Weekly Meditation

Each Weekly Meditation is offered by Dan Schmiechen, a retired minister and a member of Linden Hills United Church of Christ.


BE A WITNESS FOR GOD’S HOPE
October 19, 2017

When I pick up the newspaper or go online for news, I see a rally, a demonstration, and a march affirming a position on such issues as civil rights, to family life, to the environment, to foreign policy to immigration.  It’s almost nonstop.  

As Christians where do we make our witness?  You count.  You matter.  You and I are part and parcel of this beautiful world God has created despite the news stories of some adults acting like juvenile delinquents in Washington DC and Minnesota.

What is the basis for a Christian witness? 1) Believing in God’s love and reconciliation 2) Needing to worship on Sundays to hear an alternative viewpoint against the craziness in the world 3) Hungering for prayer and hearing a Word in scripture beyond our words and 4) Witnessing for the good

You and I have to figure out what our gifts are and where they rest.   All of us have received gifts from God.  Is it giving money?  Standing by and helping someone?  Writing a letter on a political issue?  Is it attending a social change meeting or offering help in social service like at a food shelf?  What is it?  You and I can do it.  

There are Republicans, Independents and Democrats and whatever political animal you want to describe who share common core values.  What I mean is that there are people across political party lines who want to protect the environment, make sure the government offers health care to the poor, deals with drug issues and offers hurricane aid to all people who suffered.  I believe there are basic shared beliefs affirming the common good in our society.

Pray about it.  Where does God want me to be a good witness for Jesus Christ?

“Come let us make a covenant, you and I: and let it be a witness between you and me.”  Genesis 31:44

Dan Schmiechen


 

 STAND UP FOR THE GOOD NEWS

October 12, 2017

 

One can voice an opinion on any given subject in this country.  We call that free speech – fine and good.  I offer one example.  I strongly affirm people can disagree over the interpretation of the Bible and where one is led by the Christian faith.  However, some Christian office holders and fundamentalist evangelists claim to have the inside information from God.

 

This is their claim: God has a pecking order who is the winners and the losers, the true believers and the false believers, the saved and the damned.  This is The Good news of the Gospel twisted around into the bad news of the gospel.  At the foundation of their faith is a punishing, vengeful God who supports “white privilege” and “sheer hatred” toward people who do not fit their religious profile.

 

The Good News of the Gospel was never meant to separate people into “the blessed and the unblessed” or “the privileged and the under privileged.”   This is nothing but a distorted message of God's love in Christ.  One receives false security believing God is on your side.  

Together we affirm the Good News of God’s love:

 

God is a promise keeper.  God is a creator.  God is color blind on race and affirming on sexual identity.  God holds us accountable.  God gives us freedom to make choices in our lives.  God forgives.  God is a reconciler.  God is peace and justice.  God’s love brightly shines in the life of Jesus Christ.  God is resurrection.  God is a reconciler.  God offers love in the waters of baptism.  God offers love giving bread and wine.  God is spirit and builder of community.

 

What would you affirm about the Good News of God's Love in Jesus Christ?  Let’s be sure we stand up and affirm our beliefs in the Good News not the bad news.

 

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” II Corinthians 5:17

 

-Dan Schmiechen   


 WATER AND BREAD

October 5, 2017

 

Puerto Rico is crying out: “Give us water and bread.” What is so mysterious about offering water and bread to starving people?  Why does our national leadership procrastinate? This is not a Republican or Democrat or Independent issue but a cry:  HELP US!

 

If a human being cries out for water and bread - what does one give?  Water and bread!  What on earth is so complicated about that?  The responses of our President were sadly disappointing.  He insulted the people of Puerto Rico for not pulling themselves by their bootstraps.  Then he dedicated a golf trophy won by American golfers. What does a trophy have to do with water and food? Then he blamed them for creating a deficit in the national budget? Am I losing it or what?   

 

If I sent a tweet to my President, it would be this: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited……Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25: 35-40

 

We are not given options.  This is a command in no uncertain terms like the fiery speech the commander at the Air Force Academy gave to the students and faculty on justice, and civility.  There is no middle ground.  There are no excuses.

Are we faithful to the call of Jesus Christ?

