Day 108, July 5, 2020
Today is the first Sunday in the Month, if you would like to receive Holy Communion respond to me. I will come around either late morning or early afternoon.
The assigned readings for this 5th Sunday after Pentecost are: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-29, 58-67; Psalm 72; Romans 7:15-25a and Matthew 11:16-19, 25-39.
Matthew 11:16-19 CEB This generation
16 “To what will I compare this generation? It is like a child sitting in the marketplaces calling out to others, 17 ‘We played the flute for you and you didn’t dance. We sang a funeral song and you didn’t mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’
19 Yet the Human One came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved to be right by her works.”
Matthew 11:25-30 The Father and the Son
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have shown them to babies.
26 Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness.
27 “My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.
29 Put on my yoke and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves.
30 My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”
Here we are on this Sunday right after celebrating our country’s independence. We are also dealing with daily cases of the Corona virus numbering around 50,000 or above per day. The deaths in the USA are around 130,000. We are carrying a heavy load. Our burdens center around the concerns over this Virus and the trail of difficulty it has brought with it. We must be so very careful with our contacts. We wonder when will we be able to visit family members? Judy and I have canceled our presence at our grandson’s wedding in August. I was supposed to officiate but traveling to West Virginia is no longer an option for us.
Jesus tells us to come to him with our struggles. Come to him with those concerns that are weighing heavily on our hearts and minds. Come to Jesus with those heavy burdens that drag us down. Isn’t it wonderful to read and even hear the words – Jesus is gentle, Jesus is humble, also? Isn’t it great to know that in Jesus we will find rest?
Jesus says his burden is light. Verse 28, “Yoke” is a common metaphor for the Torah; Jesus’ yoke (his interpretation of the law) is “light”.
Holy God, your Son has promised that he will help us carry our burdens. We need to feel that help especially during these hard times as we continue to deal with the COVIS-19 pandemic. Lord, fill us with your gentleness. Lord, give us rest for our spirits. Continue to give us strength, comfort and guidance. Lord, hear our prayers. Amen
Today: what burdens are you trying to carry by yourself?
Day 105 | Thursday, 2 July 2020
I have taken today’s scripture and insight from the Daily Bread for July 2, 2020
Acts 11:19-26 The Antioch church
19 Now those who were scattered as a result of the trouble that occurred because of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They proclaimed the word only to Jews.
20 Among them were some people from Cyprus and Cyrene. They entered Antioch and began to proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus also to Gentiles.
21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord.
22 When the church in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
23 When he arrived and saw evidence of God’s grace, he was overjoyed and encouraged everyone to remain fully committed to the Lord.
24 Barnabas responded in this way because he was a good man, whom the Holy Spirit had endowed with exceptional faith. A considerable number of people were added to the Lord.
25 Barnabas went to Tarsus in search of Saul.
26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They were there for a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching large numbers of people. It was in Antioch where the disciples were first labeled “Christians.”
“[Barnabas] encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”
“Today's Scripture & Insight:”
“Never give up. Be the reason someone smiles. You’re amazing. It isn’t where you came from—it’s where you’re going that counts. Some schoolchildren in Virginia Beach, Virginia, found these messages and more written on bananas in their lunchroom. Cafeteria manager Stacey Truman took the time to write the encouraging notes on the fruit, which the kids dubbed “talking bananas.””
“This caring outreach reminds me of Barnabas’ heart for the “spiritual youngsters” in the ancient city of Antioch (Acts 11:22–24). Barnabas was famous for his ability to inspire people. Known as a good man, full of faith and the Holy Spirit, he prompted the new believers to “remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (v. 23). I imagine he spent time with those he wanted to help, saying things like: Keep praying. Trust the Lord. Stay close to God when life is hard.”
“New believers, like children, need loads of encouragement. They’re full of potential. They’re discovering what they’re good at. They may not fully realize what God wants to do in and through them, and often the enemy works overtime to prevent their faith from flourishing.”
“Those of us who’ve walked with Jesus for a while understand how hard living for Jesus can be. May all of us be able to give and receive encouragement as God’s Spirit guides us and reminds us of spiritual truth.” By: Jennifer Benson Schuldt
“Reflect & Pray”
“How has God encouraged you in the past? How might God want to work through you to inspire someone?”
