Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday - Wisdom and Prayer

As Christians we aren’t perfect people.  Darn.   But we just aren’t perfect. The Epistle of James has certainly pointed that out this week.  Yet this  is exactly the way God made us.  We are a people of choices.   It is out of our love for God that we come each day in prayer and reading Scripture.  We thirst for God.  But the minute we step outside our door or answer our telephones or talk to our children/parents,  frustrations and irritations overcome our lives.  This week has been particularly difficult with people being vindictive and  striking back in anger.      In steps the Epistle of James and his advice on wisdom.    Aha!  That is what today is all about.  We will be seeking wisdom for handing the frustrations and irritations in your life over to God.

In prayer:  Divine Healing God, using the orange-red flame of light, please move through every part of my body and mind.  Dissolve all feelings, thoughts and patterns of frustration, irritation, and aggravation.  Please sweep away all impatience, struggle, and suffering that resides in my consciousness.  Allow me to turn my frustration into inspiration and enthusiastic action.  Help to steer me in the direction where my actions will become actualized so that I can experience Your unconditional love.  Thank You Divine Healing God!

Now sit for a while imagining your whole body surrounded with God's unconditional love.

Prayer:  Divine Healing God, embrace me with your radiant gold beam of satisfaction, happiness, contentment, and delight.  Allow me to feel confident that I am moving in the perfect direction for my life.  Help me to recognize and celebrate all the wonderful things I have achieved, all the magnificent people with whom I have connected and all  the rich experiences I have lived.  As I recognize the grandness of my life, I feel truly blessed.  Thank You Healing God.          AMEN.

Today focus on all blessings you have in your life.   Friends, family,  the ability to move your hands, the gift of reading. the ability to walk through the snow.  Embrace and show your satisfaction and you will see how God's love and wisdom will grow and develop in your life!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Thursday - Get Serious

Prayer:  Great God,  You surround us with Your love each day.   Your surround us with Your joy each day.  You surround us with Your wisdom each day.  We give You thanks and praise!  Amen.

Read James 4: 1-2

Get Serious.  Now James is coming to the pinnacle of his advice.  If James were preaching these same verses to us today,  he would probably have his finger out admonishing us for being  slow witted.  Think.  Always think.  And think upon God first and upon our wants last.

James states in this portion of scripture that we each want our own way.  And when we forget about the needs of others and push our own wants first,  then quarrels and fights break out.

Today let us think upon God first and upon our wants last.

Prayer:  God of peace and of reconciliation,  help us  this day  to open our eyes to Your work so that we may be Your peace and Your reconciliation to all peoples.   Amen.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tuesday - more wisdom

Prayer:   Great God of all wisdom,  may we dwell in Your wisdom and love this day.  Send us out today  to share Your wisdom with those who need You this day.   Amen.

            Read James 3: 14-18

Live well and Live wisely.   Real wisdom,  God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.   The marks of true wisdom are peace, gentleness, full of mercy, and  bearing the fruits of the Spirit.   Wow.   Definitely something to aim for isn’t it.

Prayer:   You are our true wisdom.  You  dwell within our hearts and we know that You are our God.  Send us forth this day,  O LORD,  to do Your work.   In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Monday - wisdom

Prayer:  Wisdom let us attend.  Peace be unto all.  Grant us wisdom O LORD so that we can discern Your will for the work that You call us to do this day.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

            Read James 3: 11-13

There are two different kinds of wisdom that we read about in today and tomorrow’s passages.   Wisdom that comes from God  and is filled with humility and peace.   But, James reminds us,  if this wisdom in our hearts also comes along with envy and selfish ambition  then  that is not wisdom that comes from God.
We have to be consistant in living our lives as the followers of God.  We can't be  of heavenly thoughts one day and  mean spirited the next day.   Sure we all have off days  or days  when the burdens of work seem unbearable... but that does not mean we have to fly off the handle at people in anger.  The wisdom that comes from God  is even tempered and consistant.

Prayer:  Great God,  we ask for wisdom this day so that we can continue Your work here on earth that is still to be done.   Grant us wisdom to help those who need healing.   Grant us even tempers when our workload seems to be unbearable.  Remind us yet again that You are the healer of all burdens and all indecisiveness.   We thank You  and may we live this day in Your joy and Your praise.    This we ask in Your Son's  name.  Amen.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday - prayer

Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.  Incline my heart to Your words and let Your speech come upon me as dew upon the grass.  If I hear Your voice, may I not be condemned for hearing the word and not following it, for knowing it and not loving it, for believing it and not living it.  Speak then LORD, for your servant listens.  For You have the words of eternal life.  Speak to me to comfort my soul and to change my whole life.  In turn, may I give You praise and glory and honour.  Now and forever.  Amen. 

(abbreviated prayer by Thomas a Kempis)

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Saturday - Preparation

Too often,  we get to Saturday and we are drained.  We’ve worked hard all week.  We’ve  driven miles.  We’ve shopped at the grocery store how many times this week.  There is cleaning to be done and laundry to iron.   Saturday comes and we want time away.  Yet Saturday is the day we need to be preparing for worship on Sunday.    This exercise is a visual exercise which helps lift the burdens off of us so that we can live this day in joy and praise.

Focus your attention on your shoulders.  How do they feel?  Are they tight or relaxed?  Become aware of all the responsibility you carry in your shoulders.  Close your eyes, breathe deeply and imagine releasing all your worries as if they were big rocks that you could throw away.

Prayer:   Divine God of all Healing,  please release all strain, stress, worry, insecurity, overwhelm, hurt, rejection, and sadness from my shoulders.  Let me forgive and release to You  all the burdens that I have carried this week. 