 

-Dan Schmiechen 


 

 ON BEING TRUE TO SELF

September 28, 2017

 

Why does the bad news, the scandalous news, the “I got ya” news receive more prominent page space in the newspapers? Have neighborly acts and kindly deeds disappeared in our society? Do we have to strike up the band and give special recognition when we recognize it?

 

When you and I reach out to help someone whether offering a word of cheer or an act of caring, we are not after applause. Our neighborly acts are done quietly. Only the recipient, you and God see them. We don’t need any more witnesses. And we don’t need any more justification. We simply do them.

 

There is a deep satisfaction in sharing neighborly acts that no one can take away from us. We do not

need a certificate of recognition or thundering applause. It is a core value. It resonates from a giving

heart. It comes from the depths of welcoming God’s love in our lives. We are being true to the life core

God has given.

 

No one can remove that core value in our lives. We simply do these acts of grace because we are

followers of Jesus Christ.  

 

We do neighborly acts of grace because God has acted graciously in our lives. We witness to the good

because we have experienced the good. What we have received is to be shared.

 

“For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.” Luke 12:34

 

-Dan Schmiechen


WE ALL HAVE PREEXISTING CONDITIONS

 September 21, 2017

 

The nation waits in suspended suspense for a proposed national health care program. One major question is: will pre-existing health conditions be covered? All this  uncertainty opens doors to health worries, and financial worries.

 

I do not mean to disparage or trivialize what preexisting conditions mean for many people. There is a sense in which all of us have preexisting conditions. We live and we die. We have worries and anxieties. We know we have only one life to live. Life is sacred and life is deeply valued.

 

I believe all of us yearn for forgiveness from past mistakes. We all yearn for love to be more rooted in our lives. We all yearn for God’s resurrection hope to walk a new path.

 

All of us have lingering habits that drag us down. Sometimes, we get stuck trying to change these habits. Despite our promises to change, our good intentions slide.

 

I struggle with my own preexisting conditions. I can’t solve yours. I offer no cheap advice. What I do know is this: God always stands by us. We are never alone. My hope is that you believe that, too no matter what and wherever you are health wise.

 

I believe God stands by us whether we recognize that or not. We are never alone.

 

This is unfailing good news: God is with us in all our preexisting conditions – whatever they are and whenever they come. God gives us power to deal with them and begin a anew.

 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob in our refuge.” Psalm 46: 1,11

 

-Dan Schmiechen


HUMANITY AT ITS BEST
September 7, 2017

Hurricane Harvey was a shining example of how people cared for and helped modern day refugees in Houston.   A crisis like this brings out the best and worst in people.  I suggest we stay with the best witnesses.

First, let’s get the worst examples out of the way.  I don’t know why but clergy often end up making the most inane and stupid comments in these situations.  One pastor of a large church claimed he never got a phone call to help.   Human need is staring him in the face and he needs a phone call to help a neighbor?  Then he helped and there was some redemption.

Some clergy and news commentators made preposterous claims that God sends bad storms to punish gay people.  Funny thing, I have never seen these “Jesus Fear Mongers” claim God also sends storms to straighten out straight people.  At least let’s have an affirmative action God.   To be very clear - I do not believe God sends storms to punish and correct people.  God loves people.

Twenty some years ago I worked with cleanup teams from my congregation helping eight families clean the basements of their homes flooded from an overflowing creek In Iowa.  The loss of possessions, the overpowering stench of the flood waters and the unspeakable mess were indescribable.

In the Harvey aftermath, I was drawn to shining examples of strangers helping strangers and neighbors helping neighbors.  There was a line of people holding hands stretching from the shore to a sinking car rescuing the driver.  Babies and mothers were loaded into boats.  The elderly were carried out of nursing homes.   I was drawn to a picture of women sitting in a room in a nursing home, water up to their waists, waiting rescue.  One woman was calmly knitting.   A mattress store owner opened his three stores to house people.  Workers at a Mexican Bakery were isolated so they baked bread for people.   A rescuer saved a person a drift in raging waters. There were so many inspiring pictures of people helping one another.    

We don’t need to wait for a natural disaster like Harvey to help people.  Does someone need an encouraging note; need a word of encouragement via an e-mail, a phone call or a written note?  Did you thank someone for their kindness?   

