Sunday, September 27, 2020

And so it begins... my spiritual direction program

Tonight was the official beginning of the spiritual direction program through Columbia Theological Seminary.

Like many things, our first residency was not a residency, but rather a zoom introduction.  We will have other monthly opportunities to build community these next three months with hopes we will be able to meet in person in the Spring.

We began our time together with Simple Presence, a short reading and three minutes of silence.  CeCe Balboni, our cohort leader for this session, led us.  She read a portion of Psalm 132 from Nan Merrill's Psalm Prayers, one of our required books.

As we listened to the reading, these words and phrases stood out to me:

  • healing
  • wholeness
  • peace
  • be not afraid
And then the thought came to mind, "And so it begins...".   What a great way to begin this journey.

The reading and the silence reminded me of how we always began our FUMSDRL board meetings.  There was some form of centering, be it native american flute or a reading, and always some silence.  

Silence allows us to center, to clear away any clutter, to become present.  

I was grateful for the beginning tonight.

And then we spent time in introductions, getting to know the leaders and each of the participants.

It's not how we expected to begin our time together.  In fact, even the leadership has changed some, as Jane Vennard retired earlier.  It's all good.  

When we are able to be open handed to receive that which comes to us loosely, without holding on tightly, we are more able to go with the flow of things. It's not always easy.  Even without tons of expectations, there is still some disappointment.  Yet, it's still good.  It's still an adventure.  It's still a journey.

One can still learn and grow and be transformed in the process.

Though I don't know fully what's ahead of me or where this journey will take me, I do know that I am looking forward to it.

I look forward to the readings, the relationships, the challenges, the growth.  Even tonight we had some technological challenges.  That has happened during the pandemic with other things.  It's all good.

The first major assignment is an eight hour day of silence and solitude and a two page reflection paper on that experience.

Woo hoo!  Packing my hammock and hiking poles as I write.  Not literally.  Just mentally.   Let's see.... I can drive somewhere, hike in to a waterfall, hang out a while, and hike back out.  That's one option.  It has been a long while since I have done a full 8 hours of silence and solitude, so I might need to start working my way back up to it.

One thing I miss right now is being able to talk to my spiritual director about this.  Due to the pandemic, we haven't met in a while, only texted.  I will text her this week.  

Here is the portion of Psalm 132 that was shared tonight:

Psalms for Praying (link to entire Psalm)

Those who follow the way of Love
	with calm and faith-filled
Know that all is working toward
		healing and wholeness.
And may the healing power of Love
	lift you from the limitations
		of fear and ignorance
		into the arms of freedom.
May the peace of the Spirit bless
		you, and
	lead you on life’s journey.
Be not afraid of the Silence, for
	Wisdom’s Voice is heard there!

I invite you to click above on the "Psalms for Praying" link to read the entire Psalm.  I posted what stood out to me in the above section.  There is more in the entire Psalm that resonates with me.  It might with you too.

In closing, these two lines seems like a proper benediction in these days: 

"May the healing power of Love lift you from the limitations of fear and ignorance into the arms of freedom.  May the peace of the Spirit bless you, and lead you on life's journey."

Rev. Deb

Saturday, September 26, 2020

10 year blogging anniversary--WOW!

My blogging journey began10 years ago, in 2010.  That seems like forever ago.  In some ways it is.  In other ways, it is only the decade that it represents.

Much has happened in those 10 years.  

Seminary graduation.  Becoming a pastor. Serving 3 churches in my first appointment.  Now serving 1 church in my second appointment (in my 2nd year there).  

Learning about Wild Church Network and Bamboo Encounter being born as an alternative to indoor worship.

In these 10 years, I've written about books I've read, hikes I've taken, experiences I've had, shared sermons, etc.

I've written about loss and grief as I have lost loved ones.  I've written about name changes, love, acceptance of all.  I've written about silence and solitude and other spiritual practices.

It has been a place to reflect for me.  It has been a spiritual practice.  It continues to be both of things.

