Not so Empty Tomb

Karla Flower

Usually I imagine myself watching from afar with the other women on the day Jesus was crucified and buried.  This year, I feel as if I’m in the tomb.  We don’t know much about day two of that weekend — Saturday — the Gospels all seem to leap from Friday to Sunday.  But we know it certainly wasn’t a busy day.  In fact, all activity had come to a screeching halt because it was the Sabbath.  On Friday Joseph of Arimathea had hurried to get the body to the tomb, burial preparations had been made and sabbath prep done, so by Saturday the women who were always busy suddenly weren’t.  So there was Jesus in the tomb, abandoned, cold, dead, buried and alone.  Stillness and fear pervaded that Sabbath.  But that doesn’t mean God wasn’t at work in the midst of that stillness.

This year so much has come to a screeching halt and life as we know it has ceased to exist.  We may feel helpless due to our inaction or inability to stop this global crisis, and may feel that time has either accelerated out of control or perhaps stopped altogether.  As we find ourselves entombed in places of isolation, aloneness, loss of livelihood, illness or despair over the loss of dear loved ones — let us remember that we are not left there alone.  God is at work even now.

Today in the stillness of Holy Saturday, let us draw a deep collective breath as we remember the words of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux,

“May today there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.  May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.  May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.  May you be content with yourself just the way you are.  Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.  It is there for each and every one of us.”

 Thank you, Little Flower.  For we know that this place is only for a brief time and that transformation is just around the corner.

A song for today, with gratitude to Ana Hernandez who shared her gift of music with us at the Marble Women’s retreat recently.  Here is her rendition of this powerful battle hymn to carry us through:

“Don’t be Afraid” is by Scottish composer/activist John Bell. Ana’s arrangement is available on iTunes and YouTube, and the album, Sending You Light, by Fran McKendree and Ana Hernandez, is available on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc… and on Ana’s webstore here:

https://ana-hernandez-105676.square.site/product/sending-you-light-by-ana-hernandez-fran-mckendree/1?cs=true

By Karla Hendrick

A Message of Hope this Friday

tree photo

Spring is usually my favorite time of the year. I love the tiny yellow green buds dotting the bare branches of winter and their promise of abundant new life.  I took a picture of such a tree on a brief walk the other day.  (As I live in New York City, I practiced social distancing and wore a mask.) It was a gray and cloudy day and part of me wondered why I was even bothering to take the picture with the light so dull and flat. But I wanted a reminder of hope and as I looked through the lens the clouds shifted, and patches of blue appeared in the sky.

Since that day, I have gone back to that picture again and again and here are a few thoughts that came to mind. One, the patches of blue reminded me that blue skies are always there, it’s just that clouds sometimes obscure the blue.  Two, if I wait and look, the blue in the sky will appear even if it wasn’t there just a moment ago. Three, the tiny green buds that promise abundant new life are as plentiful as God’s promises about new life.  These verses came immediately to mind:

Isaiah 43:18-19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Revelation 21:5 Behold, I make all things new.
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

I was curious about just how often God talks about new things. According to OpenBible, it’s 100 times. I guess it was a point that God wanted to emphasize. That’s a good thing. I need all the reminders I can get sometimes.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/new_things

And the ultimate emphasis on that point would be Easter Sunday. As I thought about that this favorite verse came to mind:

Job 8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

During these dark days, sometimes I wonder how laughter and joy are even possible.

Then I remind myself, I don’t have to know how.

Our God is the God of the Impossible. Our God is the God of the Resurrection!

Let’s hold on to hope and faith and trust that God will provide.

 

Shared by sisters Patricia and Eileen Wu

It is Well with my Soul

For our Sunday musical reflection this week, we will be highlighting a favorite hymn of so many, “It is Well with my Soul.”  As we go through dark times in our lives, for many this hymn brings them calm and hope.  Today we share two beautiful versions of the song, one with voice and one with piano.

 

In 2009 Vicki Carter reached out to a close group of women friends asking they send the name of their favorite hymn. They did. I created a cd of my playing those hymns and each woman received the cd as a Christmas gift. Attached is my version of It is Well With My Soul on piano.

Here are the lyrics….

 

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

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

Shared by Vicki Carter

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”

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

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 

A Prayer Board

Prayer List

My current prayer board in my home office is crowded, jammed, overflowing, packed, and crammed, but it is not filled.  Each week, I update the board and use it in my morning prayers.  Collectively praying for those who need our prayers each day matters.  And it helps me to have a visual prayer list.  Who is on your prayer list this week?

Pray.  Stay at home if you can. Flatten the curve.  Take care of your family and your self.  Be safe. Pray.

 

Shared by Marcie Doll