Jesus does not hand out congratulatory certificates or awards for acts of compassion and care given in his name.  He only asks one question:  “Will the Son of Man find faith on earth?”  Were you faithful in your discipleship?

-Dan Schmiechen


THE NEW GOLDEN CALF – THE WALL

August 31, 2017

 

In Exodus 32 in the Old Testament, we hear the story of the Hebrew people in the wilderness waiting for Moses to return from Mt. Sinai with the Covenant of God, the Ten Commandments. The people become restless. Where is Moses? Did he disappear? Aaron, Moses’s brother handled affairs back home and it all went downhill.

 

The Hebrew people cajole and pressure Aaron to collect all their gold and mold a false image of God, the Golden Calf. They want a false god to be seen, touched and worshipped.

 

I saw a television news clip of the President of Mexico’s saying; “America is going to pay for the wall.” Then my President said, “No, Mexico is going to pay for the wall.” We are talking about the proposed Wall to keep unsavory Mexicans from coming into our country.

 

Now many people do not have an appetite for the Wall. But then again, some do. No one wants to pay for the Wall. I bet you a cup of coffee at Rustica Bakery that the money for this Wall (if it is built) will be drawn from a federal housing project or a fund to eliminate a disease.

 

Once the Wall is completed (if it is) there will be a national day of dedication with bands, choirs, prayers and sermons on how safe our lives will be. I can see national pilgrimages and tours made to the Wall to raise money for more GOLDEN CALF WALLS. Who knows, but the WALL may qualify as a national monument.

 

THE GOLDEN CALF WALL never gives me a feeling of safety or enhances my faith. All it does is break the First Commandment. See Exodus 22: 4-6. I have a suspicion that after time, another set of “make believe gods will claim to provide me even more secure. Why is it that these GOLDEN CALF WALLS never keep one safe? They never seem to end.

 

Open your Bible and read Exodus 32: 7-20. Read what happened when God told Moses what was going on back home and what Moses did.

 

- Dan Schmiechen

 


WORSHIP CAN BE SUBVERSIVE

8/24/2017

 

I don’t know if you have ever thought of Sunday morning worship as a subversive act?  When “subversive” is used one generally thinks of going against the grain, an act not commonly acceptable by the status quo or “un” something.

 

All of the upsetting and unsettling activity by the rise of White Nationalism with hate rallies, hate parades, and hate demonstrations to build up a white racist America is more cause for concern than one realized.

 

White Nationalism is evil.  It is plain wrong.  There is no debate here.  Any person or even a Christian who supports such racial bile is a candidate to be transformed by the “Good News of Jesus.” We are talking about replacing their message of ”I hate them because they don’t exist” with the transforming message of reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness.

 

This phony baloney message of White Nationalism runs counter to and is not harmonious to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  This message of Jesus changing head, heart and soul is free.  In fact, it qualifies under a “pre-existing condition” on your health insurance.  It is a continuing conversion to live neighborly with all God’s people.

 

The Bible spends a lot of time talking about neighborliness.  Who is my neighbor?  The Word of God hits the bull’s eye by saying “love your neighbor”  “peace be with you”  “be reconciled to one another”  “love is patient and kind”  “love God with heart, mind and soul”  “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall see God.”

 

In morning worship, I need to hear Pastor Eliot and Pastor Lawrence tell me “the good news of Jesus” in their prayers and sermons.  I need to hear about God’s love in Jesus Christ how to live in today’s world.  Sometimes I don’t like to hear this message of Jesus because it’s hard to swallow and follow.  We are talking about witnessing day in and day out to the subversive message of “the Good News.”

 

Sunday morning worship helps me give a clear witness to God’s love as I go back into a world of heartless anger, and mean love.  I go back strengthened with a merciful peace, an active forgiveness and the love for justice.  See you in worship this Sunday morning!

 

“I was glad when they said to me; Let us go into the house of the Lord.” – The Psalms

-Dan Schmiechen

 


  WAITING

8/17/2017

We spend a lot of time waiting, don’t we? I thought the Presidential election was over but we are waiting for government to effectively govern. We wait for a doctor’s appointment. We wait for fish to bite.  We wait for a job to improve.  We wait for stronger health. We wait for a meal. We wait for the Twins baseball team to field a team.

