Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘gardening’

Gardening is Hard Work!


Today at d’Verse, Victoria Sloto
asked us to write a Quadrille of exactly 44 words
using the word Garden.

Derrick Knight can tell you
Gardening is hard work.
Ask his wife, Jackie,
She’ll tell you he’s no jerk
When it comes to their garden
He’s the chief dead-header!!
Jackie plants and tends the garden
With utmost expertise
And countless hours
Of sweaty toil.

D’Verse, garden

It’s Not Fair!


Sermon Notes
August 9, 2020
Rev. Steve Hundley
Jan’s poetic notes taken while listening
to Steve’s message based on John 21:15-23

“A Side-Long Glance”

Jesus was with His disciples on shore.
Peter thought Jesus didn’t believe him.
Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep.
The answer failed to relieve him.

Have you ever felt misunderstood?
Ever had your sincerity questioned bare?
Peter told Jesus, “You know I love You.”
Jesus had asked him three times there.

Was Jesus expecting too much of Peter?
Does He expect too much of us?
A tithe is a tenth of what you make.
The visible return’s not much to see – why fuss?

Well, Jesus expected even more than a tenth.
“What about him?” Peter asked.
Like Peter, we question others’ faith.
We want Jesus to take ’em to task.

There has to be a difference between
Faith and foolishness – so it’s not fair
Those rich folks don’t seem to give –
They don’t seem to do their share.

We cast a side-long glance across the aisle,
And we ask, as Peter did, “What about them?”
And Jesus answers us as He did Peter,
“What is it to you?” From where does fairness stem?

Jesus says, “Feed My sheep -just love!”
Your side-long glance has no place here.
You do your fair share and don’t worry about
What others do. Give, love, and have no fear.

No side-long glances allowed.
Look ahead at the One who stands
Before a hurting world and says,
“Feed My sheep in all My lands.”

Just follow Jesus –
And what will happen today?
To tell the truth, I don’t know!
Just do it anyway!!

Amen!

After church today we had a barbecue. It was the kick-off of the fiscal year’s drive for finances to fund the Pastor Search Committee and to consider our pledges for the 2020-21 church budget. Jesus said, “Feed My sheep!” and these sheep were fed in grand style out on the church lawn.

Plenty of space to socially distance
Bob with Kathy & Lucy
Here’s Pastor Steve with his wife, Elaine
The darling Nelson family: Murray, Nick, Nellie & Megan
Don’t you love that green bow?
Children like Murray are our church’s future!
Roy (on the left) was today’s scripture reader.
Charlie and his wife, Judy, were our greeters.
Ray and Barbara enjoyed the food and fellowship.

After the church BBQ, we went to my friend, Sue’s. Her birthday is tomorrow. We needed to sing “Happy Birthday!” while we socially distanced. She and her husband are being really careful around this COVID-19 … especially with Montana’s case numbers rising. They are being kept really busy at their beautiful home. Just look at their gardens!

Happy Birthday, Sue!!
Quite the flower bed!!
Impressive garden!
Represents a lot of work!!
This back of their house faces out toward the gorgeous Madison Range.

Sue and Jerry joined the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church on the same Sunday Bob & I did nearly 15 years ago. We have been fast friends ever since. The two of them built this gorgeous house themselves! Just this summer they added that deck outside their bedroom window on the right.

Here is the front of the house:

It’s so beautiful!!
Behind the house to the south side is this cabin.
They lived in it for a couple of years while they built their house.
We had more than a couple cozy dinners there.
It is such a darling, little place. Wanna rent it for a week or so?
Tell me in the comments section below.
Beautiful “Bee Plant” on the south – outside their sun room.
The road (Trail Creek) headed back home from Sue & Jerry’s.

Yes, we are blessed. We live in the gorgeous Madison Valley. We have a terrific church, a wonderful pastor who gives great sermons, beautiful friends, and a picture-perfect setting with glorious August sunshine and enormous “BigSky” drama. Ah, my friends, life is good!

No need for side-long glances. Keep your eyes on your own blessings, your own giving, and your own business. No need focusing on what’s “not fair!” Remember while you’re counting your blessings to share your love with others with your whole heart!

Do have a fantastic week ahead.

Thanks for visiting
and for sharing with me the sermon
and our visit with Sue.

Happy Birthday, Sue!!

