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June 25

My God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O King. Daniel 6:22

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Acts 12:7

We were innocent once…….’til we screwed up and got kicked out of Eden.

Some say America lost its innocence with Kennedy’s assassination or Nixon’s presidency; others count it from the end of our terrible misadventure in Vietnam. Certainly, by 9/11, our innocence was long gone.

So, how should we as individuals respond? The song says “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Well, it must begin with me: if I am not at peace with myself I cannot do justice, practice mercy and loving kindness, and walk humbly with my God.

The words of Dr. King: “We must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Before it is too late, we must narrow the gaping chasm between our proclamations of peace and our lowly deeds which precipitate and perpetuate war. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.”

 God, you are the source of life and peace. Hear our prayer in this time of crisis. Your power changes hearts. Help those who were estranged to join hands in friendship and nations seek the way of peace together. Give to us understanding that puts an end to strife; mercy that quenches hatred, and forgiveness that overcomes vengeance. Empower all people to live in your love. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson 



June 19

He will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great. Psalm 115:13

In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Galatians 3:26

[And the verses that follow in Galatians 3:27-28: “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. “]

Children of God, it says in Galatians that we can actually be children of God. Jesus often refers to a childlike faith and to the importance of children coming to Him. Children were not very important in that culture, often ignored and not to be heard speaking when adults were gathered. Jesus welcomed children to come, even telling the disciples to stop preventing the children from approaching and listening. He made no distinction between children and adults, speaking to all and welcoming all to faith.

This past week we had lots of children at church during Vacation Bible School. Through our trips into space, Mars and Beyond, they heard messages from the Bible – God saving Daniel, Esther saving her people, the Good Samaritan, the thankful leper, and Jesus’ conversation with the two men on the road to Emmaus.  They had lots of fun, as did we adults, and learned a lot about faith, hope and kindness, thankfulness and boldness. Of course they especially enjoyed science when we sent film canisters flying up into the air, and they could spin cups full of water overhead, not to mention the volcano representing the biggest volcano in the solar system.  Yes, these were tied back into the Bible stories for the day.

Jesus’ message is for all people, from little children all the way to the oldest. We humans tend to divide “others” into groups – those like us, and those not. Maybe we feel some groups are better than others, and we, of course, are special. But God has made us all special. We all can be children of God no matter our race, job, gender or ethnicity. So with the children we can have faith like Daniel, boldness like Esther, kindness like the Good Samaritan, thankfulness like the healed leper, and Hope like the travelers from Emmaus. We all can share that “All are one in Christ Jesus.”

Gracious God, thank you for the assurance that in your sight we are all special; great or small, you bless us. You watch over us and bless all who put their trust in you. Help us to share this Good News to those around us, especially those our world tends to forget and abuse. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Chris Gabel



June 18

Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live. Deuteronomy 31:13

Here I am, ready to come to you this third time. And I will not be a burden, because I do not want what is yours, but you; for children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children. 2 Corinthians 12:14

Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Jesus told stories; he called his stories ‘parables.”

Stories, parables, fables, anecdotes, illustrations, etc., help us to see the “bigger picture” in life. They help us to understand there is more to life than our own limited spheres of experience. They create pictures in our mind and open up our imagination to comprehend a greater dimension of life than we are normally used to experiencing. Stories are vehicles that take us to far off places, places we’ve never experienced ourselves. We listen to stories of little trains, dark knights, ducks, princesses, kings and queens. We read the stories in the Bible and learn. Learn of God’s love, of His never ending comfort. Of His never ending forgiveness.

God of wisdom and understanding, thank you for each generation of storytellers who have passed on the story of your gospel to the generations that have followed them. The seeds of this old, old story still fall into newly plowed furrows where they can sprout and grow. Keep your story growing in my heart today, ready to be told. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



June 14

You who love the Lord, hate evil. Psalm 97:10

For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish.  As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. 1 Peter 2:15-16.

The American artist, Norman Rockwell  did a series of paintings known as the Four Freedoms.  The paintings refer to President Franklin Roosevelt’s state of the union speech in January 1941 where he articulated these four freedoms as future goals for the United States and for the world.  The four goals are:  freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

We are indeed fortunate to live in this country of ours where at least two of these goals are a reality. Unfortunately,  freedom from want and freedom from fear are not realities for many people in our country and throughout the world.  And as the poster says, “freedom is not free.”  Men and women the world over give up their lives in the name of freedom.

“Free is an oft-used word in the English language.  Free thinker, free-born, freeloader, free lance, Freemason.  All of these freedoms suggest liberation from obstructions, barriers, biases or beliefs.

Think of the college student, diploma in hand, thinking “ I’m free.”

Our scripture for today reads, “as servants of God, live as free people.”  What does that mean for us ?

God has given us the free gift of grace.  But we know that it is not cheap grace. Christ died for us so that we might be free from the law of sin and death.  We are free to live as children of our heavenly father.  But our freedom in Christ carries with it responsibility. We cannot do anything we want. Guided by the Holy Spirit , we are to do justice and walk humbly with our God. 

