Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wednesday Lent 1

Wednesday already.  Boy sometimes the weeks just fly by don't they.  

And Happy Leap Year Day to you all.     This is like a bonus day in February.  I think it should have it's own symbol and colour and join the ranks of Shamrock Green St. Patrick's Day or Heart Red St. Valentine's  Day.   Humm,  Leap Year Day.  What symbol and colour would you choose?  Perhaps a chocolate brown mountain that is suspiciously shaped like a Toblerone chocolate bar....   Happy Leap Year Toblerone Day.   Works for me :)  And have you seen the really huge Tolerone chocolate bars lately?  They are HUGE.     Just meant for sharing.  

Today is Lenten Noon Hour Worship at St. Matthew's  Cathedral which I won't get to as I'm still suffering from  THE COLD - FLU thing.     Today's  Lenten Noon Hour Worship is being lead by Father Chad from Minnedosa.  I really wanted to hear him lead worship as I've met him through a Museum Research quest and found him to be a really neat Minister.   Back in the old days,  a minister was declared awesome when he/she could preach with a golden tongue AND disappear from worship so that the presence of Christ filled the Church.  Today too many young Ministers are not taught how to disappear... but I have a sneaking suspicion that Father Chad knows how to bring the presence of Christ into worship.   Good on him.

Which takes us into today's devotion  of fake leaders.  Even back in Jesus' time there were teachers and prophets that were false.   

Prayer:  Lamb of God,  You take away the sins of the world. Lamb of God, You take away the sins of our hearts.  Lamb of God,  You take away the sins that we have forgotten about.   Jesus, gentle and humble of heart,  give us hearts like Yours.  This we ask in Your name.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 7: 15 – 20

Ah False Prophets.   Jesus instructs the Disciples that there are false prophets or false teachers or false preachers who come in the name of God but are in actual fact,  fake.  They have no belief in God…. they understand God but have no belief.    Then Jesus continues to instruct the Disciples by saying that we will recognize false prophets only over time.  Outwardly,  these false prophets look just like any other believer.   They are correct in their understanding of God,  but they just don’t fully understand what life in God means.  Over time,  these false prophets  will produce thorns instead of fruit.  This means that these prophets or teachers or preachers will not have the fruits of the spirit and will only be concerned about themselves.  But it takes time uncovering a false prophet.  
Jesus then teaches that every healthy tree bears good fruit but diseased trees bear bad fruit.  Fruit is not what a person says but what a person does in their lives.   
Today,  as you life out your life,  think how your life can be “fruit for Jesus”. 

Prayer:   Redeeming God,  be with all those who minister to others in Your name.  Be with them as they counsel others.  Be with them as they pray for others. Be with Sessions and Ministers that meet to make difficult decisions.   Minister to all their needs and remind them the You are their Creator and Redeemer and Sustainer.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Tuesday Lent 1

Thank you for the prayers.  Old Son is much better now ... but now I've got what Old Son had last week.  How drole.     Thankfully the Museum personnel are amazing and awesome.    And the Cadets can change their dates for having us come and share with them thoughts about Vimy.    Phew.  Hurrah for compassionate people.

Prayer:   Holy God,  Holy Mighty,  Holy Immortal One have mercy upon us.  Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One have mercy upon us.  Holy God,  Holy Mighty,  Holy Immortal one, grant us Your peace.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 7:   12 – 14

Ah.  The Golden Rule.  Do unto others as you would do unto them.     Whatever you wish that others would do to you,  do also to them.     Or as the Message translates this portion of scripture, “Here is a simple, rule of thumb guide for behaviour:  Ask yourself what you want people to do for you,  then grab the initiative and do it for them.  Add up God’s  Law and Prophets and this is what you get”.
This scripture is then followed by Jesus instructing the Disciples that there is no short cut to God.  Being a Disciple of Christ is not easy.   The Disciples would have been taught in their synagogue school that there are two ways to life:  life and death  (Deuteronomy 11: 26,  Jeremiah 21:8).  The Life mentioned here is eternal life.   Life over death.  Life with God.  This day repeat the Golden Rule to yourself and live it with joy and praise in God’s name.

Prayer:   Great God,  we will live this day looking forward to serving everyone in Your name.  Whether we sit in silence,  we will keep our family and neighbours and church in our thoughts and prayers.   Whether we walk about doing chores,  we open our eyes to those who need help this day.  Whether we stand in grocery store line-ups,  we will open our ears to those who need help this day and respond to their needs with joy and praise.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Monday - Lent 1

Aaaah Lent.  That time when we look inwardly at ourselves and our attitudes and behaviours... and ask for forgiveness from God.    

This weekend was a fantastic weekend.   The Vimy Powerpoint Presentation is just about complete.  A couple of more edits and last minute  "Should I include" thats and we are done.  Our first presentation is tomorrow with the Army Cadets in Virden.   And wouldn't cha know I woke up Saturday with a sore throat and sinus icky and cough.    So far I still have my voice.    Heh heh heh,  this should be interesting to see if my voice will keep plugging away until Tuesday evening!

Have a fanastic day today and happy Lent 1!

Prayer:   Creator God,  we thank You that You are always present in our lives.  When we get discouraged and downhearted,  help us to remember You.  When we get tired,  help us to remember Your great Joy.    This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 7: 7 – 11

Many Churches that have stained glass windows  include one called “Behold I stand at the Door and Knock”.    This window portrays Jesus carrying a latern while knocking on a door that is covered with vines and looks unkept.  All these stained glass windows are a copy of the great painting “The Light of the World,  painted in 1853  by William Holman Hunt.   (Who was reflecting upon Revelation 3:20 and St. Matthew 7: 7 – 11).  William Holman Hunt painted another copy of this painting for St. Paul’s Cathedral London.

