Running with Mark 91

 

Day 91 – March 27, 2020

 

Read:

Deuteronomy 6:1-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Great Commandment

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 

 

What lessons do you think are most important for children to learn?

When our four sons were young, every day  I would say to them “I want you to be men of______” and they would say back, “Men of honor, excellence and integrity”.  For us honor meant that you were a person who practiced respect and that you treated others with honor.  Excellence did not mean perfection.  We are all going to make mistakes or behave poorly from time to time.  Excellence meant that we would strive to do our best.  Integrity meant that we would be people who kept our word and acted with integrity.  I used to joke with them when they were going out as teenagers, “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your grandmothers to see you doing.”

 

My greatest hope and prayer for my children and grandchildren, and for the children of Lake Harriet UMC, is that they would come to love God with all their heart, soul and might.  Then as Jesus added, “And a second command is like it – you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:39)

 

Music:

You’ve Got to Be Taught” by Rogers and Hammerstein

Mr. Rogers – It’s You I Like   This classic clip should be watched with a tissue at the ready.

 

Prayer Focus:

What lessons from childhood have helped you?  What lessons were unhealthy and you’d like to be rid of?

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins


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God is with Us 3-27-2020

Tonight’s devotion comes from Emily Thomas.  Emily is the director of the Shout Band and the By Faith Youth Band.
 

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Running with Mark 90

 

Day 90 – March 27, 2020

 

Read:

Psalm 22:1-2, 14-21 New Revised Standard Version

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Psalm 22:1

 

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.

Psalm 22:11

 

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.

Psalm 22:14, 15

 

These words, written by David, are true words of agony.  This psalm is called a “Psalm of Lament”. Lament psalms can be individual or communal.   Lament psalms take on a very specific form:

Verses 1-2 = statement of the problem (I)

Verses 3-5 = expression of confidence (I)

Verses 6-8 = statement of the problem (II)

Verses 9-11 = expression of confidence (II)

Verses 12-18 = statement of the problem (III)

Verses 19-21 = entreaty for relief (I)

Verses 22-31 = the certainty of being heard and the vow.

 

I encourage you to go through the entire psalm, and see this pattern at work.

 

The psalmist feels free to cry out to God with all of his hurt, his fears, his agony.  For Jesus, the psalms were a primary means of prayer.  He learned them when he was just a boy, and continued to draw on them in his ministry.  Jesus will pray part of this Psalm while he is hanging on the cross.  “My God, why have you forsaken me?”.  After praying this psalm, Jesus will offer more gut-wrenching prayers from the cross, until at last he says, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit”.  As the psalmist in Psalm 22 states his faith and hope in God, so too does Jesus.

 

As I prepare this devotional it is Sunday, March 22, 2020.  As of today there are 32,644 cases of COVID19 that have been tested positive.  There are of course many more people who are ill than have been tested due to the shortage of tests. Senator Rand Paul revealed that he has tested positive, and now several other senators are quarantined.  What will these counts be by the time you read this on March 27th

 

If ever there were a time to pray in the words of Psalm 22, this is the time.

So beloved, cry out to God with your whole heart.  Pour out your fears.

 

 

Music:

Nearer My God to Thee – BYU Vocal Point

Yo Yo Ma on encouraging “Songs of Comfort” amid global crisis.  PBS

 

Prayer Focus:

Christ himself understands our feeling forsaken.

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins


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Running with Mark 89

 

Day 89 – March 26, 2020

 

Watch: Here is a short introduction to PSALMS from The Bible Project.

The Bible Project – Introduction to the Psalms

 

Read:

Psalm 116:12-19 New Revised Standard Version

 

Questions to ponder:

  • Why is the psalmist so devoted to God?
  • What troubles may have emerged in the psalmist’s life?
  • What is the Cup of Salvation?
  • Is your devotion based primarily on what God has done for you? If so, what happens when something bad happens to you?

 

Music:

Do you remember this old song from church camp or Sunday school?

I Will Call Upon the Lord

 

 

 

Prayer Focus:

In the midst of these trying days, for what do you give thanks?  Talk to God about those things.

