Maundy Thursday

Harp strings flutter their touch through me –
Soothing my soul.
“Holocaust” symphony –
That does not flutter.
It seeps into you –
behind your eyes,
within the wailing wall of your heart.
How could such beauty and gentleness
in the twinkling music
Co-exist with the knowledge of such terror –
knowing that this could happen is horror.
Living it is unspeakable,
And yet, must be spoken.
Was the harp played in a German home
as Jewish families were herded to their death?
Could beauty and this horror co-exist?
Not with the knowledge of the terror –
only in blindness,
cold, dark blindness –
stone silence of deafness.
You can’t hear a harp
and hear their anguished cries
with the same ears.
You’d go mad.

Susan Ceely Phillips

Turning Point

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A time when a decisive change in a situation occurs, especially one with beneficial results.
A point at which significant change occurs.

Imagine a dancer.
You choose.
A ballerina spinning with supreme control.
A modern dance interpretation.
A jazz gyration.
Swing dancing in synchronized, yet wild enthusiasm.
A powerful footfall through hip hop.
Do it yourself rock n roll.
Salsa swirling.
Hindi twirling.
Imagine the dancer
and the turning point.

Turning, spinning, whirling
Now and then
Or on and on.
But, each turn has a point
When a decision occurs in the dervish
To continue to repeat the cycle
Or to move into a new step,
A fresh pattern,
A solo exhibition,
A cling or clash with a partner,
A fusion with the corps,
Or to just stop.

Turning Point
A time, a point when a decisive change, a significant change, occurs, especially with beneficial results.

Easter – a “turning point”, both grand and minute.  I pray that it’s lovely and kind, either way.

 

Susan Ceely Phillips

Just for Today

Just for today, I will try to live through this day only and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today, I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that “most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Just for today, I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my “luck” as it comes, and fit myself to it.

Just for today, I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do –just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.

Just for today, I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticize not one bit, not find fault with anything and not try to improve or regulate anybody except myself.

Just for today, I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.

Just for today, I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.

Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

There is a great deal of question around who wrote this and it seems the earliest attribution is to Frank Crane in 1921, although Dale Carnegie and Kenneth Holmes show up as the authors on occasion.  George Harrison wrote a song based on this text called “Just for Today.”  

Sunday music…Lift Every Voice and Sing

Most will not be able to attend church in person this week.   I am sharing the Marble Collegiate Church’s live streaming page, where you can join church online this Sunday and all Sundays.  At 10am EDT there is Bible Study and at 11am EDT our service can be viewed.  We all need to pray together this Sunday…

https://www.marblechurch.org/connect/livestreaming

Here is today’s post:

Lift Every Voice and Sing from the Aoelians of Oakwood University

Lift Every Voice and Sing from Abyssinian Baptist Church

Lift Every Voice and Sing from the Berklee College’s We are the Future Big Band

Lift Every Voice and Sing!

Lift every voice and sing, ’til earth and Heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of liberty
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on ’til victory is won

Now God of our weary years, God of our silent tears
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on our way
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light
Keep us forever in the path, we pray

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on ’til victory is won

God’s Plan

Genesis 45: 4-13 (NIV)

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.  For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.  But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.  Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have.  I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you.  Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

 

For many of us reading through the bible this year, the reunion of the sons of Jacob is emotional. Joseph, Jacob’s favored and beloved son, was sold into slavery by his brothers. In Egypt, he was falsely accused by his employer’s wife and spent several years unjustly imprisoned. He endured many years of hardship. Yet, Joseph did not seek revenge on those who wanted to cause him harm. Nor was he bitter. When God gave him the opportunity to shine, Joseph was ready. And he gave God the glory. Joseph saw his journey and suffering as part of God’s bigger plan to save not just himself. God’s plan ultimately saved all of Israel’s children. Joseph forgave and reunited his extended family.

 

Heavenly Father, even as we endure unpleasant circumstances, may we continue to see the workings of your hands and your favor in our lives. Help us understand that we have certain experiences and situations because it is to your glory. Help us to always trust your plan for our lives and to wait on your deliverance.