Gracious God, we thank you for those who have encouraged us on our journey in faith. We are still growing and still in need of encouragement. Lord, we also are ready to be encouragers to others. Help us find those whom we might encourage. Lord, hear our prayers. Amen
Today: pray for those who are encouraging us in these different times in our lives.
Day 104 | Wednesday, 1 July 2020
The first day of a new month. It is Wednesday which means the faithful from the Woodlands will gather at noon for The Lord’s Prayer for week 15.
As of 6/29/2020 at 2:00 PM the COVID cases in Chautauqua County were at 129 with 34 in our Battalion.
This is a new month. It has not been lived into yet. One thing we know for sure is that there are 31 days in the month of July. You may have appointments scheduled along with birthdays and anniversaries. There is one annual event in this new month, July 4th. That celebration will look a bit different this year for all of us. The wonderful thing about a new day and a new month is that there may be adventure awaiting us. We do not know what is in store for us individually in this new month. We may have some predictions based on previous months of COVID living. I can predict that my garden will produce new vegetables during this month.
There is something special about that which is new. Although our days may seem to be the same, they are not. We have our routines but there are always surprises, new experiences, new learnings, and new realities.
Every day the disciples were with Jesus, they experienced something new. They witnessed healings. They saw how he cared for the masses of people, even little children. Then during the last days of his life on earth, he gives his disciples a “new commandment”. It is now familiar to us. Let me ask you, how are you doing with this commandment? Are there times when you find it difficult to follow? Are there certain individuals who test your ability to follow it?
Below, please read the four different versions of the “New Commandment”.
CEB 34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
The Message 34 "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. 35 This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples - when they see the love you have for each other."
The New revised Standard Version 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
New International Version 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
Thank you for getting us through to this day. Gracious God, we enter into this new month with caution as we are so uncertain about the pandemic that is raging. We are uncertain about the up coming holiday and what may happen in the weeks following. Perhaps we just do not want anything new and yet here is Jesus’ new commandment to love one another. Yes, Lord, there are days when that is a challenge. Hear our prayers. Amen.
Today: how to love the unloveable.
Day 103 | Tuesday 30 June 2020
Here we are on the last day of June. Even though we are still under COVID watch, this month seems to have flown by. As we are on the doorstep of July, I thought Psalm 98 would be a good closing for June. I am sharing from both the CEB and the Message. It is always good to sing to the Lord either a new song or a very familiar song, an old standby. Admittedly, there are a couple struggles with some portions of the psalm. I find it difficult to Be Happy when we are thinking about 127,000 deaths in this country. I cannot be happy that so many states are increasing in their COVID cases and deaths. I do rejoice in the Lord and the Lord’s righteousness. We need to make joyful noise to the Lord for God is still doing wonderful things.
Psalm 98 CEB
Sing to the Lord a new song because he has done wonderful things! His own strong hand and his own holy arm have won the victory!
2 The Lord has made his salvation widely known; he has revealed his righteousness in the eyes of all the nations.
3 God has remembered his loyal love and faithfulness to the house of Israel; every corner of the earth has seen our God’s salvation
4 Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth! Be happy! Rejoice out loud! Sing your praises!
5 Sing your praises to the Lord with the lyre—with the lyre and the sound of music.
6 With trumpets and a horn blast, shout triumphantly before the Lord, the king!
7 Let the sea and everything in it roar; the world and all its inhabitants too.
8 Let all the rivers clap their hands; let the mountains rejoice out loud altogether
9 before the Lord because he is coming to establish justice on the earth! He will establish justice in the world rightly; he will establish justice among all people fairly.
1 Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, And also obedience.
2 You hear the prayer in it all. We all arrive at your doorstep sooner or later, loaded with guilt,
3 Our sins too much for us - but you get rid of them once and for all.
4 Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest at home in your place! We expect our fill of good things in your house, your heavenly manse.
5 All your salvation wonders are on display in your trophy room. Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer,
6 Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser,
7 Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash, of mobs in noisy riot -
8 Far and wide they'll come to a stop, they'll stare in awe, in wonder. Dawn and dusk take turns calling, "Come and worship."
