Saturday, August 25, 2007

Touching Her Face

Like gloved hands
at the summer cotillion
so were the petals of the sun
touching her face,
oh so delicately, so demurely
brushing her face, as in a whisper,
pensive pose, thoughtful girl
watching perhaps for an appropriate suitor
getting the vapors
at the sight of him


August 25, 2007 8:15


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Drawn by the Fragrance

A flurry of motion
descended on the ripe flower
new, open, uncovered nectar
fragrant bloom blazing yellow
Plate of color, expectant
laying a welcome
for the buzzing crowd


August 24, 2007 17:04


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

The Petals Unfurled

The sun began to shine
the petals unfurled
precise order, sequence
regimented, controlled
synchronized blooming
set down in the genetic code
the grand design
the flower, before it was born
ordering the moments,
the shutter clicks
disciplined precision
of its regal awakening


August 24, 2007 16:22

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Out of the Moist Rich Ground

The ferns, the moss, the grass
rise up, in the shadowed places
up out of the moist rich ground
adding color, shape, and form
to the fallow lee of the wall
the edge of the foundation
rounded, muted forms,
ancient plants gaining a foothold
breaking down the soil
low growing plants, out of the wet
up out of the ground


August 24, 2007 15:52


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

In Her Garden

In Her garden, the beautiful garden
there is color and sweet perfume
bounty and balance
the planting and the harvest,
seed and flower, bloom and reaping the fruits
a place to still the disquiet,
to walk quietly with,
to commune with, the Creator
Her garden holds love,
wonders to behold, symmetry
provision from the trees,
the stalks, the vine
all we need, is found
for the taking, in Her garden.



edited January 17, 2015
In Her Garden – v2
August 24, 2007 15:47
In Her Garden
by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog
“God’s Whisper” blog


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 35,500+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Not Merely a Member of the Flock

She is destined, called
to be more than I, more than the others
around us in the sanctuary,
the members of the flock.
She is called to be more, to do different work
a different calling within the family,
the body of Christ, to carry the staff,
to guide the flock, to counsel, to minister,
to preach the Good News
not merely a member of the flock
She will be a shepherd.


August 24, 2007 12:53
Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog

“God’s Whisper” blog
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Because God Lives - v2

Because God lives
I live,
Because Jesus lives,
I will live again
Because the Spirit lives,
I can live secure
until the Son comes again


August 22, 2007 17:22
Because God Lives – v2
August 22, 2007 17:20
Because God Lives

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 37,600+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Because God Lives

Because God lives
I live,
Because Jesus died,
I will live again
Because the Spirit lives,
I can live secure
until the Son comes again


August 22, 2007 17:20

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

A Waking Sun

We are watching
day by day
hour by hour
watching a waking sun
the faces of the flowers
turning, yearning to the light
morphing from a knot of green
to faces of yellow, bright suns
atop their stalks
reaching for the sky
waking from slumber
plates of color
readying for their role
greeting the bees and butterflies,
if the ants will let them be


August 23, 2007 16:14


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wild Maine Blueberry Pie - so good


August 5, 2007
A perk of our mission trip,
from Wesley United Methodist Church,
Concord, NH and from First United Methodist Church,
Hudson, MA to Jacksonville and Machias, ME
to the Down East Maine Mission,
Jacksonville United Methodist Campground,
East Machias, ME


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

The Fact of the Matter Is

“The fact of the matter is”
an opinion.

How many times,
how many shows,
where experts state their belief
wrapped in that phrase.
Trying, as hard as they might,
to disguise their opinion
as fact. How I wish
the host would say,
“Isn’t that just your opinion?”


