Dearly Loved

First Week of Lent
February 21, 2021

Opening
Lord, as we draw close to you in these moments, quiet us from all the noise within and from without. Stir us with your presence. Quicken us to hear your voice. Deepen your words, your truth, your love within us.

Reflection
Because of the pandemic and the layers of suffering that this last year has brought, we may feel more scattered than we normally do. We may find we have less energy, and fewer inner resources to draw upon. We may feel enshrouded in grief because there has just been too much. So before continuing, I invite us to just to take a few deep breaths for a moment or two… As we continue to breathe deeply, we enter the Lenten journey once again, reminded of how very deeply we are loved. Jesus not only meets us where we are, but He enters into our human story, and into the very fabric of our lives. As we accompany Jesus on his way to the cross, and then to the empty tomb, may we remember our tears are on His face. So as we journey with the One who loves us beyond our understanding May we be deeply moved and changed by it. May God’s grace heal, restore, and transform us again and again.

Invitation
Read the scripture through slowly a few times. The second time, notice the word or phrase to which where you are drawn. The third time, reflect on how this word or phrase speaks to your life right now.

Scripture: Mark 1:9-15
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

Prayer of Response
Our Dearly Loved Parent,
Just as you named Jesus
as your dearly loved Son,
so you name us as your dearly loved
daughters and sons, because of Him.
Just as Jesus went through trying times,
so do we, and sometimes
they rock us to our very core.
Help us to remember always
that Jesus went before us,
that your Spirit lives within us,
And that you do name us
as your dearly loved.
May that unfathomable blessing
and the gift of
Your Triune companionship
remain within us in our very core,
from where we can draw strength and peace.
May we live from this identity
and reflect you in it,
as we seek to follow you
in all our ways.
Amen.

Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff,
Founder and Executive Director

Beginning Again

Ash Wednesday
February 17, 2021

Opening
Lord, as I sit here with you, please quiet my heart and mind. I come as I am, inwardly jumbled from too many things. Awaken me to your presence within and around me. May I rest in you as I listen and follow where you lead.


Reflection
Because of the pandemic and the layers of suffering that this last year has brought, we may feel more scattered than we normally do. We may find we have less energy, fewer inner resources to draw upon. We may feel enshrouded in grief because there has just been too much. So before continuing, I invite us to just to take a few deep breaths for a moment or two… As we continue to breathe deeply, we enter the Lenten journey once again, reminded of how very deeply we are loved. Jesus not only meets us where we are, but He enters into our human story, and into the very fabric of our lives. As we accompany Jesus on his way to the cross, and then to the empty tomb, may we remember our tears are on His face. So as we journey with the One who loves us beyond our understanding May we be deeply moved and changed by it. May God’s grace heal, restore, and transform us again and again.


Invitation
Read the scripture through slowly a couple of times. Pause where you are drawn.

Scripture: Psalm 51:1-2, 10-12
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.

Prayer of Response
Gracious God, we are broken within from all that has been. Overwhelmed and wrapped up by our own cares, we lose sight and connection with you,
who is our “refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” Forgive us. Heal us. Reconnect us with you, that we may move beyond ourselves, hearing you not only from within, but also from without- through the people in need right in front of us. You come to us through them. Help us to love as You love, to care as You care, to reach out in all the ways that You do. Help us to be true living, loving reflections of you, in thought, word, and deed. Deepen our awareness of you and please keep us rooted there.

Amen.

Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff,
Founder and Executive Director

Mary Did You Know?

Mary Did You Know?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby you kiss the face of God

Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, The dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, The praises of the Lamb
Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great, I Am

Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)
Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)
Mary, did you know? Oh

Source: Musixmatch Songwriters: Greene Lee Rufus / Lowry Mark Alan
Mary, Did You Know? lyrics © Greensleeves Publishing Limited, Rufus Music, Word Music, Llc

 

Christmas Joy

Christmas Joy
Today, on this Christmas morn, we celebrate our great joy with the words of this Christmas hymn by Rev. David Bjorlin. Again, you are invited to read the text slowly and prayerfully. Notice what word or phrase you are drawn to, and offer it as a prayer to God.

