Thursday, April 8, 2021

Time with a friend by Lavera Wade

We have during this pandemic had the opportunity during quiet times alone to reflect on how precious our time with friends and loved ones can be.   

Spiritual practices are time spent with our Loving friend.  This time can be spent reflecting on a scripture, a Psalm, a tree, a prayer, or silence.  A few minutes or an hour, sitting or kneeling while weeding.  God will be delighted to spend time with you.

I offer an adaptation of the Spiritual practice Welcoming Prayer

Welcome Peace

Heavenly Parent, we praise you, the beauty and wonder of your creation assures us of your power, as you comfort us with your tender love. 

I hide my face in wonder that you seek my love, for only your love fills my heart.  Help me my Lord, to trust that I am your beloved, that the love and esteem of other’s can never bring the joy I seek and find in your loving care.  

Send your Spirit to teach me again that my needs are as simple as mana, water, and faith in your love and strength.  May I always remember that I am safe and secure in your love.

Remind me Oh Lord, that power and control are an illusion of the human condition, and only come from you.  Help me remember that Jesus came with all power, and walked this earth as a teacher and servant.  Please grant me the grace to follow Jesus’ example.

Help me, Oh Lord, to surrender the thought that I might control any situation.  Bless me with the peace and faith that you will provide the courage and strength to trust and follow you.

Oh Lord when I am in the dark valley, and fear what is before me.  Help me to remember all the blessings you have provided.  Comfort me, that I might be assured that you will always be with me, and your Love and grace will be waiting for me where ever you might lead me.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Second Chances by Dodie Gregory

That title could imply many things.  For me it gives me a chance to continue in my chosen profession as a registered nurse.  Unlike many I was blessed to work for 55 years in a job that I dearly loved.  Probably would still be working had my heart not been hijacked by coronary artery disease.  So, after a 5-vessel coronary bypass surgery I find myself on the discard heap.

 

I got my addiction filled by bugging former workmates about what I was missing and watching medical shows on TV (many I say could use better expert consulting), flipping houses, training and competing for the senior Olympics in swimming, race walking, totally remodeling my condo and garden. Still left was that hole created by 55 years in nursing.

 

Then low and behold along comes covid 19 (I refuse to give it respect with capital letters).  But I do digress.

 

Due to millions of vaccinations needing to be given and not so many givers available the Washington State Department of Health enacted emergency legislation to allow unlicensed medical retired personnel to receive authorization to administer covid vaccinations. 

 

It was like God said "finally I can get Dodie to quit her whining".  After filling out many pages of information that I could barely remember I received authorization to participate as a volunteer.

 

Then on to the next obstacle.  Current BLS/CPR certification was required because of course there may be some that will have an untoward reaction to the vaccine.  Testing, oh no, thought I was done with that.  Well good news I did make it through that requirement and currently am letting pharmacies know I am available to be recycled.

 

God has told us to pray and give praise for ALL things.  I believe this pandemic is for a reason, His reason.  I do thank him that He has allowed me to continue to be of use to His people.  His will be done.

 

I sincerely hope you all consider getting the vaccine.  I really don't think God gave us the vaccine not to be received.  He loves you, trust Him.

 

In His Name

Dodie Gregory, Happy and Fulfilled

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A Virtual Ordination

 Recently I was ordained to the office of priest. In the early spring of 2020, we had just begun contemplating a date for the service when the COVID-19 Pandemic caused in-person worship to cease. This put a pause on planning. I am grateful the church prepared a way to make most sacraments available to be administered online. My service in many respects had the same elements as most ordination services: prayers, hymns, words of testimony and affirmation, a charge, and of course the laying on of hands and ordination itself. While we were not physically gathered, the Spirit was still ever present. The virtual laying of hands on my head was just as meaningful and spirit-filled. What was even more a blessing was because the service was held online, people from all over the nation and world could attend. People whom I have made connections with through Latter-day Seekers, Graceland Seminary, Spiritual Formation and Companioning Program, and the various congregations I have attended, and of course family and friends. Many people that likely would not have been able to attend if this service were in person. It was a memorable day that I will cherish always, made all the more special by those who were able to attend.

