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Pull up a chair!

2019-08-19T22:25:45-04:00August 19th, 2019|Categories: Campus Ministry, Mission Support Stories, News|

Pull up a chair!

“The kingdom of God is a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table,” Rachel Held Evans wrote, “not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, and because there’s always room for more.” Held Evans, a 37-year-old best-selling Christian author, tragically died this spring after initially being hospitalized for the flu. The table seemed to be a theme throughout Held Evans’ writing. She was always quick to note that we are not the ones to set the table or prepare the feast. It’s already been given. We simply are invited to pull up a chair and dig in.

Faith, love, joy and helping others

2019-08-19T14:29:01-04:00August 19th, 2019|Categories: Congregation Stories, News|

“Faith, love, joy, and helping others”

Both Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and Hurricane Florence in September 2018 flooded Cathy Farmer’s home in Princeville, N.C. (the first African American incorporated town in the U.S.), forcing Cathy, her terminally ill daughter, and two grandchildren out of her home. During Hurricane Matthew, the four were rescued from the flood waters. Since then, Cathy and her family have been mobile, staying with friends and family members. Cathy’s daughter recently passed away.

Our country’s proud tradition

2019-08-07T10:00:06-04:00August 1st, 2019|Categories: News|

Our country’s proud tradition: welcoming immigrants and refugees with generosity and grace

The United States is the land of freedom and of welcome. Our nation’s history overflows with stories of people relocating to the United States, beginning with the first pilgrims being welcomed by the hospitality and generosity of the Wampanoag and their feast of Nikkomosachmiawene, or Grand Sachem’s Council Feast. Virtues of hospitality continue to be valued as “American” as we have welcomed generations, including our own president’s mother, who emigrated from Scotland in the 1930s. Whether they were fleeing religious persecution or searching for a better life, our country has a proud tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees with generosity and

Day 25—Conclusion

2019-07-20T18:15:34-04:00July 30th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 25—Conclusion

I hope that, if not before, you have an appreciation now for the immense depth and breadth of this wonderfully earthy and human hymnbook of the ancient Israelites and for Christians as well. In most congregations that follow the lectionary, the Psalms hold such a revered place that it’s the only book of the Bible from which we read/sing every single week.

Day 24—Psalm 150

2019-07-20T18:08:15-04:00July 29th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 24—The Five Ws
Psalm 150

READ PSALM 150

Like many of you, in elementary school, I learned that in order for a story or report to be complete, it had to answer the five Ws:  who, what, when, where, and why (and sometimes a sixth question, how, is also needed). My third-grade teacher drilled this concept into our heads and I’m sure she could have used Psalm 150 as a perfect example. In only six short verses, Psalm 150 tell us who, where, and how to praise the Lord, the reasons for the praise, and who or what should do the praising. God

Day 23—Psalm 139

2019-07-20T17:52:17-04:00July 28th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 23—A God Who Gets It
Psalm 139

READ PSALM 139

Are you running? Are you hiding? GOD understands; He understands the human condition. “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence?” Much of life is a mystery to us! We look for answers that will help us to see through the veil of confusion. Our understanding of God is limited, fragmented, hidden, until we come to know certain truths about Him. “You know when I sit down and when I rise, You know my thoughts…even the words that come from my mouth, before they’re spoken, You

Day 22—Psalm 137

2019-07-20T17:46:11-04:00July 27th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 22—A Cursing Psalm
Psalm 137 

READ PSALM 137

The psalms are not God’s word to us. They are record of the psalmist’s words to God. Sometimes the words of the psalmist give voice to the darkest emotions of the human heart. In her book, Getting Involved with God—Rediscovering the Old Testament, Ellen F. Davis refers to these psalms “the cursing psalms” Perhaps the most notorious is Psalm 137.

Day 21—Psalm 136

2019-07-13T11:30:35-04:00July 26th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 21—God’s Love Endures Forever
Psalm 136

READ PSALM 136

Each October for the past several years, on Homecoming Sunday at Mt. Zion in Richfield, we have begun worship with a litany of praise based on this psalm, written by someone in the congregation. Beginning with “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever,”1 the litany recounts the history of the congregation from its formation in 1895 and gives God the praise for the work of faithful members and pastors throughout the years. It even incorporates the ELCA tagline, God’s Work. Our Hands.

Day 20—Psalm 121

2019-07-13T11:27:04-04:00July 25th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 20—Look up. Look down. Look all around…
Psalm 121

READ PSALM 121

This beloved psalm doesn’t begin with a declaration about the Lord as Shepherd. Instead, with eyes raised towards places up high, the psalmist asks a question as old as humankind: from where will my help come?