Merciful God, hear our prayer.  Give us wisdom.  As we live freely in this world , show us your will, keep us free from evil, help us to do good.  Thank you for your love surrounding us at this very minute. Amen 

Joan Perlich



June 13

“Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce.”  Proverbs 3:9

“Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”  Matthew 25:45

Spring … dormant life springs up.  We plant seeds and plantlings … flowers for color and cheer; vegetables for the table; corn and soybeans for livelihood; pleasure and sustenance … to enjoy, to tend, and to share.  I feel an overwhelming gratitude for the goodness of the earth where I happen to live.  Visiting other countries, I have seen farmers work the land with an animal and tiller; some by hand with rudimentary tools on steep hillsides; coffee coops working together to make a living.  Sitting with them at their table I have found them … Generous.

What is enough?  For some athletes and other celebrities, some CEOS, even several million is not enough.  We read about holdouts and buyouts, finagling and scheming to get more.  What is enough?  St. Francis and Mother Theresa left wealth behind and lived simply, caring for the poor and nature.  Many others have been called to give up comfort and conveniences – missionaries, Peace Corps volunteers, aid workers willing to accept a lower income to help others.  What is enough?  3 cars?  2 cars?  1 car?  A bicycle?  Bus tokens to get to work?  Perhaps a movie after paying rent and daycare?  A choice of what to eat – three times a day?  Enough to stay alive?  Then those who live in hovels and survive refugee camps have enough.  Really?

There is a saying:  If you think about yourself, you will always want more; you will never have enough.  If you think about others, you will find you have enough.

“Father, providing food for your children, your wisdom guiding teaches us share
one with another; so that rejoicing, sister and brother may know your care.”  Amen

(Prayer text:  Albert Bayly)

Verla Olson



June 12

I will send survivors to the nations . . . that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. Isaiah 66:19 

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Matthew. 28:18-20

This past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost, the birth of the church. We celebrate the Holy Spirit coming to the disciples as they saw tongues of fire on their heads. When it happened to the disciples, they could speak other languages and understand them. They could tell the story of Jesus birth, death and resurrection to all the people from many lands gathered in Jerusalem.

We don’t get to see tongues of flame on our heads, might be a little scary if we did. But we do have the same Holy Spirit with us to help us in spreading the word about the glory of God. Isaiah 66 is the last chapter of the book of Isiah, and deals with those who obeyed God and those who did not. Those who are among God’s people are those that will be sent out to all the nations. They will go to all those that have not seen or heard the message, and they will declare the glory of God. Just think those who do not know about the wonders God has done, will learn about the glory of God. What is this glory?  The term usually indicates God’s deliverance of His people. It indicates His salvation coming through Jesus birth, death, and resurrection, to all people everywhere.

To all people everywhere. Isaiah 66:18 says that God will gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see his glory.  All nations, all people no matter where they were born, where they live and what language they speak. As Jesus returned to heaven he left the disciples with a message. They are to go to all nations, baptize them in the name of the triune God, and teach them all about obeying God’s commandments.

Dear Lord, we want to boldly share the good news of Jesus, but we are too often sidetracked by the details of daily life. As your love finds paths into our hardened hearts, make of us vessels fit to carry your life-giving message to a longing world. Speak your authoritative word into our lives today, God, so that we are filled with your Spirit and ready to speak your message of hope to family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Amen 

Chris Gabel



June 11

This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble. Psalm 34:6

If we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. 1 John 5:15

I know that prayer is important and vital. But I have to admit that I struggle with this at times. I know that we are called to it. I know that it is central to who we are as believers. I know that prayer is powerful. I know all of those things. But when I stop to think about the God of this universe, the God who created everything we see, everything we experience, everyone we interact with, things that are far beyond what we could ever understand or have any hope of understanding. When I think about God loving me enough to take the time to listen, when I take what in my mind are sometimes trivial concerns, that blows me away. I mean absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt blows me away.

How could the God of the universe care about me and what concerns me? And even if He does care, how could He have the time to respond? And even if he does care and wants to respond, here’s the big question, how can He listen to all of us at the same time? I mean, think about that. I used to be pretty good at multi-tasking, (not so much anymore). I mean that is like multi-tasking on only a level that God could understand because how could He listen to all of our needs and all of our prayers, all of our concerns, all of our joys at the exact same time? Scripture tells us He can. Scripture tells us He does. That He hears us when we pray. That He hears us when we cry. That He hears us when we say thank you. The question before me and all of us is, do we believe it and…. ………….do we live it?

