July 25, 2012
We continue to reel from the piercing blow to the heart of our nation in Colorado last week. Our country was brought to its knees by this senseless tragedy. C S Lewis said God whispers to us during our pleasures and shouts to us in our pains. Could this be His megaphone to arouse a deaf nation? Because of God’s love for us, He gave us freedom……the freedom to choose good or evil. Sadly, some men choose evil. Galatians 5:13 tells us not to use our freedom for selfish purposes of the flesh, but to serve one another through love. Have we as a nation forgotten God and become proud, arrogant and selfish? Remember Israel and her consequences when she turned away from God. Is history repeating itself? Can this and similar tragedies be used to build the Church? In the midst of the darkness of the horrible tragedy, little glimmers of His light sprang forth from folks reaching out to others. Some sacrificed or risked their lives for the sake of folks they didn’t even know. This is faith in action and the work of the Holy Spirit allowing us to go beyond ourselves. Hearing folks say they felt sure they were going to die but were not afraid reminded me of the courage of Esther who said “If I did, I die” (Esther 4:16) and Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego in the third chapter of Daniel who would die before denying God. There were many faithful and courageous folks in that theater who truly lived and received comfort and strength from God’s most common command; that is, “do not be afraid.” Proverbs 3:25 tells us not to be afraid of sudden fear or of the onslaught of the wicked because we can be confident the Lord will be our keep us safe. Numerous Scriptures such as Isaiah 43:2, Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 41:13, Deuteronomy 31:6 and 2 Timothy 1:7 assure us He is always with us and we have nothing to fear. Tragedy makes us realize how weak and helpless we are as humans and just how powerless we are by our own strength. We are strong when we put our hope in God’s love, not in ourselves. This understanding allows us to bring His light to the darkness of others which started immediately in that theater through healing acts of kindness. Pray folks see Him through our actions and realize the true Source of peace. We must pray and pray that our nation will be humbled and turn to God for healing and forgiveness (2 Chronicles 7:13).
The brokenness of the human spirit seems to be increasing in our community today. Several have asked for prayers of comfort and help for loved ones who have emotional problems, experiencing financial difficulties, resorted to chemicals, alcohol and other destructive methods to soothe their pain. Ask God help us show compassion to these folks and guide us in ways to help them live 1 Cor. 16:13-14 which says to stand firm in the faith with courage and to do everything in love. Remember the comfort God gives us is not just for ourselves. We we are to be “wounded healers” as Henri Nouwen says, and reach out to help others with compassion and empathy.
Pray for the family of Mr Joe Ventry as they cope with life without him. Paul Brown relates that Mr George Morin recently passed. Mr Morin’s wife, Barbara, died in mid June. Mr Morin was the gentleman Paul and Sally brought to church for a long time. Pray for the Morin family during this time of loss.
Numerous parishioners are requesting prayer. Rod Nord asks prayer for his friend, Darryl Bonnor, who recently had surgery for colon cancer and will have follow up chemo. Manny Rodriguez asks prayer for his younger brother, Steve, recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Pray for a good outcome for both these gentleman. Peggy Graham asks prayer for her mother, Mildred Heffernan, who is ill. Cathy Ostroski asks prayer for her daughter who is experiencing some difficult challenges. Sharon Walter needs prayer for strength and guidance to deal with some situations in her life. Amy Osier asks continued prayer for her new grand baby, Brooklyn, who is still experiencing respiratory problems and remains hospitalized. I am requesting prayer for my son who is having some challenges at this time. Continue prayer for Roy Woodward who is improving a bit.
