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Today’s New Testament reading comes from Mark 1:21-28

21They went to Capernaum (Kap per naum); and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

God always blesses the reading of his word.


 

Let us calm our minds and prepare our hearts as we come before our Lord.

Father, we come before you, perhaps having had a hard week since we last left your house. We come before you, humbled and broken, and ask you to restore us with your healing touch. The challenges that we’ve faced have left us shaken and uncertain about our faith in others, our faith in ourselves, and our faith in you. We ask you to wash away our doubts with your unfailing certainty. You are the God of all things and this week reminded us us that this world is your world, that we are your children. This week reminded us that You are our rock. When the world around us causes us to tremble and doubt, in you we can be confident and have sure footing. When the world drags us to our knees, You are there to lift us up and strengthen our hearts and spirit.

In our weakest moments Lord, you are our God.

Father, we come before you, perhaps having had a wonderful week since we left your house. We come before you, humbled, and thank you for the many ways we’ve seen your presence this week. The joys that we’ve experienced shows us how you are working in the world and that you are in control of all things.

Father, you, who set the world in motion, who sees the beginning and the end, still cares deeply for all his children and delights in our happiness. This week was a blessing, Lord and reminded us that You are our rock. When the world around us makes our hearts to sing, in you we can rejoice and sing your praises. When the world is wonderful and bright, you are there, smiling on us. We lift you up as the Lord of all things.

In our most joyous moments Lord, you are our God.

Lord, our greatest prayer to you is, “thank you.” Hear us as we silently thank you for the many ways you’ve blessed our lives.

PAUSE FOR A MOMENT AND WAIT……….

You are the God of all things and we are humbled by the many ways you show your love for us. We pray that we may take your gifts out into the world and share them with others so that they may see your love manifested in our actions.

Lord, our humblest prayer to you is, “help.” Hear us as we silently pray that you will wrap your loving arms around those who are sick, broken, lost or seeking.

PAUSE FOR A MOMENT AND WAIT……….

We especially bring before you:

READ THE NAMES ON THE PRAYER LIST HERE

You are the God of all things and we are humbled by the many ways you show your healing power and grace.

Father, we pray that you will comfort those who are caregivers. They are your hands and their journey is hard. Give them strength to accomplish their task and peace in knowing that you are with them as they care for their loved ones.

Father, we pray for our church as we struggle to find our footing. We know that you have so many blessings that you want to pour onto this church so that it may be a beacon of Your light within our community. We pray that you will forgive us when we put our needs and wants for the church before your will for the church.

We pray for our pastors and leaders, that they will be strong and patient as they seek shepherd your flock. We pray for the children’s minister that she will be your hand in the lives of the children both within our walls and those in the community.

We pray for our youth pastor, and Tom Tyree that they will be strong and faithful as they begin a new Confirmation class with our youth. We pray that our youth will be open to their teaching and hear your word.

We pray for the many missions and ministries that our church supports. We pray that they will be strong and bring your word to a world that is seeking to know a peace that comes from your presence. Give the leaders of these programs the wisdom to lead their team as you desire. Touch the hearts of those who are seeking a way to serve you and we ask that you will give them guidance, Lord. It may be different, it may be outside their comfort zone, but you know everyone’s talents and unspoken desires. Give us the strength to go where you want us to serve.

For all the many ways we’ve failed you, we ask for your forgiveness. For all the many opportunities you’ve place before us, we ask for your guidance. For all the many ways you’ve blessed us, we humbly thank you.

Ready our hearts to feel your presence, silence our minds to hear your word, prepare our spirit to do your will. We are your servants, Lord, awaiting your call.

In the name of your Son, we pray.

And all God’s people said, Amen.

Let us join together as one united body of Christ as we come before our Lord.

In the dawn of our waking, be with us, LORD. Focus our minds to follow your Word. Soften our hearts to show your love. Let our mouths speak of your greatness. Set our feet along the path you desire for us. As we begin our day, touch our spirit. We know our best days begin with you.