Take a deep  breath in and tighten your shoulders by pulling them up to your ears.  Hold your breath for five seconds.  Then exhale slowly and completely relax your shoulders.   Do this several times until they feel lighter.  Then rotate your right shoulder in a circular motion to the front for 15 seconds.  (like a windmill).  Then rest for 15 seconds.  Repeat this three times.  Now do the same rotation towards the back.  Repeat this process for the left shoulder.

Prayer:  Divine God of all Healing,  please install courage, balance, confidence and joy into my life.  Assist me to find blessings and opportunities even in the most challenging experiences. 

Allow yourself to completely relax for a few minutes.  Imagine that you are standing in warm, yellow sunlight.  Allow the yellow rays to penetrate deep into your shoulders to soften the muscles and dissolve all tension.

Prayer:    Divine God of all Healing,  please heal and regenerate my shoulders to their full strength, vitality, and mobility so that I can serve You all the days of my life in joy and praise.   Show me this day  O LORD,  Your blessings and opportunities to serve You.    In Jesus name I ask this.  Amen.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday - Words

Prayer:  Great God,  inspire us always to focus upon Your Holy Word.   Instill within us a thirst for Your Word so that we can live this day in Your joy and Your praise.   In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

Read James 3: 6- 10

Isn't it amusing how talking with family and friends brings us  happiness and sometimes pain and sadness.   It is all about words and how we use these words as well as how we listen to the words other's  say to us.    

My husband is currently a Tutor for a student at Vancouver School of Theology.  They meet by Skype (marvelous Skype!)  and go over assignments and reflections.  What amazes me is the difference in theological study these days.   The first assignment that this student has asks what is the historiography of an early Church Father.   Back in our day,  we wouldn't be researching the history of the early Church Father first but the  theology of that early Church Father/Christian.  Theology was first and history was secondary. 

Why is it important to know  about theology -- the study of God?   The simple answer is  by studying God,  we begin to really understand what we believe.  If  students only focus upon the history of the early Christians,  they miss out on understanding of what the early Christians believed and why they believed what they believed.  

The Word of God is so important to our basic Christian beliefs.  Yet it isn't only in the reading but in the digging into the scriptures and discussing these scriptures that we begin to get a glimpse of the Love of God.  Theology.     Do you know what you believe?

Prayer:  This day,  O LORD,  may we take Your Holy Word and inwardly digest it all the day long so that when evening comes  we can rest in Your great Love.   Amen.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Thursday - listening to our words

Holy God,  Holy Mighty,  Holy Immortal One have mercy upon me.  Holy God, Holy Mighty,  Holy Immortal One have mercy upon me.  Holy God,  Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One grant me Your peace.  Amen.

            Read James 3: 3-5

Taming the tongue.  Our words  can be a soothing balm upon another’s soul or they can become harsh wounds that injure others.  The choice is ours.   Think before you speak.  Ask God to live in you this day and help you to listen to what you are going to say before you say it.

Today on CBC Radio  with Jian Ghomeshi was a great illustration of guarding our tongues and listening.   Jian was interviewing a celebrity on Wednesday.    Listeners wrote in  between yesterday and today and stated that Jian spoke to her in a flippant manner.  Jian had no idea that he spoke to the celebrity with anything but compassion in his mind.  Yet  the listeners heard something different.   Jian  had no idea what the listeners heard in his voice  but  by the number of letters to him,  the listeners did hear something.  And then called him on his tone of voice.    Wow.  

This is a great example not only of James’  advice but also  something preachers must focus upon.  Listening to the tone of their voice while preaching sermons.  It is so important for each Minister to  practice preaching their sermons  outloud before  Sunday worship.   Frequently what is written sounds okay until the preacher speaks the words out loud. 

Today  how will we listen to our words? Ask God to live in you this day and help you to listen to what you are going to say before you say it.

 As I go through this day with You LORD,  may I guard my tongue.  Help me to  live in  Your joy and praise.  In Jesus Name I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wednesday - thirsting for the Word of God

Prayer:  Great God,   I thank you for this day.  May the living heart of Jesus Christ take form within my heart…. Filling…. Calming…. Restoring… bringing renewed life.  And this new life in my blood flows peacefully with full healing power through my whole body.  I will sing for joy to the living God this day and forever.  Amen.   (Flora Slosson Wuellner  “Prayer,  Stress and Our Inner Wounds”)

Read James 3: 1-2

This is the passage that all Christian Education Committees shudder at when attempting to find new Sunday School teachers.      Will Sunday School teachers, preachers, Bible Study leaders,  Youth Group leaders,  Seminar Leaders be judged more strictly than all others on the final day of judgement?  According to James,  yes!  But why?  Because teachers and preachers are charged with teaching the Word of God correctly.  They will be judged for not adequately digging into the word of God and finding out what the Bible really means and sharing mediocracy when they could be sharing the wonderful words of the Bible that gives life and love to all.

Evelyn Underhill in  her  book entitled "Worship"  London:  Nisbet,  1951  uses beautiful imagery for digging into the Word of God each and every day.   Underhill states that the Bible  is the holy food.... the message of salvation....    witnesses to the continuity of God's action.     Just as we eat our food to nourish our bodies,  how much more must we nourish our souls  with the Holy Mystery of  the Word of God.    If  we  do not nourish our souls  through the reading of Scripture,  we starve the Word of God in ourselves and  for those we teach/preach.