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.”   Søren Kierkegaard

Thank you, God, for saving me from my recurring troubles with fear, meaninglessness, black and white days, haunting loneliness and rebellious energies. I regret those times when I lose my trust in you and forget that in the noise of my need you still hear me. Help me to believe you’re continually healing me in body, mind and spirit. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



June 5

In quietness and in trust shall be your strength Isaiah 30:15

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Matthew 6:27

We live in a noisy world. All the noise and clamor of so many things going on around us can be upsetting and confusing.  Our schedules are full of all kinds of activities that we just HAVE TO get accomplished before we can relax. At least there are those wonderful vacations where we can just do fun things, or are they a bit stressful sometimes too? I had a friend whose family had a cabin to go to every weekend during much of the year. They left late Friday evening, she spent Saturday and part of Sunday doing housework, and yardwork and cooking for everyone. Then she had a little time for herself late Sunday when it was time to go home. Or there are some who are on vacation, away for a couple weeks, and have the cell phone along to keep up with things so they don’t miss anything at work. This is not quiet and relaxing. Worry seems to be a constant in our lives.

We so often end up without any time of quietness at all.  No time to just sit, contemplate nature, enjoy a hobby, or take time to read our Bible and meditate and pray. There is the saying about when there is just too much to do to take time to pray, that is the time you must start out with prayer.  Jesus does not want us scurrying around and worrying about every little thing. In Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives examples of the ways God takes care of the world and of us. For the chronic worriers, He reminds us that our worrying does not an hour to our lives; it does not add anything at all.

Worry only has a use when we decide on some action to do to take care of the problem. When we take a little of that worrying time and instead sit quietly before God and share our problems, worries, and needs with Him. Yes, He already knows all these things about us, but in our deepening relationship with our Lord we can have the strength that comes from quietly trusting in God and His work in our lives.

Dear Jesus, show us the blessedness in stepping aside to renew and recreate our lives according to your will. Help us to follow the example you set for us when you left the crowds to rest. Help us to seek times of quiet reflection on your word. May we find our rest and quietness and strength in you each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Chris Gabel



May 31

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, til I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.  Psalm 71:18

So we do not lose heart.  Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 
2 Corinthians 4:16

Have you heard this saying?  “Aging is not for sissies.”  I agree with the truth in that statement.  Growing old is hard sometimes.  We lose strength in our physical bodies so that we are not able to do what we once did easily.  Our memory fades too so that we search for names and what we had for breakfast.  Sometimes elders are abused by their caregivers, even family members.  Finances can be a worry, will the money last longer than our lives?  Regrets and unhappy memories can disturb our peace.

Aging has a good side too.  Hopefully we can retire while we still are healthy enough to pursue other interests such as hobbies and travel.  Senior discounts are nice and helpful.  Most of us have gained wisdom from living long and experiencing much.

Wisdom – a true gift from God.  And as the writer of Psalm 91 says, we have responsibilities, that of ensuring that the next generations know about the goodness of God.  In our present day culture,  young people tend to not go to church.  The church, the body of Christ that has been so important in our lives is losing its significance in our younger population. 

But God knows all this.  And He has a plan. So we should not “lose heart”.  Rather , we continue to give thanks to our Lord who continues to renew our inner natures and does not forsake us.  And we continue to go to worship, to church where our lives are truly strengthened and renewed by God’s word and friends who believe as we do. 

As aging moves us from our sixties into our seventies and then eighties and nineties, we are presented with both challenges and blessings.  Our eyes may dim but we see that which is not seen but is our promise and our future.

Faithful God, you know our minds and our hearts.  You have prepared us for this aging process and we thank you for the blessings we find, no matter our age or our circumstance.  When we are weak and afraid, strengthen us with your love and understanding.  Help us to share what you have done for us and for all.  And give us peace.  Amen

Joan Perlich



May 30

“You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead.”  Psalm 16:10

“Consequently Jesus is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”  Hebrews 7:25

This has been a week of honor and remembrance, flags and flowers.  This day, May 30, was originally designated Decoration Day, in 1868, to decorate the graves of Civil War dead.  Memorial Day is now a day we honor all deceased military with graveside ceremonies, and also all departed loved ones. 

This year today, May 30, happens to be the Christian commemoration of Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.   Remember Good Friday, when Jesus gave up his life for others – all others?  The third day, when Jesus’ dear ones approached his tomb bringing oil, and grief?  And Easter, when our sanctuary is awash not in tears, but in celebration of redemption and new life?

“Freedom is not free” we say, remembering those who have serve(d), many who died, earning our independence and defending freedom.  Our spiritual freedom was not free for Jesus, surrendering his life as a ransom for all.

But for us it is free, a gift of God’s grace.  Or is it?  I believe we owe a debt for this hard-fought freedom, redemption and new life.  Recently I read of children’s lessons in another country, teaching that with rights comes duty:  the right to enough to eat brings a duty to not waste; the right to a clean environment comes with a duty to care for the earth.  Freedom was meant for all, with equal rights, and it comes with a duty to advocate justice and fairness for all.  God’s mercy was meant for all, and it is our duty to live as God intended, with mercy and grace.

“I gave My life for thee.  My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be, And raised up from the dead.
I gave My life for thee.  What hast thou given for Me?”  Amen     (Frances Havergal)

Verla Olson