In the fullness of the day, be with us LORD. We thank you for our talents that permit us to provide for our loved ones—whether we earn our pay through our minds, our hands, or our hearts. Help us to use our minds to foster ideas that advance your world. Enable us to use our hands to reach out to those who need encouragement. Grant us hearts to show the same compassion to others, that you have so generously shown to us.

For those of us seeking work, be with us, LORD. Give us the courage to continue looking, faith in the talents you’ve given us, and patience in your timing. We pray for a peace that will calm our hearts when anxiety begins to overwhelm us.

In the twilight of the day, be with us LORD. Bring us safely home to the warmth of the hearth and the love of our family and friends. Grant us serenity as we have been challenged by a world that has not always been gentle with our hearts and spirits.

In the darkness of the night, be with us LORD. We humbly come to you with a repentant heart and ask you to renew our spirits. Forgive us where we have fallen short. Forgive us when we’ve failed to honor your will. Forgive us when we do not offer the same charity to others that you have so generously shown us. Forgive us when we seek to live up to the expectations of the world rather than Yours.

As we end our day, let us take comfort in your abiding love and grace. We know our best days end with you.

Be with those who are sick, or hurt, LORD. Wrap your loving arms around:

READ THE NAMES ON THE PRAYER LIST HERE

Be with those who are caregivers, LORD. They are your hands and their journey is hard. Give them strength to rise each morning and peace when they go to sleep each night.

Be with those who are grieving, LORD. Comfort them in their hour of loss, wipe away the tears of:

READ THE NAMES ON THE PRAYER LIST HERE

Be with those in leadership positions, LORD. We pray that you will grant them wisdom, and discernment as they have great responsibilities. We pray for our pastors and leaders in the church. We pray for our youth pastor and children’s minister. We pray that you will bless them in their task of leading our children.

We pray for the leaders in our government and throughout the world. Guide their hands and hearts that they will be wise and kind.

Be with our military, LORD. Keep them safe as they guard our borders and protect the oppressed. We pray for a world of peace so that every soldier may return home.

Thank you LORD. Thank you for all the great and wonderful things you’ve done for us. We praise you when we wake and before we close our eyes each night. You are the ruler of all things in heaven and earth. We humbly ask you to accept the prayers of your people, and strengthen us to do your will.

FATHER, we are your faithful servants, ready to go where you command.

In the name of your Son, we pray. And all God’s people said, “AMEN.”

Today’s New Testament reading comes from John, Chapter 1, verses 43-51.

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, [Baith say da] the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

God always blesses the reading of his word.


 

Let us calm our minds and prepare our hearts as we come before our Lord.

LORD, we come to you on Human Relations Day, humbling acknowledging that you have command us to speak out and stand up and work together to heal injustice in the world.

You have been clear with your directive to love one another. We know your commandment transcends race, gender, financial status, or religion. We know we must follow your mandate with our neighbors, our coworkers, our government, and our enemies.

Father forgive us. Forgive us when we turn the other way, when we choose easy over right, and pick comfort over compassion. Forgive us when justify our apathy because a person doesn’t think, look, or act the way we want them to. Forgive us when we questions if any good can from them. Give us the strength to be like Philip when he shared the good news with Nathanael. Let us joyfully proclaim that we have found the one whom the prophets and Moses spoke.

We pray Lord that we may be like Jesus. May the world see Jesus’s face when we smile at the unloved. May they see Jesus’s hands when we extend ours to someone who is lost. Let them hear Jesus’s voice when we speak up for justice. Let them walk with Jesus when we walk among those who society has alienated.

Give us the strength of character to speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves, and the heart to comfort those who are broken.

Father, we pray that you will heal those who are hurting. Wrap your loving arms around:

READ THE NAMES ON THE PRAYER LIST HERE

Lord, tomorrow we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., who declared, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Lord, let us be the light in a world of darkness. Let us be love in a world of hate. Let us demonstrate to the world what you demand from us. Do not allow us to be complacent with the blessings you’ve provided. Challenge us to take those blessing into the world, to bring Your peace to those who have none.