For several years into the blogging journey, I kept up with the countries that checked out my blogposts, what the top 10 posts were for the year, and I would print each year to have a hard copy of my writing.  That's from the wanna-be writer in me, I suppose, the one who has been inside since about age 5.

For the past couple of years I've let go of keeping up with the countries, the top 10 posts, and printing a hard copy.  I'm still curious, but I haven't had the time.

I haven't written as much as I used to, even as a spiritual practice.

Things such as my high school senior finishing his final year and graduating took precedence.  

Then there was the first year of college last year.

Spiritual practices can change over time, so it's not a negative thing that I've not written in a while.  There is only so much time and energy to go around.

Yet, I recognize that writing is still a spiritual practice for me.  It feels good.  Writing about things that allow for reflection are even better.  

I picked up writing Haiku from one of the books I read this summer.  I've begun to write Haiku as a spiritual practice, putting them together with some of my photos.

There are things on my heart, mind, and soul that I have yet to write.  I hope time and energy allow for those.

Meanwhile, I recognize that September is when this all began, 10 years ago.

You can read the anniversary posts below.

Whether you've been with me on this adventurous journey the entire time or have just joined in to journey with me, thank you.  We do not travel alone.  I am grateful for your presence.

May the adventurous journey continue, 

Rev. Deb


To Blog or Not to Blog (September 3, 2010)

Blogging....tomorrow makes one year (September 2, 2011)

2 Year Blogging Anniversary This Month (September 23, 2012)

Tomorrow is my 3 year blogging anniversary (September 2, 2013)

4 year blogging anniversary (September 17, 2014)

5 year blogging anniversary (September 21, 2015)

6 year blogging anniversary (September 4, 2016)

7 year blogging anniversary (September 29, 2017)

Responding to God's Provision-- sermon from 9-20-20

Last Sunday (9/20), the Scripture passage that I chose was Exodus.  I choose the Scriptures and titles several months in advance so that the music folks can coordinate.  It's fun for me to see how the lectionary choices weave into daily life.

Exodus 16:2-15 was no exception.  As we continue to live through a pandemic, as we have other things going on in life, as we are gearing up for a national election, the theme of God providing and how folks respond to that provision was time appropriate.  

Whether what is shared meets anyone else where they are on their journey or not, I do not always know.  From time to time I get a glimpse from someone, somewhere, that I have listened and obeyed in sharing the message, as it has been received.

I continue to do what I do for an Audience of One, recognizing that the One is who matters most.  It's not always easy to have that perspective, but that is my goal.  The word that comes through me is not lost on me.  It works in me too.  That's what I enjoy about the living word of Christ-- it continues to work its way in us and through us.  

Below you will find the transcript, the entire service from YouTube and the SoundCloud audio link.  There was a glitch on FB premiere last week.  Things froze during the sermon and then went back to the beginning.  It wasn't on our end technologically because the YouTube video was doing just fine.  Well, until visual froze and audio kept going.  The social media platforms have had some glitches during the pandemic and we haven't really figured those things out.  

That's okay too.  We do what we are able to do.  We have a SUPER tech "team" of primarily one person that puts the service together.  Several of us do our parts and send it in and then the magic happens.  

I'm grateful for each and every person who continues to give of their time, talents, and efforts to keep us connected as a faith community.

It's not easy.

Yet, we continue to experience provision.  How do we respond?


Rev. Deb


“Responding to God’s Provision” 

Exodus 16:2-15 (CEB)

September 20, 2020 (16th Sunday after Pentecost)

St. Elmo UMC (FB Live)


Exodus 16:2-15 (CEB-Common English Bible)


The whole Israelite community complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert. The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the Lord had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction. On the sixth day, when they measure out what they have collected, it will be twice as much as they collected on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “This evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. And in the morning you will see the Lord’s glorious presence, because your complaints against the Lord have been heard. Who are we? Why blame us?” Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning because the Lord heard the complaints you made against him. Who are we? Your complaints aren’t against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole Israelite community, ‘Come near to the Lord, because he’s heard your complaints.’” 10 As Aaron spoke to the whole Israelite community, they turned to look toward the desert, and just then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

11 The Lord spoke to Moses, 12 “I’ve heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat. And in the morning you will have your fill of bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 In the evening a flock of quail flew down and covered the camp. And in the morning there was a layer of dew all around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the desert surface were thin flakes, as thin as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” They didn’t know what it was.

