After Jesus had dismissed the crowd, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came he was alone.   Matthew 14:23 (NRSV)  

Our Tuesday Men’s Group recently had a discussion about this scripture verse.  Reading this again brings a memory of another one of my “S E E” (Significant Emotional Experience) moments.

It was 2:00PM on June 30th, 2012, and my boss, the CEO of our company invited me in to his office for an unscheduled meeting, and he promptly said “This is going to shock and surprise you Bob; but I have decided to terminate you effective immediately!”  (He was right! – I was shocked, as I had never had a bad performance review nor had I been unethical, or breached a value in his company’s culture- it was his time to downsize and downsize 1 associate  out of 150 associates and that was associate was me).

How would I share the news with Ann, my family and my friends? Had I let them down?  Would we be OK?  Why me? Etc…etc!

So I left the office in St. Paul and proceeded to drive home, very much alone, angry, disappointed and sad. I ended up in the church parking lot, parked down by the Community Garden, and went for a walk down to the church “Fire Circle” and sat alone at the base of the cross and prayed, cried, and listened to hear God’s words of wisdom. Maybe I would SEE or hear an indication of how to proceed forward without fear and worry of the unknown–I was hopeful.

As I sat there, I looked up at the blue sky and a movement caught my eye–there was a magnificent American Bald Eagle circling above and gliding on the wind currents above the Credit River valley.  At that moment I felt the Holy Spirit gently calming my emotions and fears. I was alone with my God, and felt calmed and refreshed by the gentle breeze, the sun, and the sighting of one of God’s creatures and an American symbol of strength.

I left and did not feel alone, fearful, nor apprehensive about the future. It’s doubtful, had I headed straight home to face the uncertainty and fear that I was feeling, would I have noticed, seen, or heard anything that I described above.

God is with us all the time!  Amen.

Bob Scarborough

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

And suddenly from heaven thee came a sound like he rush of a violent wind
and it filled the entire house…” Acts 2:1-2a

The Holy Spirit of God comes into our lives like a storm and gets our attention.

It lifted the scared and inactive disciples of Jesus when it came to them and
with its power they transformed the world. When the Holy Spirit comes to us
it will activate us and force us out into the world.

The one thing the Spirit will not allow us to do is stay the same. We will become

new people when God’s Spirit touches us. Then things will get really interesting.

Ron Nicholas

There is nothing more soothing than a Monday morning, right after beginning the day, but before actually going out into it, spent with the Sunday crossword from the paper.

No, not the New York Times one; I said soothing not aggravating.

I know, I know…sometimes it takes Monday night and into Tuesday morning and most of the time I still don’t really ‘finish’…but remember the soothing.

There are many sources I use to unwrap the clues and fill in the downs and acrosses (not the internet—that would be ‘cheating’ now wouldn’t it?).  Three that I use a lot are my memory for the arcane (sea eagles are Ernes), the Hammond atlas (Cheju is the island off the south coast of Korea), and the Bible.

I am often left to wonder about the crossword authors and their use of the Bible when they construct their puzzles.  They must realize that a subset of their puzzlers are nots or nones; they have little to reference and perhaps very little memory for what is in the Bible.  Yet I still believe there are folks for which the Bible is a reference more than it is their commitment.

And I believe God is OK with that.  But I also believe God is in the middle of making subtle changes in us that broaden our uses of the Bible and our sense of who God is.

I’d like to believe that there are those who look to the Bible to see that Esth. follows Neh. and stick around to see what God wants from us by reading Micah 6:8.

Mike Shultz

Those who remember their American history will remember Marquis de Lafayette, the French general and politician who in 1777 joined the American Revolution.  After the war he returned to France and to his estates.  The harvest of 1783 was a very poor one, but the stewards of his estates at Chavaniac had nevertheless managed to fill his barns with wheat.  One of them came to Lafayette and said, “This poor harvest has raised the price of wheat.  Now is the time to sell!”  Lafayette thought about the hungry peasants in the surrounding villages and replied, “No, now is the time to give.”

For Christians, now is always the time to give.  Like you who read this, I receive five or six requests for funding in my mail box most every delivery day.  One cannot support them all, but we can do something.  We may discriminate, but are called upon by our faith to give, for that is what a Christian does.  Remember, the high point of the worship service is really the offering, for that is when I may respond to God, “Here am I, send me.”

Rev. Jim Ross

Shred Your Worries Away

Matthew Chapter 6 verses 25-34

Once a year we have a shred day at work. Employees can bring documents, papers, and some old electronics to dispose of in a secure manner with an outside company that comes in.

I don’t know about you but I tend to hold on to papers and items worrying or thinking I might need them at some point.

This shred day lead me to the Matthew scripture and about how we hold on or worry about so much in our lives.

God takes care of the birds of the air and lilies of the field, and if we have faith in what I believe this scripture is telling us we are not gaining anything by our worrying.  

Let’s shred all of our worries away and trust that if we believe and seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness we will receive all of the things we truly need.

Shelley Shultz

Where two or more gather in my name there am I….Matthew 18:20

This year for our Lenten study the Monday evening spiritual formation group decided to study an Adam Hamilton book entitled Not So Silent Night linking the Christmas experience with Easter through Mary’s eyes. In the first lesson we read about Mary standing at the foot of the cross where her son, Jesus, was being crucified. What was she thinking? Was she remembering when she had given birth to Jesus? Was she thinking about the Magi who brought the gift of Myrrh, which is embalming oil…why would a newborn baby have been given such a gift? As we progressed through the lessons there were so many ah-ha moments that we had never thought of before. The conversations were profound and evocative. Hearing everybody’s thoughts was an incredible learning experience which took all of us deeper into the scriptures and helped us to look at those familiar Biblical stories in a different light. What was most profound was knowing that God was amongst us and guiding us to look at the scriptures in a more meaningful way and to open our hearts to hear God’s word.

Small groups are an extraordinary way to explore God’s word through study and discussion. Please consider joining a small group, you’ll be glad you did!

Paula Gaboury

Luke 24: 13-35   “The Road to Emmaus”

How often have we walked through a tragic, sobering event in our lives, oblivious to Jesus’ presence with us?  How has this lack of awareness intensified our doubt, fear, and self-pity?

When we have expectations about how our lives are going to unfold, or how the world is going to evolve, it becomes disappointing when events turn out differently.  We so easily fall into disillusionment and despair.

What comfort has God provided us for times just like these?  Read Luke’s story of how Jesus revealed himself to these cynical disciples…  These Biblical stories are timeless.  Yes, historically, we live in different times, but, human nature never changes.  The emotions that we experience are the same as those of people who lived centuries ago, and Jesus still speaks to us today.  Jesus can open our eyes still today!  God is revealed in the Scriptures.  And, WE are revealed in these Bible stories, highlighting how easily we abandon the discipline of faith.

We are called to be faithful.  What does this mean?  It means that we act courageously even when there is no outward, worldly support for our belief.  We act “as if” we trust, even though there may be days when our trust is weak.  In our disciplined actions of moving forward God will bless us and provide us with the gifts of faith, revelation, joy, and support!

Gracious and loving God, thank you for the precious example of Christ!  Thank you for providing us with stories of doubting people just like us-to show us how to connect directly with You, and to continue on the path of joy, faith, hope, and love.

We praise You in Christ’s name, amen.

Ann Scarborough