Prayer for Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.” — Matthew 5:9

So much violence, conflict, and war in the news… I know I am not alone in this concern because at worship I hear prayers for peace. I also see prayers for peace on our public chalkboard, and images urging peace posted on Facebook.

Below is a prayer for peace that I wrote one year ago. I invite you to read this prayer twice: once to see what it says, and then, if you agree with the words, a second time to pray with me… Or, perhaps you would like to pray for peace in your own words. You could also use this prayer at the opening of a meeting or small faith group gathering. Although you and I are not together in person at the moment, our prayers are united before God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Retreat cross with prayers--from Julie McCartyHeavenly God,

You know all that is in our hearts:
the good desires
and the not-so-good desires,
the longing for peace,
yet wanting things-my-own-way,
the instinct to share,
while also the instinct of hoarding-for-my-survival.

I don’t have to tell you that all people on earth
have the need for clean water, healthy food, shelter, and safety.
You know very well how people who are desperately suffering
from starvation, thirst, homelessness, or civil strife,
may fall into violence to get what they need to survive.
You also know some people turn aggression into a way of life,
using violent solutions at the least provocation.

Loving God, we ask you to help us to work for peace.
You are like a loving parent–we are your children,
whatever our nationality, tribe, religion, or culture.
We are all one family, and yet, like one family,
we disagree, we fight for dominance, we wrestle for power.

When harm comes to innocent people, we feel frightened or angry.
Do we fight back? Look away? Grab a gun or hold a dove of peace?
I think there is no easy answer. I think: it depends.

I beg you, Lord, to pour your Spirit of Wisdom
on those who have earthly power, the movers and shakers,
political leaders and public commentators,
and all those who speak in the streets or social media.

Show us the way to work and live together in harmony–
and give us the courage to follow that way
with compassion, inner strength, and mercy.

I’m not just asking, Lord, I’m begging.

Amen.

 

 

Julie McCarty is a published writer, blogger, spiritual director, and budding artist who attends Easter Lutheran with her husband, Terry. 

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Invitation: Read the Bible in a Year with Pastor Kris

An invitation from Pastor Kris:

I’ve always wanted to read the Bible from cover to cover. You might think that as a Pastor I have done this several times over. It’s true–I’ve read the whole Bible — but never cover to cover. SO — this year I am going to do it!  And  —  I thought I would invite all of you along on the journey!

Cover of The NRSV Daily BibleGod’s Word is filled with adventure. From floods and plagues to whole countries being overthrown and babies being born. And this adventure is really about how God’s love intersects with real people in real lives just like yours and mine. Why not spend a year reading the whole thing and see how God’s love intersects with your life in new ways? Why not open the pages of scripture every day and ask God to speak into your life?

We will be reading from The NRSV Daily Bible which includes special prayers and devotions for each day of the year. We will embrace the digital age with a Facebook Group and an online forum on Easter’s soon-to-be-released NEW website where you can interact with others who are on the same adventure. Finally, there will be a once a month touchpoint —  the first Tuesday of the month where we can meet face to face and discuss the big questions and revelations that come before us as we read each day.

DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS:

  • Start reading Day 1 on October 1
  • First in-person meeting will be Tuesday, November 4, 7-8:30 p.m., Easter by the Lake
  • Join us at 5:30 p.m. for a Community meal before the class gathering
  • Meet 1st Tuesday of each month in the new Lakeside Room at Easter by the Lake
  • Share online with Facebook Group –OR– new online forum on Easter’s website in fall
  • The in-person meeting is optional, as are the Facebook Group and Online Forum

We want you to study along with us in whatever format works best for you and your schedule.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ATTEND EASTER LUTHERAN CHURCH TO PARTICIPATE. All welcome.

Back cover NRSV Daily BibleWe hope to have a limited number of discounted The NRSV Daily Bibles available for purchase in the church office soon. There are many places to buy the book online.  The Kindle version of the book is available at smile.amazon.com for $12.47.  Call the church office at 651-452-3680 with any questions.

Join others in this amazing journey! 

Pastor Kris Capel is lead pastor at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan, Minnesota, www.easter.org .

Walking the Heart of Jesus

Above the clouds, sitting in a tight airplane seat, I sense God close. Is it because his angels fly on the wings guiding us safely back to solid ground? Is it because my child’s heart still thinks heaven lives in the skies? Is it being untethered to the earth? Could it be the stillness and quiet I enfold myself in when ensconced inside a steel bird? Is it the praise music that fills my headphones singly directly to my heart only? Whatever it is that hugs him to me, I welcome the embrace.

