Thursday, March 27, 2008

How I'm Doing (for Paisley)

Hi, dear sister, and thanks for asking!

It's very late, and I should be sleeping, but we had a bit of a crisis at church this afternoon (a minor sought refuge with us because her mother was beating her--police involvement, then my rehearsal and the pastor's youth activity night...I stayed late debriefing with the pastor, then I had to go to my least favorite place--Wal-Mart--for something I was completely out of and can't find anywhere else--YUCK!) ---- ANYway, I'm kind of hyped up and can't sleep.

I'm finally working again, such as it is. So-so pay. It's a little distance from me, but in the light-traffic direction from where I live. "Fur piece" from church (as we say around here), though, on those nights when I have to go straight from one job to another. It's for a local government office. I accepted the assignment as a temp-to-hire, administrative assistant position. But it's a straight temp assignment, not longer than four months, as a cashier. NOT what I signed on for, so I'm putting out feelers again even as I'm continuing to work. I really despise the deceit that's so rampant in much of the staffing industry. Clients deceive the agencies, and both clients and agencies deceive the temps. Why not? We're expendable.

But again, I am glad for the work. I was out for nearly three months and things got pretty desperate financially.

Church is very good. Give me a little longer, and I'll try to post an entry about Easter worship. It was VERY good.

So all the things that really matter are going pretty well. I'm down tonight, but trying not to stay there.

Actually, I'm now going to try to get to bed.

Thanks again for asking, Paisley. I'll drop by your place and ask you the same question, or if you beat me to it, I'd love to hear how you're doing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Resurrection Day (Easter)

Scripture: John 20:1-18

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. . . But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. . . . 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' . . . Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord' . . ."

Hymn: "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands," UMH 319
Martin Luther, 1524, trans. Richard Massie, 1854

". . . So let us keep the festival whereto the Lord invites us;
Christ is himself the joy of all, the Sun that warms and lights us.
By his grace he doth impart eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended! Alleluia!"


You're alive! You stand before me, and call me by name. Lord Jesus, you're alive!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

My Lord is alive! Listen, everyone: I have seen the Lord! He is alive!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lent: Day 40 (Holy Saturday)

Scripture: Psalm 22

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? . . . For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard me when I cried to him. To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down . . . and I shall live for him. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the LORD, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it."

Hymn: "Ah, Holy Jesus," UMH 289
Johann Heermann, 1630; trans. Robert S. Bridges, 1899

"Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
Think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.


Crucified and buried Lord, grant me the faith to believe that the grave is not the end, that death has not won, that hope is not dead.

As you sleep the short slumber of this life's ending, wrestle death on my behalf. Conquer the tomb, and break the bonds of human sin and death.

Grant me a heart that waits trustingly for resurrection, Lord Jesus.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lent: Day 39 (Good Friday)

Scripture: Mark 15

"And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, 'The King of the Jews.' . . ."

Hymn: "Go to Dark Gethsemane," UMH 290
James Montgomery, 1820, 1825, alt.

". . . Calvary's mournful mountain climb;
There, adoring at his feet,
Mark that miracle of time,
God's own sacrifice complete.
'It is finished!' hear him cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die. . . .


"Crucify him!" Oh, dying Jesus, the screams echo in my ears. My Lord, my Savior, my Teacher, the very Son of God, you do not deserve this--yet no one else can do what you do here before my grieving eyes.

It is for me, it is for us all, that you die alone and in pain. There is nothing I can do to ease your anguish. You do it all.

I think I could die of this sorrow, Lord. Yet I will live, and witness, and watch for the sign of your promises. For I know this cannot, will not, must not be the end.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lent: Day 38 (Maundy Thursday)

Scripture: Mark 14:17-25

". . . While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread . . . Then he took a cup . . ."

Hymn: "One Bread, One Body," UMH 620
John B. Foley, 1978

". . . One bread, one body, one Lord of all,
One cup of blessing which we bless.
And we, though many throughout the earth,
We are one body in this one Lord. . . .


You share the table with me, Teacher -- though I don't deserve it. You know what is in my heart, what I plan, and yet you pass the bread and the cup to me, and you tell me the gift is for me! I can't bear it.

For I have been Judas, and I have been Peter, and I have been the squabbling sons of Zebedee, and the doubting Thomas, and all the rest: slow to learn, quick to anger, and so frail in faith that I will deny you yet this night.

