In these days of national crises, It’s easy to feel powerless. It’s easy to duck our heads and hide. It’s easy to take the role of cowardice.
Our uncertainty about the future Stirs in us anxiety and fear. But stronger yet is our faith. We take courage. God is here.
This letter from Amy Klobuchar, A politician I have come to admire, Came to me in today’s mail. Her message calms the fire.
Today’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes at a time when his work and his message are more important than ever. The forces of division that are trying to convince us that our neighbors are our enemies have been loud in recent months — but I still believe as I always have that there is still more that unites us as Americans than separates us.
Our nation is coming together to reject violence and authoritarianism. This is the spirit that we must bring into the future. We must heed the words of Dr. King, that we are all “tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Thank you, Amy
Turning to the wisdom of the scriptures, We can gain resolve and be brave. We can shine a light and be courageous. God tells us how to behave.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave or forsake you.”
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit this land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
The rioters at our nation’s capitol last week were intent on “taking back the country” by overturning the Biden/Harris election. They were convinced that the election was fraught with fraud. Hundreds of court cases were brought against election officials. Each case lost or was thrown out. Even judges appointed by President Trump found “no fraud existed.”
The actions of the rioters were not what Martin Luther King would have sanctioned. They were not what God in His scripture advocates. Paul, in his letter to the people of Corinth said what we need to hear today:
1 Corinthians 16:13
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
He was not speaking to rioters. He was speaking to give courage to the people of Corinth to stand against oppressors.
Part of today’s problem in the USA (in my humble opinion) is that there is a host of Americans who have decided the people on the side of the law are the oppressors. They have painted Donald Trump as their liberator. A huge portion of our citizenry still is convinced the election was stolen. For only the second time in our history, the outgoing president will not be there at the inauguration to wish the incoming president well – and to encourage a peaceful transition of power. It is sad, indeed!
The most important thing we can do as a nation – and in fact, as a world – is to pray. Ask God to give courage and steadfastness to those people who have been elected to lead us forward. Join together in asking for a peaceful transition. There are (hopefully) many such prayer meetings occurring today and tomorrow. Here is one of them:
As we EMBRACE COURAGE and stand in the power and love of Christ, we must be discerning. Listen for the voice of God’s Truth. Try not to believe misleading rhetoric. Be sure we stand in God’s Will as we act by His strength.
2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today. Embrace Courage, my friends. See ya tomorrow.
This is the image I put on the front of this week’s church bulletin:
If you’ve followed my blog for a week or more, you know that Sunday afternoon’s blog usually is devoted to sermon notes from this morning’s worship service at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, Montana – sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley.
Today’s sermon, “Listening for God,” was based on the story of Hannah, Samuel, and Eli as told in 1 Samuel 3:1-20 and John 1:43-51.
Listening for God
Sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley Poetic notes by Jan Beekman
I was known to be able To sleep through anything. I inherited that trait from my grandma. You could sing At the top of your lungs And she would not awake. That’s a trait I retained Through most of my life’s daybreaks.
But later in life I found I would awaken at midnight And be unable to go back to sleep. I couldn’t nod off, try as I might. And in the wee hours I find The bad things seem worse. They magnify in the darkness. Sleeplessness is a curse!
So, how must it have been When Samuel heard God’s voice In the middle of the night – Must’a made him puzzle – not rejoice! His mother, Hannah, also Heard God’s voice when barren. He told her she’d give birth, So she promised her babe she’d be sharin’.
When her baby, Samuel, was born, She kept her promise to God And gave her child to Him By delivering him to Eli’s sod. Samuel grew up in the church. One night Sam heard the sound Of a voice calling out his name. He went to Eli in a running bound.
Eli told him it was God Calling him to listen and hear. It took courage to listen and accept That it was the Lord speaking clear. Samuel’s whole life changed that night As he suddenly became a man. He learned to listen without fright And obey God’s voice… just as we can.
There are lots of voices we hear In our nights that lack sweet slumber. Are we listening to the true voice of God Or is it somebody else – or thunder? While we wake to the world’s troubles, Sometimes it’s hard to discern and hear The Word of God – and live what He commands. Declare our willingness, and know God is near.