August 21, 2007 18:22


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Riding into the Country

The road narrowed, lost its freshness
shoulders closing in
as we drove from the city
up into the country
away from the congestion,
the many bright new lanes
separated roadway no more
riding out into the country
heading north, northeast
up past the cities
out into the country


August 21, 2007 16:12

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Walking with the Creator

A set of bathroom doors,
“Adam” and “Eve”,
just outside the sanctuary door,
flickered in my memory
Thinking about those two, our ancestors
how much would the world be different
if they had made another choice
in that ancient story
How would it be to walk with the Creator
to see the creation, the world
through those loving eyes,
without war, without sin, without fear.
Seeing the newness, the wonder, the majesty
with the one who conjured it all
walking with the Creator, the one who
made all of this possible
out of nothingness
an instant of time,
before there was time
Walking with the Creator
you or I, in the Garden



August 21, 2007 16:07
Genesis 1 and 2

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

white and pink Rosa Rugosa - Rogue Bluff, ME




All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 39,000+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

In His Hands

In His hands we are created
in His hands we are molded
in His hands we are sculpted
in His hands we are sheltered
in His hands we are protected
in His hands we are provided
in His hands we are guided
in His hands we are taught
in His Hands we are cherished
in His hands we are loved


August 21, 2007 15:37


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

For Your Love

For Your Love
Lord, I will act
For Your Grace
I give thanks
For Your Creation
I rejoice
For Your place in my life
I marvel
For Your Guidance
I cleave
For Your Wisdom
I yearn
For Your Discernment
I forever seek
To Your Will
I humbly bow


August 21, 2007 13:33


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

In the Small Church

A small church
long past its birth
stained windows,
stained ceilings,
dark stain on the pews
dark runners on the floor
peeling paint, a bell cord,
to herald the morning.

Loving welcome,
warm heart-felt greetings
hugs from no longer strangers
in the hurried change
from new arrivals
to guests that feel
a deep sense of belonging
in the small church.


August 21, 2007 13:19

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Another Threshold

Another threshold,
another door,
another world,
to explore.

Going out to serve
to preach, to share
to bring your word
to those in need out there.

Another chapter,
another verse,
and no, we are not
merely asked to rehearse.

A real place
for you to grow
to shape and build,
to gather and to sow.

A call affirmed,
a place to stand
your voice needed
in a different land.

Work to do
in that new place
asking ever for
God’s saving grace.



August 21, 2007 11:55

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"A Real Wise Guy" - sermon by Ruth L. Foss, August 20, 2006, Wesley United Methodist Church, Concord, NH

August 20, 2006
1 Kings 3:3-14

A Real Wise Guy

Poor Solomon…his father David had just died. On his deathbed, his father left him with instructions for life. He was told to be strong and courageous, to keep the charge of the Lord by walking in His ways and to keep His statutes, commandments, ordinances and His testimonies. Here is this 20-year-old boy that has now become king over Israel…he was in charge of God’s people…the chosen ones. He did not know how to be a good king…a leader of the people. Solomon loved the Lord and walking in the statutes of his father David. He wanted to be a good king. He needed help…how was he going to do this task…his calling from God?

Well… When he was at Gibeon…Solomon heard the knock of opportunity, the answer to his dilemma when the Lord appeared to him in a dream. God said “Ask what I should give you”…he knew what he needed most of all…he knew that without God’s help he could not be a good leader…this was his answer for his dilemma. Solomon could have asked for anything…wealth…power…many wives…but what he asked for was something that would benefit everyone, not just himself. He asked for wisdom to govern the people of Israel…God’s people…to be able to discern good from evil. God granted Solomon his request…his wisdom was better than anyone else before him or after him…he had a wise and discerning mind. But not only did God grant wisdom to Solomon…He gave him so much more than what he had asked. He was given riches and honor in life. He was given long life if he followed God’s statutes and commandments as his father David did. Unfortunately…in 1Kings 11:2 we find out that he messed up that blessing by entering into marriage with the people of the region and followed their gods…their idols…instead of the one true God.

In the Bible…wisdom is the exercise of sound and reverent, prayerful judgement…The test of true wisdom is how well its applied in day-to-day practice. The wise are those who, through faithfulness to the commandments of God, live well. Through spiritual knowledge, combined with practical experience, they are able to give wise counsel about navigating life’s pitfalls. To me…these are people who have learned lessons from what they have seen and gone through in life. They are able to use this wisdom to help others. They are able to help others that are on that same road to “folly”.

