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.