This was a couple years ago at our house.
Love you, Sue!!


Virtual Hugs,
JanBeek

We’re All Good AND Bad


We all are human
So we all are imperfect
Good and bad combined

Today’s sermon drummed home that point to us. Rev. Steve Hundley at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church here in Ennis, Montana, used this scripture to springboard into the message for today:

Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43
The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

You know I like to take poetic notes as I listen to the sermon each Sunday. Here are my notes, taken during today’s message:

The Message – “So What About the Weeds?”

Gardens are lot of trouble.
The weeds grow more than flowers.
The weeds choke out vegetables.
Why do weeds have such powers?

Jesus says the garden is the world,
And in it the devil plants seeds.
His are never flowers or veggies;
They are nothing but nasty weeds,

There has always been – and always will be –
Weeds – the stuff planted by sin.
Weeds, tares, or wild rye
Looks like wheat and mixes in.

The wild rye is actually poisonous,
But we can’t tell one from the other.
Just like us – who try to judge
The authenticity of our sisters and brothers.

Our “weed pulling” – ridding us of enemies –
Is a job some think is ours.
We try to separate the good from the bad,
As if calling out evil is in our powers.

Trouble is we each have wheat and weeds.
We’re all a part evil and a part good.
Who is capable of separating the weeds?
It’s not our job. Leave ’em. We should!

Sometimes trying to eliminate sin
Is a process that has reverse effects.
We inadvertently pull of the flowers,
Those beautiful people our Lord protects.

Too much weeding can rob people
Of the right to hear the Gospel and read
The Words Jesus spoke to us all: “Do not judge.”
Risk the weeds as you plant Good seeds.

Amen?
Amen!

Photo by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels.com

Have a beautiful Sunday evening…
Enjoy your garden (it’s another form of creative art… yes, Derrick!)

See ya tomorrow.
Bee well!
And let’s all strive to bee more good than bad!
Hah!

Love to you.
JanBeek

The Seed and the Sower


Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

It’s Sunday. It’s a day we set aside to worship God and listen to His Word. As I listened to Rev. Steve Hundley deliver his sermon today, I did my usual. I recorded on my bulletin what my ears took in poetically.

Photo by Hakan Tahmaz on Pexels.com

Here are my notes:

People flocked to Jesus.
He began to preach from a boat.
He had to distance from the crowd
So he drifted out a bit to float.

Distanced from the multitudes,
Jesus told the Parable of the Seed.
The Seed is the Word of God,
Spoken to the people in need.

Jesus warned that the Word
Often falls on deaf ear.
He explained that not all seeds
Grow in all who hear.

But those who allow the seed to grow,
Spend time to allow the seed to sink in,
Let it bury itself in their hearts,
Can bear fruit and juice they drink in.

The seed of the Word is like
A Smoothie blended into thought and deed.
Let the Word transform you
And grow to the Faith we all need.

But we may carry a ball & chain of doubt
That keeps us from letting go
Of the seeds that need to be planted
In Good Soil so they can grow,

Don’t hoard the Seeds of plenty
That God has blessed in you.
Sow them, grow them, harvest
And blend them to a Smoothie. Do!

Every seed carries in its bosom the future.
Trust God to make the seeds grow.
Be the sower who trusts the Maker
To find Good Soil wherever you go.

Amen

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Matthew 13:18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”


The phenomenal garden of Jackie and derrickjknight

Have a Super Sunday,
Dear WordPress friends,
Bee well
Bee safe
See ya tomorrow
Love,
JanBeek

Wow – Music & Flowers!


Wordless Wednesday


It’s a beautiful Wordless Wednesday.
Let music and flowers speak to you.
Take a walk around my yard with me
as you listen to this amazing
You.Tube of the Canadian Brass.

TazE says, “Okay, time to go for a real walk!”

Enough “wow”-ing for now.
So much for being “wordless!”

She’s “bow-wow”-ing!
“Let’s GO!”

Off for a walk…
Grateful for this beautiful day.

See ya later.
Bee well!
Hugs,
JanBeek


If You’re Happy…


If you’re happy and you know it,
How do you show it?

In this joyful video,
Children from around the world
Teach us how to let others know it…

I dare you to play this video and NOT SMILE!!
Come on, sing along – and JUST DO IT!!

