The coldness of this Montana winter inspired our Rev. Steve Hundley to pray to our Lord using snow and ice as metaphors that grabbed my attention last Sunday at our church.
I asked Steve for permission to share his Pastoral Prayer with you. I think it is so poetically and beautifully written, I hope you will appreciate it as much as I do.
“We come to You, O Lord, at a time when much of our valley has been gripped by snow and cold – when roads have been clogged and winds have been strong and some have struggled to keep warm.
Let the coldness of this season raise the question of our own spiritual temperatures.
Has our relationship to You been frozen and stiff?
Are the ways of our hearts clogged by snowdrifts of apathy and indifference?
Do the lines of communication between us sag and break beneath the iciness of neglect or doubt?
Send now a warming trend into our lives. Let there be a melting of our hearts, and a surrender to Your will and Your Way. Grant that the icicles of pride and loneliness may fall from our hearts, and that the heat of Your love and grace may break up the ice floes that have kept us apart.
Transform us into centers of warmth that will radiate Your presence into the cold-hearted world around us. Show us how to be Your light, like the warmth of the sun, warming the earth.
Grant peace to those who are anxious and renewal to those who are tired. Instill in our nation a longing and a desire for the common good. Let Christ come and touch us now so that all our problems may be small ones, dwarfed in the magnitude and beauty of His presence.
For in Christ there is no coldness, but eternal springtime.”
This is a prayer that I will read each morning during these cold, winter months … and pray to our Lord that indeed He will “transform [me] into a center of warmth that … radiates [God’s] presence into the cold-hearted world around us.”
I posted earlier today from my cell phone while we were up at Big Sky. Bob was enjoying a day of skiing with Nancy, his ski buddy, while I was inside making new friends, keeping warm, and reading the book that our Ennis Book Club will be discussing at tomorrow’s meeting.
I also browsed the shops at the Big Sky mall and photographed a few things (taking them home in my camera is way better than buying them!).
I enjoyed the trip to Big Sky from Ennis. The snow was so beautiful!
But once we arrived at the ski area, I was more than happy to avoid the cold and stay in the lodge. Some of you may think that’s crazy; others of you may relate. I didn’t learn to ski as a child, broke my leg as a teen, took a long time to heal, and have a fear of falling down and breaking it again. I prefer to stay in the lodge!
A Guy Named Kenny
Before Bob & Nancy could get from the parking lot to the lodge (where they had dropped me off), I met a guy named Kenny. Well actually, he met me. I was sitting quietly in the corner with my book when he approached me. Told me I reminded him of his grandma. I learned all about his family … and was in deep conversation with him when Bob & Nancy arrived. Even got his grandma’s chicken soup recipe! (Should have taken Kenny’s picture for you!) Nice guy!
After Bob & Nancy went up to ski, I went to Montana Jack’s for an Irish coffee. I was sitting with my book at the bar, sipping my drink when a guy about my son’s age sat down and struck up a conversation with me. I found out he was from Colstrip, MT and his wife is a child psychiatrist working with Autistic children. The darling, young waitress treated me to a delicious piece of apple pie to go with my coffee. She adopted me as her Grandma and so did my new friend from Colstrip (I love it).
Back Home Again
Returning home, we nearly got stuck in the drifts that had blown onto our driveway. I was reluctant to go out again, but Bob really wanted to treat me to a Happy Anniversary dinner at our favorite Ennis restaurant, The Alley Bistro. So, we braved the weather and had a great evening. We managed to return home and inch our way through the snow drifts safely. It was a Happy Anniversary indeed. Thanks for all your good wishes.
Time for bed… but first I have to finish that book. Somehow today I didn’t get much reading done. Had too much fun making new friends. Can you relate?
No, I am not practicing for divorce! After 58 eventful years of marriage, it’s too late to give up now!!
But life is not a bed of roses (or carnations!) And marriage is not easy! Nobody promised it would be.
Sometimes we get mad at one another. Sometimes we disappoint one another. Sometimes we don’t understand where the other one is coming from!
What Families Know
In his devotional today on Bayside Church’s on-line “Refuel,” Andrew McCourt talked about marriage and relationships.
He titled his message, “What Families Know,” and he said,
“People who aren’t married do married things… they are lovers practicing for divorce.”
Love Without Commitment
For as long as life began – back to the days of Adam and Eve – men and women have found a way to “find each other’s cracks.” And eventually pouring into that crack can burst the container!
Eve found Adam’s crack! And look what happened…
Andrew McCourt offered some suggestions for how to relate to one another in genuine love that does not seek to “find the crack” – but rather seeks to FILL AND FULFILL.
Andrew said something to this effect,
“What successful married folks know is this: there is an order to successful relationships.
First, you stand together shoulder to shoulder (Don’t let kids or anyone else get between you).
Second, you stand or sit together face-to-face (You look each other in the eye and you communicate).
Third, you do the bellybutton-to-bellybutton thing (You love each other emotionally and physically).”
