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The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts

With Great Love

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Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Week of July 11, 2021
Scripture: Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it ...
(Psalm 24:1, NRSV)

Devotion

The earth belongs to God! Everything on, in, and around the earth belongs to God! The whole world, and all the plants and animals and people who live in it, belong to God!

This is good news. God is trustworthy, and God provides. Plus God is astoundingly imaginative and into intricate detail. We are fortunate indeed.

I want all things to belong to God. It is too much for my frail frame to try to control just the parts of the world within my immediate reach. I can't fathom the idea of claiming ownership of anything past that.

At the same time, I do want to contribute. I don't believe that "God's got this" and I can go chill out in a hammock somewhere. It doesn't work like that.

God made the world.
God loves the world.
God made me.
God loves me.
I love God back.
I want to do what God wants me to do.
God wants me to love what God loves.
So I try to love the world.

A big job, and it doesn't seem possible – what can I do? – but then I remember the wisdom of Mother Teresa, who certainly exemplified loving God's world:

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."

Yes. We can. Thanks be to God.

Prayer

Loving God, fill us with your patience and perception, that we may do small things with great love. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Andreea Simion / Pexels

 

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Imposter Syndrome

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Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of July 4, 2021
Scripture: Mark 6:1-13

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
(Mark 6:1-3, NRSV)

Devotion

We are told in the New Testament that the members of the Body of Christ are all given gifts. We need to start believing that. Speaking for me personally, it took me years to believe I had a gift.

I kept thinking all the things: I'm not good enough; everything good has already been written. It's egotistical to share my writing. I'm just a homeschooling mom with no theological degree – who do I think I am?

News flash: I am a child of God who was promised a gift and given one. And so are you.

You may think you are ordinary you, and actually you are – I am, too – but you are ALSO a beloved child of the Creator of the universe, and you have been given gifts that are intended to be used to build up the Body of Christ, and you need to go use them.

Please let me save you some time. Yes, that thing you wonder about, that talent over which you mumble, "surely not" ... yes, that is a God-given gift and God wants you to use it.

In line with justice, in a spirit of kindness, and while walking with God – use that gift! The world needs you.

Prayer

God, please give me the discernment to recognize the gifts you have given me and the courage to use them. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Lumix2004 / Pixabay

 

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Healing

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Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Week of June 27, 2021
Scripture: Mark 5:21-43

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, 'Who touched me?'" He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
(Mark 5:24-34, NRSV)

Devotion

A first person imaginative re-telling of this story:

There were so many people, but by that point I didn't care. My son was 12 years old, almost a man, and I had never stopped bleeding since his birth. Twelve long years of shame, hiding, being ostracized. No temple, no gatherings for me. Just life alone, coping as best I could.

I knew the doctors would be no help but my parents insisted. They were embarrassed and wanted things back how they used to be. Their "treatments" almost killed me, but I had to pay for them anyway, and that was it for my small savings. It was hand to mouth after that.

I had been hearing stories about the wandering healer. A man of God, they said, but I didn't even care – I just wanted my life back. He was traveling through town and people were coming up to him and begging to be healed. I was watching from a distance and I could not take my eyes off him. I kept expecting him to be impatient – he was hardly able to move at all for the press of people – but, no, he spoke to each person who approached him, and with some he cradled their face with his hands as he spoke – oh, the memories that stirred in me! To be touched like that!

I knew I could not possibly be that brave, but I also knew I was going to approach him one way or another. What did I have to lose? I put my head down and pushed through the crowd until I was just behind him, then I dropped to the ground, crawled forward, grabbed the hem of his garment and squeezed my eyes shut for just a second. I let go immediately and the crowd surged forward, but a few paces on he stopped.

I heard him ask, "Who touched me?" Everybody was touching him; what was he talking about? I wasn't paying attention, though – I was still on my knees, halfway up from crawling, and I was feeling really strange. It felt like there was cool water washing over me, again and again, each surge leaving me feeling stronger and cleaner and more whole. He was still asking who had touched him – he seemed to sense my healing taking place – so with unexpected bravery I stood up, pushed my way through the crowd, and fell at his feet, shaking with shock and gratitude. I told him everything, right there in front of all those men, and he smiled at me and extended a hand to lift me to standing. We talked for several more minutes, and then he cradled my face with his hands and said, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."

That's it. That's my story. I was healed, and he was the one who made it happen. My life was never the same again. I will be forever grateful.

Prayer

Heal us, Emmanuel. Heal us. We need you so badly. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Manuel Darío Fuentes Hernández / Pixabay

 

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Enough

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Fourth Sunday after Pentecost / Father's Day

Week of June 20, 2021
Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul's sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, "I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them." So David removed them. Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd's bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.
(1 Samuel 17:38-40, NRSV)

Devotion

There is an optimal way to be, for each of us, but these ways differ. What protects one person and makes them feel safe may be stifling for another. In fact, what protected you in an earlier phase of your life may now be a coat of mail, keeping you from walking.

Different things are useful at different times. There are times when we need that chain mail and we strap that puppy on and we are kept safe from those who do not wish us well. Maturity is knowing when to put it on and when to take it off.

The spiritual journey is about learning how to be in your own skin and recognizing the gifts God has placed in your hands.

When you are yourself, no more and no less, you are most open to the movement of God. You are at your most teachable and transformable. This is prayer. This is worship. This is God in us and us in God.

May we, as worship artists, use whatever God has placed in our hands to create moments where people can just be in their skin before God and know that that is enough. That they, that we, are precious, that we are loved, and that we are enough.

Prayer

The me that I am is all you want, God. May I offer that to you, over and over, and may I always use the gifts you have given me to your glory. Amen.

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

 

Photo: Jackson David / Pexels

 

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Get It?

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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. 🙂 )

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. 🙂 )

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

 

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Eternal

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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

 

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A Far Better World

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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 — 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

 

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Fire

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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

 

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Enlightened

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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

 

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Sing!

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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

 

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Beyond Fear

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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)

 

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My Shepherd

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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 Górecki / Pixabay

 

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Pause

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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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