From Rev Sue Ann Yarbrough
Blessings to you all. The first day of summer is close at hand. I pray all of you can spend some relaxing and healing time in the sun. Yes, too much time in the sun is not good for us, but just a little can be just right. Do take your Sabbath time when you can. God always offers us rest and rejuvenation, but at times we get too busy to notice. Please take good care, and let us know if we can be of help. You are in our prayers.
Scripture: Matthew 10: 26b-27, 31
"Nothing hidden will not be revealed, and nothing secret won't be brought out in the open. What I say to you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, announce from the rooftops...Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before people, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven."
We don't need to know, and can't know everything. Yet, we can be confident that what we need to know will not be hidden from us. God does not try to trick us.
Yes, living honestly takes trust. Learning to trust is a valuable spiritual practice. Sometimes, we need to trust a situation even when we feel uncomfortable. Fortunately, we can always pray to God to show us the path of truth, of how to get from Point A (where we are today) to Point B (where we want to go). However, in this scripture we hear Jesus reminding us that we need to acknowledge God's presence and guidance. Truthfully, I think all of us know that there are times when where we want to go is not where we need to be. It takes a loving and confident heart to acknowledge that God may be leading us in another direction. It takes courage, prayer, and patience to say, "God, where you lead, I will follow, for truly there is nowhere else I want to be." We may not be able to declare that from the rooftops, but we can announce it in our hearts. God is there and will hear. Heaven is that close. Blessed be.
Holy and Ever Steadfast God, we thank you for your guidance that is ever being revealed to us through the love of Jesus Christ. Forgive us when we forget to trust your path, but rather want to go our own way. Forgive our impatience. Today, we acknowledge your love and guidance in our hearts, and we recommit ourselves to living your loving, honest ways every day. Help us to encourage and inspire one another on this path of trust. Help us to remember that if we claim to trust the teachings of Jesus, we must be willing to live in that trust. We know that in that trust, you will bring out the best in us, and this is what the world needs.
In Jesus' name and love we gratefully pray, Amen
Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough
Associate Pastor, San Lorenzo Community Church, United Church of Christ
SpiritCare Ministry to Seniors
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Good morning, Sunshine! Friends and Fellow Companions in the Journey!
Be blessed this very day and the upcoming days which follow with the divine sense of the Lord's unconditional love and undeserved provision in your life! Let go and let God!
Lord, today, help me let go of my need to be perfect and to unreasonably insist that others be perfect. I won't use this to tolerate or accept abuse or mistreatment, but to achieve appropriate, balanced expectation. I want to, and I will create a healthy atmosphere of love, acceptance, and nurturing around and within me. I will expect that this attitude will bring out the very best in other people and in me, also. In Jesus' name. Amen
As the years have passed by--more and more--it has been my experience increasingly to accept myself, my shortcomings, and as well, my idiosyncrasies. Laughing at myself gets me a lot further that "picking on myself" in my attempt to make myself perfect. Trust me, I've been there!
How about you? It seems to me nowadays true prosperity in life is this:
It isn't rocket-science. Happily, you do the best you can, but put an end to expecting perfection from yourself, and also from those around you.
People make mistakes. People do much better in life if they can live with a sense of knowing that they are not expected to be perfect - less anxious and less intimidated.
So what are we supposed to do when it comes to having standards in our lives? Can we just goof off and have people tolerate us? Can we just allow others to use excuses when it comes to having standards and producing things and services of quality?
I think a Biblical standard for accomplishment, excellence, and as well, quality in the affairs of everyday life would definitely include this notion. Striving for excellence, working together to create things of beauty and practicality - the very best we have to offer - just doesn't happen within a negative, fear-producing atmosphere of overseers expecting perfection. The good things of life --- the really excellent things of life --- come from the joy and peace of knowing you are doing something outstanding and well.
Some of the best pottery in the world comes from Japan. The most expensive, the most outstanding pottery made in Japan is made in such a way that there are cracks and crevices in the final products. This very pottery is the most envied and expensive. I'd like to think that the most outstanding, productive and precious human beings that are with us in the world are a little bit "cracked" themselves...I would hope this would be true.
So, indeed, especially as people of faith, we might present themselves as productive workers, but be ready at times to fall short of the goal, and being gentle with ourselves, we may be gentle with others.We need to have and set boundaries. We need to have reasonable expectations. We need to strive to do our best. We need to encourage others to do the same. As we do this, we know that we and others will make mistakes. We need to understand that we will have learning experiences, that is, things we go through, and being reasonable, we will overcome. We will be successful. It will involve pleasant though challenging times.