Prayer:  May the light and love of the Holy Spirit flow into my actions and relationships with others this day.  In Jesus Name I pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Tuesday - surrounded by living faith

God, give me the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed.  The courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.   In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.    (Reinhold Niebuhr)

            Read James 2: 19-26

Faith.  This is  a word that we don't use very often these days.   Faith is usually thought of as two things.  First is  our faith or belief.   Second,  faith is sometimes  used to  define  one's  religion and denomination.   The faith James writes about is the belief  we have  in God.   James's  faith is  how  we take the love of God and  live  that faith in our everyday lives.   
In the scripture reading today,   James gives two examples of Old Testament people who did not separate their faith from their lives.  Why do you think James chose Abraham and Rahab as examples?    Perhaps it was  when they were  tested,  both Abraham and Rahab depended upon God  rather than themselves.  Rahab is known in the Old Testament for her repentance and relying on God.  Abraham is known for giving his life to God to journey into unknown territories and to sacrifice his son.  Wow.
Today,  how will we live our life  surrounded by our faith?   
Great God, living one day at a time and  enjoying one moment at a time.  Help me to   accept hardship as a pathway to peace,  taking as Jesus did,  this sinful world as it is  not as I would have it.  Trusting that You will make all things right,  if I surrender to Your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life  and supremely happy with You forever in the next.   Amen.    (second verse to the Serenity Prayer.  Reinhold Niebuhr)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Monday - Faith in Action

Prayer:  Hear O LORD as we call upon You this day for wisdom and understanding.   Amen.

            Read James 2: 14-18

Faith in Action.   Here James asks the community of believers to take their faith and put it into action.  Faith and action go hand in hand.   When we help others,  we aren’t earning brownie points in heaven.  It is out of our love for God that we help others.

The Governor General of Canada  has a new program called "my giving moment".   This is a program to help connect Canadians to  art and culture groups  and the environment.  Interesting thing is this program is focused on people giving money.    While this is a type of action and giving money is great,  it is only a small part of  the faith in action that James was talking about.  Faith in Action means taking your whole self and getting involved through time and talent.    Faith in Action can be volunteering with community groups.  But  what happens as we age or  are infirmed?  Getting out to volunteer with community groups is tough.  This is when  Faith in Action becomes strong as we  sit (or stand or lie down)  and pray.    Prayer is  the heart of Faith in Action.   We pray for individuals,  groups,  communities,  Churches,  countries,  leaders  who need God's  love and help.   Faith in action.
Prayer:  Help us this day, O LORD,  as we take our faith and put it into action.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Saturday - prayers, healing, celebrating, and action.

Prayer:  Great God,  in life and in death and in resurrection  You are with us.   Show us today  how we can share Your great love.  Let us see with our dim eyes  who needs to be enfolded in Your care and Your blessings today.  Be with us  as we take Your Word into our daily lives so that others can see You through our actions. Help us to slow down today so that we pray to You with delight.   May we bring joy into our families and keep them and our friends and congregation  and community in our prayers of  invocation.   Holy God,  create within us  the energy to bring Your healing to this world.    This we ask in Your Son's name.  Amen.
Pardon the personal glimpse today but  this indeed in a time of celebrating. 
In October the surgeons have me a diagnosis of  stage 4 colo-rectal cancer.  I knew that my body was not well.    And me being me  began organizing  who was going to do my Service of Resurrection.   As best I could I began  cleaning house and giving away items so my husband and son would not need to do it after I was gone.  There were many times of prayer and meditation... especially prayers for  husband and son and family so that they would have peace and calmness and understanding of  the end of my life.    Surgery happened within a week of the diagnosis.   The awesome surgeon ended up doing a bowel resection and a hysterectomy to remove a big tumour.  We were still thinking it was stage 4 colo-rectal cancer.  The pathology report came back within three weeks... and the tumour was  endometriosis  cells instead of cancer cells.  No cancer,  no imminent death - resurrection.   
I was stunned.   My first thoughts were "Thank You God"  and "How come".  I am still meditating on the "how come" part.... God has given me extra time to do what... I am still not sure.  But it is amazing to get out of bed every day and ask God what we will be doing today so that  God's  love is shared this day with others.  
During my time of healing there were hiccups.   The bowel upon healing was beginning to close up instead of  keeping open.  So  the Surgeon  said a flexible sigmoidoscopy was in order.   The procedure was requested in December and became a reality  yesterday.   Yesterday was two hours of processing and waiting for a 10 minute explore.    Dr Ahweng,  my surgeon,  said that I was healing fabulously and there were no signs of  the resectioning of bowels nor of hemorrhoids.
I was healed.  Hurrah!  And fabulous!!!   No  stent needed.  No colostomy needed.  Hurrah!  Hurrah!

Amazing what sounds so simple a procedure  was actually a frozen banana in flannels shoved up one's derrierre.  :)      It was the shooting of gas and the frozen banana 360 degree swivel checking for hemorrhoids that just about had me  off the table and onto the ceiling but I managed to hang onto the table for dear life.     At the end of the procedure,  Dr Ahweng said I now had no  more limitations on anything. I replied, "What about vacuuming?"  Quick as a bunny,  Dr Ahweng said, "Right,  no vacuuming for 10 years!"   Heh heh heh.   Then the prep nurse turned around and said, "Oh!  Are you the one that said  you were allergic to housecleaning on the Patient Processing form in the section marked allergies?"  YUp :)   She thought that was the funniest thing in the world.  Good.  The world needs more humour.  

After I was wheeled to the recovery room,  the nurse said I could change back into my clothes.  Humm.   Let's  see.  The recovery room window is  wide open to anyone coming into Emerg and the Doctor's  office across the street.  No blinds.  The pull curtain does not go all the way around the bed.  So  I had a choice of either flashing the young male patient in the next bed and scaring him for life with the middle aged female figure  (and gravity R us body parts)   or  the whole of Brandon.    I decided to go with the whole of Brandon.   One parks one's humility and humanity at the door of the hospital upon entry.  

