A Blessed Easter!

Sunrise on Easter

The sun always rises.  Slowly.  Quietly.

Sometimes amidst rain.  Sometimes amidst wind.  Sometimes covered by clouds.

But slowly, quietly, the sun always rises and shatters the darkness.

God always comes to us.  Sometimes quietly.  Other times through a cacophony of unexpected events and “life turned upside down” experiences that stop us in our tracks.  But God always comes to us.  God comes to shatter the shadows and pierce the clouds of our lives.

On this Easter Day, may you feel the glory of God’s rising and the clarity of God’s brilliant light.  Look for the light.  Move toward the light.  For the sun always rises.  God has risen this day for you, to bring you God’s radiant and glorious light.

Reverent J. Elise Brown, Ph.D., Executive Minister at Marble Collegiate Church.

Draw the Circle Wide

Hands

This is a picture of hands in a circle at one of our retreats several years ago.  We all have temporary tattoos of butterflies and hearts on our arms.  Though we all have different colors of skin, we are united in the transformative spirit of growth and support at this retreat.

It reminds me of the hymn by Mark Miller with lyrics by Gordon Light called “Draw the Circle Wide.”  With all of the anger you see on social media, we need to really think about how to connect ourselves with others in more genuine ways.  We may not agree, but we can be in community together to help our world.

Here is a version of “Draw the Circle Wide” to watch and listen to.

Shared by Marcie Doll

 

A May Morning over Everest

Everest

Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. KJV

As I relive those moments on a small plane between Nepal and Bhutan, a front row seat to God’s majesty, I think of my own journey. Where have I been led and opted to follow those instincts? Where have I chosen a different path? Two years ago, my friend simply asked if I wanted to travel with her to Bhutan, the happiest place in the world. I said yes; not that I wanted to visit monasteries and forts in a reclusive Buddhist haven. Just in need of a vacation. The destination is important; how one gets there is equally so.

Our pilot alerted us that Everest would soon be visible on our left. We all scrambled and jockeyed to get the best vantage point. Wow! It was awesome. My God, you are real! How Great Thou Art! This photograph cannot do justice to the beauty and immensity of Everest. In fact no photograph can. The bird’s eye view of this snow-capped, cloud enveloped wonder comes with intangibles: the emotional impact, the ‘pinch me I can’t believe my eyes’, and the empathy for those who risk their lives for public glory. Sometimes a camera gets in the way. Breathe, and let the vision seize all your senses.

Today I have no desire to climb a mountain. Should I get to urge to scale the heights of Meru or Kilimanjaro, may I quickly reread Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.

But perhaps I shouldn’t run from the urge to do something new. Perhaps I say yes to sailing. Perhaps I accept that this nudging in one direction or another is an avenue to growth. Perhaps I Trust God: Trust that the journey is instructive. Perhaps I abandon myself to the wisdom of my Creator who has never steered me wrong, even as in the moment, I am reluctant to move where I am led.

Almighty God, thank you for unexpected treats you have scattered in my path. Help me walk by faith, abandoning fear.  Amen

Shared by Annemarie Edwards

Let there be Peace on Earth

SandyDiaz2

My daughter and I were sight-seeing with friends when I came across this street in Mont-Saint-Vincent in France in the Spring of 2016. I was captivated by the stillness, beauty and simplicity of it, namely the colors of the sky, the trees, and flowers. After a lovely picnic across from it, we drove down the street. Every time I look at the picture (which is framed in my foyer), it takes me back to the moment and fills me with joy and peace. I hope I can feel that peace regardless of where I am, and I hope I can share it with others.

And speaking of peace, I’m reminded of a song we often sing at Marble… “Let There Be Peace on Earth”…

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God our Creator, children all are we,
Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow:
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Watch and listen to “Let there be Peace on Earth”

Blessings,

Sandy Diaz

The Storm before the Calm

Sky Picture

I took this picture very early on Monday morning.  As I was parking my car on 128th Street in Harlem, I had a moment to catch this beautiful sky.  The wind was very strong and it was tossing these leafless branches back and forth.  Looking past the branches were dark clouds, but behind it there was a glimmer of sunlight even at this early hour.

As an educator at a big city school in Harlem, New York,  Mondays can sometimes seem daunting.   Overwhelming in fact, as I think about all that I need to accomplish to ensure the students in my school feel loved, cared for, and learn.