Several in the community are in need of special prayer. Pray for healing and comfort for Charlie Eberhart who recently had extensive surgery. My New Orleans friend, Kathleen Berzas, will have a bilateral mastectomy July 31 and requests prayers of comfort. Pray for comfort and strength for Joann Toney and for her husband, Virlyn, whose health is declining. Continue prayers sisters Elaine Medlin and Lynn Brumbalow who are both dealing with cancer. Pray for healing for my cousin Jenny’s husband, Brent, who recently had bypass surgery and for Kevin Carter who has complications following surgery. Nancy Parker requests prayer on behalf of her dear friend, Pam Brown. Pam’s 28 year old niece and mother of two recently suffered a stroke and is comatose. Pray for God’s healing for this young woman. Pray for a healthy pregnancy and baby for my friend, Mandy, who is classified as high risk.
Julie Armaganian is grateful for the progress her uncle has made and my nephew, Brad, is also much improved. It was great to see Betty Cohron well enough to be at church and we celebrate with her that daughter Cindy who has fought a valiant battle with cancer is now back at work. Rita Helton is tolerating chemo better and the great news is that it seems to be effective. Continue prayers for Edda Foster who has a rough time with chemo. Pray for healing effects from the chemo for both these ladies and for Bob Needham as he continues treatment. Janet Davis remains ill, but she is improving.
Remember to pray for our military and their families. Ask God to protect them as they serve for our freedom. Pray for the health and healing of our nation. Pray for our leaders to heed Proverbs 3:5-6 which says to: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
May we live our lives in such a way to radiate His light and attract people to Him. Remember acts of love are like apple seeds; that is, no one knows the number of apples in one seed nor how many acts of love may originate from just one.
Share, Prayer and Care
Share, Prayer and Care
June 26, 2012
Reflecting on the problems, trials and sorrows surrounding us at all levels in our nation today, the 1980’s song title “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” came to mind. Love has everything to do with our lives as Christians because love comes from God and God is love. He showed His love for us by sending His only Son to the world so we may have life through Him (1 Peter 4:7-9). Remember Jesus’ response to the Pharisees (Matthew 22: 34-40) when they asked about the two greatest commandments? They are to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He further said all the laws of the Old Testament and Prophets depend on these two commandments. The essence of it for us is as He told us: that is, He is the vine and we are the branches and it is through Him we bear fruit and glorify His Father. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15: 5, 8), but oh the places we can go with Him at our helm! Looking at the moral conscience of the Church and society today, I wonder if we have lost focus of the primary Love of our lives. What kind of ambassadors are we for Him? Has His children dropped the ball? Are we turning our backs on God? Visit the Book of Judges and see what happened to the Israelites when they strayed from His Word. And, we should heed this verse from the seventh chapter of Second Chronicles: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. We need to look at ourselves and ask this question: what motivates us to do what we do? Is it ourselves, society, or the Word of God? Do we live the two greatest commandments? Do we stand firm in our faith and do everything in love (1 Cor 16:13-14)? Do we represent Him well by our actions (Eph 5:1-2)? It seems greed and selfish pride has caused many to travel a destructive path and driven us far from our purpose in life. Remember, He told us if we become proud as a nation or as individuals, we will be humbled. The role of the church is to love and care for our fellow man, especially those in need. What kind of grade would we as individuals rate as ambassadors of His Word by what we say and do? Remember love does! It requires action.
It seems more and more folks are undergoing stresses in our society today. Often one stress leads to more problems such as financial stress leading to broken relationships, divorce, chemicals and a variety of other poor choices seeking a balm for the pain. But have you noticed something positive coming out of pain and sorrow? During painful and difficult times or any time, the best medicine is love which comes from genuine community, people showing empathy by trying to put themselves in the position of others. This is what Christ did for us. The more we become like Him, the less focused we are on ourselves. Look around and see the many ways folks are showing love for their fellow man; it may be helping provide food and clothing, lending a shoulder or an ear, dropping by for a visit, sending a note or making a call, holding and crying with family of loved ones who have had losses, sitting with family as they wait at a hospital, volunteering for community projects, etc. After Pentecost, the Book of Acts reveals how believers came together as one in community and shared prayer, meals and possessions.