During VBS this year I had the joy of being the assembly leader. We had six different age groups and I thought…I should give each group a name. Well…because we were seeking the treasures of God this year…I decided to give them names with jewels. They were names like Sapphires of the Savior, Amethyst Angels and the like. Well…this year we had an adult group with us. With their name…I thought for a moment and came up with the perfect name for them…they were my pearls of wisdom. To me…they are a jewel of great treasure. They have lived through so much and have so much wisdom to share with all those who will listen. Unfortunately, in today’s society, these treasures are locked away and forgotten. All too often they are not thought of as being wise…they are thought of being in the way. Oh how much we miss and how much richer our lives would be to have them in it. How blessed we would be to gain their wisdom.

We, here at Wesley, have what I consider the joy of having a lot of these pearls among us. We should take advantage of this blessing…we should have more multi-generational events…we should take the opportunity to learn from these “Wise Guys (and Gals)”. On the wall in our hallway across from the parlor…there are sign up sheets that will allow us to do just that. They are for Spiritual Formation groups that will help bring us together as one body. Why not take advantage of these opportunities of a lifetime to enrich each other’s lives and walk with God.
Wisdom…what is this thing that we all strive for? Where do we find this wisdom? Once we obtain it…what are we to do with it? Well…Psalm 111:10 tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…All those who practice it have a good understanding. We must first value God’s wisdom above that of our culture and even that of our own self-interest…When we fear the Lord and walk in His ways and realize how it is His righteousness that endures forever…He is gracious and merciful to us. Solomon feared the Lord…He knew that the God of His ancestors was the one true God…He was able to receive the wisdom from God because he was open to what God wanted…he wasn’t concerned about what he wanted…his own agenda…He was more concerned about leading God’s people not obtaining wealth and notoriety for himself. He wanted to do the right thing by God’s standards and not the standards of those around him.

A favorite poet of mine wrote a poem about this wisdom. I feel that it really captures the essence of this verse of Psalm 111. It is called The Beginning of Wisdom and it reads:

In the beginning, we were afraid
we knew our nakedness
biting into the flesh of the fruit
of the forbidden tree

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom
the psalmist wrote, oh so long ago
We forget so often
forget He is a jealous God
forget our weakness without him
walk in our own paths
for a separate false idol
graven images and temporal pleasures
Opportunities of epiphany lost
in our self-reliance

Cleave to the Lord
follow his commands
love one another
share in the Good News
Hear His still voice
burning within you now


The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord but so many times we forget where our wisdom comes from. We think that we have obtained this wisdom on our own. We forget that we have been blessed with a gift from God to use for His glory…not our own.

James 1:5 states that “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.” Solomon asked for wisdom and got so much more. He prayed with a humble heart. He knew he could not lead the people by his own wisdom. He knew that with God’s help he would be a good king. He knew how God had been there for his father David. He knew God is ever present…there to help His children…His chosen ones. Ah…to pray as Solomon did…To put others before ourselves. That is a prayer God is so willing to answer. Wisdom…it is one thing we should all be asking for…the one thing we should all desire.

My favorite poet wrote a poem called “A Prayer for Wisdom”…it talks about Solomon’s prayer…but not only is it Solomon’s prayer…it is a prayer for all of us…a prayer from the heart. It reads:

Wisdom, discernment
precious gifts, a heritage, a grounding
a life worth living
when these are the callings of the heart
a prayer of the king
in the quiet of a dream.
How amply rewarded
are the selfless pleadings
of the faithful


Now that is what I call wisdom…Knowing that you need help, knowing that this is a precious gift, knowing that the Lords wisdom leads to a life worth living. A life surrounded and grounded in our Creator. The wisdom we receive from God is not the same wisdom we acquire from the world…any human wisdom. It goes beyond any wisdom of the world…beyond intellectual understanding it leads to salvation. When we accept Christ and fear the Lord…we are on the road to true wisdom.

Society tells us that we can accomplish anything by our own devices…our own strength…our own determination. It tells us that in order to succeed we need to have “book knowledge”…to be a scholar…if we don’t have it we have nothing. Now I don’t know about you but I know people who are book smart but have no IDEA what true wisdom is. They can tell you about how things are done or how they run but the have no common sense…no wisdom for every day living. Is that true wisdom when you can’t even deal with day to day life? Not in my book!