 

Waiting can go deeper. For example, you and I may wait to change a bothersome habit. Maybe it is to grow a deeper faith. Or perhaps I’m still dealing with a grief to subside. One may wait for the beginning of wellbeing for a family member or dear friend.  

 

Waiting can be deeply personal. I can wait for new faith traits to emerge in my life. How can I be more honest? Where can forgiveness be shared?  Where can I get my mind off myself and help a neighbor?  

 

One spiritual practice says write down on paper what you are waiting for.  Did the words you wrote surprise you?  Where they helpful? What would you change? Where can God lead me?  Sometimes when I write my inner thoughts down on paper, it can be helpful. I can see what can strengthen my faith life.

 

Where can I spend quiet time to look at myself? Where can God lead me to examine what is really worth waiting for? I find it’s worth the effort.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in God’s word I hope; my soul waits for the lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for morning.”  Psalm 130:5-6

 

-Dan Schmiechen


 

Hold Fast To God’s Good

8/1/17

The President of the United States has some unique ways of leading and gaining the confidence of the country, to say the least.  I’ll let you figure out what that is according to your political persuasion and value tradition.  

I do know this.  Each day that passes in our news addicted society, we seem to have a news story more newsy than the previous day’s news.  I mean how much news information can one tolerate?  We live with hyperventilating reporters and news outlets high on steroids.   

I grant there is a lot of nuttiness going on in the world including the “moral swamps” in Washington DC, “the moral swamps” in the Twin Cities in and “the moral swamps” in Ely, Minnesota.  All of us live in “moral swamps” where good and evil fight for the higher ground, and where humans struggle for inclusiveness.  Let’s not dump all “moral swamps” on our nation’s capitol.  We live in them, too!

Our staying power does not come from ourselves but from God’s love in Jesus Christ.  I believe the word is: Hold Fast To God’s Good.    

  1. Hold fast means forgiving love can cross barriers; merciful grace can overcome hate; and neighborly acts can bind.

  2. Hold fast means rivals (not enemies) can live together; common problems can be compromised and worked out.

  3. Hold fast means to be kind, tolerate and civil.

  4. Hold fast means neighbors can share trust and live in community.

  5. Hold fast means bridge-building and helping one another has not gone out of fashion.

  6. Hold fast means God’s love in Jesus Christ does hold and holds fast.

What message in these uncertain times do we witness to?  Hold Fast To God’s Good.

-Dan Schmiechen


BEING SUBVERSIVE: DOING NOTHING

7/13/2017

Sounds heretical, doesn’t it? After all, we should be productive and creative every minute of our lives. I remember people asking me what I do in my retirement. At first, I gave out a long list as though I had to justify my retirement. Often, people seemed disappointed I didn’t regale them with adventures proving I did something. Now I say, “It is relaxing and enjoyable.”

In retirement, I still wrestle with the same temptations to fill the day with regular assignments, tasks and projects. How can I use some time “doing nothing” without giving an accountability report? So why not try it? The other day I sat in a chair and looked at a tree. Another time I watched the wind ripple across a lake. Recently, I tracked a violent thunder storm come in from the southeast. Did I complete a task? No. Did I solve a problem? No.

At first glance, this sounds like I need help from a therapist – he’s lost it. I don’t play golf. I don’t play cards. It sounds so un-American; I must re-order the priorities in my life. I have to justify everything I do or my world will collapse.

I am learning how to do nothing even in the schedule of a busy day. Guess what? Nothing broke. I did not lose my mind. The police were not called. Barbara is still with me. My children still love me. Neighbors still talk to me. I wish I had done more of “doing nothing” in my past life.

“Yet you have made them (humans) a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5 

-Dan Schmiechen

A TREE: REMINDERS OF OUR LIVES

7/6/2017

The next time you walk down the street where you live or go to a nearby park, look at the trees.   There are needle and leaf type trees.  There are five inner parts of the tree like we have vital organs to live.  The inner rings of the tree reveal life cycles.   Trees grow one ring at a time – they do not skip rings.   They have the different colors and shapes of bark as protection.  Trees are in many ways like humans.  