Though there are many in our parish and the community in need of prayers for healing, there are several for whom we need to thank God for healing intervention. Parishioners Fran Muehlmann and Carm Hoskins are home and doing much better. Deanna Vargo is doing exceptionally well from recent surgery and Bob Needham continues to do fairly well with his treatments. Julie Kirksey said little McKever, her relative who had a brain tumor, is progressing but still has a way to go with motor activity. Betty Cohron did well with a cardiac cath yesterday and a couple of blockages were stinted. Community members Edda Foster and Rita Helton are doing fair with treatments. Nancy Parker’s friend, Patty, had a cancerous kidney tumor removed and she appears cancer free. My New Orleans friend, Kathleen Berzas, recently had follow up surgery for breast cancer and things are looking good. These folks are grateful for our prayers and thank God for the progress they are making. A parishioner who feared loss of a job has now been reassigned within the company and for that we thank God. We thank God for Father Gilbert Exume who recently joined St Matthew and wish Father Salomon happiness and peace as he begins at a new parish.
Continue prayer for Roy Woodward and Joe Shekey who are very ill. Our prayers should also encompass their families during this difficult time. Parishioner Angela Markwalter requests prayer for her little first grade relative recently diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, a chronic condition which may affect many activities in life. My former student and community member, Kay, asks prayer for her friend Jeff Fricke who is having a cardiac cath today. He has had some cardiac problems and is most concerned about the test results. Steve Vanzo is recovering from recent cardiac surgery and we pray he continues to do well. Brenda Ruth Grimes, a friend to many of us, requests prayer for her husband who will have outpatient surgery tomorrow. She also asks prayer for her friend, Katie Phillips, who is having complications early in pregnancy. Pray for comfort and healing for Brenda's husband and pray for healing and a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby for this young woman.
Carol Crawford, former St Matthew parishioner, sends her thanks for prayer and these emails which mean so much to her. Carol lives in Florida and she recently lost her father. Her mother was injured in a fall and she has dementia which has led to her living with Carol and her husband. She asks prayers of strength for herself and her family, and comfort for her mother. My cousin Bonnie is back in the hospital experiencing heart and lung problems. Pray for Bonnie that she gains strength and will soon be home.
Pray for the family of our community friend, Ann Fulcher, whose brother passed last week. May the knowledge of his peace bring some solace as they deal with the loss. Pray for the family of the boys whose lives were taken last week in the boating accident and pray the body of the older child is found to help bring some closure to the family. Also pray for the man who caused the accident and for his family. It is hard to imagine such a tragedy, but we know He is with these families and the Holy Spirit and prayer can provide the strength to endure.
The young soldier, Samuel Walley, who was severely wounded in Afghanstan is doing a bit better and the circulation in his severely injured leg is improving. His folks are most grateful for our prayers. He does have lots of pain and has numerous surgeries on the horizon. You may follow his progress at the website, helpsamuelwalley.com, and you may send cards to him at:
Bethesda Mariott Room 636
5151 Pooks Hill Rd
Bethesda, MD 208147
Remember our military and their families who sacrifice for our freedom. Don’t forget the veterans who also sacrificed, many of whom are still coping with after effects years after coming home. Let these folks and their families know they are appreciated for what they did and continue to do for us.
Pray for the heart of our nation to turn to God, and for leaders to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in decision making which will lead them in the right way to serve and protect those who put them in office.
Jesus understands how we feel and empathizes with us. He was tempted and felt pain and sorrow as we do when He walked this earth (Hebrews 4:15). During the darkness of our lives and the lives of others, may we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, and humility, May we bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances we may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians 3:12-14).
God’s Word is like a shell wrapped around us which keeps us on the right track, it protects us and brings joy and the peace for which we strive, that peace which passes human understanding. If there is a break and we sin, God is a God of second chances and He will patch us up and forget it ever happened.
Prudent reflection from Mother Teresa: All works of love are works of peace.