Spreading love, joy, peace, faith & unity

Posts tagged ‘sermon notes’

Embrace Your Pastor


Embrace Your Pastor.
He or she needs your support –
And needs your feedback!

Photo by Binyamin Mellish on Pexels.com

Your pastor plants seeds
With each sermon presented.
You fertilize them.

You add nutrients
To the soil where they’re resting
By watering them.

Water the ideas
By ruminating on them.
What was the message?

Each week I take notes.
I capture the main ideas
As they resonate.

Today’s seeds that Pastor Mary Grace Reynolds sowed were inspired by Ephesians 2:11-22 and enhanced by the experience she had Friday night and Saturday morning with a group of young bicyclists who were traveling 4000 miles for cancer research. Here are my notes that I took while listening this morning.

TENACITY

Serving 400 hours as a hospital chaplain
Was required in my seminary studies.
Why God – why? What’s the answer?
With integrity and stamina, just serve!

Ephesians 2 is not about empty connections.
It’s talking about the death of our worst instincts.
It’s talking about getting on board with Christ.
Paul believed Christ would come back yesterday!

We’re still here thousands of years later…
Wondering when that victory over death
And division will come to this earth.
The Kingdom of God didn’t come in Paul’s time.

It hasn’t come in our time, either.
Addictions, abuse, fires, death, wars continue.
Where is the world where all divisions are erased?
We’re here to put our feet on the ground and be hopeful.

Moments of hope will come to you.
The U of Austin bike riders were my moment.
Stories of lodging needs and cancer research,
Tenacity, friendship, and HOPE scenarios entered.

Hope is a screamer and fighter.
Sometimes it works out for the good.
HOPE is the reality that God is love.
Evil will not win. God’s hope will!

Say YES to what pulls on your heartstrings.
Say YES to the reality of God’s hope.
Say YES to Truth and love and reaching out.
Say YES to cancer research and to helping.

Every inch gained in the fight against cancer
Is an inch toward life and hope.
We are building the Kingdom of God here
Where violence and oppression will be foreign to us.

With tenacity, hang in there.
With tenacity listen to God’s response to
Your questioning… Why God? Why?
With tenacity and stamina and love, just serve!

Amen


Let’s just grow flowers of love.

Embrace Your Pastor.
He or she needs your support –
And needs your feedback!

Happy Sunday.
Thanks for visiting JanBeek
See ya tomorrow (God willing).

Embrace Reliance


In a world of self-reliance,
Where “I can do it” is king,
Being reliant on others
Is construed as a “weakness thing.”

But, as Christians we are taught
To rely not on our own strength.
“Lean not on your own understanding.”
God is within a prayer’s length.

In today’s prayerful message,
Our wonderful pastor, Mary Grace,
Talked about God’s will and love,
And seeking our Lord, face-to-face.


“God of forgiveness, hear our confession to you.
You have called us to excellence in compassion
and we fall short of your confidence in us.
You grant us grace and we abuse your gift.
You expect us to align our hearts with your will
and that our love will be genuine.
But we trust our own desires
rather than rely on your goodness.
We look after our own comfort
instead of our neighbor’s needs.
In Christ, have mercy on us
and forgive us our sins.
Amen”

As you know (if you’ve followed my blog for a couple of weeks or more), I take copious notes as I listen to the sermon through my fingertips each Sunday. Sometimes I translate what I am hearing into poetry. Today’s doesn’t rhyme. It’s free verse. But it poured out as I tried to capture the main ideas. First, look at the scripture on which the sermon was based.

Mark 5:21-43.

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

36 Overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

The sermon title was
“Fools for Hoping”

“Secondhand Lions” was a movie with Caine and Duvall.
The fictional characters were replicas of my grandfather and uncle!
The film is wonderful and whimsical (don’t believe the critics).
Believe what you want to believe… and here are some essentials:
“What every boy needs to know” – a speech worth hearing…

  • People are basically good
  • Money and power mean nothing
  • True love never dies
  • Integrity means everything
  • Love, truth, and integrity are essential

True or not, those are worth believing!

We don’t see much love in the news these days.
The news is full of the ways we are really awful to one another.
Recent news revealed 751 unmarked graves of indigenous children
found this week in Canada. Children taken from their families
and forced to attend the former Marieval Indian Residential School.

