peace be with you...
So faith, hope, love remain,
these three; but the greatest of these
is love.—1 Corinthians 13:13
Peaceful stories during turbulent times.
"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield..."(Psalm 91:4).
She turned the TV off and headed to the bedroom. The news
events of this past year continued to leave her feeling unsettled. Vulnerable...yes that was it! Vulnerable in a way she had
never felt before. She shook the thought aside. She had enough to think about right now.
Tomorrow she had an important business presentation to do. The day would be tight with
clients and the kid's schedules. Homework, bills, the list was endless. She checked the kids, laid out a few things and turned
out the lights.
But again, sleep did not come easily. Images from the past year's news haunted her. The unstable markets
made her stomach churn with worry over the bit they had managed to save for the kid's future education. Should they even risk
flying to Mom's for Christmas?
She tossed and turned and reprimanded herself. Foolish to worry. Yet this strange vulnerability
she felt seemed to have left her soul adrift on a sea of anxiety that was always just below the surface. Keeping busy helped,
but the quiet moments at the end of the day brought questions with no answers.
She knew that others across the world
were grappling with this same helpless feeling of vulnerability. Political, economic, religious issues surfaced across the
globe daily, leaving so many vulnerable in ways they had never imagined. She knew she was not alone.
She turned on
the light and wondered into the living room. She looked over the bookshelf for something to busy her mind until sleep came.
Her eyes fell on her grandmother's Bible. It was old and nearly falling apart. Grandma had used it well. She picked it up
and leafed through the fragile pages. Her eyes fell upon one verse after another underlined in red. She had always felt a
little too educated for Grandmother's simple faith, yet the words were comforting.
"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you" (Psalm 55:12)
"He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield..."(Psalm 91:4).
"We have this hope
as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).
Grandmother's days had been uncertain, too. Her life
had not been easy. She had been a war bride and had experienced much loss. There had been stories of both joy and sadness.
Oh, the issues of the day would have been different. But these verses, outlined in red, showed that Grandmother had felt vulnerable,
too. Was Grandmother's faith and Grandmother's God still able to sustain and comfort and be an anchor for her soul too? An
anchor for her soul. She desperately wanted that...desperately needed that.
She hadn't prayed since she was a little
girl and the words came haltingly, unfamiliar. "Oh God, I need an anchor for my soul. I feel anything but firm and secure.
Please sustain me, keep me in the midst of uncertainty, be my refuge and help me to know Your faithfulness in the way my Grandmother
did. Anchor me Lord. I need You."
She turned out the light. A peace settled over her unsettled soul and she determined
to learn more of the God of her Grandmother, more of this anchor for her soul. And she slept.
Dear Father, help us
to be anchored in You today. May each woman facing feelings of vulnerability today be drawn to You. To the bereaved, we ask
You to bring special comfort. On this day, we also ask you empower women of faith to speak words of hope to the people around
by Gail Rogers
The Connection (A Christmas Story)
She brushed the snow off her gray wool coat as she hurried into her apartment building lobby. The
doorman greeted her with a warm smile and she returned the greeting as she stepped into the elevator. She could smell the
freshly baked scent of sugar cookies fill the air, as she guessed that this was coming from Mrs. Granger’s apartment.
Christmas was tomorrow and she felt the spirit of the season all around town. Mr. Linden, the butcher, had given her
an extra piece of ham as he made jovial small talk in his tiny store. Mrs. Jennings, her close neighbor, offered her
a warm scarf as a gift for this festive holiday. And a warm thought crossed her mind as she remembered being in church the
past Sunday and the pastor giving out candy canes to the children.
She unlocked the door to her small railroad flat and hurried inside. It was warm as the pipes hissed
the sound of heat coming into the flat.It was a small one room flat, with a small kitchette off to the side that she
had closed off with a curtain. She took off her wool coat and glanced into the foyer mirror. Her long blond hair was
ruffled and she could see that her blue eyes looked tired. She had just passed her thirtieth birthday with a big party her
parents gave her. It was festive with relatives, birthday cake and presents. She was truly blessed. Now all she had to do
was find a husband and her life would be complete, she thought, as she made a pout smile into the mirror as it reflected back
at her. She giggled to herself like a child, as she thought about tomorrow and the kinship she felt with her family.
Yes, it was a special time of year. Tomorrow morning she would gather up the small gifts
for her parents and visit them for a special turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Then a sudden thought of sadness rushed
through her mind. What about those who can’t afford Christmas? What about those families who are seeing hard times?
