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Reflections

Welcome to the JCPC Daily Reflections Blog. Reflections are daily devotionals authored by JCPC pastors, staff and members and provide insight, guidance and comfort to help you make it through each day. If you’d like to receive Reflections each day via email,  provide your email address.

Tuesday, July 07 2020

This past Sunday, our family woke up and prepared to travel to Drive In Worship. As it has been the case for many of you, leaving the house for an outing to some of our regular weekly activities has changed. We have new routines in place when we leave and fewer places to go each week. Navigating the pandemic life with a 5 and now 6 year old has brought new questions, blessings and challenges. 

We shared with Will about what to expect with church on Sunday and when he realized we would stay in the car, he asked if he could bring a pillow, blanket and wear comfy clothes. We said Yes to all of it. 

 

Chap and Will dropped me off near the entry so that I could greet folks and share a Kids Drive In Worship bag with any children who attended. The bag includes a kids bulletin with activities as well as hands on supplies to help children connect with and retell the story. 

 

While Chap and Will settled into their parking spot and listened to the prelude music, Will said, "Dad, I didn't know COVID 19 could be so relaxing." Will was sitting in the reclined front seat, enjoying the music, with his comfy pillow and blanket.

 

I'll admit finding places of comfort and relaxation has been challenging at times during this season. Drive In Worship was a welcome time to see our community of faith that has traveled with us on this journey in life, marriage and parenting. 

 

Will's observation reminded me of these words in Psalm 46, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging... Be still and know that I am God."

 

As we are navigating new ways to do things in our daily lives, we found Drive In Worship to be a meaningful experience for our family to connect, worship, find comfort and hope. I hope you will join us this Sunday in your car with your comforts to find rest in the Lord.

 

Prayer for Today

God of Comfort, Thank you for the ways you hold us in the stillness and silence. Open us to see you in the new experiences of this season and make space for connecting with you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Posted by: AT 01:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 06 2020

I didn't know what to expect but I really wanted to know so I went. Have you ever had that experience in your life? You were invited to an event, party or gathering and you weren't sure if you'd like it or not. You decided to go and then wow you were glad you went. Uncertainty can either keep you from experiencing something new or it can hook your curiosity. 

Well during these uncertain times we all need more experiences of "wow; I'm glad I went!" I know I had that experience yesterday in what I believe is the first ever Drive In Worship at JCPC. At 9:30 a.m. many of you were parked in your cars listening to Heidi play the Prelude to worship. I'll be honest with you. Never before has sitting in a parking lot felt so sacred. 

A team of greeters made our striped asphalt appear to be like holy grounds. Certainly good news was going to be shared and it had a little of the feel of a summer camp meeting without the tent. A pulpit had been constructed in a fashion that old John Calvin would have been proud. When Gray climbed up into that outdoor pulpit it all shifted away from not knowing what to expect, uncertainty, to the certainty of Presbyterian worship.

I sure am glad I was there! It's now 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and I'm still excited when I think back on our Drive In Worship. Our Solace gathering time shifted to 11:00 a.m. this morning and we discussed our impressions of the worship. Rich Shuler touched our hearts when he said "I felt like I was back home!"

I know many of you miss that feeling of being back home in Sunday worship. Well I'm here to tell you that there's no time like now to come back home and experience the joy of worship and the uplifting fellowship. I hope to see you this coming Sunday, rain or shine, for Drive In Worship at 9:30 a.m. If you catch me on a good day, who knows, I might even reserve you a prime parking spot!

 

Prayer for Today

Share your good news of grace and faith with us, O God, for we need your words and we need each other. Lead us home to worship you in ways that even in our parking lot we will glorify you and enjoy you forever. Amen. 

Posted by: AT 01:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, July 03 2020

We've been talking a lot about storms lately.  This Sunday, we'll be looking at the account of Jesus calming the storm at sea.  You may remember that Jesus and his disciples got into a boat...

 

"And while they were sailing, he fell asleep.  A squall blew over the lake, and they were taking in water and were in danger.  They came and woke him saying, "Master, master, we are perishing!"  He awakened, rebuked the wind and the waves, and they subsided and there was a calm."  (Luke 8:23-24 NABRE)

 

The storm analogies make sense to many of us.  To others who feel the storm is a little too close, they may ask, "If Jesus can speak to the wind and waves to calm them, when is he going to come and calm the storm that is threatening me?"

 

Last week in online worship, we sang the hymn "How Can I Keep From Singing?"  Some of you may have sung along, and some may have wondered how to find the strength to sing at all.  Maybe you or someone you know is in a dark place right now for any number of reasons... illness, death of a loved one, isolation, job loss, financial trouble, end of relationship... the list can be long... One is tempted to ask, "Where is God in all of this?!  Does he even care??"

 

As a church musician, I have often been drawn to read the book of Psalms, and was always intrigued to notice that many of them start in despair, but end in hope.  Psalm 139 has always been one of my favorite psalms, precisely because it assures me of God's constant abiding presence:

 

"You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.  Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.  If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to You.  And the night is as bright as the day.  Darkness and light are alike to You." (Psalm 139:5-12 NABRE)

 

That's where God is in all of this.  Right there with you, wherever you are.  Always.  And we are never forsaken.  When your storm has passed, may you be able to sing with the psalmist, "I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.  He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." (Psalm 40:1-3a NABRE)

 

Prayer for Today

God who calms the wind and waves, help us to cling closely to you through our storms, and move us to reach out to someone today who needs your calming presence.  Amen.

Posted by: AT 01:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
 

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