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Welcome to “Sacred Corners,” Our Church Blog!

Welcome to our new blog!  It is a place where our members share their spiritual reflections, experiences, “God connections”  and inspirational creativity.

Our church, The Presbyterian Church in Garden City, is a thriving community of hard-working, every day Christians, both young and old.  We are a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a church in the Reformed Tradition. 

Founded in 1929, we are an established church with renewed enthusiasm for worship and service.  Lots of exciting things are happening at our church not just on Sundays, but every day!

“For the Love of God”: Reflection on Matthew 5:13-16

Today’s reflection on our Church website is based on Matthew 5:13-16.  Here is that scripture from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible:

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

How are you like the “salt of the earth”?  How are you like the “light of the world”?  How do you live your faith in such a way that it glorifies God because it is visible to others?
salt-1

“For the Love of God”: Reflection on Matthew 3:13-17

Today’s reflection on our Church website is based on Matthew 3:13-17.  Here is that scripture from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible:

The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

What memories do you have of baptisms in your Church or in your family?  What does baptism mean to you?  What does the choice of Jesus to be baptized mean to you?

“For the Love of God”: Reflection on Luke 7:36-50

Today’s reflection on Friends and Neighbors is based on Luke 7:36-50.  Here is that scripture from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible:

A Sinful Woman Forgiven

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

What are your thoughts and feelings about this reflection?  Is this account all about sin, forgiveness, grace, judgment, or inspiration?  What do you think about the roles played by Jesus, Simon the Pharisee and the unknown, “sinful” woman?  What does this piece of scripture say about us, and how we ought to behave?

luke-sinful-woman

“THE WALK”

Today, I read this beautiful poem by the German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke:

“My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has its inner light, even from a distance –

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;
a gesture waves us on, answering our own wave …
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.”

“The Walk” by Rainer Maria Rilke (1924)
To me, Rilke’s words reach deeply towards an expression of how it feels to walk on a spiritual journey.  The beauty of such a journey comes from the ineffable glory of experiencing the divine in the many different ways that we only could begin to understand.  As it is written in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Please share your experiences of your spiritual journey.  What do you see and feel as you walk on your path?
easter10c-shepherd

Breathe On Me

As with most of us, springtime awakens my awareness to the birthing of things all around me. And the celebration of Pentecost links this awareness to the breath of renewed strength and spirit.  These events always tie together in my busy, muddled mind and make me ponder on what needs to be re-birthed, strengthened and renewed in my relationship with God, my relationships with others and within my own spirit.  At this time of year the beautiful words of the hymn, “Breathe on Me”, especially touch my heart.

As I thought about these things today, I happen to run across an old reflection (a poem of sorts), that I wrote years ago. It reminded me of how little time I have allowed in my life for reflective writing over the past few years, and of how much that activity feeds my soul and reconnects me to my spiritual sources.  As we immerse ourselves in Spring and Pentecost, we invite you to reflect on what feeds your spiritual connections.  What activities renew your soul and connect you to the deeper experience?  Gardening, writing, painting, knitting, running, playing with children and/or anything that leads you to a more mindful state is really a sacred activity filled with graced moments.

I have included a link below, if you would like to listen to a beautiful version of the “Breathe on Me” hymn by Hillsong. (I realize the person creating the video misspelled “breath” of God, but I still love this simple version of the song with these vocals & the lyrics on the screen. It touches me every time I listen to it.)   And perhaps there is someone you want to share these lyrics with today…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ukuAyR2J2Y

May the breath of the Holy Spirit blow through your daily life and strengthen you with grace, wisdom and renewal.

– Sandy Ploth

PREPARE FOR PENTECOST!

Pentecost2

Sunday, May 24 marks Pentecost Sunday in Western churches.  (Our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox traditions will need to wait for one more week to celebrate it!)  Pentecost is the celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and followers of Christ.  It takes place 50 days from Easter Sunday – i.e., seven weeks after Easter Sunday.  Commonly regarded as the birthday of the church, Pentecost is a celebration of both the joy and the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Often, we wear the color red to the Pentecost Worship Service.  However, customs related to the celebration of Pentecost can vary from church to church and from place to place.  Some communities decorate their churches with red flowers (often geraniums) or red banners.  In Germany and central Europe, green branches are used.  Trumpets or other brass musical instruments sometimes are used to reflect the mighty wind through the playing of worship music.  In many churches, the scripture is read in multiple languages to reflect the speaking in tongues that was described in Acts 2:4-12.  In the Orthodox tradition, Pentecost is one of the Great Feasts.  It begins with Trinity Sunday, to be followed by Spirit Monday and then the Third Day of the Trinity.  Orthodox churches are traditionally decorated with green branches and flowers.

