Happy Easter to all.
Easter Morning, April 17, 2022
As I sit at my desk thinking about Easter 2022, my first thoughts go to the people of Ukraine. I wonder, what will be the meaning of Easter for them this year? In the midst of so much unnecessary destruction and annihilation of so many cities – places people called home, places where children would be hunting the famous Ukrainian Easter eggs, places that were full of joy and laughter, places where families (now separated) gathered – in the midst of so much fear and death, how does one even begin to reflect on the resurrection of Jesus? I wonder – are the churches in Ukraine even able to hold services this Easter? How many of those church buildings have been destroyed? I pray for the pastors and wonder what message of hope they might be able to bring this year? I confess that I struggle to have any answer. I confess that I am not able to pray for Putin who represents pure evil. I confess that this Easter has a cloud which will give way to the rising sun for Christ out Lord is Risen!
An Easter Opening
“At the break of dawn, a bird sings. The long night of darkness is over. The stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty. The sun begins to shine. The Son has risen! It's a morning of glory, of love overcoming death, of women spreading Good News, of men turning from despair to hope. It's a morning of joy, for Easter has come again. Hope is reborn, love is stronger than death, and we lift our voices in song.”
An Easter Prayer:
“Christ is risen; our loads are lifted, and the path is cleared! Light rises over us as Jesus overcomes darkness and death. We need not struggle alone, pushing through pain, stumbling on sin and trying to walk life's way unaided. Lent is over, Easter has come, and our road is new. We are forgiven; Jesus leads the way! Thank you, O God! Amen.”
An Easter Affirmation:
“We believe in the risen Christ. Like the disciples who were amazed at what they saw, so are we amazed at what we experience. We see the face of Christ in children's smiles, in the eyes of our families. We hear the voice of Christ in the stillness of a clear night, in the way our friends call our name, in the song that brings tears to our eyes. We know the touch of Christ in every warm embrace. We taste the presence of Christ in bread that is blessed, broken and shared. We feel the power of Christ in standing up to injustice, in reaching out to help another, in building strong communities of welcome and support. We feel the love of Christ when another wipes away our tears, takes us by the hand and leads us through the valleys and shadows to a new place.
We believe the risen Christ. We know the risen Christ. We are blessed.”
An Easter Blessing:
“May alleluias ring from shore to shore.
May trumpets echo from mountain to mountain.
May every heart know that Christ is risen.
And may you never be afraid,
for Christ has triumphed over the grave.”
It was Friday, April 20, 2020, the first day of Spring, that I began the daily thoughts shared with you for 410 days. The Church Mouse would later begin to share some thoughts with you as well. Today, Sunday, March 20, 2022, marks the anniversary. I wanted to observe this anniversary by resending a portion of that first devotional.
Good morning neighbors. I want to begin with what I believe to be one of the most comforting scriptures in the Bible. It is well known to us as we learned it in our childhood and probably can still recite it on cue. The version we learned is the King James translation. Here is Psalm 23.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my sol:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surley goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
This Psalm is filled with imagery to fill our spirits. What is it about this Psalm that you like so much? Why are you drawn to it? What are some of the images you have around this Psalm?
You, our Lord, truly are a Shepherd who watches over your sheep. In these uncertain days confronting us, we pray for your continued leading. We need those still waters to calm our anxious spirits. Help us to remain focused on your goodness and mercy. We need you, God of us all. This Psalm offers so much, and we find safety in your leading as our Shepherd. Thank you for watching over our community and the world. Give us peace, today. Amen
As we all reflect on the journey we have made since March 20, 2020, let us continue to pray for those who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19 and the variants, for health care workers who are burned out from providing tender loving care. Let us also keep up our thoughts and prayers for the people of Ukraine and this absolutely senseless Putin war. Pray for the refugees; for those fighting to protect their democracy; for the countries that have opened their arms to welcome and provide for the needs of the people fleeing. For the Russian people to know the truth. Lord, hear the cries of your people.
Have a Blessed day. Doug
Christmas Day 2021
“To us, watchful and waiting, a gift has been slipped into our midst. A tiny child, born in a manger. A gift of peace to troubled souls and dangerous streets. A gift of joy to sad hearts and cautious lives. A gift of hope to wearied brows and oppressed peoples. A tiny baby. A gift from God meant for us. Open your hearts, raise your voices, give thanks to the Giver, welcome the Gift!”
“Wondrous God, open our hearts and minds so we may hear once again the angels' song and know that Christ is born for us and for all. Touch the world with joy this holy day and fill us with peace and childlike wonder. Surprise us and bless us with the simple miracle of the birth of the Christ child. Amen.”
“Wondrous God, take us into your story. Let us be filled with wonder like the shepherds, be as loving as Mary and Joseph and sing with joy like the angels. Take us to Bethlehem and fill us with peace and surprise us with joy.