We are to share our wisdom…our lessons…with those around us. Solomon’s God-given wisdom is shared with us through the words of Proverbs. They are the basis of some of our popular says we use today. Words like “spare the rod spoil the child…a fool and his money are soon parted…beauty is only skin deep” and many others like them. We need to help those who may be walking down the road to “folly”…down a road we have traveled before and found it lead to sin or destruction. We are to be our brothers’ (and sisters’) keeper…being concerned for their Spiritual welfare. We need to teach our children and the future generations how to become wise guys (and girls) for God. We need to share this gift from God with all those around. Spiritual gifts are given to us to share not to hoard for ourselves. They are to be used to glorify God. They are not to be hidden in a box and buried in the ground. They are to planted in the hearts and minds of others so that they too can grow into the wise children God would have them be.
Wisdom…what a wonderful, enlightening, beautiful gift from our Creator. What a wonderful gift to be shared with those around us. What a responsibility we who have obtained it have. Solomon’s plea…his prayer…was accepted by God. Solomon preferred Spiritual blessings above temporal ones. But not only did he receive wisdom…he also received much more than he had hoped for or imagined. The way to Spiritual blessings is to be on bended knee for them…to humble ourselves before the throne of God…to wrestle with God for them as Solomon did. Asking for that only…just for wisdom to rule over God’s chosen people, as one of the needed things. The way to obtain temporal blessings is to be indifferent about them…trusting God concerning them. Solomon received wisdom because he asked for it and wealth because he didn’t.

The question I leave you with today is this…what type of “Wise Guy/Gal” are you? Are you searching for the wisdom of the world…wisdom that lasts for a short time and benefits you alone? Or are you searching for true wisdom…that gift from God. The gift that is useful in teaching, rebuking, edifying and admonition. A wisdom that is beyond all measure of the worlds standards. Wisdom that will last for your life time and, if shared, will live on after you. Wisdom only given by our Creator to all whom asks.

AMEN


by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog

“God’s Whisper” blog
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 19,710+ of my poems at http://www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

“How Deep Are the Roots?” - sermon by Ruth L. Foss, July 30, 2006, Wesley United Methodist Church, Concord, NH

July 30, 2006
Ephesians 3:14-21

“How Deep Are the Roots?”

When I first read the Scripture reading for today, I was in Awe of what it implicated. “To be rooted and grounded in love!” What a way of life. To love others as myself, to put others needs before my own, to have the love of Christ within me. Oh if we all were grounded in this love what a wonderful place the world would be. There would be no wars; everyone would accept each other, looking at each other through the eyes of God. There would be no more hunger; we would truly be “our brother’s keeper.” It truly would be Heaven on earth.

I contemplated this part of the scripture, looking for discernment, looking for a way for me to understand this “being rooted” way of life. It came to me as I was weeding our flower garden last week. As my daughters and I were pulling up weeds…and that’s another story…I noticed that some of the weeds were coming up easily. Their roots were not deep and the girls had an easy time pulling them up. Then there were the other weeds…as we were weeding, these were the ones that took a lot more pulling and strength to pull up. Their roots went much deeper, they were the taller ones that had “dug deep” into the ground for nourishment from the fertile soil. They were the ones that were towering over the others. They were the ones that were in it for the long haul. This made me think “how deep are my roots?” Am I grounded in fertile soil and taking in nourishment to stand strong and be in it for the long haul?

“Rooted and Grounded in Love”…what does that truly mean? We use the word “love” so much these days…in so many situations…that I think it has lost its’ true meaning. We say things like “I love this car…I love this T.V. show…I love this food”…we love, we love, we love, but do we really understand its’ meaning? When we reach out to others…we are grounded in love. When we do things for others and expect nothing in return…we are grounded in love. When we give a listening ear to someone who just needs a friend, someone to talk to, not thinking of our own agenda, being a true listener…we are grounded in love. 1 John 1:7b states that “if we walk in the light, as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another”…if we walk in the light of God we will be rooted and grounded in love and be in fellowship with each other and Him who is the light.