Sometimes the flaws and imperfections in ourselves, like the Japanese pottery, will determine our uniqueness, and in some cases, pleasantly surprise us by not being a mistake after all. It will give rise to us to relish our imperfection --- to see that God is at work in our efforts to bring about true art or something new and useful. Rather than bringing self-condemnation, we will be able to find humor our in human efforts. As we embrace both sides of our human nature, to strive for excellence--or--to find ourselves in a situation of personal shortcoming...we embrace our circumstances and our most fundamental humanity. God will be there to bring eventual blessing to each situation.
In process, we encourage others - having embraced our own humanity - and we do the very best we can ourselves. With the love of God firmly implanted upon our hearts we discover we are lovable and worthy of love, though flawed. We nurture ourselves and others for being who and what we are, creatures of God's own making, acceptable.
It is then that we realize that we are not merely human. We affirm heart, soul and mind that we are intended and created to be human:
From Rev Sue Ann Yarbrough
Hello everyone, please know you are being held in prayer by many. If you have other needs, do let us know. I think of you all so often, and it is indeed with deep gratitude.
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
I have always loved this well-know scripture of Abraham and Sarah extending hospitality in the desert. There is, of course, more to these "three men" than is first apparent, for one of them announces to their hosts that they will bear a son. Abraham and Sarah are reluctant to believe this bit of news because of their advanced age (in fact, Sarah, who was a distance away actually laughed out loud), they would indeed give birth to Isaac.
This story reminds us that everyone has something vital to offer. Abraham and Sarah offer food, water, some shade. The travelers share a message from God. We all have a role to live in this life, and we all have something to give, and something to receive. Sometimes all we have to offer are prayers and love. That is more than enough for we can depend on God to give us what we need. Learning to trust that we will be provided for is part of all our journeys. Let us always encourage one another for we know we journey together. Amen.
Holy God, you have called us on this journey, and we know that wherever we are, you are with us. Help us to treat one another, and ourselves, with love and encouragement. You know sometimes the journey does get difficult. We thank you for the good traveling companions you have given us. May we not take you, or them, for granted, but rather offer the hospitality of our hearts. May we always rest comfortably in the company of one another and in your care. Amen.
"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2
Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, Associate Pastor, San Lorenzo Community Church, United Church of Christ
SpiritCare Ministry to Seniors
P.S. Read Sue Ann's Blog www.hearthpsalms.blogspot.com
From Rev Sue Ann Yarbrough
Scripture: Psalm 46: 1-3, 10 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
... Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
I believe Jesus might have heard this tender message in the Garden of Gethsemane. He wanted the cup he was about to receive to pass him by. That was not to be, but a wondrous story unfolded then, and it continues to do so today. Let us remember that Christ is always guiding us. "Shh...Listen" God is telling us to sit in the silence and know that He is everywhere. God is asking us to be willing to trust and be patient. Let's let God be God, because we cannot. Yet, what we can do is pray, knowing that God is always with us, right where we are. Isn't that good news? Let us give thanks.
Our prayer today comes from the beautiful hymn, Be Still My Soul"
Be still my soul; for God is on your side,
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Trust in your God, your savior and your guide,
who through all changes faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a peaceful end.
Words written by Katharina von Schlegel, 1752
Here's a video to share with your friends, family and care community residents.
It was made by a brother, Nate, and sister, Noel, who hope you enjoy the antics of their family pet, Cody. Let them know your reaction by commenting below.
Cody loves to snuggle. He can make his own bed and loves to nap in the sun. A ball of joy, he loves to run in the yard and tear up paper towels.
Nate and Noel end with a prayer to you all.
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Grace and peace to you from God our Father Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
Dear Lord, be with us in these days -- when we and our nation are in a time of great pandemic as well as disorder, confusion, and, yes, violence. In the midst of the calamity and frustration we face, grant us grace and vision for the immediate hours -- that are to follow. In your name we pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You."
1 Corinthians 2:9 "...we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began..."
Let us pray. Please come along with me today:
O God...Today, I will not worry about other peoples' reactions to my convictions. I will not focus on events and reactions beyond my control. I release myself from every hesitancy and fear. Instead, I will focus upon my reactions. I will handle my life well today and trust that, tomorrow, I can do the same. Build in me Christlike conviction and courage. In Jesus' name.