A-Z What Makes You Happy

Years ago I did an A-Z series on what makes me happy. It started when I was stuck at a railroad track with a stalled train blocking my way to a luncheon engagement. I already was late, and now I was grumbling. Of course, my mood and grumbles didn’t move the train. I decided to change my mood and start thinking happy thoughts instead of growling at the Lord.

Those minutes sitting at the train tracks turned into a 26 day blogging series that included a letter a day: A = ______, B = ______, C = _______ …. you get the idea.

Today I found a new friend… I reposted her blog from today on WordPress and then started to peruse her site. What a delight!

Abide In God

Her by-line says her mission is: “Seeking faith and wisdom in God’s word, a supportive website for the Christian journey.” In her “About” section, I found her picture. I love being able to visualize my fellow bloggers, don’t you?

There is such kindness in her eyes!

Get to Know Blogging Friends

I am having fun getting better acquainted with this delightful mother of a 23-year-old daughter and grandmother of a darling little boy and adorable twin girls. She (I have yet to discover her name) reminds me very much of my across the street neighbor, Penny. So for now that’s what I will call her.

P.S. I just received a response from “Penny.” Her name is Lesley!

Today if I did the A-Z exercise in what makes me happy, I’d have to substitute A = apples (or whatever I said way back then) to A = Abide in God.

What would you put for your A = ______ ?

Pursue Connections

Lesley has a few sub-blogs. If you click on “Abide in God” up there, you will see her other sub-titles. One of them is “Today I am Thankful for…” But when I click there, it says its content is password protected. Lesley – if you are reading this, I want to join that part of your journey. How do I get in? I am knocking at the door!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hello, Lesley – Let me in… I like your link to supportive websites and the reference to James 1:5

With supportive friends like you out there, and the Bible as our guide, this Christian walk can be more do-able! It makes me happy to know that I have you as a soul sister whose purpose matches mine. Together, we can:

Today what makes me happy includes: F = Finding your blog and Following it.

Another blog I follow that makes me happy every day is: D = Derrick’s garden! derrickjknight – If you don’t know Derrick and Jackie, do yourself a favor and go meet them today!

I come to their garden alone … not really alone, for Jackie & Nugget are there… and Derrick is behind the camera, and the dew is not still on the roses:

Jackie, Derrick’s dear wife (master gardener) is busy at work. Her smile makes me happy. J = Jackie’s smile!
(Thanks, Derrick, for your beautiful photography.)

Thank you, Jackie, for sharing your wonderful gardening results with us. I can’t grow roses here in Montana. The antelope eat the buds and chew off the leaves! So I am deeeelighted that you share yours.

Be Happy With What You Have

Show others your joy!
A part of being happy
Is looking around.

Appreciate life
And be thankful for your friends;
Share in their blessings.

Don’t focus on lack.
But look at what you have got,
And thank our Father.

Have a Wonderful Week!
Thank you for visiting JanBeek today.
I hope it made you happy.

Share with me something that brings you joy.


See ya tomorrow.
Love, JanBeek

Fun Blog Award


I was nominated to participate in this fun blog post. I was nominated by https://charlotteannrobinson.com/ Check out her blog. It is fun, inspiring, upbeat, and always worth the read.

When she answered the question, “What are your ten favorite feelings?” she added graphics to each answer. She made it fun to learn these things about her. You will enjoy seeing them.

Rules:

Simply list 10 of your favorite feelings and then pass on the nomination to one or more of your favorite bloggers!

JanBeek’s 10 favorite feelings:
  1. peacefulness
  2. loving and being loved
  3. compassion
  4. empathy
  5. faithfulness
  6. gratitude
  7. generosity
  8. joyfulness
  9. self-confidence
  10. interdependence

I find peacefulness in Derrick’s garden. He shares wonderful pictures of the work he and Jackie do almost every day there. Their relationship demonstrates the reality and importance of interdependence. We all need one another!!

I love looking for Nugget, their feathered friend. When Derrick’s not in the garden, he shows us his travels through the countryside in his area of Great Britain. I nominate him for best daily inspirational post… derrickjknight

Hello Nugget!

.

Have a beautiful day, my friends.
Enjoy Singing Sky Photography at
https://www.facebook.com/singingskyphotography
His is one of my favorite Facebook sites.

See ya later.

