Shepherds-in-Training (continued…)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  

~ Psalm 23:4

How does walking through the valley of the shadow of death alter life?

In her Remember That You Are Dust series interview (HERE), Associate Pastor Lisa Bernheisel shares of her cancer journey in a very powerful way.

  • The transition from “running from death” to “dancing with death”
  • Concerns about being alone. Of being forgotten
  • Then there’s the commentary about savoring each moment (HERE)
  • And the commentary on creating a Death Plan (HERE)

These and many more ideas are provided by another of our “Good shepherds-in-training.” Many thanks to Lisa for sharing her story and perspectives on dancing in the midst of the valley!

May we enjoy this day, filled with the Spirit!


Lectionary Texts for Sunday, May 16, 2021:



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I’ll Fly Away…

I’ll fly away, oh Glory I’ll fly away

when I die Hallelujah by and by,  I’ll fly away

According to the Godtube.com posting HERE,

“I’ll Fly Away” is a hymn written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley and published in 1932…. It has been called the most recorded gospel song… It appears in many hymnals where it is listed under the topics of eternal life, heaven and acceptance. …

Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch do a wonderful job musically and this rendition HERE of I’ll Fly Away is no exception. The words, melody, harmony and instrumentals tell a great story of challenges and hope.

This song is frequently the closer for the Joyful Noise Boys as we fly away to our next activities. It usually elicits some grins from our “musical victims,” whether due to song familiarity, smiles on our faces, modulating on the last verse, flapping of the arms or some other reason. And isn’t that just what we need sometimes, even when in the midst of the shadows, weary times and ashes moments?

Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!


Lectionary Texts for Sunday, May 9, 2021:



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Shepherds-in-Training…

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  

~ Psalm 23:4

Many of us marvel at the resilience that pastors, chaplains, counselors and other professionals have while helping others through the deep valleys of the human experience. Our prayers of strength and support are with these good folks. We hope that the gratitude from recipients and others arrives in varying forms – a note, a tearful attempt at a smile, a hug, a phone call, …  Interviews like this one (HERE) with Rector Roger Greene in the Remember That You Are Dust series provide insight into such situations.

We can rely on the Biblical image of the Good Shepherd plus many Shepherds-in-Training figures in our lives. These pastors, friends and important others can so frequently be wonderful Christ-like examples, helping us to new aspirations in our own journeys as lay ministers. We are grateful for their shepherding efforts!

PROSPECTIVE ACTIVITY Set your phone timer, oven timer or other such timer for 10 minutes. Now, think of a friend(s) possibly dealing with near-valley experiences now. Make plans to send a note, place a call or find another way to express support to them. Perhaps even include one of your favorite Bible verses or song refrains as part of the experience? Don’t forget to include a spiritual leader as a possible recipient…

Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!

P.S. The hog caller humor HERE fits today’s commentary  🙂


Lectionary Texts for Sunday, May 9, 2021:



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Favorite Hymns…

My best friend growing up was Ben. Our families went to the same church which made the friendship all the more joyous. Plus, it made it a little less onerous to get me to attend church events since a great friend was there. And don’t we all sometimes need that little extra incentive to engage?

Why mention Ben today? Well, in addition to the fact that he enjoys singing, it just so happens that today is his birthday. Plus, an early favorite church song – Fairest Lord Jesus – was likely learned singing right beside Ben.

Which church/spiritual/religious songs come to your mind as favorites? Maybe one you remember as a child? One that’s from a treasured sermon you heard? Perhaps one that relates to a scripture – the title or the focus of the lyrics? One about a favorite character?

Consider spending a few minutes writing a few of those special song titles on a sheet of paper or typing them into an electronic document. We’ll be coming back to those soon in an upcoming Christian Playbook exercise…

PROSPECTIVE ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY: consider taking time out to flip through a hymnal, your records/CDs, various online/electronic resources (maybe our CP YouTube site?) and/or other ways you can be reminded of music favorites.  Which songs come to your attention as particularly meaningful in describing your life? Consider adding those tunes to the ones on your sheet from above… We’ll be coming back to those soon enough

Enjoy the day, filled with song and the Spirit!


Lectionary Texts for Sunday, May 2, 2021:



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Favorite Scriptures…

The previous CP post** included wording from the 23rd Psalm. For many, this is a cherished Bible passage.

Which Bible passages come to your mind as favorites? Maybe one you remember as a child? One that’s from a treasured sermon you heard? Perhaps one that relates to a song – the title or the focus of the lyrics? One about a favorite character?

