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.