But still you love me, and give yourself to me. My shame bids me run out of the room, yet my love compels me to stay by your side. And so we sing our thanks to God, then depart for the garden.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lent: Day 37 (Wednesday of Holy Week)

Scripture: John 14

". . . I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. . . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. . . ."

Hymn: "Hymn of Promise," UMH 707
Natalie Sleeth, 1986

". . . In our end is our beginning;
In our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing;
In our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection;
At the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see."


Send your Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, for I know it will be impossible to face life without your presence. I need the comfort of knowing that this coming anguish is not the end, but the beginning of new life.

Speak past the darkness of my doubt, and teach me about the coming resurrection.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lent: Day 36 (Tuesday of Holy Week)

Scripture: Philippians 4:4-9

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. . . . Finally, beloved, . . . if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. . . . and the God of peace will be with you."

Hymn: "Rejoice, the Lord Is King," UMH 715
Charles Wesley, 1746

". . . Jesus the Savior reigns,
The God of truth and love,
When he had purged our stains,
He took his seat above.
Lift up your heart,
Lift up your voice,
Rejoice; again I say, rejoice. . . .


I shrink from rejoicing today, Lord Jesus, but you call me to it. No matter what awaited you, you trusted in God and gave thanks in all things. And I want to be like you, Lord.

No matter what the circumstances I face today, I will rejoice and thank you, Jesus.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lent: Day 35 (Monday of Holy Week)

Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-18

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. . . . Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication."

Hymn: "Lead On, O King Eternal," UMH 580
Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1888

". . . Lead on, O King eternal,
We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning
Where'er thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted o'er us,
We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.


The darkness is closing in, O God, and the cross is near. I want no part of it, yet my Master embraces your will. I fear the dark hill; I want to fight my way back into the light.

Help me to know my enemy, Good God, and how to use the powerful weapons at my disposal. Your truth and righteousness, peace and salvation, will never fail me; it seems all I lack is faith. Help me to trust you and to remember that the war is already won--only the battles of my own sin need to be fought. Victorious God, stand by me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sixth Sunday of Lent: Palm/Passion Sunday

Scripture: Psalm 24

". . . Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory."

Hymn: "Hail to the Lord's Anointed," UMH 203
James Montgomery, 1821

"Hail to the Lord's Anointed, great David's greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed, his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free;
To take away transgression, and rule in equity.


King Jesus! Blessed are you; you come in the name of the Lord!

But Jesus, there are tears in your eyes! Tears for your beloved Jerusalem, a city of fickle treachery, even now welcoming the Savior whom they will put to death in five short days.

Not I, Lord! I will stand by you. I will -- I swear it! But my heart stops cold at my own words, for even in the brightness of Sunday's midday, I can already hear the crowing of Friday's dawn.

Jesus! Oh, Jesus! Give me grace to face this holiest and darkest of weeks as I trace your path. Even now, the cross casts its shadow.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lent: Day 34

Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8

". . . 'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.' . . . Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I; send me!" . . ."

Hymn: "The Voice of God is Calling," UMH 436
John Haynes Holmes, 1913

". . . From ease and plenty save us;
From pride of place absolve;
Purge us from low desire;
Lift us to high resolve;
Take us and make us holy;
Teach us your will and way.
Speak, and behold! we answer;
Command, and we obey!


Holy, holy, holy God! With the host of Isaiah's vision, I can find only this ancient heavenly cry to give words to my heart's fullness.

But you, holy God, require holy people and holy obedience. Can I be your messenger? Only with your help. Lord, burn away all that is unholy in me, and give me bold courage to go where you send me.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lent: Day 33

Scripture: Galatians 5:22-25

". . . And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. . . ."

Hymn: Breathe on Me, Breath of God," UMH 420
George Matheson, 1890

"Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what thou dost love,
And do what thou wouldst do. . . .


I want to bear fruit for you, Lord Jesus, my Vine. I am your branch. Why do I try so often to grow apart from you? What could I possibly be without you?

Let love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control grow among all your people, dear Lord -- but especially, let them grow in me.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lent: Day 32

Scripture: John 8:2-11

". . .'Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.' . . .'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, sir.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.' "

Hymn: "Amazing Grace," UMH 378
John Newton, 1779

". . . ''Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed. . . .


Alone with you, gracious Jesus, I cannot meet your eyes. No one else remains to condemn me, yet I condemn myself with the memory of my shame.