Moses said to them, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.





As we begin to look at today’s passage, think for a moment: what stood out to you in the reading and hearing of it?  If we were to allow this passage to read us via lectio divina, sacred reading, we would read over it a few more times, listening intentionally for those words or phrases.

Having had the advantage of spending significant time on the passage, one thing that stood out to me was the theme of complaining.  The word in one of its forms is found  6x in the Common English here.  The opposite of complaining is gratitude, so that came to mind.  Then, looking at the entire passage, God’s provision for the people is evident, as is their response.

Let’s dive into today’s passage.

The wilderness journey is NOT easy.

Traversing a desert in the best of circumstances would not be easy.  But, here we have a people who had to leave their homeland, flee their homeland to save their very lives.  As they found themselves in the wilderness, they began to second guess their situation.  They began to complain.  They even began to want to go back.  (verse 3)

What made them want to go back?  The thought of  “pots cooking meat” and the opportunity to “eat [their] fill of bread”.  What were they forgetting about going back?  The reason they left and moved forward.  The reason they sought out change and transformation.  They left for freedom.  Freedom, change, and transformation come at a price. 

The people here had forgotten the God’s provision of freedom in the moment and were caught up in the moment of their immediate needs and frustrations.  They could no longer see clearly. 

We understand that, don’t we?!?! 

Have we ever been in the middle of a wilderness journey and lost sight of the promise?

Or we have become so discouraged in the moment by circumstances and a myriad of voices that we can no longer hear or see God’s provision?

It happens.

God understood. 

When the two leaders Moses and Aaron came before the Lord with the complaints of the people, the Lord heard and responded.  The Lord had the people look to the desert in verse 10 and the presence of the Lord appeared in the cloud and the Lord spoke to Moses in verse 11, telling him what to say to the people. 

The people had to stop their complaining, take a moment to look and listen, to “be still and know”.  In that moment, they heard from Moses that meat and bread were coming their way and it would once again be a reminder that they would know God.

We need reminders, don’t we?!?!

Even when we have been released from things that have us bound, even when we are traveling through the wilderness to a promised place, even when we know we are loved and beloved children of God, we still need reminders. 

God understands.  And, as we see in this passage, God is willing to provide us with reminders.  These reminders might even come in the form of miraculous provision, as we see in verses 13-15.

As we reflect on this passage, how have you needed God to provide for you?  What have you needed/wanted?  Take a moment and think about that.  Write it down.  Either somewhere just for you or in the comments on FB, if you are willing.

Another question: how has God provided for you? Take a moment to write down at least one thing that you recognize as God’s provision for you.  Again, you can write it down privately or in our FB comments.

Recognizing God’s provision for us is helpful, even crucial, when we find ourselves in moments of forgetfulness or complaining.  If we begin to list in gratitude those things that God has provided, might we begin to realize that whatever the situation is, God will provide?

I’m not saying that God will provide exactly in the way or time we want/need/ask.  However, I do believe and trust my Creator to take care of me, to take care of us.

Thinking about these people traveling through the wilderness—they were being changed and transformed.  They left behind the known and were headed to the unknown.  They were in the midst of the unknown.

Not unlike us today.  We are still in the midst of a pandemic.  There is much unknown.  I have spoken about liminal space in past sermons, about not knowing.  I understand the stress of these times.  I also see the benefits.  I have shared about how this is a time for us to allow ourselves to “be”, to listen, to grow, to change, to transform—individually and collectively.  It truly IS a time for us to allow God guide us through the wilderness.

During this time, the nursery is being painted a brighter color.  We are working on getting things fixed and taken care of in the building that need attention, such as the front doors and the roof. 