Now I don’t know about you…but I am a visual person. I need to see things to get a true under standing…a picture you can say…of what it is. So what does being rooted and grounded in love look like? I remember once…my daughters and I were visiting our next door neighbor and her grandchildren. Our youngest daughter Shanequa was sitting on our neighbors lap. She turned to her and said “God Loves You.” Well…our neighbor said “yes honey, I know, God loves me” and continued to talk to me. Well Shanequa took her by the sides of her face, looked her straight in the eye and said “No…God loves you!” Rooted and grounded in love…concerned that someone knows that God love them.

Another time I was watching the Disney Channel with one of my daughters. They have these little shorts instead of commercials sometimes. There was a story about a little girl named Arabella. She started writing to another little girl in the hospital. Letting her know she was thinking about her. After a while she began to write more letters to other children in the hospital letting them know she was thinking about them too. She even went as far as to save up her money and sent one of these other children to camp during the summer. Rooted and grounded in love…she cared enough to let others know they are cared for. She did an unselfish act in sending this other child to camp instead of herself. She cared more for others.

How do we become rooted and grounded in love? Where can we get the strength…how can we open the door to God’s grace so that we are able to think of others before ourselves? Well…Paul gives us a hint in this scripture on how to obtain this grounding, this love for on another. Paul prayed…he prayed that “we may have the power to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…all knowledge...so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Paul knew that God is able to accomplish abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. It is through prayer that we can come before the throne of God and ask for this grace, this grounding, this Christ-likeness for ourselves. It is through prayer and the asking of grace that God can use us as His ambassadors of love, hope and joy.

Paul’s prayer was a 4 part prayer:

1. Paul prayed for Spiritual strength – strength to love God as He loves us. To be able to see through God’s eyes those around us. The least, the lost and the forgotten.
2. Paul prayed for the indwelling of Christ – to be rooted and grounded in fertile ground. To become more Christ-like, following the path of our redeemer.
3. Paul prayed for the knowledge of the dimensions of Christ’s love – to know how much we are loved by God.
4. The last part of Paul’s prayer is a God-filled life – to have a life that is full of God’s goodness and grace.

I feel that this not only pertains to the Ephesians but also to us today. It is not only a prayer of the past…it is a prayer for the present and future…for all believers.

Where does our nourishment come from when we are rooted and grounded in this love? Well…I like the way my favorite poet answers this in his “Grounded in the Water” poem. It’s a simple poem but it has a lot of meaning to it…”All life’s problems bleed away when I get grounded in the water.” What is this grounding water that takes away life’s problems? Where can I find this water? It is found in the living water of God. In His Word that waters and nurtures our souls and helps us grow into that shade tree, that Mustard tree, that we may give shade and love to all those around us.

In John 3:13-14, Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman at the well. He tells her that “everyone who drinks from this well will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water I will give them will never be thirsty. The water I will give them will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” Now that’s what I call a tall drink of water. When we are full of this living water, this water of eternal life, we need to let it flow through our heart and out to others through our words and actions.

I read an article in last Sunday’s Concord Monitor. It was about the Crutchfield Building in Concord and its’ tenants, maybe you saw it. They are people in our community here in Concord. Many are lost, alone and frightened. Many have no family to visit them. Many are unable to leave their home either because of physical issues or emotional ones. These are the least, the lost, the forgotten. These are “Pearls of Wisdom” that God has graced us with. We should be reaching out to this community and others like them. We need to be rooted and grounded in love for our community and the people in it. We need to put our words of “love”, our mission statement, into action.
So where do we find the right ground to be rooted in? We can find this fertile ground to plant our roots in the infinite love of God. It is from this love we derive all the nourishment that is essential to our growth until we have the mind of Jesus, our Risen Lord. When we build on this ground, our foundation is built in love, on that firm rock. John 3:16 reads “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” This is the foundation, this fertile ground, that our souls, and all its’ hopes and dreams, can safely be planted. It is a foundation that can not be shaken. This is where redemption flows to us by the Grace of God.