Yet you lift my face to your gaze, and I find love there! You, who are without sin, have no stones to cast at me. My Judge becomes my Savior. I have been set free!

You expect and trust me to "go and sin no more." Go with me, Lord, and keep me close to you through the power of your Holy Spirit. I want, with all my heart, to keep myself from sin.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lent: Day 31

Scripture: Mark 5:21-43

". . . 'Daughter, you faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.' . . . 'Do not fear, only believe.' . . . And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about . . ."

Hymn: "When Jesus the Healer Passed through Galilee," UMH 263
Peter D. Smith, 1979

". . . The death of his daughter caused Jairus to weep;
'Heal us, heal us today!'
The Lord took her hand, and he raised her from sleep.
'Heal us, Lord Jesus!'"


Great Physician, I need your healing. Though the ailments of my body are annoying and irritating, my soul needs your healing far more than my body does. I fear there is wasting in places, and deadly growth in others. It is malnourished, unclean, and unhealthy.

Touch me, healing Lord. Give me the faith of Jairus and the desperate woman; let me look only to you, placing my faith entirely in your life-restoring hands.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lent: Day 30

Scripture: Philippians 2:1-15

". . . Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus . . . you shine like stars in the world . . ."

Hymn: "Jesu, Jesu," UMH 432
Tom Colvin, 1969

"Jesu, Jesus, fill us with your love,
Show us how to serve the neighbors we have from you.
Kneels at the feet of his friends,
Silently washes their feet,
Master who acts as a slave to them.


Lord Jesus, Servant of all, I want to follow you. Just as you humbled yourself for my sake, humble me for yours. Show me yourself in my brothers and sisters when they need your love shown to them. Teach me how to serve as you serve.

Even if it means your holy hands, washing my sinful feet, Lord, I want to learn. Please, give me feet to wash for you.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lent: Day 29

Scripture: Luke 24:13-35

". . . When he was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to one another, 'Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?'. . ."

Hymn: "O Thou Who This Mysterious Bread," UMH 613
Charles Wesley, 1745

" . . . Of thee communing still, we mourn,
Till thou the veil remove;
Talk with us, and our hearts shall burn
With flames of fervent love. . . .


O Lord of Bread and Wine, I can't thank you enough for the gift of yourself that we receive in your Supper. Just as the two disciples knew you in the breaking of the bread, somehow you reveal yourself to me, new, each time I eat and drink with my brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus, open your Scriptures to me just as you explained them to the travelers on the Emmaus road. As I approach Jerusalem with you, help me to understand what you did and how you obeyed the Father's perfect will.

Lord, I love you. Thank you for this precious sacramental sign of your love for me.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Scripture: Psalm 131

". . . But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. . . ."

Hymn: "It Is Well with My Soul," UMH 377
Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul. . . .


I am too frantic and too busy, dear God. Quiet my soul. Soothe and calm my fears; settle the spoiled little child that I so often let myself become. Draw me close to you, and let me hear your reassuring voice.

Your love, gentle God, is all that I need. Nothing else matters, compared to the love that gave me life and keeps me in your sight. Call me home to your heart often, dear God.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Don't forget to "Spring Forward"!

To my North American readers: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. tomorrow. Set your clocks ahead one hour tonight.

Lent: Day 28

Scripture: Romans 5:1-11

"Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. . . ."

Hymn: "Make Me a Captive, Lord," UMH 421
George Matheson, 1890

"Make me a captive, Lord,
And then I shall be free.
Force me to render up my sword,
And I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life's alarms
When by myself I stand;
Imprison me within thine arms,
And strong shall be my hand."


What a strange thing, O Lord Jesus, that only one thing can ever separate me from you: my own self. You have conquered my sin, yet you invite me to take part in that conquering with you. I can enjoy no victory if I do not fight!

Strong warrior Jesus, show me how to win this war of sin. Teach me the art of conquering, so that I never again allow sin to stand between my heart and your love.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Lent: Day 27

Scripture: John 10:1-18

". . . I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . . I know my own and my own know me, . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep. . . ."

Hymn: "The King of Love My Shepherd Is," UMH 138
Henry W. Baker, 1868

". . . Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me
And on his shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.
. . . And so through all the length of days,
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house forever."


My Good Shepherd, Lord Jesus, I seek your protection today. There are many forces of darkness at work around me, and I want to remain your lamb, belonging only to you, loving only you. You are my Gate; you gave your own life for me.