John (son) and I for a walk yesterday afternoon that we now call the rootin' tootin' walk.   One of the many things that is not told on the Patient Home Care Form.   Lots of rootin' tootin'.  Who knew!      And the Climate Change Scientists think it is  the  gas from cows and cars  that is contributing to the changing  climate of the planet.... I've got news for isn't just cows and cars :)  

And through all of the surgery and procedures,  it has been amazing to be supported and nurtured in prayers of friends and family and congregations.    Thank you so much.    Glenn (husband)  and John (son)  have been solid rocks and  blessings to help me heal and heal well.  Thank you! 
Now comes the time of action... of sharing  the prayers and the love of God with others who are in need this day.    As  Marvel Comics  Super Hero  Iron Man  states,  "it is time to suit up"  and take action :)  
Many blessings

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday - Serving God by helping others

Prayer:  May the love of Jesus draw us to himself.  May the power of Jesus strengthen us in his service.   May the joy of Jesus fill my soul.         In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

 Read James 2: 12-13

This reading continues on with James’ advice to not discriminate against the poor, the afflicted, and the persecuted.   Help them.  Be kind.  Two simple verses with a lot of responsibility behind them.    Traditionally, the responsibility of helping the widows, the young, and the poor have been part of who we are as Christians. In the Acts of the Apostles,  the young Christian community took this responsibility very seriously and even appointed Deacons to look after the needs of those who were afflicted  And so James continues to remind us of our duty.  We need to help others with a Godly attitude.  We have to be kind and show mercy.

Prayer:  May the blessing of God Almighty, Jesus Christ our Saviour, and the Holy Spirit be with me this day and remain with me forever.  Amen.        

Thursday, 16 January 2014


Prayer:  Great God,  help me see You in everyone that I meet this day.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

            Read James 2: 5-11

This is the next advice section from James.  Love others as you love yourself.    Don’t discriminate against the poor nor favour the rich.  Remember that God loves us equally.  Being called “Christians” in the early Church (and today) brings with it a faithfulness to helping all of God’s people.  The early Church in Acts looked around them and began pooling their resources to help the widows,  the young, and the poor.

 Prayer:   Christ, as I go about my work today,  be with me in all that I say and all that I do.  May I see You in everyone that I meet.   In Your name I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Wednesday Reflection

Prayer:  In the midst of all that I must do today,  keep me centered in Your Word, O LORD.  In  Christ’s name I pray.  Amen. 

       When the Church Fathers were debating which Books to include in the Bible,  they really wrestled whether to include James or not for three big reasons.  The first reason is,  who is the author of the Epistle of James.  It is  thought by some Scholars to be written by  the brother of Jesus.  Other Scholars state that the author is not the brother of Jesus but an early Christian believer.  This issue can be debated all  day but we won’t know until we get to Heaven who actually wrote the Epistle of James.   The second reason  the Church Fathers also struggled with including James as it is not a true Epistle.  The Epistle isn’t in traditional “epistle style”.   Remember that the “epistle style” starts with a very formal Greeting to a designated Christian community.  This was followed by a structure of writing which included the reason for the letter, advice given,  and a closing blessing.    The Epistle of James starts off with a bang.  James writes a  single sentence quickly describing who he is (a servant of God and our Lord Jesus Christ) and a quick hello to all the twelve tribes scattered throughout the world.   There is no thanksgiving or blessing to a specific community. At the end of the Epistle,  there is no individual greetings and no blessing.   The third reason concerns when this Epistle was written.  Possibly the Epistle of James was written before 95AD…. anywhere from 50AD to 95AD.    A lifetime! 

        Yet, even with these three questions (author, letter form, and date)  the Church Fathers thought it extremely important to include the Epistle of James because of the  message it brings to the  whole Christian community.  The message is one of constant advice. If James were alive today, he would most likely be an advice columnist in a national newspaper.  James’ message was: okay,   Jesus isn’t here yet like we thought he would be so  we need to be persistent in the Good News…. even though you are going through trials and tribulations,  always rely upon Jesus.    Pray continually.  Seek wisdom. 
Re-Read  James  1  and reflect  why this epistle is  important for our growth in faith.

  This epistle is written for us so that we will not become discouraged in our Walk with God.  No matter what James tells us to always pray,  always give thanks, and most importantly always take the Word of God out into your community with you.

Prayer:  All that I am, Lord, I place into Your hands.  All that I do, Lord, I place into Your hands.  Everything I work for, O Lord,  I place into Your hands.  Everything that I hope for O Lord,  I place into Your hands.  The troubles that weary me O Lord, I place into Your hands.  The people who hurt me O Lord, I place into Your hands.  For everyone that I care for O Lord, I place into Your hands.  I give thanks for Your love and Your mercy this day.  May I take Your Holy Word out into my community this day so that others will know of Your great love.    In Christ’s name I pray.  Amen. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tuesday - shiny pretty

Prayer:  Great God, You have set forth the way of Life for us in Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  Your loving kindness is everlasting.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

            Read James 2: 1-4

God loves us no matter if we wear gold rings or tattered clothing.    James asks us not to judge others by what they wear.  We need to look beyond the clothing and see the person’s attitude and character.  And no matter what the attitude or character is like,  we need to be as Christ to everyone.
Looking beyond the outer appearance and seeing what is inside.    At the Museum lately we are in the process of purchasing some WW1 medals of  soldiers from  what is known as the Brandon Battalions....   32  Battalion  Canadian Expeditionary Force,   45 Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force,  79  Battalion  Canadian Expeditionary Force,  and 1  Canadian Mounted Rifles.    With each medal,  we have to ask ourselves  is this  a real medal or a reproduction.  We do research into who the  soldier was and  where he lived to verify the name on the medal.   We dig into old records to see if that soldier is listed on the Nominal roll.   We  dig some more to find out if  that particular soldier really did receive  this particular medal.     This is what James is talking about in these scripture verses.  Don't just look at the shiny pretty... look inward and see if the person has the attitude and character of a Christian.  

