Loving One Another

Archive for the ‘Life and Death’ Category

Spend it All or Give it Away!


“Being of sound mind, I spent it all!”

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Those were the words read from the will
when my friend, Marion,
met with her siblings after their mother died.

Today’s devotional in
“Mornings with Jesus 2020”
told of a similar story.
The writer quoted her father as saying,
“Before I leave here, I intend to spend every dollar I ever made.”

She thought he was kidding.
After all, he was a God-fearing man …
“who could quote scripture from Genesis to Revelation.”
(Alice Thompson, Thursday July 9th).

But her earthly father had given her no inheritance!


After being angry for awhile,
Alice turned to her Bible,
and she turned to the Lord.
Alice wrote that she spoke to her head
about Lamentations 3:24.
It says,
“The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Even though Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,” Alice realized her father – who left “nothing for me,” had indeed left the most precious gifts of all: His loving relationship with her and his faith in God.

He lived his life loving her and her mother, giving to the Lord and to those in need, and using his hard-earned dollars to enjoy a good life. A nice house, a new car every few years, memorable vacations, generosity with his children, and gifts to charity… these were the signatures he left. He left her the gifts money can’t buy: love, faith, a good work-ethic, respect, and joy.

If our parents live their lives in love and faith, generosity and joy.
If our parents pass those gifts on to us,
We have the received the most important gifts of all.
They don’t owe us a rich monetary inheritance.

If our parents demonstrate a good work-ethic,
and teach us to do likewise,
If our parents help us learn to read and compute,
pray and serve, and get a good education,
then they have equipped us to do as they might:

Being of sound mind,
I spent it all
or gave it away.

Go and do likewise!
Have a great Thursday.

I’m headed to a Happy 70th Birthday party!
See ya tomorrow.
Live in peace with EVERYBODY, my friends!
Hugs, JanBeek

Is Fearlessness Foolishness?


I have heard (and often repeated) the phrase, “Fear is the opposite of Faith.

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Fear or Faith?

Are wearing a mask, washing your hands often/thoroughly, and practicing social distancing acts of fear?

Is opening your home or your church, your store or your restaurant with no extra precautions due to COVID-19 an act of faith?

Is being too cautious an act of fear? (What does “too cautious” look like?)

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Pexels.com

Was shutting down our church at the height of the virus pandemic being too cautious? Was it contradictory to our faith?

To Open or Not to Open

Many questions of fear or faith were posed during our sermon today by Rev. Steve Hundley. I’ve listed ten of them below. We met as a congregation in the church building for the first time in twelve weeks. We’ve been ZOOM meeting since this pandemic was announced in the USA in mid-March.

Madison Valley Presbyterian Church

To keep people safe, every other row of pews was ribboned off and people sat at least six feet apart in the pews.

Fran McNeill, our music director

During the hymns, Fran played a verse on the piano while the congregation either listened, read the words silently in the hymnals, or hummed along. For now, no singing out loud. That was hard for those of us who love to sing.
But the emissions from singing travel farther than those of just talking … some even further than coughing or sneezing. So, we were cautious.

Jo & Jim Forsberg

Jim Forsberg provided special music during the service. Playing his guitar and singing… one of the numbers he sang was an old time favorite, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” The lyrics go on to say, “all the children of the world… red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world.” So pertinent in light today’s issues of racial inequality.

In the photo above, Jim and his wife, Jo, are chatting with Fran about the music – and I am sure commenting on how good it is to see one another again.

Megan & Murray

Mask or Not?

This mom had her hands full with this adorable, very active little guy. Murray keeps us all smiling with his exuberant energy. I love seeing the little ones in our worship service. Pastor Steve quoted a doctor at our Madison Valley Medical Center who said masks on children can be more bothersome and dangerous than no mask at all because children have a tendency to touch their face more when wearing one.

Here is Murray’s dad and little sister:

Seeing Nellie and Nick with us brightened my day.