Father, for all the many ways you have demonstrated your love for us, we humbly pray that we may show Your love to everyone we meet. Let our actions tell the world, “Come and see. Come and see the Son of God! Come and see the King of Israel.”

Ready our hearts to feel your presence, silence our minds to hear your word, prepare our spirit to do your will. We are your servants, Lord, awaiting your call.

In the name of your Son, we pray.

And all God’s people said, Amen.

Let us calm our minds and prepare our hearts as we come before our Lord.

Father in the freshness of the New Year, remind us that we are always able to celebrate new beginning when we come before you with a repentant heart. Just as the New Year brings the opportunity to start fresh and be transformed with the wonder of possibility, we know that you allow us to start fresh with you. You are the possibility of every new year, the potential in every new day, the perfection of every new dawn. In your presence, we are made whole.

Father hear our prayers of thanksgiving as we recall the many blessing you have given us.

We thank you for our homes and the loved ones who grace our doorsteps. We thank you for our work and the opportunity to use the talents you’ve given us. We thank you for our relationship with You, and for the ability to come to you –whether in our greatest moments of joy or deepest moments of sorrow—and know that you are always waiting to meet us where we are. We thank you for the sacrifice of your Son, Jesus Christ, that you loved us enough to offer him as a path to our salvation.

Father hear our confessions—forgive us for the moments when we fail you—when we fail our friends and family—when we fail ourselves. Remind us Lord, that you are the great Redeemer. Forgive us as we come to you in our weakness and are renewed by your strength.

Father, hear our cries for healing. We pray that you will mend the broken bodies, restore the broken lives, reconcile broken relationships, heal broken spirits and repair broken hearts. Let us pause to remember those who hurt, or lost, those who are lonely, or broken, and those who are seeking.

Lord, hear our prayers for our church that it may be a beacon of Your light within our community. We pray for our pastors and leaders, that they will be strong and patient as they seek to follow your direction for our church. We pray for the children in our church, that they may come to know you and rejoice in your word. We pray for our youth, that they will be strong and faithful in their walk with you. We pray that our hands will be helpful, and that our feet will lead us along your path. We pray that our hearts will be open, and that our spirits will be willing.

Lord, hear our pleas for peace in our world. We pray for our leaders. We pray for the leaders in our houses, the leaders in our businesses, and the leaders in our government.  Give them the gift of discernment, that they may be wise in their actions. Guide their hearts and minds that they may humble in their abilities, patient with their people, charitable with the earth, and gentle with their authority.

Ready our hearts to feel your presence, silence our minds to hear your word, prepare our spirit to do your will. We are your servants, Lord, awaiting your call.

In the name of your Son, we humbly offer this prayer.

And all God’s people said, Amen.

I’ve been trying to figure out how the Right seems to do such a great job with getting their message out while the Left seems to constantly be struggling. The Occupy Wall Street protest tends to appears to the public as a whiny, unemployed, scattered bunch who is unable to focus on a message. If they are mad at the government, why aren’t they in DC? They are mad at the very people who create jobs….They are mad at corporations who are following the law…They are on welfare…They are being paid to protest….

Rebecca Riots - Punch1843I admit, I think Occupy Wall Street message is a little diluted, but I believe that is because of the amount of anger. Americans have been quiet for so long, believing things were going to get better, believing the lies the politicians told, believing that if they were good employees, good citizens, that good things would happen. And they were lied to. And they are pissed.

As some of you know, I have a few Conservative friends. I grew up in the South and it seems that a significant percentage of my high school friends drank the Kool Aid– or rather the “Tea.” I suppose I could just de-friend them, but then it appears that I’ve drunk the organic, Fair Trade Chai, low-foam, skim milk with pure crystalline raw sugar…crap, that’s tea also. And my natural inclination is to say that “my view” is the “right view, but I realize that they are saying the same thing. I’ve tried to engage in dialog with my Conservative friends with the idea of exchanging thoughtful, critical view points and both of us walking away with a better understanding of the other side’s position.

Yeah, they usually call me names. Apparently, I am a liberal, fascist, socialist Democrat. Obviously, there aren’t a lot of dictionaries down South because they obviously don’t have any idea what any of those words mean.

Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis, “of freedom”)[1]

The belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights.[2] Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but most liberals support such fundamental ideas as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, free trade, and the freedom of religion.[3][4][5][6][7]

Fascism/ˈfæʃɪzəm/

A radicalauthoritariannationalist political ideology.[1][2] Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood.[3]

Socialism/ˈsʃəlɪzəm/

An economic system in which the means of production are either state owned or commonly owned and controlled cooperatively; or a political philosophy advocating such a system.[1] As a form of social organization, socialism is based on co-operative social relations and self-management; relatively equal power-relations and the reduction or elimination of hierarchy in the management of economic and political affairs.[2][3]

Dictionary aside, one of the things I’ve noticed is how fervently Conservatives stay on message. I do have to give them credit for that. One of my conservative Facebook acquaintances  recently posted, “So much for protection from HIPPA over medical records. Big brother now wants private insurance companies to release the records to them.”

Hmmm, I thought. That sounds terrible. I must investigate this huge violation. If it is true, certainly agree that this is potentially a huge invasion of privacy.

So I googled “insurance company, federal government, private” and a come up with this:

Now the Washington Examiner is certainly not my go-to source for impartial news–especially an OP-ED ARTICLE WRITTEN BY A REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE, so I pull one of the descriptive sentences from the article, “federal government private insurance companies releasing medical records” and get this:
  The thing that really bothers me about this are the bolded words. All of these are direct quotes from the original Washington Examiner article. These articles are actually reporting on the issue. Isn’t about the information  being right or wrong. I actually cannot find a source that actually talks about the issue–probably because it is a non-issue. No one wants to read a story the “a bill that doesn’t really do anything that is in anyway divisive” was passed today. The conservative blogs all refer to the proposed rule but in it’s government-esque verbiage, it is all but impossible to tell what the rule is proposing. I found the “rule” and the summary says:

This proposed rule would implement standards for States related to reinsurance and risk adjustment, and for health insurance issuers related to reinsurance, risk corridors, and risk adjustment consistent with title I of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, referred to collectively as the Affordable Care Act. These programs will mitigate the impact of potential adverse selection and stabilize premiums in the individual and small group markets as insurance reforms and the Affordable Insurance Exchanges (‘‘Exchanges’’) are implemented, starting in 2014.

The temporary Federally-administered risk corridor program serves to protect against uncertainty in the Exchange by limiting the extent of issuer losses (and gains).

Did your eyes glaze over yet? From what I can tell, the government wants to make sure the insurance pools are protected and not overly funded (with our premiums) because of cautious states over charging high-risk clients in the pool.

To avoid adverse selection, issuers may set premiums higher than necessary in order to offset the potential expense of high-cost enrollees. This uncertainty could also result in an issuer being more cautious about offering certain plan designs in the Exchange. This risk will be greatest in the first years of the Exchange, and become less as the new market matures and issuers learn more about new enrollees.

I couldn’t find anything in the bill that stated the government would have access to my personally identifiable medical records. In FACT, the document states that “The State, or HHS on behalf of the State, must, “(1) Provide HHS with de-identified claims and encounter data for use in recalibrating Federally-certified risk adjustment models…”

Sorry, eyes glazing over again.

So what is the take away here? The Tea Party is, if nothing else, consistent on message. To a fault. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t any truth in the message.

What is a liberal, socialist, fascist supposed to do when confronted with people like this? First, realize that you aren’t going to change his mind any more than he will likely change your. Be polite and don’t use personal attacks, as he will certainly do to you. Research the topic and ask for a news citation. Be aware that this is a one-way streets. When YOU supply a news citation, it will be derided as a “liberal rag,” but ask for proof anyway. It’s ended several dialogues (usually with me being called a liberal, socialist, fascist) but I think it’s important that critical thinkers who are truth tellers, challenge those who are less honest and informed.

Seriously, will these men ever learn? I just cannot understand a man’s desire to photograph himself. Now I’m thinking they should resign no matter what. At this point, these men are just stupid.

