The Fellowship Blogs

The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts

Get It?

3-GetIt_1080

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Week of June 13, 2021
Scripture: Mark 4:26-34

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
(Mark 4:33-34, NRSV)

Devotion

When my youngest child was three, my mother-in-law was visiting and was sitting in the back with her as I drove us all somewhere. They were having an intense conversation about something and my mother-in-law was trying super hard to understand my daughter's toddler-esque speech patterns. My daughter, seeing at some point that she was not getting her meaning across, paused in the conversation and then barked in a loud voice to her devoted grandmother, "Do ya get it or do ya don't?"

(If I had a dollar for every time my wonderful mother-in-law re-tells this story, and always with the exact indignant inflection that her small progeny used. πŸ™‚ )

In the earlier verses of Mark 4, there is definitely a "do ya get it or do ya don't?" vibe from Jesus as regards the parables. He has so much to impart to these earthly fishermen, and he is trying to elevate their thinking, and it seems they stay in the "don't get it" category more often than not. But don't we all?

We have so much to learn, and how blessed we are to have a chance to learn it! The Kin-dom of God gets deeper and fuller and bigger and wider the more you lean into it, and there is always more to learn, another layer to peel back, another opinion to consider, another level of meaning and understanding. We bring ourselves to the teachings of Jesus, and every time we are different because time has passed, life has unfolded a bit more, and we comprehend things a little differently. We live, we learn, we seek again and again, and God's word is always fresh and ready to meet us where we are and speak to us anew. How blessed we are!

(Note: Precious though the above photo is, that is not actually my daughter. πŸ™‚ )

Prayer

God of all wisdom, instill in us again the desire for you and your nurturing, challenging word. May we never stop learning, and may we always be thankful. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Skyler Ewing / Pexels

 

Continue reading
  18 Hits
  0 Comments
18 Hits
0 Comments

Eternal

2-Eternal_1080

Second Sunday after Pentecost

Week of June 6, 2021
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NRSV)

Devotion

I mentioned in last week's Reflection that I lost a dear friend to COVID-19. He was a dear friend to many – he was our church pianist. A man of amazing talent and intuition. He pastored us through his music for 20 years. His memory is indeed a blessing, but the loss of him has shattered the heart of my church community. We are reeling.

We sing our communion responses at Christ UMC. The first communion Sunday after his passing, as our minister of music led us from the altar and many of us sang through our masks, I thought, as I always do after the passing of someone I love: "We are singing together, all of us. In this moment, we are all singing praises to God, together."

What can be seen is temporary. What cannot be seen is eternal. Thanks be to God.

Prayer

Loving God, help us not lose heart. Renew our inner natures day by day. Grow our trust in you, for you are good. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Michaelangelo's "Creation of Adam," Markus Baumeler / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  35 Hits
  0 Comments
35 Hits
0 Comments

A Far Better World

9-Lion_1080

Trinity Sunday / Peace With Justice Sunday

Week of May 30, 2021
Scripture: John 3:1-17

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
(John 3:17, NRSV)

Devotion

God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, so why do we who claim to follow Jesus do so much condemning?

Be clear here: I am talking about myself first and foremost. I don't think I've ever in my life mentally condemned people like I have been during this pandemic. Two of my three older children have had COVID-19 and a dear, dear friend of mine died from it, and the truth is when I see people choosing not to wear masks, I think bad things in my mind about them. I think condemning thoughts. It's not good.

Jesus did not come to condemn. He came to save. We who are seeking to follow in his footsteps are not to condemn. We are to act in ways that facilitate the salvation of all β€” ways that speak of Jesus, that speak of God's love for everyone.

We can't change what we can't see. We must search ourselves, name what we find, and ask God to teach us a better way to be in this world.

God is love, and we are to be love, too, and that will make for a far better world than judgment ever could.

Prayer

God, help me to be your love in this world, and to forgive as I have been forgiven. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Giacomo Zanni / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  46 Hits
  0 Comments
46 Hits
0 Comments

Fire

8-Fire_1080

Pentecost Sunday

Week of May 23, 2021
Scripture: Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
(Acts 2:1-4, NRSV)

Devotion

To the leaders of music and worship:

You handle fire, you know.