She had heard that many families were going to gather at the food kitchen on Bleeker Street for their Christmas dinner. She prayed the butcher and other storekeepers
were especially charitable to those folks. She knew, however, that this was all in God’s competent hands and such matters
are better left to the “Big Boss.” But she couldn’t help feeling fortunate. She had a decent job at Kaufman's law
firm assisting the owner, a roof over her head and food on the table. Many were not as fortunate as she was. What could she
do to help those in need? She sat there contemplating this thought. She decided to go out to the food kitchen at the other
end of town and see if she could help in some way. She went to her cupboard and saw that it was sparse, but nonetheless, Mary
grabbed a jar of strawberry preserves her mother had given her, grabbed her wool coat, her scarf and hat, and darted
out the door.
She hurried outside and into the
snowy cold air as she made her way to the trolley car that just happen to stop simultaneously as she stepped onto the
curb. She made her way in and noticed an old man stooped over, barely able to hold onto the trolley pole as it made
its way through the snowy cobblestone streets. She couldn’t help noticing he had a terrible disgruntled look
on his face. His tattered coat was well worn, but clean, and his shoes looked as if they saw better days. He did, however,
have a new scarf wrapped around his neck. He was mumbling about needing to get to the grocer because he needed to get some
items before the store closed and making hand gestures as he thought out loud. How odd, she thought that this elderly man
is brave enough to confront the elements to get to the grocer on Christmas Eve. And she thought she heard the word preserves
but might have been mistaken. He must really be in need of food and maybe he is poor and just got paid, she thought. At that
very moment, her eyes met his. They were dark, lonely eyes that spoke to her. She could see the pain of years of loneliness.
She could also see how worried he seemed to be. It was a gift that her father also had; that she could read peoples eyes.
Not all the time, but most times. She could tell this man was not happy.
She smiled warmly at him hoping that he would feel the spirit of the season and for a brief
second a wry smile appeared on his face and then disappeared as he made his way off the trolley. Mary decided to follow him
to the grocer and see what he needed. Maybe she could help one individual tonight instead of going to the food kitchen where folks
were sure to be helped. She didn't have that much money on her, maybe twenty-five cents, but that did not deter
her from her charitable mission.
She hurried off the trolley and
made her way towards the grocer. She was happy to step into the store where it was warm and dry. She watched as the old man
made his way around the store and she saw him pick up a few items. He put a small ham on the counter along with bread and
a jar of preserves. It looked as if he would have bread and preserves for Christmas breakfast and ham for dinner; a sparse
The storeowner, a burly looking man, made some small talk with the old man as he announced that the total
of his purchase was fifty-nine cents. The man put his hand in his pocket and came up with forty cents. “You are nineteen
cents short,” announced the storeowner who did not seem to have a charitable bone in his body. “Times are hard
for all of us” he continued. “I could give you credit but you already owe me twenty cents from your last purchase. Sorry”
The man looked embarrassed and upset as he decided to put the preserves back on the shelf. Mary could not believe what was
happening as she reached into the bag and handed the man the jar of preserves. “Please take this,” she said. “It
is my gift to you for Christmas” “Dear lady”, he replied, “Who are you and do you always walk around
with a jar of strawberry preserve in your bag?” “No, actually I was on my way to donate it to the food kitchen,
but I found a better use for it so please take it” The man was puzzled by this sudden turn of events and felt as if
something much more important was taking place at this moment in time. He felt a warm spirit of generosity and it was piercing
his heart with much comfort. He was reluctant to accept the gift, but he looked into the young ladies eyes and could see that
it meant more to her to give the gift than it meant for him to receive it. He could read her heart, it was a gift. “Dear
lady I will accept your gift and say thank you. This is very kind and generous of you. Merry Christmas” Mary felt this
sudden feeling of luminescence fill her heart with joy and she gave a silent thank you to God for this glorious encounter. She
smiled warmly at the elderly man and chanted, "Merry Christmas to you too." The man walked out of the store and she
turned to the storeowner. "Here is the twenty cents the man owes you," she said. He looked at her, shook his head, took the
money, and walked to the back of the store where a woman was beckoning him to come and help her with her purchase.
She walked out of the store feeling
the spirit of Christmas all around her, but most of all within her soul. This was what Christmas was all about she thought
as she got back on the trolley car. It was about giving, caring and sharing. It was about love, the kind of love that is unconditional
for all humanity, not just family and friends. It was about being human.
knew she would probably never see this old man again. She didn’t even know his name, but she did know that the two of
them connected into a spirit of generosity and kindness tonight on this special Christmas Eve and no matter what happens in
her lifetime that will always carry around in her heart.