First Presbyterian Church,  New Westminster has this beautiful stained glass window of Jesus knocking on the door.  What you don’t realize is that many years ago when the Session and Board were designing the window,  the stained glass artist put a door knob into the door in the Stained Glass design.   Quickly the Minister and Session asked the artist to take out the door knob.    So,  why does this stained glass portray Jesus knocking on a door without a doorknob?    Because it is an illustration of this very text.  Jesus knocks on the door to our hearts,  but only we can open the door from the inside and welcome Jesus into our lives.  

Prayer:   Lord God,  we hear You knocking on the door to our hearts.  And we open the door to our hearts this day with joy and praise.   We welcome You into our lives and live in Your presence with joy and praise.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.   

Many blessings!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday - Lent 1

There is something special about the first Sunday in Lent.   In the Presbyterian Church,  we add a special Lenten Liturgy to our order of Worship.     The Lenten Liturgy is also produced by the Presbyterian World Service and Development... and agency within the Presbyterian Church in Canada that helps those in diaster and need.     This year Rev Emily Bisset wrote the Lenten Liturgy.    It is neat how she brings Old Testament images into today's  worship.   

Well,  yesterday ended up being a non-quilting day.   A bit of a bummer not to quilt yesterday but there was so much other activity going on with Museum paperwork the day went by in a blur.    Old Son and I are down to the wire with going over and reviewing and modifying the Battle of Vimy Powerpoint Presentation for Tuesday's  first viewing.   So far we have 70 slides and discovered that we need more emphasis on the Battle itself.  Humm.  How intriguing. 
Yesterday was also getting the Museum's  Vimy Night fundraiser tickets produced.  Hurrah for Staples and specialty paper.   So!  If anyone is in Brandon on Saturday 31 March 2012... please come to our Vimy Night Fundraiser.   RSVP for supper tickets is 21 March 2012 (Supper tickets are $15.00 per person). 

May this first Sunday in Lent be a time to retreat into the presence of God. 

Lenten Liturgy:
Leader: God holds us in a covenant of grace. The promise to Noah is our promise too: God will never again destroy the whole world in order to make things new.

People: Rather, God will work through us to make things new.

Leader: We need change that turns us inside out, focusing us on the needs of those around us.

People: May we embrace the changes that will leave fear behind and open up a whole new world ahead.


Leader: May the God of the rainbow assure us that the world is in good hands.

People: May Christ, who shared our humanity, open our hearts to the pain of all who suffer.

Leader: May the Holy Spirit give us courage and conviction to stand up to oppression.

People: May we be faithful to the God of covenant and change.

Composed by The Rev. Dr. Emily K. Bisset
Produced by Presbyterian World Service & Development
The development and relief agency of The Presbyterian Church in Canada
50 Wynford Drive, Toronto ON M3C 1J7

Many blessings!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Preparatory Retreat Saturday

Aaaaah,  Saturdays.  The day of preparing for Church.  The day of continuing paperwork.  On Tuesday the Museum will be going to the XII MB Dragoons 2528 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Virden to present our Powerpoint Slide show and Travelling Exhibit on the WW1 Battle of Vimy.   Creating the Powerpoint presentation has been a great time of research and learning.    Always nice to know that old buffaloes can learn new things :)

On great way to prepare for Sunday and to look inward at our lives for Lent is a time of Forgiveness.  This way of meditating upon Forgiveness came from Anke Hendry.    It is amazing as it makes each of us think... and then ask forgiveness.  


In order for each of us to be able to say “thank you God”, we need to forgive ourselves and others.   The Forgiveness Prayer exercise today is an easy one but a thorough exercise.
Fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise.   On the left hand side  write the name of the person and  what they have done to you.  Add anyone you can think of on this list…. From the driver who didn’t stop to let you cross the road to the sister that forgot your birthday.
The more we forgive the more healing can be done. 
When you are done writing the names on the left hand side of your paper, start writing on the right hand side this phrase

 Dear _________, I do forgive you for _____________ and I set you free.  Through the love and forgiveness of God,  I do forgive myself for feeling hurt/ angry/  violated and I know that God will set my free.

Wait until you feel different in anyway when you think about that person.  Then go to the next name on your list.  Sometimes the list is a few names and sometimes the list is pages long.   But remember,  the more we forgive the more of God’s love we share. 

End your  Forgiveness Prayer exercise with this  prayer: 
God of all Graciousness,  I thank you that I can come to you with heavy burdens and You take all my burdens  from me.  Thank you Great God that you have taken my sorrows and anger and replace them with Your forgiveness and love.   May I too be the love of God to all those that I meet this day.  Assist me as you assisted the early Apostles and Church leaders to find blessings and opportunities even in the most challenging experiences.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.   Amen.