We are continuing to meet the needs of the community through the food pantry during the week and the 2nd Saturday.  I believe the number was 70 boxes given out that day.  The homeless food ministry continues to feed people weekly.  September 25th will be the next big meal and 15 people are needed to help with that.  Contact Mike Rice and/or check our FB page for information on that.

We have MUCH to give gratitude for as a faith community! 

Here are some of things for which I am grateful:

I am grateful for each of you, some of you I haven’t met.  Many of you I haven’t seen in FOR-E-EVER, though through delivering palm branches and signs gave me some sightings.  I am grateful for coffee visits, for hikes, for biking.  The offer remains to hike, bike, have coffee and/or lunch.  Contact me.  

I am grateful for answered prayer.

I am grateful for the provision of the PPP.

I am grateful for the provision of food that allows us to give to others.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as your spiritual leader. 

I encourage you to make a personal gratitude list.  I also encourage you to make a gratitude list around our faith community.  What about SEUMC causes you to be grateful?  Think on that.  If you are willing to share your list, you might encourage someone else as they are struggling in the wilderness.  You might be someone’s provision, their “manna”.

Manna in today’s passage is the daily provision that offered sustenance to a people in need.

Sustenance is needed to survive, to thrive.  Manna can come in many forms.

Today’s challenge on the calendar for the 30 days of anti-racism by the General Commission of  Religion and Race is to send your tithe or offering to a Black church.  My tithe was given to SEUMC.  I chose to send my offering to Washington Hills UMC.  You might remember Rev. Terryl James that came to speak here in February when we did a pulpit swap.  She and I continue a conversation between us and our two congregations.

How are you growing on the wilderness journey?

Do you find yourself complaining or offering gratitude?  Don’t be too harsh on yourself if the answer is complaining.  However, start on that gratitude list.  Be intentional to stop and look around.  You might begin to recognize the presence of the Lord in the cloud and as you look and listen, the provision of the Lord for you will become evident.

Hear these words from Charles Campbell: “Out in the wilderness with Israel, God is creating a new people who will embody an alternative to the way of Egypt, the ways of domination and submission, rich and poor, powerful and powerless.  Central to the formation of that people is the gift of manna.” (Feasting on the Word, Year A, page 93)

We are being formed, transformed as God’s children, into the image of Christ.  This is what it means to be a follower of Christ. We don’t stay where we were.  We move forward.  We seek to live, love, and lead like Jesus.  We seek to live out our baptismal vows: “resisting evil, injustice & oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”

Today’s passage reminds us that the journey is not easy, especially the journey through the wilderness, the unknown. 

Steve Garnaas-Holmes sent out this on manna earlier this week: 

The resilience
that will get you through
the worst troubles
is not inner strength
but simple trust
that in every moment,
no matter how dire
there is grace enough
to get you through
the worst troubles.


Weather Report

blessing precipitating
even from dark clouds,
falling into the lowest places,
and though it may taste like ashes,
giving life.

May we recognize God’s provision for us along the way and may we respond with gratitude. 

Will you pray with me? 



YouTube Service

SoundCloud audio

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Welcomed as God's Children-- sermon from 9-13-20

Here is the sermon from 9-13-20: "Welcomed as God's Children".  

For the first time due to our travel arrangements, I recorded two sermons in one week.  That was a challenge.

Preaching is life-giving to me, though preaching in pandemic, in an empty sanctuary is a bit different.  The Holy Spirit continues to show up, though, so that is what keeps me going.


Rev. Deb


“Welcomed As God’s Children” 

Romans 14:1-12 (NRSV)

September 13, 2020 (15th Sunday after Pentecost)

St. Elmo UMC (FB Live)


Romans 14:1-12 (NRSV-New Revised Standard Version)


Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.





For the past several weeks the focus on the messages have been “Unity”, “Life Instructions” (based on love), “Live Love”.  Prior to that, messages of “No Condemnation”….

When you look back, do you get the feeling that God has been trying to get a point across?

Maybe it just seems like a random pattern of dots to you.  Sometimes it does to me too.

However, I’m seeing a pattern and at the core of it is God’s love for you, for me.

