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Little foxes in the vineyard… the straw that broke the camels back… remind us of how “insignificant” things can become overwhelming. No major disasters or disappointments… just those pesky details that refuse to fall into place. We’ve all had those days. I’m actually having one of those days today!

And then comes yet another a reminder. Oh wait, this is a reminder to pray for unity. It is this reminder that invites me to step away from the minor mishaps and step into the community that is ours through prayer.

“Eternal Creator; immortal, invisible, God only wise:

With these words, we quiet ourselves before you again with awe and reverence.

We thank you for this day, a day that is new and fresh, a day we do not deserve,

but a day you have given us. We praise you for your graciousness

and your steadfast and generous love…”

As I continued reading aloud, I notice my rushing thoughts beginning to settle. As I lift up words of confession and proclamation, I imagined my voice joining a chorus of other voices who are willing to stop for a moment to lift up a prayer for unity.

This prayer may not result in everyone turning weapons into plowshares, but it has ushered me into a moment of stillness, of sacredness, and a moment to pray for the greater good… and maybe that is how unity begins…

Pastor Jo

January 25, 2022

Day of Prayer for Unity

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I purchased this box of Colors of the World for one reason – the reminder that they are “non-toxic.”

I’ve visited a few museums, I’ve read a few books, I’ve had conversations, but none of that fully opens my mind to what it means to be hated and feared simply because of the color of my skin.

In The Gospel According to John 2:1-11 we are told of Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine. This wasn’t done merely as an introduction to what Jesus could do or setting the stage for more miracles. This was done so that a family woul

d not experience shame and disgrace. We mustn’t forget that it was Mary, the mother of Jesus, who stood in front of that shame and provided another way: “Do what he tells you.”

We try to make it so complicated, but if we truly heed the words of Mary we will respond with love because Jesus tells us to love our neighbors and our enemies, we will respond with compassion because Jesus tells us to care for one another. We will respond with grace because Jesus tells us that how we treat one another is how we treat him.

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pastor Jo

January 17, 2022

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

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Which is worse - being overwhelmed or being underwhelmed?

What about when what overwhelms us is underwhelming? defines overwhelm as, "To load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything,’ and defines underwhelm as, “To fail to interest or astonish.”

We’re barely into 2022 and many are already feeling overwhelmed by so much that is underwhelming.

In his book, The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson argues that constantly feeling overwhelmed by our schedules can be a sign of inattentiveness. He suggests that we’re overwhelmed by our schedules because we don’t take the time to establish values or set goals – we allow others to do it for us, “then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half-dozen different demands.” (I argue this is true for all of us, not just pastors.)

Peterson suggests that we cannot be busy and pray because when we are busy, we are inwardly rushed and distracted. We can, however, be active and pray. This suggests that there is purpose and intentionality. And who doesn’t want to live a life of purpose and intentionality?

Granted, there will always be tasks that are both underwhelming and necessary. There will always be days when we feel overwhelmed. And… there will always be time to take a deep breath and whisper a prayer. Who knows, by beginning each day with a time of prayer and reflection, we just might find that we spend the day overwhelmed by God’s mercy and grace.

Pastor Jo

January 6, 2022

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