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins


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Running with Mark 88

 

Day 88 – March 25, 2020

Read:

Psalm 121

Please enjoy this video reflection of Psalm 121.  Psalm 121 – The Work of the People

 Psalm 121:7 says, “The Lord will keep you from all harm–“
What do you make of that verse when Covid19 is spreading?
As you wrestle with that question, it may be helpful for you to look at a classic piece called “Understanding the Will of God” by Leslie Weatherhead.  Weatherhead posits that there are three types of God’s will; the intentional will of God, the circumstantial will of God, and the ultimate will of God.
  1. The intentional will of God – is God’s ideal plan for humanity. This is God’s plan for wholeness, for Shalom.
  2. The circumstantial will of God – is God’s plan within certain circumstances.  I like to use the example of physics.  God created objects in motion to stay in motion, that is God’s will.  But what happens when two cars try to occupy the same intersection at the same time?  The cars crash.  It is not that God willed the crash to happen, but God did will the laws of physics.  The car accident took place not because of God’s intentional will, but because of circumstances.
  3. The ultimate will of God – is the glorious and final realization of all God’s purposes.  
 
Here’s a quote from Weatherhead: (he uses very old language that is gendered “he” for humanity)
“When a dear one dies, we call it “the will of God,” though the measures we used to prevent death could
hardly be called fighting against the will of God, and if they had been successful we should have thanked
God with deep feeling that in the recovery of that dear one his will had been done. Similarly, when
sadness, disease, and calamity overtake men they sometimes say with resignation, “God’s will be done,”
when the opposite of his will has been done. When Jesus healed men’s bodies and gladdened men’s
lives in Palestine, he was doing the will of God, not undoing or defeating it.”
 
Covid19 was not God’s intentional will.  It was caused by circumstances of this world, by the power of genes and viruses to change and mutate.  God’s ultimate will in this awful situation may be seen when humanity acts in the best ways of God.
 
Beware of bad theology!  There will be people arguing that COVID19 is God’s will, and this is not so.
 
 

Music:

I Will Lift My Eyes by Bebo Norman

Prayer Focus:

An Affirmation of Faith for Lent

We are not alone; we live in God’s world. We believe in God who has created and is creating; who has come to us in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new; who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God. We are called to be the Church, to celebrate God’s presence; to live with respect in creation; to love and serve others; to seek justice and resist evil; to proclaim Jesus’ message of hope, inclusion and grace. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

—Adapted from the United Church of Canada.

 

 

 

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins


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God is with Us – 3.24.2020

Today I took a little field trip to the Joyce Uptown Foodshelf.
Did you know that demand is up at the food shelf?  Last week on a day when typically 30 families would be served, the Joyce Uptown Food Shelf served 62 families!
 
Check out this video to see what was happening today at Joyce.
 
 
 
Please be generous in your support of organizations that are serving those in need.
www.joyceuptownfoodshelf.org 
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins
 
 

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Running with Mark 87

 

Day 87 – March 24, 2020

 

Read:

Psalm 102:12-17

Yet You, O Comforter, are ever near,

your kindness is made known to all generations;

You answer the prayers of those who cry to You.

Come! Melt every heart;

the appointed time is nigh.

Those who trust in You find solace for their souls;

tears soon turn to joy.

All who reverence and honor the Beloved,

are nourished and held by Love.

For You, O Healer, invite us to wholeness,

to be co-creators along Love’s way.

You hear the cries of the afflicted, and answer their prayer.

Yet beware! Our thoughts are also our prayers,

May they be for the well-being of all!

Music:

Compassion Hymn

 

Prayer Focus:

A Prayer of Compassion by Mother Teresa

Lord, open our eyes
that we may see you in our brothers and sisters.
Lord, open our ears
that we may hear the cries of the hungry,
the cold, the frightened, the oppressed.
Lord, open our hearts
that we may love each other as you love us.
Renew in us your spirit.
Lord, free us and make us one.
Amen 

 

 

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins


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God is with Us 3.23.2020

 

Hello Beloved,

It’s Monday night.  By now you have survived another day of working at home.  Children have probably had some homework; books to read or maybe e-learning lessons from school. 
 