Thank you, Charlotte!!

Eyes on Jesus – Just As I Am


Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light at the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the savior,
And life more abundant and free…

Dear Lord,

Go to this world that is dying.
Come to us who are sad and sighing.
Come to us who are weary and worried.
Just calm all of us who are hurried.

We come as we are to your alter,
Knowing without You, we falter.
Take what is broken and mend it.
Take was is wounded. heal and tend it.

Hold those who are desperate; rescue us.
Fill those who are empty; You treasure us.
We know we are guilty, so pardon us.
Help us to grow love as You garden us.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

Help us grow the fruit of compassion.
Where you find hate, please refashion.
Take what you see and improve us,
Let your Holy Spirit truly move us.

Move us to love unity and justice.
Don’t let divisions and rhetoric bust us.
Make us strong, wise and actively trying
To restore peace to earth. We are crying.

Crying for healing and restoration.
Crying for prejudice’s elimination.
Crying for every adult and child
To adopt Christ’s ways, which are mild.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

I am praying for you.
See ya later.
Hugs,
JanBeek





Worship With Us 4-26-20


Sermon and prayers by Rev. Steve Hundley
Song selections by Fran McNeill

Preparation for Worship:

Bless us, O God, with a reverent sense of Your presence, that we may be at peace and may worship You with all our minds and spirits; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Call to Worship:   Psalm 116: 12-13

What can we give back to God for the blessings He has poured out on us?

We will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

Opening Prayer

Blow upon us, O Lord, the fresh wind of Your Spirit.  Refresh our souls, which are weary from continuous social distancing.  Help us to forget for a little while the difficulties of daily existence, and breathe from Your presence new hope, new purpose, and new direction for our lives.  Embolden us to pray and seek Your face, that everything else may find its proper place in these unprecedented times.   Amen.

Prayer of Confession:

Gracious Lord, teach us always to respect and love all the lives You create.  Forgive our lack of concern and love for those who are silently suffering around the world in the face of this ongoing pandemic.  Forgive us when we are negligent and uncaring for those who are most vulnerable; for those who are elderly; for those forgotten in nursing homes; for those who have little or no access to medical care; for those essential workers on the front lines; and, for those who have and continue to suffer from a careless society.  Teach us to open our hearts and our lives up in ways that will be beneficial to all.  Amen.

Assurance of Pardon:  Psalm 32: 3-5

Hear these words of hope from the Psalmist: “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the guilt of my sin.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

A Children’s Message for Adults, too!

(a true story)

In early spring in the Blue Ridge mountains where I grew up, we would plant a garden full of corn and vegetables, as well as a strawberry patch.  There were also apple and pear trees, not to mention the wild grapes, blackberries, huckleberries, and raspberries that grew in the woods. 

Every summer my mother would pull out the old pressure cooker and spend days canning quart jars of every kind of vegetables and berries and put them away in the cellar.  Then when winter came and the ground was cold, icy, and barren and nothing seemed to be alive, mom would go down into the cellar, come up with some canned vegetable or savory berry preserve, and it would be May and June once more at our family table, and how blessed we were!

During this difficult time while we are all forced to stay home for fear of getting or spreading the dangerous coronavirus, I can’t help but think about how many of us spent hours in front of the television, on our computers and phones playing video games, or watching meaningless YouTube videos.  It occurred to me that there is hardly anything there to nourish the soul or help us through this pandemic.  There’s not a calorie there at all that can strengthen us when life is hard and barren.

That is why it is so important that we turn to the stories of our faith: the stories of the Old Testament, the stories of Jesus—His life and ministry, as well as the other letters and books of the Bible.  By dipping down into the deep reservoir of God’s Word for all life and faith, we can find nourishment for the facing of these days.

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

Message:                                  At Home with the Risen Lord

John 20:13-32

Two travelers on the road, making the seven-mile hike from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  Why Emmaus?  Well, it would appear that they live there.  Emmaus is home.  Still, the excitement and energy usually associated with home—the place where we belong—the place where we grew up, is not evident on these traveler’s faces, nor can it be heard in their voices.  The joy we normally associate with a homecoming is nowhere to be found.  Instead, their hopelessly slow pace exposes their disappointment and disillusionment.  The reality is, their demeanor has more to do with where they are coming from than where they are heading.

