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  • Friday April 7, 2017

    Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be, as more of heaven in each other we see; some softening gleam of love and prayer shall dawn on every cross and care. -The Hymnal 1982, #10, John Keble   I was fortunate to travel to Ghana last year with Episcopal Relief & Development. I joined a group of Episcopalians from the United States to enter into the sacred space of Ghanaian families participating in projects and programs addressing their very own poverty.   Amidst the Ghanaians' very concrete and compelling needs, their wealth of spirit stuck with me like a lump in my throat. Women danced to welcome us in every place, opening their homes, their lives and their very intimate celebrations to a group of perfect strangers. They reminded me what it means to be a woman, a Christian and a person who celebrates the strength of the Holy Spirit while in the midst of suffering. They were the "lovelier be" to me, the heaven I could once again see in another, the softening of a long hardened gaze, the reminder of beauty and the vulnerability of prayer and the promise of a coming dawn.   May we learn to see the heaven in others as we turn toward Christ and the promise of the sunrise.   -Karen Longenecker
    Karen Longenecker
  • Thursday April 6, 2017

    Jesus came and stood among them and said: "Peace be with you."-John 20:19 First came the text messages and loud alerts. Then an announcement from the Emergency Alert System crackled on the radio in the church kitchen: This was not a test. Tornados had been spotted in our area. We were instructed to move to a safe place and take cover.   That day, two hundred members of our parish were gathered for a visioning day. We were looking to the future, praying and working to discern God's dream for our church. Suddenly, we found ourselves packed like sardines in a hallway and classrooms. No one panicked. We kept on working. In those cramped quarters, we could hear lively conversations, new ideas and even laughter. In a fearful moment, we were at peace. Thankfully, it wasn't long before we heard the all-clear, but what about those people who experience disaster, who don't hear the all-clear?   When Jesus meets the disciples in the room where they are hiding after his arrest and crucifixion, they realize that this isn't a test. This is real life. Scary things can and will happen to us and to those we love. But Jesus meets all of us in that tight space of fear and says, "Peace be with you."   Together, in fearful moments, we can draw on our faith and share the deep peace of Christ with each other.   -David C. Killeen
    David C. Killeen
  • Wednesday April 5, 2017

    Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10   When we pause with the desire to be restored in our relationship with God, ourselves and others-even though we may not know exactly how-we give God the opportunity to meet us. We have a loving God who always walks with us and never abandons us, and it is in seeking to be one with God that God always surprises us.   In a recent encounter with God's holy presence, I was attending a service of laying on of lands and anointing for healing. It was a powerful experience, as I was in my own desert fighting my own wild beasts. As I approached the priest, I didn't know what to expect. When the priest made the sign of the cross on my forehead with holy oil and prayed for me, I was totally surprised.   As a priest myself, I realized that I too have been called to be an instrument of healing to God's people. I discovered God's divine presence of healing and forgiveness. In that moment of the service, I felt I was restored to wholeness and was one with God.   I would like to invite you to try the same: to surrender to being surprised by God's divine presence of healing and forgiveness. Our loving God, I believe, wants to be in relationship with you also.   -Alfredo Feregrino  
    Alfredo Feregrino
  • Tuesday April 4, 2017

    And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25     Together we hasten the coming of the Kingdom.   I was at Los Angeles International Airport, flying home the day after a power outage caused a ripple effect of flight delays and cancellations. On a good day, LAX can barely handle all the people coming and going; this particular day, conditions were at their worst. I asked an airport employee how she was doing on her extra-long shift. She said she was amazed at how wonderful folks were being, "given all they are going through." She told of witnessing numerous acts of kindness between strangers. As did I.   At the gate, I saw a man scanning the area for a place to sit. A woman offered her seat, but before she could get up, another person offered his. He said he had been waiting twenty-six hours and it was time to stand for a while. Then, cascading ripples: "I can hold your baby so you can eat." "I'm finished with this newspaper - would you like it?" "They just restocked the kiosk - do you want something?"   It was a glimpse of the approaching Day.   -Irene Tanabe
    Irene Tanabe
  • Monday April 3, 2017

    What life have you if you have not life together? There is no life that is not in community, And no community not lived in praise of God. -T.S. Eliot, Choruses from "The Rock"   There was a time when I believed a healthy neighborhood was a community where everyone was well-off and where individual needs were always met by abundance. Instead, I am finding that a healthy neighborhood is a community where abundant relationships exist.   Relationships outweigh prosperity. Health exists in standing together both in times of celebration and in grief. Neighbors aren't perfect, but they know one another, and they value their presence. There is life in community. I think church communities are much the same.   A healthy church is not a place where people hide behind a façade of who they believe they ought to be. This is why Lenten disciplines of exploration of the inner self, the universal and personal need for redemption, and the powerful nature of practicing repentance can be such a significant experience when done together. When our practice is lived out with others, we can come to know that our imperfections are a beautiful part of who God has created. We recognize the value of our interdependence because we see the incarnate God. We have life - and have it abundantly - because we have it together.   -John Burruss
    John Burruss
  • Sunday April 2, 2017

    Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.    -The Book of Common Prayer
  • Saturday April 1, 2017

    May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Romans 15:5-6   My smart, agnostic, twenty-something son does not want to engage me in conversation about religious values, but he will discuss at length one thing he is very interested in - brain science. I've been reading up on the subject and been delighted to discover how much our Christian values of loving and serving others are reflected in studies of how human brains function best across groups.   In Paul's letter to the Romans, he prays to God that the strong and the weak be given the steadfastness and encouragement to live together in harmony with one another. He asks Jesus' followers to serve others over themselves, to build up others instead of themselves, to glorify God with one voice.   Scientific studies on the unconscious part of our human brain show how much we identify ourselves by group membership - woman, white, mother, Christian - and we unconsciously discriminate against others. Only when different groups work together for a common purpose to overcome common difficulties, does discrimination cease.   Please God, grant us humans the endurance to work with you in common purpose, using the best of our science and religious understanding, to create abundant lives for all groups.   -Neysa Ellgren    
    Neysa Ellgren
  • Friday March 31, 2017

    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  -1 Corinthians 12:4-7    As Jesus puts together his team, he allows space for the varied gifts of the disciples. Even betrayal can be seen as a gift in the larger context of God's plan.    My work on the Episcopal Asset Map has been such a blessing. Spending the day listening to people talk about all of their giftedness has transformed me. I know that our Church is not dying - it is being transformed. The Church is going through its own Lenten season: We are letting go of things that keep us from connecting with our communities, releasing physical and spiritual barriers, building new and transforming relationships and stretching our edges as we live deeply into the lifegiving Gospel of inclusion.    Stripping away the things that separate me from God and my community prepares me for death and resurrection. My times of loss didn't feel good, but with the support of my community, I have come out on the other side. These scars have been transformed into gifts for the common good.    What scars have been transformed into gifts in your community?    -Tamara Plummer
    Tamara Plummer
  • Thursday March 30, 2017

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. -Hebrews 12:1   When I was a kid, I loved collecting rocks. While visiting a relative, I learned of a marvelous invention - a rock polisher. It was a machine with a motor that would continuously turn a coffee-can-sized cylinder. You put your rocks in the cylinder, turned it on and left it tumbling. In time those rocks bumped up against one another and broke off the sharp edges and ground down the rough spots. The rocks came out of that coffee can looking like jewels to my childhood eyes. The rocks weren't transformed into gemstones but they sure were shiny and beautiful in their own right.   So I think of church as God's tumbling coffee can for our souls. We come together and as we interact we bump into one another, sharing our conflicting ideas and diverse perspectives. In the process, our souls are polished. And not just in church. The people in our lives teach us how to be the unique person God is calling us to be. Other people are the voice of God to us.   God uses each of us to shape and teach others. So it's a good thing we're not all the same. There's a beautiful soul in each of us, and as we worship in churches full of lots of different Christian people, God makes us each more the person we are called to be, not by changing us into something we're not, but by helping each of us shine.   -Michael Buerkel Hunn
    Michael Buerkel Hunn
  • Wednesday March 29, 2017

    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. -John 10:10   Droughts and floods caused by climate change are wreaking havoc in the lives and livelihoods of farmers in India. In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau of India reported 5,650 farmer suicides. In the past year, in the western state of Maharashtra, farmers were committing suicide at a rate of eight people per day.   Jesus came into this world to give life - in all its fullness. Jesus revealed himself as the bread of life. Farmers are lifegivers too, producing the food we eat. But farmers in India are unable to sustain farming at current costs. Lent foretells the coming of spring, which signifies new life. As spring begins, the Church should turn its heart toward the plight of farmers. As economic and environmental tensions push farmers to the verge of death, the Church is called to stand with them. Standing like Jesus in favor of the people who share bread for the sustenance of life, the Church can be a source of life and light for the farmers.   Episcopal Relief & Development and the Church's Auxiliary for Social Action are working together to empower farmers, both men and women, to reduce suicides by providing agricultural education in the Yavatmal District of Maharashtra. As we meditate on Jesus the life giver, let us take action to stop loss of life around the globe in any form as Jesus did.   -Joycia Thorat
    Joycia Thorat


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