Today’s title comes from verse 3 primarily where it says that God has welcomed them.  God has welcomed whom?  God has welcomed those who eat and those who abstain from eating.  For all are God’s children. 

The first word in today’s passage is “welcome”.  We are to welcome others.  We are not to judge others by what they do or don’t do.  We all recognize that this is easier said than done, especially when we are in a family unit or a faith community.  Sometimes the closer we become, the more difficult it becomes to judge less.  Our welcome mats get worn out and we become more fussy or picky.

Maybe, just maybe it would be good for us to stockpile some welcome mats so that when ours becomes slightly torn or tattered, we can replace it immediately with a fresh one.  It’s a thought.  It’s also an analogy.

What today’s passage allows us to think about is that we have differences.  We have differences of opinions, different ways of doing things, different backgrounds, different upbringings, etc.

When we come together with all these differences, with all this diversity, might there at times be some conflict?  Definitely.  Now, I’m not saying there is currently any conflict.  Heck, we’re not even meeting in person. 

I did, however, say last year, day 1 in the pulpit, that I knew I wasn’t perfect, that I was going to make mistakes, and that this is an ongoing learning adventure.  I know truthfully, that as a leader, I am darned if I do and darned if I don’t.  Therefore, my goal and my heart is to do whatever I do for an audience of One.  Colossians 3:17 (NIV)—“And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Even so, there will be disagreement at times.  With me. With each other.  With folks in community.  With politics.  With family members.  Etc.

When those times of conflict arise, how do we respond?  How do we deal with folks?

That’s what we can take away from this passage today.

One thing to know is that responding with a calm non-anxious presence is key. 

That’s not from the passage, but it is something applicable.

Welcoming others as God’s children stems from love.  It happens because we love our neighbor.

We are to see others as God’s child, as God’s beloved child.  From my reading this past week, a quote from William Greenway, a professor at a Seminary in Texas: “Once we stop seeing another person as a child of God and view him or her instead as the personification of a sin, it becomes easy to enjoy the energy of disdain and self-righteous opposition.” (Feasting on the Word, 64)

Listen again…. With some edits.. ‘once we stop seeing another person as a child of God and view him or her instead AS ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE CHILD OF GOD THAT HE OR SHE IS, it becomes easy to enjoy the energy of disdain and self-righteous opposition.’

That’s either an OUCH or an AMEN.  Which is it for you today?!?!

In order to welcome others as God’s children, we must truly see them as God’s children.  We must love them.  We must look at ourselves and ask ourselves if there is any disdain or self-righteousness between us.  If there is, we have work to do.  Are we willing to do the work to become more like Christ?  To become transformed into living, loving, and leading like Christ?

God welcomes ALL.

Here at St. Elmo United Methodist Church, we know that.  “Y’all means all”, right?!?!  It’s not just a t-shirt slogan.  It’s not simply because we are a Reconciling Ministry Network congregation in which we truly include ALL, NO EXCEPTIONS. 

We live it.  We do. 

And we can all find ways to live it better.  There are onion layers to peel off.  Maybe not in your life you say.  Fair enough.  In my life, I can do a better job of welcoming all as God’s children.  I can continue to learn how to handle and resolve conflict.  I can allow God to heal and transform me so that I love myself so that I can love God and my neighbor. 

You may have it all figured out.  I know that for me, to live, love, and lead like Jesus is an ongoing journey.

To welcome all as God’s children IS my heart’s desire. 

I AM growing.

I HAVE learned.

When you realize that how God created someone is NOT a sin, that’s a huge learning and turning point.  When you begin to treat God’s creations as valid and worthy lives, regardless, that is huge. 

I’m still getting there.  I’m still growing.  I still make mistakes.  I still fall and fail.  As I continue to say, that’s where grace comes in.

Last week I shared the 30 days of anti-racism challenge by the General Commission on Religion and Race.  If you decided to embark on that journey, how is it going?  What has been most challenging for you as you are growing and learning?  Today’s challenge on the calendar is this: listen to a preacher from a different cultural background than your own.  With so many services on line, you can easily find that.  If you need assistance, let me know.  We have culturally diverse preachers right here in our community.  There are other Reconciling Ministry Network churches with preachers from differing cultural backgrounds. With the pandemic, I know some folks are watching more services than they have in the past, so this challenge is a fun one.