Questions to Ponder

Rev. Steve Hundley posed some very thought-provoking questions in his sermon today. He didn’t really give us answers… just left the questions for us to ponder:

  1. Is God angry with us?
  2. Is God larger than this dreaded virus? (He said the affirmative of that was a quote from a pastor who opened his church early on in the pandemic … and later died of the virus)
  3. Was shutting down the church for 12 weeks contradictory to our faith? (Some of our members were not happy about the closure)
  4. Why have we allowed partisanship, economics, and race to divide us?
  5. In spite of their devout faith, why has the Navajo nation been hit so hard by this pandemic? (Their deaths per capita are higher than any state in the union.)
  6. Is the unity of the church under attack in our polarized world?
  7. Can we be angry without sin?
  8. Can we set aside our political stances as conservatives or progressives and just unite to strengthen the body of the church?
  9. Is it possible for us to focus on what brings us together rather than what separates us?
  10. When someone leaves the church saying they won’t return because “Nobody cares about me,” and I tell them, “Yes, they do,” and they respond with “OK, name ONE!” Can I name YOU? (This question brought tears to my eyes… I know people who have left, and I wanted to stand up and shout, “I care! Name me!!”)
George Kate, and Ross visiting after church
Kathy, Miriam, Dick, and Mike

Fellowship in the foyer after church found people reconnecting, but remaining cautious. Are we maintaining our distance?

It may be easier for us in Montana to try and stay six feet apart, but you will notice in the pictures that even here, we don’t always adhere to that social distancing. It’s difficult! It’s neither foolishness nor fearlessness, it’s just hard!

How are you doing with this business of staying apart? What did you do this Sunday? Did your church meet physically again? If not, how did you worship our God today? Did you approach Him with your most difficult questions?

I hope you are healthy, happy, and safe.
I’ve gotcha in prayer, my friend.
See ya tomorrow.
Love, JanBeek

George Floyd & M.L.K. Jr.


George Floyd

George Floyd and his mother

My Heart is Hurting

My heart is hurting.

No comprehension.

Just sadness, dismay, and anger.

Pray for peace and racial equality.

This rampant racism and blatant injustice must stop!

Pray for “Giant George” (nicknamed “Big Floyd”) and his family.

Reread MLK’s “I Have a Dream.”

It’s well overdue.

Screen Shot 2020-05-29 at 9.17.27 AM

I Have a Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, 1963. Fifty-seven years later, it is time to revisit this unfulfilled dream. LET’S MAKE THIS DREAM COME TRUE!! Be a catalyst for long overdue change and racial equality. Let’s reach out, dissolve all divides, and just love one another!!!!

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com
Time to revisit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream, hear his peaceful pursuit of racial equality, and time to MAKE THIS DREAM A REALITY!
 
(The bold print in this speech are my emphasis. I feel those statements are so appropriate to the injustice and the reactions seen today – May 29, 2020… a sad time in America’s history amidst this George Floyd travesty and the COVID-19 that sees not color or class, but preys on areas of density and poverty).
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“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual…

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom…

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality…

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. …

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day down in Alabama … little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when we see this happen, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.”

Here is American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) as he addressed crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, in 1963 where he gave his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
  Do not let Martin Luther King Jr’s dream die. Do not let George Floyd’s death be in vain. Let your righteous anger spur you to action. Pray that God will show us what He wants us to do next in the memory and honor of MLK,Jr. and “Big Floyd.” Make their lives count. Make the dream a reality!

We can do it… one loving act at a time.

Have a meaningful Friday. See ya tomorrow.

Expand Your Peripheral Vision


adventure conifer daylight desert
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Expand your peripheral vision
To see blessings in unexpected places.
How could Jonah in the whale do so
While he was down under – sleeping?

Reading the first chapter of Jonah,
I discovered Jonah sleeping below deck.
The sailors found him there, too.
They found he was the cause of the storm.

They tried to save the ship and him
By aggressively rowing  toward shore,
But God turned up the turbulence.
Finally, they had to throw him overboard.

The storm ceased. The seas calmed.
God sent a whale to swallow Jonah.
Inside the big fish, his vision widened!
Jonah was able to see the big picture.

You can’t hop a ship to get away
From the tasks God puts before you.
You have to stay and face the storm.
He sends turbulence to teach us.

We are in the midst of a storm today.
There is no end in sight for this virus.
God needs us to grow spiritually, and
Learn to rely on Him for our rescue.

Take comfort in knowing He’s in control
Of every storm that comes our way.
His mighty power and unfailing love
Governs whatever comes your way.

1 Timothy 4:4 helps us realize the truth:
“For everything God created is good,
And nothing is to be rejected
If it is received with thanksgiving.”

Are we to understand that this storm,
This COVID-19 is sent by God? No!
No, I do not believe God wills evil.
I believe He uses it to teach us lessons.