By Tyler Marz

Crystal Spring Congregation (Bothell, WA)

Inland-West Community Elevated Young Adult Ministry

Monday, January 4, 2021

“The Art of Staying at Home” by Roberta Tilden

Unlike most spiritual practices, the art of staying at home seems to become harder the longer we are obliged to do it, especially for those of us who live alone.  Fortunately, I am blessed by God with a cat to love, talk to and, at times laugh at.  My heart really goes out to those who don’t even have that. 

This got me to thinking about our Heavenly Parent, and how lonely and bored he must have been before he created our world and us, his beloved children.  What we are experiencing is nothing compared to that.  This down time can be an opportunity to pray, meditate, and study spiritual books.  After all there is only so much television we can watch before our brains start shutting down.

Remember, we were all created to love our Heavenly Parent, and to be loved in return.  God is truly our rock of eternal salvation.  Now is the perfect opportunity to turn to God in our hour of need.  Come now to God in praise and thanksgiving for all the wonderful gifts God showers upon us each day.

I would end with stay safe, but honestly no worries, we are all safe in God’s loving arms.      

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

“If He Had Not Come” by David R. Brock, Redmond, Oregon

One of the stories my mom read to us at Christmas time when I was a child was, “If He Had not Come”. Many decades later, though I don’t recall the details, I do remember the strong feeling I had when hearing it.  My concern, mostly anxiety,(though I doubt it had much if anything to do with the story itself) was that if Jesus had not come there would be no days off from school, no presents to buy and wrap, no secrets to keep from other family members about gifts to come, no new pajamas on Christmas eve (every year, without fail!), no stockings to hang by the chimney with care, no parties at school, no annual children’s Christmas pageant, no tree to decorate, no visit from Santa—maybe no Santa at all, no north pole, no elves, no Rudolph, no two front teeth so I could whistle Merry Christmas (as the popular carol went).

 Almost 60 years later, my response to “If he had not come” has changed. Hopefully I’m wiser and a little more mature, a little less self-centered.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I still get a warm feeling when I hear, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”  I would be sad if I didn’t hear “Joy to the World” or “Little Town of Bethlehem,” or “Good King Wenceslas” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” or even  “Snoopy versus the Red Baron”. Even though I’ve spent wonderful summer Christmases south of the equator, I’d prefer a little snow for the holidays and a few Currier and Ives winter wonderland paintings displayed around town—preferably a town decorated with thousands of holiday lights. And, dare I confess it, and please don’t tell anyone, I do take an occasional stolen glance at a Hallmark Christmas movie! 

 However! Beyond all of that, I wonder, If he had not come  . . .

  •  Would we proclaim and promote the worth of persons, ALL people, as clearly as we do . . . at least when we are at our best?
  • Would we expect to find God among the poor and the outcast and the widows and orphans and in places where there is no room in the inn?  Would we provide for and honor those people as we are taught to do—in unforgettable parables, in acts of forgiveness for prostitutes and persecutors?
  •  Would we have the courage, would we take the risks, to confront, to ‘turn over tables’ and drive out the corrupt and unjust as some among us do in the halls of power, the boardrooms of the strong and well-connected?
  •  Would we hold on as strongly to the hope that God is with us yet; that somehow in spite of all that is happening in our troubled world, goodness and right will eventually prevail?
  • Would we strive as valiantly to create communities of joy, hope, love and peace—even in fits and starts and ‘failing’ and starting over?
  • Would God seem as close, as present, as concerned, as gracious, as generous, as active in our lives, as much of an advocate for our wellbeing?
  • Would we understand that we too can be and are called to be the birthplace of God in the world?