The question I leave you with today is this…how deep are your roots? Are they like the weeds that are easily pulled up? When the thermometer gets hot do you wilt and die in the heat of the day? Or do your roots run deep? Planted in the rich soil of God’s love...drinking in the Living water of our Lord Jesus Christ…reaching out in love to those around you. Rooted and grounded deeply in the love and saving grace of our Savior

AMEN



by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog

“God’s Whisper” blog
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 35,240+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

"Our Little Seedling" - sermon by Ruth L. Foss, for Advanced Lay Speaker class, July 15, 2006

July 15, 2006
Advanced Lay Speaking
Matthew 13:31-32 & 17:20


Our Little Seedling

I have had the joy of being the Worship Leader at VBS this week. I have been able to have the fun of getting the kids all pumped up for the day and then pumped up at the end about all the things that they learned for the day. Being Worship Leader, I was able to walk around and talk to, to watch the kids as they hunted for treasure in the Treasure Seekers Vacation Bible School. I was in awe of the leaders and the kids.
As I was walking around one child caught my eye. She was really getting into the whole VBS thing. She was singing the songs with all her little heart and learning all the movements. She was one of the first to try and answer all the questions that were asked (and most of the time she was right). You could see her excitement and joy. This child was my daughter Shanequa. I knew she had a love for God but it was great to see it in action.

Her “little” seed was planted when she was small. She was a week old when she started going to bible studies with me. She would be very quiet and just take it all in. Every one was amazed at “what a good baby she was”, never disturbing the class (except to be passed around to the women of the class). The seed was being planted, that tiny little beginning of her faith. She has been part of a church family from the day she was born and it has been a joy, a blessing, to see that little seed inside her grow. To see her and her faith has been an amazing thing. What a wonderful calling it has been to be a part of the watering of that seed. It has been and honor and joy for my husband and myself.

Her seed has been nourished by the living water for four and a half years now and she amazes me….she gets it. She understands God better than I could ever have hoped for in a four year old. She has the kingdom of heaven within her and it is growing. She has flourished even more since we joined Wesley United Methodist 2 years ago. Oh yes…she has faith.

I remember a time when she was helping set up the Lords table one evening before our Rejuvenation service. When was helping put out the elements and one of our Pastors, Lori Eldredge, asked her what they were doing. She said “putting out the bread and juice.” Lori then asked her when does it turn into the body and blood of Christ.

Well…her answer was priceless…She put her hand on her hip and said “when Pastor Joel blesses it”. Now picture a 4 year old with her hand on her hip, looking at you as if you have lost your mind asking her such a stupid question like that. You should know the answer to that one! The seed is growing. Another time she went to the grocery store with her dad and they were getting some snacks and when he picked up rice cakes she shouted out “The Body of Christ…we are getting the body of Christ!” My husband, with tears in his eyes could not have been more proud. The seed is being watered by the living water of Christ and it is growing.

Our little seedling…to watch her faith grow from a seed, to germinate, to shoot up through the ground, to begin to have leaves. What a wondrous thing. To see her have the faith to move mountains, to see her faith in actions has been a joy.

I remember one day when we were visiting with our neighbor and her grandchildren. Shanequa went up to her ad told her that God loves her. Well…our neighbor just shrugged it off and said “yah yah I know” and continued to talk to me. Well…Ms. Shanequa took her by the face and looked her straight in the eye and said “No…God loves you.” I could not have been more amazed and proud as the tears flowed from my eyes. She is now giving shade, a place to rest, sharing her joy of God with others. Wanting others to rest in the shade of her Creator.

Children are seeds. They need nurturing, watering and love. They are God’s seeds, His hope, to the world. Are our children planted on the fertile ground of our God or are they planted in the rocky soil of the world around us? Do they know the Cultivator and Waterer of their soul? Faith grows from glory to glory. Are our children rooted enough in our Lord to face the trials of life and stand firm on the rock of our salvation? To hang on until they can see God’s glory in the end of this season.
In closing I would like to share a poem written by my favorite poet of today. It sums up how we see our little seedling. It’s called “Her Mustard Seed”…

Her Mustard Seed

It is there, deep in her young heart
bearing fruits of faith, in our lives
sharing the belief she has that
“God loves you”,
knowing that the bread and wine
are just that until they are blessed
giving hugs when they are needed
loving as a four year old can

Oh yes, she has faith of a tiny mustard seed
and then some
But it is growing too deep inside her
in the fertile ground of her soul
with water and sun and the gift of your church
and gifts of the spirit
flowing within
the place she loves so much
where she is now
getting ready for the flowing spring of your word
in vacation bible school

