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The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts

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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

 

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Peace Be

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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

 

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Resurrection!

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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

 

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The Truth

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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

 

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In Your Hand

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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

 

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New Life

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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

 

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Look At What Bit You

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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

 

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Outside

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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

 

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Teach Us

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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

 

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Return

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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

 

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Transformation

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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 — 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

 

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Wholeness

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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

 

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Balance

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Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Week of January 31, 2021
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
(1 Corinthians 8:1b, NRSV)

Devotion

Well now, this is a tricky one for me because you should see my bookshelves. Not only have I been an avid reader all my life but I have also homeschooled three children. I asked for and received IKEA bookshelves last Christmas and I talked about them for months. I loooove books and learning and teaching.

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. How to make sense of this?

I think the answer lies in a place of struggle for me and for many: balance.

God has never implied that we should check our brains at the church door. God invented thinking; thinking is good! But without the balancing leaven of a generous amount of love, knowledge will not come to a good end, will not nurture or be fruitful. Knowledge alone is not enough.

Do you ever find it easier to read about God than to actually quiet your soul and be with God? I do. I can read all day and learn and ponder, but I sometimes meet internal resistance when I go to spend time with God alone. Really being with God requires me to let some things I am holding fall away, and it stings as they go and I can feel it. To move from my walking-around working self to my contemplative, open self is temporarily uncomfortable. But the opening of my heart to God is the most important thing I do, and the more often I do it, the easier it becomes and the less I have to let go of. Opening to the love of God is what enables knowledge to be used to change the world.

Blessings on us as we learn, blessings on us as we love, and may we all be led toward balance.

Prayer

God, we ask that you weave knowledge and love together in our hearts so that we may be your instruments of change in the world. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Pixabay

 

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Say It

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Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Week of January 24, 2021
Scripture: Psalm 62:5-12

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
(Psalm 62:8, NRSV)

Devotion

I distinctly remember being at a youth retreat in high school and someone asking the leader if it was OK to use strong language when praying. The leader said yes, absolutely, talk to God in whatever way you would talk to a friend.

I remember being surprised because, though I was not exactly thee and thou-ing, I was pretty formal in my prayers, and I was so relieved to hear that I could let it out a notch and be a little more relaxed in my speech.

Depending on who you are, strong language may mean cuss words or it may just mean THE TRUTH. Either way, I am willing to bet God is getting quite an earful these days.

We are encouraged by the psalmist to pour out our hearts before God because God is a refuge for us, a place of warmth and safety. For many of us, this is more important than ever before because we are processing so much at once. If I'm dealing with this, I'm not dealing with that, and the inflow never stops, and friends, it's too much.

So please take this as your gentle reminder – it is vital that you pour out your heart to God. As I have said before, God loves you and is listening. God is trustworthy and God is our refuge. Thanks be to God.

Prayer

God, thank you for always being with us and for us. We love you; to you be all praise and glory. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Alexas Fotos / Pixabay

 

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Listen

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Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Week of January 17, 2021
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)

Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'"
(1 Samuel 3:8b-9, NRSV)

Devotion

God is calling us.

I do not presume to know in what way God is calling you. I have all I can say grace over trying to figure out my own life. But I do know that God is calling us all.

What if we adopted the phrase, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening"? What if we used it as a prayer practice for a week? What might we learn?

We watch the news on TV. We pray, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening," and then we turn off the TV and sit in silence and listen.

We have a disagreement with someone we love. They get on our nerves. We take ourselves apart for just a second (the pantry is nearby, that will do) and we pray, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." Then we do nothing but breathe for 30 seconds and we listen.

The Zoom meeting goes long and the same person monopolizes the conversation and the same feeling of "I can't do this much longer" washes over us and we take a bathroom break and whisper, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening" and stay in there an extra minute in silence, listening.

I don't know what you will hear. I don't know what I will hear. But I know we will hear nothing if we do not take a few seconds to stop speaking and listen.

Prayer

God, we long to be faithful disciples.

We want to be who you want us to be and do what you want us to do.

Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.

Amen.

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

 

Photo: Pixabay

 

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Beginning

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Baptism of the Lord

Week of January 10, 2021
Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth ...
(Genesis 1:1, NRSV)

Devotion

"In the beginning when God ..."

There was a beginning to creation. A before and an after. A not-yet-existing and a look-there-it-is. However this world came to be, there was a before-it-started.

There was no beginning to God.

We don't have words to describe the eternity of God's presence. We try to express ourselves through poetry, we write music, we sing and dance and paint and sculpt. We, as part of God's ongoing good creation, seek to express the wonder of God to each other and all people, and this is good and right and is a gift back to the Giver. We cannot grasp it, though. We cannot grip it. We can only commit to spiritual practices, rain or shine, and make ourselves ready and open so that when the sound of the silence of God comes in the wind or the storm or the laughter or the tears, we are present to it and feel the resonance in our bones, in our souls.

This new year offers us a new beginning. Amen to that. We humbly ask that God work through us to bring about God's will and purpose in this world, and we are thankful to do this work with each other.

Onward, friends! Happy 2021!