The unaware might think you are just the "music person,"
milling about up front, occasionally speaking,
mostly leading hymns or, these days, providing songs in other ways
for congregants in various states of alertness.
But those who pay attention know:
you handle fire.

You lead us out of ourselves and into something much bigger,
because you know the fire is for everyone and you want us to know it, too.
You lead us, through melody sung and heard, to things beyond what can be seen –
to peace that passes all understanding,
love that defies description,
grace that precedes us, surrounds us, and carries us home.

Voices rise in song and as we listen, smoke curls around our feet,
sparks flame up in our hearts,
and the church is anointed by fire again.

It isn't a magic trick,
and you are not responsible for it or in charge of making it happen.
The fire existed long before you came on the scene,
and it will burn on long after you have moved on.

But this Sunday, as the body gathers to listen or sing,
we will all handle fire;
or, as happens through God's miracle of music –
fire will handle us.

Prayer

God, please bless all the music and worship leaders. Grant them fresh inspiration and peace. Their work is so important. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Pexels

 

Continue reading
  49 Hits
  0 Comments
49 Hits
0 Comments

Enlightened

7-Bloom_1080

Ascension Sunday / Seventh Sunday of Easter

Week of May 16, 2021
Scripture: Ephesians 1:15-23

... with the eyes of your heart enlightened ...
(Ephesians 1:18, NRSV)

Devotion

I was accused of plagiarism in high school after waxing eloquent in a book report on a book I adored at the time (The Great Train Robbery, FYI). There had been no plagiarism; I just loved books and loved words and had let myself get a little fancy in that particular paper. That same teacher announced that I asked too many questions in class, but when pressed, she admitted that they were good questions. Maybe they were inconvenient questions, preventing the smooth presentation of the day's material, but they were thought-provoking and interesting, apparently.

Bless my heart, I am the exact same person today. I cannot even tell you how often I am reading spiritually-related material or sitting quietly in church and encounter a phrase that makes part of me want to stand up and say, but what does it mean? What are we saying here? We are all reciting this thing but do we really know what it means?

It can get a little exhausting inside my head, but it's never boring.

This is how I feel when I read these words in Ephesians 1:17-19: "I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power."

The words are gorgeous and mighty, and the phrase "with the eyes of your heart enlightened" is so deep and amazing and deserves calligraphy, but my student self is raising her hand persistently, intent upon asking, "I love it, but what does it mean?"

What does it mean?

My student self isn't going to get a hold of this one. I can't note-take this phrase into submission and clarity. It requires a more mature self to make any sense of this, and I'd better hold my understanding lightly if I am inviting God's help here, which I am.

A closed bud. That is what my heart is, most of the time. A lot of potential, but safety is primary, so things stay under wraps and precise, mobile.

A budding flower, time-lapsed. That is the process of the eyes of my heart becoming enlightened. Opening, uncurling, stretching, standing. Giving. Receiving. Planted, rooted, stable. Vulnerable to injury, but oh so beautiful, and part of the astounding tapestry ever being woven by our loving Creator.

God bless the student. God bless the teacher. God bless the wonderer. And friends, may the eyes of our hearts be enlightened. Amen and amen.

Prayer

O God, may we be open, may we be teachable, and may we see and be the light. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Stux / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  67 Hits
  0 Comments
67 Hits
0 Comments

Sing!

6-Sing_1080

Sixth Sunday of Easter / Festival of the Christian Home / Mother's Day

Week of May 9, 2021
Scripture: Psalm 98

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
(Psalm 98:4, NRSV)

Devotion

There exists, every morning, pretty much everywhere, the perfect fulfillment of this verse. Made by God, wonderful in their beauty and abilities, and quite dear to me personally: birds.

They are all over the earth. They make such a joyful noise. And they sure do break forth into joyous song. It is absolutely magical to get up early and be in the silence and then have some teeny brave soul suddenly sing out:

Oh, it's morning, isn't it amazing? Another day is here, the sun is coming up; we are here to see it. Can you believe how lucky we are? It's morning! Let's SING!!!

Friends, worship is taking place everywhere. We are so very blessed to get to praise God with song. Live, via Zoom, in church, in your backyard – make your joyful noise to the Lord! You won't be singing alone.