Survivors, community honour 751 unmarked graves at Sask. residential school site with vigil

Seven-hundred and fifty-one lights
spanned the entirety of the unmarked graves
discovered on Cowessess First Nation
in southeast Saskatchewan
where a large group of people,
many wearing orange clothes,
gathered on Saturday night
in honour of the remains.

An elder in the community
who spoke at the vigil
likened the finding
of 751 unmarked graves 
to a scab that had been
“slowly healing”
being ripped off.

Not one of us is wholly good, so the natural inclination
When confronted with our sinful nature is despair.
Confession and repentance are the next steps, but
Where do we go after confession?

We need to define our beliefs and act on hope…
Even when it seems foolish to do so.
Be ready to be made fools for your integrity.
Stand up for what is right… stand up for Truth!

The woman in Mark 5 took the show!
Jesus asked, “Who touched me?”
The disciples laughed, “Everyone’s touching you!”
Jairus was impatient, “My daughter needs you!”

He wondered why Jesus was taking precious time
To deal with a woman with a 12 year infirmity.
Let’s assume the woman just happened to be
Outside the crowd that day and heard of Jesus.

She heard Jairus – with hopefulness in his voice –
Asking Jesus to help his dying daughter.
His hope inspired her hope as well.
Two lives were saved that day.

Our speech, our attitudes, and our actions
Can have a positive affect on others.
We need to consciously lean on God
With hope and trust and mindfulness.

Jairus could have listened to his tears,
But he stepped up and listened to hope.
His act of believing in the power of Christ to heal
Allowed other to respond in hope, too.

“Your faith has made you whole,” Jesus told
The woman whose hemorrhaging stopped.
The only way out is reaching out in the hope
That God’s love will make life better.

I’ll stay a fool for hope!



EMBRACE RELIANCE

Rely on God

I’ll stay a fool for God.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Thanks for sharing a part of your Sunday with me.
I hope you have a wonderful week.



See you tomorrow (God willing)
Love,
JanBeek

Pastor Mary Grace Reynolds
and Jan

Embrace the Light


Today was a very important, memorable day at our church.
It was Father’s Day, yes…
and we honored our fathers and our Father in Heaven.
But the real LIGHT of the day
was the opportunity to be in church
on this special Sunday when
Mary Grace Reynolds,
was presenting her first sermon as
our official new pastor.
MGR is fresh out of seminary,
but she conducted the service
as if she had ten years of experience!
We are so blessed to have her
at Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
here in Ennis, MT.
If you ever are in our area on a Sunday,
you MUST come and experience
the Holy Spirit alive and well in this little community!!

Her sermon title was, “There’s a Light On.”

If you have followed my blog for a week or more, you know that most Sundays as I listen to the sermon, I take notes – and most of the time I take them in some form of poetry. Today was no exception. Here is what I heard through my JanBeek filter:

I feel the Holy Spirit
Perched on my shoulder.
How we understand where we’ve been
Matters a lot as we grow older.

Even though this is a new beginning,
We sit on the blessings and woes of the past.
We incorporate these into who we are
As we step into the future – at last.

Genesis One spoke to me this week.
Looking at effortless, timeless majesty,
We are reminded of God’s control
As the mountains loom with no hesitancy.

God holds all the cards; we don’t!
The utility of history – truth and facts –
Reminds us to adapt historical records
As we articulate how God in creation acts.

God’s power was articulated in Genesis
By stories and memories told with persistence.
The Israelites were reminded of their God
Who breathed the world into existence.

The creation story reminded them of hope –
The hope and identity they have in God.
Our stories tell who and where we’ve been.
They reveal our cracks, our cobwebs, our sin.

We can look back at the God
Who turned the light on within us,
And we notice God’s sovereignty –
Grateful for how His Son freed sin from us.

The Israelites remember the pain
They had in exile for so many years.
We too remember the pain and grief
Of life – and thank God for drying our tears.

As we move as a church body
Into newness, remember the past.
Recall how He kept the light on –
And move joyfully into the future – at last.

God is in this place with us
Sure as the sun continues to rise.
We’re challenged to move forward now
Knowing we’re guided by the Light of God’s eyes.

There’s a Light On!
Embrace the Light!
Amen.

