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

Radiant Garments

I am part of a blended family and we just had a divine wedding celebration in early November. Relatives from several states flew in to attend and we partied as a family. Asher who sometimes is called Ashley was also there. A very handsome young boy with a sweet and tender heart. He was wearing a lovely purple velvet dress with floral embroidery and carrying a handbag. No one commented on his dress.  I taught him how to Salsa and he was so happy.  Laughing and enjoying his uncle’s wedding. His abandonment to joy was infectious.

I learned through his mom that Asher is going through gender confusion and his parents are with him on this. They are loving and very supportive. The kind of love that says I’m with you — embracing and accepting with no judgments.

I don’t know what will happen with Asher in the future, but I  too was able to embrace, accept and not judge. I remembered something  I read in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young — “Remember that I have clothed you in My righteousness and holiness. I see you attired in these radiant garments, which I brought for you with My blood.”

I also remembered what Rev. Dr. Michael Bos who preached recently — “only light can cast out darkness and only love can cast out hate.”  An important lesson for all of us.

All I know is that we all love Asher.

With blessings and may you too be clothed in radiant garments!

Shared by Carmen Matias

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