Prayer:  Christ be with me.  Christ be within me.    Christ be behind me carrying my memories.  Christ be before me on my journey. Christ be beside me as we journey together in companionship each day.  Christ to comfort and restore me.  Christ be with me today.  Amen.  (adapted from the St Patrick's  Breastplate)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Monday - orphans and widows

Prayer:  Great God,  receive the prayers today from those who call upon Your name.  Grant that we may all understand and  know what we ought to do today.  Grant us the grace and power to faithfully follow Your Words to us each and everyday.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Read  James  1: 26 - 27
James reminds  us that  we have to act inwardly and outwardly as mature Christians.  If we say we are Christian  and then  gossip with our family and our friends,  this is not a good example of what is means to be a Christian.     
James writes that Christians can be  called Christians  if  they look after orphans  and widows and keep themselves from the way of the world. 
Today,  how will we look after orphans and widows and only  talk  to others  with God's  love and joy in our thoughts.  

Prayer:  Almighty God,  we lift up to You this day  orphans and widows and those who need Your help and love.   O LORD,  grant to  each of us, and the Churches we belong to, the energy and enthusiasm to raise up and come to the aid of orphans and widows.    This we ask in Your Son's  name.  Amen.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sunday - Baptism -- a time of great love

Today in the Lectionary Readings,  the Gospel lesson is the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.  
Baptism is one of two sacraments within the Presbyterian Church.  (The other sacrament is  the Lord's  Supper).   Baptism  is  a sacrament that  is a public symbol of God's  great love for us.  We are baptized to newness in Christ.  We leave our old life behind and set our sites on new life in Christ.   A cleansing.   Baptism uses water as a symbol of this cleansing.

Matthew 3: 13 - 17

John the Baptist  baptized  the repentance of sins....  and forgiveness of sins... and returning to God.    John is baptizing and suddenly before him is Jesus.  Now  tradition states that John and Jesus were cousins.   They obviously knew each other as John kinda gulps and says, "But I am not worthy to baptize you... I need to be baptized by You!"      And Jesus replied, that  John had to baptize  Jesus  to fulfill all righteousness.   To fulfill all righteousness.    This kind of language isn't used anymore in our normal speech is it.  But you can hear the holiness in these words can' t you.   to fulfill all righteousness.
Then as Jesus was baptized,  the heavens opened and a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son,  whom I love,  with him I am well pleased".   Okay,  if I was John I would be on the ground curled up in the fetal position.   Or perhaps  just standing frozen with jaw dropping.   This was a confirmation  that  Jesus was  God's  son.   And John was called to be part of the ministry.  How neat is that.  
Today as we attend Church,  give thanks to God for this time of cleansing and making all things new.  Remember your own baptism.

Prayer:  Great God,  we thank You that  You provide for us times of cleansing -- of leaving our old lives and thoughts behind and making all things new.  We thank You that You forgive us.  May we remember this day our own baptism and Your great love to us always.  Amen.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Saturday - Cleaning Up - Quilting Style

Prairie Winds  Quilt.  Top is the bouncing triangles.   This quilt is two years in the making.   

 With my lack of "smarts"  this past week,  I ended up  creating two different borders for the head and foot.   I rather like the foot border (seen here).   But after all this time,  I wasn't going to go back and change the borders.   In fact,  if I ever create this quilt again,  I would  have the  triangle border go the full width of the quilt.

  Liz's  Wedding Star Quilt.  This is a Judy Niemeyer quilt pattern  "Wedding Star Quilt".     This quilt top is  eleven years in the making.  When  I was making this quilt,  I joked to my sister that it would be completed in 2007.  Oopsie.  Off by a few years.    And yet it still is not completed as this is just the quilt top.    I have to wait until I have a bit more healing before sandwiching these quilts.    It is difficult to see the wedding rings  but they are there.  Interesting the difference in lighting from inside to outside.    Snow on a dull day.

 This quilt is composed of Peaceful Hour blocks and a Feathered Star.  Hand  sewn  seven years ago when my son was away at Cadet Summer Training.   It is a very bright quilt!  (Sunglasses not IQ).  And a bit of prairie wind  in the bottom right hand corner.  

Carpenter's  Wheel  with Christmas Cardinal  fabrics.    This quilt must be  twelve years in the making.    Time to get 'er done!

 The Centre Carpenter's Wheel is very easy.  I have no idea why I didn't  get this quilt top completed sooner.  But there we are :)

Friday, 10 January 2014

Friday- Listen and Do

Prayer:  Holy God,  each day we come before You in  thanksgiving.  You are our life.  You carry our burdens.  You love us just as You have created us to be.   We thank You O LORD that we may share the gifts You have given to us.   As we study the scriptures this day,  help us to taken Your Holy Word and inwardly digest it to Your glory.  Amen.

Read James 1: 22- 26

James tells us not to only listen to the word but to do what it says.  Oh boy,  isn't this reflective of the Sunday Sermon.   Each Sunday,  we listen to the sermon  and then after worship is over  we leave our pew.   Does the content of the sermon come with us?  Do we put into practice what we have heard that Sunday?   

James  comments that  putting our listening of the word into action is like looking at ourselves in the mirror.  Mirrors in the ancient world  were made from polished metals.  The reflection was frequently  blurred so if one was to really look at one's self,  one would have to stare in the polished metal for a lengthy time.   So what does putting into action the listening of the word have to do with mirrors?  The easy answer is  looking at ourselves from the outside and seeing if what we have taken in and learned  from the loving of God is showing up on the outside of ourselves.     Do we say we love God  and yet walk around with a scowl on our faces?    How can we love God and be scowling!   Do we say we share the peace of God  with others yet we are angry with every person we meet.   The mirror is a reflection of our outer selves.   

So this day,  remember  the Word of God... listen to the teaching of this Holy Word... and put into action what you have heard.