Light is Kindled in the Darkness
Light is kindled in the darkness
when our hope seems most absurd,
beacons through a shrouded future,
pledges of Christ’s steadfast word;
gifts of goodness yet enfold us-
all around, beneath, above-
signs of beauty still persisting,
symbols of God’s constant love.

Though the wrong appears victorious-
vi’lence, prejudice, and pride-
hope still rises from the wreckage;
joy and grief stand side by side.
We will feel both pain and promise,
terror’s sting and love’s new birth,
as we walk in light and shadow
on God’s blessed and bleeding earth.

Raise your candle in the darkness,
though the wick of faith burns low.
Feed the fire with grace and justice
and in wonder watch it grow.
As we gather flames together,
till they shine with warmth and light,
God dispels the night of hatred,
and the blaze of love burns bright.

Text written by Rev. David Bjorlin © 2017 GIA Publications, Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101

Come Now, O God, When Our Love is Forsaken

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Come Now, O God, When Our Love is Forsaken
Come now, O God, when our love is forsaken.
Come, when our bedrock of faith has been shaken.
Come, when our deepest of hopes are mistaken.
Come, Emmanuel.
Come, Emmanuel.

Come, when we squander the freedom you gave us.
Come, break the systems of sin that enslave us.
Come, though we wonder if you can still save us.
Come, Emmanuel.
Come, Emmanuel.

Come, lead us out of our self-serving madness.
Come, while the world is enshrouded in sadness.
Come, turn the tears of our mourning to gladness.
Come, Emmanuel.
Come, Emmanuel.

Text written by Rev. David Bjorlin © (c) 2018, GIA Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101

The Prophets Caught a Vision

Third Sunday of Advent

 

The Prophets Caught a Vision
The prophets caught a vision
too thrilling to ignore
of children leading nations
no longer armed for war,
of weapons used for planting
and wolf and lamb at play,
of wild things all conspiring,
Preparing God’s own way

The prophets sought a vision,
a dream of God’s own reign
where peace embraces justice
and joy eclipses pain.
and though such dreams seem useless
their purposes grow clear:
to free minds long held captive
and loose hearts gripped by fear.

God, grow in us a vision
beyond our common dreams
that wakes imaginations
asleep in selfish schemes.
Then rising up together,
your vision as our goal,
we work toward that great promise
a shattered world made whole.

Text written by Dr. Rev. David Bjorlin © 2020 GIA Publications, Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101

 

Prepare the Way with Quietness

Prepare the way with quietness,
a stillness in the storm,
that will not speak the wounding words
that cheapen or deform.

Prepare the way with hopeful words
some mock but others crave,
that makes the empire flinch in fear
and turn the fearful brave.

Prepare the way through holding back
while others grasp or strain
for unjust wealth and untamed power
that add to human pain.

Prepare the way with fervent love
that tears down walls of hate
and reconstructs a kinder world
that justice can create.

Prepare the way until we reach
the dawn of that new day
when all our paths converge in Christ
and we have found our way.

Text written by Rev. David Bjorlin, 1984 © 2020 GIA Publications, Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101

Advent Begins in the Darkness of Night

Advent begins in the darkness of night,
waiting and watching for signs of a light,
walking in faith that a path will appear,
daring to follow in spite of our fear.

Advent begins with our dreams yet deferred.
love sounds ridiculous, prayer seems absurd.
but in the midst of life’s centerless maze,
we lift together our protest of praise.

Advent begins in oppression’s domain
marked by the cries of confusion and pain.
Yet hope is kindled where justice is done,
mercy is nurtured and peace is begun.

Advent goes on till the promised dawn breaks,
tyrants are toppled, and God’s dream awakes.
Hope is perfected and faith is made sight.
Love is our center and Christ is our Light.

Text written by Dr. Rev. David Bjorlin © 2017 GIA Publications, Inc.
https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/protest-and-praise-print-g10101

Grieving

There is so much to grieve in 2020 on multiple levels including Covid. This is for all who have been touched by loss and are grieving.

Grieving

Grieving

Heart- break-ing

Sobbing

Wailing

Yearning

Longing

Searching

Stretching

Releasing

Reaching

Being

Reached

Reassured

Loved

Held

Comforted

By the Divine One 

whose heart and arms

holds it all.

By Rev. Eva Sullivan-Knoff

© Nov 2020