Cry of My Heart 06/09/2020

Hello Friends,

Psalm 130: 6 says,

“…my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.”

 

Why do you suppose the psalmist repeated that phrase?
I’m guessing to put added emphasis on the watching for morning.

 

In ancient Israel there were guards who stand watch over the city walls by night. Imagine how dark it would have been.  There were no floodlights, no motion detection security lights and definitely no flashlights on a cell phone. 

Yes, there would be torches or perhaps oil lamps, but these would only light the area in close proximity to the light.  A nighttime sentinel would not have been able to see what was happening in the distance.

 

I imagine the long nights of standing watch were sometimes boring, with the sentinel trying to stay awake.  Other nights they were frightening as enemies tried to storm the city walls.  There may have been wild animals that tried to attack the guards.

 

My soul waits for the Lord.

Those sentinels knew what it was to wait for the Lord, the same way the watched and waited for the morning to come.

 

Spend some time thinking about this verse.

How is your soul watching for the morning?
What does the morning look like in the work of anti-racism?

What does the morning look like when you are facing person difficulties?

 

 

Click on the link below to hear and see Psalm 130.

Psalm 130


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Cry of My Heart 06.05.2020

Tonight’s meditation is called “Violence and Travail”.
It is an Advent piece, but it fits very well with how our hearts are crying out.
May we be reminded that Christ has come, and Christ will come again.
 

Violence and Travail


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SOUL 006- LAMENT…

 

AUDIO VERSION OF THE MESSAGE

 

Say their names:

George Floyd

Ahmaud Arbery

Eric Garner

Philando Castile

Trayvon Martin

The list goes on, and on, and on.

Last week, I planned on sharing just a message from Rev. Otis Moss, pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, who I had the honor of taking a preaching course from in seminary.  The message is entitled “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery”.  I would strongly encourage you to watch today.CHECK IT OUT HEREIt is the message you probably should want to hear more than what I have to say, and in truth, I probably want to hear it more than anything I have to say.  And yet, in light of the week that has transpired, it became necessary to make sure that I needed to speak to what is happening in our community.  Please check out the video and/or audio of message above.
 
SCRIPTURE:

PSALMS 13: 1-3

1 How long, YHWH? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my anguish, and wallow in despair all day long? How long will my enemy win over me? 3 Look at me! Answer me, YHWH, my God!

PSALMS 22:1-2

1 My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far away, so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? 2 I cry all day, my God, but you never answer; I call all night long, and sleep deserts me.


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Cry of My Heart 06.01.2020

Lament.

These are psalms in which we cry out to God with all of our pain.
And, oh my, how we have been crying out.
We cry out for brown and black skinned children of God who are constantly on guard and in danger of being killed or injured for driving while black, shopping while brown, jogging while black……being arrested while black.
 
Please take time to listen to this powerful moment from worship on Sunday.
The song is “O Lord, Hear My Prayer” and the readings are from Psalm 13:1-3 and Psalm 22:1-2. Click on the link below.
 

Psalms of Lament

 
 

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SOUL 005- POWER HOUR

CHECK OUT MY VIDEO LIVE FROM NICOLLET MALL!
 
 
THOUGHTS:
The world is taking steps to reactivate, and, with the expiration of the Stay At Home order in Minnesota, people may be inclined to rush back into life, and seek personal needs, wants , and gratifications that one has felt deprived of.  When we do this, it is easy to forget about how those things can negatively impact others.  
 
Please check out my Facebook post from this past week:
 
“Friends, please consider this, as changes to the MN orders happen over the next few weeks. Please resist the urge to treat it like the last day of school, the first day with your driver’s license, the night of your 21st birthday, etc., where it’s party time to do whatever you want. The changes are trusting the public to use what has been learned and communicated and to utilize the common sense that so many have said that people have.
 
The businesses that are opening are being trusted to be good partners in reducing opportunity for community spread of COVID. In turn, they are trusting that consumers will follow the rules established. They will be implementing strategies to maintain social; distancing and usage of masks, gloves, etc. And if you are in their store, that is private property. They can, and will, expect you to follow their rules. If you do not, they can ask you to leave, and you will have to. That is their right as business owners. And they do so, not just because they have been instructed to by a government entity, they do so, because they want to stay open. And the worst thing for them would be for them to have their working employees get sick or be shown as an epicenter for an outbreak, which may lead to them being shut down again.
 
So, please respect their space and policies, if you truly believe in the urgency of their economic well-being.”
 
 
SCRIPTURE:
What we do has a direct impact on those around us, as we are interwoven as part of a greater community Creation.  Here are some thoughts from Paul in his first letter to the people of Corinth:
 

18 Instead of that, God put all the different parts into one body on purpose. 19 If all the parts were alike, where would the body be? 20 They are, indeed, many different members but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” any more than the head can say to the feet, “I do not need you.” 22 And even those members of the body which seem less important are in fact indispensable. 23 We honor the members we consider less honorable by clothing them with greater care, thus bestowing on the less presentable a propriety 24 which the more presentable do not need. God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to the lowly members, 25 that there may be no dissension in the body, but that all the members may be concerned for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy.

– 1 Corinthians 12: 18-26

 
 
CHECK OUT “PATIENCE” by Guns and Roses
 


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God is with Us! A devotion by Stephen Venable

Friends,
 
Tonight we hear from Lake Harriet member Stephen Venable.  He reflects on some powerful words that have carried him through challenging times in the past, and are carrying him through the pandemic.
 

