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Wednesday Words, July 8, 2020

Wednesday Words

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, 
but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. – Romans 8:27

When life is getting to me and wearing me down, I have found that taking time to sit near a body of water or hike in the woods re-energizes me and brings me a sense of peace. The sounds of the wind moving in the woods, wildlife scurrying around, and the peace of birds soaring in the air is an expression of a prayer for me when I am at a loss for words.

Creation and humanity each experience suffering as a result of sin. Yet, the Apostle Paul says in this week’s reading from Romans, that each of us wait with hope for a day of renewal and harmony with each other. Truth be told, renewal and harmony take time and work and patience. Environmental issues, systemic racism, discrimination, pandemic solutions, political divisions, and more are not quick fixes. They are a work in progress that is a journey.

There is something prophetic about intentionally stepping away from our human-made distractions that disrupt us from being connected and fully attentive to creation and to each other. When we do take time to set down our phones, our distractions, our worries, our judgments, our “woes is me” mentality and thoughtfully stop and listen, healing happens. We have a world that is aching for renewal and harmony and is waiting for you to listen and engage in those stories.

My challenge for you this week is to take time to be intentionally present to creation and to someone’s story. Take time to learn something new about someone’s life and about the creation around you.  If you are inspired, take a picture of what you see and observe and share it on Instagram and Facebook.

“God, our Creator, we celebrate with all living creatures today. Help us to see your presence, not only in human history but also in the stories of our kin in creation, the great animal family. Teach us to hear the good news of God’s loving care ringing through the kingdoms of the wild. Rejoice with us as we behold the mysteries of your Wisdom implanted in all creatures. In the name of Christ who fills heaven and Earth. Amen.”  (from Web of Creation.org) 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Wednesday Words

July 1, 2020

Bethany Gola - This devotion was written as part of our Bethany EarthKeepers trip to Stearn's woods for clearing out invasive Buckthorn as part of their restoration project.  It seems suitable during this time as we have a unique opportunity to reflect on creation and our relationship with the world.  

Weeding & Cultivating Sunday

“1I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” John 15:1-4 

My favorite place to clear my mind is in the garden.  There is something about weeding, digging in soil, and planting new that makes me feel connected in a very basic way to creation.  Sometimes I feel like I am the vinegrower helping God take care of the creation that has been given to us.  Most of the time, though, I feel it’s the earth that heals me. When I feel off balance, I have a sort of spinning feeling like I can’t quite get a handle on anything.  It is a good time for me to “get to the dirt.”  I can let my thoughts stream in a prayerful conversation to God.   

Life gets full of distractions or “invasive species.”  Sometimes they look so pretty – but watch out, they can soon take over.  What is keeping you from growing?  What is sucking up your time and energy?  Too much TV? Too many video games?  Too much clutter or toys?  Over scheduling activities? 

How can you better balance your “habitat” so you can be more sustainable in God’s grace?  What are you grateful for?  How are you blessed?  Can you simplify so you can truly be present in those blessings? Can you prune some vines that take away from relationship building time?   Can you pray, eat meals together as a family, journal, call a friend, use your bike, plan a family activity?  How can you “get grounded?”   

Peace be with your heart as you weed and cultivate

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Wednesday Words

June 24, 2020

Pr. Paul Cannon

A voice says, “Cry out! And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.

Isaiah 40:6

Don’t ever tell Julie Cannon that North Dakota is boring. I remember the four-hour drive between Fargo (where I went to college) and Minot (where my parents had a condo) … I remember it, but I couldn’t tell you much about it. Driving on roads that rarely curved left or right, it was fields as far as the eye could see.

But my mom, who grew up there, was/is a staunch defender of the beautiful state of North Dakota. Living out there for four years of my life, I now know why. Friends and family from the area would often tell me, “If you don’t think North Dakota is beautiful, you’re looking in the wrong place. You have to look up.”

Looking up, there was sky stretching from horizon to horizon. When you looked up, the beauty of prairie and field sprang to life. It turns out that God has a lot to teach us through prairies and fields about openness, and yes, even about beauty.

Sometimes when we are looking for something else, we fail to see the things that are right in front of us. Growing up in the mountains of Utah, there was always something to look at, but if all you do is stare off into the distance it’s easy to miss the beauty that’s right in front of you.

Maybe that’s the gift of the prairie – to notice what we have, rather than what we don’t have. If you look out over the prairie and want to see mountains or lakes or forests, you’ll be disappointed. But if you look up and notice what’s surrounding you … well then you might see something beautiful.

Our readings on Sunday are about fields and prairies. From Isaiah, we hear that people are like grass, and from the Gospel reading, we’re reminded that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like the lilies of the field.

Maybe God has something to teach each of us about ourselves this week as we reflect on prairies and fields.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Wednesday Words – Soil and Seed

June 17, 2020

Pastor Paul Cannon

But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

-Matthew 13:23

We planted a little garden this spring: tomatoes, bush beans, snap peas, and kale. There’s some basil, rosemary and mint growing in the garden boxes hanging from the fence and various pots scattered around the backyard.

This year, the garden is looking good. Some years … not so much. Learning to grow things is a practice of trial and error. What works well? What doesn’t? We planted carrots one year, only to find that when we harvested them, the soil wasn’t deep enough – they came up short and stubby. Peppers are slow growing and stubborn. Without lots of sun and water, you’d be lucky to get one or two of them before winter!

But what we’ve found, is that when you have good soil that’s well tended and taken care of, you can grow almost anything.

In the gospel this week, Jesus is telling the parable of the sower and the seed. If the seed falls on the path, it gets eaten up. If it falls on rocky ground, the roots can’t grow deep enough. If it falls among the thorns and weeds, it gets choked out and can’t grow.

Jesus doesn’t come out and say this, but in the scheme of this parable, I think it’s the job of the church to till the garden and prepare the soil. We are here to get the soil ready for people to be able to hear it, so that God’s word can grow and flourish in the hearts of people when they come.

It’s a hard job. Pulling weeds isn’t fun for most of us. Sitting under the hot summer sun, getting dirty and pulling up rocks is a difficult job. But if you don’t put in the hard work, you shouldn’t expect much of a harvest.

What that means for the church, is that sometimes we have to be truth tellers. If we don’t pull up the weeds of sin - greed, hatred, racism or whatever sin we could acknowledge - we shouldn’t expect God’s word to grow, nor should we expect it to bear much fruit.

Bethany Lutheran, thank you for being the church and continuing your work of weeding God’s garden!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Wednesday Words

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

“Then shall the trees of the woods shout for joy at your coming…”

Our theme for the next 6 weeks is “Let All Things Now Live.” We start in the beginning, in the book of Genesis, where God calls us in relationship with each other and with all living things: animals, insects, and land. All life is created by God and is essential.  We are called to care for every living being, to appreciate their uniqueness, and live in gratitude for their gift to this world. Life should never be taken for granted and life needs our attention.

50 of you came together and joined us for a Parking Lot Prayer Vigil confessing that we can do better in caring for the lives of black and brown people and praying for help and guidance to remember that all lives are created by God and valuable. Thank you to those who come together on Monday in person or on Facebook Live.

During our 6 weeks of “Let All Things Now Live” we will encourage you to take pictures of life all around us and post them on Instagram and Facebook or email them to us. We will also be delivering Family Field Faith Kits to our children’s homes to encourage exploration of God’s creation.

We will be using the Northern Illinois Synod Creation Care Committees resources for worship and creating the kits. Here is this week’s reflection for Sunday:

Season of Creation Forest Sunday

“Then shall the trees of the wood shout for joy at your coming…” states the Psalmists. To some, that may sound like an inspiration for a Disney animation. But is it really far fetched to depict trees as shouting?

In his book The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohileben shares the complexities of how trees communicate with one another as well as with other creatures. Their primary method is through scent. When threatened by hungry insects or herbivorous mammals, trees produce aromatic toxins that repel the pests as well as warn other trees in the area of the invasion. In addition, trees send chemical and electrical signals to other trees through their roots, warning them of threats such as insects and drought and fire. Scientists have coined the phrase “the wood wide web” to describe the forest communication network. And now, there is evidence that trees and other plants respond to sound! (So, singing to plants may actually be more than just an old wives’ tale.)

Humans may not be able to hear the shouting of trees, but certainly the God who created them can. When understanding the complexities of forest communication systems, as well as the dependence of the entire planet on plentiful and healthy forests to maintain a conducive living environment, it becomes painfully clear that God took great care in creating the trees and forests of this world. And with all this in mind, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that it was on a tree that God brings salvation to the world.


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