Andrew said, “When we get that order of things reversed, that’s when we start Practicing for Divorce.”
When did this whole thing of living together first to try it out before getting married come into being?
I have a biased (informed, of course) opinion about that! I think “Three’s Company” is the culprit.
Living Together Out of Wedlock
I couldn’t find a picture of those three folks (a guy and two gals) who lived together in an apartment in NYC on a TV show back in the 70’s or early 80’s, but it was funny and popular and it made it look like it was okay for unmarried people of the opposite sex to live together. “Three’s Company” was one of my mom’s favorite shows. And she would be considered a prude by today’s standards.
When my niece lived with a guy before marriage in NYC, my mom said it was a great idea because it made her safer in an unsafe city!
See how media can change our idea of right and wrong?
Ah, here: I found a video. It was a darling TV show!
Bayside’s “Refuel” Podcast
If you want to hear Andrew McCourt himself and his actual words on the subject, try this link: bit.ly/devo021020 I have that on my iPhone and it takes me there.
On With My Day
‘Tis time for me to get on with my day. Tomorrow is our actual anniversary… 58 years. It’s not always been a bed of roses, but the key ingredient always has been there:
Yup, that’s the bottom line! So, whatever your relationship… whether it’s three’s company, living with your lover, or married, keep that RESPECT alive!
And there are a few other tips for how to keep from practicing for divorce, too. I’ll save those for tomorrow.
Today’s sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, Montana was inspired by Matthew 5:13-20
If you have been a JanBeek follower, you know I usually post on Sunday afternoon the notes I take while listening to the morning’s sermon. Most of the time, I take the notes poetically – because that’s how my brain hears the message. Here is today’s:
Be the Salt and the Light
When did you first feel old? Was it when your kids were teens? Their language came from another world – It was hard to figure what it means.
Teens aren’t the only ones with strange language. Jesus had some pretty weird expressions, too. “You are the salt of the earth,” He said. What does that mean to you?
Salt is used to purify, to season, and to seal. It was the seal of the covenant and it put out fires. What did Jesus intend when He called us salt? Did He intend us to be a spice? My soul inquires.
He said we are to be the “Light of the World.” What does that mean? I want to know. This is supposed to be “The Christian Century,” But where is our light, friends? Where does it glow?
Jesus told stories about the insignificant. He told of lost coins and mustard seeds. He spoke of the lost and the powerless. He commanded us to take care of their needs.
The things we do as Christians can have A lasting affect on others’ action and thought. They watch us, question us, sometimes imitate us – When we’re quietly going about doing what we ought.
We ARE the salt of the earth and the world’s light. We need to play the part and let our faith shine from above. We can’t forget who we are – nor get cluttered with junk – Or we’ll lose our effectiveness to spread God’s love.
So, what “junk” clutters your life, blocks your light, and dilutes your salt?
It doesn’t needs to be literal “junk” like that in this junk yard.
It might be over-emphasis in an area that takes you away from what you would like to be doing instead.
It might be worry over something that may or may not happen.
It might be possessions that we need to clear out… cuz most of us have too much “stuff.” (I know I am leaving way more “junk” than I should in my house for my kids to sort through and throw away someday.)
What is your “junk” that clutters your actions and your thinking?
Salt is Spice – – Spice Up Your Life
In my sermon notes, I wrote, “The things we do as Christians can have A lasting affect on others’ action and thought…”
By spicing up our life, I mean our actions and thoughts might include:
the sweetness of sugar as we reach out to help others
the enhancement of salt as we perform random acts of kindness
the zestiness of pepper as we sprinkle joy and laughter to those around us
the longevity of curry as we continue to connect with long-lasting friends and family with love
the healing power of tumeric as we exhibit compassion
Be the Light
Being the “Light of the World” is a matter of shining love in the darkness. Before the regular sermon, Pastor Steve gave a special message directed to the children today. He sat on the chancel steps, invited the kids to come sit with him, and he handed them a candle. He lit his own candle and said, I would like to light your candle, too, but I’m afraid if I did, then I wouldn’t have a light on mine.”
The kids looked at him quizzically. “Don’t you agree?” he asked them.
They shook their heads, “No.”
“Really? If I light your candle with mine, then I will still have light?”
“Yes,” they nodded as they held out their candles.
Sure enough, he lit their candles with his, and there was not less light… but more!
The message here is clear… BE THE LIGHT. SHARE THE LIGHT. SPREAD THE LIGHT. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!
I found this “Japanese Wisdom” on Facebook. People had commented about it and clicked their “likes” and “loves” and “sad” … and that one person who was “sad” was probably the one who wrote an irate comment denouncing the title.
Oh my, how sad that someone would see this and be incensed that the Japanese took ownership! Hey, I don’t care who thought it up first, I just love it. And I think it is more than true: “If you don’t know, shut up!”
There is no reason to be offended by something as clever and universal as this. Just embrace it!
I am headed to have breakfast and go to church. I will pray for that caustic person who was offended to have a peace-filled day. “If it’s not nice, don’t say or write it!”