Prayer

God, we thank you for your gift of birds. May we notice them, and may their music and loveliness remind us to sing your praises. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Paul Bates / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  62 Hits
  0 Comments
62 Hits
0 Comments

Beyond Fear

5-Love_1080

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Week of May 2, 2021
Scripture: 1 John 4:7-21

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
(1 John 4:18, NRSV)

Devotion

Busted. I have not reached perfection in love. I am dealing with a great deal of fear these days.

However, I hang my hat on that verse. I believe that verse. I KNOW it is true. I can glimpse it. I just can't seem to live there.

Moving past a childish faith (repeat after me), moving past a vending machine faith (if I do this, you will do that, God; awesome, thanks, bye), moving past utter doubt (this whole thing is nonsense), one comes to a much less grounded space. A space where the "I don't knows" are too abundant to ignore so you just have to carry them with you. A space where the heart has been broken too much to stay closed so that there is an openness and acceptance in your spirit. A space where you stop trying to skim off the disagreeable parts of yourself and just settle into the idea that God actually does love all of you, and therefore God loves all of everybody. A space that is spacious and has room for us all, no judgment, just love and grace and compassion.

There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear – God's perfect love, for us and in us and through us.

Amen.

Prayer

God, we have fear. Fill us with your love, help us be your love, so that there is no room for fear, only room for love – for you. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Tetiana Soares / Getty Images Pro (via Canva)

 

Continue reading
  77 Hits
  0 Comments
77 Hits
0 Comments

My Shepherd

4-Sheep_1080

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Week of April 25, 2021
Scripture: Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
(Psalm 23:1, NRSV)

Devotion

Beloved and familiar scripture like Psalm 23 is a path we walk on. The opening phrase tells us where we are and where we are going, and there is an internal sigh of relief as we begin our well-known journey.

Oh, right, God is my shepherd, my loving parent, the one who watches over me. My needs are known to God and will be taken care of.

The world God made is lovely, and nature waits to comfort and calm me, imbued as it is with the very mind of God.

God will renew my weary soul and guide me in the way I should go.

Life will not be easy. Terribly difficult trials will come, but God will always be with me. I will never, ever be alone.

I am dear to God, marked by grace and deeply blessed.

God's love and kindness will ever be with me, and the heart of God is my home, now and forever more, amen.

Amen.

Prayer

Holy God, we thank you so much for the beautiful and healing words you have provided for us. They are a blessing for which we are truly grateful. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Jerzy GΓ³recki / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  95 Hits
  0 Comments
95 Hits
0 Comments

Pause

3-Pause_1080

Third Sunday of Easter

Week of April 18, 2021
Scripture: Psalm 4

When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
(Psalm 4:4-5, NRSV)

Devotion

Do you hear what I hear when I read those verses? For me it is loud and clear: When you are disturbed, do not react in haste. Be quiet for a bit. Make room for God in your thinking. Be willing to be wrong, and be willing to be changed. And ultimately, when you do move forward, put your trust in God.

The alternate word in the footnote for this verse is angry.

When you are angry, do not sin;
Ponder it on your beds, and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.

The word disturbed covers a lot of ground. So does the word angry. So there are a myriad of situations we find ourselves in where we are receiving this instruction:

Do not react in haste. Be quiet for a bit. Make room for God in your thinking. Be willing to be wrong, and be willing to be changed. And ultimately, when you do move forward, put your trust in God.

Words to live by. Words to help us in our decision process, in a time when decision fatigue is real and present and affecting our daily lives.

Thanks be to God.

Prayer

God, there is much that disturbs us in these days, and much that makes us angry. Please help us to pause and be in silence before we respond, and help us put our trust in you. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Albrecht Fietz / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  100 Hits
  0 Comments
100 Hits
0 Comments

Peace Be

2-Fountain_1080

Second Sunday of Easter

Week of April 11, 2021
Scripture: John 20:19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
(John 20:19-21, NRSV)

Devotion

We are entering a new season in the church, and I am wishing you peace.

The work aspect of Easter is behind us. Lent is behind us. In much of the world, spring is springing. Our minds long for less, our hearts long for joy and our spirits yearn for peace.

Peace be with you.

Jesus wishes this for the disciples. We wish this for each other, and for ourselves.

May peace be with you.

May peace be within you.

May peace calm your mind.

May peace open your heart.