  1. A tree is a tree as a human being is a human being no matter age or size.

  2. Every tree is different from every tree even from those in the same tree species.

  3. Tree branches of the same species are different in size, shape and form from one another.

  4. Every tree needs sun, rain, oxygen and nutrients.  So with us.  Besides food, shelter and loved ones, we depend upon love, forgiveness and reconciliation.

  5. Every tree tells a story of its own life story -  broken branches, the trunk shattered by a lighting strike, toppled by wind storms, and susceptible to disease.  We, too carry physical marks (outward and inward) in our life cycles.

  6. Every tree has its own peculiar story.  Looking at a cross cut of a tree trunk; the rings tell a story of a tree’s life.  There are uniform ring patterns marking a tree’s age.  Sometimes the rings are filled with dark spots or irregular in circular design telling us a forest fire, drought or disease came into its life.   So in how we live our lives.

  7. Every tree has its own beauty no matter what.  It is a living organism.  So are we but more.  Each one of us is given a free will, a conscience and a life to live.

  8. Scripture tells us each one of us is “wondrously made by God.”

-Dan Schmiechen

 Nobody Jumped So I Had To Jump

June 29, 2017

 

Two people got into an altercation on the platform of a subway station In New York City – a homeless man and a young passenger.  A young ballet dancer returning from a performance with his wife and mother ran upstairs to get help.  There was no one around.

 

He ran back downstairs to the platform.  The homeless man was now lying on the train tracks.  Somehow he got pushed off the platform.  People were screaming – it was a chaotic, frightening scene.

 

The young ballet dancer said: “Nobody jumped, so I had to jump” down to the tracks.  Suddenly he heard the whistle of an incoming train.  He picked up the man and realized the platform was higher than he thought.  He stretched one leg onto the floor of the platform and people hoisted him up with the unconscious man.

When I read the story on line, I could only say, “Holy Smokes.”  It was one of these unbelievable inspiring stories where someone stepped into the breach.  He was an unexpected neighbor.

 

Since we don’t have an underground subway in Minneapolis, we can’t duplicate those heroic efforts.  Still this story reminds us when people need help – who will help?    In this case it was “jump.”  One never knows when human need suddenly surfaces and calls for a quick response.  In this situation it was dangerous and risky.

 

When and where are those times and situations when people need help.  I’m not talking about jumping off a subway train platform.   I’m not talking being a goody two shoes running around frantically finding someone to help.

 

Keep alert to those times when unexpectedly someone in your life – family, friends or strangers needs an act of spontaneous help.   One never knows when and how.  

Pray your own prayer.  “Nobody jumped, so I had to jump.”


-Dan Schmiechen

 


  Watch Your Tongue

A flash back: I am 8 years old spending two weeks on a farm of family friends outside Augusta, Missouri. I’m standing next to a mother and her two squirming daughters. The Mom is pumping a water pump and using soap to wash out the mouths of her girls. They used dirty language. The Mom turned to me and said “If I catch you swearing, Dan Schmiechen, I going to wash your mouth out, too.”

That story from my childhood popped into my mind after hearing the constant daily barrage of foul, hateful, barbaric language in our public life today. No matter what your political party or value system that kind of behavior is a no, no. The national media revels in such excesses. It helps their ratings. We have come to a point in our culture if one can’t think of a civil response whether talking politics, religion, sports, family, neighbors – you name it – insulting and dehumanizing people is “the in thing.” We are turning into “an insulting intolerant society.” This kind of behavior breaks down a crucial fiber of national life called civility and respect for all. Besides it is harmful to people. And Jesus forbids it.

There is always an open season to say to a friend, family member or neighbor – “Look, we may not see eye to eye on this subject. Would you be willing to talk (name subject) as we hear each other. I’m not going to try and change you. Can we talk?”

 

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 3:6

-Dan Schmiechen

 


 Summer Time is Ordinary Time

The calendar for the church year seems to be in a quandary.   No high market publicist can remedy the situation.   We began the church year with the four Sundays before Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  Then we moved to revealing the story of Jesus to the world, Epiphany.   Lent followed, the forty days and nights of self-examination and reflection on Jesus’ life.  We entered Holy Week and celebrated Easter.  Pentecost followed meaning “fifty days” after Easter, the birthday of the Christian Church.