Many Blessings and Happy Birthday to Me :)

Friday, 24 February 2012

Snowy Friday Retreat

These past few days,  I have been on the trail of a 26 Fd Regt RCA Commanding Officer's  history.  It is fascinating to follow websites that carry his work and bits of his life.  His work as a surgeon was extraordinary!    He was also a Presbyterian and the question arose:  as Presbyterians,  what do we leave behind on earth after we die?  What makes us distinct that people will say, "Wow!  He/She was a Presbyterian and we know this because.......of their life's example of helping others?.... of their life's  example of being a Biblical Scholar?"  Interesting question to meditate and retreat upon during this Lenten time.   This day,  ask yourself  what are you doing to make a good footprint-history-memories-teaching in this world

Prayer:   O God and Father of mercy,  receive the prayers we offer in our times of need.  Keep our hearts in constant thankfulness.   This Lent, help us to look inside ourselves and clean out all the judgements we make of others.  This Lent,  help us to look inside ourselves and clean out all the wrong choices we make because we think it makes us look better.    Give us strength to do what we have to do and do not remember the sins we commit.   Strengthen us with Your strength and give to us all the light of Your consoling presence.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 7: 1 – 6

Judging,  lots,  specks, dogs and pigs.  These six verses are full of vibrant images.   Jesus uses many illustrations to help the Disciples (and us) understand His teachings.   
Judging.  Humm, this is one thing we often do unconsciously.   When a Minister drives into the Church parking lot with a spiffy new truck,  why do we automatically think, “Well,  we must be paying them more than your average worker!”     When someone sits down in a pew and see nothing but the bling of jewlery,  why do we think, “Yikes.  What bank did that person rob?”     Jesus tells us here that we can not judge.  Because if we judge others,  then God will judge us.   Bummer.
First we need to do a catalogue of our own selves.  We need to “take the log out of our own eye first before we can open our lips and judge others”.  
Dogs and pigs.   Jesus instructs the disciples to not be flippant with the sacred (do not give dogs what is holy).  When praying or leading in Worship,  remember to give God glory and honour… do not try to be cute.       Silliness gives no honour to God.  Don’t reduce the Holy Mysteries to silliness  (do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you).   When we celebrate the Holy Mysteries
(Baptism and Lord’s Supper),  we try our best to bring God honour and glory and majesty.   These verses are frequently said to new Seminarian students!  Ask your Minister when he/she was newly ordained  how many times he/she practiced doing communion and holding a water filled balloon in preparation for a Baptism. 

Prayer:   Return to the Lord for the LORD takes pity on us.   To us,  God is all forgiveness.   This Lent,  let me be attentive to the Words that You whisper to us each day.   May You enable us to do Your will in every kind of goodness, working in us what pleases You,  through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.   

Many Blessings!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Day After Ash Wednesday Retreat

Ash Wednesday Lenten Noon Hour Worship yesterday at St. Matthew's  Cathedral here in Brandon was fantastic.   It is wonderful to be able to sit down together with all denominations and all share the same enthusiasim for sharing the Good News.   

Dean Robin Walker preached on Jacob wrestling with God and how we too wrestle with God.  Over the next six weeks,  each week's theme concerns a Biblical Character who wrestled with God.  What I found hilarious was when Father Robin stopped preaching and said, "I have to apologize ladies,  there are no female Bible people during the next six weeks,  only men."   And wasn't I good that I didn't pip up, "That is because the Biblical Women got God's message the first time around and God didn't literally have to wrestle to make the Biblical Women hear God's Words!"    Heh heh heh.

Aaaah,  what a great time of retreat in the midst of a full day.   A time to reflect upon God's  word.  A time to learn another worshipping community's  Hymns of Praise.  A time to gather together over a meal to learn more about each other.    

Prayer:   Return to the Lord.   For God is all tenderness and compassion.  From our stumblings,  God will deliver us.   From our shortcomings,  God will protect us.   From our weaknesses,  God will provide us with strength.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 6: 31 – 34

Are you wondering if this day’s  scripture lesson is a typo?  After all,
we read  from St. Matthew 6: 25 – 33 yesterday.  Are you asking why we would re-read
some of the same verses today?     When the New Testament was being formed,  it was up to the hand-scribe to put Chapters and verses onto each Book. The Hand-scribes also put  verses together to make one idea or one lesson.   Verses that look like a new paragraph are new ideas.    In many Bibles,  verse 34 is often found all by itself.   Yet this important verse is so linked with the previous three verses that we’ve put them together for today’s  meditation.

What are we to do when we worry?  Give the worry to God.   Jesus instructs the Disciples (and us too) to seek first the kingdom of God and all our needs will be shared with God.  If we get so preoccupied by getting,  we forget to respond to God’s giving.

Therefore,  “give  your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  (The
Message    St.
Matthew 6: 34)

Prayer:   This day,  O LORD,  we give You all our worries.  We give You all our concerns.  We give You all our inner turmoil.  For we know that You are our God and we are Your people.   Conform us to the truth of Your word in faith.  Keep us obedient to the teachings of the Gospel of our Saviour,  Jesus Christ.   And in all things we say,  Amen.

Many blessings!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday.  This is the  day in the Church year when we sit down and reflect upon our lives so far.. and then ask God for forgiveness.  The "Ash" part of ash Wednesday is historically,  people would go to Church to ask for forgiveness then the Minister would place the sign of the cross on their foreheads.  The ashes were usually last year's  Palm Branches that were burned into ash.      Presbyterians don't do the sign of the cross in ashes on our foreheads but we certainly do the reflective forgiveness part of Ash Wednesday.
In Brandon,  the Churches gather together for  Lenten Noon Hour Worship ...followed by an amazing soup - sandwich lunch.   The Lenten Noon Hour Worships are held at St. Matthew's  Anglican Cathedral.  I cherish these times of worship.  So if you are in the neighbourhood for the next six Wednesdays.... St. Matthew's  Cathedral  13th Street in Brandon MB  at High Noon.

