Running with Mark 93

 

Day 93 – March 30, 2020

 

Read:

Mark 13:9-13 New Revised Standard Version

 

Before we jump in, take a listen to this rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” performed by brass players from the Minnesota Orchestra.  This was recorded at an area lake, while practicing good social distancing.  Since that time even gatherings like this are not encouraged.  But enjoy this joy break! Click on the link below.

You can shut down Orchestra Hall – but you can’t stop the music.

 

This feels like the longest Lent ever!  Lent is such an important season of the church year, as we intentionally focus on our own separation from God, and the great lengths to which God will go to close the gap.  The readings for this late in Lent are always pretty heavy.  Jesus is facing persecution by the Romans and religious leaders.  He faces betrayal by one of his own.  He will be deserted by his friends. 

 

In today’s reading Jesus is warning the disciples that these same challenges face them.

 

What challenges are you facing this Lenten season?

  • Are you home alone?
  • Worried about an elder who you cannot visit?
  • Have your hours at work been cut, or perhaps you have been furloughed?
  • Are you working from home while trying to keep your children safe, healthy and fed?
  • Are you a health care worker facing COVID 19 every day you go to work?

 

During these challenging days, let us remember to turn toward one another and toward God.  Here is a beautiful prayer that comes from the United Church of Canada.

In this time of COVID-19, we pray:
When we aren’t sure, God,
help us be calm;
when information comes
from all sides, correct and not,
help us to discern;
when fear makes it hard to breathe,
and anxiety seems to be the order of the day,
slow us down, God;
help us to reach out with our hearts,
when we can’t touch with our hands;
help us to be socially connected,
when we have to be socially distant;
help us to love as perfectly as we can,
knowing that “perfect love casts out all fear.”

For the doctors, we pray,
for the nurses, we pray,
for the technicians and the janitors and the
aides and the caregivers, we pray,
for the researchers and theorists,
the epidemiologists and investigators,
for those who are sick,
and those who are grieving, we pray,
for all who are affected,
all around the world…
we pray
for safety,
for health,
for wholeness.

May we feed the hungry,
give drink to the thirsty,
clothe the naked and house those without homes;
may we walk with those who feel they are alone,
and may we do all that we can to heal
the sick—
in spite of the epidemic,
in spite of the fear.

Help us, O God,
that we might help each other.

In the love of the Creator,
in the name of the Healer,
in the life of the Holy Spirit that is in all and with all,
we pray.

May it be so.

—A prayer during times of COVID-19 by the Right Rev. Richard Bott, originally posted on Facebook. Moderator Bott encourages the sharing of prayers he posts throughout his term.

 

Music:

How Can I Keep from Singing – Lauren Daigle

Prayer Focus:
Those of any faith, who are persecuted for their faith.

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us 3.29.2020

Tonight’s devotion is a great one for families with young children, and for the child in all of us.
Listen as Janet Bomar, Director of Children and Family Ministries shares a beautiful book called, 
“What’s in Your Mind Today?” by  Louise Bladen.  
Click on the link to listen and see tonight’s story.
 
 
Grace and peace friends,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 92

 

Day 92 – March 29, 2020

 

Read:

Mark 13:1-8, 24-37 New Revised Standard Version

 

Today’s passage concerning the end times, is fascinating to read as the world watches the COVID virus spread and take more lives.  We are facing a crisis like none we have faced before.  We are on edge, nervous and worried.

 

There are some very wise people working on this pandemic and sharing helpful information.  But there are also people

  • denying the threat is real
  • using the virus to make racist pronouncements
  • hawking “miracle” cures on the internet
  • politicians using it as yet another way to divide us
  • there are pastors who are not cancelling public worship because.

A church in Louisiana refused to cancel in-person worship and held a worship service with more than 1,800 people in defiance of social distancing mandates. Parishioners could be seen touching one another and gathering closely without wear masks. The Pastor claimed that the people would not get sick and that if they did, he would lay hands on them and they would be healed.

 

Jesus said to beware of those who will try to lead you astray.  Deceivers prey upon people at times of crisis. 

What can you and I do to beware of the deceivers?

  • Listen to news from more than one perspective.
  • Resist the urge to put other people in boxes.
  • Check out what the deceivers are telling you. Does it fit with the Jesus you know and read about in the Bible? 

 

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Philippians 4:8

 

May you be safe.  May you be well.  May you rest in God’s Shalom.

 

Music:
 
 
Holy Spirit Truth Divine

 

Spend some time reading over the lyrics to the hymn “Holy Spirit, Truth Divine”.

1 Holy Spirit, truth divine,
dawn upon this soul of mine.
Voice of God and inward light,
wake my spirit, clear my sight.

 

2 Holy Spirit, love divine,
glow within this heart of mine.
Kindle every high desire,
purify me with your fire.

 

3 Holy Spirit, power divine,
fill and nerve this will of mine.
Boldly may I always live,
bravely serve, and gladly give.

 

4 Holy Spirit, law divine,
reign within this soul of mine.
Be my law, and I shall be
firmly bound, forever free.

 

5 Holy Spirit, peace divine,
still this restless heart of mine.
Speak to calm this tossing sea,
grant me your tranquility.

 

6 Holy Spirit, joy divine,
gladden now this heart of mine.
In the desert ways I sing –
spring, O Living Water, spring!

 

 

 

Prayer Focus:

Ask God to help you follow the true Light, the true hope, the true Way.

 

Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins


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God is with Us 03.28.2020

Handbell Hero!!!
 
Tonight’s devotion is a touch of fun and goes out to the children, youth and adults who play in the Lake Harriet bell choirs.  I think Thomas Johanson and Jungjoo Park are getting you ready for the first-ever round of Handbell Hero.  
 
Who will win?  Click on the link below to see.   May you still find joy and laughter even in these difficult days! Grace and peace, Pastor Karen Bruins
 
 
 

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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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