Devotional by Stephen Venable

 

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God is with us? Where are you God? 05.11.2020

Whew! This pandemic has me feeling all sorts of things: anxiety, fear, boredom, worry, wonder, doubt and hope.  
How are you feeling?
 
Psalms are a cry of the heart.  Here are some thoughts –click on the link for the video.
 
 
Friends, may you pour out your heart to God this day.
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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SOUL 004- PRIVILEGE

WATCH THE VIDEO BLOG ABOVE
 
SCRIPTURE:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Creator.
Matthew 5: 38-45
 
THOUGHTS:
Dear friends who are white,
We have work to do.  There is violence befalling loved ones based on the color of their skin.  This is nothing new.  Far from it.  But it is happening.  And we have the “privilege” of choice.  I say “we”, not as some “enlightened” white person, but as someone who is in the midst of this work, myself.  We, I, have the “privilege” of making choices that others do not.    
 
Option 1- We can live into the “otherness” that this is happening to someone else, that each of these stories are isolated incidents and not part of a greater ongoing problem, or make excuses about why it is not our problem.  And we find some way to qualify or rationalize the devaluing of human life.  
 
Option 2- We can talk a good game about how awful it is, but still keep communities of color at arm’s length. We can even act in ways that are convenient and marginally impactful, but don’t make us feel guilty or defensive.
We can make a big scene about our commitment to social justice that looks good, but is really more about making ourselves feel good and righteous, but lacks real empathy or relationship.
 
 
Or we can choose to commit to a mindset shift in ways that challenge our paradigm.  We can recognize that the power systems that exist today are not that far removed from the segregated systems that were legal, less than a century ago.  And that proximity on the timeline of history means that there continue to be people in our midst that lived and developed their ideologies before the Civil Rights movement, which means they have taught and influenced, consciously or subconsciously, where we are today.  The mindset of “otherness”, or seeing persons of color as “less than” or even “the enemy” are ancient history and affect us still, today.
 
Our privilege is born out of our heritage, and many have rose against it over time.  We can do so, too.  It means committing our time, energy, resources, etc. to the benefit of those who have been victimized and oppressed for racial and ethnic reasons.  We take the time to learn history.  We listen instead of talk, we take on a humble heart and recognize  we have much to learn.  And we break down the walls of otherness and stop playing into generalizations that lead to negative stigmas that justify violence. 
 
Today, on this Mother’s Day, grieve with a raw heart with Wanda Cooper-Jones, mother of Ahmaud Arbery, and remember Mamie Till Bradley, mother of Emmitt Till, a young man whose vile lynching was forced into the light of day by a mother with a commitment to justice, not just for her own child, but for all other children who may be so victimized, gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement and changed the lives of millions.  
 
PRAYER:
God of us all, may we be people of justice, and have the vision of your son, Jesus, that we see all as your Beloved and family members we are called to advocate for in the face of violence and oppression.  Amen
 
RESOURCES:
 
Please listen to the voice of Sterling Brown.  His message is more important than mine, and I invite you into FEELING.  Feel this pain.  Not as someone different, but as a human that grieves the egregious violence and disgusting disregard of the legal system with regard to the Ahmaud Arbery case:
 

Did this live and didn’t think I’d post, but a friend convinced me otherwise. So here it is. #Hewasjustjogging 🕉

Posted by Sterling K. Brown on Friday, May 8, 2020

 
 
 
My videos before and after my run.
 

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God is with Us 05.07.2020

Dear Friends,
 
I have been reading the news about the murder of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery outside Brunswick, Georgia, in February. Mr. Abery was out jogging when he was confronted by two white men.  He was killed by them.  
 
Why is this story, which happened in February, just now coming to light?
 
A few weeks ago armed protestors took over the capital building in Michigan.  Rifles strapped to their chests, their angry shouts of protest echoed through the capitol.  The police held their line steady and did not draw their weapons.  No one lost their life that day.
 
Do you think for one minute that if it had been black and brown skinned people brandishing weapons in a state capitol building that they would have been safe?  
 
I have a friend who grew up in Nigeria.  He is one of the kindest and smartest people I have ever met.  He told me the story of his car stalling at an intersection of a twin cities suburb.  He was awaiting AAA to help with his car, when a police officer pulled over and questioned him about why he was at the intersection.  The police officer went so far as to force my friend to get AAA on the phone to verify to the police officer that he had called them.  Before he left the scene, the police officer told my friend that if his car was still there in 20 minutes, that it would be towed away at his own expense.
 
A friend and I were talking about the pandemic and the need to wear masks.  She said, “I am afraid for my husband to wear one.”  Her husband is a person of color. She feared that a black skinned man wearing a mask would be a target for potential harassment or even violence.
 
I feel angry and very sad. 
 
It should not be dangerous for people with black and brown skin to do the common activities of daily life.
Driving while black.
Babysitting while black.
Jogging while black.
Wearing a mask while black.
 
Friends, the work of reconciliation has a long way to go.  
 
What is God calling you to do?
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins
 
 

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God is with Us! 05.04.2020

Hello Friends,
Lake Harriet UMC has so many amazing young people.  They are students, athletes, singers, musicians, artists and actors.  I’m excited to share tonight’s video with you.  This song, from the musical Bright Star.
Lake Harriet’s own Ariana Advani recorded the song.  It was used during the worship service on Sunday, May 3rd and it’s so good I thought you’d enjoy hearing it again!
 
 
Let’s keep in our prayers all of the middle and high school students.  This season is challenging for all of us, but it is especially challenging for young people who cannot attend school or be with their peers.
 
If you know a teen (especially if they are not your kid) reach out to them to let them know you care!
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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