a prayer away. How are you engaging in a personal prayer life with God ? Are you able to find a time to sit in silence and listen to the Lord's voice? Begin today and have PRAYER be a part of your life.


September 15

The weather has been cooler and so it feels more like Fall.  I usually adore Fall, the crisper weather, and the geared up activities.  This year, somehow, I don't want to let go of summer.  Maybe it is because I have a senior and this will be the last year of high school.  Letting go can be hard: letting go of the way things used to be, letting go of expectations, letting go of stuff we could do but no longer can do, letting go of plans that aren't working out, letting go of ... .

Merciful Lord, help me to let go of those things which I need to let go.  Help me to grieve those losses and accept those changes.  Help me to remember that you do not change and you are my solid rock.  Thank you for being the foundation of my life.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


September 11

I confess that I forget sometimes, in the midst of life's busy-ness, that today is 9-11 with a history of violence and death and heroism. My grandmother never forgot "holidays" that I forgot, like flag day, the actual days of presidents' birthdays and the "real" Memorial Day, and D-Day.  When I was a teen, I even thought she was being a bit silly to care.  I feel bad that I can get so caught up in the little stuff of life that I can lose sight of events that are significantly meaningful for so many.

Merciful Lord, you are wise and good.  Please help me to remember that people are more important than stuff and my agenda.  Help me to be open to what is important to the people around me, even if what is important to them is not important to me.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


September 9

Are you a person who constantly worries about what is going on in your
life or what may happen? You may be feeling overwhelmed about problems
concerning your health, finances, or a difficult relationship or situation.
Do these worries keep you awake at night? God doesn't want us to worry.
God wants us to pray about all things and hand over these worries to him.
I have found when I do so, I am more likely find answers or gain a different
perspective. Also I do experience a sense of peace that I know only God can
give me in dealing with these problems.

Father, help me to bring all things to you in prayer. Amen

Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need,
and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace,
which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will
guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7