An offering from Elaine: May Christ be our light!

Isaiah 11:6-9

Edward_Hicks-peaceablekingdom 3
Peaceable Kingdom, Edward Hicks

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.

Sadly, these verses do not reflect the world in which we live. In this season of hope, let us pray for an end to violence, hatred, greed, and poverty, and for a stronger outpouring of love, kindness, gentleness, and peace. May Christ be our light!

Elaine Weber
SMI Board of Directors
Technology & Communications Chair

An offering from Lil: Hope that we choose real life

 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish.  Luke 21: 17-18

(c) Bonnie Oden
(c) Bonnie Oden

I can’t remember a time when the coming of Advent has been so welcome.  Hope for a world in chaos.  Hope that God is creating something new in the midst of hatred, despair and judgment.  Hope that our pointing fingers at one another will be replaced with open arms to embrace a new peace that we have never known before.  Hope that those with ears to hear and eyes to see will not be deceived and will hear your voice and see your face in the stranger.  Hope that we choose real life.

O Holy One of hope, we pray that this time of waiting will prepare us for the new creation you have for the world.  We pray that we are wide awake to recognize you in the midst of the chaos around us.  In the name of the Coming One we pray.  AMEN

Rev. Lil Smith

SMI Seminary Liaison

Spiritual Director and Supervisor

(c) 2015 Rev. Lil Smith

An offering from Eunice: Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. (Matthew 24)

Most adults have no trouble connecting the four weeks of Advent with preparation.  candle-of-hopeLikewise, most children have no trouble connecting these weeks with anticipation and waiting.  But what are we really preparing for?  What it is that we are anticipating and waiting for?  Christ has already been born!  Spiritual preparation in Advent is about preparing our hearts to change so that we can recognize Christ’s presence in the here and now, in faces of ourselves and others, in the blessings we have and in the faces of those who have not.  This can enable us to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ in glory by working for peace and justice, by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and clothing the naked.

Let us prepare with joy and peace in our hearts this season.

Eunice Cheshire

HeartPaths DFW

Spiritual Director

An offering from Donnie: Rejoice!

A few evenings ago my small part of North Texas was blessed with an almost unheard of late June rain storm. As the rain fell, I went out to sit in our covered patio to enjoy the air cooled by the rain and experience the night sky lit up by cloud to cloud lightning.

(c) Bonnie Oden
(c) Bonnie Oden

The thunder rolled almost continually and made me think that was what the author of Rip Van Winkle was describing as playing ‘nine pin’. Was God enjoying the game of lawn bowling and sharing it with North Texas? My preference was to think ‘yes’ and reveal in the thought.

As I sat enjoying this gift, I was reminded of Paul’s message to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice!” And I did just that, I rejoiced in the fire flies that flitted nearby, in the peepers serenading the damp night and thought of the other creatures living in my back yard, taking shelter from the rain. I was left with an attitude of gratitude for God’s generosity in his creation.

Paul continues to say…”whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Once we have learned this lesson of positive thinking and practice it with diligence, God’s peace will be ours. Rejoice!

 

Thank you, Holy One,

For the surprising ways

You choose to visit my life,

May I be open to your messengers.

Joyce Rupp

(c) 2015 Donnie Hawley

An offering from Debra: Hanging on…

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-6

(c) Bonnie Oden
(c) Bonnie Oden

Ahhhh.  The beauty of Lectio Divina.  When I first saw this photo I was turned off.  I’m not a fan of rodents, even “cute” little ones like this chipmunk.  But as I sat with it, I began to notice and think about other things.  Like the leafless twig-like structures permeating the landscape.  And the seeming impossibility of one of them being able to hold the weight of the chipmunk on its tip.  And the lone wildflower blossom decorating the scene.  I thought about the weight of my own burdens and how sometimes I think they’re impossible to carry.  And then I remember I don’t have to.  I remember the quiet strength of the indwelling spirit and how it is always there to shore me up, no matter how fragile I feel.  I think of the “blossoms” along my path, whether they’re dear friends there to brighten my day, a healthy body  still able to do anything I ask it to do, or the joy of impending grandmotherhood.   And I think of how much I and that little chipmunk share in the grand scheme of things, of how we and all of creation are connected at the most basic level.  And for today, that’s enough.

(c) 2015 Debra Cook

An offering from Dorothy: Standing on a sturdy branch…

(c) Bonnie Oden
(c) Bonnie Oden

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-6

The image of this chipmunk spoke to me loudly about my current living situation—hanging on and carrying on. My daughter and her family have been living with us for five months. Things are tense, and there is no end in sight. The chipmunk’s situation is precarious, but he trusts in the sturdy branch on which he stands, calmly chewing away on the piece in his paws. I, too, stand on a Sturdy Branch, One that will hold me up in the midst of the chaos of my life. The chipmunk reminds me to “be anxious for nothing “ (Phil. 4:6) and to “rejoice in the Lord.” He knows what all of this is about, even if I don’t. That knowledge builds my trust and lightens my load. My thanks to the chipmunk for the needed reminder.

(c) 2015 Dorothy Castle

An offering from Lil: With all my heart…

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  – Mark 12:28-31

Love first. Because I was first loved.

(c) Bonnie Oden
(c) Bonnie Oden

Love God.  Because God first loved me.

Love with my heart.  Because my heart is God.

Love with  my soul.  Because my soul is Spirit.

Love with my mind.  Because I choose the mind of Christ.

Love my neighbor.  Because I am one with my neighbor.

Love yesterday.  Love today.  Love tomorrow.

And the greatest of these is love.

(c) 2015 Rev. Lil Smith