I heard something yesterday which cited Jeremiah 29- prayers for the city. In that passage, the prayers were for Babylon in which the people dwelt in exile. I suspect that many of the young people who are so angry might feel like they are in exile- separated from access to the life they would like. That life is one we all would like: safety, the ability to support oneself and one's family, the chance to be a respected and productive member of the community. We should indeed pray for our city and pray for those who feel that they are living in exile- living in Babylon and not in Jerusalem.
Loving Lord, you are a God of peace and of justice. Please grant peace and justice now and in this place. Amen.
Posted by Towson United Methodist Church at 12:07 PM
To people of the world word 'shalom' means peace. The significance of shalom is more than simply peace but is 'complete peace' which brings contentment, wholeness and harmony. As we experience the violence and unrest in Baltimore, we pray for God's presence in the city. The challenge of real peace seems daunting for the leaders and citizens of this beloved city. We pray for a real understanding of shalom. Only with the presence of God can we achieve the reality of peace.
Our simple prayer is for shalom....
Posted by Towson United Methodist Church at 2:32 PM
There are people in our lives who are shining examples of their faith, who are awe-inspiring in the integrity of living how they say they believe. I thank God for the gift of those people in our lives- in my life.
Almighty and gracious God, thank you for allowing me to know people who love you so well. Thank you for the strength of their faith, for the joy of their friendship, for the lessons they teach simply by being themselves. Amen.
Do You Have Room for Jesus?
As I hurriedly drove around town yesterday, I was not exactly my best self. In the midst of being impatient with drivers daring to go the speed limit, honking my car horn at those who offended my sensibilities, and saying words that I would never want anyone hear me say, it occurred to me.
What if Jesus were sitting in the car with me?
I may not be certain of much in this life. But one thing I know for sure is that I would be more patient and less reactive, and have a much better vocabulary if Jesus were in my car. Surely my heart would be so filled with His presence that there would be no room for daily annoyances.
I wondered. What do I need to clear out of my life's car so there is room for Jesus to sit beside me and navigate me through each day?
What must I let go so there is room to be filled with Him?
Because as high as heaven is above the earth, that's how large God's faithful love is for those who honor Him. Psalm 103:11 (The Common English Bible).
My children are so different from one another. Sometimes, that makes life challenging, but most of the time, it makes life joyful. We talk about different topics, or if we are talking about the same subject, we do it with different emphases. We attend different types of events, because they are in different activities. Life is fuller and more interesting because of their differences. Isn't that true of all of us? Life is more joyful, richer, and more interesting because we are different!
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of differences. Thank you for creating us as unique individuals who enrich one another's lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Posted by Towson United Methodist Church at 10:26 AM
There are two experiences that every human, of every language and culture, will share: the experiences of birth and death. We don’t remember much about our births, and most of us dread looking forward to our deaths. I’ve thought about all the people who have passed on recently, and I wonder what was going on with them at the moment they left.
But I also think about the survivors, the people who are left to pick up the pieces. How intense is their grief? Do they think, “Well, this is it. I’ll never see So-and-So again,” or do they take comfort in knowing that someday they’ll all be reunited?
David Crosby wrote about this in a 1998 song called, “Time Is the Final Currency.” The first verse describes how, at some point in our lives, we would willingly surrender all the fame, power, and money we have just for one more hour of time to finish out our lives.
Giving anything to prolong our existence – or a loved one’s continued existence – because we’re not sure what lies beyond death. Let’s face it, no one wants to die, and no one wants to see a loved one die – but we all want to go to a better place. This, some say, has God scratching his head: “What shall I do? Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
But the good news is that there have been many births around here, too. And this brings us to the third verse of David Crosby’s song, in which he describes the nine-month miracle that was the birth of his son.
Children, it has been said, are proof that God isn’t fed up with humans yet. And the birth of a child evokes a sense of wonder. What will this child grow up to be? What are that child’s gifts and graces? How will this child react to the world in which it was born? The possibilities are seemingly endless.
And there’s even better news: Death is not the end. We may leave this body and this world behind, but thanks to Jesus and the Resurrection, there’s something far better awaiting us if we but look to Him and accept Him into our hearts. We get to trade in the run-down earthly model for the superb heavenly model.
How cool is that?
PRAYER: Lord, help us always to remember that we are an Easter people, not just for a day, but for all time. You’ve brought us in, and You will take us home to be with you someday. Help us to live our lives in anticipation of a joyful reunion with You and our loved ones. Amen.
Posted by Towson United Methodist Church at 1:30 PM
I was sitting in my car and reading over some material as I waited. It was pretty warm and I lowered my window to feel the sun and the breeze; amazing weather. The gentleman in the vehicle next to me was obviously also getting some work done and had also lowered his window. He was on speaker with his phone so that I could hear both sides of his conversation. That conversation was both loud and "colorful". They were upset with someone with whom they worked and were expressing themselves with the sort of language that one finds in some R rated movies. I was vastly relieved when he pulled out of the parking lot and I could once again lower my window to feel the sun and the breeze.
