If you have a story of God’s presence in this time of turmoil, please submit it to
We’ll post these stories here as snippets of grace to help see us through.
Sunday, May 10. 2020
Scout Globensky thoroughly enjoyed Pastor Scott’s Mother’s Day sermon. She thought it was a bone-afide message.
(by Lindsay Braman)
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
A new view of the daffodils currently rioting at First Pres:
Sunday, April 5, 2020
In 2007 I was in Greece just a few weeks after a major fire. As we drove along the highway, the hills were brown and gray with forests that had been burned. We drove to a museum where the fire had burned on the grounds but not touched the structure full of antiquities. In the parking lot, I noticed this tree….burned but budding out with new leaves. On this day, in this time, I think it is important to note that there is hope….new life will come.
Thursday, April 2, 2020
There’s no more iconic symbol of spring and of hope than the blooming of daffodils. Here’s the crop we planted last fall, coming up this week!
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Learning to love across the divide
As she practices social distancing – keeping 6 feet or more away from others to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus – Danielle Veenstra, pastor of St. Paul’s, Watervliet, Michigan, discovers an uncomfortable truth. She writes:
What a strange time we are living in. Each of us in our homes, going out only for essentials or a walk in the sun. Yesterday David and I walked to the bluff in South Haven. We met people on the way and one of us would divert ourselves out into the street in order to maintain distance. It felt strange to avoid my neighbors physically. We nodded, said hello, but it was as if one of us couldn’t tolerate being near the other.
I thought of people who live their lives being othered – treated as intrinsically different and alien, and avoided on the street. People who wear turbans or hijabs, brown people, black people, queer people, and right now Asian people.
As we walked, avoiding and being avoided by others, I felt, for just a moment, smaller. Less than.
For me, I realized, this feeling is just a temporary thing. After the COVID-19 virus threat has passed, my neighbors and I will stand and talk, share supper, exchange garden plants. My days of being othered will be over.
But Jesus tells us through his ministry of compassion and inclusion that no one should ever be othered. No one should be avoided on the street, in the store, in church, in our lives.
I need to become aware of who I avoid: my strange, chatty neighbor, my relative with different opinions and views, my… Here I need to stop and take a deep look into my own prejudices.
Who do I other?
Whoever it is, Jesus teaches that I must not see anyone as less than worthy of God’s grace and love. And if God loves them, I am called to love them, too.
Walk in the world with the eyes of your heart open to God’s people.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Though our Bible study continues to practice social distancing, our temporary conference call format allows for total inclusiveness. Even Emma is “Standing on the Promises.”
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Listen to the beautiful music, read this positive message, and may you find peace, joy and sweet inspiration!
Saturday, March 28, 2020
I never have heard the words “I love you” so much. When I went to Meijer today to get some groceries, I made it a point to thank every employee that I saw for their efforts. My shopping trip ended with seeing my cousin, who is the manager there, and I shared that with her and she said it’s been phenomenal the response from people. So many people have told the employees the same thing and it means so much to them. I don’t take their efforts for granted. Just wanted to share.
Love Alone Overcomes Fear
Thursday, March 19, 2020
It is shocking to think how much the world has changed in such a brief time. Each of us has had our lives and communities disrupted. Of course, I am here in this with you. I feel that I’m in no position to tell you how to feel or how to think, but there are a few things that come to mind I will share.
A few days ago I was encouraged by the Franciscans and by the leadership team here at the CAC to self-quarantine, so I’ve been in my little hermitage now for three or four days. I’ve had years of practice, literally, how to do what we are calling “social distancing.” I have a nice, large yard behind me where there are four huge, beautiful cottonwood trees, and so I walk my dog Opie every few hours.
Right now I’m trying to take in psychologically, spiritually, and personally, what is God trying to say? When I use that phrase, I’m not saying that God causes suffering to teach us good things. But God does use everything, and if God wanted us to experience global solidarity, I can’t think of a better way. We all have access to this suffering, and it bypasses race, gender, religion, and nation.
We are in the midst of a highly teachable moment. There’s no doubt that this period will be referred to for the rest of our lifetimes. We have a chance to go deep, and to go broad. Globally, we’re in this together. Depth is being forced on us by great suffering, which as I like to say, always leads to great love.
But for God to reach us, we have to allow suffering to wound us. Now is no time for an academic solidarity with the world. Real solidarity needs to be felt and suffered. That’s the real meaning of the word “suffer” – to allow someone else’s pain to influence us in a real way. We need to move beyond our own personal feelings and take in the whole. This, I must say, is one of the gifts of television: we can turn it on and see how people in countries other than our own are hurting. What is going to happen to those living in isolated places or for those who don’t have health care? Imagine the fragility of the most marginalized, of people in prisons, the homeless, or even the people performing necessary services, such as ambulance drivers, nurses, and doctors, risking their lives to keep society together? Our feelings of urgency and devastation are not exaggeration: they are responding to the real human situation. We’re not pushing the panic button; we are the panic button. And we have to allow these feelings, and invite God’s presence to hold and sustain us in a time of collective prayer and lament.
I hope this experience will force our attention outwards to the suffering of the most vulnerable. Love always means going beyond yourself to otherness. It takes two. There has to be the lover and the beloved. We must be stretched to an encounter with otherness, and only then do we know it’s love. This is what we call the subject-subject relationship. Love alone overcomes fear and is the true foundation that lasts (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Richard Rohr, OFM, (born 1943) is an American author, spiritual writer, and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. He has been called “one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world.” (Wikipedia)
Our granddaughter, Katelyn, has multiple disabilities and is mostly non-verbal, although she communicates by other means. A few days ago, she told her mother that she was sad and worried, but she couldn’t express the nature of her worries. She could say, however, that she wanted her blanket and her “worry turtle” (a weighted stuffed animal), and that she wanted to pray. Three takeaways from this sacred moment:
- God has placed the knowledge of himself in the spirits of “the least of these.”
- In times like these, when the world is topsy-turvy, it’s okay to give your prayer a boost by clinging to your worry turtle.
- Prayer doesn’t need words.