Prayer:  Holy God,  help us this day to put in to action  Your love and peace.  May we open our eyes to the needs in our community and family.   Lord,  turn our eyes towards those who need Your help this day.   May we put into action Your great love and joy.  This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Thursday - wisdom of listening, speaking, and not becoming angry

Prayer:   Wisdom let us attend.  Peace be unto all.  Great God,  through our times of prayer and meditation and reflecting upon Your word  may  we  grow in to the person that You would have us be.  Amen.

Read  James  1: 19 - 21

Learning to control speech is the beginning of wisdom.   James tells us that we must be  quick to listen,  slow to speak,  and slow to become angry.

Quick to listen.   This isn't  as easy as it sounds.   Quick to listen.   Listening to another person by giving them your full attention isn't easy.    Some people have the gift of listening while others have to work on listening.    Listening means focussing on what the other person is saying as well as watching their actions.    If you are talking to someone about a heated topic and they fold their arms  across their chest,  this means they are needing to give themselves a hug and  they also are usually in disagreement with what is being discussed.    In our culture,  eye contact is important to know if another person is listening to our words.   In other cultures,  direct eye contact is  a no no as it is a challenge or affront of their being. 

Listening means hearing and seeing what the other person is saying and not thinking what one is going to have for lunch.    Listening  each Sunday to the Sermon is  also a way to practice listening to the whole person as well as  learning  how we are to grow as Christians.

Slow to speak.  In this day of e-mails,  texting,  instantgram, and facebook,  there is not much slow of speech.  Slow of speech does not mean we talk very slowly.  Slow of speech means we think before we speak.  this is the beginning of wisdom.   When we are in a heated argument or passionate discussion about our beliefs,  it is  better to  think about what we are to say before we rattle off at the mouth and end up word-injuring our friends and debaters.    In Brandon we have a community website called "ebrandon".   It was developed some years ago by Adam.   On  the website are  things for sale,  restaurant menus,  wishes,  deaths,  jobs,  movie schedules,  community events,  news,  weather,  and  the discussion page.   People can use their own names but the majority use a nickname.  Having read this website now for five years,  I wonder if the people in discussion of a topic would be as hurtful and bold if they were standing face to face.  It is easy to tell the world your beliefs and disgusts online behind a nickname.   It is not easy to tell the world your beliefs and disgusts in person.     As Christians,  we need to be the same online as well as meeting people face to face.  Slow to speak is the beginning of wisdom.

Slow to become angry.   Isn't it  funny how easily we become angry. Anger is usually negative stuff that takes a lot of energy out of our wholeness.     I've noticed that  people waiting in line ups  begin to tsk tsk tsk after  five minutes.     After ten minutes,  people are getting down right snarly.   And  by the time  the person arrives to the check out clerk,  the person is just about breathing fire and the poor check out clerk gets the brunt of their fire.   As  Christians,  we are not supposed to be fire breathers.    Why do we get angry when we stand in check out line ups?  Usually because we are wearing our  heavy winter coats and we over heat which causes our blood sugars to do amusing things.  And we are standing in one spot which again causes our blood sugars to do amusing things.   Our tempers flare.      So,  how do we stop  becoming fire breathers and flaring our tempers?    Practice.    Each day when we notice we are getting hot under the collar,  stop for a minute and think why we are getting hot under the collar.   Lift up in prayer to God  a "Good grief,  I am  cranky and angry.  Help".    Focus  on the positive.   This is the process of  slow to become angry.  

This day,  let us listen  to others and hear their voices and their actions... let us  become slow to speak and say what we know will glorify God... let us become  slow to anger and bring joy into other people's  lives instead of  heartache.

Prayer:   Help us this day and always O LORD,  to listen to Your voice,  to really hear what other people are saying.  Help us this day and always O LORD,  to  be slow to speak.  Help us this day and always O LORD  to  be slow to become angry.  This we ask in Your Son's  Holy Name.  Amen.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Wednesday - good and perfect gift

Prayer:  We stand at the beginning of this New Year,  O God knowing that You stand with us on our journey.   May we  open our hearts and our minds to Your understanding.  Amen.

Read James 1: 16 - 18

Every good and perfect gift is from above,  coming down from the Father.    This phrase from James 1: 17  is one of those "gotta memorize"  portions of scripture.  Every good and perfect gift is  from God.  This is so positive!     God has given us  many good and perfect gifts.    Can you name any of the good and perfect gifts that God has given to you?   

Just after Christmas,  a parcel arrived at our house.  The parcel had my name on it but no return address.  Who had sent this parcel?    Opening the parcel revealed a box of chocolates.   Wow!  Chocolates.    And the chocolates were sent from the UK.   Hummm!  A mystery.  Then the next day another parcel arrived.  A pashmina shawl.  Again no note nor return address.  But this parcel  did have a distributors tag.  I called the company and asked where this gift had originated.  They said, "Well it looks like this gift is from Lina".    Lina!   A fellow quilter who now lives in Dubai.  What  great gifts!      Lina gave me these two gifts  because  she figured with my healing and horrible church stuff I needed extra positive energy (chocolate)  and a really big constant hug (the shawl).     

This is what James is taking about.   Good and perfect gifts from God given to us to share with others.   We have such wonderful ability to help heal others and bring love into their days of darkness.   Gifts don't have to be  material things,  these gifts  can be  a phone call,  a hug,  a pat on the head,  words of encouragement.  Over the last  six months,  Glenn (my husband)  and John (my son) have been incredible.  They have taken all the household chores  and grocery shopping upon themselves ... usually without a whimper. They have taken on many of the responsibilities that I have with other organizations.  They have  visited  my  Godmother who is in hospital.   What  a good and perfect gift for someone who is healing and recovering from surgery.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
Today,  what will you do to bring  a good and perfect gift into someone's  life?  

