These two little darlings exude happiness, confidence, pure joy… I can’t help but smile when I look at them. (I bet you’re smiling, too) I’ve been saving this photo for just the right time. Today is it!
In my devotionals this morning, I read an article by Brenda Wade, Ph.D. Brenda is based in San Francisco. She hosts a radio talk show, “Modern Love” and she facilitates trainings on relationships. Her article in the Jan.-Feb. Unity magazine, Daily Word, is titled, “Overcoming Racism, Healing from Shame, Opening to Love.”
“The love and peace we want to know in our lives begins inside of us,” Dr. Wade wrote. “This has been on my mind lately as I’ve dug deeply into … my work, leading anti-racism trainings.”
In her article, she went on to describe an incident in her life that deeply affected her self-image. She was only 6-years-old.
“One day at school, my classmates and I were told to line up two by two and hold hands. I extended my hand, but the girl standing next to me refused to take it. ‘I can’t hold your hand,’ she said matter-of-factly. ‘My mother told me your skin is brown because it’s dirty.’ I was confused. My skin was brown, but it certainly was not dirty.”
It took years for that little 6-year-old to deal with the hurt. Her young brain just didn’t understand. She felt immediate rejection, pain, and the sting of shame. The notion that there was something wrong with her kept her from telling the teacher or her parents. She just carried that message of inferiority with her and it was reinforced by a high school principal who ignorantly expressed surprise that someone of her color could score so high on her tests.
It was further reinforced in graduate school when a department chair “was more interested in my race than my qualifications” – and as an adult when “a landlord candidly admitted he was denying me housing because I am African American.”
How does someone overcome such prejudicial treatment and regain the confidence that ALL PEOPLE deserve?
That is the question Dr. Walker deals with in her profession. She conquered it in her own life with “years of psychological work, spiritual practice, self-care, and healing.”
Dr. Brenda Wade wrote, “When we feel too hurt or afraid to let ourselves out, it becomes impossible to let others in.”
Embrace the confidence that there is hope and a future and a return of self-confidence when self-insight and self-love can be applied.
The pain of those early wounds go deep.
We know that we ALL have a responsibility to respond to one another in love, with compassion and respect, and to stand together hand-in-hand to obliterate oppression and prejudice.
Embrace that future with confidence and determination!
Yesterday during our ZOOM church service, our pastor, Steve Hundley, offered the following prayer. It is just what I needed to hear as I embrace with confidence the power of prayer and the belief that God hears, God cares, and God answers us when we cry out to Him:
“How many times in Your earthly ministry, O Lord, did You touch the fevered brows of those who were ill; or, the trembling hands of those who were afraid; or, the sagging shoulders of those bowed down in grief?
Walk among us now, we pray, and touch us for the same reasons… * Let those who are ill in body or in spirit feel the power of Your presence, and sense that healing is taking place. * We pray for all those sick with COVID throughout our nation and world… * Give those who are constricted by fears and anxieties a feeling of relaxation in Your grace. * Let peace flow over them like a river, carrying them away from self-preoccupation and into the openness of love and sharing… * Pour out the hope of Your resurrection upon those who are grieving the loss of loved ones… * May they walk the Emmaus Road with You and feel their hearts strangely and wonderfully warmed… * In the chaos and uncertainty of the coming weeks and months, give us confidence of faith in knowing that You are Lord of our lives and Lord of this world, and that You are working Your purpose out… * As Your children, O Lord, You know how often we recoil from those things that should not frighten or upset us in this world. Comfort us with Your presence, and teach us so to live within the disciplines of faith, so that, we are never without You.”
Embrace with Confidence, my friends, the knowledge that you regard all God’s Children as equals… and determine never to inflict on anyone the pain of rejection or the sting of shame.
As God’s children… Let us live as One. Let’s just walk around makng the world a better place! Embrace Confidence!
Let’s all embrace calm Quiet our souls and listen Hear each other’s hearts
Let’s all embrace calm Be still and let minutes pass In loving silence
Embrace calm with me Sync your heart to the tick-tock Of peaceful minutes
Embrace calm today Reflect on the poignant words Of Amanda’s poem
Anderson Cooper Interviewed that young lady Then posted a link
Many people wrote Responded to interview With posts like this one:
Replying to @andersoncooper and @TheAmandaGorman “Awww I loved that, you all sat and talked about poetry for at least 5 minutes. So relaxing. Probably the least stressed ya have been for 4 years. Words have power for good too.. let’s rinse off the negative.”
Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Poem: “The Hill We Climb”
It was posted in paragraph form. I am sure that’s not how she wrote it. I have tried to separate the stanzas as she might have, I am sure I don’t have them all right, but I tried… and the poem is so beautiful that even written as prose – it is downright gorgeous!
Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world,
When day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried – that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to her own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare. It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.
-Amanda Gorman, USA national poet laureate
Let’s embrace calm – and be brave enough in our calmness to “step out of the shade aflame and unafraid…”
Ready to join the cause of unity and peace. Ready to work for social and racial equality. Ready to do our part to make the world a better place.
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.
Sermon Notes from today’s ZOOM worship service of the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church Delivered by Rev. Steve Hundley Poetic notes taken by JanBeek
One With Us
Have you ever spoken honestly And in the process provoked A person to anger? Perhaps you even joked
About what you said. You’re trying to be forgiven. Be careful what you say and do. Beware the life you’re livin’.
Jesus was with a crowd Of sinners at the Jordan. What had Jesus done to need Forgiveness? What secrets hoardin’?
Sometimes we find ourselves Guilty by association. So Jesus had reason to be Thought a sinner by the Jewish nation.
John the Baptist, however, Knew Jesus was sinless. So he didn’t want to baptize Him. But his protest was winless!
Jesus was determined to be Baptized by John, even though He was sin-free. So we wonder, Why did He need it? Want to know?
He wanted to be baptized In order to be One with us! Like Him, we need to be One in Christ and eliminate fuss!
If Jesus was willing To step down and be One With all of us sinners, Who are we, when all’s said and done?
We are all sinners, invited To come to the river, too. Be one with our brothers and sisters. I’m all for it. How about you?
The sermon was inspired by the scriptures: Acts 19:1-7 and Mark 1:4-11 which were eloquently read to us by our pastor’s wife, Elaine, from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message Bible”
ACTS 19 1-2 Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?”
“We’ve never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?”
3 “How were you baptized, then?” asked Paul.
“In John’s baptism.”
4 “That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.”
5-7 And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God’s actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.
MARK 4-6 John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
7-8 As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
9-11 At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
God of all mercy, in our baptism You have marked us as Your own; You have given us a new identity and made us part of the body of Christ. In doing so, You have called us to rise to new life and live together in community. However, we have not been faithful to Your call. We have forged our own identity and held to destructive habits. We confess we have failed to welcome others, and broken our bonds with our brothers and sisters, and served ourselves more than You. Forgive us, we pray, for the sake of Christ, our Savior.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: John 1:12
Hear the good news! God said to Jesus, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with You I am well pleased.” We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness, who has been tempted as we are, yet is without sin.
In Christ’s name we may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, and there find mercy and grace to help in time of need.
As forgiven sinners, may we go out into the world and make a positive difference. May we…
If you have not heard former Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s You Tube message today, I recommend you click on the link here. His message, reinforcing the need for UNITY in our USA, is quite powerful. God Bless Arnie! We all need to step up in support of Democracy as he has done!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
It’s a day when we in the USA Are feeling particularly vulnerable. A day when we ponder the meaning Of the troublesome events of yesterday.
It was a day of Troubled Waters When our fragile democracy Seemed on the brink of collapse, A day some imagined, but not I.
I knew we were a country deeply divided, A country needing a renewed sense of unity, But never did I think our Capitol Would be under siege by our own people.
Not just one of the rioters was killed in the debacle, but 3 health care workers also lost their lives.
In the aftermath, when the Senate and Assembly resumed their stations and continued the task of counting the electoral votes, a new sense of purpose seemed to emerge.
It took an attack on our democracy for our lawmakers to unify and recognize the importance of our constitution. The tone was bipartisan. The future is hopeful.
A ray of hope for the unification of this divided country was launched yesterday.
A seed of collaboration was planted.
Yesterday I posted a meme that read: “We’ve tried hate. We’ve tried wars. We’ve tried destruction. They only caused more pain. Let’s try something different…”
…and the “different” was peace love empowerment collaboration.
Today let’s reinforce that commitment. Let’s try Open and Honest Communication, Building bridges instead of walls, LET’S EMBRACE UNITY!
EMBRACE UNITY! Let’s honor One Nation Under God. One world for us all, One CREATOR of us all.
Back in 1970, Paul Simon was inspired to write the words to the song, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” The video below is the story of how that song came to be. The words are just what we need today… A Bridge Over [these] Troubled Waters.
Let’s Embrace UNITY. Let’s see how that turns out!
I hope you took time to hear that You.Tube story. It’s powerful. Believe me, the song is just what we need today.
“When you’re weary Feeling small, When tears are in your eyes I’ll dry them all. I’m on your side. Oh, when times get rough And friends just can’t be found, Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down. Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down. When you’re down and out When you’re on the street, When evening falls so hard I will comfort you. I’ll take your part. Oh, when darkness comes And pain is all around, Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down… Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down. Sail on silver girl Sail on by… More