Prayer:   God of Repentance and love,  may we steep our lives in You this day.  May You show us Your glory this day as we begin the time of repentance.   Help us not to worry about all the little things in life but to rest and abide in You.   This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Matthew 6:  25 - 33
These verses are verses of comfort.   Jesus tells the Disciples not to be anxious about their  life. Jesus tells us this same thing today too.   Do not be anxious about your life.    This doesn’t mean tossing aside our Bills and Mortgages because “God will provide”  but these portions of scripture means that we will not fuss about what clothes are in our closet nor what food is on our table at mealtime (although  brussel sprouts still create anxiousness in our house J) 
God is with us in everything that we do and say.  And in prayer,  we ask God to help us when the anxiety of our lives and the worries of our lives  get us down.

Today is Ash Wednesday… the day when we ask God to forgive us from our whining and complaining and short vision and turn again to God’s love.  Lent is forty days long, not including Sundays.    Lent is a time to do seriously looking at ourselves… our actions… our thoughts… our vision and then turn to God,  asking for forgiveness and newness of God’s joy.

Prayer:  Almighty and Everlasting God,  forgive us from our whining and complaining and short vision.  Help us this Lent to keep our eyes focussed upon You.   Great God,  help us when the anxiety of our lives and the worries of our lives get us down.   May we turn again to Your glory and peace.   This we ask in Jesus name.  Amen.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Shrove Tuesday and Mystery Item Tuesday

Today is Museum day.   And the day when our Curator Emeritus brings in an artefact for us to figure out what it is or brings us a question about history.   So far I am zero for zero in figuring out what  is each artefact.  Now you are probably thinking,  how many mystery items can a Military Museum have in its collection??    Well,  lots.   From differing and unique ammunition to a stick pin used by the daily "helpers"    of Col Sam Steele (of North West Mounted Police and Lord Strathcona's Horse Regiment fame).       What I find fascinating about all the artefacts is how my mind frequently thinks, "Oh,  that would make an awesome quilting design".   Who knew!  :)

Mystery.   As we enter into the Church Season of Lent,  we too are involved in the mystery of holiness.    Lent means "spring time"... or "lengthening".... that time of newness of life when our snow begins to melt (or not) and the flowers begin to sprout their leaves upward.    My good friend Linda of  Satin Moon Quilted Garden in Victoria mentioned that the flowers in Victoria are now up and starting to bloom.    Here in Manitoba,  we have ice and brown goo and a bit of snow.   This newness of springtime is also a time for us to re-look at ourselves.  A time for retreating in God and asking that we too may renew our lives and our faith.

Shrove Tuesday is a latin word meaning "shriven"... a time of asking for forgiveness and receiving  absolution.     It is a day to cleanse one's soul.   Lent is a time of repentance and for some denominations, fasting.   We make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to remind us of the journey of Moses and the Israelites.  They had to make a fast dash out of Egypt and had to use up all their leavening food items.   So too this day,  we use up all our leavening food items in preparation for the Season of Lent.      Happy Pancake making :)

Prayer:   Heavenly Father,  we come into this time of repentance when we make the time to say “I’m sorry… please forgive me”.    During this time of Lent,  help us to see the light which we need in order to have a clear vision of what is most valuable in our lives…. serving You.   This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Read:  St. Matthew 6:  22 - 24
The website “Sacred Space”  states that in these three verses,  “it is that light which we need in order to have a clear vision of what is most valuable in our lives. The person who cannot see beyond money, status, power, or fame is truly in darkness. Life is not about getting these things. Life is about who we are; it is about love and relationships.”
Today is the last day before Lent begins.   Take time today to open your eyes to the community around you and how God is asking you to become involved in sharing the love of Jesus with others.
In verse 23,  Jesus instructs the disciples about the bad or evil eye.  In Jewish understanding, the evil eye is a person who is entirely selfish and only looking out for themselves. 
No one can serve two masters.  What is Jesus talking about here?   Two masters?  Were the Disciples slaves and served their master PLUS walked with Jesus?  No,  not at all.   Jesus is instructing the Disciples that they (and we too!) can not serve God and then turn around right after Worshipping God and  dance with glee over all our money.   Ah!   Some translations of the Bible say “mammon” which is property.    By choosing and worshipping God,  we gain a clear and healthy vision of what we value most in our lives.  Although you will note that Jesus never said to the disciples that choosing a life lived in God’s love would be easy!
Let us pray today for vision and light and to be able to discern what are the real treasures, the most precious things of human living. Our Christian life is above all a vision of life.
Prayer:   Great God,  grant us vision to see what needs to be done in this world in sharing the love of Jesus with others.    Grant us vision to bring the light of Christ to those who need help.   Grant us vision to bring Your balance and love into the places where we worship.   This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Many blessings

Monday, 20 February 2012

Resurrection Monday

Many prayers today for the family of our Clerk of Session and for the family of the Chief's  son.  Both Services of Resurrection will be today.    While we call this worship a Funeral,  for Presbyterians this worship is really called a Service of Resurrection to remind people that death is not the end but that death is the beginning of new life with God.   I've noticed lately that Funeral Homes are calling Funerals  "Funeral Ceremony".    While, yes that is what it is,  the title Funeral Ceremony gives no hope.  It is an end with no Resurrection.      

Presbyterians (and Anglicans)  also have a humourous outlook on death and Resurrection.  Many years ago there were some older women who used to sit in the last pew at the back of the Church.   When asked why they all sat together at the back,  they said with great joy that this pew was called "Resurrection Pew".  They figured with their advanced ages that they were next in line to see God.   How neat!   They understood the whole concept of death and Resurrection AND could delight in it.   