Prayer: Creator and Redeemer,  we thank You that You give us good and perfect gifts.  Open our hearts and eyes to those this day that need Your love and Your care.  May we be Your arms.  Lord hear our prayer.   Lord,  for those who are suffering... may we be Your arms.    Lord,  for those who are  in need of joy... may we share our gifts.  This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.


Snowmen developing and growing on the inside of our living room window. 

Prayer:   Dear Lord,  keep watch on us during this New Year.  Expand our thirst for You so that we seek You out each day.  Reveal to us the great gift of Your Son,  our Lord. Come let us bow down and fall down before the King our God.  Oh Come let us bow down and fall down before Christ the King.  Come let us bow down and fall down before our Lord and Saviour.   Amen.

Read  James  1: 13 - 15

As I recover from  surgery,  it is to tempting on cold days to not exercise.  Part of my recovery process is  to exercise (walk)  at least three times  a day.   When our temperatures got down to -50C windchill on Sunday and Monday,  it was so tempting to just stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate and sit all day in the rocking chair.     While that sounds wonderful,  what actually happens  is  my recovery slides back into ill health.  Mild gentle exercise is the key to recovery.

James  writes that  when we are tempted,  no one should say "God is tempting me".   God can not be tempted nor does God tempt anyone.  Yet  as humans,  we are tempted by our own desires.  If we "yield to our desires,  this gives birth to sin  and sin,  when it is full-grown, gives birth to death"  (James  1: 15  NIV  Zondervan, 1983).  

As our new year unfolds,  what things will tempt you?  What desires do we yield to when we are tempted?    

It is only in recognizing that God is love and joy  do we realize the great gift God has given to us --   that of  sound judgement,  responsibility,  and  fortitude.  
As our new year unfolds,  what  decision will you make so that you are not tempted?   

Prayer:  Great God,  we thank You that we can turn to You and lean on Your understanding.  We thank You that You help us  in making mature decisions.  For You are love and  we are Your people.   Reveal to us yet again the wonderful story of Your Great love for us in Your Son,  our Lord.  Amen.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Monday - Epiphany and perseverance

Prayer:  Amid the everyday activities of life, open our eyes O LORD that we may see Your love.  Open our ears to hear Your word, that we may know Your presence made known in Your Word this day.  Open our hearts so that Your Son,  our Saviour,  is revealed to us.    In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen. 

            Read James 1: 12
Yesterday  we celebrated the Church Season of Epiphany.  Being home on a Sunday  still recouping from surgery,  I click on St Patrick's  Cathedral  New York live worship.   This Sunday  Cardinal  Timothy Dolan  said that Epiphany is the revealing of our Saviour to all nations and all peoples.   
The coming of the Wise Men  to find the Infant Christ Child,  bending down in worship and offering him gifts  is the Epiphany... the revealing of Christ to all.    We  read of this story each  year. Somehow over the years  we have  put the Wise Men arriving the same day as the shepherds.  But this is not so.  In the Gospel according to St Matthew,  the Wise Men arrive  to the house  and find the child Jesus  and his mother Mary.  The Wise Men are overjoyed.    We are not told how long it took the Wise Men to get from where they lived to where the Holy Family was in Bethlehem,  but it wasn't  just a day or two.   The Wise Men went on a long journey.

I often wonder if  the Wise Men  knew how long their journey would be when they started out.   Probably they had no idea how long they would have to journey to find the Infant King.   We have no idea what they had to do as they persevered on their journey,  but they did persevere.  We have no idea of the trials they endured on the journey.     In today's  reading in James,  we read "blessed is the man who perseveres under trial,  because when he has stood the test,  he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him"  (NIV  James  1: 12.  Zondervan, 1983).   

The Wise Men are awesome examples to us of how to persevere on our life's  journey.   We don't know what to except  but with our love of God,  we can greet each day in Christ's  care.  When  life seems too tough,  we read the stories of those who persevered and this gives us hope.  James  says  to persevere!  Stay the course!  God is with you in everything that you do.  Never think that God sends trials and little black clouds upon you.  God brings us life and love.

As  we stand on the newness of 2014,  what new journeys  will you begin in the name of Christ?    My husband, Glenn,  has begun a new journey.  He has been called to St Andrew's  Presbyterian Church  in Brandon Manitoba.   The Session and Board and congregation and Glenn will together this year  step forth on a great journey -- an Epiphany -- in sharing the love of God with the community.  
Prayer:  Great God,  I thank You that You are with me in all that I say and I that I do.  And when the burden of situations or relationships become too great for me,  remind me that  You  take all my burdens and  hold me,  surrounded by Your love.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Epiphany Sunday

Prayer:  Holy God,  we bow before You today in awe and majesty.  We bow before You today in worship.  As the Wise Men of old,  we lay before You our gifts that You have given to us.   Holy God,  Holy Mighty,  Holy Immortal One,  You are our God and we are Your people.  Let us rejoice in Your love this day.  Amen. 
Epiphany is  celebrated the Sunday closest to 6 January.   This is the day in the Church year when we remember the  Wise Men bringing gifts to the infant  Christ Child.     Tradition states that there were three Wise Men as that was the number of gifts brought to the Infant Christ Child.    In our household,  we always chuckle and say there were actually four  Wise Men.  Three  Wise Men brought gifts for the Infant and the fourth Wise Man was Presbyterian and didn't believe in the commercialism of buying and giving gifts.  :)      Bad joke aside,  what matters most here isn't the number of Wise Men but their example.      From far away,  something caught their attention so much that they travelled for miles and days.   It was a star in the sky that caught their attention.   This star had great meaning for them.  They knew that this star was  foretold as being the star that would shine in the east to announce the birth of the king of the Jews.   
When they found  Jesus with his mother Mary at his side.   The Wise Men bowed down and worshipped him.  Then the Wise Men opened their treasures and  presented Jesus with gifts.   And what interesting gifts they presented.  Gold,  Frankincense,   and Myrrh.   A metal,  incense,  and  an herb.  All these are used during times of death to prepare a body for burial.   Yet  these are also gifts of life and used during the celebrations and ceremonies of the Jewish Calendar.   
Put yourself in the foot steps of the Wise Men today.  Would you be willing to travel  to worship the Christ Child?   How dedicated would you be on your journey?    As we stand at the beginning of this new year,  ponder how we will dedicate this year as a year of journeying in Christ -- in biblical knowledge,  in prayer,  in worship,  in meditation.   
What gifts  has God given to you that you can share with others this year?    How will you continue to develop and share your gifts with others this year?

