Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed: Clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes that we can see
all the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.
I love this song. I first became aware of it when Pastor Rod Lyon began serving Pleasant Dale, Denton, Malcolm and Raymond UMCs. He introduced it to us as a song during worship to prepare our hearts and still our souls for listening and sharing with God. Every Sunday we would sing these words, from the first of three verses. And I came to love it! So much so that I have continued to have us sing it on Sunday mornings all these years.
It serves as an anchoring reminder to stop all that we are doing, for some moments at least, in order to center ourselves. In God’s presence. In the universe. In order to focus on that which matters most. In order to be at peace in the world. In order to be.
Listening to the news for any length of time can add to our chaos and clutter. President Trump is planning to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un again, this time in Vietnam. What outcome might we expect this time? We learn that an actor has allegedly staged his own mugging. For what purpose? We hear that the Mueller investigation may be completed soon. Can we believe it?
God, help us to clear this and other chaos and clutter from the crowded lives we lead. Gun violence. Poverty. Mental illness. Abuse that is physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual. Addiction of drugs, alcohol, sex, food, work. Neglect of children, aging parents and elders, animals, natural resources. Lack of empathy. Lack of understanding. Overindulgence. Self-centeredness. Bitterness.
As sisters and brothers in Christ gather in St. Louis this weekend from The United Methodist Church around the world, I pray that the Spirit moves through the General Conference in a mighty way and assists them in listening to and hearing one another, in speaking truth in love, in discerning God’s voice among the human. And, in voting, I pray for the delegation to be able to focus on those things that really matter.Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Earlier this week I declared a day of Sabbath rest for myself. A day to move at a little slower pace perhaps, renew my spirit, and restore a bit of order in my discombobulated life. The weather helped with my decision. Another day to stay in my jammy pants.
I made my tea, sorted and started 5 loads of laundry, then settled in at the kitchen table to read a week’s worth of newspapers and sort out the crosswords. I know I’m old school, but there’s something about thumbing through the pages to find my favorite columns … and supporting the neighbor girls’ college funds … that I like.
While reading one of Cindy Lange-Kubick’s articles featuring the first African American to open a barber shop in Lincoln, I heard a thud. Having heard this kind of thud before, I looked outside. There on our deck, lay a baby bird, still as could be, beginning to be blanketed by snowflakes. (Just to be clear, I refer to many little ones as “babies” even though they may be fully grown.)
I quickly finished reading about Mr. Otha Wade, then scooped up the baby who had tried flying through our patio door. I blew the snow off and kept this little one warm in my hands for ten minutes before realizing I was getting cold myself. I placed him/her on the ledge, close to the house and out of the still falling snow. I checked on my baby every few minutes, making note of progress. Feathers puffed out for warmth. Rocking while breathing. Left eye beginning to open. After 30 minutes, baby was on her feet. Still rocking. I snapped a photo, moved in closer for a less blurry shot, and little bird decided she/he was strong enough to fly to the nearest tree for further rehab.
I checked on him/her every 15 minutes or so as I continued the laundry and brought order to various living spaces. Ninety minutes she sat on the same branch of the plum tree. And then, gone! Straight to Mr. Pat’s closest bird feeder, gathering seeds in order to carry on through whatever might come along.
Lord of the Sabbath, you have created us and all of creation to need rest, for our renewal and restoration. Help us to claim Sabbath for ourselves. May we see you at work in the lives of your creatures and in creation. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
I’ll be honest, music is important to me. Music has always been important to me, it seems. Certain songs remind me of particular times in my life. Like those songs from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s that I identify as “swimming pool songs” because that’s what was on the radio and blared over the loudspeaker when I was a pre-teen and young teenager at the pool.
Of course, there were the “high school romance songs” played at school dances or in the car on dates. Back in the day, music on cassette or 8-track tapes could really set the mood.
Crossover pop and country music has been with me for much of my life. I remember us kids crooning with Dad in the pickup to Elvis, Johnny Cash, Waylon and Willy, among others. “Dad’s babysitting songs” you might call them, since we were with Dad on Saturdays and summer days when Mom was working at the beauty shop. After I was married, country music provided my own “Saturday work songs” for cleaning house, washing clothes, or outside projects.
Worship music has been with me for much of my life, too. I must admit that worship music is extremely important to me. Traditional hymns, contemporary praise music, and less contemporary praise music. Probably, I spend more time than I should selecting music for our worship services. Oh, well!
The three chosen for today are a case in point. “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty” is one I vividly remember singing as a young girl at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Davenport. Communion Sunday with the sanctuary filled … full pipe organ … what a beautiful sound!
“Would you come and follow me if I but call your name?” When I played and sang for the first time these words of “The Summons,” I burst into tears. I had been discerning my call, listening for God, when I came to these words in a new worship book called The Faith We Sing. Through my tears and this song, God spoke loudly and clearly.
And “Grace Alone” … what can I say? Every promise, prayer, step of faith, mountain, ray of hope, soul, heart, loving word, tear, everything … is only by God’s grace. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Yay, Yay, Yay! After ten days or so, I seem to be over my sickies! And even though Mr. Pat managed to catch whatever it was that I had, he seems to be getting over his crud as well. Wonderful!
While I am no longer blowing my nose every five minutes nor coughing non-stop, I seem to be scrambling this week to feel caught up with my work. It could have something to do with those pesky statistical tables that were due by January 31. Sometimes the number compilations go pretty smoothly. Other times, not so much.
At any rate, I am experiencing scattered thoughts again this week, and so I will ponder only a little while. And spare you some suffering!
Healer God, thank you for healing our bodies. Protector God, thank you for creating our bodies in such a way that we are shielded from most germs and infections that would attempt to bring us down. Help us to set apart some time each day to be alone with you. To un-scramble. To un-scatter. To de-stress.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Pastor Pat Norris
Something to Ponder is by Pastor Pat and is printed on the back of the bulletin each week.