AMEN

Shared by Annemarie Edwards

A Walk with God

As I began my walk at the outdoor labyrinth at a retreat center on this exceptionally warm January morning, I reflected on the last experience.  It was World Labyrinth Day 2018. God had walked with me as I sought a solution to a thorny situation. Should I walk away, risking a $200 down payment and my reputation?  Or should I do nothing and stay? The answer had come quickly on the contemplative, focused stroll.

Almost 2 years later, I was once again walking a labyrinthine maze, seeking balm or a word from God. Losses weighed me down. The death, 3 days earlier, of a somewhat forgotten and troubled brother left me distressed.  Ozzie and I had not kept in touch, not spoken in over 2 years.  We had not quarreled – just lived in different worlds. He was a good and generous man but often managed to get into disastrous conflicts. Now we were planning his funeral.  I regretted how I had judged him for the perceived mistakes he had made.  As I walked I was confronted with the knowledge that I could have been more – more kind, more patience, more present.  The loss was not mine alone to bear. But I was deeply affected.  I lamented not taking the opportunity to offer counsel and support to my brother.  I had left that to his other siblings.

The day after my brother’s death, my Samsung s6 had a meltdown.  Minutes later, 3000 photos accumulated over 4 years of travel and across 11 countries were erased.  And yes, I must be the only person in the world who had not backed anything up on a laptop or external drive. The wireless store salesman, in between selling me on an upgrade, suggested a place on 1st Avenue where the pictures possibly could be recovered for a hefty price.  But that was not an option. I had a funeral to help pay for.  My pragmatic side knew the pictures were secondary, but the loss still stung.  A cherished part of my story was gone.  I was overwhelmed and pensive.  I was living in that head space where more trouble and danger was coming.

What next, God?

A gust of wind rustled nearby branches and lifted a few of the dried leaves on the grass near my path. I stood still in that moment. And as if out of nowhere came the words…Nothing matters but the sustaining love of God. I looked down and my feet had come to the end of the prayer walk.

If only momentary, I felt comforted. Death and loss are part of the journey and will be encountered from time to time.  But I was not alone.

Jesus said “… surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20

Annemarie Edwards

Two Different Worlds

My life’s most significant journey has involved a wide road, two circles, a choice at a fork and a complete change of direction.

After leaving home at 19 in search of freedom and satisfaction, I chose to walk on a broad, well-populated trail. It started out feeling liberating, good and right. It led to turmoil and then despair. My chosen path had become an ever-descending spiral.

It was at that time that I was invited to various church events and concerts. Places I normally would never have been caught dead in! But to avoid offense I agreed to go. There the Word of God was spoken and sung. I kept a safe arm’s distance around me. Inwardly I mocked what seemed very naïve and Pollyanna-like.

Yet I couldn’t help but notice in the faces I saw, a different sort of people. Seemingly peaceful, joyful, full of life.

Back at my apartment resuming my usual modus operandi, I became more and more aware of the dichotomy between my life and what these people seemed to have found. I felt a growing conflict inside. Late one night, feeling completely tossed to and fro, I went out for a long walk around a lake.

KarenD

Two Different Worlds

Ringing the lake in the dark of the night

Tug of war raging on in my heart,

The life I was living vs. lives I’d just seen

A battle of Light and of Dark

 

A conflict so fierce like a ripping inside

Would I trade all I knew for completely unknown?

I’d never before felt a splitting like this

Neither place that night feeling like home

 

One, familiar as skin but now stranger I felt

The other so polar to all of my self

As I couldn’t stride pond edge and path the same time

I could neither live both worlds

Then…Whole shift paradigm!

 

 

One night I surrendered my life and said “yes”

Narrow way I stepped on with my fears,

So uncertain inside yet a full turnaround

That has made all the difference these years

 

My baby step onto that narrow way has brought me the “abundant life” I had longed for. One day that path will lead me to my forever home with Him. All because of God’s great love!

May we “prepare Him room” in every part of our hearts. Savior Jesus, born to die for our sins, “Come in.”

“I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” ~John 10:10

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter though it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~Matthew 7:13 -14

Shared by Karen DiProspero