Toward the end of the service,
Mary Grace presented a beautiful Pastoral Prayer.
I took notes as I prayed this prayer with her:

Holy God, be with us.
Most High God, comfort and heal the afflicted.
Lord, grant Your presence.
Bring them out of their suffering.
Lord, we know You can – and You do.
Almighty God, whom we sometimes call Father,
pour out Your spirit on all fathers
who are working today
to provide food for their families,
and to keep them sheltered.
Eternal God, whom we still call Father,
You are so much more than earthly fathers.
Make whole what has been broken.
Most Loving God,
we give thanks for all those we call
father.
Thanks for all those
who sacrifice for their children.
God, whom we call Father,
we stand in praise and awe of Your Power.
Remind us
You are in the boat
and
You have the Light on!
Amen

Photo by William Mattey on Pexels.com

Hear our prayer, O Lord.
Hear our prayer, O Lord.
Incline Thine ear to us,
And grant us Thy peace.

Amen

Have a beautiful, blessed Sunday, my friends,
And a very Happy Father’s Day.
See ya tomorrow (God willing)
Love,
JanBeek

Embrace Veterans & The Trinity


Today in the USA it is Veteran’s Day.
(Oooops! Nope, it’s Memorial Day!)
World-wide it is Holy Trinity Sunday.

Veteran’s Day is a time to celebrate and honor
the men and women who are or have served
our country in the military. It is a day to
thank God for four freedom and to remember
the men and women who fought to keep us free.
(It is Nov. 11th. I get it mixed up with today…
the last Monday in May:
A day to honor those who DIED
while serving our country.)

My day started in my sanctuary as it usually does –
A place where I feel the Holy Spirit alive and well.
There, I pray to God, learn from His Son’s life,
And listen to the Spirit guiding me.

Downstairs, I joined Bob who was busy fixing fruit
For our breakfast. It was a beautiful blue sky day.


After breakfast, we went to church where I was a greeter
And Bob read scripture. As usual, I took sermon notes.

Chuck Wright delivered the message:
“Holy Trinity.”

Here are the notes I took as I listened:

Inspired by: Romans 5:1-11

We have been justified by faith.
We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
We rejoice in suffering, for it brings perseverance.
We were powerless until Christ came to this sod.

We received reconciliation throgh the cross.
The Holy Trinity, the Godhead, is God, Son, Holy SPirit.
The word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but
The separate parts are there. With ears, hear it!

Jesus existed at the beginning of time.
He came to earth for the purpose of saving us.
When He ascended back to His Heavenly home,
He put the Holy Spirit in our hearts, engraving us.

We are marked by the blood of Jesus.
We remember His blood and body in communion.
We celebrate the spiritual world of God,
Knowing His Trinity is present in our world – in union.

In union, the Father, Son, and Spirit are one.
Understanding that is beyond our comprehension.
So we read His Word. study His Son’s life,
And listen for His Spirit in us. Pay attention!

God is love. Love is from God. We’re gifted with it.
God sent His Son to the world to show us how to love.
Christ died for us that we might live forever
In Heaven with God – our Eternal Home above.

Back home, the focus was on Veteran’s (nope… Memorial Day) weekend.
Tomorrow (now it’s today) we will go to the Ennis Cemetery for a special service.
Then we will attend a Memorial Day Barbecue at the rodeo grounds.
It started out as a meal for veterans and their families only…
but then it grew exponentially until it’s “Ya’all Come!”
They anticipate there could be as many as 500 diners.
I’m praying for the dear guys who are preparing the food.
God bless ’em! I hope they survive it!
Tonight I watched a Memorial Day Concert…
My favorite was the playing of TAPS.
It was beautiful!

If you are in the USA, what will you do to celebrate Memorial Day?


If you are in another country, do you have a day comparable to this one – when you honor those people who served and died while in the military (in the act of service to preserve your country’s freedom?) How do you thank those who serve your country in this way?

And how about the Trinity? Is it a part of your understanding?

I am grateful for your visit here today.
Thanks for reading JanBeek.
See ya tomorrow (God willing)

Embrace Pentecost Sunday


Pentecost Sunday at MVPC

Today is the day we have been waiting for: Pentecost Sunday.
It is the day our pastor candidate, Mary Grace Reynolds,
presented the sermon for our congregation.
She not only preached, but she did the whole sheeebang!