This picture reminded me of how we face our daily challenges or should face our challenges.  Just like the branches, we need to remain strong,  because we know that these challenges and giant to do lists shall pass. Light will take over our darkness.  All we need to have in our heart are patience and faith in God.

Sitting in my car, I witnessed this beautiful scene, on a regular Monday morning and it renewed my faith that I can tackle anything that comes my way.

Shared by Gloria Cheng

On Praise

On Praise

Psalm 34:1

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

This photo was taken at a former Portuguese fort in Casablanca.  The fort now houses a restaurant where we had dinner on my third night in the city.  The setting was so beautiful and unusual that I couldn’t put the camera down.  When I reviewed the photos, I found this gem.

I hear the lyrics of The Lord is Lifted Up as I look at this photo.

The Lord is Lifted Up

The Lord is lifted up
In majesty and praise
The earth beholds and bows before
The wonder of His grace

The Lord is lifted up
Above creation reigns
While earthly kingdoms rise and fall
His holiness remains
God’s holiness remains

The Lord is lifted up
All creation joins in praise
The Lord is lifted up
Every nation stand and praise Him
Praise Him
The Lord is high and lifted up
The Lord is lifted up

The Lord is lifted up
The heavens tell the earth
His excellence is evident
His works declare His worth
God’s works declare His worth

The Lord is lifted up
All creation joins in praiseThe Lord is lifted up
Every nation stand and praise Him
Praise Him
The Lord is high and lifted up
The Lord is lifted up

Prayer – Lord, may I continue to find you everywhere and in every circumstance. Amen

Songwriters: Billy Crockett / Kenny Wood

Shared by Annemarie Edwards

St. Malo Cathedral

St Malo

In a sacred place
sun shines through windows of stained glass
reflection causes inspiration

This church built centuries ago
bombs of war
rebuilt, standing solid now
pews where others lifted prayers
to Our Heavenly Father
heads bowed with hope

Moments of reflection
rekindle fires
in our being

Lent can do this
if we pause,
be still… pray.

Shared by Lynn Doll

Hope on the Coldest of Days…

Chicago Hotel

It was a bitterly cold winter night when I finished work.  As I cleared my desk, my phone pinged and I cringed.  This new app kept me apprised of all news events – which were never good – and I had no idea how to stifle it.  But this time was different.  The story of a miracle waited for me, “On one of the coldest days in Chicago history, someone put 70 homeless people up in a hotel.”

Finding this hard to believe, I researched the story on my computer.  To my utter amazement, the facts checked out!  I found myself taking a photo of the headline and texting it to 20 of my nearest-and-dearest, all of whom excitedly responded.

This is hope.  At first we’re afraid to believe, but then our hearts open and we are called to share the good news.  May we all find hope on this path to Easter.

Shared by Jessica Scovel

God’s wonderful love being narrated through songs by his children…

Christmas

Understandably, we are in Lent season. However, if there was no birth of our Christ, there would have been no Lent to celebrate. Therefore, I thought this photograph puts us in the right frame of mind of the joy experienced at our Lord’s birth.

This is a family of three children that I encountered playing the steel band as I walked on the along the 14th Street station on a cold day two days before Christmas to catch the L train.  I witnessed the joy and what these children were trying to offer to their spectators. They were playing favorite and popular Christmas carols bringing the message of Christmas. The rhythm, the songs and how they connected to each other drew a large crowd. I could see the joy in the faces of those watching and attempting to sing along. I was slow to move on but I had to in order to catch my train to get home from a long day outdoors.

I say to all: Joy for Christmas, Welcome Lent! Another opportunity to step back from our everyday work and chores to take a healthy look at ourselves and embrace God’s true love and grace!

Shared by Agatha Pratt

A Visit to Barcelona with Family

SandyDiaz1

In the spring of 2016, I visited Barcelona, Spain with members of my family. We stayed at a B&B near La Sagrada Family,* and daily walked by it until it the day of our planned tour. When we finally entered it, we were in awe and with so many others, we reverently took in the magnificence of it. Before stepping out, we came across this art on the floor which depicts the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, the beginning of his journey to the cross.

“And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road.  As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
– Luke 19:36-38

May we like the “whole multitude of disciples” enter into our lent journey with praise and gratitude for all He has done for us.

Blessings,

Sandy Diaz

*La Sagrada Familia is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). In 1882, construction of Sagrada Família started under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and he is buried in the crypt. It is anticipated that the building can be completed by 2026—the centenary of Gaudí’s death.