I do not understand the reasons why
Bad things happen to good people
Or why death rains down on our world.
But, I know God’s love surrounds me.

I know if He can send a whale
To swallow up Jonah and save the crew,
He can send a vaccine to cure this virus.
That’s how much He cares for me and You.

Expand your peripheral vison.
Look around you, don’t focus on what was.
Look to see the ways God is at work today.
Focus on what we have, not what we’ve lost.

Thank God today for all your many blessings.
Thank Him for the people who step up,
The courageous ones who make lives better.
Don’t get caught down under – sleeping!

photo of brown dog lying on throw pillow
Photo by Enrique Hoyos on Pexels.com

It’s not the “Dog Days of Summer!”
Wake up to a new day – 

A new chance to live and serve Him.

See ya tomorrow.
JanBeek

Must We Die for Freedom?


History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American holiday. This Memorial Day weekend feels very different from years past. Even though we are not having lock-down, stay-at-home orders in Montana, still most of us don’t feel free to have a large gathering with a picnic potluck as we usually do. We need to find new ways of honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

Memorial Day is this Monday, May 25th, a day for us in the USA to honor the men and women who died while serving in the United States Military. It was originally known as Decoration Day after the tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers. Women in Pennsylvania began this practice as early as 1864 following the end of the Civil War. Soon other states and cities did the same.

Waterloo, New York, held an annual community-wide event beginning in 1866. This led the town to be recognized as the birthplace of Memorial Day by the federal government in 1966. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971. In 2000, Congress passed a resolution, urging Americans to set aside 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day “to observe a national moment of remembrance to honor the men and women of the United States military who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace.” 

Thank you, Shutterstock, for this image.

Do You?

Do you celebrate Memorial Day? If so, how are my fellow Americans planning on celebrating Memorial Day this year?

I’m curious: How do those of you in other countries remember the people in your nation who have served in your military (or do you)?

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

Wonderful Dream

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful dream-come-true to have us all just love one another? No fences, no walls, no borders, no nation against nation… just one world, unified, working in tandem for a better life for everyone?

Wouldn’t it be a dream-come-true if we all felt a sense of freedom without anyone having to die to maintain it?

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful dream if everyone stopped hoarding and just shared generously? Share toilet paper! Share the Good News! Share LOVE!

… a pet, and toilet paper
and a lotta LOVE!

Our military generously give their ALL.
The least we can do is give them a day of Gratitude for their service…
and a dream that one day we will all live as ONE,
end all wars, and live in PEACE!

God bless you, my dear Blogging family.
I pray that you have a peace-filled weekend.
I’ll see you tomorrow.

Hugs, JanBeek

Wait, don’t leave until you comment!!
Tell me about how you honor your military
or tell me about your dreams for ONE WORLD of LOVE!

A Tribute to Ken Hall


This morning I received this wonderful photo of a very talented and compassionate man, Ken Hall. It was attached to a beautiful tribute
written by his wife, Penny. You just need to read it! Click the link below.

https://www.pennyhall.life/ken/

Above our bed, Bob & I have a photograph taken by Ken. It captures a gorgeous sunrise above our Madison Range. On a good day, we can see that sunrise out our bedroom window. But, on cloudy days when the sun is hidden, thanks to Ken’s creative lens, we still have our sunrise.

As Penny mentions in her tribute, one of Ken’s talents was music. He played the Indian flute magnificently. I think he may have had a heavy dose of Native American in him. Here is the video Ken produced shortly before his untimely, unexpected death. I hope it will open for you.

I leave you with the peace
that only God can give.
May you live in such a way
that a tribute to you
is this heart-warming
after your unexpected, untimely death

(hopefully that’s after you’ve lived a healthy 100 years).

See ya later.
God bless you.
Bee well!!

Ya Gotta Get Better


I’m praying for you –
Ya just gotta get better.
Can’t live without you!

With COVID-19,
Too many lives are now lost –
Many in peril.

Be patient, my friends.
Please don’t open up too soon.
Keep yourself healthy.

Losing a dear one
To this invisible beast:
Unfathomable!

Bee well!

Is there someone out there who needs our prayers?
Pass this song along to them – – –
“Soon You’ll Get Better” –
Put their name in the comments below
and I will add their name to my prayer list.

I believe in the Power of Prayer.

We all need reassuring words – especially now.
Have faith in what will be.

Photo by Jayberrytech on Pexels.com


#Hugs4Happiness

Thanks for visiting.
See ya tomorrow.