Here’s a news flash for you, women really don’t get turned on by this.  Try putting down the toilet seat, making us dinner, doing the laundry and letting us hold the remote. Now those things get us excited!

Louis Magazzu, N.J. Politician, Resigns After Nude Photos Appear Online.

Dilemma here. Its been a while since I wrote about my personal commandments. I decided to create them when I read how Gretchen Rubin created personal commandments for her Happiness Project.

Domus Galilaeae Latin Ten CommandmentsGretchen had 12, but after some thinking and rethinking, I decided to limit mine to 10. It felt like an elegant number and the whole “Ten Commandments” thing. I mean, if it’s good enough for God to limit us to 10 rules, shouldn’t I be able to manage my own person with 10? Who am I kidding? I’m short on brain cells so I wasn’t sure I could remember more than 10. Heck, I’m struggling with the 10 I have.

To recap:

  1. Come from a place of yes
  2. Promote laughter
  3. Demonstrate patience
  4. Seek God, model Christ
  5. Presume good intentions
  6. Live in a glass house
  7. Embrace love
  8. Choose happiness
  9. Surrender to not knowing
  10. Express gratitude

So, my dilemma? I want to add another one: Plan for Spontaneity. Yes, I know how it sounds. Plan and spontaneity don’t exactly go together.

But here me out–this is how it started. Last Friday, my girlfriend called, “I’m at the shore for the weekend. Come down. Bring the kids.”

“No, no,” I quickly replied, failing to follow #1 ‘Come from a place of yes.‘ “My husband just finished VBS. It’s two o’clock, Thing Three (at three, The Baby can no longer be called ‘The Baby’) hasn’t taken a nap and we’re meeting my family in Phoenixville for happy hour.

“Talk to your husband. If you change your mind, come in the morning.”

Hanging up, knowing my husband would agree that it was too fast and he was too tired (I mean, have YOU ever done VBS?) I told him, “K says if we change our mind, we can drive down in the morning.”

“Let’s go,” he said, totally throwing off 17 years of knowing everything my husband thinks, “If not now, when? Let’s drive tonight, after dinner. We’ll have all day Saturday at the shore.”

I had so many reasons to say no. I had surgery (twice) and was still recovering. I was in between projects and needed to regroup before the next one (and ruminate that there wouldn’t BE a next one, but that’s a whole other issue all together.)

Plan for Spontaneity

Is this an oxymoron? How does one plan to be spontaneous and if she plans for it, can it really be call spontaneity?

USS Enterprise NCC-1701-AI have three children and it is almost impossible to do anything even when I’ve carefully planned for days in advance! I’ve never once left for an event on time nor have I ever arrived on time. Personally, I think there is some space-time continuum in our neighborhood. I walk out the door with plenty of time to arrive at my destination. I buckle in Thing Three and send The Boy and The Girl to their respective corners of the minivan. I adjust my mirror and check my makeup and STILL have time to spare. I’ve even set my clocks in the car ahead several minutes in order to convince myself that it is later than it really is. And yet, every time I actually pull out of my neighborhood–I’m late. Every. Time.

So obviously, it isn’t easy to pull of spontaneous unless I can see into the future and know what spontaneous event will occur so I can actually arrive before it is over.

And that doesn’t even count the whining from the 11-13 year-old set who might potentially be disconnected from either the Wii, PSP3 or Internet.

When I wrote “Come From a Place of Yes” it was geared towards my children and how my first response with them tends to be “no.” But I also realize that it’s often the first response I give to myself.

No, I can’t write; I need to do laundry.

No, I can’t knit; I need to clean the house.

No, I can’t read you the book/play hide-n-seek/watch you sing; I have to…

…plan for spontaneity.

I have to plan for moments where I can say yes to writing, knitting, playing, and going to the shore.

Thing Three

So two hours after the invitation, I’d managed to pack up three kids–well, pack up me and Thing Three. The Boy and Girl and husband are responsible for their own stuff and if they forget underwear…I’ll surrender to not knowing.

We left the house at 8pm and pulled into the shore house at 9:30. The next morning I watched Thing Three as she raced into the waves without ever looking back.