Could God, has God, does God reveal many of those truths through other faith traditions? Is God made incarnate in our midst even from the dawn of creation, not only in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago? Yes, but, as Marcus Borg wrote, “Jesus enfleshes, embodies, incarnates, God’s Word, God’s revelation, God’s character and passion in a human life. Christmas means that, for Christians, Jesus is and should be decisive. What we see in him, the Word made flesh, is our revelation, our light in the darkness.”

I don’t think we are asked to say ‘no’ to a lot of the accoutrements of Christmas. Go ahead and watch “The Muppet Christmas Carol”. Decorate a tree in a thousand lights. Stuff someone’s stocking with silly little gifts. It’s OK. What we are invited to do, however, is to say yes to the fact that God DID come to us in a unique way in Jesus. What we are invited to do is to understand that because God came to us and comes to us, we see differently, we live differently.  We give life. We nurture life. We choose life at Christmas and every other day.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Look at the Day, Thankful for the Simple Blessings by Lavera Wade

 

Thankful I can hear the sound of the wind in the pines, the gentle lap of the waves on the shore, the prayers of the small birds in the early morning light, the silence of the morning covered in white.

Thankful I can see the colors of the changing seasons, the cherry blossoms, iris, daisies, roses, and marigolds, the changing colors of the leaves, snow on the bare branches.

Thankful for the taste of strawberries, ice cream, lemonade, and pumpkin pie.

Thankful for the smell of rain, a baby’s cheek, Thanksgiving dinner.

Thankful for memories of laughter, hugs, shared moments of silence.

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Psalm 103:1

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sunday School in a Pandemic by Lavera Wade

In one of my many Zoom meetings recently someone mentioned there was a survey of what church attendees missed most in this new world of Pandemic and Zoom, or where ever they were attending online services.  The list was:  1 HUGS, 2 coffee and cookies after the service, and 3. sitting at the table with a small group of fellow parishioners, and chatting about the everyday things. 

I am a hugger, I love Hugs and personally think there is never a point where a person could have too many Hugs.  Medical science has completed studies showing that good mental, and physical health is enhanced by Hugs.  I wonder if more people (especially the elderly) would have survived the virus if they had not been isolated, and thus received no physical touch by anyone, and especially anyone they loved.   

Which brings me to the story of our Sunday school class.  Our Sunday school class dwindled down to a half a dozen regular attendees before the virus closed the church.  After a month or so of not seeing these much-loved faces and sharing, I reached out and everyone was for meeting over Zoom.  Not everyone was able to attend but most were and so we meet once a week on Thursday and it has become my lifeline.  We open with a line of scripture, We read a paragraph from a book “Life Together in Christ” and  then share how the scripture and the reading from the book relate to our lives today.  We meet on Zoom for the forty minutes that are free.  Others pop in now and then, and we take delight in one members brand new granddaughter who grandma is babysitting, and we get to watch grow every week. 

I have shared with everyone I know, that I am keeping track of lost HUGS and the number is over 5 billion 756 thousand today.  I am blessed that I am closest to God when outside, on my knees, pulling weeds.  The spiritual practice of sitting outdoors listening to the early morning prayers of the birds, or the angels singing through the pines quiets my busy mind, and softens my heart. Some days just staring out the window as I enjoy the wonder of God’s creation fills my soul.  But that need for human contact still calls to me.  I will not live long enough to forget how precious a Hug is, when once again I can be face to face with all these people, I hold so dear.  And who knows sometimes when we are first able to feel safe, a complete stranger. 

The thought for the day is reach out, call someone your congregation address book is a good place to start, join or start a Sunday school class, or book club. Any group you can find or think of.  Human contact is good for your mental and physical health.

No it is just not the same, it is different, well from what I am reading we are not going to be together, in person for some time.  And what it will be like then most likely will be a new normal.  So we need to be as close as we can now, fill those lonely days with the voice’s on the phone, and the face’s on our computer.   May God bless us all with shared moments together in a pandemic.