How often do we do something similar? I wouldn't use that language, but I might do or say something in the grocery store or the bank that doesn't reflect my place as a child of God. How often do I model the love, joy, peace, and self-control which would tell others that I am a follower of Christ?
Gracious Savior, please save me from myself- from my impatience and temper and judgmentalism. Please help me to forget myself and the sense I can have that what I want is most important. Please help me to be a model of your love. Amen.
Posted by Towson United Methodist Church at 10:29 AM
"This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Begin today with new hope that the one who made you is with you every step of the way. We are surrounded this time of the year with the promise of new life. Open your eyes to the beauty of nature that surrounds you. Let God lead you today and help you experience the miracles of creation.
Posted by Towson United Methodist Church at 6:11 PM
I have a little heart paperweight that sits on my desk. It is simple and small, but it makes me smile. I'm not sure why, but I think of God creating the universe and calling it good when I glance at the little paperweight. Maybe I think of Genesis 1 because I sometimes feel simple and small, yet God loves me.
Almighty God, who created all things and who created me. Thank you for your love. Please help me to be a person who causes you to smile. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Celebrate! That is what we did last Sunday. We celebrated Easter, the mystery of Jesus coming alive. It is the most joyous day of the year for Christians. Our sanctuary is filled with beautiful spring flowers, we dress in our best clothes, and we sing our "hallelujahs" with great joy. What a wonderful day! How can we carry this joy with us throughout the following days? On Sunday morning in Children & Worship, we were talking about Jesus being alive with our four- and five-year-olds. We talked about Jesus living in our hearts. When Jesus lives in our hearts, he changes our heart. We experience our every day life differently. Jesus helps us to view our joys and challenges in a new light. He helps us learn to learn to trust God in all situations. You can invite Jesus in to your heart and continue to experience that joy.
My birthday is coming up and I want to say thank you. Thank you to my mother for the many hours of labor. Thank you for the many hours of teaching me. Thank you for the many hours of listening to me ramble about anything that came in to my head. Thank you for disciplining me. Thank you for reading to me. Thank you for answering my questions calmly and matter of fact-ly, even when you were uncomfortable. Thank you, Mom.
Gracious Lord, who is both mother and father to us all, thank you for giving me my mother. Thank you for your nurturing care of me for all the years of my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Oh my goodness, it's really here! I know I should be focusing on Jesus this Holy Week and on His pressures, tortures, death, burial, and now resurrection. But it seems that what is most consuming me - well, is my lists - my grocery list, my gift list, my cleaning list, my daily list of what to get done. I ran out Holy Thursday afternoon to the grocery store, hoping to get my food for this weekend ahead of the crowds. I mumbled to myself that this was a check-mark and the woman behind me in the check-out line said she was working from her lists and this was also a check-mark for her. I finished just in time to get to church for the evening communion service. I worried on Good Friday if UPS was going to get my delivery from Amazon to me before the end of the day, I had to have it for the weekend. What is happening? How did I, and the woman behind me in the grocery store check-out line, and maybe you, get so caught up in our LISTS!
Jesus, forgive me. Help me get my head out of my lists, for longer than a moment, so that I can recognize you, celebrate you, thank you, accept your forgiveness and your gifts, and rejoice on this amazing day for Christians - EASTER!
“Christ the Lord is risen today”. Charles Wesley’s great Easter hymn of affirmation and joy sets the tone for April. But it is a glad affirmation with which we could start any day of the year—spring, summer, autumn or winter. For on any morning, the truth is that Jesus Christ is risen. His resurrection is not a happy end to his story or life; it is a truth about his story or life, and about our lives as we love, trust, and serve him. He is risen in undying life. And his promise is just that to all of us as we trust in him: “Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26} In our worst times, our best times, and our times in between, we can always sing: Christ the Lord is risen today!
O living Christ, fill my life with the peace and calm and assurance I find in your unfailing living presence. Amen
On my recent trip to Turkey, I had the wonderful opportunity to experience a ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes. Dating from the 12th century, they value an inner experience of God and turn in circles while concentrating on God within them. While turning, they have one arm up – with the palm open – to receive from God, and the other arm down, with palm down – giving to the earth and to people.
St. Francis of Assisi, in his famous prayer, said “make me a channel of your peace”. Martin Luther also understood that God’s Spirit flows through us to others. All of these traditions understand there to be a spiritual realm and a material realm, and that people can be the conduits of God to the world.
In contrast, John Wesley, founder of Methodism, understood that God is with us in relationships. He didn’t separate the spiritual and the physical in quite the same way. In fact, he said that serving one’s neighbor was the best way of serving God. We could say that John Wesley espoused more of an incarnational understanding, in which God is experienced by relating to one another in community.
Holy Week is traditionally a time to draw close to Jesus and his journey to the cross for our redemption and freedom. No matter how you understand the meeting of God and humanity, God’s purpose in Jesus is to bring about a change in life which is enhanced by God with us. May God find a home in you this week in a way that touches you and then spills over to influence the way you choose to live in gratitude for God’s great love in Jesus Christ.