Some of you know by now, but others may not yet know that God has used some very personal things in my life to teach me how beloved and welcomed children of God are.  Even something as simple as a name became a lesson for me in welcoming a child of God, being welcomed as a child of God, and receiving grace.

When I think of being welcomed as a child of God, I think of a story very personal to me. Because the entire story isn’t mine to share, I will just say this: I am forever grateful that God, who IS love, continues to teach me about love.  God IS patient, kind, compassionate.  God, who created each of us uniquely, loves us and welcomes us.

I will also say this to you as a faith community: Thank you!  As a parent and as your pastor, thank you.  From the moment we came here, you welcomed me and my family as God’s children.  That meant much to me. From the first Sunday when Keith told me that he and the congregation had my back, I felt welcomed. More than me being welcomed, the love and acceptance offered to my son was tremendous.  He helped out at VBS last year.  He came to Christmas Eve service.  Some of you have gotten to know him through other gatherings.  The fact that you have embraced him and welcomed him has made this mom able to breathe again. 

This is what “welcomed as God’s children” is all about, isn’t it?!

We are to offer others a place, a space, for all to breathe.  A place, a space of grace, for rest, for healing, for love, of acceptance.

I have a sign in my yard, next to my St. Elmo sign that reminds me I am loved, that says “love and acceptance practiced here”.  I saw the sign in Greensboro, NC and knocked on the door of the home and inquired about it.  The homeowner treated me as a welcomed child of God and showed me love and acceptance by giving me her sign.  I got home and ordered quite a few.  I sold some at Wild Goose last year.  The sign is a way for me to show my neighbors that I welcome them.

God desires that we find a way to welcome one another, to love one another, to share spaces of grace with one another.

If you are looking for a space to get to know some folks better and to grow, on Sunday mornings there is a Zoom Sunday School class at 10 am.  If you haven’t heard about it until now, no worries.  There are 10 weeks left.  You can still join in.  The series is “Knowing Better”.  There is an event on the FB page with the zoom link. 

We grow as we study and share conversations together.

We grow as we welcome all God’s children, recognizing that “God is God of all people, even those we struggle to accept.” (Jeannette A. Good, Feasting on the Word, Year A, 67)



YouTube Service

SoundCloud Audio

Live Love-- sermon from 9-6-20

On September 6th, we hit the road for NYC to take Charlie to his second year of college.  We watched and participated in Sunday School on the road.  I watched some of the service online, but because I was driving, I forgot to upload the weekly video greeting.  That's okay.  Life happens.  

Below you will find the full service (complete with Holy Communion) from YouTube, the transcript, the SoundCloud audio.  

If time allows in the near future, I may post our whirlwind trip to NY and back too.


Rev. Deb


“Live Love” 

Romans 13:8-14 (CEB)

September 6, 2020 (13th Sunday after Pentecost)

St. Elmo UMC (FB Live/Communion)


Romans 13:8-14 (CEB)

Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. The commandments, Don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t desire what others have, and any other commandments, are all summed up in one word: You must love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is what fulfills the Law.11 As you do all this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep. Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had faith. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is near. So let’s get rid of the actions that belong to the darkness and put on the weapons of light. 13 Let’s behave appropriately as people who live in the day, not in partying and getting drunk, not in sleeping around and obscene behavior, not in fighting and obsession. 14 Instead, dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t plan to indulge your selfish desires.





Last week in Romans 12:9-21, one approach for all of those life instructions was to see them, to live them through the lens of love, from verse 9.  In today’s passage, we find the word “love” four (4) times and we challenge ourselves to “live love”.

The title comes from verse 9—“You must love your neighbor as yourself.”

Since we haven’t gathered in person in a while, you may not have seen the sign out front in a while.  Except for changing it for graduation, it has had this message for a while: “Love your neighbor.  No exceptions.”

It’s a reminder for us to love one another.