 

Here comes the quandary.  We enter what is called Ordinary Time which means “counted time.”  The emphasis is upon the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.   Local congregations celebrate their own themes pertinent to their faith, mission, and life.  The color is dark green meaning “new life.”  I’m sorry to report that for me, there is nothing titillating about Ordinary Time compared to more familiar seasons of the church year.   Even the commercial markets are befuddled about what to do with Ordinary Time because the cash pickings are slim.    

 

What the Christian Church calls Ordinary Time is completely different than what our world calls Ordinary Time.   We live out our lives quietly and faithfully in witness to God’s love.   It’s a time of giving thanks and affirming what we have – our lives, our friends, our families, our neighbors and our church.  We live in Ordinary Time.   We are given the gift of time already saturated by God’s love and forgiveness.  It’s not a matter of trying to see how clever we are filling up the summer days and making them worthwhile.  God already has graced wonders to see, use and share.

 

Another way to talk about Ordinary time is to say: “let’s make ‘counted time’ really count by shaping our faith and life with our neighbors for the next three months.”   Hurrah for Ordinary Time! “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.”  Psalm 121:8

 

-Dan Schmiechen

(Photo: Linden Hills UCC Church Picnic June 4, 2017 at Lake Harriet)

 


A New Surprise

May 16th was an eagerly awaited date for our family.  Our oldest grandson, Aidan graduated from high school in Fairbanks, Alaska.  We had a fine time celebrating with the family.

Returning home we flew to Anchorage, rented a car and drove two hours south to Seward by the Gulf of Alaska opening into the Pacific Ocean.  We signed on board a 60 foot ocean tour boat for six hours.

I watched the weather reports carefully because I get sea sick.  The prediction was heavy seas.  I never doubted going but I was a bit apprehensive.  Yes, I took my obligatory anti- seasickness pills and still got sick.

Sea life was abundant – killer whales, a humpback whale, sea otters, seals and colorful birds.  Our craft sought protection behind islands and darted between them.   We watched a glacier fall apart.  

Then the captain slowly maneuvered our craft into a bay and announced “Look up this cliff” as he parked the boat several feet from shore in deep water.  Up the vertical hillside was a mountain goat standing behind a scraggly bush.  The goat did not move.  It stood there and it stood there.  

Then came the surprise!  Suddenly a baby mountain goat emerged from under the mother.  All this time we were watching a mountain goat give birth.  The baby goat emerged from under the mother and started walking up the vertical cliff – a wobbly step after step, slipping and sliding but up and up the little one went.  It was a breathtaking sight.

Summer is here.  Why not put yourself in a place where you can be surprised and meet an unexpected wonder of nature.  One never knows what you will come across.  Maybe it says to take a walk in a park or sit on a bench and be still.  The wonders of nature can happen in the most unexpected places.  

I was not too keen going on this boat trip but I’m glad I went despite hours of discomfort.  I do believe summer wonders await us no matter where we are or what we do.  

Prayer: O God, open my soul to see the wonders of creation.  Amen.

-Dan Schmiechen

 

For your Bible study this week

June 4 - Sunday John 14:21-29
June 5 - Monday Luke 17:1-10
June 6 - Tuesday Luke 17:11-19
June 7 - Wednesday Luke 17: 20-57
June 8 - Thursday Luke 18: 1-8
June 9 - Friday Luke 18:9-14
June 10 - Saturday Luke 18:15-30
Pray your own prayers.

Trees

 

 One spring my sister Abigail and I ordered a bundle of 25 white pine seedlings.  We planted them in the family woods up north.  I learned these lessons from planting trees.  They can easily be translated into growing our faith.      

 

1. We dug the tree hole wider than the size of the roots and deeper than the length of the roots.   God encourages us to use the spaces in our lives for deeper growth.  We can start anytime when we are ready to grow. There is no time table or age limit to grow.  

               Do I want to learn to forgive more?  Is it shaping a deeper prayer life?  What did Jesus teach?  