Tonight, I say a prayer of gratitude for the work I do that brings me into the orbit of people who care, with genuine mission and strength. They let their hearts serve those who need their talent and compassion. There is no glory in their work. There is no great financial reward. They are not heaped on with gratitude and recognition. They are called by something greater than themselves. Their caring souls make my heartbeats smile. They reflect the face of God.

I have spent a week in their presence, soaking up their effervescent spirits. While I am dog tired, I am rekindled with a sustainable energy that makes my weariness feather light and assures me it is transitory. I say a quietly loud thank you for people like them who walk the heart of Jesus in our messy world.

Above the cloudsAs I watch the sun set on top of the clouds, melting into a softness, it transforms the clouds into a brilliant thank you for yet another day. Day leaning into Gods tender love. This journey has wrapped its heart around my own and I know I am blessed beyond any words I can speak. I think of the love of a man and puppy that waits for me on the other side of today and this week. A silent but loud thanks to God who knows my heart better than I do for this extraordinary life he has gifted me. So, so blessed.

Here is the question this has stirred in me.  How do you walk the heart of Jesus?  I am going to try and let this question lead my days that I hope to end with a soft melting into God and a brilliant thank you to match the sunset. 

Dear God, Help us to take a moment to say a little prayer every day to thank all those who walk the heart of Jesus. Pray that their hearts remain open even when their hard work is not acknowledged or given gratitude. We ask that you continue to give them the strength to do the hard work of caring much. Last, thank you for this day and all I have seen and known today as well as all the blessings in my life. With a grateful heart, Amen.

Spreading God’s Love Through Piggybacks

My name is Sara Funkhouser and I am going to be a freshman at Concordia College! Like Adam, I went to Lame Deer, Montana. I have been on three mission trips and I have worked with children for the last two. Last year, I felt as if I was simply a friend to the children. This year, I felt like a mother. 

For two days, I was blessed with the opportunity to assist with Kid’s Club; it is a summer program for children that allows them time to be kids, get creative, and experience God’s word. I began my time there swinging with a young girl named Shantel. The entire time that we were swinging together, she would just giggle. After a while, I began working with a young boy named Kevin, and the trip was not the same after that first encounter. 

When I first began to work with Kevin, he was absolutely silent. He would not speak, nod his head, anything. He just stood there, looking into space. Then, I asked him if he wanted a piggyback ride, and he did not leave my side after that. We went everywhere together. Which meant that Kevin was almost always on my back. We would go between the playground and the reading station. We went up and down the hill countless times. Kevin would just sit on my back saying, “With speed! With speed!” So, I would run as fast as I could while making sure Kevin never fell off. At first he was afraid that I was going to drop him or that he was going to fall off, but eventually he learned that if he told me that he thought he was slipping, I would put him up higher on my back and on with the adventures we would go. We would run all around the park, well fly because I was his spaceship, and we would collect imaginary treasures as we went. He even let me stop for more fuel whenever I wasn’t running quite as fast; to check he used my neck and would tell me if my fuel levels were low. 

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Sara and Kevin at Kid’s Club in Montana

While we were often running around, he and I both enjoyed some of the quieter times. Together we would sit in the shade and he would sit on my lap as we read story after story. He especially loved Clifford, so I think we read that at least three times every day. I was also able to ride along in the van that brought him home one day. 

On the van rides home, the children received animal crackers. Those mean animal crackers tried to eat me. Don’t worry, though. Kevin ate them in order to protect me. Less than two minutes after asking for more “cookies,” as the kids called them, his little head began to bob. He fell asleep sitting next to me in the van, and he looked so peaceful. 

On the last night, we had a community cookout. Kevin and his older brother Markis came to eat with us. Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle during the preparations. When I came outside on crutches, they both rushed over to where I was sitting. Markis walked up to me and gave me a hug, while Kevin came and sat down on my leg like he had done so many times earlier in the week. He then walked back to where he had been sitting, talked to one of the adult leaders, Bob, and came back a few seconds later. Bob was carrying Kevin’s food over to my table because Kevin wanted to sit next to me and make me feel better. Bob walked over to their car with them when it was time to leave. He came back and told myself and the other girls sitting at the table not to cry. Then he said, “Markis told me to tell you that he loves you.” I cried, right then and there. From the first piggyback ride I knew that God had put us into each other’s lives for a reason. 