Consider spending a few minutes writing a few of those special Bible verses on a sheet of paper or typing them into an electronic document. We’ll be coming back to those soon in an upcoming Christian Playbook exercise…

PROSPECTIVE ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY: consider taking time out to flip through your Bible, especially if you have one you’ve “marked up” over a lifetime. Which passages come to your attention as particularly meaningful in describing your life based on this effort? Consider adding those passages to the ones on your sheet from above…

Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!

** P.S. Show of hands – – how many have the “ear worm” of the refrain ‘Shepherd Me, Oh God…” persisting?  🙂


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Lectionary Texts for Sunday, May 2, 2021:



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Shepherd Me, Oh God…

Marty Haugen, in his song Shepherd Me, Oh God, (LISTEN HERE) provides this wonderful chorus:
 
Shepherd me, Oh God, Beyond my wants
Beyond my fears, from death into  life

How often we sheep want to escape. Escape to our wants. Escape to places that ultimately  put us in fearful situations.

Many of us enjoy the knowledge that we have a shepherd. With Jesus as an example, God as an omnipresent presence coupled with the Spirit moving through us, we truly can fear no evil. We can have the strength and confidence to refocus from worries about death into living an exciting journey to its completion, filled with loving one another.

In many churches, yesterday was Good Shepherd Sunday. In her YouTube sermon yesterday (HERE), Rev. Lisa Bernheisel makes effective use of Marty Haugen’s chorus of Shepherd Me, Oh God. As in Haugen’s song, in Lisa’s sermon the chorus becomes an interlude between ideas about the Good Shepherd and our lives. You’ll be glad you took a listen to the song and/or the sermon, if you have the inclination! 🙂

Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!


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Lectionary Texts for Sunday, May 2, 2021:



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Living in Heaven Now…

Jesus spoke these things, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, “Father . . . I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word; that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.”     ~  John 17:1, 20–23

Earth Day seems appropriate for this Living in Heaven Now post. In it Richard Rohr discusses connectedness, including this commentary:

To be a person of faith means we see things—people, animals, plants, the earth—as inherently connected to God, connected to ourselves, and therefore, absolutely worthy of love and dignity. That’s what Jesus is praying for: that we could see things in their unity, in their connectedness.

Connecting with earth can take many forms. EarthDay.org provides lots of ideas plus a way to recognize your efforts and find opportunities HERE.

Enjoy the day and our connectedness – with people, animals, plants and the earth!

P.S. In case you’re looking for some Earth Day humor, some good material is HERE


Snowy Spring Day in Cincinnati OH 4/21/21

Lectionary Texts for Sunday, April 25, 2021:



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Angels Among Us…

“…O, I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above, they come to you and me in our darkest hours, to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with the Light of love…”

~ from the song Angels Among Us (YouTube performance by the band Alabama HERE)

Can you relate to “angels among us” experiences? Songs, movies and stories abound. In fact, Guideposts even has a magazine called Angels on Earth.

One such “angels among us” experience had a profound impact on my life. The story HERE provides more details. The bottom line? Experiences like these with human angels shape our perspectives on trying to be more Christ-like. When presented with such wonderful examples, how can one NOT try to help out other earthly creatures?

POTENTIAL ACTION: as a random-act-of-kindness or in some other way, make a specific effort this week to be the “angel among us” to someone in your midst

Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!


Lectionary Texts for Sunday, April 25, 2021:



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This is the day…

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” 

~ Psalm 118:24 (English Standard Version)

Guideposts shares inspiring quotes for Spring HERE along with some wonderful pictures. It’s worth taking a few minutes to enjoy these…

Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!


Lectionary Texts for Sunday, April 18, 2021:



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Prayers for those of various faith traditions…

A friend asked how we identify subjects for Christian Playbook posts. The fact is, the Spirit frequently moves in mysterious ways… 

Today’s posting is such an example. While on the journey to another prayer, this one #58 “For Muslims” from the Book of Common Worship (HERE) jumped from the page. It seemed mighty appropriate given what was going on with U.S. immigration at that moment and still to this day:

# 58

For Muslims

Eternal God,

you are the one God to be worshiped by all,

the one called Allah by your Muslim children,

descendants of Abraham as we are.

Give us grace to hear your truth

in the teachings of Mohammed, the prophet,

and to show your love as disciples of Jesus Christ,

that Christians and Muslims together

may serve you in faith and friendship.

Amen.

POSSIBLE ACTIONS: Consider ways you can show friendship and love to those of other faith traditions. Any chance you can make that happen soon?

Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!

P.S. If you’re looking for a resource showing lots of parallels between Islam and Christianity, consider the book Spiritual Gems of Islam by Jamal Rahman


Lectionary Texts for Sunday, April 18, 2021:



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