Finding good in ALL things – An offering from Verlene Springer

Isaiah 49:8-9

“Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”

We live in a mixed reality.  Perfect people or perfect institutions don’t exist. Expecting perfectionism, in ourselves or others, may leave us resentful, judgmental, or dissatisfied. Jesus’ life was an example of non-judgmental inclusion. Paradoxically, the only people He seemed to exclude were those who judged and excluded others.  Our task may include a patient attempt to find the true, the good, and the beautiful part that exists in all, even the most problematic people or institutions…even ourselves.

(c) 2018 Verlene Springer

An offering from Elaine: May Christ be our light!

Isaiah 11:6-9

Edward_Hicks-peaceablekingdom 3

Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.

Sadly, these verses do not reflect the world in which we live. In this season of hope, let us pray for an end to violence, hatred, greed, and poverty, and for a stronger outpouring of love, kindness, gentleness, and peace. May Christ be our light!

Elaine Weber
SMI Board of Directors
Technology & Communications Chair

An offering from Lil: Hope that we choose real life

 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.  Luke 21: 17-18

(c) Bonnie Oden

(c) Bonnie Oden

I can’t remember a time when the coming of Advent has been so welcome.  Hope for a world in chaos.  Hope that God is creating something new in the midst of hatred, despair and judgment.  Hope that our pointing fingers at one another will be replaced with open arms to embrace a new peace that we have never known before.  Hope that those with ears to hear and eyes to see will not be deceived and will hear your voice and see your face in the stranger.  Hope that we choose real life.

O Holy One of hope, we pray that this time of waiting will prepare us for the new creation you have for the world.  We pray that we are wide awake to recognize you in the midst of the chaos around us.  In the name of the Coming One we pray.  AMEN

Rev. Lil Smith

SMI Seminary Liaison

Spiritual Director and Supervisor

(c) 2015 Rev. Lil Smith

An offering from Jeanene: Let love be…

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:12-31

(c) Bonnie Oden

(c) Bonnie Oden

Fifteen years ago at the end of a retreat I was invited to write a note to myself.   My note said simply, “Let love be.”  I had no idea what it meant.  I recently reflected on the picture and Scripture shown above.   I wondered, how does a commandment of the law to love God, self and neighbor go from head to heart; from lofty ideal to humble flesh?  And then I remembered recently sitting face to face with my 11 month old granddaughter.  Delighted at her sweet, searching gaze, part of me was thinking, “Don’t you see what time, gravity, and being human has done to this face – – doesn’t it make you want to look away?”  Gratefully, in an instant I was lost in an eternal moment; defenses down; captured by surprising, irresistible innocent love.  And then I remembered that note to myself so long ago, “Let love be.” 

(c) Jeanene McIntyre

An Offering from Lil: A New Fast

My children go to camp in the summer for three to four weeks.  I love that they have time away from the city to connect with  God in nature.  One of the most important things I have come to realize is the benefit of being “unplugged” for at least three weeks.  No phone, no internet, no texts, no emails, no noise competing for their time.

No noise competing for their tiIMG_2125me.

Instead they heard the rain, they saw the stars, they laughed with friends from all over the country, they let go of the pretense of the media vying for their time, and they reconnected with their authentic selves.

No noise competing for their time.

Yesterday I took a fast, just one day, from the world competing for my time.  Today I must work to get a few things done.  But tomorrow I will do it again.  I will water the flowers, I will dig in the dirt, I will walk in the woods, I will listen for God’s voice in His creation.

May you be blessed and take time to fast.

No noise competing for your time.

With a grateful heart,

Lil

(c) 2014, Rev. Lil Smith

Spirituality of the Swimming Pool

On a recent Sunday afternoon I took my young grandson to a neighborhood pool.  What was meant to be a fun-filled way to cool off became a sacred moment when I felt a momentary rush of something that could only be described as the Holy Spirit sweep over me.  We are all basking in sunlight that feels like divine light in this moment; the water a powerful symbol of life and cleansing.  We are many faiths and cultures together in one place that is full of light and laughter and life.  We are community as we encourage our own children and feel a connection with those we don’t know.  Life guards are patrolling the water watching over us and reminding us of ways to remain safe while enjoying the water.  We rest as required and those moments of rest are Sabbath moments in a Sabbath day.

Splash!