One Pair of Hands


One Pair of Hands

A strong pair of hands
Lifted me from my doldrums
Set me on a hill

It was Golgotha
Known as the place of the skulls
Three crosses were there.

People gathered there
To watch as our Lord was killed
How they must have mourned!

But today I stand
Stand before an empty cross
Knowing He’s alive

Christ’s not on that hill
He is risen and alive
Of that I am sure

And his sure, strong hands
Hold me in their peace-filled palms
And reassure me

He’s got the whole world
Holding it in His strong hands
Caring for us all

Remembering Him
As He hung dying for me
I surely believe

Death was not in vain
Know it was not permanent
He’s risen indeed

And He lives in me
He lives in each one of us
Who chooses to TRUST

Trust in the One God
Who chose to send us His Son
That we also LIVE

Live holding His hands
As He reaches out for us
Each day is EASTER!

Have a Marvelous
Monday in Light, Love, and Truth
He’s got you covered!

Go back and listen again to “One Pair of Hands”
Carry the words and Elvis Presley‘s beautiful voice
With you in your heart – and then live in His Peace.


Thanks for visiting JanBeek.
Send the link to this blog to a friend today…
Someone who needs
the encouragement only Christ Alive can bring.


See ya tomorrow.

Easter On-Line Service


Our pastor, Steve Hundley, and choir director, Fran McNiell, teamed up to present a wonderful on-line church service for us. It’s not a video. It’s a Word document with links to a couple of majestic Easter hymns performed by The Hereford Cathedral Choir and congregation with orchestral and pipe organ accompaniment.

Opening Prayer

Resurrected Lord, like Mary Magdalene alone in the garden we, too, find ourselves alone, separated from those we love on this Easter morning.  Risen Christ, come to us as You came to her.  Let no shadow of the grave terrify us and no fear of darkness turn our hearts from You.  Reveal Yourself to us this day and all the days ahead, as the first and the last, the Living One, our Immortal Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Celebrate the Empty Tomb

Today we celebrate the empty tomb and our risen Savior. Let us confess our shortcomings and ask our Savior to forgive us. Here is Pastor Steve Hundley’s

Prayer of Confession:

Almighty God, in raising Jesus from the grave, You shattered the power of sin and death.  We confess that we remain captive to doubt and fear, as CORVID 19 virus rampages through our world and alters our lives.  Forgive us, God of mercy.  Help us to trust Your power to heal, to give us life and make us new, that we may know the joy of life abundant given in Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: (I Corinthians 15:54-57)

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is Your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer for Illumination:

            God of life, whose Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and draws us to Christ, send Your Spirit now to give us deeper insight, encouragement, faith and hope, through the proclamation of the Easter gospel.  Amen.

Today’s sermon:

Overcoming Life’s Greatest Temptation

John 20:1-18

“Do not worry about anything.”  Paul said it.  Jesus preached it in His sermon on the Mount message.  It is Scripture to be obeyed.  But, is it really humanly possible not to worry about anything?  It is like telling a lame man to stop dragging his feet, or telling someone with a virus not to cough or sneeze so much.  If life were predictable, maybe we could avoid “worrying about anything.”  But as this deadly virus and empty pews on this Easter Sunday has reminded us, life is full of the unexpected—the unforeseen life interruptions that can turn our world upside down.

Of course, some unforeseen interruptions can be weathered better than others.  When an appliance breaks at the most inopportune time, it is annoying, but we can handle that.  Or, when we are late for an appointment and stuck in traffic.  I know, I know, this is Montana, but it can happen. 

And yet today, the whole world is in lockdown, in this, the mother and father of all unforeseen interruptions, and it has turned our lives upside down, stopping us dead in our tracks.  The boss says: “I am sorry but we are going to have to let you go,” leaving you without a job or health insurance.  The doctor says: “I’m afraid you’ve tested positive for the virus”; or, the paramedic says: “We did everything we could, but there is nothing more we could have done.”  And we wonder: “Why is this happening?  Where is God in all of this?”

Even though our faith assures us that God has a plan, it is little comfort as hopes, dreams, plans, and future crumble before us.  You see, the greater life’s interruption, the more it bleeds over into the love for whom we care most.