Her prayers, her management of the announcements,
her Call to Confession and Assurance of Pardon,
her Children’s message, the way she interacted
with young and old … all were so lovely, so perfect!

After the service, the members stayed and cast their ballots.
100% of the members voted to affirm her candidacy.
100% of the members voted to affirm her “Call.”
That included her salary package, reimbursable items,
and general terms of employment – no dissentors! Hooray!

The Holy Spirit came in tongues of fire to the people
On that first Pentacostal Sunday. It enabled the people
to speak in the language of their hearer… a miraculous day.
Today felt miraculous to me. Thank you for your prayers!

We all prayed for this vibrant, young pastor
fresh out of seminary –
ready to serve the Lord!
Mary Grace Reynolds

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know I post my sermon notes on Sunday afternoons. I take notes as I listen, and I try to capture the main points of the message in poetry. Here are my notes from today’s message:

A Greening

Inspired by the New Testament scripture:
Romans 8:18-30

Red is the color of love
. It’s cultural shorthand for things warm & vivid
It symbolizes the brightness of joy
Also paints emotions angry and livid

Red is the tongues of the Holy Spirit
Tongues of fire that came down from on high
Paul tells in the book of Romans
The meaning of the glory from the sky

The Holy Spirit brought hope to hearts
The Spirit intercedes for us
When we don’t put our scripture notes
In a binder & they shuffle, we fuss.

The Holy Spirit tells us to wait
Reorder the pages – and take a breath
Know that others are forgiving
They know a mistake is not sudden death

Going on – the meaning of colors –
The red enhanced by the color green
Is when the people tune back in
To hear the message – what does red mean?

The alms and cadavers and elements
Were explained as they impact the world
Hildegard’s approach to medicine explained
Kept us tuned in as new ideas unfurled

The power of nature to put forth healing
Was linked to the nature of creation
Nature is inclined to create new life
And it anticipates newness with elation

Humans, the Earth, and the Holy Spirit
Are trapped in a state of decay
The Holy Spirit gives us the tenacity
To hang in – to endure day by day.

The Holy Spirit helps us understand
The holiness of our yearning & pain
The pain is a signal that tells us
We need to endure, for God will remain

God gives us the Holy Spirit
To guide us into seeking solutions
Our hope is stored in what we don’t see
But leads us to resolution

It helps us resolve to be
The light that directs people to see
The Fruits of the Spirit in us
Lord, help the world see that love & peace in me.

Amen

My day started with a message from my friend, Lisa.
She sent me pictures of roses from her garden.
The red of these roses symbolizes love to me
And I share that love with you today, my friends.

Just as red comes in many shades,
So does the expression of how we care
Vary in a multitude of ways. Thank you
for reaching out and covering us in prayer.

God heard.
God answered.
God is good
All the time!

Welcome to Madison Valley Presbyterian Church, Mary Grace!

We are soooo delighted that the Holy Spirit led you here.

Lots of Love!

Thanks for visiting JanBeek on Pentecost Sunday.
Have a great rest of your day.
See ya tomorrow (God willing)

Happy Sunday!


Mine was a busy Sunday.
How was yours?
Where did you look today?

Looking for beauty
Can sometimes be elusive
When your eyes are closed

So open your eyes
To find the beauty around.
It is everywhere!

Where do your eyes look?

Do you look at it?
The “it” that’s blocking your view?
Where do your eyes go?

Look up to enjoy
The beauty, not the blockade!
Listen for the sounds.

The amorous dove
Is cooing to his partner:
“Come with me and rest.”

“It is the Sabbath –
A day to stop and relax.
Let’s go to our nest.”

“Are you listening?
Don’t look down – the nest’s not there.
Let’s fly to our roost.”

“You go if you want.
I’m perfectly happy here.
Cozy. Protected.”

“OK. I give up.
Every bird is not the same.
Be happy sitting…

But I want to go
Exploring other vistas.”

“Maybe tomorrow!”

Like that female dove,
Sometimes we seem to be stuck
In our own small rut.

Afraid to venture
Out into this great big world
To meet challenges.

There are lovely views
On horizon’s other side –
Beyond folds of light.

