Finding good in ALL things – An offering from Verlene Springer

Isaiah 49:8-9

“Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”

We live in a mixed reality.  Perfect people or perfect institutions don’t exist. Expecting perfectionism, in ourselves or others, may leave us resentful, judgmental, or dissatisfied. Jesus’ life was an example of non-judgmental inclusion. Paradoxically, the only people He seemed to exclude were those who judged and excluded others.  Our task may include a patient attempt to find the true, the good, and the beautiful part that exists in all, even the most problematic people or institutions…even ourselves.

(c) 2018 Verlene Springer


Grace falls like seed – An offering from Shawn Ashmore

Mark 4:3-9 (NRSV)

“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”


Grace falls like seed,
Scattered across terrain—

Some on wide roads,
Some between piles of gravel,
Some amongst thistle and thorn,
Some under sun-scorched beams,
Some with little to sprout,
And some in fertile earth.

How easy it is to be deceived,

More preoccupied about the quality of ground
Than the generous hands that cast life,
Drawing from a seed bag that never runs empty.

(c) 2018 Shawn Ashmore

An Offering from Lil Smith – Coming home

I am coming home.

I am coming home to celebrate the most incredible gift with you.

I wonder how I will be received.

Will there be room at the inn?

At the table?

In your heart?

Real space that looks past all my shame, all my failings, seeing me as an unblemished child in the manger wrapped in bands of cloth.

Will you look at me again this way?

This is the best gift you could give me.

I am coming home.

(c) 2017 Rev. Lil Smith

Spiritual Director and Supervisor

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 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 Elaine: Lord open my eyes to the beauty around me

I’m reminded of last Thanksgiving and the pine cones that made up the centerpiece adorning our dinner table. My granddaughter, Anna, had picked them all up off the ground in her neighborhood.

(c) Bonnie Oden
(c) Bonnie Oden

I imagine her joy and excitement in finding one, then another, snatching them up and placing them gently in her little bag. This “fruit,” fallen from the tree, became a wonderful blessing to our family, a thing of beauty for us to share.

Lord, open my eyes to the beauty around me. I don’t want to miss even one little bit.

Yesterday, I saw the first tiny, tiny buds on the Rose of Sharon bush outside my kitchen window. I anxiously await the blooms, the mixture of pink and white, as two bushes have seemingly grown together into one.

Lord, open my eyes to the beauty around me. I don’t want to miss even one little bit.

(c) 2015 Elaine Weber