Today,  in prayer remember those who have died and their families.  Ask that God give the families comfort in knowing their loved ones are now rejoicing in heaven. 

Prayer:   Great God,  we come before You today ready to hear Your words to us today.   We bow down before You today  ready to listen to Your words to us today.   We bow down before You,  ready to take Your Words of life to all we meet this day.   In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 6: 19 – 24
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,  where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasurers in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.   
All museums,  including our Presbyterian Church in Canada Museum in Toronto,  are constantly on the look out for clothing with moth holes and Communion tokens and Communion ware that has rusted.    Moths along with Beetles can destroy Gowns and Communion Linen in the blink of an eye.    Rust begins on Communion ware and Tokens when humidity is too high.  Silver Communion ware is especially vulnerable to tarnishing.   Tarnished silverware is as horrifying for Museum Conservators as polished silverware.  A layer of Tarnish can destroy the surface of silver.    Yet each time one removes the tarnish,  they are removing a layer of silver.  The best way to keep silverware in peek condition is always wear cotton gloves when handling the item.  Remove Tarnish with either Hagerty or Twinkle products.  Then carefully wrap the Silver ware in Silver Pacific Cloth, wrap that in acid free tissue paper, and then pop everything into a ziplock bag.     Amazing what it takes to keep a Church’s  treasures.  
How many of our Churches now have alarm systems to alleviate the threat of break-ins.
In verse 21, Jesus is instructing the disciples that their “treasures” are to be in heaven. 
Sacred Space website says that “Jesus urges us to put our trust and our security in something less perishable, something more lasting. To ‘store up treasure in heaven’ is not just to pile up a whole lot of ‘good works’ which will be to our credit in the next life. That credit too can be very quickly lost. It is much more a question of growing more and more into the kind of person who is steeped in the values and the outlook of the Gospel. It is less a question of doing than of becoming. We also build treasure by what we give away, by sharing with others whatever gifts we have, especially those most in need. “  (
Today,  ask yourself  what kind of treasures you already have in heaven?    How will you continue to store up treasures in heaven?
Prayer:    Creator God,  we thank You for the treasures we already have in heaven.  Help us to store all our treasures with You in heaven.  Help us to keep our eyes focused upon You this day so that we become all You would ask us to be.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Many blessings.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sunday School Sunday

Hurrah.  I received an e-mail yesterday asking if I could help out with Sunday School as one of the teachers got sick.    Of course I would help.    So instead of sitting in a pew and hearing the Word of God,  I will be helping the Sunday School sew the Word of God.  A change.   This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday.... or as Presbyterians say, "There is going to be a change happening Sunday".     Presbyterians are often noted for not liking change but  change is part of the Good News.   We are changed and transformed inwardly and outwardly if we listen to the Good News. 

Bonus yesterday on CBC Radio Two... it was the Barber of Seville.  How great is that!  One of my all time favourite Operas.    

Thank you for your prayers for Old Son.  He is slowly getting better but has a long long way to go healthwise. The infections and then the Meds really did a number on him.    Please continue to pray for Old Son.  

Rejoice when what you have planned for the day ends up being totally different.  Today remember the Transfiguration of Jesus... a time of change and a time of glory.

Dear Jesus, I long for Your presence this day.   I come before You now  to clear my mind of all the things that battle for my attention. I humbly sit at Your feet asking You to minister to me through your word.  This I ask in Your name.  Amen.

Matthew  17: 1 - 9  

1-3 Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.
 4Peter broke in, "Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?"
 5While he was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: "This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him."
 6-8When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. "Don't be afraid." When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.
 9Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. "Don't breathe a word of what you've seen. After the Son of Man is raised from the dead, you are free to talk."  (The Message)

Read through this scripture again,  jotting down any words,  phrases,  or thoughts that have leapt out as you listen for the voice of God speak to your heart.   Ask yourself, how is the Lord revealing Himself to you?

Quietly reflect on the words and phrases the Holy Spirit is emphasizing in your heart.    

Capture all you have meditated on and bring it as a prayer before God. Let your heart cry out with praise, confession, gratitude, sorrow, or comfort.

End your prayer time with this prayer……   Lord Jesus Christ,  Son of God,  let Your healing flow down upon me.   Lord Jesus Christ,  Son of God,  let Your healing spring up within me.  Lord Jesus Christ,  Son of God,  Let Your healing love enfold me.  Lord Jesus Christ,  Son of God,  let Your healing power flow through me.    Amen  (Fa Ted,  Western Society of the Common Life).

Many blessings.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Getting Ready Saturday

Good Day!   Saturday.....   aaaah Saturday....... today is hopefully a quilting day,  CBC Radio Two Saturday Afternoon at the Opera,  writing the March Synod Devotional,  and getting ready for Worship on Sunday. 
Please keep Old Son in your prayers.  He has been struggling with Mono since September and last week ended up with an extremely infected sinus (sinuses?  sinai??),  ears, and throat.   The meds that he is (was) on did an interesting Tango to his body so now he is feeling like a dust mop (old and tired and limp).    One good thing about this illness is he now knows that he is allergic to codeine! 

Saturdays around here are also cleaning up days in preparation for Worship on Sunday.   Back in the day,  Sunday was a day of Sabbath with no extra hard labour and no extra cooking.  I think that people working hard seven days a week without a definite day of sitting one's self in God's  presence is just unhealthy.  And so a day of preparation on Saturday.   As athletes prepare for their big games and events,  we as Christians prepare for our times of Worship of God.   How could we do any less?? 