This view is Lisa’s –
It’s in North Carolina.
Sent to me with prayer.

I may not go there –
Not today or tomorrow.
But maybe someday.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

I want to explore
The beauty of Lisa’s world.
Its vistas call me…

Just as our preacher,
Dawn, who was in the pulpit,
Felt Africa’s call.

She shared her stories
With us in church this morning.
They were amazing!

Photo by Shelagh Murphy on Pexels.com

She spoke of children
Where poverty and illness
Put them at great risk.

Experiences
Shared with us in church today
Brought love of strangers.

Madison County Food Bank

“When were You hungry and I fed You?
When were You thirsty and I gave You drink?
When were You a stranger and I welcomed You?
When were You naked and I gave You clothes?
When were You sick or in prison and I took care of You?”

“Whenever you did one of these to the least of these, my children, you did it unto Me.”


Paraphrased from Matthew 34-40

Love Stories from Africa

Our guest speaker told of her missionary trips to Uganda and Ghana, South African areas where she was called by God to go – not to speak of religion – but show the love of Christ through her actions. She helped children with cancer, families with loved ones dying of HIV-AIDS, orphaned children, farmers in need to seeds to plant their crops, or goats to provide milk, or workers who needed motor bikes to get to their places of employment. She danced to the music of the natives, and walked barefoot in the sands of these foreign lands.

Judgement turned to admiration. She gained appreciation for the resilience of these people. The poverty rate was 80% in many of the remote regions of the north. Improving their health care and job opportunities was the goal of the USA funding that she managed. The people had so little that every bit of help was doubly appreciated. They had so little, and yet they had so much. So much love. So much beauty.

Beauty comes smiling at us
Everywhere we turn
If we just open our eyes
See the love – and learn!

Learn to treasure all
the people God has made.
Reach out to those you meet.
Love them all – be not afraid!

Love is all we need.
Gotta keep it real simple:
Love God – Love People!!

Embrace Sunday.
Embrace God and Love One Another.
See ya tomorrow (God willing).

Hugs,

JanBeek

Embrace Easter!


He is risen indeed!

My day started with a 7:00 am Sunrise Service at our Madison Range putting green.
The sun worked to peek out through the cloudy sky.

A small, but appreciate gathering
lifted voices to sing
“He Arose!”
and
“He Lives!”

Mule deer gathered close by to listen to our singing
and nibble at the emerging greenery.
Spring is just thinking about making its debut here!

Usually right after sunrise service, we go as a group to the Baptist Church and enjoy a yummy breakfast of assorted baked goodies and egg casseroles. This year, because of COVID-19, we had to be content to go home and make our own breakfast. Afterward, we went to church where we wore masks, socially distanced, and enjoyed the sermon of the day delivered by our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley.

It was Communion Sunday as well as Holy Easter Sunday.
A very meaningful ritual … being able to partake in person with other Christian friends.
Our sermon topic was “Sometimes It Causes Me to Tremble.”

What are your earliest
Memories of Easter Sunday?
Yellow crocuses, dogwoods,
And eggs hidden slightly away?

What are your earliest
Memories of recognizing in your life
God, the Risen Christ?
Do you have to think twice?

My memory was on a morning
When I’d victoriously ridden
My bike down a steep hill –
Suddenly God was not hidden.

I’m reminded of Mary Magdalene
With the other Mary who saw
That Jesus was not in the tomb.
An angel said He’d risen – such awe!

They were terrified to realize
You can’t escape God in Jesus.
They told no one what they heard –
Too scared… a Savior to relieve us?

They thought their hopes and dreams
Had been buried and sealed away,
Buried with Him – they believed.
They all deserted Christ that day.

Peter had denied Christ three times.
The other disciples hid in fear.
Have we also denied the messenger
Who told us Jesus is alive and here?

The Easter miracle assures us
Our crucified Lord is running free.
He is waiting for us to come out
Of hiding to see Him. He waits for me!

Am I ready to believe the story
Of a man who dies, but rose again?
Am I ready to understand that He
Suffered that agony to free me from sin?

The Risen Christ stands before me
With nail prints in His hands and side.
Am I ready to hear the Good News
And know there’s no where I can hide?

With fear and amazement this Easter,
I will not go away from the empty tomb-
Back to daily routine, forgetting Him.
No, with reverence I acknowledge Christ in this room.

