Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘gardening’

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

How D’ya Save ‘Em?


You have a secret?

A way to save dying plants?

We brought them inside.

Don’t think that will work

The freezing, frosty weather

Got them ‘fore I did!

Poor Geraniums

Bit the dust with early frost.

How do you save ‘em?

 

I think that Derrick

Posts tantalizing flowers

Just to frustrate me!

Derrick wants me to

Feel like a total failure…

Those are HIS flowers!

 

And he posts

Gorgeous photographs of cows;

Maybe I should switch.

 

Perhaps saving cows

Is easier than flowers.

What do you think, huh?

portrait of cow standing in pasture

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If a cow doesn’t produce,

Is it a Milk Dud

or an Udder Failure?

   

My flowers are toast.

Do you have some tips for me?

How do you save ’em?

 

71212928_756366374818358_1409176978816237568_oSee ya tomorrow.

 

Love My Gardener!


I Love My Gardener

trees yard sky
Yes, I love my gardener!
He does such careful work –
I never see him stoppin’
Or takin’ time to shirk.
.
He keeps the trees so green,
The lawn so trimmed and bright.
He fertilizes flowers
And trims dead ones just right.
.
He takes great care of all;
Pulls weeds when they just creep in.
I love my gardener so much –
I think I’d better keep him!

Don’t you?

 

 

trees -yard-look northeast

 

daffodil trimmed

home-ramp-back

yellow Columbine

Bet you wish you had a gardener like mine, huh?
Well – you can’t have him!

It’s my sweet husband, Bob – busy at work –
changing a sprinkler head.
(Don’t ask him to smile right now;
He says, “I’m busy!”)

bob-the-gardener.jpg

Love my gardener!
heart of love
See you tomorrow!

Adding Meaning to Life C=Connections


C = Connections

In their book, Spiritual Literacy,
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
wrote the following,
“Cultivate the art of making connections.
See how your life is intimately related
to all life on the planet.”

 

Different Kinds of Connections

The connections we have with our family and friends enrich and add meaning to our lives. For most of us, that’s a given.

Us w HopeDrewX +Chris

But what about random connections?

The poem by John Donne reminds us,

No man is an island,
“Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own,
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me
Because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore send not to know
For whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.”

Our lives are richer, fuller, more meaningful when we realize “No man is an island,” and we allow our hearts and our bodies to be touched by the lives of others. Feel the connections!

Feel the Intimacy

All of us are connected, whether we know it or not! We may feel the connections, but do we feel the intimacy?

pexels-photo-1645634

Gunilla Norris wrote, “This is intimacy: its touch is ever new, revealing the precious moments we have to live and to connect with things. No love is ever lost in this universe.”

Connection with Things

Some people say they have never felt closer to God than in their garden or out in the woods or on a river. They connect to the plants, the trees, the water, the earth… and the intimacy they feel with things fuels a greater love and appreciation of the divine. Out in nature, they are freer to be their true selves.

Are you one of those people?

agriculture backyard blur close up

 

people riding jon boats

 

Connections Make Us Stronger

Like a chain, linked together, we are stronger, more effective, when we are connected.

We can keep evil at bay more convincingly when we are connected. We protect one another.

cyclone fence in shallow photography

We can invite more joy and create more good when we are connected.

imgp3292.jpg

Today I am volunteering again at the Medical Center. As a “Purple Lady,” I am connected to a group of ladies who “woman the desk” five days a week, greet people who enter the door, and help them feel welcomed and taken care of. Our fund raiser each year (a Home Tour event) raises thousands of dollars. The money is donated to the hospital for needs such as x-ray machines, physical therapy equipment, a crash cart, blanket warmers, etc. Connections make us stronger and more effective… and friendships are formed that enrich our lives immeasurably!

What connections have added meaning and enrichment to your life?

Spirit-Lifter


Spirit-Lifter

Nothing lifts the spirit
Quite as quickly
As watching a
seventy-five year old kid
with a new toy!

Image

Will spring ever come?

Time for the springtime
To grow the grass
So my new toy
Has some work to do
As I drive past!

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