These two travelers are leaving the holy city of Jerusalem.  They are leaving because there is nothing left for them there.  They are leaving because everything they had hoped for and dreamed of, is gone.  They are leaving because the One in whom they had placed their faith is dead.  They are leaving because their hope has been nailed to a cross.  Their Savior is dead.  The movement is over.

Unable to ignore the tired and empty look on their faces or the despair in their voices, a stranger inquires: “What is your conversation about?”  Now, having to explain the cause of one’s pain only serves to intensify it.  So, stopping dead in their tracks, Luke says: “They just stood there looking sad.”  Suddenly, the one named Cleopas breaks the silence: “Who are you, Rip Van Winkle?” (He didn’t really say that, but that is what he meant.) “Are you the only one who does not know what has happened?”  You can almost hear the mixture of amazement and irritation ringing in his voice.  And, who can blame him?  They had wagered everything on this Jesus, and lost!

Have you ever lost?  I mean, really lost?  It is an empty feeling, like a political incumbent, who though their candidacy was certain, waits to the last hour to concede defeat.  Arriving at his campaign headquarters, surrounded by a remnant of faithful supporters and the media, of course, steps to the podium and says: “I really thought we were going to win.  We gave it our best shot, and we lost.  But the people have spoken, and they have chosen Barabbas.  I would like to thank all of you who came out.  But, before we go, could you take down the posters and the streamers?   We want to leave the place just as if we were never here.”

“We lost,” Cleopas says to the stranger.  “Jesus was turned over to the authorities, condemned to death, and nailed to a cross, and there he died along with our greatest hopes and dreams.”  Lost in his own despair and forgetting himself for a moment, Cleopas goes on to say, “Oh yes, some women surprised us babbling on about finding his tomb empty, and angels appearing and reporting him to be alive.  But, we discounted it as nothing but an idle tale—some kind of cruel joke.  You see, he died!” 

Just ask those who were there.  They will tell you: “We saw it all with our own eyes. He’s dead alright.”  Ask his own mother: “Yes, I was there.  My son died there on that cross.”  Ask the soldiers: “Oh he’s dead alright, we made certain of that with one good thrust of a spear.”  Even his closest disciples will tell you: “We didn’t get too close for obvious reasons, but yes, he is dead.  And Joseph of Arimathea confirmed it.  You see, he helped to take down the body and wrap it in a shroud to be laid in his own tomb.”  Yes, Jesus is dead, and with him all the hopes and dreams of a new Israel.

Then, the stranger, the risen Lord unbeknownst to them, speaks.  He speaks as if He sees something wonderful that they cannot see.  He speaks as if the hopeless and meaningless events of the past three days make perfect sense.  “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets,” Luke says, “He interprets to them in all the scriptures, the things concerning Himself!”  For Cleopas and his traveling companion, it must have been something like finding the missing pieces of an incomplete puzzle.

I don’t know about you, but as I read this scripture, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Risen Jesus didn’t just say: “WHY THE LONG FACES?  CHEER UP!  IT IS ME, IN THE FLESH!  “I WAS DEAD, BUT NOW I AM ALIVE AGAIN!” (I know; I know…I had a New Testament professor who once said that I tended to ask questions that no one else would even think to ask.  I wonder if he meant it as a compliment?  I meant to ask him if I ever saw him again.)  Besides, maybe Jesus was afraid what their response would be if he came right out and said: “Look, it is me, Jesus, alive and well.”

I remember years ago, helping to lay the foundation for a medical clinic in the mountains of Haiti.  As we were digging the footings for the building, I asked if there were any poisonous snakes in Haiti.  I was told that there were no snakes at all on the island, so there was nothing to worry about.  However, one morning about 6:00 a.m., while walking up the hill towards our work site, low and behold, in the middle of the path was a small brown snake.  Calling out to two Haitian women carrying their goods to the market, I motioned for them to come and see what I had found.  I thought clearing up a national misconception was the honorable thing to do.  But, one look at that snake caused the two women to fling their goods into the air and tear off screaming and running down the side of the mountain!  Perhaps, Jesus thought that He, too, would have received a similar response if He had come right out and announced His true identity.  Hmm?

Instead, the risen Christ turns the two travelers’ attention back to the scriptures.  He unfolds for them what God is doing in the world.  He shows them how every reference in the Torah and the prophets describes what God has done or said which throws light on the events of the past three fateful days.