Prayer:  Great God,  please heal and regenerate our congregations to their full  strength,  balance, and sharing of Your Good News.  For those congregations and Ministers and Sessions and Bords that think they are all by themselves, may the feel th love of You this day as we kee them in our prayers.  This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Beautiful Friday

Friday already.   How did that happen?    BC Forest Industry should be kept in business this week with the amount of paperwork our household has used with Church,  work,  Courses,  and Reports being printed.   Amazing!  Country and Western author,   Louis L'Amour always said when you read a book,  you need to plant a tree.  Indeed.   Ditto with creating 15 to 30 page reports!

With online courses and assignments,  it is amazing how one has to develop a discipline towards getting the assignment in on time.    Each of us in this house have a differing way of getting assignments completed.   Husband spends a lot of time on Facebook games while "contemplating".   Old Son reads course books and zooms onto internet research... in between checking out favourite websites :)    I do a bit of studying each day,  jotting notes down on the computer,  then three days before the assignment is due there is a bit flurry of writing.    Then the assignment is left for one day and then reviewed,  word smithed,  references checked.   And who comes out with the top marks in their course?   Husband who plays Facebook games of course.  Life is amusing.

Have a great Friday and remember to take time to thank God for our family (yes, even the one's that play Facebook games :).

Prayer:   Majesty and Almighty God,  we thank You that You provide us with disciplines that we can follow so that we can fulfil Your Great Commission.  This day,  let us know of Your presence as we go out into the world telling them about You Son.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 6: 16 - 18
Fasting.  The voluntary  abstinence from food.    This is one of the Christian Disciplines that we Presbyterians have tossed aside.   Back in the day,  Fasting used to be as important to do as Prayer, Reading Daily Scripture,  attending Communion Preparatory worship,  and so on.    Why has fasting been tossed aside by Presbyterians?   Good question!     
Fasting.   The verse opens with Jesus saying to the Disciples,  “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…..”  But why is it when we Fast for a blood test,  all we can think about is that huge chocolate bar or nice salty hamburger and fries or the 5 inch thick steak  or the buttery whipped potatoes??  Fasting for the Jewish peoples occurred in two ways.  First  fasting was a visible sign of mourning.      Second,  fasting was a time of High Holy times.
In Leviticus 23: 26-32, the Israelites are given instruction on how and why to Fast.
Some Christian Churches today fast during Lent.   Because our denomination does not make Fasting one of it’s disciples,  we end up focussing more on ourselves than Fasting to clear our thoughts to God.  So,  do you think that Fasting must become one of our Church’s disciples again?  Why or why not? 

Prayer:    Great God, we thank You for this time studying Your word.  Help us as we take what we have learned this day and stepped out in Your love.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

Many blessings!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Amazing Thursday

In between times of meetings and travelling,  it is always wonderful to take time to pray.  A mini retreat.   A free mini retreat :)    Short prayers to thank God for the day.  Shorter prayers just before one goes into a meeting that one dosn't say something stupid.    I actually like waiting for the City bus.... as I wait,  I pray for family and friends and Church community.  If the bus is late,  then I start on praying for the people who live near the bus stop and the people driving by the bus stop.   A mini retreat during the day.  

Yesterday we heard the news that our Clerk of Session had died. In the Presbyterian Church,  the Clerk of Session is an Elder who is responsible not only for spiritual leadership but for keeping the minutes of all Session meetings.    Our Clerk of Session also had a huge passion for Missions.  She will be greatly missed here on earth but heaven is now rejoicing with her presence.    May God be with her and her family during this time.   May they know the comfort of the resurrection.

Prayer:  Almighty God and most Merciful Father,  we have erred and strayed from You ways.  We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.  We have offended You.  We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.  And we have done those things which we ought not to have done.  But You, O Lord,  have mercy upon us.  Grant us to return to You and remember that we live with You in glory.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.  (Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer)

Read:  St. Matthew 6: 14 – 15

Forgiveness.   How often does the word “forgiveness” come up in the New Testament?
At least 2500 times.  Minimum.    So this is a really important word.  Yet we ignore this word of “forgiveness”.   And why do you suppose we ignore forgiveness?  We ignore forgiveness because it is hard work.  We ignore forgiveness because we have to look at our inward self and this is really hard work.    We ignore forgiveness  because we first have to acknowledge that we aren’t perfect people.        But what if we do not forgive?   Jesus is very specific in his teachings here.  Jesus says if we do not forgive others their sins (or our sins against others) then God will not forgive our sins.  This creates a broken relationship.      While Jesus died to give us eternal life and ultimately forgave all our sins,   we have a daily responsibility to say to God,  “I’m sorry”.   By confessing our shortcomings before God,  we heal the broken relationship between God and us.    And we truly have to mean that we are sorry for the things we’ve done.   Daily.    All because God loves us so much that God is willing to continually forgive us.  Phew!

Prayer:  Great God,  for the sin that we have committed in stubbornness or in error;
For the sin that we have committed in the evil meditations of the heart;
For the sin that we have committed by word of mouth;
For the sin that we have committed through abuse of power;
For the sin that we have committed by exploitation of neighbors;
For all these sins, O God of forgiveness, bear with us, pardon us, forgive us!
This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.   (prayer adapted from the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur)

Many blessings

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Amazing Wednesday

Wow.  What a day yesterday.   Museum day is always filled with surprises.    We had a visitor come looking for information on a piece of artillery.  While we couldn't help him immediately,  he is now on our "research" books.    I did have to chuckle as I was working away on the computer (finances) and the lights kept flicking on and off.   The Museum camera flash was being tested.  The "testing" went like this:   FLASH,  Lights off,  FLASH in dark,  Lights on,  FLASH in light,  Light left on.  And a new flash is on the Museum wish list.