Crown Him the Lord of years,
The Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres
Ineffably sublime.

All hail, Redeemer, Hail!
For Thou hast died for me.
Thy praise shall never, never fail
Throughout eternity.

Amen.

EMBRACE EASTER

It comes but once a year
Yet its significance
Lives in our hearts daily…
Thank God for the gift
of His Son
who secured my spot
and yours
in heaven.

Praise Him! Alleluia!
Amen!

Oh, and in the afternoon,
we had the joy of a visit from our granddaughter, Hope,
and her husband, Drew, and their two children
(our great-grandchildren, Xander and Sienna).

Hope & Drew
Xander
Sienna
Hunting for Easter eggs
Hope with Sienna
Isn’t this a fun appetizer tray?
And for a larger crowd,
how about this one?

Did you send out and receive a few Easter cards this season?
I did.. and I enjoyed every one.
I thought I’d share one of my favorites with you:

That was decorated with a glitter cupcake by our darling Ruby…
with a note added from her big brother, first grader, Cord.
So precious!!

And now,
the eggs are gone.
The Easter ham left-overs are in the fridge.
The family departed.
The dishes are looming large –
Begging to be done…
But first, join me and the Easter bunny, will you?
Sit down and relax.
Contemplate the day…
Think about what Easter means.
Thank God for the gift of His Son.
Let’s drink a toast to Eternity in His Heavenly Kingdom.
The dishes can wait!
My computer’s about to run outta battery…

Hope you had a Happy Easter weekend.


Have a good night.
See ya tomorrow.

Sending lots of love,
JanBeek

Embrace the Journey


“On the Road to Easter”
was the title of today’s sermon
by Rev. Steve Hundley
at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
in Ennis, Montana

Come join me as we EMBRACE the JOURNEY

Lent is upon us and
Easter is only two weeks away.
Next week we’ll celebrate
Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem that day.

Jesus arrived in glory.
Then, we see Jesus carry
His cross to Golgotha.
We’ll journey to where they’ll bury
His body in the rocky tomb
Before Easter will finally dawn.
The journey is a painful one –
A time when His family thinks He’s gone.

It reminds me that life
Is a journey of great proportion
And we have markers along the way.
Some show where others made their fortune.
But few of us have monuments
Built to mark our stopping places –
Like Lewis and Clark’s various markers
And Jesus’ stopping spots – sacred spaces.

Our journey needs places of rest –
Places where we feel lifted up
The way Golgotha lifts us to Jesus
Knowing His death & resurrection gifted us.

Jesus spoke about His death
But the disciples didn’t want to hear.
They thought of death as an enemy.
Jesus said death means resurrection’s near.

Like a seed buried in the ground,
We must die and be buried to rise.
Jesus told His disciples He’d draw
The world to Himself with words so wise.

He spoke of His death as if
He had already died. He said
His death would serve God’s purpose.
His impact continues to grow – He is not dead!

As Easter approaches, we look
At the cross and make our way
To the Light; it illumines our path
To His miracle that happened Easter Day.

Hallelujah! Easter is coming!
Embrace the Journey.
Amen

Morning’s Comin’
We can make it though the Night!

Thanks for joining me on JanBeek today.
Have a beautiful Sunday afternoon/evening.

See ya tomorrow.

Embrace the Wind


Can’t embrace the wind!
Even if we think we would like to…
It can’t be contained!

Yesterday I delivered some paperwork to a friend
who is doing Bible Study with me once a week.
It was a quiet Saturday morning –
no wind (unusual for our windy valley).
My friend wasn’t home, so I left the papers
on her doorstep and texted her.
When she returned home,
the paperwork was long gone.
The wind had come up and blew
the packet to heaven only knows where!

Today’s sermon at the ZOOM meeting of
Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
here in Ennis, Montana
was titled, “The Wind Blows Where it Will.”

Inspired by the scripture:
John 3:1-17
(the story of Jesus & Nicodemus & the Holy Spirit)
here are my sermon notes
taken as I listened to
Rev. Steve Hundley
this morning:

The Wind Blows Where it Will

In the conversation between
Nicodemus and Jesus, two worlds collide.
One is worldly and the other is
Focused on where the Holy Spirit abides.