This is the reason we look to the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.  The scriptures remind us of God’s unfolding work in our world.  Scripture sets our lives and these unprecedented times in their proper perspective.  Sitting here in our own homes, not knowing what the next weeks might bring, scripture reminds us that our lives, too, are in a direct, long line of witnesses from Moses to David, to Jesus and Paul, to Augustine, to Martin Luther and John Calvin, to John Knox and John Wesley, to Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr, etc.   Scripture reminds us that we are not alone in this world.  Through scripture we can know that the God who presides over all history is our God, and that God is faithful no matter what is happening in our lives at any given moment.

I remember reading of a famous dancer who was a victim of a terrible accident.  She lay in traction for months. When asked how she was able to survive during that time, she said: “Every day, I would dance the 23rd Psalm in my head.”  And, it was through Scripture that the Apostle Paul discovered faith through grace alone.  It was through Scripture that Augustine found meaning and purpose for living.  It was through Scripture that John Wesley found his heart strangely warmed.  And, it is through Scripture that our hearts are tendered and our eyes are opened to the power and presence of our risen Lord in these unprecedented times.

Sure, I know that some of what we find in Scripture is often violent, narrow, primitive, incomprehensible, disordered, and even weird.  But, so are we.  And the Bible is also about us.  It is God’s dealing with the likes of us throughout history.  Someone said:

If you look “at” a window, you see fly-specks, dust, the crack where Jr.’s frisbee hit it.  If You look “through” a window, you see the world beyond.  Something like this is the difference between those who see the Bible as a “holy bore” and those who see it as the “Word of God” which speaks out of the depths of an almost unimaginable past, into the depths of ourselves.” 

So, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Luke tells us, Jesus opened for them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself, preparing them to see Him in all His resurrected glory.

“Stay with us,” the travelers said to the stranger, “and when the Risen Lord was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized them.”

  Some years ago when my grandfather died, my uncle did most of the planning for his funeral.  Still, I was surprised how hard he seemed to take his father’s death.  Even so, he wrote a moving eulogy for his father, and asked the most elegant preacher in the Roanoke Valley to read it.  Looking over at my uncle during the service, I could see the despair in his eyes.  He did brighten up as his eulogy was read, but slumped down in the pew during the Scripture reading and funeral sermon, seemingly unaware of the promises of Scripture and words of hope and life that the preacher also shared that day.  The Scriptures read were familiar passages of eternal hope and resurrection; words I used often at funeral services I conducted…words I believed.  I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take those words of hope and the resurrection to claim victory over the pain of my grandfather’s passing from this life to the next.

After my grandfather’s service, my aunt, with tears in her eyes, said that my uncle had refused to join the family for the meal she had prepared.  He said that he would not party on the day of his father’s death.  However, it was at that family meal following the service together with family and friends, that those funeral scripture passages began to claim their victory over death.  It was at that meal that someone said the preacher: “I cannot help but think of those Scriptures you read.  They were so fitting and true.”  You see, it was at that family meal, where hope, peace, smiles, tears, and laughter shouted God’s victory over death.  It was at that meal that our eyes were opened and we recognized the promises and presence of our risen Lord.  After all, the scriptures readings had prepared us.

I am reminded of two children coloring their worksheets and talking about this story of “The Road to Emmaus” in their Sunday School Class.  One asked: “How do you know when you are blind?”  “You don’t,” said the other, “You only know afterwards, when you can see again.”

Pastoral Prayer:

O God, whom we see in every sunrise and sunset, teach us to see You as well in the haggard faces of the medical worker and every essential worker on the front lines of this ongoing fight against this unseen, but deadly virus.  Help us who are called by Your name to have Your vision of the future of our world, as a place where the lion lies down with the lamb, where the person with two coats shares with the person who has none, and where everyone takes care of the suffering, the sick, and the aged.

Release us from our bondage to self-interest, worrying about what we shall eat or what we shall wear or how we look to others who are watching us.  Guide us into the freedom of Your Spirit, where we shall be at peace and confident and supportive of others.

Teach us to number our days as gifts, so that we may never treat them as obstacles to be overcome or burdens to be endured until our lives are back to normal.  And, though we are apart, enable us to be a community of Christ, whose body we are.  Give to us a special capacity for grace to reach out to those who are ill in body and spirit, and let the very sense of Your presence become their balm in these difficult days.