We are all saddened by what is happening in many of the metropolitan areas of our country. I am especially focusing in on Minneapolis where I was partially raised. I lived right down the street from where many of the TV images are presenting the sights of this normally delightful city. Things have changed there as everywhere. All of us, so it appears, need to grow into the twenty-first century, realizing that many things that should have been taken care of centuries ago, we are still dealing with. Often, with a mindset of faith, I tend to think that many of our problems have underneath them a certain presupposition that I would like to address in this meditation.
A note in passing..."What if's" can drive us crazy. They place control over our life into someone else's hands. "What if's" are a sign that we have reverted to thinking that people have to react in a particular way -- for us to continue on our course.
"What if's" are also a clue that we may be wondering whether we can trust ourselves -- AND GOD -- to do what is best for us. These are the tell-tale signs of personal insecurity in our thinking, feeling, and behaving...and they raise a "red flag" when it comes to being dominated by fear. It is one aspect of the "spector of fear" in our lives. Whenever and wherever fear becomes the motivation, there can be no dominant controlling factor of God's love in our lives. So the Apostle John correctly affirms, 1 John 4:13 "...perfect love casts out fear..." God's love and human fear cannot co-exist in the same human body, mind, and soul. What an insight to savor this is -- as we seek to know peace, purpose, and freedom in our lives of faith.
A key factor in true, genuine Christianity has to do with a presupposition of faith. The reactions, feelings, likes or dislikes of other people don't have to control our behaviors, feelings, and direction. We don't need to control how others will react to our choices. As we trust the Lord, we trust ourselves with God's help to handle any eventual outcome -- even the most uncomfortable, unexpected result. Many Christian women and men fear this. With the mighty support of the Scriptures and God's direct help we can trust ourselves to handle it well.
What kind of reaction of others do you fear? Be kind, be loving, be happy, be well, but be yourself...everybody else is taken!
Cordially, in Jesus, Tom
From Rev Sue Ann Yarbrough
Greetings and blessings to each of you as you care for your residents, your families, and, I do hope, yourselves. You are in our hearts. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if there is a need, including the need to talk. My cell phone number is below.
Scripture: Acts 2:17-18 Common English Bible (CEB)
"I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. Even upon my servants, men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy."
Our scripture today was announced by the Apostle Peter and he is quoting the ancient prophet Joel. Luke goes on to tell about the ministries of both Peter and John and how the Holy Spirit had given them the confidence to teach and preach about Jesus, and to even heal in his name. Other believers gathered with them and Christian communities began to form.
While the Spirit is recognized as part of the Holy Trinity that is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or Creator, Christ, and Spirit, I have often thought that we do not speak enough about the Holy Spirit. It is Spirit that brings us God's grace and power. Spirit does indeed give us the confidence and courage to face what we need to face, and to live our lives in faith. Spirit cannot be controlled, but can certainly be accepted and loved. We cannot hold on to God, Spirit, and Christ, but the love they offer is tangible, and can be accepted and lived. We can then confidently share our love with others. Sometimes we cannot understand what Spirit is bringing us. However, let us always have the faith to know that understanding will happen. Like Peter and John, let us trust how God is calling us to be today.
Holy One in Three, we thank you for the sharing of your love and protection. Help us to have confidence in this time, trusting that you are working for the good of all. We thank you for the gifts of care and friendship that you are bringing to us. We thank you for the people who are praying and working for the good of all. We lift our prayers to you, knowing that you already know what is in our hearts. We also know that all prayers are answered. Therefore, we lift our concerns to you, confident that you are holding us all. Help us to remember to look for the blessings that are present every day. We know Jesus tells us to not be afraid, so in his name, let us pray the Lord's Prayer together.
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 tresspasses,
As we forgive those who tresspass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power,
And the glory forever.
May we dare to dream dreams of abundant peace and love for all.
From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen!
How about a little humor...
What did Adam say to Eve in the Genesis? "I wear the plants in this family!"
What's Ludwig Beethoven doing now? Decomposing!
Mrs. Caesar to Julius Caesar: "No way we're naming this kid, Sid!"
What's the difference between apathy and ignorance?...I don't know and I don't care.
Enough. Enough. The great saints of God always maintain a keen sense of humor. Walk with Him with joy!