Holy God, we thank you for Christmas joy - for gifts and family gatherings, for renewed friendships and splendid meals. We thank you for lighted candles, carols sung, and faith put into action. We thank you for hope kindled, peace restored and visions of a new world. God of Christmas blessings, we thank you. Amen.”
“Joy has come to the world; peace has come on earth; we need worry no more.
Immanuel, God be with us, we have prayed for so long, and now God is here. In the serendipity and surprise of a Child, in the wonder of two young parents, in the wisdom of sages and the humility of shepherds, in innkeepers who make room when there is no room, in all these narratives and more, we know your presence among us.
Let us not forget, as gorgeous papers and ribbons clutter our living rooms, what we know here and now. The ultimate gift is your Son: Christ is born in Bethlehem, wrapped in the normal blankets of a normal child, yet containing deep within the genetics of joy, the seeds of peace, the DNA of salvation.
Bless our own gift giving that it, too, be marked with joy and filled with peace. Let our gratitude to others show, and let it come straight from our gratitude for you. In the name of the Child. Amen.”
“May Jesus, wonderful Counselor, grant you wisdom; May Jesus, mighty God, establish and uphold you in righteousness; May Jesus, Prince of Peace, sustain you in love from this day forward.” Amen
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM DOUG AND JUDY
November 25, 2021, Thanksgiving
Have a Blessed Day from Doug & Judy
Psalm 65 CEB (assigned for Thanksgiving Day)
“God of Zion, to you even silence is praise. Promises made to you are kept—you listen to prayer—and all living things come to you. 3 When wrongdoings become too much for me, you forgive our sins. 4 How happy is the one you choose to bring close, the one who lives in your courtyards! We are filled full by the goodness of your house, by the holiness of your temple. 5 In righteousness you answer us, by your awesome deeds, God of our salvation—you, who are the security of all the far edges of the earth, even the distant seas. 6You establish the mountains by your strength; you are dressed in raw power. 7You calm the roaring seas; calm the roaring waves, calm the noise of the nations. 8 Those who dwell on the far edges stand in awe of your acts. You make the gateways of morning and evening sing for joy. 9 You visit the earth and make it abundant, enriching it greatly by God’s stream, full of water. You provide people with grain because that is what you’ve decided. 10 Drenching the earth’s furrows, leveling its ridges, you soften it with rain showers; you bless its growth. 11 You crown the year with your goodness; your paths overflow with rich food. 12 Even the desert pastures drip with it, and the hills are dressed in pure joy. 13 The meadowlands are covered with flocks, the valleys decked out in grain—they shout for joy; they break out in song!”
“Give thanks to God, for God's creation is amazing. The sun warms our day, the moon lights our nighttime way. The earth is filled with bounty, a cornucopia of plenty. Give thanks to God, for God's love is everlasting, a constant source of comfort, a companion in hard times. God is my strength and song, so my heart is filled with praise.”
A Prayer of Confession for Thanksgiving
“Wondrous and generous God, you have blessed us with gentle rains, glorious sunsets and sun-warmed days. You bless us with loving families, kind friends and caring churches. Let us receive these gifts with thankfulness and humility. We cannot earn nor do we deserve such generosity, but we graciously open our hearts and hands to receive.
Forgive us when we are hardhearted and tight handed, when we don't let your goodness flow through us, when we hide our talents and turn away from the needs of the world.
Release us, Holy One, from fear, and create a contagious spirit of giving that touches the world with hope. Amen.”
A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day
“God of peace and plenty, with awe and wonder we thank you for the beauty and abundance of our land and its people. Our ancestors came from many lands, for many reasons, but by your mercy they found grace in the wilderness. Your grace has supplied Our Daily Bread without fail. We thank you. Your grace has provided the raw materials of success, as well as the wit and will to use them. Thank you. By your sheer grace we can indulge ourselves in loveliness, steep ourselves in learning, renew ourselves in leisure and rest in safety. Thank you, Lord.
“You have freely blessed us with more than we could ever earn. You have sustained us in bounty we do not deserve. Our people have abused the land, robbed the heritage of indigenous peoples and imagined ourselves to be the source of our own blessings. Despite all this, you have promised to love your people with an everlasting love, and so we are bold to seek your mercy.
Help us respond to your infinite grace through generosity to those in need, understanding for those in dismay, courtesy toward those who oppose us, forgiveness for those who wrong us and compassion toward all who need us. As we gather with family and friends (perhaps not this year), help us speak freely and naturally of your gracious love so that our holiday table may abound with thanks as well as with food. Through this time of Thanksgiving and rest, lead us to continue in thankful living and giving, for the sake of him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
September 2, 2021 as my flag reads – “Don’t Give up The Ship”
Rev. Douglas Knopp, Pastor Emeritus