How do you and your church celebrate Pentecost?  In your opinion, what is an appropriate way to acknowledge the birth of the church?

WE LOVE YOU, MOM!

Motherhood and mothers feature heavily in the Bible. There was Eve – the mother of us all! Then there was Sarah, the mother of Isaac, who taught us that motherhood is not simply limited to the young. As Christians, of course, we all remember Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

On Mother’s Day, we ask you to remember those who are your mothers – and also those who have taken on a motherly role in your life. You might have fond memories of a favorite grandmother, adopted mother, step-mother or family friend who also played a motherly role in your life. You might be a mother or a grandmother yourself.

On our website, we will be posting photographs of mothers in our community (pictures, along with a brief explanation of who appears in them, can be sent to our social media e-mail at: socialmedia.gardencitypc@gmail.com). However, on this blog, we want to hear your stories of motherhood. What does it mean to you to be a mother? How did your mother – or a motherly figure – influence your life? What was the greatest piece of advice that your mother ever gave to you? What advice could mothers and grandmothers give to our new moms? What is the funniest thing your mom ever said or did? How would you sum up the gift of motherhood? Please let us know!

HERE I AM, LORD

Little boy prayingWhen I wake up each morning, one of my favorite routines is to listen to hymns. Much like when I listen to our wonderful choir during worship, I find this particular routine to be inspirational and refreshing.

Recently, I have been listening a lot to a rather new hymn. “Here I am, Lord” (also known as: “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky”) was written in 1981 by Dan Schutte. It has become a very popular hymn worldwide, and is based on Isaiah 6:8 and 1 Samuel 3.

In the New International Version of the Bible, Isaiah 6:8 is written as follows:

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'”

In the same version of the Bible, 1 Samuel 3, 1-10, is written as follows:

“The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.’ 5 And he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ But Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down. 6 Again the LORD called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ ‘My son,’ Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the LORD called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, “’Speak, for your servant is listening.’”

To me, these are some of the most powerful passages in the Bible. They speak to the development of one’s inner call and a deep, honest desire for service on behalf of the Lord. Through Mr. Schutte’s beautiful hymn, I am reminded each day that we cannot give enough of ourselves to help one other. I also am reminded that there is no preset template for service; it might be an encouraging smile or a kind word that is of most benefit.

By listening and watching with relaxed focus and without expectation, and by being willing to truly be vulnerable in front of the divine and the world around us, I think that God often “speaks” to us. How does God “speak” to you? Is there any music that inspires you to follow the path of the Lord? How do you feel that you are called to serve the world around you?

– Andrew Dutton

THE DASH

photo                                        James LaForge   June 17,1932 – February 28,2015

Have you ever read or heard the poem, “The Dash”, by Linda Ellis? I have to admit that even though it is fairly well known, I had neither read nor heard of it until a few weeks ago when someone sent it to me after they attended a memorial service for my step-father, Jim.

I had the great solace of being able to hold his service at our church which is dear to my heart. The service was presided over by Pastor Wanda with special hymns & music from our organist, Carol Dort and soloist, Susan Gorecki. The service was small, but very touching and my heart was warmed by the feeling present during the service and the sharing of Jim’s life. The poem was sent to me with note shortly after the memorial saying how beautiful the service was and that Jim had a good “dash”. This was certainly true and it was a wonderful affirmation of his interesting life

As I read the poem for the first time, I also thought of how many times I rush through my own days without being mindful of the gifts all around me, of the people around me, of the needs around me. It’s so easy to fall into hurry, worry, anxiety or even just unconscious routine – missing the “God Sightings” as Pastor Wanda likes to call them.

And as is often the case when you lose someone, I’ve had a chance to ponder the meaning of their life and reflect back on my own as well. What is really important in life, have I spoken the words I need to speak to those I love, have I contributed enough to the fabric of other’s lives through my interactions in any way – large or small? Have I lived the faith I believe in so strongly? Have I lived my commitment to service routinely or vibrantly? How is my own dash looking like right now? How might it look when all is said and done?

Without trying to sound morbid, what are your thoughts about your dash? Is there something you want to do, contribute or share that you haven’t done yet? Is there a way you can bring your dash more fully to life with small acts of kindness, mindfulness or paying it forward? I know my dash could use a little sprucing up – some spring cleaning, Jim would probably like that.

Below is a link to the poem if you have never read it or wish to refresh your memory:

http://www.linda-ellis.com/the-dash-the-dash-poem-by-linda-ellis-.html

~ Sandy P