Success

2015 COVER

Psalm 118: 19-29

Question:
How do you view success? Do you long for it or run from it? Is there a way that you can view success in a different way in your day to day life?


Prayer:

God, help us to reach for the success that you desire of us, and not the successes of the world. Amen.

~ Laura Whitman, Special Projects Coordinator

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Lent Devotional written by Craig H. Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren and ordained minister. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Craig’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

EYN Devotions March 29 – April 4, 2015

DAILY LINK WITH GOD 2015EYN Devotions graphic
A Daily Devotional Guide from the
EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

EYN leaders in Nigeria believe prayer is one of the most important ways to support the Nigerian people and the Church.  These daily devotions were written by EYN members and published by the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Reading them daily is a powerful way we can be in solidarity and connect with our brothers and sisters caught in this crisis.  EYN’s daily devotional for 2015 will be posted a week at a time on this blog, appearing mid-week for the following week. More information about the crisis can be found at www.nigeriacrisis.org.

Click on this link for the EYN Devotion Blog Mar 29- Apr 4 2015

Questions Still Surface

2015 COVER

Psalm 118:1-4

Newsline reminds me that the Chibok girls are missing:
Still? Where could they be?
How hard can it be to find them?
Are they still alive? What are they doing to
them?

A child, who lives a few block away but “on the wrong side of the tracks”, is missing:
  How does that happen here? What are the police doing about it?

I watch my father hold my sleeping daughter on his chest:
Is that how he held me? How has she grown up so fast?

The just as suddenly:
  Can I keep her safe?

An email arrives with a link about an unarmed black man has been hurt by the police:
  Again? Why?

My best friend’s husband has cancer. I haven’t heard from her in a while.
  Should I call her? Why can’t she live close enough to invite for dinner?
  Why did this happen to her?

It is 5:00:
  Already? What am I making for dinner? What is in the fridge?

As I cook, the radio describes an act of terrorism. It no longer seems to matter if this is one that happened two years ago or two hours ago. If it happened here or there.
  When will this ever end? Is peace even possible?

The Chibok girls are still missing:
  What am I supposed to do about it? Pray?

Suddenly I am impatient with the way that moments of joy, my personal peaceful happiness, eclipse the greater misery of the world. And just as angry that the world, with all its grief and violence, intrudes on my domestic calm. It seems impossible that my heart, that my faith, can hold both. It feels unfair, impossible that God is present in it all.

Question:
How can I worry about what’s for my dinner and worry about global hunger? Is there enough love in my heart, in my faith, to remember those who are hungry in my community? How do I make space for the daily joys and the daily sadness? How do I make space for my concerns and those of wider world?

Prayer:
God of Enduring, Everlasting Love,
Teach me to love as You love. Teach me steadfastness. Teach me what forever       means.
Teach me how to hold a peace that passes understanding.
Teach me to love continually, patiently, without judgment or fear.
Teach me faith. Teach me hope.
Teach me love.

Amen.

 ~ Gimbiya Kettering, Intercultural Ministries Director of the Church of the Brethren

The upcoming 2015 Intercultural Retreat All God’s People Say Amen, May 1-3 at Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren will explore how we interact at both the personal and national levels, exploring questions for our daily lives and for the wider body of faith. For more information and to register, please visit:
http://www.brethren.org/intercultural/godspeople2015/

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Lent Devotional written by Craig H. Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren and ordained minister. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Craig’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

The Splendor that is Here

2015 COVER

Haggai 2:1-9

I thought, I have time to take a look around town before my meetings in the morning.

The dropping dusk light makes long, ominous shadows of the unfamiliar city. On the corner is an older homeless man leaning over a shopping cart. Three younger men are standing outside a thrift store, talking loudly –to me it sounds like arguing. A woman is pulling a child roughly by the arm to cross against the light and for a moment it seems like none of the drivers will stop for them. It is a town that has “fallen on hard times”. Grand houses are empty. Half the poles are vintage ornate, the other half leaning wooden poles. I wonder if it is possible to power wash a whole city.

By the time I park the car, I am beginning to think I should turn around and go back to the well-lit, strip-mall safety of my hotel. And if I was alone, I probably would. But my daughter, a toddler, is in the back pleading for the opportunity to get out of her car seat and stretch her legs. So, I’ve committed to this adventure. There is a used bookstore on the corner. In the children’s section there is a child who is probably 3 years older than my daughter. I smile at him hoping for a playmate. Instead he pushes my daughter off a chair. I redirect her attention to a wooden activity center which he promptly grabs away from us. His mother looks up and then away. Each time I take a book from the shelf, read the first page or two, he takes it. My frustrated daughter is crying and I think I might too.

The next morning, I awake to snow. Exiting the highway, I find myself back in the tight blocks of downtown. It is as unfamiliar as it was last night, but the flurrying snow settles like frosting on the trim of buildings, over cars, and even on my own eyelashes. At Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren, three different people smile and point me towards the front door.

A man in a paint splattered sweatshirt, gives me a ticket, You get a meal with this.

Musicians are warming up for worship.

A woman, with a little girl of her own, says, There is a children’s room.

Her child smiles at my daughter, who smiles back and waves. The sanctuary is warm and the crisp morning light filters through the windows. People are easy with one another and with me. That they have never seen me before does not give anyone pause. I am welcomed without fanfare or expectation. We are all equal in our need to be in this holy place. I am suddenly humbled, realizing that I have come to this place from my own “hard times” –that I am weary and hungry too. Mostly, I am too busy to admit my urgent needs, my grimy moments, and my run-down places. As the praise hymn starts, my heart rises with the voices around me, exalted with hope and faith. The scales have fallen from my eyes: The morning, the people around me, and this place are splendidly, wonderfully made.

Question:
Do you feel like you have fallen on hard times? Do you long to return to what was – the more glorious times of the past? Are you ready to see the splendor of the moment?

Prayer:
Dear God,
You know my moment – it’s darkness and dirt. That I am tired from travel, hungry for home. But in the midst of this journey, I am reminded I am standing on holy ground. That You are with me, in me, and around me. May I view others with the compassion and love that You view me.  Amen.

 ~ Gimbiya Kettering, Intercultural Ministries Director of the Church of the Brethren

Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren, the church described above, is hosting the 2015 Intercultural Retreat, All God’s People Say Amen, May 1-3. For more information and to register, please visit:
http://www.brethren.org/intercultural/godspeople2015/

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Lent Devotional written by Craig H. Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren and ordained minister. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Craig’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Solid ground

2015 COVER

Isaiah 44:1-8

Question:
Today’s text asserts that Israel is called to be God’s witness and not have a ‘circle-the-wagons’ mentality. In a multicultural world where people live in proximity to others, how is the church called to be a light to the nations, ministering with justice and compassion to others?

Prayer:
God of all nations, who sent Jesus as a messenger of peace, offering salvation, and making us whole. Send us into your world strengthened and liberated by the Holy Spirit to speak and act as inspired people. Amen.

~ Stan Dueck, Director, Transforming Practices

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Lent Devotional written by Craig H. Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren and ordained minister. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Craig’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

The real deal

2015 COVER

Isaiah 43:8-13

Question:
What comfort does God offer to people? How is this comfort good news to us, to our neighbors, and the world?


Prayer:

O God, you reign over all creation with steadfast love and faithfulness. Comfort those who mourn and peace to all facing turmoil. Word of God, live within us and enlighten the world through the witness you empower us to make in Christ’s name. Amen.

~ Stan Dueck, Director, Transforming Practices

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Lent Devotional written by Craig H. Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren and ordained minister. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Craig’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

For this reason

2015 COVER

John 12:20-33

Question:
The Gospel lesson for today is a bold declaration that the power of God’s love is changing everyone and everything for the better. If the change that God is bringing about in this world is important, what are you doing in order to align yourself toward God’s peace, justice, freedom, and compassion?


Prayer:
O merciful God, we confess that we love our lives as they are. Only you, O Lord, can give us true life. Teach us to let go of our agendas and assumptions, our self-righteousness and false perceptions of power. Give us courage to embrace you fully, Loving God. Amen.

~ Stan Dueck, Director, Transforming Practices

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Lent Devotional written by Craig H. Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren and ordained minister. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Craig’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Crushed bones

2015 COVER


Psalm 51:7-12

Question:
How can we ensure that confession and forgiveness remain at the center of our Christian experience? What should be the marks of a community genuinely forgiven and loved by God? What are ways your congregation can increase those marks?


Prayer:
Gracious God, how great is your faithfulness. Forgive us, Holy One, according to your mercy. You show us that we are infinitely precious. You come to heal us and bring hope for change. Amen.

~ Stan Dueck, Director, Transforming Practices

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Lent Devotional written by Craig H. Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren and ordained minister. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Craig’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

Blotting out sin

2015 COVER

Psalm 51:1-6

Question:
The words, ‘steadfast love’ and ‘abundant mercy’ give us a glimpse into the depth of compassion and healing grace of God’s nature. What words do we offer to those who are hopeless and desperate? Do we offer confirmation of their worthlessness dwelling on the consequences of their sin?


Prayer:

God of compassionate love, we do ultimately come to you just as we are, bearing transgression and sin.  We return, however, not as we were, but as recreated and liberated people called to sing aloud and declare God’s deliverance and unfailing love. Amen.

~ Stan Dueck, Director, Transforming Practices

Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren is offering these simple prayers and questions in connection to this year’s Lent Devotional written by Craig H. Smith, district executive for the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren and ordained minister. (Available from Brethren Press in print and E-Book formats). Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, Craig’s reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog.

EYN Devotions March 22-28, 2015

DAILY LINK WITH GOD 2015EYN Devotions graphic
A Daily Devotional Guide from the
EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

EYN leaders in Nigeria believe prayer is one of the most important ways to support the Nigerian people and the Church.  These daily devotions were written by EYN members and published by the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Reading them daily is a powerful way we can be in solidarity and connect with our brothers and sisters caught in this crisis.  EYN’s daily devotional for 2015 will be posted a week at a time on this blog, appearing mid-week for the following week. More information about the crisis can be found at www.nigeriacrisis.org.

Click on this link for the EYN Devotion Blog Mar 22-28 2015