Give wisdom to the leaders of our world, that they may better cope with the confusion and complexity of this perilous time.  Bring us all into a greater sensitivity to the needs of those who are suffering the most, whether from the virus or from the economic hardship it has caused.  We pray too, for the family and friends of Neil Kent.  We will miss his gentle spirit and contagious smile, but help us to hold near to our hearts the memory of his faith, perseverance, peaceful spirit by which he faces both life and death.  We pray for Jerry and Sue Woodruff’s son-in-law, Ed.  Lord, bring healing to his body and wisdom for the doctors and medical professionals treating him, that he may experience a complete recovery.  Lord, use the surgeons and medical staff as your instruments of healing for little Ezra, and young Michael in these coming days. 

Now let Your Holy Spirit overpower us as we worship, blotting out sin that would blind us to Your glory and raising us to the newness of life that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom in whose name we pray saying…Our Father, who art in heaven… 

Blessing:

May the love of God surround you,
The wisdom of God guide you,
And the power of the Holy Spirit encourage you
As you joyfully proclaim:
“The whole world is in God’s hands.” 
Amen.

Go in Peace.
See ya tomorrow.

Plant a Tree!


Let’s celebrate Arbor Day!!

If you live in the USA and you click on this link, https://www.arborday.org/states/ , you will find a map that tells you what kinds of trees grow well in your area.

Are you near water?
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com
Are you in a tropical area?
Does it get real cold and snow where you live?
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com
Do fruit or nut trees thrive where you are?

The Arbor Day Foundation suggested other ways, besides planting, to celebrate the proliferation and appreciation of our trees. Here are things we can do from the safety of our homes:

  • Connecting with teachers in your area to raise students’ awareness of Arbor Day with online lessons related to trees.
  • Researching the history of the day.
  • Writing a poem about trees, or drawing a picture of your favorite tree.
  • Sponsoring a contest of students’ drawings using photos of their artwork submitted by the students. 
  • Reading a book about trees and then donating it to a library, a school, a teacher, or a child. 
  • Educating yourself and others about caring for trees, proper pruning, and planting times.
  • Bringing Arbor Day inside with container gardening, herb plants, or a bonsai tree.
  • Making plans for planting projects, so that when you can execute them, you’ll be all set to go!

Favorite Trees

What are your favorite trees? Here are some of mine:

  1. Evergreen – they are solid and unchanging, providing shelter for birds and small animals, giving us a sense of greenness year round.
  2. AspenAspen trees are all native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high-altitude areas such as mountains or high plains. They are all medium-sized deciduous trees reaching 49–98 ft. tall. The Aspen is noted for its ability to regenerate vegetatively by shoots and suckers arising along its long lateral roots.
  3. Bur and Chestnut Oak Tree – Bur oak or mossycup oak is a North American deciduous tree widely distributed across the U.S., Southeastern Montana, and Northeastern Wyoming. Chestnut oak is a member of the white oak group with chestnut-like leaves. The chestnut oak is noted for its ability to survive on steep, rocky sites where other oaks in its range cannot. Foliage unfurls pink and becomes silvery before finally becoming dark green. The chestnut oak is also known for its beautiful silvery-white bark.
Photo by Kirill Belotserkovsky on Pexels.com
Evergreens… pine, spruce, juniper and cypress
Beware, though, because they grow tall and spread out!
When these trees were planted around our house,
the house was visible… not anymore!
We have an aspen in the front of our house –
It rarely changes color to this beautiful gold.
The leaves just freeze before fall comes in full glory.
But the ones planted a little farther from the house are beautiful.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Are these Aspen?
These are Aspen, for sure.
We see groves like this when we go riding on our ATV in the fall.
I love the shape of the oak leaves!

This oak tree had to have been planted at least a hundred years ago! They grow slowly… but they become massive and majestic. See why they are treasured for the shade they provide?

What is YOUR favorite tree?
Better get started now…
Happy Planting.
Happy Arbor Day!



Give some tree the gift of green again.

Let one bird sing.

—From “When Autumn Came” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

     translated by Naomi Lazard

See ya later.
I’m gonna go sit under a tree and sing.
Virtual Hugs,
JanBeek

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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