O Lord, you also call your sheep to serve as shepherds in your name, guiding and guarding one another. Make me faithful and loyal, just as you are. Give me an extra measure of your holy love, until it overflows my heart and spills out in love for your people and for all the world.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lent: Day 26

Scripture: Luke 15

". . . 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. . . . 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I lost.' . . . 'And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

Hymn: "Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy," UMH 340
Joseph Hart, 1759

". . . Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel your need of him.

I will arise and go to Jesus;
He will embrace me with his arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are then thousand charms."


Savior Jesus, Seeker of the lost, I am both lost and found. Though you never leave me, I go my own way over and over again. Like the son who demanded the wealth only to squander it, I waste and spoil the priceless gifts you entrust to me.

I want to come home, Lord Jesus! Just as you found me and rejoiced over me when I first turned to you, open the gates of heaven for me now, and let me feel your arms of welcome embrace my sin-sick heart.

Messed it up!

I'm filling in in our church office (since yesterday, actually) and didn't get today's readings and prayer posted before leaving for the day. Here's a hymn quote for now, and early this evening I should be able to post the actual reading.

". . . What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?"

from "My Life Flows On (How Can I Keep from Singing)"
Robert Lowry, 1860
The Faith We Sing, 2212

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Lent: Day 25

Scripture: Zephaniah 3:14-20

". . . The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival."

Hymn: "Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above," UMH 126
Johann J. Schuetz, 1675; tr. Frances E. Cox, 1864

"Sing praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love,
The God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled
And every faithless murmur stilled;
To God all praise and glory.


It doesn't get any better than this, O God! How could I not be faithful to you, when I am reminded that you take such delight in me? You throw a lavish party for your redeemed people, and you sing for joy over our salvation.

I love you, my God of joy and gladness. My soul is overflowing today with your goodness.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lent: Day 24

Scripture: Isaiah 45

" 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. . . . You are my witnesses,' says the LORD, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. . . . Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing . . . I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. . . .' "

Hymn: "How Firm a Foundation," UMH 529
"K" in Rippon's Selection of Hymns, 1787

". . . 'Fear not, I am with the, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.' . . .


Called by name! O loving God, you know my name!

I want to follow you, dear God, wherever you lead me. I give you myself, including my darkest fears, and trust you to use my life in the way that pleases you most.

I ask only that you keep calling my name, God. I belong to you.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Lent: Day 23

Scripture: John 3

". . . Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. . . . For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. . . ."

Hymn: "And Can It Be, that I Should Gain," UMH 363
Charles Wesley, 1738

"And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
. . . No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine . . ."


O Jesus of the Truth, I draw close to you. Like Nicodemus, I sometimes crave the darkness of night so that I might keep my seeking a secret. But you, Master, have promised daylight to me, light that never ends, in God's reign.

Lord, I know that the only condemnation is the one I bring on myself when I choose darkness over light. Hold me close to your side, precious Jesus, and help me choose your light.

Fourth Sunday of Lent

(Wow...I thought I posted this early this morning! Color me embarrassed . . .)

Scripture: Psalm 91

"You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust.' . . . When they call to me, I will answer them; . . . With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation."

Hymn: "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" UMH 139
Joachim Neander, 1680; tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1863

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him for he is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration! . . .


O holy, living God! How strange it is that I so often run from you! You have promised to be near me and to sustain me, yet I force you to seek me when I could be enjoying the matchless peace of your presence.

Set my heart on fire with longing, O God, for the perfect dwelling place for my soul: in the shadow of your unending love.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Lent: Day 22

Scripture: Revelation 21:1-18

". . . See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes. . . ."

Hymn: "O Holy City, Seen of John," UMH 726
Walter Russell Bowie, 1909

"O holy city, seen of John,
Where Christ, the Lamb, doth reign,
Within whose four-square walls shall come
No night, nor need, nor pain,
And where the tears are wiped from eyes
That shall not weep again.


Lord Jesus Christ, heaven's worthy Lamb, I long for eternity with you. I trust your promise that where you are, there your servant will be also.

Your servant . . . Lord, you are here. You have called me to serve in the kingdom of heaven here and now, not simply to wait for its fullness in eternity. O holy Jesus, let me live in your heavenly kingdom now as well; help me make this life heaven on earth for your children.