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Evening Prayer – 4 July 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

It has been a nice day with my sweetheart

It has also been a day of mixed emotions

Independence Day… sadly, not for all

Preparing for tomorrow’s worship

It will be a time to gather virtually and share the bread and the cup

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Evening Prayer – 3 July 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

It has been a busy day of work and ministry

It has been a busy day of worship preparation

It has also been a wonderful time with very dear friends

Erin Dahlby & Nadine Sekerez playing at Snowy Peaks Winery in Estes Park, Colorado

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

How to Be Happy – Jake Owensby

A wonderful blog from Jake!

The Irish are happier than we Americans. Big deal, you might be thinking. Of course they are! Everybody knows they’re a laugh a minute.

But the Canadians, the Germans, and the Finns are happier than us, too. The Finns rank number one. The people of permafrost, reindeer, and fish pie, for crying out loud!

We come in at a lowly number nineteen. And according to the annual World Happiness Report the US has been slipping for nearly a decade…

— Read on

Love and Identity – A Reflection

A Rocky Mountain Sunset

As I reflect on this particular sunset in the Rockies and our five years of ministry here in Estes Park, I keep coming back to identity. One of the central challenges to the church (not just the congregation I am serving, but the larger church universal) is our identity. Some churches identify themselves by their buildings. Others identify themselves by specific programs. Others pride themselves by their past.

Just what is it that makes the church unique? Is it doctrine? No. Is it a particular style of worship? No. Is it their facility or program? No. What makes the church and individual congregations unique is their witness to the love, peace, mercy, and justice of God. How does the church relate not just to the power brokers, but to the folks who have no power? Jesus spent a lot of time teaching and preaching about the importance of the ministry to the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the oppressed. Jesus was teaching the reality of the Law and the Prophets in a radical way that threatened the organized religion of his day. His message has continued to challenge organized Christianity down through the ages.

The key to following Jesus is putting ego aside. The key is to look at the world and our mission through the eyes of the ones whom Jesus reached out to. He reached out beyond the safe space of the Temple and Synagogue. He reached out to the very ones whom the religious establishment poo-poo’d. These words of Thomas Merton speak to this concern today. He spoke in the 1960’s as a prophet and he still speaks as a prophet sixty years later. For that I am thankful! Hear these words of his and may they speak to us today.

Love is the revelation of our deepest personal meaning, value, and identity. But this revelation remains impossible as long as we are the prisoner of our own egoism. I cannot find myself in myself, but only in another. My true meaning and worth are shown to me not in my estimate of myself, but in the eyes of the one who loves me; and that one must love me as I am, with my faults and limitations, revealing to me the truth that these faults and limitations cannot destroy my worth in their eyes; and that I am therefore valuable as a person, in spite of my shortcomings, in spite of the imperfections of my exterior “package. (Love and Living, p. 34-35)

The Monastic Spirit – Christine Valters Paintner

Entrance to the Chapel at Our Lady of Gethsemane in Kentucky

“The monastic spirit and path is broader than any denomination or tradition. It is an expansive way of being in the world. I find I have much in common with the Buddhist monastic spirit. The monastic way opens us up to conversation with others through the lens of practice and experience. Being a monk in the world means that my life may inspire my neighbor, whether Christian or not, to live a life or greater presence and compassion. As a monk, I discover the sacred in all things, all persons, all experiences.”

 Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

How has a religious tradition that you are not affiliated with been helpful in your spiritual journey?

Reask, an early monastic site in County Kerry, Ireland

Evening Prayer – 1 July 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

It has been a long and eventful day, Lord

Worship and study

Planning and preparation

Working with a dear friend

Planning and preparing for the next stage in our journey

As Pixie shows us in the picture above

Daddy, my eyelids are growing heavy

Isn’t it time to lift our humble prayer to God?

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Mary, Mother of Sorrows – Sybil Dana Reynolds

“We live in an age when suffering is experienced and witnessed in countless ways. Addiction, injustice, poverty, racism, sexism, abuse, hunger, and the ravages of war are sadly plentiful. Many people prayerfully turn to the spiritual presence of Mary, Mother of Sorrows, as a compassionate comforter who knows and understands the depth and breadth of human suffering.”

 Sybil Dana Reynolds, The Wisdom of Mary and the Sacred Feminine – An Online Self-Study Retreat

Where do you find comfort in the depth of suffering? How can you give comfort to another in the depth of their suffering?

Recovering from Shame and Blame – Jake Owensby

The school year had only just ended. Summer stretched out before me for an eternity. At least, that’s how it seemed to my ten-year-old self. I was playing with a couple of kids at the end of my old street. I didn’t know them well. Their names are lost to me now…. read more on

Recovering from Shame and Blame

Discovering Ourselves – A Reflection

Tonight’s Waxing Moon over Estes Park, Colorado

As the church continues to wrestle with the COVID-19 pandemic and what church is going to look like in the future, I see a challenge being offered to us. We are in the midst of a time that offers the church an opportunity to dig deeper into our faith and communal life. We are also being invited to dig deeper into our own personal faith and life as Christ-followers.

Perhaps if we take the time to pause and look inward as individuals and as a community of faith, we might learn something. Perhaps we can discover an interior reality which can transform us. Perhaps in that stillness we can listen for the Spirit’s call. Be Still and Know is more than simply a phrase or verse of Scripture. It is a call to exploration. Thomas Merton’s words in a book we studied for a class we took at Columbia Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Certificate in Christian Spiritual Formation program speaks volumes to this journey of discovery.

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous. (The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century, p. 11)

Friends, the invitation to the journey of discovering who we are called to be is before us. By listening to and following the calling of the Spirit, we can begin the voyage of a lifetime.

Love – A Reflection

As I read Merton tonight and look back over the years of my life many thoughts go through my mind and my heart. These are indeed “interesting” times for Denise, for me, for our community, and for this nation and world. Sadly I too often see hatred, fear, greed, divisiveness, and ignorance taking over.

My Dad was talking about this last week. He lives in an Assisted Living facility in my hometown. Unfortunately he watches way too much television news and it gets him incredibly upset. Denise and I can totally relate to that. That is part of the reason that we limit our intake of news, no matter the channel or perspective. Too much can be toxic in so many ways. Whether he realized it or not, Dad quoted the Beatles when he was talking with someone at the front office. He said, all we need is love. That is the truth! Merton had the following to say about love:

To love you have to climb out of the cradle, where everything is “getting,” and grow up to the maturity of giving, without concern for getting anything special in return. Love is not a deal, it is a sacrifice. It is not marketing, it is a form of worship. (Love and Living, p. 34)

Perhaps our lives and our love can be an act of worship. Love, plain and simple, Love is what we need.