As a pastor, husband and father, I tended to be a bit of a workaholic with more than a healthy dose of guilt.  Some years ago, I was so caught up in my ministry that I was neglecting my own family.  Concerned that I was not spending enough time with my daughter, Elaine suggested that I plan some quality time with Bethany.  Elaine pointed out how much our daughter cherished the time I took her on a road trip to upstate NY.  We attended the Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous where we camped out and competed with traditional archers from all over the country.  My daughter described it as one of the best times of her life.

So, I suggested we take the same trip together.  She was beside herself with joy and could hardly contain herself as we began to pack the car for the eleven-hour trip.  I too, was so excited about getting away, I inadvertently left the car keys on the kitchen counter as I was telling Elaine “Goodbye”.  I ran back into the house, grabbed the keys and headed back out the door.  As I was about to climb into the driver’s seat, I looked up and saw Elaine standing at the edge of the porch with a concerned look on her face and the phone in her hand.  “What is it,” I called out?  “You really need to take this call,” she said.

Taking the phone, I learned that an elder and professor, beloved by her husband, young daughters, our congregation, and her students at the university, had just committed suicide.  No one saw it coming.  On any given Sunday, her face was the brightest and happiest face in the church choir.  She was so bright, bubbly, and attractive, that no one had the faintest idea that she had been fighting a long, but losing, battle with her own inner demon called “depression.”

 Stunned, I handed the phone back to Elaine, walked slowly to the car, leaned in and told my daughter that we would have to cancel our trip, for there had been a tragedy in the congregation.  I think what was most painful for me was the fact that my thirteen-year-old daughter didn’t cry.  She did not protest or fuss.  She just got out of the car, walked quietly to the house, passing her mother on the porch, never to mention the trip again.

Yes, life has always been filled with unexpected interruptions that catch us off guard, disrupt our lives, and keep us off balance.  What is so insidious about life’s interruptions, whether large or small, is that over time, they have the power to erode our trust and our very relationship with God.  For, those places where our faith is stretched so much, we begin to wonder whether we are actually “standing on the solid rock,” or whether it is “just shifting sand.”

Yet, in God’s great love and concern for us, and because of our inability to recognize God’s power over life’s greatest interruptions, God took a body like ours in order that we may witness God’s power more clearly in the life of Jesus.  In Christ, God has demonstrated for all the world to see His power over all life’s unexpected interruptions by: feeding the hungry masses, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, making the lame to walk, and even by raising those who had died. 

In the person of Jesus Christ, God demonstrated for us that “nothing can separate us from His love for us in Christ: not life’s greatest interruptions; not even death, the greatest interruption of all.  And this is why, even in the face of this worldwide pandemic, we make our annual journey back to the empty tomb, remembering God’s all-encompassing power.

On this abnormal Easter morning, we remember how Christ’s own death on the cross interrupted the lives of his disciples and the life of Mary Magdalene.  We remember how they must have felt, when all that they had believed in and hoped for, was buried and entombed with the body of Jesus.

We remember Mary Magdalene and how devastated and alone she must have felt, there at the empty tomb.  Not only had they killed her Lord, but it seemed someone had even stolen His body, denying her closure.  Of course, Jesus warned them that this was to fulfill all scripture, but Mary didn’t understand the scriptures.  Peter did not understand the scriptures.  None of the disciples understood the scriptures.

Besides, who is “the other disciple” who entered the empty tomb and believed?  For that matter, what did he believe?  Did he believe that Christ had risen from the dead, or did he simply believe what Mary said was true, that the stone had been rolled away and the body was stolen?  After all, John says, “they left there and returned to their homes.”  And who is this “unnamed disciple?”  Is this simply a reference to John, or is it a reference to you and me, at home on this Easter morning?

Of course we remember that Mary lingered at the empty tomb, frozen in grief.  But then, the risen Christ appeared to her, called her by name, proving that not even death can interrupt God’s gift of everlasting life.  We remember, in spite of our own loss of life as we have known it, how Mary, overcome by shock and joy, threw her arms around Jesus, clinging to Him as if somehow she might shield Him from life’s greatest interruption once and for all.  Still, just being alive is not enough.  We remember on this Easter morning that Jesus is alive to do something for all humanity.

We remember on this Easter Sunday that:

Jesus is alive to make us all alive again.

Jesus is alive to make His God, our God; His Father, our Father.

Jesus is alive to raise us up from our own chaos and loss.

Jesus is alive to raise us up from death’s destructive power.

Jesus is alive to raise us up from every unexpected interruption that would threaten to separate us from the love of God.

JESUS IS ALIVE!

