We’re All in this Together with Virtual Choirs

One of the discoveries I have made whilst in isolation is the virtual choir phenomenon.  The first one that came out during this homebound time was the Chino Valley High School Choir’s “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.”  And then Berklee College shared one and then…

Here are a few to enjoy this Saturday…

Chino Valley HS’s Virtual Choir

Camden Voice’s True Colors

Boston Children’s Chorus, in collaboration with Denver Children’s Choir, Children’s Chorus of Washington DC, Gondwana Choirs, Sydney, and Cincinnati Boychoir sing        Rise Up

The Pittsburgh Youth Choir’s Homeward Bound

A 31-Country Virtual Choir singing You Will be Found from “Dear Evan Hansen”

And one last song, while not a virtual choir like the others is a rendition of the Ben Lee song from different pubs in Australia….

The Pub Choir from all over Australia, “We’re All in this Together”

A Garden Tour or a few…

As many of our favorite gardens are closed to visitors this year, I thought it would be nice on this day of Spring to visit some of the world’s best gardens.  I guess these gardens are our secret…

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”  Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 

A tour of Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France

A tour of the Tulips in Keukenhof Gardens

A visit to the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Gardens

A tour of the gardens at the Biltmore Estate

A tour of Kew Gardens in London

A walk to see the Magnolia Trees in the New York Botanical Gardens

A Summer tour of The Botanical Gardens of Chicago

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”  Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Shared by Marcie Doll

 

 

Hope

 

Hope Sun 1

I barely can sense it’s shiver of awakening.

But.

I stop in stillness,

Searching for the shimmer.

In a drawn down lip-line,

In a shallow breath,

In a tear-drop caught in its passage.

My consciousness whispers that it’s there.

My footsteps inch toward it.

It must be!

Because.

I hope for it.

By Susan Ceely Phillips

Hope Sun 2

 

Rain

Picture1

I have always envied my friends who love to live in rainy places.  There’s the friend who said, “I Iove to fall asleep to the sound of rain drops falling on my window sill.”  I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t understand it now.

I think I have always suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder.  The dreary days affect me.  Rain and fog make me want to stay inside under the covers, waiting for the sun to reappear and draw me out of my bed like metal pulled up by a magnet.  The sun is my magnet and I am pulled up by it.

But this year, this Lent, I have made the decision to approach rain differently.  Rather than focus on the wet sogginess of it, I am going to focus on the life force water is, and how important rain is for replenishing this dry earth.  I am going to be my own internal magnet and pull myself up and out into the pouring drops cascading from the heavens or gently falling around me.

I am going to reach out my hand and feel the wetness, lift my face and let the drops fall on it without being concerned about makeup or mascara.  I am going to let the drops fall on my hair with abandon.  I am going to open my hands and heart and transform my ideas about rain, asking God to help me.

Why?  Because Lent is about transformation; it is about turning back or turning around altogether.  It’s about turning.  Lent is about change.

This Lenten season we are living through a time that no one would have expected.  Even in our current situation, what change or turning is God moving you toward this Lenten season?  How might you open your hand to a whole new attitude or idea or behavior or perspective on something that might seem so “fixed” within you?  Nothing is too fixed for God.  Nothing is too concretized for the Holy Spirit to enter in and initiate a great turning within and without.

Blessings on your journey of transformation and turning.  And may you stay safe in these difficult times.

Shared by Reverend Elise Brown

Picture2

Sometimes, Heaven

DSCN0296

Sometimes, Heaven is right under your feet –

shoes off, velveteen blades

caressing your sole – soul.

Sometimes, Heaven hides behind your furrowed brow –

waiting –

for the right moment

to crawl down your cheek

in a single tear

into the light of day.

Sometimes, Heaven floats on the gentle currents above –

that shelter you

from the treachery

of the undertow below.

Sometimes, Heaven hammers at the door of miscommunication –

clambering for

and scrapping with the truth.

 

Sometimes, Heaven soars.

Sometimes, Heaven screeches.

Sometimes, Heaven caresses your cheek.

Sometimes, Heaven slams you against the wall.

 

But, sometimes – sometimes –

Heaven is just that.

Susan Ceely Phillips

 

Sustenance

Weather not always balmy

obstacles appear

amid swirling wind and storms

former experiences illumine

strong ropes:

faith, hope, love

Biblical passages apply over centuries

these guide

provide balance

become sources

of courage and strength

when mountains overwhelm

grasp ropes tightly

 

 

I Corinthians 13

“ And now these three remain: faith, hope, love. But the greatest

of these is Love.”

 

 

Lynn Doll

©2020

Lord, Make us Instruments of Your Peace

For our Sunday musical reflection this week, I am sharing “Lord, Make us Instruments of Your Peace.”  This is based on the Prayer of Saint Francis (1181-1226).  As many of us in the world today are sheltering in place, our staying home is an Act of Peace.  We are saving lives by staying home.   You may not know this hymn by heart, but it is a song that can bring hope to all this Sunday.

Drakensberg Boys Choir singing Lord, Make us Instruments of Peace

Instruments of Peace by A capella Choir

The Sarah McLachlan School of Music singing the Prayer of St. Francis

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

Under God’s Umbrella

Years ago, my Mom gave me a copy of Holly Gerth’s book, Under God’s Umbrella:  Gifts of Hope & Encouragement to Shelter Your Heart in Life’s Storms.  The book is available from Dayspring and other religious book stores.

Holly shared this prayer:

“Lord, my heart is in the midst of a storm right now.  Please help me to be honest with myself and with You about all that I am feeling.  Amen.”

I have a great number of feelings right now from fear to anger, despair, hope, uncertainty, overwhelming sorrow, alone, resilient, mad and even strangely connected through technology.

This quote from Annie Johnson Flint was found on the opposite page of the prayer:

“God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.  But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way, grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.

All of this was found in the chapter, “It’s OK Not to be OK.”  Recognize and call out the emotions that you are feeling and remember that we are all Under God’s Umbrella.

Shared by Marcie Doll

Umbrellas

 

 

 

 

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

–Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words

And you may want to listen to the author read her own poem and you can click below.

Naomi Shihab Nye reading her poem “Kindness”

CHALLENGING TIMES? INDEED!

We are encouraged and strengthened by Bible verses that help us go through challenging times – times such as the present – that test every part of our character. During times such as what we are experiencing presently, it is important that we engage our mind and our heart with these good Bible verses to aid us as we go through these hardships. They will encourage us to keep pressing forward with a positive attitude.

Isaiah 41:10 “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.”

2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.”

Romans 5:4 “And endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Jeremiah 29: 11-13 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes,  and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious,  and it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Psalms 9:9-10 “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

Philippians 4:6 “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Proverbs 3:5-8 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,  and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”
 It will be a healing for your flesh and refreshment for your body.”

Psalms 46:1-2 “God is our refuge and strength,  a very present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.”

Psalms 50:14-15 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call on me in the day of trouble;  I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Psalms 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

Galatians 1:3-5 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

I pray that we will repeat these verses over and over so that we will be encouraged and have the Word of God deep in our heart.

 

 Agatha