There is grace and hope knowing When Samuel listened, he changed From a boy to a Man of God – And his future was rearranged. Take courage and respond with “Speak, Lord, your servant is ready To hear and respond, and live out Your words to me. Keep me steady.”
There were a couple dozen of us tuned in to this ZOOM church service today. Thank you for joining us via this blog I pray you are tuned in to hear God’s voice, too.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
To be sure your steps Are on the path the Lord sets Embrace Listening
… and practice obedience! Here’s one of the hymns we sang during our ZOOM service this morning:
Here in Ennis, Montana, we have a group of ladies who love to sew. They call themselves the PieceMakers. Piece by piece, they sewed quilts to send to retired service men and women.
When COVID-19 hit, piece by piece they made masks. I am not sure they still are doing so, because we are being told the hospital-type masks are the only really safe ones … and we are being encouraged to put our other cloth masks away.
Meantime, today’s world causes me to “Embrace Peacemakers” – and pray that we can return to a country of sanity and safety.
Today’s Bible Verse “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
In the name of peace, I invite you to join other “Prayer Warriors” Tuesday night to pray for a peaceful transition of power here in the USA on Wednesday.
It is troublesome to see all the military and the barricades being erected in our nation’s capitol. Troublesome to think that they are necessary in order to preserve the peace and save the lives of our elected leaders who are being threatened.
It will take you to a page that has this image on it – and you can click that you are interested (if you are). If not, be sure to raise your own voice independently to God asking for peace in our nation on January 20th and beyond… or form a prayer group of your own. The threats are real… and very troublesome.
My word for 2021 is “Embrace.” Each day during my devotional time, I am prompted with a word or two that tells me what to embrace today. Yesterday it was “Silence.” Did you miss me? I was silent. No blog.
Today I am prompted to say, “Embrace One Another.” You may be thinking, “But… How can we embrace one another in the midst of this pandemic when Social Distancing is required?” How?
However, I am afraid that many people will respond, “No, I can’t hug anyone like that right now.” So, are there other ways to “Embrace One Another” besides hugging? Think about that! What can you do? Write!
You embrace me when you embrace my ideas, respond to my post, send me a text, smile at me, affirm me.
How can I embrace you without being able to come close and hug you tight? I’ll pray for you and text you. Respond.
Send me a picture of a flower e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Send me a comment telling me that you do care! Embrace. Now!
Thanks for visiting my blog today. Will you take the next step? Embrace One Another. Embrace me! God Bless You!
Sermon Notes from today’s ZOOM worship service of the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church Delivered by Rev. Steve Hundley Poetic notes taken by JanBeek
One With Us
Have you ever spoken honestly And in the process provoked A person to anger? Perhaps you even joked
About what you said. You’re trying to be forgiven. Be careful what you say and do. Beware the life you’re livin’.
Jesus was with a crowd Of sinners at the Jordan. What had Jesus done to need Forgiveness? What secrets hoardin’?
Sometimes we find ourselves Guilty by association. So Jesus had reason to be Thought a sinner by the Jewish nation.
John the Baptist, however, Knew Jesus was sinless. So he didn’t want to baptize Him. But his protest was winless!
Jesus was determined to be Baptized by John, even though He was sin-free. So we wonder, Why did He need it? Want to know?
He wanted to be baptized In order to be One with us! Like Him, we need to be One in Christ and eliminate fuss!
If Jesus was willing To step down and be One With all of us sinners, Who are we, when all’s said and done?
We are all sinners, invited To come to the river, too. Be one with our brothers and sisters. I’m all for it. How about you?
The sermon was inspired by the scriptures: Acts 19:1-7 and Mark 1:4-11 which were eloquently read to us by our pastor’s wife, Elaine, from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message Bible”
ACTS 19 1-2 Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?”
“We’ve never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?”
3 “How were you baptized, then?” asked Paul.
“In John’s baptism.”
4 “That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.”
5-7 And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God’s actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.
MARK 4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
9-11 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
God of all mercy, in our baptism You have marked us as Your own; You have given us a new identity and made us part of the body of Christ. In doing so, You have called us to rise to new life and live together in community. However, we have not been faithful to Your call. We have forged our own identity and held to destructive habits. We confess we have failed to welcome others, and broken our bonds with our brothers and sisters, and served ourselves more than You. Forgive us, we pray, for the sake of Christ, our Savior.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: John 1:12
Hear the good news! God said to Jesus, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with You I am well pleased.” We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness, who has been tempted as we are, yet is without sin.