Day 19—Psalm 111

2019-07-13T11:23:58-04:00July 24th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 19—God’s Gift of Compassion
Psalm 111

READ PSALM 111

This psalm initially brings to mind the awesomeness of God and that God is worthy of praise. I picture people singing hymns during a worship service. I think of breathtaking mountains I have seen and what it feels like to take the time to really look at them. I remember standing by the ocean and enjoying the powerful and calming sound of the water. When I think about how beautiful the natural world is around me, I instinctively find myself feeling amazed by God and what God can do.

Day 18—Psalm 104

2019-07-13T11:21:07-04:00July 23rd, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 18—Praising Our Creative Creator
Psalm 104

READ PSALM 104

This psalm poignantly describes creation and most importantly points to God as the Artist behind the canvas and the Creator responsible for creation. There is an interesting Hebrew word used in this psalm (yada) which delicately mingles confession and praise as flowing from the same heart. This dynamic duo of praise and confession reminds us that this is a worship psalm and that God is the object of our attention.

Day 17—Psalm 100

2019-07-13T11:18:11-04:00July 22nd, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 17—Our “Blueprint” for the Christian Life
Psalm 100

READ PSALM 100

Many Bible commentaries cite this psalm as the background of The Doxology (Praise God from whom all blessing flow) and the familiar hymn “All Creatures who on earth do dwell”. Some of my earliest memories of this psalm go back to the two-room elementary school of my childhood in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The practice back then was to read a psalm each morning before the start of class. The teacher read the psalm in the younger grades, but students read it in grades 5 to 8. Since this psalm contained only five verses

Day 16—Psalm 98

2019-07-13T11:14:43-04:00July 21st, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 16—Living in Joy
Psalm 98

READ PSALM 98

I love to sing. It is one of the things which I most love to do, especially with a choir or a congregation. If I were pushed to analyze the why of this, I would have to say that music and singing fills my heart with joy. Sitting on a bookshelf in my living room just above my CD player is a small plaque which reads, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”, words of Aldous Huxley. There is something beautifully and powerfully mysterious about the effect music has

Day 15—Psalm 96

2019-07-13T11:11:20-04:00July 20th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 15—It’s Christmas in July
Psalm 96

READ PSALM 96

It’s Christmas in July.

Not really, but today’s psalm is appointed for use during the Christmas Eve Service, “Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice. For the LORD comes to judge the world with righteousness and truth” (paraphrase v. 11, 13). The popular hymn Joy to the World, makes reference to this psalm. But before this psalm was used as the basis of a Christmas hymn, it held an important place in the life of the people of Israel.

Day 14—Psalm 95

2019-07-12T18:34:36-04:00July 19th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 14—The Sheep of His Hand
Psalm 95

READ PSALM 95

Have you noticed how the tone of several of the psalms can suddenly change direction? The psalmist may praise God one second and then call for divine retribution on personal enemies. No psalm changes direction quicker than Psalm 95.

Day 13—Psalm 84

2019-07-12T18:31:52-04:00July 18th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 13—A Daily Pilgrimage
Psalm 84

READ PSALM 84

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.” (Psalm 84:5, NIV)

Have you ever been on a pilgrimage?

Day 12—Psalm 73

2019-07-12T18:28:19-04:00July 17th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 12—How Fleeting is Fame?
Psalm 73

READ PSALM 73

This prayerful song—for psalms are both prayer and song—paints a vivid picture of those who are “righteous” and those who are “wicked.” The author tells God that although he tried very hard to be righteous, it appeared that all around him people who were flouting both the laws of the land and God’s laws were appearing to prosper. “Such are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence” (Ps. 73:12-13).

Day 11—Psalm 66

2019-07-12T18:22:04-04:00July 16th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 11—Sing for Joy
Psalm 66

Read Psalm 66

It is easy this time of year in Western North Carolina to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation. Lush green mountains, cool trout streams, warm sun and nourishing rains, and even the friendly Asheville black bears are all reminders of our masterful Creator. Every time I step outside, it is so easy to proclaim with the psalmist “How awesome are your deeds,” and sing for joy for all that God has made.

Day 10—Psalm 62

2019-07-12T18:18:17-04:00July 15th, 2019|Categories: News, Summer of Psalms|

Reading 10—Silent Time
Psalm 62

READ PSALM 62

“My soul waits in silence.” When can silence be found in our noisy world? When is your time to wait in the refuge of silence to hear God’s word transform your very being? Our confidence in God’s power stands firm and the time of silence creates coherent order. We are not shaken by the noise of those who huff and puff, tossing their opinions into the sound of rushing wind. All their huffing and puffing is lighter than a breath. Noise is nothing.

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