 

2. After we dug the hole, one picked up a seedling and pointed the roots downward into the hole – we did not want the roots to curl up and starve the tree.  Also, we wanted to make sure the roots would grow down into the hole to receive earth’s food. 

We need the steady nutrients of practices of prayer, Bible reading, Sunday morning worship and helping our neighbor to grow our faith.

 3. We added loose dirt to fill up the tree hole.  We packed it down (with foot or hand) to close air pockets.  Then we watered it.

 

4. We need the steady nutrients of practices of prayer, Bible reading, Sunday morning worship and helping our neighbor to grow our faith.

 

 “They are like trees planted by streams of water….” Psalm 1:3

-Dan Schmiechen

 


Let the Scriptures Speak

Buy An Understandable Bible Translation: Speak to Pastors Eliot and Lawrence for recommendations.

 

Church Year: Easter for Christians is not just one day, but rather a 50-day period. The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (see Acts 2).  Colors are gold and white. 

 

Daily Scripture Reading: *Choose time of day  *Choose a quiet place  *Light a candle (symbol of God’s presence)  *Begin with a prayer (Open my heart to your Word, O God.”   *Close with a prayer (May your presence be with me today.”

 

In Conversation with Scripture:  The Bible is filled with a variety of writings.  A few examples – poetry (Psalms); history (Joshua and judges); prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah); Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John); the early Christian Church (Paul’s Letters) and end times (Revelation).  It is helpful to know what type of writings you are reading.  Again, check background information in your Bible.  

 

Spiritual Practice:  *When you read scripture, what word/thought comes to your attention)?  *What do these words say to you?  *What do you hear God saying to you?

 

Bible Readings For The Week:

May 14 Sunday Matthew 7: 7-14

May 15 Monday Luke 7:36-50

May 16 Tuesday Luke 8:1-15

May 17 Wednesday Luke 8:16-25

May 18 Thursday Luke 8: 26-39

May 19 Friday Luke 8:40-56

May 20 Saturday Luke 9:9-17

 

Pray your own prayers. 


 Easter: What Keeps Me Going

 

I go through regular ups and downs in my life.  I’m sure many of you do, too.  When I’m down, sometimes I feel like a little kid kicking a tin can down the alley of my home in St. Louis.  Everyday events and personal issues accumulate and before I know it, I’m in the dumps.  Sometimes my world is not going according to order – I get stuck shaping better faith habits, and frosted when my views and beliefs take a beating.  

   

I handle these times well and at times I don’t.  Easter Hope is a constant in my life.  But let me say what it is not.  Easter Hope is not feeling good.  Easter Hope is not hoping things will get better – often they get worse.  And it is not looking for a silver lining in the clouds.   

Somehow God’s love triumphed over what the world offers.  Somehow a motely group of first century disciples became a community of believers testifying to an inclusive grace that overcomes the world.  I am thankful to live in such a life giving community of faith at Linden Hills.

 Easter Hope pulls one out of the dark funks to affirm life.  I learned:

1) We still receive God’s love in our lives and for the good of the world.

 

2) God’s love overcame hate and violence in the life of Jesus Christ.  The world cannot overcome hate and violence – it does not have the power to do that.  There is another alternative in the face of despair and cruelty - that is forgiveness, and reconciliation.  No one says it’s easy.  We carry on believing God’s love is constant.  

 

3) We are called to witness with acts of love and forgiveness no matter how our lives are going or how we feel.  This power is not our power; it only comes from God in Christ.  I am called to witness to that power.

 

Somehow God’s love triumphed over what the world offers.  Somehow a motely group of first century disciples became a community of believers testifying to an inclusive grace that overcomes the world.  I am thankful to live in such a life giving community of faith at Linden Hills.  

 

Scripture: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening scripture to us?”……..

 

Read Luke 24: 13- 35

-Dan Schmiechen 

Let the Scriptures Speak

Buy An Understandable Bible Translation: Speak to Pastors Eliot and Lawrence for recommendations.

 

Church Year: Lent is a season of forty days, not including Sundays. It  begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring."The color for the season is purple.

 

Daily Scripture Reading: *Choose time of day  *Choose a quiet place  *Light a candle (symbol of God’s presence)  *Begin with a prayer (Open my heart to your Word, O God.”   *Close with a prayer (May your presence be with me today.”