May peace fill your spirit.

To God we are thankful, and to God be the glory, amen and amen.

Prayer

Gracious God, we ask for your peace, and we thank you so much that you give it so freely. We love you. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Peter H / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  114 Hits
  0 Comments
114 Hits
0 Comments

Resurrection!

Easter-Sunrise_1080

Easter Day

April 4, 2021
Scripture: John 20:1-18

Devotion

Resurrection! Oh thank God.

The stirrings began in the dark, but no worries – lack of physical light is no impediment to God.

The sun is indeed rising, and Jesus is speaking your name. See him in all his glory and humility. See how much he loves you. See, and go tell everyone:

Christ the Lord is risen today!

Prayer

Alleluia!.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Sunrise on Virginia Beach by Leigh Anne Taylor

 

Continue reading
  128 Hits
  0 Comments
128 Hits
0 Comments

The Truth

HW-Pieta_1080

Holy Week: Holy Thursday

April 1, 2021
Scripture: John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God ...
(John 13:3, NRSV)

Devotion

It is the knowing that gives Jesus the freedom.

He knows that God has given all things into his hands. He knows he comes from God and is going to God.

He may not feel it. But he knows.

As a parent of teens and a young adult, the pandemic has been an exercise in learning to cope with extremely strong emotions in other people and teaching them how to cope with themselves. Never an easy task, it's been a pretty grueling one this past year.

Where to start? With the most basic of facts – you come from God, you belong to God, you are safe in God, to God you will return, but don't let that last one freak you out because basically you never left.

Something like that.

Over and over, the pandemic experience has turned us back to basics. The fundamentals. The foundation. The essentials.

Jesus knows the truth. We come from God and we are going to God. This is where we start, and this is where our freedom begins.

Thanks be to God.

Prayer

O God, with every breath, remind me that I come from you and am going to you and that I am safe in you always. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Michaelangelo's Pieta. Jacques Savoye / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  117 Hits
  0 Comments
117 Hits
0 Comments

In Your Hand

6-Hands_1080

Palm / Passion Sunday

Week of March 28, 2021
Scripture: Psalm 31:9-16

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hand.
(Psalm 31:14-15a, NRSV)

Devotion

These words. So powerful. A declaration, and yet a hope. A statement of now as well as a provision for the future. A desire and a promise. Words to build a faith on.

These words were my constant mantra for a period of my life. I amended them into a chant and said them over and over, in this way:

You are my God,
I trust you.
My times are in your hand.

Specifically I remember leaning back and closing my eyes as the airplane I was in thundered down the runway, heading for takeoff. I was fearful of flying at that time and this mantra got me there and back:

You are my God,
I trust you.
My times are in your hand.

I haven't traveled in a while, but certainly I have lived through times of fear, as have we all, especially lately. Times of anxiety and uncertainty, times that require deep breathing in the presences of the looming unknown. And here we are towards the end of Lent, and Jesus is about to come riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey, and we know we are headed toward a whiplash of emotions as we witness the events of the coming week, and we have been through so much lately – can we do this?

You are my God.
I trust you.
My times are in your hand.

Deep breath in. Pause. Long breath out.

You are my God.
I trust you.
My times are in your hand.

God is near. Easter is coming. New life is about to burst forth. We need Jesus, and we need the lessons this coming week has to teach. Nourished by the psalmist's words, alongside our siblings in Christ, let us step forward together. God is trustworthy, and our times are in God's hand.

Prayer

Thank you, O God, for your unending kindness towards me. Help me grow in my trust of you. I'm grateful that my times are in your hand. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Myriams-Fotos / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  146 Hits
  0 Comments
146 Hits
0 Comments

New Life

5-Life_1080

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Week of March 21, 2021
Scripture: John 12:20-33

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
(John 12:24, NRSV)

Devotion

Praise God, we are promised new life.

From the microcosm of a literal grain of wheat to the macrocosm of the entire arc of the universe, new life is a repeated promise coming from Scripture and from the mouth of Jesus. Thank God for that.

But ... this new life comes via a process. It is not handed to us. It is birthed through us. We are one thing, and then we become another, and the process of transformation involves letting go as well as taking on.