Valentine's Day yesterday.   This day isn't about the gifts that we receive but the love that is shared.  My Dear Husband gave me chocolates and an amethyst bracelet.  When he travels to Thunder Bay with the Presbyterian Church,  he frequently drops into the stores that sell amethyst.   This is a healing stone.    So I was honoured and delighted to receive such a gift from him.  Aaaaah.    After opening up the door to the Museum yesterday,  there on my desk was a beautifully wrapped gift from our Curator Emeritus.  He had given necklaces to all three women who volunteer at the Museum.  How neat!   And how awesome to be 86 years of age and still thinking about others.   

From the joy of love and giving of St. Valentine's Day comes sad news.   Many prayers of sympathy and healing  for Chief Eli and family.  Their  son  was stabbed to death in Winnipeg yesterday morning. The son was only 18 years old. God rest his soul.   So young and so many dreams.   Weeping  endures for the night but joy comes in the morning.  

Prayer:  Our Father in heaven,  reveal who You are.  Set the world right.  Do what’s best – as above, so below.  Keep us alive with daily food.  Keep us forgiven with You and forgiving others.  Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You are in charge!   You can do anything You want!  You are ablaze in beauty!  Thank You Lord!  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 6: 10 – 13

Jesus says to the disciples (and us today)… and this is how you should pray.   Jesus then gives the Disciples what we call today the Lord’s Prayer.

This is an amazing Prayer.  Within this prayer are six petitions… or six requests.   First petition begins with adoration of God. We need to begin each prayer,  not focussing on ourselves but on our Creator.     Second petition is an intercession. This prayer asks God to help us live each and every day… not necessarily what we want but what is the best that God wants for us.     Third petition states while we live,  we ask that God provide us with daily bread.  This hearkens back to God providing food to the Israelites who Left Egypt.    This petition does not ask for a four course meal but for bread… a common staple that will let us live each day in simplicity.   Survivalists say that when a person is lost in the woods,  they can live for 3 minutes without air,  3 days without water,  and 3 weeks without food. How much more does God provide for us!   The fourth petition, is all about Forgiveness.    We keep in right and good relationship with God when we can forgive.   When we do not forgive,  we take ourselves far away from the love of God. This is not God’s  doing but ours!    In the Fifth petition,  we ask God to not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil.   We are asking God to keep us safe from ourselves and from the Devil.     The sixth petition is often left out of this portion of scripture but reads “For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory,  forever.   Amen.”      We acknowledge that we are living in God’s Kingdom and in God’s power and in God’s presence for ever.  Wow!

Prayer:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy Name.  Thy kingdom come.  They will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory.  For ever.  Amen.

Many blessings

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's  Day.   Aaah,  St. Valentine.    The giver of the gift of life for three sisters who were in dire straights.  To the honour and glory of God,  the giver of the gift of life.    This day make a mini retreat and enjoy sitting for a few minutes acknowledging that God is the giver of all life and loves us forever.  
 To Husband and Old Son...Happy St. Valentine's Day!  May you both recognize the love of God that goes with you today.
And it's Museum day today :)   Another joy and love.

Prayer:   This day,  Great God,  You shine down Your love upon us like rays of sunlight.  You shine down Your mercy upon us.  Heal us with Your love and mercy this day.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 6: 5-9
The Disciples already knew how to pray.  They had been taught how to pray on their Mother’s knees and in worship at home and in the Synagogues and later as men worshipping in the Synagogue.     Yet,  here is Jesus teaching the disciples about prayer. 
Standing to pray was the most usual posture for prayer for the Jewish peoples.   Yet,  here Jesus is saying when you pray don’t show off to those who are also praying around you!  Prayer is a direct relationship between you and God.   Better that you would pray,  go into a room and pray in private to God.  When you are all alone in a room before God,  the focus will shift from you to God. .. and you will begin to sense God’s grace and love.
When you pray,  don’t keep babbling to God.   As The Message translates these verses as:  “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant.  They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God.  Don’t fall for that nonsense.  This is your Father you are dealing with, and He knows better than you what you need!”

Prayer:  Thank You God,  that You know us better than we know ourselves.  We are blessed to be called Your People.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Many blessings

Monday, 13 February 2012

Cold Weather Monday Retreat

Good Morning.  It is another chilly day here in Brandon.  These are the kind of days that one opens up the windows in the house to get out the old winter woolie smell and bring in the new smell.    And we do have a smell here in our house.   We had water leaking through to our kitchen fan yesterday.  I'm hoping the smell is the smell of watery insulating batting... but smells more like a dead something in the walls.     Humm.  How drole.  But by opening up the windows,  the crispness of winter is brought inside and makes everything smell new. 

As we come into the season of Lent,  this is what we begin to do... we open up our lives and  do something neat and revitalizing!   Like fresh air coming into a house,  we need to let the Word of God refresh our hearts and minds and souls.   