9 Oh, visit the earth, ask her to join the dance! Deck her out in spring showers, fill the God-River with living water. Paint the wheat fields golden. Creation was made for this!
10 Drench the plowed fields, soak the dirt clods With rainfall as harrow and rake bring her to blossom and fruit.
11 Snow-crown the peaks with splendor, scatter rose petals down your paths,
12 All through the wild meadows, rose petals. Set the hills to dancing,
13 Dress the canyon walls with live sheep, a drape of flax across the valleys. Let them shout, and shout, and shout! Oh, oh, let them sing!
Lord, today receive our joyful noise as we sing praises to you for your wonderfulness. Yes, we may have to find reasons today to shout triumphantly due to so many deaths and so many cases of the corona virus. We wonder if and when we will ever feel safe. We know of your goodness, so we sing praises. Lord, calm our spirits and hear our prayers. Amen
Today: health care providers in those states experiencing high cases of the virus.
Day 102 | Monday, 29 June 2020…
From the Church Mouse
How often do we complicate things? We dissect the actions and words of our friends and family trying to find motives and underlying reasons for things. If someone does us a kindness, we often look deeper for their “real” motive instead of responding in gratitude.
A dog doesn’t do that. Our dog, Jonah, was a perfect example. That beautiful fawn and cream Greyhound did not try to figure out why I was going to his treat jar. He did not equate that with what he had to do to manipulate me into giving him more treats. Although he did have that one look. . .with those eyes. . .
Jonah did not think of his treat as a treat. He did not look at his leash as something to curtail his fun. He had learned that the law of those things was love.
If we simplify our lives into following God’s guidance, our lives can be filled with joy. God’s laws do not exist to take away from our lives but to give us true life. If we love God and follow God’s plan, we will find contentment. God created us out of love and to be loved. What can be simpler than that?
“Walk in faith. We can love God, not just need God. Spend time in God’s love and feel how life changes.”
PS. The Rev. said that this was too short. So, how about another chickpea recipe?
Decadent Hummus recipe (makes 6 servings)
1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbs. minced garlic
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbs. olive oil
3 tbs. tahini
¼ tsp. turmeric (for color)
Add olives if desired
2-3 tbs. water
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
Add the first 8 ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add in the water, until the creamy consistency is reached.
Garnish with fresh dill if desired, and serve with pita chips, pita bread or various cut vegetables.
Day 100 | Saturday, 27 June 2020
I started this daily thought with Psalm 23 on day 1 so today, as we reach day 100, I thought I would share some more translations of Psalm 23 with you today. I know you may be getting tired of these. I find the different translations interesting as I compare them. (I only have a few left) Out of these sharing, you may have discovered one or two that really speak to you in this present day. No matter what, I find Psalm 23 to be most comforting as we continue the journey in our COVID- world. I want a shepherd whose desire is to protect me. I want a shepherd who will prompt me to rest, who will give me strength. I want a shepherd who will anoint me with blessings. And I want a shepherd who will walk with me when the shadows take over the light. Jesus the Christ is that shepherd for me. How about you?
Psalm 23 – Douay-Rheims 1899 Bible Translation
The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment: He hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name’s sake. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me. Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebreateth me, how goodly is it! And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.
Psalm 23 – New Century Version (NCV)
The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green pastures. He leads me to calm water. He gives me new strength. He leads me on paths that are right for the good of his name. Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid, because you are with me. Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me. You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies. You pour oil of blessing on my head; you fill my cup to overflowing. Surely your goodness and love will be with me all my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23 – World English Bible (WEB)
Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in Yahweh’s house forever.
“He leadeth me: O blessed thought! O words with heavenly comfort fraught! Whate’er I do, where’er I be, still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me. He leadeth me, he leadeth me, by his own hand he leadeth me; his faithful follower I would be; for by his hand he leadeth me.” Joseph H. Gilmore, 1862
Holy God, like a shepherd lead us, much we need your tender care. Take us to places for rest. Give us quiet when we are being bombarded with the noises of the world. Walk with those who are making the journey through the valley. Restore us when we are depleted and stressed. Help us remember the blessings you have given because of your generous spirit of love. Lord, hear our prayers. Amen
Today: those who are unemployed