The hull around a grain of wheat is a necessary protection. There is nothing inherently wrong with that hull. However, if it remains intact, the grain stays as it is – one grain. But if the grain of wheat is placed in moist earth, that earth will soften it and nourish its insides, and with the blessing of sunshine, a completely new thing will burst forth in time.

God is that moist earth. And what we seek to create as worship artists is an opportunity for planting. We use everything at our disposal – visual arrangements, music, liturgy, poetry, scent, movement, sacred objects – to prepare the soil, and then we get out of the way and let God do what God does best in the lives of our congregations and in us.

Praise God, we are promised new life.

Prayer

O God, we thank you for your promises. We trust you; help us trust you more. Help us be willing to be changed by you. To you be all glory. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: katerinavulcova / Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  168 Hits
  0 Comments
168 Hits
0 Comments

Look At What Bit You

4-See_1080

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Week of March 14, 2021
Scripture: Numbers 21:4-9

And the Lord said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live." So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
(Numbers 21:8-9, NRSV)

Devotion

We are in the middle of Lent, a time of self-reflection and preparation of the heart. One of the time-honored ways to open up to growth is loosely illustrated in the verses above: Look at what bit you.

Self-examination can be a very unsettling thing, if we really dig into it, because the human heart is sneaky and can even hide itself from itself. But knowing ourselves and knowing God are intertwined endeavors.

God made us and knows us fully. Nothing is hidden from God, though at times much is hidden from us. To go on an inward journey alone is a dangerous proposition, but if we ask for God's companionship and wisdom, it can become a blessed and transformational pilgrimage. Not without difficult terrain, certainly, but examining what bites us and where we stumble can ultimately lead us closer to ourselves and closer to God, who loves so dearly our very human hearts.

Prayer

God, be with me in my deepest self. Shine light for me and accompany me. I want to be closer to you. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Gerd Altmann / Pexels

 

Continue reading
  169 Hits
  0 Comments
169 Hits
0 Comments

Outside

3-Sky_1080

Third Sunday in Lent

Week of March 7, 2021
Scripture: Psalm 19

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
(Psalm 19:1-4, NRSV)

Devotion

I have a spiritual practice I'd like to encourage us all to follow for the rest of Lent: to practice fasting from being indoors all the time.

I know that suggestion assumes a lot, and maybe you personally are taking wonderful advantage of the outdoors, but my life has become very home-centered, and the amount of work to be done in the home has gone up because everyone is here all the time, so I can safely say I am not spending enough time outside.

We need to be outside. The psalmist tells us that the heavens are conveying to us the glory of God, that the firmament (what a lovely word for sky!) is shouting God's creativity, and that this is happening day and night, silently, all around the world. We need to be out there to witness this! As never before, we need to immerse ourselves in God. No better way than to be outside.

Please consider this a practice for the rest of Lent. It can be a daily stroll around the block, a few minutes seated in your yard or nearby park, or a planned visit to somewhere pretty, but get outside, day and night. Creation has something to tell us, and we need to get out there and hear it for ourselves.

Prayer

God, your creation is wondrous. Help us to witness it for ourselves. We ask that you speak to us through all you have made, and we ask for ears to hear. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Yuting Gao / Pexels

 

Continue reading
  172 Hits
  0 Comments
172 Hits
0 Comments

Teach Us

2-Sign_1080

Second Sunday in Lent

Week of February 28, 2021
Scripture: Mark 8:31-38

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
(Mark 8:31-33, NRSV)

Devotion

I don't want to be called names by Jesus, but I do want to know when I am setting my mind on human things rather than divine.

Everything is different from how we thought it would be a year ago. I think that's pretty safe to say. And I bet I'm not the only one who occasionally has a desire to tell God how this ought to go. It ought not to be this way. It ought to be another way. Whatever lessons come from this unprecedented time, we ought not to have had to learn them this way. And so on and so on.

We don't get to write this entire story, though. We only get to write a small part – our part, our response, our behavior and practices.

We need to set our minds on divine things, and then set them again, and then set them yet again. We need to say, "We don't know. Teach us."

And then we need to be willing to learn.