We are all one in the time we are there.    We are delighting in each other without speaking.  There are giggles and peals of laughter, the din of joy supported by the underlying sprays of water.  The moment is holy as I felt all of this wash over me like a healing and refreshing stream on a hot and dusty hike.  Just for a moment my being was touched by all of this as an experience of oneness with everyone in that pool.  Just for a moment – one joyous moment – when the divine made Itself known, I realized I was living – we were all living and playing – in the divine.  Oh, how God must have been smiling with joy and satisfaction watching us and infusing us with the beauty of that oneness.

 

 

An Offering from Evelyn: Dancing with Sunlight and Shadows

Sunlight and shadows dance on the deck.They are formed by wind-blown branches on the large oak tree. It is a cool, windy May day.  My feelings alternate between the sunlight and the shadows.  I want to live in the sun and not deal with the shadows, but life gives me both.  Why do I resist letting go of my fear of the shadows, limitations, disappointment? Walking through the shadow, allows me to embrace it and integrate it into my live.  Integration neutralizes the fear and the power to control my life.  It’s taken a lifetime for me to recognize this process and work through it over and over again.  It’s not an easy process, but it is well worth the time and effort.  I call it dancing with the shadows into the sunlight.

Prayer and scripture are the foundation to moving through the shadows into the sunlight.  Prayer takes many forms.  Sometimes it is deep, centering prayer.  Other times prayer is writing, drawing, walking, yoga, talking to a friend, or being alone.  The scripture that has held my attention today is Lamentations 3:22 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning great is your faithfulness.”

 

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Dancing with the shadows,

Evelyn

An Offering from Nancy: Perspective

Relationship-building, or renewing,  or even repairing is hard to do at a distance. Despite all our technological gadgets to help us keep in touch, nothing seems to replace personal contact.

There are people I care about but really don’t see or talk to… Sometimes it’s strangers whose stories in the news touch my heart. Sometimes it’s people whom I’ve known but who have moved away and we’ve lost touch.

Tomorrow someone I love but have not seen in many years has a birthday. I think her 61st. It seems to me her life has unfolded unpredictably. From my perspective it might have been exciting as she has lived many places, experienced many varied ways of life.

I wonder today what perspective she has as she moves into these so called wisdom years. How does her life seem to her? To me she has always been the most beautiful of her large family. I wonder if she has ever seen that in herself? I pray for her and others whom I ‘love-from-a-distance.’

May she, and others, walk in beauty and peace.

coming to the light

An Offering from PJ: The Matter of Suffering

My friend lost her finger in an accident this week, and her career requires heavy hand usage. My heart aches and my soul grieves and I imagine she wishes for those moments back. I do. I know she trusts God, but it’s hard to understand His whys and what now’s. After all, sorrow and suffering heaped on a faithful servant don’t seem fair. Multiple Bible scholars and theologians (I am neither) have written mountains of material over centuries addressing this, but just a few of my thoughts…

God assures believers of His presence and provides tools of comfort:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…” Psalm 23:4. “When His lamp shone over my head, And by His light I walked through darkness;” Job 29:33.

I can be His fearless valley-walker.

Believers get to share in Christ’s sufferings:

“For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ,” 2 Corinthians 1:5.

His comfort surpasses my sufferings.

Whatever believers endure can expand their sphere of influence and ministry:

“Five times I (the Apostle Paul) received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned (with real rocks!) three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren,” 2 Corinthians 11:24-26.

Wow, but bring it on!

When believers know darkness His light shines brighter:

“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”John 1:4-5.

The more dreary the day, the greater my appreciation for the sun.

Believers can serve as examples of God’s mercy and patience:

“Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life,” 1 Timothy 1:16.

Just more opportunities to share!

Believers are promised a future with God:

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2.

Jesus is the perfect architect and designer.

“But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13.

With a new body and mind!

Where do your sufferings take you? How will you share in the suffering of Christ?

Tipping All Scales to God’s Way of Thinking,

PJ   COPYRIGHT ©2014 PJ Gover

An Offering from Rosemary: Peace

 

“…You are anxious and bothered about so many things, but only a few things are necessary, really only one…”

 

Today….I woke up early and had time for prayer and my Lenten readings, time to write and just wait for the morning to appear.  I arose from these quiet moments surprised to find a long to do list unwinding in my head.  It’s Lent I cried in my head,  I want to savor this time, be intentional in walking with Jesus on His way to Calvary not be driven by a to do list.  As I was making my bed, with all these “do’s” swimming around, that still, small voice called me.   I set my timer for 20 minutes and sat in silence and stillness.  The word I took into my meditation was “clarity”…and the word  I came out with was “peace.”  May the blessing of peace be yours today as you listen to that still small voice that continually beckons us to come… come and be refreshed… come and find peace in My presence.

 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful”