Archive for July, 2011


July 30, 2011

Dear sisters and brothers in faith,

Being in the Shake it Up Cafe this week at Vacation Bible School has got me thinking about recipes–especially those family favorites passed down through the generations or shared around the family table.  And the recipes of legend, if not for their tastiness, at least for their ubiquitousness (is that a word?) at family functions–like my grandmother’s green jello salad with chunks of pineapple and white streaks (was that cream cheese?).  What are your food memories?

At worship on Sunday, we’ll explore God’s recipe for our lives and celebrate the VBS experience.  Creating a fun and fulfilling VBS experience is some of the hardest and best work you’ll ever do (THANKS to Amanda and Laura for organizing us all).  It’s so amazing to watch those kids master the dances and sing about God’s love!  It’s magical really, even more so than the latest Harry Potter movie (and that was pretty good!)  If you’re in the area, or can get in the area, 6:30 tomorrow evening, don’t miss it.

In the mean time, here’s another morning and evening prayer offering for your spiritual development.  God’s recipe for a flavorful life includes regular rituals where you make time to taste the goodness of faith.

Morning  –  by Peter W. Millar

Lord of the morning I awake to this new day with all of its possibilities,
its uncertainties,
its many faces,
and its underlying mystery.
May I be able–in your strength–to move
through this day
free of anger or bitterness,
so that
when I meet my neighbor or encounter the stranger,
I may recognize your face.

Evening  –  by Robert Ingram

God of the peaceable kingdom, as night settle on your children,
come into my darkness to be with me.
Let the night noises be no more dangerous
than the gentle breeze, the chirping crickets,
or the quiet murmur of a sleeping family.
Let peace bathe the land and soothe my soul.
Let me grow happily old with good neighbors,
and the sign of my grandchildren’s children.
Let me count the stars from my own backyard,
find the bliss of sleep in my own warm bed,
and know myself cradled in your loving arms.
Beat the swords of war into the plowshares of prosperity,
make the wolf lie down with the lamb, the lion with the calf,
and let your blessed children play safely over the adder’s den.



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July 20, 2011

Dear sisters and brothers in faith,

I spent last weekend hiking NY peaks with a group of hikers who were “former Methodists” or “used to go to church.”  Many of them were suspicious of religion (and by extension a pastor).  They mentioned the Westboro Baptist members with their hate-filled signs protesting at soldiers’ funerals, and the horrible actions of one questionable pastor burning Korans.  They mentioned politicians who claim Christian motivation for cutting safety net programs that care for the “least of these.”  Those are not exactly the examples I would hope to represent the best Christianity has to offer.  The Sunni Muslim who was my classmate at Hartford Seminary last year felt the same about terrorists who were mistakenly seen to represent all of Islam.  Both of us felt that our religions had been hijacked by the most extreme elements that do not represent the core of our faiths.

We’ve done some work at ELUMC to study the basic tenets of the major world religions.  This summer we’ve also been exploring the stories in Genesis and some of the ethnic, racial history that feeds into the distrust between religions and peoples.  This Sunday, we have yet another opportunity to educate ourselves about Muslim/Christian relations and the good work being done at Hartford Seminary both in the classroom and the dorm.  Come hear recent graduate Teresa Mueller bring us the word — invite your friends to join us.

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches and as we, as a nation, process the death of Osama bin Laden, we have a responsibility to learn about the heart of Islam, to seek peace among nations, and to pray for any who consider us their enemies.  Here are some prayers from the Muslim Tradition (Allah is how Muslims say God):

O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you, that you deal not justly.
Deal justly, that is nearer to reverence.  Show reverence toward Allah: Allah is Aware of what ye do. [Surah Ma’idah, 8]

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) stated that Allah Exalted and Glorious, said:  My servants, I have made oppression unlawful for Me and unlawful for you, so do not commit oppression against one another. [Muslim 6246; from Abu Dharr]

And here’s a prayer from Central Conference of American Rabbis:

O God, You have called us to peace, for You are Peace itself.
May we have the vision to see that each of us, in some measure, can help to realize these aims:
Where there are ignorance and superstition, let there be enlightenment and knowledge.
Where there are prejudice and hatred, let there be acceptance and love.
Where there are fear and suspicion, let there be confidence and trust.
Where there are tyranny and oppression, let there be freedom and justice.
Where there are poverty and disease, let there be prosperity and health.
Where there are strife and discord, let there be harmony and peace.       Amen.

Pastor Kelly

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Summer Rhythm

July 9, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Spirit,

One of the joys of having July worship in the evening, is that we get to sing and pray evening liturgies that we usually miss out on in our morning schedule.  J.T. and I have found some truly spectacular hymns — the first two of which we look forward to singing out under the sky tomorrow night. But it still seems strange not to be “in church” on Sunday morning, so I offer the following morning prayer from the latest Alive Now! by Roberta Porter–it’s short enough to memorize:

This day is a gift from God, and I open it with prayer and gratitude,
asking that I might use it wisely,
asking that there might be time and opportunity
to serve by sharing what I’ve been given.
And with this open gift given away,
the Holy Spirit gives joy and purpose and peace. Amen.

Of course you’re welcome to visit another congregation Sunday morning (please bring in the bulletin because we love to see what other congregations are doing).

While the summer months have their own rhythm, for many of us, it can be no less frantic.  Especially for those planning trips away, entertaining children out of school, getting our VBS act together, etc.  Every time I feel over-the-top overwhelmed I ask myself: What has my spiritual life been like lately?  And most often I can trace my anxiety to not devoting enough time to prayer or inattention to my spiritual disciplines.  Even spiritual giants like Mother Teresa used to say that on really busy days, she increased her prayer time–praying an extra hour on those days she feared she couldn’t get it all done.

Perhaps we can begin with the rhythm of a morning and evening prayer.  Let’s begin Sunday with the prayer above and end the day with the following prayer by theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

O Lord my God,
I thank Thee that Thou hast brought this day to a close;
I thank Thee that Thou hast given me peace in body and in soul.
Thy hand hath been over me and hath protected and preserved me.
Forgive my puny faith,
the ill that I this day have done,
and help me forgive all who have wronged me.
Grant me a quiet night’s sleep beneath Thy tender care,
and defend me from all the temptations of darkness.
Into Thy hands I commend my loved ones,
and all who dwell in this house;
I commend my body and soul.    Amen.


Pastor Kelly

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