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.
From an early age I enjoyed listening to stories, then reading them, and later telling them. My elementary school had a special storytelling program where a few students from each grade worked with our media specialist to memorize a children's book. We then had to be able to tell the story in an engaging way to an audience of students in our school. Once we learned our story for that year, we had many opportunities to share it.
The one place in life where I was shy and reserved was at school. Being a part of the storytelling club was a powerful tool to help me gain confidence to speak in front of groups of my peers and teachers. One of the main reasons that I continued to participate in this club each year, was the media specialist who led us. She was a very engaging story teller as well as gifted encourager. She had the ability to inspire me and helped me find the courage to be myself.
I recently read this quote shared by a colleague, author Philip Pullman said, "After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world." It reminded me what a powerful thing it is to share stories with one another.
During this time many are longing for companionship and finding places to share their stories, I am inviting you to connect with a JCPC child, youth or adult through our summer Pen Pals. You can write letters, share artwork, connect by phone or email and begin sharing stories and prayers with a new JCPC friend. If you're interested, contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you get paired up with someone.
In Matthew 5, we are reminded of how the disciples were called away from their everyday life and the comforts of the familiar to join Jesus in sharing the Gospel. As followers of Christ we are still responding to the same call. How can you share your story and God's story today?
Prayer for Today
I give thanks, Gracious God, for all of those people over two thousand years who have inspired others and played their part in passing on to generation after generation the living heritage of their faith. Especially I give thanks for those who lived their faith through difficulties and blessings. I pray that I may continue to grow in my faith and love through good times and bad. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Everybody loves a parade or at least that's how the ole saying goes. Some of my best childhood memories were of parades I attended and some of my favorite adult memories are of taking my kids to watch a parade. Any size would do!
On Thursday of this past week I was reminded of how much I miss the parades at JCPC. Now you might ask yourself, "What parades could Neal possibly be talking about? I don't remember parades at JCPC."
The parades I'm talking about are the daily parades of teachers walking their preschoolers to the playground. You see, during the school year, I get to not only watch these daily parades but I enjoy talking with the little children and the teachers that love them so.
We haven't had teachers, parents, and preschoolers on campus for two months until Thursday when a caravan of cars and minivans snaked around our campus carrying our preschoolers with the teachers lining the parade route with signs, bags, well wishes, and a lot of love.
Praise God for this preschool which has served our community for over a quarter of a century!
Prayer for Today
Thank you Lord for the inspired love and care devoted to raising children. Continue to bless our preschool in the days, weeks, and years ahead. Amen.
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:2
I have just finished an excellent book by pastor Jay Y. Kim called Analog Church: Why we need real people, places and things in the Digital Age. I like it so much that I have bought copies for our program staff and some of our elders to read. If you are looking for a good book, I encourage you to buy it.
Since we have had to create an online worship service, we are now looking down the road trying to decide our online needs in the long run. Kim's book has challenged me to think about this in new and somewhat counter-intuitive ways. Kim writes this:
In his book Tribe, Sebastian Junger writes about instances throughout history when people surprisingly rallied together in the midst of unspeakable tragedy. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and wars that led to the loss of countless lives resulted in the shocking rise of embolden communities that began to care and provide for one another, friends and strangers alike, in ways never seen before. He [Junger] writes, "What catastrophes seemed to do, sometimes in the span of a few minutes, is turned back the clock on ten thousand years of social evolution. Self-interest gets subsumed into group interest because there is no survival outside group survival, that creates a social bond that many people sorely miss." When we create spaces in our churches for people to be present with one another in the midst of their pain, we too create opportunities for these social bonds. But what they sorely miss is so much more than social. It's spiritual. It's the way God designed us to be human with one another, bringing all of ourselves, all our pain, the weak and the strong, gathering as one. (2020:119)
In these difficult times, I think we have a real opportunity to carry each other's burdens. No one can do it alone. But through God's grace, we can and will make it together - so hang in there!
Prayer for Today
God of grace, help us to bear each other's burdens, so that together we can make it through whatever difficult times we are facing. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ, who carried the burden of our sin on the cross. Amen.