Prayer

God, help us to embrace the lessons you want us to learn. Help us set our minds and hearts on divine things and then wait for your leading. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Carolyn / Pexels

 

Continue reading
  169 Hits
  0 Comments
169 Hits
0 Comments

Return

1-Compass_1080

Ash Wednesday

February 17, 2021
Scripture: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.
(Joel 2:12-13a, NRSV)

Devotion

Today is Ash Wednesday. In a year that has felt like a prolonged Lent, we are now going to observe actual Lent.

I have always loved Ash Wednesday. I have felt in my bones the "with-ness" of God in the closeness of the pastor as they speak of mortality and impose ashes on my forehead. I always keep my eyes open during this ritual. This person is giving me bad news, in a way, but is very close to me while giving it. This unusual closeness of a person who is not part of my family feels comforting somehow. Things are difficult, they might get harder, but I am not alone in that moment.

Such is life with God. Things are difficult, they might get harder, but we are never alone.

In the passage from Joel, we are being encouraged to return to God with all our hearts, by whatever means work for us. Returning means we have been wandering in the wrong direction, and of course we have. When ever have we had more on our plates, professionally and personally and collectively?

It is Lent. The days are lengthening, the Northern Hemisphere is turning its energies toward growth, toward new life. We have gotten distracted, and we are now invited to refocus. To return to God with all our hearts. To release our death grip on trying to make things like they used to be, including ourselves. To receive new life.

Let us return, release, and receive together.

Prayer

O God, help us to step into this new season with open hearts, that we may release all that is not essential and receive new life from your loving hands. Amen..

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Bakr Magrabi / Pexels

 

Continue reading
  155 Hits
  0 Comments
155 Hits
0 Comments

Transformation

6-Rainbow_1080

Transfiguration Sunday

Week of February 14, 2021
Scripture: Mark 9:2-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
(Mark 9:2-6, NRSV)

Devotion

The Transfiguration was a thin place. The veil between worlds was thin at that point, and according to Mark, the witnesses found this to be terrifying.

I want it to have been thrilling and wonderful. I want it to read, "and it changed the disciples' lives, and they went on to do great things, unhampered anymore by fear of anything, because they knew the truth and the truth sustained them evermore." But no, we are told clearly β€” they were terrified.

This is the lesson I want to take away from this story: Thin places may frighten us. Transformation may be terrifying.

We pray to be changed, and we mean it, so we need to know that fear is likely to come with it. As I joked with a friend once, I thought life with God would be more rainbows and kittens, but it has far more resembled childbirth.

Be brave, my friends. As we move through this time together, be willing to be transformed. And be open to the idea that fear might not necessarily mean you are on the wrong path. It might, in fact, be the way through.

Prayer

God, give us the deep knowledge that you are present in all of our experiences. Help us to trust you and your processes, and give us loyal companions for the journey. We are grateful, God. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Matt Hardy / Pexels

 

Continue reading
  156 Hits
  0 Comments
156 Hits
0 Comments

Wholeness

5-Stars_1080

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Week of February 7, 2021
Scripture: Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
(Psalm 147:3-4, NRSV)

Devotion

What is it to be whole?

To be healed, to have your wounds bound up. What does that mean?

We know we are broken, in general, but we are fractured into small pieces these days, it seems. How can we seek wholeness in this jarring, inconsistent time?

Meditate on the goodness of God.

The goodness, the love, the kindness of God.

Nurture your soul with the stories in the Bible that make your heart quicken – the stories where Jesus looks into hurting people's eyes, sees them, touches them, heals them.

Meditate on the unchanging, powerful, transforming love of God.

Because, friends, the distant, twinkling stars in the cold night air have names. God knows them. God has named them. And if God cares this much for the stars, how much more does God care for you?

God knows you. God knows what healing you need, what needs removing, what needs binding, what needs more time, what needs immediate attention. You matter to God, deeply. And you don't have to feel this for it to be true.

Go outside on the next clear night and look up. The stars matter. You matter. God, who is unchanging in goodness and love and grace, loves you, desires your wholeness, and will help you as you seek it.

Thanks be to God.

Prayer

God, here I am. Myself, in my entirety. I ask for your healing, I ask for wholeness, and I thank you for all that you are. Amen.

Lindy ThompsonLindy Thompson
Lyricist and Poet
Christ United Methodist Church
Franklin, TN 

 

Photo: Pixabay

 

Continue reading
  165 Hits
  0 Comments
165 Hits
0 Comments