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

 

 

 

 

A Different Way to Honor the Solstice

Psalm 25:4-5 NIV  

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

For quite some time, the month of December had been a blur of activity, noise, coldness, darkness and fuss. By the beginning of January, I was left empty and unhappy despite all the Christmas festivities.

Some years ago, a friend introduced me to the practice of fasting at the winter solstice. It is a 4 day liquid fast from December 21st to December 25th. The purpose, as my friend explained, is to silence the noise and focus on the approaching new year. In the midst of the season that invites us to indulge our taste buds, I was to abstain. Counterintuitive – definitely!

My first attempt was a total bust. With some difficulty, I made it through 36 hours. There were the Christmas cookies and sweets at the manager’s desk. And the lunch invitation at Junior’s!

“Sorry I am fasting” didn’t make it to my lips.

At the famed Brooklyn restaurant, I enjoyed a delightful lunch of fish and chips.

The following year saw a similar result. There were the normal stresses that I had regularly succumbed to. Additionally, I had failed to prepare homemade juices. My fasting attempt was half-hearted at best. So when coworkers suggested a last minute potluck Christmas party, I agreed to participate. And once I had eaten solid food, it felt pointless to return to fasting.

Last December, I changed jobs within my company, going from an office with 200 coworkers to a power plant where I see just 2 others all day. Even as winter approached, I was excited in my new job and department. The change in circumstances marked a change in attitude. I was also eager to fast as winter approached. This time I also invited the Holy Spirit in as I journeyed towards Christmas. Uttering small prayers throughout each day, I took sustenance with freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, water, tea, store-bought bottled juices and vegetable broth.  At the end of Friday, day one, I felt light but ok. It was fortunate that the weekend were days two and three. I didn’t have to go to the office and could pace myself or sleep late, and rest as needed. Day four was by far the most challenging.  That morning I yearned for my customary almond croissant to accompany the cup of tea. But with prayerful thoughts, I reminded myself that eating or fasting was voluntary.  There was great power in that acknowledgement.

The liquid fast means there is no chewing, no work. It was a time of stillness, and awareness of mind and body. I focused on listening and limiting my activities. I focused on Jesus, and on what December 25th might have meant to early Christians.

As I left home on Monday night to attend a two hour Christmas Eve Episcopal mass, I put a chocolate bar in my purse. It had come in the mail, a gift from a Finnish friend, and would be the perfect first bite. As much as I anticipated savoring my midnight snack, there was no rush or anxiety. I did not count down the minutes to indulgence. Rather, I remained present throughout the service, listening in peace and serenity to hymns and readings about the birth of Jesus.

And what the promise of salvation means to me.

Perhaps success was due to the new work environment. But I know that it is also true that “with God all things are possible.”

Blessings this Advent and Christmas!

Shared by Annemarie Edwards

Shepherd, Shepherd, hear the Calling

My introduction to the writings of St. Teresa of Avila came from a Buddhist friend.  She had recently moved to live and work at a retreat center in Dutchess County, New York after two decades living in busy Brooklyn and Manhattan.

After sharing photos of the bucolic beauty that enriches her daily routines, she let slip that in her quiet time, she was reading works by the Carmelite Nun and mystic, St. Teresa of Avila.

What??? That was my immediate reaction and response.

But I was also curious.

What about the Catholic monastic traditions of a 16th century nun appealed to a modern woman seeking Zen enlightenment?  I do not have answers. Nor should I have!  As I read the words of St. Teresa, I quickly let go of my limited thinking and judgements.

My friend is on her own journey of growth and discovery.

What I do know is that I too can learn from the saints who went before on the path to a more enriched spiritual life.  In Matthew 7, Jesus told the disciples, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (NIV)
As I seek, I am discovering a God who is opening my eyes to infinite wonder and daily miracles. The journey continues.

I share words of a beautiful poem attributed to St Teresa of Avila for Advent.  The translation is by Arthur Symons.

Shepherd, Shepherd, Hark that Calling

Shepherd, shepherd, hark that calling!

      Angels they are and the day is dawning.

      What is this ding-dong,

      Or loud singing is it?

      Come Bras, now the day is here.

      The shepherdess we’ll visit.

      Shepherd, shepherd hark that calling!

      Angels they are and the day is dawning.

      O, is this the Alcade’s daughter,

      Or some lady come from far?

      She is daughter of God the Father,

      And she shines like a star.

      Shepherd, shepherd, hark that calling!

