Tuesday, November 25, 2008


A simple exercise for Thanksgiving …

A slip of paper, a pen … maybe a computer … write the word Blessings on top of the page, and then begin your list …

Take your time … let it flow … if there’s a pause, wait a moment or two … more things will come …

The list doesn’t need to exceed 20 items … a dozen will do for the time being …

And for the next few days, read the list daily, and say at the end, “Jesus my LORD.”

Read slowly … like eating good food … slowly … to savor each bite, discerning the complex layers of flavor and texture.

It takes but a few moments of our time, but time taken for gratitude slows our pace and creates a small space of peace. There is soul-healing power in gratitude.

As the hymn puts it, Count your blessings, name them one by one; you’ll be surprised by what the LORD has done.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Interim Pastor Tom Eggebeen

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Changing Our Minds

Stay the course, but be prepared for the unexpected discovery.

Years ago, the Christian Century magazine published a series of articles entitled, “How I Changed My Mind” – written by a variety of top-notch scholars, preachers and church leaders.

For all of them, those critical moments when new data entered the stream of thought, when the unexpected discovery could not be ignored – so, they changed their minds.

Emerson noted: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”

What’s “foolish consistency”? A refusal to let new data enter the stream of thought. A consistent disregard for the unexpected discovery – as if Columbus might have sailed into the new world and said, “Nope. Doesn’t exist! The world as I knew it last week is still the world as it is.”

Life is a quest … a constant journey … and God is constantly introducing new data into the stream of thought, and as we walk with Jesus, we will see things never seen before, or we’ll see what we saw thousand times before in a brand new light.

It takes courage, I think to change the mind, and some humility as well – to admit that our former take on things can go in a new direction. “I used to think thus and so, but now I see it differently.”

It’s good to change … do it slowly, do it carefully - keep the windows of your mind open to new data and the unexpected discovery.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

On the eleventh day of the eleventh year at the eleventh hour – the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front – World War 1, and today is the 90th anniversary.

The date was declared a national holiday in many nations to remember the 20 million who perished.

After Word War 2, it was changed to Veterans’ Day in the United States and to Day of Remembrance in the British Commonwealth. In many parts of the world, people pause for a two-minute period of silence at 11:00 AM.

At 11:00 AM this morning, I invite you to take a moment for prayer:

Eternal God, whose love is our peace, whose mercy is our hope, I remember the 20 million who perished in the fateful days of World War 1, and I gratefully remember when peace was declared and war was no more, though only for a season.

O LORD our God, my heart is distressed, because we are a warring race, easily taking up arms against one another, convinced that peace can be won through might. But war and rumors of war plague our world, and in this moment as I pray, soldiers and civilians are dying in gunfire and explosion, others maimed for life all around this lovely blue planet – and the sorrows grow deeper.

Help me, O LORD to be a person of faith and peace. To refrain from all expressions of violence and ill-will. To embody peace in my own life; to apologize and to forgive quickly, rising above dark thoughts. To be of good cheer and to lift up struggling souls. To stand with the oppressed and the excluded. To pray constantly for peace and to work hard for justice.

I pray for the leaders of the world, and I pray that women and men of faith will boldly bear witness to the tasks of peace.

Help me to stand with Jesus first of all, to lift up before my world the larger vision of the peaceable kingdom, when the lion shall lay down with the lamb. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is one of my all-time favorite hymns; the last stanza reads like this:

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth. Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

And then the chorus:

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
I thought of this great hymn when reading Psalm 62 this morning.

The Psalm begins like this:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.

Dear Reader:

When the winds blow and the storms come, we are safe.
When our own failures overtake us, we are safe.
When the hurt and harm of others injures us, we are safe.
When our hopes and dreams come to naught, we are safe.
When life is more than we can bear, we are safe.

God see us through the storm …
God forgives our sins …
God uses our suffering to mature our soul …
God always has something new in store for us …
God carries our burdens, too …

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Yin Yang

Getting acquainted with someone of another culture is always an enlightening moment – not only do we learn of another way of living and thinking, but we gain insight into our own patterns of thought and life.

I’m reading a book about the Trinity written by a Korean Christian whose world and life have been shaped by Yin Yang thinking. In a nutshell, Yin Yang is a both/and way of thinking, inclusive of what we might call opposites. You’re probably familiar with the symbol:

Opposites not only intertwine, but they contain a bit of the opposite within them.

We see a lot of this in Scripture – Psalms 22 and 23; Genesis 1 and 2; 1 Kings 18 and 19 … the life of Jesus: Bethlehem and Calvary, joy and sorrow, silence and speech. Read Ecclesiastes 3 for a poetic grasp of Yin Yang.

Life is rarely clear-cut – mostly a little of this and a little of that, with most of our choices never totally clear, a downside, an upside, to everything.

We sometimes get trapped trying to make the “right” decision. In all likelihood, looking back on our days, it’s not about making the “right” decision, but making a decision, getting on with it, having weighed up all the factors with all the love for life we can muster, seeking someone’s counsel as well, and then, with prayer and hope, going for it, staying with it, modifying it as we go along, adding and subtracting from it as the process unfolds.

Have you pressured yourself to make the “right” decision, maybe petrified of making the “wrong” one? Hoping something or someone will come along and say, “This is the choice to make.” I’ve been there many a time. But no one can tell us, not even God, and no event or circumstance ever makes it totally clear.

We just have to choose as best we can and trust the power of life and love, the power of God, and the goodness of those around us. And in all of it, we will find grace finding us.