Prayer

O God, of whom there is no beginning and no end, be with us in this new year and use us as your vessels to do your good will and your good work. We thank you for each other and we thank you for new beginnings. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Annie Spratt / Pixabay

 

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A Different Road Entirely

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Epiphany of the Lord Sunday

Week of January 3, 2021
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12

... they left for their own country by another road.
(Matthew 2:12, NRSV)

Devotion

When God manifested Godself in a downy-headed, intense-eyed infant, God ripped away a layer of unknowing between humans and the divine. It changed everything. The world as it was, up to that point, was picked up, shaken, and put back down. For those who knew, everything was different from that moment forward. For those who did not know yet, the first ripple had begun its movement and would make itself felt in most locations at some point down the years. Whether in acceptance or rejection, whether in a teaching or an unnamed inner knowing, this ripple would affect most humans in some way from that point forward.

It's not how the people of the time thought they would be saved. It was a different road entirely from what they expected.

Today, it feels to many of us as if our worlds have been picked up and shaken. Everything is different, and there is an overlayer of pain that cannot be avoided. When so many of us are suffering at once, it is going to affect the energy everywhere. There is a collective grieving even as we acknowledge and celebrate the birth of Christ.

We are in need of an epiphany.

So. Since we are obviously not going to make it home on the road by which we came, let us commit to choosing that other road together. The Magi did not walk that new road alone – neither should we. All of us together, connected to each other through our love of Jesus and our deep desire to be vessels of God for our congregations, can set our faces toward unknown horizons, knowing there will be manna enough for everyone because it is God who leads. It is God who provides. We, together, are blessed to companion each other toward our own epiphanies.

We are not alone; we have each other, and best of all, God is with us. Alleluia, amen!

Prayer

Ready my heart for the new, O God, and set my feet on the road of your choosing. Thank you for my loyal companions, and may we care for each other as you have cared for us. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Annie Spratt / Pixabay

 

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As Is

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Christmas Eve

Week of December 24, 2020
Scripture: Psalm 96

... let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy ...
(Psalm 96:12, NRSV)

Devotion

How does a tree sing?

A tree sings by being the best tree it can – by blooming where it is planted.

A tree has no control over where it is located. All it can do is what God has created it to do – to draw deeply of the nutrition of the earth through its roots, to reach as high as it is able toward the life-giving sun. To shunt all its energy towards blossoming in the spring and conserve all its energy by letting its leaves drop in the fall.

We are 48 hours away from Christmas morning. There is still much to be done, and our hearts are missing so many things and events that weren't an option this year. We want to have the desire to sing and celebrate like we always have, and yet …

Maybe this is the year we sing like a tree – by being exactly who we are, in our not-of-our-own choosing locations, in whatever season of life we find ourselves. Reaching down into the foundation of our being for the wisdom God provides, stretching up to the sky for the hope God promises. Spending our energy on being where we are and enjoying what we encounter to the best of our abilities instead of using up our time wishing things were different.

To wish things were different right now is an expected emotion – normal, not unique to us, and completely understandable. However, let us release our grip on that desire as best we can and, right where we are planted, sing for joy with all the trees of the forest, because, do you know what?

The Lord really is coming.

Prayer

O come, o come, Emmanuel, anyway. And thank you so much for your love for us that finds us where we are and grows us to deeper wisdom and higher hope. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Daniel Spase / Pexels

 

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Peace

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

Week of December 20, 2020
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
(Luke 1:28, NRSV)

Devotion

The Lord is with you.

Wherever you are in this moment, please take a deep breath.

Sit down if you can.

Gather yourself for just a moment. Those far-flung thoughts that have zipped way ahead of you into the future, into the what-ifs, into the worst-case scenarios. Those thudding fears that keep pulling you down when you need to be thinking up, when you need to be thinking hope and love and joy, and not, “Oh no, what now?”

Gather all of yourself together in one place, just for a moment.

The Lord is with you.

The Lord is with you.

The Lord is with you.

You are not alone. You are not irreparably scattered. You are here, you are gifted, you are needed, you are cherished, you are LOVED.

Your breath calls God, and God calls back. Every minute of every day on this beautiful, troubled, holy planet.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Prayer

Holy God, be my peace, now and forevermore. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Andre Moura / Pexels

 

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With Joy

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Third Sunday of Advent

Week of December 13, 2020
Scripture: Psalm 126

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
(Psalm 126:5-6, NRSV)

Devotion

In God, nothing is wasted, nothing remains unused, and even the weeping bear seed for sowing. And their harvest shall be joy.

For this exceptionally difficult time in our world, be it viruses or every other type of unrest, it is so wonderful to be reminded that we will, indeed, come home and that our joy will be such that we will be shouting with it! That’s some impressive joy, stronger than anything that has come before, strong enough to see us home, to be our home.

The joy that is found in God through Christ is not dependent on circumstance, health, politics, or tradition. It is a response to the deep, abiding love that God has for us. As we work in our various ways as worship artists this season, making room for God to be born anew in us and in the congregations we serve, let us welcome everyone home with joy and help our congregations express their gratefulness for God’s inestimable gift in Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Jesus, joy of our desiring, please reawaken in us our awareness of you and the gift that you are to us. Please remind us of the joy that is ours just by virtue of being your children. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Jill Wellington / Pexels

 

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