Prayer:  Great God,  who by the leading of a star did bring the gift of Your Infant Son  to everyone.   We thank You that You gave us the example of the Wise men--  of seeking and finding Your Holy Son.  May  we spend this day  pondering on Your Holy Gift and what  gifts we have that we can share with others this day and through this year.   This we ask in Your Holy Son's  name.  Amen.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Saturday - Eleventh Day of Christmas.

Prayer:  Holy Mighty,  I reflect upon Your words this day.... words from the shepherds who came to see Your Son.... may we go share the Good News.    Great God,  during this New Year,  may I ponder this day  upon Your Holy Word.  In the midst of all that I must do today,  keep me centered in Your Word, O LORD.  In  Christ’s name I pray.  Amen. 

Epistle.   What does that word mean to you?  An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people. For the early Christians,  the Epistles were written to Christian communities through the Middle Eastern world to help them in their new belief.   These writings were  usually in a letter format  and  very formal.  Most of the Epistles have a greeting,  the reason for the letter, advice given,  and a closing blessing.   There is only one Epistle where Paul was so disgusted with the Christian Community,  that he ditches the Greeting.   Wow.  Paul must have been annoyed!    Most of the Epistles in the New Testament are  traditionally attributed to Paul and known as Pauline epistles.  Yet, we are also blessed to have Epistles written by many other Apostles of Christ or early Christian leaders. James,  Jude, 1 and 2 Peter, and 1,2,3 John.   These Epistles are known as General or Catholic Epistles.  The Catholic Epistles were not addressed to a single community but were written for the whole Church… the Church universal.   This  is why these Epistles have the name of “Catholic Epistles”.   Remember during the Early Church,  the word Catholic  meant all Christian communities as there were no denominations.     As you read through the Epistle of James this month,  you will begin to hear the love that James had for new believers.  He was writing to help new believers become GREAT BELIEVERS and mature Christians.  This is true to this day as well.  

Prayer:  All that I am, Lord, I place into Your hands.  All that I do, Lord, I place into Your hands.  Everything I work for, O Lord,  I place into Your hands.  Everything that I hope for O Lord,  I place into Your hands.  The troubles that weary me O Lord, I place into Your hands.  The people who hurt me O Lord, I place into Your hands.  For everyone that I care for  O Lord, I place into Your hands.  In Christ’s name I pray.  Amen. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Friday - Tenth Day of Christmas

Prayer:  Thank You O Lord for your servant James and the community of believers to whom he was writing.   May the words that James wrote to this community also guide me in my wisdom of learning more about You this day.   In Jesus name I ask this.   Amen.

            Read James 1: 5-11

James 1:5-11

New International Version (NIV)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business     
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lacking wisdom.  With this new year upon us,  we ask God's  guidance to instill within us  wisdom.  Wisdom to make choices that will forward the kingdom of God.  Wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent.    And if we don't have wisdom,  James says to ask God.   Ask,  ask, ask.  God is waiting to be asked.  Then once you have asked God,  leave the request  in God’s hands and  don’t continue to worry about it.   God takes all our burdens and leaves us with light and love and laughter.

Prayer:  O LORD my Saviour,  may I listen to Your voice today and know that You love me beyond all measure. Grant me  the wisdom to live a life  fully within God's  love.   Help me today O LORD,  to make wise choices full of wisdom.   In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Thursday - January 2 2014 Ninth Day of Christmas

     Prayer:    Great God,  we come before You at the beginning of the new year.  This is the day that You have made and we will rejoice in it. This is the day that You ask us to ponder and look to You.  As we dwell in Your love this day, we thank You for the beginning of reading more about You this year.   Open our minds and our hearts to Your words and give us the wisdom to share this good news with our family and friends and neighbours.  Open our eyes to doing Your will.  Open our ears to hear Your Word.  Open our lips to give You thanks and Praise! We  ask this in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

       Read James 1: 1-4
The Epistle of James is a very short book in the Bible yet it contains a rich heritage of how to live life as a Christian.    It is an epistle that one can read over and over again and always find new insights into life as a Christian. 

James tells us that no matter what trials we are presently enduring,  God is with us.  Count it all joy when bad stuff happens.   Joyful?   When bad stuff happens  our first reaction is not to give thanks in joy.    But for the community of Christians that James was writing,  the community was going through trials and testing.   Living in a community where Christianity was not a way of life was tough.  Each day  Christians were put to the test by the community to discover what made them believe differently than the community.    

James writes that while each trial strengthens our faith, we must remain persistent in the love of God.  Don’t give up because we think our trial is too difficult.  Remember that God is with us always. 
Faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that each of us will be mature and complete.   

Ponder today.... how would you define  a mature Christian?  How is a mature Christian different than anyone else in the community?

Prayer:  Thank You O God for today’s  Scripture reading.  May we take what we have learned today and count it all joy.    May we  go forth in this new year surrounded by Your love and Your joy.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.