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.
Today’s sermon by Rev. Steve Hundley at Ennis, Montana’s Presbyterian Church was titled, “Swept Up in the Current of God’s Love.”
In my typical fashion, I listened and took notes in poetry to capture the message as I was received it.
I like this image for today’s bulletin cover because the message as I pondered it was: “Listen for the angels’ announcement. Listen with your heart, and Be swept up into the realms of JOY!”
Based on and reflections from Luke 1:39-55
Mary rushed to tell Elizabeth The anticipation of Jesus’ birth. But Elizabeth already knew it… Elizabeth knew it? How on earth??
Mary felt a song swell up And bubble over inside her. She sang acceptance and praises. Elizabeth beamed beside her.
We don’t think of God exploding Into our lives this season. Our upside-down world seems to forget The JOY, the Message, the Reason.
The story of Mary and Elizabeth Reminds us of the glories of the event. To make Christmas more meaningful, We need to focus on the love sent.
Mary and Elizabeth didn’t make the joy. They WERE the joy – growing in them. God’s presence exhibited the miracle. The peace and JOY of God began then.
We’re not the master of all this. The grace and love are gifts. We’re the grateful recipients. With Jesus’ birth, the world shifts.
The angels announced the Savior. The vulnerable baby was born. His life changed our destiny. No longer are we lost or forlorn.
Mary’s Magnificat is a message To all of us to be steady – Steady for Christ’s coming. Listen with your heart – be ready!
Be prepared to be swept away By the current of God’s love. Be prepared for that Bethlehem baby Who came to save us from above.
Yes, the angels announced that heavenly Baby Who came down from God to us. Now we’re awaiting the angel Who’ll announce an end to all this fuss.
No, Reverend Steve didn’t add that last stanza to his sermon… but I just couldn’t help myself! Don’t you love that COVID angel? No?
Ah, come on… let’s add the need for a freedom announcement.
Freedom from the pain of this pandemic. Freedom from the need to wear masks, socially distance, stay at home, and isolate.
Don’t let this Coronavirus get to you…
Don’t take to the bottle to try and drown the pain!!
Make wise decisions!
Keep your eyes and your ears tuned to the Holy Spirit and be ready to be “swept up in the current of God’s love.” Jesus’ birth is the reason for the season – And the grace and hope He brings will keep you swimming in love and joy. Believe!
The following poem came from Lisa yesterday as I was waiting for Bob’s angiogram results.
“Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.”
Jaime and Kathy played the piano and keyboard as Jim played the saw for some special music this morning.
I always imagine that saw being the only instrument some old cowboy had on hand in some distant days gone by… and learning to eerily try to play a tune on it must have been quite an interesting pastime!!
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today.
I hope you enjoyed these tidbits of my Sunday. Bee safe! See ya tomorrow. Bee well!!
I have heard (and often repeated) the phrase, “Fear is the opposite of Faith.“
Fear or Faith?
Are wearing a mask, washing your hands often/thoroughly, and practicing social distancing acts of fear?
Is opening your home or your church, your store or your restaurant with no extra precautions due to COVID-19 an act of faith?
Is being too cautious an act of fear? (What does “too cautious” look like?)
Was shutting down our church at the height of the virus pandemic being too cautious? Was it contradictory to our faith?
To Open or Not to Open
Many questions of fear or faith were posed during our sermon today by Rev. Steve Hundley. I’ve listed ten of them below. We met as a congregation in the church building for the first time in twelve weeks. We’ve been ZOOM meeting since this pandemic was announced in the USA in mid-March.
To keep people safe, every other row of pews was ribboned off and people sat at least six feet apart in the pews.
During the hymns, Fran played a verse on the piano while the congregation either listened, read the words silently in the hymnals, or hummed along. For now, no singing out loud. That was hard for those of us who love to sing. But the emissions from singing travel farther than those of just talking … some even further than coughing or sneezing. So, we were cautious.
Jim Forsberg provided special music during the service. Playing his guitar and singing… one of the numbers he sang was an old time favorite, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” The lyrics go on to say, “all the children of the world… red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight; Jesus loves the little children of the world.” So pertinent in light today’s issues of racial inequality.
In the photo above, Jim and his wife, Jo, are chatting with Fran about the music – and I am sure commenting on how good it is to see one another again.
Mask or Not?
This mom had her hands full with this adorable, very active little guy. Murray keeps us all smiling with his exuberant energy. I love seeing the little ones in our worship service. Pastor Steve quoted a doctor at our Madison Valley Medical Center who said masks on children can be more bothersome and dangerous than no mask at all because children have a tendency to touch their face more when wearing one.
Here is Murray’s dad and little sister:
Questions to Ponder
Rev. Steve Hundley posed some very thought-provoking questions in his sermon today. He didn’t really give us answers… just left the questions for us to ponder:
Is God angry with us?
Is God larger than this dreaded virus? (He said the affirmative of that was a quote from a pastor who opened his church early on in the pandemic … and later died of the virus)
Was shutting down the church for 12 weeks contradictory to our faith? (Some of our members were not happy about the closure)
Why have we allowed partisanship, economics, and race to divide us?
In spite of their devout faith, why has the Navajo nation been hit so hard by this pandemic? (Their deaths per capita are higher than any state in the union.)
Is the unity of the church under attack in our polarized world?
Can we be angry without sin?
Can we set aside our political stances as conservatives or progressives and just unite to strengthen the body of the church?
Is it possible for us to focus on what brings us together rather than what separates us?
When someone leaves the church saying they won’t return because “Nobody cares about me,” and I tell them, “Yes, they do,” and they respond with “OK, name ONE!” Can I name YOU? (This question brought tears to my eyes… I know people who have left, and I wanted to stand up and shout, “I care! Name me!!”)
Fellowship in the foyer after church found people reconnecting, but remaining cautious. Are we maintaining our distance?
It may be easier for us in Montana to try and stay six feet apart, but you will notice in the pictures that even here, we don’t always adhere to that social distancing. It’s difficult! It’s neither foolishness nor fearlessness, it’s just hard!
How are you doing with this business of staying apart? What did you do this Sunday? Did your church meet physically again? If not, how did you worship our God today? Did you approach Him with your most difficult questions?
I hope you are healthy, happy, and safe. I’ve gotcha in prayer, my friend. See ya tomorrow. Love, JanBeek