Love is sometimes unexpected, but it is still wonderful all the same. I want to thank everyone who aids in making these trips possible. Without your love and support, I never would have worked with some incredible people over the past three years. And, while I am now too old to participate in mission trips as a student, I look forward to the time when I can be an adult leader to assist other teenagers in their faith journeys. Mission trips are life-changing. It is not something that words can describe, but it is something that has to be felt. I know for a fact that my life will not be the same because I spent two days with Kevin and Markis in Montana.

Finding God in an Underdog at Kids Club

Adam Pugh in the kitchen on a mission trip to Montana.

Adam Pugh in the kitchen on a mission trip to Montana.

Hello my name is Adam Pugh, I am going to be a senior and I went on a youth works mission trip to Lame Deer, Montana which is on the Northern Cheyenne reservation.

One of the things we did in Montana was Kids Club. It is like an all summer vacation bible school for the kids in the community that we help at. I found out that kids loved getting underdogs from me because I am so tall. One of the days we were there a little girl came and sat down at one of the open swings. It took me a moment to recognize her. But I soon realized that it was Asia, the girl the YouthWorks staff had said was deaf and could not communicate very well.

So not knowing if she wanted to be pushed or not and not knowing how to ask her I just kept pushing the other kids. Then one of the times she caught my attention and pointed at someone who had just been pushed. Cautiously, I went behind her and gave her a little push and I got a little hint of a smile in return. So I went back and gave her a full underdog, turned around, and saw her laughing and smiling while the swing soared through the air.

It wasn’t until later while I was reflecting on the day that I realized how God was in that moment. It was in the way she communicated, it was in the underdog, and it was in her smile. Because like Asia, God doesn’t just come right out and say what He needs to say, He does it with a little point and a smile and we are the ones that need to put it together to make the push. So I would like to thank the congregation for all of your support and prayers to send so many of us on mission trips this year. It certainly makes a difference in the community, and in all of our personal growth toward God.

Making Decisions and Micah 6:8

When faced with a choice for your future, ever wonder what God wants you to do?

In our lives, we all have to make many decisions—and it isn’t always easy to decide what’s best.  There are big decisions (changing jobs or moving?) and little decisions (what to have for dinner?). The more significant decisions often need time to simmer. We need time to research the possibilities, talk it over with others, consider the implications of various choices, and–last but not least– pray about it.

In the spiritual life, this process is called “discernment.” Rather than just jumping into an important decision, we take the time to ask God what he views as the best choice. Discernment involves various kinds of “listening” for God’s will in our lives. This listening is waiting and watching for what seems best according to the ways of God.

Sometimes when I am having trouble making a decision about something, I think of this bible verse:

Geese with Micah 6 8 --photo Julie McCarty - Copy wihtout sig

Although this passage doesn’t tell me precisely what to do (whether to change jobs or move or whatever), it reminds me what matters in God’s eyes.  When I think of my decision in light of this verse, I take into consideration how my decision will effect others in my life. Will my choice be morally right and filled with love (“act justly” and “love tenderly”). That’s not to say I ignore my own needs, but to include the needs of others around me. (When we use our talents well, both our own needs and other’s needs will hopefully come into harmony.)

“Walk humbly with your God” reminds me of Pastor Sarah’s sermon last week about the beatitude “meekness.” God is in charge, not me. Yet, God’s being “in charge” is not like ruthless leader, but rather one who walks with us. Making the best decision we can, we do it in the presence and love of God. “Walk humbly with your God” implies that God is right there, all around us, and walking beside us in the journey we call life.

If this all sounds familiar, perhaps that is because Jesus taught the two most important “laws” are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. When making a decision, we can take into account how our choice is in line with what God wants and loves (found most profoundly in the teachings of Jesus), what is good for “our neighbor” (family, community, world, etc.) and what is good for one’s own self (it says to love your neighbor as yourself … so it is appropriate to think of your own needs, too).  

When we feel the time is right, we make the decision and trust that God will work through whatever the situation may be. God loves us immensely and treasures our desire to choose wisely.

 

Will you pray with me?

 

Dear Lord,

We trust that you love us
and always want what’s best for us. 

Help us remember, when making decisions,
to choose actions that are kind and good for all people,
filled with love for one another.

Remind us often that wherever we go,
whatever we do this day,
you are at our side, walking with us,
dwelling in our hearts and in our midst,
no matter how rough and rocky the road might be.

This we ask in the name of Jesus,

and in the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.