 

In Conversation with Scripture:  The Bible is filled with a variety of writings.  A few examples – poetry (Psalms); history (Joshua and judges); prophets (Joel, Isaiah, Micah); Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John); the early Christian Church (Paul’s Letters) and end times (Revelation).  It is helpful to know what type of writings you are reading.  Again, check background information in your Bible.  

 

Spiritual Practice:  *When you read scripture, what word/thought comes to your attention)?  *What do these words say to you?  *What do you hear God saying to you?

 

Bible Readings For The Week:

April16 Easter Sunday: John 1:1-18

April 17 Monday: John 14:1-14

April 18 Tuesday: John 14: 15-31

April 19 Wednesday: John 15:1-11

April 20 Thursday: John 15:12-27

April 21 Friday: John 16:1-15

April 22 Saturday: John 16:16-33

Pray your own prayers. 

   

 


On Prayer

 

 Do you have a favorite section in the Sunday morning worship?  Some people look forward to the scripture reading.  Others value the sermon and yes, even the offering.  Some love singing hymns and listening to the choir.  When I was in high school, I looked forward to the benediction.  I wanted to get out of there.   

 

The Prayers of the People in the Sunday morning worship moves me into a stronger faith.  I know of no other place where people are publicly invited to voice the heartaches of their hearts and the joys of their hearts.

 

This is not listening to gossip from the congregation.  No, these voiced prayers speak of faith struggles with life.  

The Prayers of the People in the Sunday morning worship moves me into a stronger faith.  I know of no other place where people are publicly invited to voice the heartaches of their hearts and the joys of their hearts.

The Prayers of the People breaks silence and spills out a slice of life before God and the congregation.  I’m inspired by their willingness to openly voice what is going on in their lives.  There is a bedrock trust of faith that God will hear.  

    

Longings of the heart are formed into words.  My reality becomes the shared reality of the congregation before God.  All we receive is an assurance we are heard.  We wait for God’s word of hope and life.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105                                                                 

-Dan Schmiechen    


Spend Time With Loved Ones

 

Here are some unorthodox suggestions for the third week in Lent.

1. Watch clouds

2. Walk in a park

3. Hold hands in silence

4. Walk around the block

5. Wash dishes together

6. Visit a museum

7. Read books sitting together

8. Go to a coffee shop and sit in the corner 

9. Call a faraway friend or relative

10. Browse around an ice off lake

 11. Go to a morning worship together

12. Watch the sun rise

Here are some unorthodox suggestions for the third week in Lent.

7. Read books sitting together.

8. Go to a coffee shop and sit in the corner.

13. Shut off the TV and listen to your favorite music

14. Sit on a bench in park silently for ten minutes and see the birds 

15. Say words of love to someone. 

16. Try a kiss when nobody is looking

17. Hug someone

18. Give thanks to God for your life and the lives of loved one

 

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all thins, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”    I Corinthians 13: 4-8

 

-Dan Schmiechen

 Lent 4: Wait to Listen

 

This is an old spiritual discipline.  It goes like this.  

 

Every day during this week choose a scripture passage from the Bible.  Choose your favorite passage or choose a passage from the weekly scripture lessons posted in the Linden Tree. 

 

At the beginning of each day and throughout the day keep repeating the chosen scripture passage.  Do this wherever you are: at work, driving the car, sitting at home, shopping at a store or taking a walk – anyplace.

Every day during this week choose a scripture passage from the Bible.  Choose your favorite passage or choose a passage from the weekly scripture lessons posted in the Linden Tree. 

At the end of each day, ask yourself:  “What thoughts keep rising within me?”  “Do I need to listen to them?  “Where am I being lead?”

Don’t give up – it may feel strange to do this but stay with it.   Just like we learn to write by writing; hike by hiking; being a friend by offering friendship – so with this practice.  

 

There are no guarantees what will happen if you try this spiritual discipline.  There are no prizes, food coupons or phone calls offering a free cruise trip to the South Pole.  This is an invitation to open your life to God’s presence.  Listen where you are lead.

 

Daily Scriptures: You choose  

 

-Dan Schmiechen


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