We often try to shrink our God
Into something we can understand.
But, we can’t fit God’s image
Into something in this earthly land.

The dilemma we face is that
We can’t think of God beyond
Our own human capacity.
That’s why it’s hard to respond.

John paints a picture of Nicodemus
As a man of great knowledge.
“Rabbi, we know…” he says,
Addressing Jesus with a nudge.

Nicodemus thinks he has God
Sized up and understood.
He’s sure he knows how He fits
Into this world… Oh, that we could!

Nicodemus tries to rope Jesus
Into the narrow realm of “We know…”
But every attempt fails.
Jesus is a mystery – a wind that’ll blow.

It blows beyond our knowing.
The Spirit blows beyond our capacity
To understand with our finite minds.
Does that surprise you and me?

We all have questions about the hereafter.
No one can refute the image we hold,
For our God’s life-giving grace
Is bigger than can ever be told.

The wind of the Spirit blows
Into darkness and brings light.
But we cannot see clearly
What God makes possible in His sight.

This scripture asks Nicodemus
To let the Spirit carry him to
A place beyond his imagination.
It asks the same expansion of you!

“Rabbi, we know…”
Ah, such assumptions!

John 3: 1-17

3:1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Can’t embrace the wind!
Even if we think we would like to…
It can’t be contained!

Let’s try to embrace
The beauty of God’s Spirit
As it blows in us!

That’s a Bob Goff quote.
His Spirit is Love personified.
His book is “Love Does.”
Do you know it?

And how about this oldie but goodie?
Blowin’ in the Wind…
Questions Nicodemus might have asked Jesus:

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
And with Easter upon us,
the answer was hangin’ on a cross.
Praise God, He is risen indeed!

The wind of the Spirit blows
Into darkness and brings light.

The Wind Blows Where it Will

Thanks for visiting JanBeek today.
May the Wind of the Spirit
Blow Light into your darkness today.

See ya tomorrow.

Embrace Grace


Photo by Jacob Kelvin.J on Pexels.com

My hands are dirty –
And my heart is soiled, too.
Time for spring cleaning!

This season of Lent is a time for cleaning –
Cleaning out our hearts in preparation
For the arrival of Easter when we can
Embrace God’s grace through Jesus’ sacrifice.

Today’s sermon on our ZOOM worship service
Was titled, “Holy Ground” as our pastor,
Steve Hundley, recounted his trip to
The Holy Land back about 20 years ago.

My feet are dirty –
And my heart is soiled, too.
Time for spring cleaning!

Holy Ground

What was it like to be able
To walk in the footsteps of Jesus?
What was it like to stand
On Holy Ground? Spiritually renewing?

I was expecting each site to be charged
With such power that holy goose bumps
Popped up all over my body.
But I was a bit disappointed.

It was hard to feel the grace of the risen Christ
In this historically preserved place.
How do you feel Jesus breaking bread
When all you’re seeing is the top of a rock?

It’s important to protect these sites,
But looking through plexiglass makes it
Hard to feel the reality of Jesus.
The garden tomb remains open, though.

It’s helpful to see without obstacles
That distort the original places.
We have our own expectations of
What we’ll feel imagining holy faces.

Jesus and the money changers
Were there on the temple floor
Where I stood on that visit.
But I couldn’t feel Jesus’ anger.

I wondered if maybe those men
Were in fact offering a service.
He told them they could tear it down
And He’d rebuild it in three days.

They didn’t know He was referring
To His body, not the building.
Buildings are not what we worship.
We worship God’s nature in spirit and in Truth.

We are often tied to the
Rites and rituals to define us.
But our traditions must not
Rise above the Christ we adore.

It is not the place that matters.
It is the love in our hearts
That counts when we join together
In worship… thanking God for His grace.

Thank You, God, for Jesus, for Easter,
For the meaning of the cross,
And for the sacrifice of Your Son’s life
So we might EMBRACE GRACE.

The HOPE of EASTER
Is in the grace of the cross.
Let’s engage in some spring cleaning
In preparation to stand on that Holy Ground…
At the threshold of our eternal cleansing.

Embrace Grace.

AMEN

Thanks for visiting JanBeek today.
See ya tomorrow.
I’m headed to do some spring cleaning!

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