Some of you have worked at hospitals, clinics, grocery stores, as letter carriers or truck drivers.  I am SO thankful for your service during this Covid19 crisis.

 

When you were little were you afraid of the dark?  My dad has some land up north, way outside of any town.  On the nights that the skies are clear, you can see beautiful stars.  But on the nights where there is cloud cover, it is so very, very dark there.  I admit that those very dark nights can be scary because you are out in the woods and don’t know exactly what’s there.

 

Tonight we are going to take a walk around my yard.  Click on the link the link and let’s walk and talk.

 

 

Let’s pray,

Holy God, my day is drawing to an end, and I’m ready to turn in. But before I do, I have to thank you for your faithfulness today. It’s always a good day, even when things may not go the way I plan, or when the world seems in chaos, because you are in control.  For all the times when I was aware of your help today, all the times when your unseen presence seemed so near, thank you, God. But for all the ways you worked behind the scenes, unknown to me, moments when heaven-sent angels moved on my behalf in ways I’ll never know, thank you for those also, Lord. Amen. 

 

~ Rebecca Barlow Jordan

 

 


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Running with Mark 86

 

Day 86 – March 23, 2020

 

Read: Psalm

Psalm 89:1-4 New Revised Standard Version

This week five of the readings from the Narrative Lectionary come from the Psalms.  Why were they chosen?  Psalms were a primary form of prayer for the Jewish community.  They continue to speak to the hopes, fears, struggles and worries of all people today.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian known for his opposition to National Socialism. His ties to the July 20, 1944, conspiracy to overthrow the Nazi regime led to his execution in 1945. His theological writings are regarded as classics throughout the Christian world.

Bonhoeffer penned these words on the Psalms:

“The Psalter is the prayer book of Jesus Christ in the truest sense of the word. He prayed the Psalter and now it has become his prayer for all time…we understand how the Psalter can be prayer to God and yet God’s own Word, precisely because here we encounter the praying Christ…because those who pray the psalms are joining in with the prayer of Jesus Christ, their prayer reaches the ears of God. Christ has become their intercessor…”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

 

As you read Psalm 89 from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying – An Invitation to Wholeness, may this be your prayer:

I will sing of your steadfast Love

            forever, my Beloved:

with forthright voice I will proclaim

your goodness to all generations.

For your abiding Love rules to the universe,

your faithfulness extends throughout the firmament.

Your Covenant from the beginning of time

encompasses all who choose to walk

the path of Love;

And to all generations that honor

your Way and your Truth

will Love make Itself known.

 

 

 

Music:

Sanctuary by Carrie Newcomer

Every Praise by Hezekiah Walker

 

Prayer Focus:

In this time of anxiety, ask God to be your Rock, your faithful One.

 

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins


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God is with Us – 3.22.2020

Hello Friends,

Many of you are at home with small children.  You are trying to parent well, work well, stay safe and sane!  You are not alone.  We see you and we honor the important things you are doing!

 

Here’s a video note from Pastor Karen:  Click on the link to see this video: 

Kids and Scripture

 

For tonight, take delight in the faith of this preschooler who is learning to recite the 23rd Psalm.  Share it with your children and encourage them to memorize Scripture, maybe not quite as long as this Scripture.  You’ll be surprised what sticks!  I can still remember attending a neighborhood VBS when I was in elementary school.  Every day there was a new Bible verse to memorize, and today, many (many, many) years later, I can still recite those verses.  They come to my mind and my heart in times of trouble.

 

Here are a few you can work on with your children this week:

Philippians 4:4 — Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Psalm 150:6 — Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Ephesians 4:32 — Be kind to one another.

Psalm 56:3 — What time I am afraid, I will trust in You.

Psalm 119:105 — Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Matthew 22:39 — You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Psalm 46:10 — Be still, and know that I am God.

 

Hang in there parents!  You are doing great!!!

Grace and peace,

 

Pastor Karen Bruins

 

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