In Christ’s name we may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, and there find mercy and grace to help in time of need.
As forgiven sinners, may we go out into the world and make a positive difference. May we…
If you have not heard former Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s You Tube message today, I recommend you click on the link here. His message, reinforcing the need for UNITY in our USA, is quite powerful. God Bless Arnie! We all need to step up in support of Democracy as he has done!
… we need to embrace God! We need to lean on Him and let Him enfold us in His loving care. We need God now more than ever! Feel God hugging you as you reach out to Him.
Today during our ZOOM worship service, Rev. Steve Hundley delivered a powerful Pastoral Prayer. As he explained to us (the two dozen members of the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, MT who logged in) during his introduction to the prayer, “I am relying heavily on the prayers of the Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall, who was elected Chaplain of the United States Senate on Jan. 4, 1947.”
“We know, Almighty God, that in this desperate hour, we as a nation need You. We need Your strength, Your guidance, Your wisdom. These are problems far greater than any human wisdom can solve, for what shall our leaders do in such an hour? May Your wisdom and Your guidance come upon the President, the President elect, the Senators and Congress men and women, to whom have been entrusted leadership. May the responsibility in the midst of this pandemic and civil unrest lie heavily on their hearts, until they are ready to acknowledge their helplessness and turn to You. Give them courage, and the moral integrity to confess that they don’t know what to do. Only then can they lead us as a nation beyond human wisdom to You, who alone has the answers.
Strengthen the courage of all our elected representatives—sincere men and women who want to do what is right, if only they can be sure what is right. Make it plain to them, O Lord. And then, start them out on the right way, for You know that we are hard to turn.
Forgive them for the blunders they have committed, the compromises they have made. Give to them to courage to admit mistakes. Take away from us, both as a nation and individuals, that stubborn pride which, followed by conceit, imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism.
Save our leaders, O God, from themselves and from their friends—even as You have saved them from their enemies.
Let no personal ambition blind them to their opportunities.
Help them to give battle to hypocrisy wherever they find it.
Give them divine common sense and a selflessness that shall make them think of their call to service and not gain.
May they have the courage to lead the people of this Republic, considering unworthy the expediency of following the people.
Lord, we pray for the families of the thousands who have died this week alone of this terrible and relentless virus. We pray too, for the families of those who lost their lives and were injured in our nation’s capital. Bring an end to the violence that would cost just one of our citizens their lives. We pray for a peaceful transition of leadership, in our nation’s capital in the coming weeks.
We pray for those within our own community who have contracted and been exposed to the Corona virus. Heal them and protect them from any long-term effects of the virus.
We pray too for those people whose needs You place on our hearts. Hear and answer, we pray, that You will forgive us all our unworthiness; cleansing us from every ignoble thought and unworthy disposition that we may be renewed in spirit and mind and heart, through Jesus Christ, our Lord… Amen.”
Thank you for visiting JanBeek today. I will post my sermon notes a little later.
Teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites. Right?
See that young man on the left up there? His name is Ty. He is my favorite!
(Well, in honesty… don’t be dismayed if you’re one of my students…. I have lots of favorites, OK? But Ty… well, read on!)
Ty was my kindergarten student in 1962-3. Every day when he stepped off the school bus, the girls all stopped what they were doing. “Hi Ty!” they would swoon. Yes, even kindergarten girls recognize a sweetheart when they see one!
And every day when it was time to go home, the girls all waved to Ty, “Bye, Ty!” they would swoon.
I was a newlywed. It was my second year of teaching. I decided if I had a boy someday, I would name him Ty. And I did!
Ah yes, my Ty is a sweetheart, just like his namesake!
So why the HOPE title?
Yesterday I heard the devastating news that my favorite student, Ty, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It has metastasized. He needs our prayers. My heart is heavy, but I am a believer… and HOPE is what believers do, right?
Day before yesterday I posted this scripture:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
I know God has Ty tucked into the palm of His hand, just as He holds our world in His hand.
I know God is watching over Ty and his treatment process. But, won’t you add your prayers to mine? “Dear Lord, please give healing to Ty.”