      Angels they are and the day is dawning

 

Shared by Annemarie Edwards

A Curved Path

curved path photo

We oftentimes walk on a path that curves to the right or left in life.  This photo of a paved path that curves to the right.  It has walls of vegetation on both sides and the vegetation is very thick. So thick, you cannot see outside of the path.  The world is hidden to the path walker.

If you look carefully, you can just make out the back of a woman as she rounds the bend.

This photo reminds me that life is not a straight path.  There are often curves and I can’t see what awaits me around the bend.

I’m not a fan of uncertainty.  Most people are not comfortable with this uncertainty either.

Yet, I go forward because God beckons me to trust that He/She walks beside me every step of the way.  All the time.  Everyday.

May this comfort you this season.

Patricia Wu

A Trail of Poetry

Over the years I have written to friends needing support and encouragement.  Learning my words helped another gave me a great feeling.

Several years ago, poetry sparked my interest and I attempted this genre.  A friend said a poetry group met at a local library.  With some trepidation, I decided to attend.  The poets have varied voices and styles; I found most are phenomenal writers.  At meetings we read our poems aloud.   Then the others in the room convey corrections and ask questions about parts of the poem.  Sometimes quiet is a response.  At first, when my poem was met with quiet, I discovered I needed thicker skin.  Listening and assessing the comments can be a catalyst for improving.  Revision is needed sometimes.

These poets are broadening, encouraging and inspiring.  My voice is my own, unique and distinct, I drive on Tuesdays to the library with anticipation.  Courage helped.  A trail can also be a leap and for me this is a choice I made in my seventies.

Meetings held with individuals having had varied life experiences–things seen and hills surmounted.  There are poems of joy and poems depicting tears.

There is acceptance and understanding of each other’s journey.

Friendships ignited and are blossoming here.

I am grateful because this trail led to enlightening my journey.

 

Shared by Lynn Doll

Yesterday

Cheerokee Proverb

This Cherokee proverb is often a much-needed reminder for me. If I could tattoo it on a loved one’s forehead so that I could see it all the time, I would. 🙂  I have had to settle for putting it on my refrigerator as I do visit that frequently.

I especially need these words during this season. Sometimes I get caught up in expectations of how this holiday season should look and comparisons to past holidays.  I need to remember that today is all that we have and it is a gift. And that, of course, leads me to think about God’s gift to all of Us-God’s love which came into this world as the baby Jesus.

So instead of allowing myself to be mired in how I wish some things were different this holiday season, I focus on the one thing that remains constant- God’s love and presence in my life.

Patricia Wu

Footprints…

Sunset Susan

I’ve left footprints upon grains of sand.

I’ve left footprints in the dirt.

I’ve left my footprints on a wooded path.

They became a trail where I could leave my hurt.

 

I’ve left wet footprints on the sidewalk.

I’ve left crunchy footprints in the snow.

I’ve scattered leaves with shuffled footprints,

And each print felt seasons come and go.

 

I’ve scuffed footprints in the carpet.

I’ve trudged footprints in the mud.

I’ve padded wet footprints on the bathroom floor.

I’ve even left my trail of blood.

 

But of all the footprints that I’ve left,

And each has left its mark,

None has touched my heart so well

As those from my beloved Monarch.

The “King” that we all longed for

Left his footprints for me to match,

Or follow, or feel upon my soul;

No swinging gates or creaking doors for me to latch.

This Guide, this Ultimate Sustainer,

Shines an all encompassing light

To show me where my footprints have been

And trust in His delight in my flight to becoming alright.

 

 

Susan Ceely Philips

 

 

 

Path of Life…

 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16: 11 NIV

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There are times that I am overwhelmed on the path of life and I always am calmed by music.  Today I am sharing two songs from Porter’s Gate Worship Project, songs you may not be familiar with, but I know that these will calm your soul this Sunday.

Father, Let Your Kingdom Come

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHIGm7qYVz4

We Labor Unto Glory

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRuPZCXShg4

Shared by Annemarie Edwards

Hide and Seek

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my family in the country.  I was asked by the children to play Hide and Seek. I was then asked if I wanted to be a Hider or a Seeker.  I chose the Hider role and I hid so well, I wasn’t found.   They gave up looking and surrendered.

While I played the game with my family and all of the children, unlike most of the adults, it occurred to me that I’ve been playing “Hider & Seeker” with God all my life.   I was always looking for a church home.  One where I could be myself and where God would honor the gifts I bring to the table.  I have finally surrendered to his loving care when I came to Marble Collegiate Church.  My church home.  

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 
Psalms 32:8

Shared by Carmen Matias