Original short story by Rachel
Beautiful short story:
A young boy and his father were hiking through the woods, following a soft,
grassy path along a stream. Walking hand in hand with his dad, the boy was content. There was always something interesting
to see, and the sound of the stream and the birds combined to form a beautiful song. But then his father turned
and took a path that led into rough hills. "This isn't any fun, Dad. Let's go back to the stream," the boy said. "I'm
sorry," the father replied. "This is the only way home. Besides, it's good to get some hard excercise
every now and then. You'll see. It'll be okay."
Like the boy walking with his father, it can be hard at times for us to understand
the ways of God. We've all had to walk unpleasant paths, wondering why God would let certain things happen. We can all relate
in one way or another to Job's (pronounced with a long o)
litany of complaints against the path God had set out for him. Job simply couldn't
see God's wisdom behind all the calamity and suffering visited upon him, and in frustration he railed against the unfairness
The Book of Job illustrates the simple truth that on our own, we cannot understand
God. After arguing with his friends and complaining about God, Job was still none the wiser. But then God spoke to him
directly, and Job finally knew the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. And that mad the biggest difference
in the world.
Humbled, comforted, and repentant, Job stopped railing against God and waited to see
where this path would lead him.
God wants to reveal himself to us, not so that we will have him figured out,but so
that we will trust him and develop a relationship with him. Then, when life throws us a curve ball, we won't spend all our
time trying to figure it out. Instead, we'll move forward, firmly grasping our Father's hand, knowing that his wisdom-unfathomable
though it may be-is supreme.
A prayer if you choose to say:
"Father, I want to trust in you, even when I don't understand. I believe that you
will work everything out for my good. Come and deepen my trust and love for you."
This is another story that is so rich in spirit:
After so many years of being bound by a crippling spirit, this woman of Biblical times
was drained not only of her strength, but of her dignity. After eighteen long years of being unable to stand upright, she
probably didn't set her hopes for healing too high. But, Jesus healed her and now she could stand upright once again and hold
her head high. Jesus made her whole - fully and authentically human, a daughter of the living God.
God has adopted us as his own, and out dignity is now meant to stem from this truth.
We are his very own sons and daughters, graced with a heritage given to us by a powerful, generous, loving God. Nothing can
take that away.
How do we claim this inheritance? Led by the Holy spirit, we can go to Jesus and aks
him to free us of the things that bind us. Are you brudened with seemingly insurmountable problems? Do you sometimes feel
gripped with fears that cannot shake loos? God wants to lift you out of these infirmities so you can live in confidence and
truth. As you pray today, ask God to free you from whatever weight you down. He wants to restore you so you can reflect his
image. Let us run to Jesus and claim the dignity that is ours in Him.
Father I trust in your power and love. Free us all and heal us, so that we can truly
live as your adopted children.
This story is loosely based on a story I heard about
the Buddah many years ago that always stayed very fresh in my mind, because of its rich message.
There once was an old wise man who had the reputation
of being a peaceful man. He prayed and meditated night and day. One day, a man came from far away and tried to
antagonize the peaceful old man. He spent days insulting, intimidating and harassing the wise man, but the old
man would not falter from his peaceful ways. Finally in exasperation the antagonistic man asked the peaceful man this
"I have tried for several days to arouse your anger with
insults, harassment and intimidations, but to no avail. Why is it that you still stay so peaceful."
The old wise man replied with a question of his own.
He asked, "If someone gives you a gift, and you do not accept the gift, then to whom does the gift belong."
The man had his answer. When we try to give antagonistic
gifts to others and they don't accept these gifts, then the gifts go back to the one who gave them.
One of the most peaceful people that ever lived was Mother
Teresa. I keep her books close at hand when I want to feel the peace of God during the turbulance of the storms.
Mother Teresa's words calm the storm because they come from her heart, which was always filled with God.
Here is a short excerpt:
"Just once, let the love of God take entire and absolute
possession of your heart; let it become to your heart like a second nature; let your heart suffer nothing contrary to enter;
let it apply itself continually to increase this love of God by seeking to please Him in all things and refusing Him nothing;
let it accept as from His hand everything that happens to it; let it have a firm determination never to commit any fault deliberately
and knowingly or, if it should fail, to be humbled and to rise up again at once - and such a heart will pray continually.
People are hungry for the Word of God that will give peace,
that will give unity, that will give joy. But you cannot give what you don't have. That's why it is necessary
to deepen your life of prayer."
Come to me all you that are weary and carrying
heavy burdens and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you,and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you
will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
JESUS CHRIST - MATTHEW 11-28-30 RSV