Prayer:  Thank You Lord that we are Your hands and Your eyes to bring Your love and Good News into our community.  This day,  help us share Your love and Good News with every person we meet.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew  6: 1-4

The message in these four verses is immediate and important.
No showboating allowed.   Be against ostentation.  The world is not a stage.   Jesus instructed the disciples (and us today) to do good deeds but after doing a good deed, don’t look around and see who watched you do your good deed.   Don’t help someone out because you think it makes you look good.  Jesus says,  help out your family and your neighbour and your enemy quietly and unobtrusively. A couple of years ago,  there was a movement called “Pay it Forward”.  When you ordered your meal (or coffee) from the Tim Horton’s  Drive Thru window you would place your order and then say, “And I’ll also pay for  the person’s order who is in the car ahead of me.”  Pay it Forward.    
 This is the way God works.  God works quietly and unobtrusively behind the scenes in love.   Today,  Pay it forward to someone today!  This is what it means to be a Christian.

Prayer:  O God,  let me sing a new song to You.  Let me play this new song of love with great joy.  You are the God who saved us from sin.  You are the God who saved me.   In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Many blessings!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Coming Home Sunday

Happy Sunday.  A day of being in God's presence with a community of believers.    Having a Church vocation and being part of worship for over 30 years,  it now seems a bit empty to just attend worship and sit in the pew.   But attending Church on a Sunday is like going home.   The place is familiar,  the seat is the same (yes, yes I admit to being one of THOSE people who sit in the same pew every Sunday...... back pew in the balcony), the prayers are similar, and the Scriptures are refreshing.   Over 30 years a lot has changed in Presbyterian style of worship.   Some changes are awesome and some changes irk the heck out of me.... but it is all worship of God and must be celebrated with the love of God always in the forefront of our minds.  

Today as you sing the Hymns,  really take time and go beyond the music.   Listen to the words that you are singing.  These are prayers to God.     What joyous prayers God must hear from out of our mouths.

Prayer:   Great God,  we thank You for Organists and Choir Directors and Choirs.  To every worship we thank YOU that they sing and play to Your Glory.  May the hymns we sing each Sunday open our eyes and hearts to Your love and majesty.  This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Many blessings.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Wintery Saturday Retreat

Saturdays.   Household chore day.   More paperwork day.  Sitting in a rocking chair reading a book day.  Quilting day. Preparing our hearts for Sunday.   And listening to Saturday Afternoon at the Opera Day.   Aaaaah,  what could be better than that?!  
Last evening I had the honour, delight, and pleasure to be an Interviewer on the 82 Sqn Brandon Air Cadets Preparatory Scholarship Boards.   Wow!  Four Air Cadets from this Squadron are preparing themsevles for Summer Training courses this summer.    Two cadets have applied for their Pilot's  license,   one cadet has applied for his Glider's  course,  and one cadet has applied to go on the Osh Kosh trip.   Each of these four cadets have had to write an essay why they want these courses,  now comes the interview portion.   And the process is tough as cadets all across Manitoba vie for the same courses.   And only a selected few cadets will receive these courses.   The four Brandon cadets did very well with their Mock Interviews.    I was impressed with their excellent attitudes,  good voice levels.... and none of them were hand wavers!!!   Excellent guys!    Many prayers for each of you as you prepare and study and interview!!!   Thank you Lt Harrison for asking me to be part of this exciting scholarship preparation time.

Today make time to pray for Cadets across Canada.   Army,  Sea,  and Air.   Awesome program.  Awesome leadership and citizen skills.

Great God,  we pray for the Presbyterian Sessions in Manitoba and North Western Ontario.  May they recognize and celebrate all the wonderful things that have happened in their congregations.  Help these Sessions to recognize and celebrate all the magnificent people with whom they have ministered to over the years.  May all Elders know that they are truly blessed.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.  

Friday, 10 February 2012

Retreating Friday

Happy Friday.    Some weeks,  Friday is the day to catch up on all paperwork.  Or more in reality, to dig through the pile of paperwork and find the "Do Me Soonest" piles.   Yet in the busy-ness of paperwork,  there always is time to say Thank You to God for the week,  for friends,   for the Church,   for the Community.  The Celts used to pray for each small individual thing.   As I dig through paperwork,  I find myself praying for the names of individuals or companies listed on the paperwork.   Praying for them that they may open their hearts to the call of God.   And as Capt Jean Luc Picard of "Next Generation - Star Trek" used to say,  "Make it so!"  
And so it is this Friday.  A time to retreat in prayer through paperwork.  Who knew paperwork could be such a prayer provider  :)

Devotional ....
Prayer:  Help us,  O LORD,  to love our enemies.  Help us,  O LORD,  to see love and joy in everyone.  Help us,  O LORD,  to continually exhalt Your praises.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read:  St. Matthew 5: 42 – 48

Love for your enemies.   Oh dear.  Yes,  Jesus says we have to love our enemies.  Jesus is instructing the Disciples from the law found in Leviticus 19: 16 – 18:  “Do not go about spreading slander among your people.  Do not do anything that endangers your neighbour’s life.  I am the LORD.  Do not hate your brother in your heart.  Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in his guilt.  Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself.  I am the LORD”.      Jesus expands this law from Leviticus which only looks at one’s brother (or tribe) and one’s neighbour to an instruction that teaches us that we must love one’s brother AND our neighbour AND our enemy AND THEN PRAY for those who persecute you.   Wow.   What a tall order.   But why do we gladly follow Jesus’ teachings?   Simple… because we love God.   Out of our love for God,  we love and prayer even for our worst enemy.  We live generously and graciously toward others the same way as God loves us. 

Prayer:  We love You,  our Creator and Redeemer.   We bow before You in worship and ask to come into Your presence with praise.    Great God,  we bring before You today those who we must love even though we don’t want to love.  We name these people in the silence of our hearts.   Help us this day to go forth in Your love and help those who we have named in the silence of our hearts.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.