YES!  We remember that “JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN TODAY!”  And that the life, hope, love, and peace He gives can overcome all of life’s greatest interruptions!

YES!  DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY!  O DEATH, WHERE IS THY VICTORY?  O DEATH, WHERE IS THY STING?

Let’s sing of His Victory over death. Let’s lift our voices in praise!

Pastoral Prayer

Almighty God, on this triumphant day, we know that the whole host of heaven—angels, seraphs, and cherubim raise their voices singing “Alleluia,” for Christ the Lord is risen today.  We want to join them, even though we are confined and suffering and the hands of a hidden and insidious enemy.  We want to sing with the pure joy of those who celebrate the life You give in Jesus Christ.  Give us freedom this day to lift our voices with all of heaven as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death.

Oh God, on this day some find it difficult to be glad.  For them, life has too much pain.  The present pandemic will not let them own too much hope.  Some are angry in their loneliness.  Some are worried about family. 

We pray for each other in this unwanted, but necessary, internment.  Touch us in our individual need.  Free us today to be glad; to rejoice in the promise of newness of life; to let our hope out of its prison.  Free us to shout and make joyful Alleluias. You know that we need to celebrate for You have done great things for us in the resurrection of Jesus.

O God, You know that we do not understand all there is to know about the resurrection.  You know that we have questions, we have our doubts, we want to believe, we do believe, we wonder about our own belief.  But on this day, help us to understand just enough about what faith means, that we are willing to let faith be what it should be; deep conviction without proof, trust without protested guarantees, joy in a promise which does not have to be fulfilled before it can be enjoyed. 

Yes, on this day grant us the freedom to rejoice and sing glad Alleluias, for “Thine Is the Glory, Risen, conquering Son; Endless is the victory Thou o’er death hast won!” 

As Christ bursts forth from the tomb,

May new life burst forth from us

And show itself in acts of love and healing
to our hurting world.

And may that same Christ,
who lives forever and is the source of our new life,

Keep your hearts rejoicing
and grant you peace this day and always. 

Amen.

Go Now!
for you cannot go where God is not.
Go with noble purpose,
and God will give meaning to Your days.
Go in love,
for it alone endures.
Go in peace,
for it is the gift of God
to those whose hearts and minds
are in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Amen.

Fast Away


Fast Away

Fast away this old month passes –
New one enters, cold and blue.
Never have I felt such distance
Separating me from lovely you.

My arms long to hold your heartstrings;
My soul aches to feel your touch.
Never did I think I’d feel so lonely-
Never have I missed you so much.

I miss my church friends in the pew;
I miss singing our hymns with you.
I long to gather at your table
And sip a glass of wine or two.

I miss the chance of volunteering
Where I can go and serve with glee.
I miss the sound of great crowd cheering.
I pray you’ll soon be here with me.

Fast away this old month passes –
No one knows where the end will be
Of this dark and deadly outbreak.
Won’t you pray for a cure with me?

Looking on the Brighter Side

Fast away this old month passes
I’m reminded of how much I love
Being safe and feeling healthy,
Hearing coos from nesting doves.

I have much for which to thank God –
And as April nudges through my door,
May my heart be ever grateful
For my safety and for so much more.

May I thank God daily for his watch
Over friends and family – oh so dear.
May I remember to show gratitude
For all the blessings I have here.

Keep my eyes on all the wonders
God has strewn across my path.
Food to eat, a loving family, and
Friends with texts that make me laugh.

Fast away this old month passes.
I won’t let the new be blue.
I’ll keep looking for God’s miracles
And send His love daily to you.

My Thanks and Condolences

Thank you, dear blogging friends, for visiting JanBeek.
You represent about 80 countries,
my WordPress stats have told me.
Some of you have lost loved ones
during this pandemic…
or you know people who have.
11,600 deaths in Italy alone??
It is unfathomable!!
The USA’s latest toll is 2,900,
according to today’s news…
with no end in sight.
No place, no person on our planet
is immune!

My Heart Breaks


My heart breaks for all who suffer,
who have lost loved ones,
whose family and friends have tested positive,
who are feeling the loneliness
and the vulnerability I wrote about
in the beginning of this blog.
It is not a situation we should make light of!
It is deadly and it is on the rise.
Bee Well, my friends.
Bee safe!

I love you!

Let’s pray together:
Dear Lord,
please
make this COVID-19
go
FAST AWAY!!

Amen.

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