When you see a heart in nature, in a cloud, a leaf, a tree, a heart rock, etc., it’s a reminder that we are loved and we are to “live love”.  I’m grateful to Dee Miles for sharing her photography with us last week and this week, and likely in the weeks to come.  This week the hearts in nature spoke to me. May they remind us to love others and remind us that we are loved.

On our website and on our FB pages, we have the #livinglovehere.  It’s also on the sign out front.  We have talked about the new campaign  of living love and some people have already shared how they are seeing love lived out.  If you have stories to share, send them in.

Several weeks ago we started delivering signs from the church, to let people know that they are loved.  It’s a hug, of sorts.  It says this: “Sending love to you!” “You are the salt of the earth…” Matthew 5:13 and in the middle is a heart, our logo, and the name of the church.  If we have missed you for one reason or another or you are new to our faith community and want one, please reach out to us so that we can get you one.

One of the required readings for my spiritual direction program is a book on the psalms by Nan Merrill.  One of the first psalms I went to was Psalm 46 to look up one of my favorite verses Psalm 46:10—“Be still and know that I am God.”  What I found was this: “Be still and know that I am Love.”  Wow.  How beautiful.  How true.  God IS love!  I have shared the hourglass prayer before.  Starting with the first line, take away a little bit until you get to “be” and then pray it back to the beginning.  Breathing in and out with your breath allows it to be a breath prayer too:

Be still and know that I am Love.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.



Be still.

Be still and know.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know that I am Love.

A word from François Fénélon on how to live love: “When we love God, we do not ask what we shall say to Him.  We have no difficulty in conversing with a friend. Our hearts are ever open to Him.  We do not think what we shall say to Him, but we say it without reflection. We cannot be reserved.  Even when we have nothing to say to Him, we are satisfied with being with Him.  Oh, how much better are we sustained by love than by fear!  Fear enslaves, constrains, and troubles us; but love persuades, consoles, animates us; possesses our whole soul, and makes us desire goodness for its own sake.”  (from Selections from the Writings of  François Fénélon)

Did you catch that?  The difference that love makes?  Love persuades, consoles, animates us, possesses our whole soul, and makes us desire goodness for its own sake.  Wow!

I saw one of those “Love Thy Neighbor” t-shirts online this past week.  I’ve seen variations of it prior and seen yard signs too. It was posted on Contemplative Monk. In light of today’s message of “live love”, here is the message on the t-shirt I saw:


Love thy neighbor

Thy homeless neighbor

Thy Jewish neighbor

Thy black neighbor

Thy gay neighbor

Thy undocumented neighbor

Thy white neighbor

Thy transgender neighbor

Thy Christian neighbor

Thy HIV+ neighbor

Thy racist neighbor

Thy addicted neighbor

Thy atheist neighbor

Thy imprisoned neighbor

Thy disabled neighbor

Thy Muslim neighbor

Whew! That’s a lot on one shirt!  We could keep going though, couldn’t we?!?! What would you add?  Who else can we love? 

The bottom line in that we are to LIVE LOVE by loving all. Period. 

In order for us to live love well, it is important for us to remember that we are loved and beloved children of God.  As we remember that we are loved, as we love ourselves as we are created, then we are able to love God and others.  We are able to live love.

It isn’t easy.  We will all fail, fall, make mistakes.  We get up, We keep walking the path.  That’s what grace is all about.  Grace comes in when we mess up.  Not “if”.

The important thing is that we take action in the right direction to learn and to live love.  If you’d like a ready made action plan, then I encourage you to check out the 30 days of antiracism sponsored by the General Commission on Religion and Race or GCORR, if you’re familiar with their acronym.  They have a calendar for September with an activity for each day.  Today’s action step is to celebration national read a book day by purchasing an anti racism resource and reading it.

The calendar can be found on our FB page.  There are articles on their website about racism, overt and covert, as well as other information and resources.

This is just one way we can take action to live love.

As we receive holy communion today, may we remember how much we are loved and may that love that flows into us, flow freely to others as we live love in our families, our faith community, our workplaces, our communities, our friendships, etc. 




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