The Touchstone; An Easter Message


touchstone

The following was the Easter Message for 2012.   It was delivered at Asbury Church in Chesterfield, New Hampshire to a pack crowd.    In celebration of this most Holy time, I post it again today.  

Shalom, Scott

****** 

There is a Romanian legend of a young man who was raised in the poorest of circumstances.   When he was a small child he was one of six children born to very poor fishermen on the shore of the black sea.    Existence was day to day and much harsher than any of us can imagine.    When he was barely four, a sickness swept through the small village that he called home.    In a matter of weeks he was the only one of his family that was left.

His life was even harder from that point on.  He jumped from home to home, and he relied on the generosity and charity of strangers.   Some of the families who took him in were kind and loving.   Others were not.    Some saw the growing boy as cheap or slave labor to make ends meet.   Although some showed whatever hospitality they could afford, others treated him harshly.

He dreamed that one day he would find the way out.  

(more…)

How Did We Get Here?


(A Pastoral Prayer)

Heavenly father, there are times when we find ourselves full of disappointment and heartbreak.   Sometimes it comes when we find ourselves in places we never thought we would be.   The people we have become are not those we expected, and we wonder how we got here.   The lives we are living are not what we wanted or hoped for and we wonder when we let our dreams fade.

Way too often that disappointment leads us to do silly, stupid, or selfish things.   Sometimes we pretend to be the people we should be and end up fooling no one.  Sometimes we crush ourselves being jealous of the lives of others.   We let the success of others be our reason for disappointment.

All too often we let the hopelessness and the regret take over.   Too often we set the anger or bitterness free.   Other times we push it so far down inside of us that we hardly realize it’s there.   All the while it rots us from the inside out.

Lord, we ask for your help.  Help us to embrace the anger and the dissatisfaction that will lead to the change that we hope and long for.   Help us to put away the anger that leads us to regret and nothingness.   Help us to look at our lives and our world and see possibilities.   Help us to embrace hope.

Remind us continually that hope abounds.   Help us to see it in the moments of our celebrations; be they birthday parties, accomplishments, or job promotions.   Help us to celebrate the hope that is found in our moments of joy such as the birth of a new baby, a dream fulfilled, or a return to health.

Even more importantly, Lord, we ask that hope be seen in our dark moments when we hurt, suffer or struggle.   Let us find the hope of your promise just as near us in these moments as they are in our moments of joy and celebration.  Let us never forget that your hope is always here for the taking.

In those times when the pain around us is not our own, we ask that you help us to become your presence to others.   Remind us we can be faith and belief, for those who believe neither is for them.  Help us to be the face of Jesus to our neighbors.

Along with all the concerns of friends and family that we raise to you continually, we pray that we can be hope for one another in their dark times.  We pray that we will always remember to be present.   We pray that we can be a source of encouragement and hope, and be seen as proof positive as to how much you truly love each of us, no matter the moment or the challenge. 

In you we put all of our trust, all of hope, all of our love, and all of our prayers,  Amen.

The Darkness and the Ache


A Pastoral Prayer

Heavenly father, each of us has an ache deep down that we long to fill.  

For some, exactly when that ache first came is hard to tell.

Maybe it came after a lifetime of hurts and abuses.   Maybe it is from years of being told we were not good enough, not smart enough, or not pretty enough.   Maybe once we started listening to the hurtful words of another, we opened the door for that ache.

Maybe it comes because of that scar that we are unable to talk about – even to those that are closest to us.

At the same time, there are others that remember when the ache arrived as if it was mere moments ago.  

Maybe it was the moment at the hospital when we heard words that took our breath away.   Maybe it was when the person or the thing we loved more than anything was stripped from our grasp.    Whatever the moment was or is, it came too quick and the ache has yet to leave.

In the end, that ache stifles our passion.   It slows us down.   It leads us to become people who are afraid, who are angry, and who cling desperately to the unsteady parts of the world.  We become bitter, hating each other and turning to fault and judgment as our first response.  We find ourselves either stiff legged and defiant, or trembling with uncertainty.   Sometimes we jump between the two quicker than we could ever realize.

We are told by the most well meaning among us, that the sky is always darkest just before the light – but the words ring of empty cliché.   We hope it’s true but things often seem just too dark to believe.    We pray for those who wonder if today they stand on the edge – and can expect a return of light or more of the same ever increasing darkness.   Lord, it is our prayer that you give us hope.    Let that hope lead to not only an assurance of your Grace, but the recognition that we are never truly alone.

Help us to look forward to the many celebrations, joys, and blessings you provide throughout our lives.   No matter how distant those times become help us to recall the feelings of joy, satisfaction, and love that was so powerful in those moments.   Let us rely on the power of those memories and the promise of the many more to come.   Let these times be the light that pierces the darkness, and dulls the ache.

We pray for those in our neighborhoods, families, and community who struggle.  We pray for strangers.   We pray for nations, leaders, and far away places.     We pray that your voice be heard, and that in trust and in hope, the people who need you will turn towards you.   For all the aches, those that we can mention and those we cannot, and for all the joys, both of yesterday and tomorrow, we offer our fullest praise and prayer, and we do so with the very words in which strength for all believers is found….

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory,

for ever.

Amen.

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