Fill her Lord, fill them all
with the living water
to bring forth a mighty mustard bush
bearing more fruits, being shelter in times of strife
in their lives and the lives of those they touch
Help her nurture and prune and care
for that growing seed, for the plant
deep in her heart


Our seed is growing. It is turning into a mighty shrub. May it continue to grow and be nourished by the Bread of Life and the Living Water of our Lord Jesus Christ. May it become the tree that God has intended all along even from its’ tiny start. That tiny little seed planted so long ago.

Amen

by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog

“God’s Whisper” blog
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH



All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 35,240+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

“Oh…The Pain!” - sermon by Ruth L. Foss, July 7, 2006, Wesley United Methodist Church, Concord, NH

2 Corinthians 12:2-10
July 9, 2006

“Oh…The Pain!”

When I read this scripture, it brought me back to my childhood and a T.V. show I used to watch. How many of you remember the show “Lost in Space?” It was a show about a family that was sent out in a spaceship to explore new planets. The only trouble is, is that they had trouble with the craft and now can’t get home. There was a character on the show, named Dr. Smith. He would always complain that he was in pain. His unforgettable words “oh the pain, the pain,” reverberate in my memory when I am in pain. He would use this excuse to get out of doing his share of the work. He would always say that he was too weak to help out, he had a delicate constitution. He would get the youngest, Will, to do his share of work instead of “stepping up to the plate” and do it himself.
Pain...in life, we all have pain. Whether it is physical, mental or emotional, we all have it. It is what we do with our pain that really matters. Do we wallow in it or do we push through and continue on with life? Do we trust in our senses or do we trust in God? Our senses tell us that we can’t go on. We can not “Bear-up” under the pressure. But God tells us that His grace, kindness and love will get us through. Trust in Him and he will make a way for us to “get through” our pain.
In today’s Scripture, Paul talks about a “thorn in the side”, a weakness he had. He asked God three times to remove this impediment. God’s answer to him was “My grace is sufficient for you.” And God goes on to explain “for power is made perfect in weakness.” Now I don’t know about you, but when I am in pain I feel no power. I just want it gone. So what does God mean by “my Grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness?”
First we need to look at what God’s “grace” is. What it means for us as Christians. Why is it so important? When I looked up grace in the Webster’s Dictionary, I found some interesting information. It states:

a) It is unmerited Divine assistance given man for his regeneration and sanctification.

Well…to me that means that we are given “grace” so that we may grow as a result of our Christian commitment. It is not something that can be bought or stolen. It is given freely if we but only ask for it. It is there to assist us as we work out our salvation in Christ Jesus.
b) A state of sanctification enjoyed through Divine grace.

We are sanctified, made holy…we are anointed, consecrated and blessed by the grace that God gives us. We are given moral strength, goodness and the knowledge of right and wrong through this same grace of God. It is His grace that strengthens us to push through our affliction and continue on the path that He has laid out before us. It is by His means of grace that we can fulfill His purpose in our lives not by any means of our own.
This reminds me of a poem by one of my favorite poets of this day and age. It is called “God’s Grace”:

What a wonderful gift
undeserved and oh so great
He has given each of us
so blessed are we by the awesome
the wondrous nature of
His benevolence
His love for us
His outpouring in covenant
to His people, those who hear
and know the Master’s voice
paid by the price
of His Son’s blood
for you and me