We trust in the Lord in our midst as we pass these days. Soon we will be together again to praise Him in our beloved church in the fullness of His perfect timing!!!
Many of us used to "pick on ourselves" before we came to faith in Christ. Now that we have become women and men of faith we may yet have a tendency to "pick on ourselves" -- to beat ourselves up -- even after the time we have let go in order to let God do things in our lives His way. I've caught myself at times saying,
"If I was really living a life of faith in Jesus,
I wouldn't be doing that again. After all, I've
been working on faith in Jesus for seventy-seven
years now. I should be further along than I am."
Acceptance enables us to grow, to change for the better. That's what God wants for us. We can come to embrace our humanity because God has made known His love for us -- and we are made worthy -- through His grace, available for us to receive accomplished at great price to through the sacrifice of Jesus. Not worthy in one's self!!! Made worthy!!! That makes sense. I don't need to attempt to justify myself. That seems fake to me.
How about you? I just accept God's undeserved grace as a gift, because somehow God deems me worthy of His great love. Being justified I don't need to struggle with whether I am good enough or not. God accepts me as I am. No wonder the song "Amazing Grace" has become so popular.
Life is too short to spend behind "the eight ball"...as far as the Lord is concerned.. Get with it, Sister! Get with it, Brother! When Jesus died on the cross, He suffered and He died literally becoming our sin that we might be made innocent in His presence. I've said it before and I will say it again, if you were the only human being who ever lived, yet Jesus would have come to save you. That's how much God loves you and me, no matter what we've done, no matter what our circumstance may be. This is the reliable source of our sense of self-worth. Our worth, our value is determined by God's opinion of who we are in Him...not by who we think we are. Talk about reliable! We've got to "grab hold" of this solid Bible truth.
Even if we slip back into old, harmful ways of acting out, from time to time... thoughts of feeling helpless, of behaving badly as a result, we don't need to keep living in the shame of it all. We simply turn it over to Christ. We make our confession. We put that "guilt garbage" into His hands. Otherwise Jesus died on the cross in vain. Goodness! I would not want to be accused of thinking that Jesus' death on the cross was for no purpose whatsoever, just a meaningless tragic effort. Certainly I'm really ready to hand it all over to Him. We need to confess. We don't need to wallow in guilt. Nobody needs that in their life, and yet it's so prevalent.
Saint Paul makes it clear in Galations 5:1, it is for freedom's sake that Christ has set us free. God encourages us to take full advantage. We are not to be burdened by the demands of an arduous religious life. Christians are set free by the saving power of Jesus to live fully. As we are made free in Christ others are being made free by observing us.
Saint Francis used to say, "Preach Gospel truth all day long, and sometimes, talk about it." Living free we are an example to others.
So there are two types of guilt, good guilt and bad guilt:
On the other hand, you can have only a penny in your pocket, and trusting in God, you can be the happiest and most contented person alive. Shame, guilt and regret will put you into a prison of your own making. I know a man who is worth six hundred million dollars. He is on his fourth wife and he is miserable. Allowing Christ to free you from these "three killers" will complete your life, one day at a time. It really works. The Lord will never force you. It is up to you.
I'll end things today by taking on a bit of Theology...don't really mean to bend your ear...but it is such a lovely and completing thought I have in mind. In the sixth chapter of Romans, Saint Paul says that through our baptism we die to self and become a new person. So since we die only once, it means the person we were before is gone, and we have become a new person, "a new creature".
In a sense we are in the "first phase" of eternal life awaiting the everlasting life that will begin for us at "the marriage feast of the Lamb"...and yet...being born again, so to speak, we still have to deal with our human body. I call the experience the "creative tension of the gospel" which is of great advantage because it keeps us on our toes. This baptism makes us one with God and with His purpose here on earth. This baptism makes us part of His family and therefore we are precious to Him. He knows what we go through, because He became one with us through Jesus.
This is a brilliant biblical idea from the incredible mindset of God. It would take someone like Saint Paul to sum things up by saying "what counts is a new creation" (Galatians 6:15) and earlier in Galatians 3:16, "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." Paul could say, "Because of Christ, I am who I am." It is just the opposite of what happens in the world at large. We are given divine assurances about our lives as we live day by day. God does this to allow us to be totally human and yet to have assurances for our everyday lives that show us the marvelous plans the Lord has for us. People, we are loved!