Now that’s what I call grace and love. Given so freely to you and me.
The other part of this scripture that we need to look at is “for power is made perfect in weakness.” How many of you feel any real power when you are dealing with your “thorns” of life? I know for me, I feel as if I just can’t go on. How can I do all I need to do with this thorn constantly giving me a reminder that it is there? But God says there is power in weakness. So who’s power is He talking about? I know it’s not mine. It is His power and it is to His Glory this power is given.
I have discovered that when I am at my weakest point in life, I need to rely on God the most. This is a time when I am closest to God. This is the time when I find myself on my knees in prayer for God’s help…His strength and mercy. We, like Paul, ask for God to just remove the thorn, to stop the pain. What we do with God’s answer of “my grace is sufficient for you” is what really matters at this time in our walk with Him. Do we rely on Him or do we continue to rely on ourselves.
When we rely on Him, He can do great things through us. When we rely on Him, He is the one Glorified through us. When we rely on Him, all things are possible. When we rely on ourselves, we set ourselves up to fail. When we rely on ourselves, our weakness, our thorns, can lead us to sin. When we rely on ourselves, we receive our reward here on earth by man’s standards and not in heaven by God’s standards. Our rewards here on earth are temporal but our reward in heaven is eternal.
God has a purpose for our lives and by working, pushing, through our thorns, we become more Christ-like and learn to trust that God knows best…that He can and will help us in our weakness if we would only “let go and let God.” By working through the thorns of life, we can encourage others to do the same. When they see the grace and mercy poured out on us by God they want the same for their lives.
I know a woman…she has been in my life many years. Through her pushing through her thorns, I have seen this grace and mercy in action. I have seen her go through many sicknesses…Cushings Disease, Lupus, Cancer. I have witnessed her courage and strength through these times, her adversity. I have been in awe of her concern for others, reaching out in love to those around her, even though she is in the middle of a “battle” herself. It is one of the things in my life that has brought me to the place where I am now. It is one of the things that has made me who I am. It has helped me be strong and caring though everything around me may seem to be against me. It has taught me how to step out in faith and trust that God is there, holding my hand, leading me on the path set out before me. If we all had an example like this in our lives, think of how much we could accomplish for God. If we all could be this example, think of how many we could lead to God’s saving grace.
When we are made weak by the thorns in our lives, God is made strong. He is the one to receive the Glory in all that we do for the Kingdom of God, not ourselves. He is the one who strengthens us to do His will. It is not by our own strength. This is one reason why God uses ordinary people like you and me to carry out His work in the world. To be His disciples, His ambassadors of the Good News.
So…when we are lost in our weakness, when we are feeling the prick of the thorns in our lives, what are we to do? How are we to act? How do we receive God’s grace? How do we tap into this “spring”, this outpouring of God’s love and forgiveness?
When I was preparing for this sermon, I had the honor, the joy, of reading John Wesley’s sermon on grace. In it, he states that we receive grace by prayer, whether in secret or in the congregation. We receive grace by searching Scripture, by reading, hearing and meditating on it. And by receiving the Lords Supper in remembrance of Him. These are ordained by God as channels of receiving His grace. We are to wait for God’s grace through prayer.
Matthew 7:7-8 tells us to “ask, and it shall be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” All we have to do is ask and receive His gift of grace. When we seek, we find His grace, this pearl of great price. We need to knock, continue asking for and seeking His grace.
Isaiah 30:20-21 tells us that “Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”” We are to fix our eyes and our lives on God and listen to that still, small voice calling to us, leading us on the path set before us.
In closing, I would like to share with you another poem by that same author as before. To me this is not just a poem…it is a prayer that I have learned to pray each day. It is called, “A Thorn in My Side”:

I am weak; thank you God
for my humility, for the impediment
to my vanity,
that forces me to rely on you,
on Your Grace

To lean on you and to place my trust
on fertile ground, to heed your call
to do your work, in the vineyard,
calling in the wilderness,
on the distant road, in foreign lands

My trust in you Oh my God
the God of my ancestors, of Abraham
and David
Made flesh in my Savior
my guide on this path you have put me on

Like Moses, with speech
or the pain in Jacob’s hip,
I am of clay, needing your strength,
your grace, to exhort, to testify
to use my gifts
in your service

The question I leave you with today is this, how will you react to the pain, the thorns of life? Will you be like Dr. Smith, not being able to do anything through your thorn, relying on those around you to carry the weight? Or will you turn to God with His ever present, wondrous grace given so freely to you and me? The grace that enables us to move mountains for God’s Kingdom sake. We all have “thorns” in our lives but when we are feeling the prick of our thorns, we should remember Christ and the thorns he wore for us. Thorns he wore freely. The thorns of God’s saving grace.

AMEN


by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog

“God’s Whisper” blog
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 35,240+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

"Take Me to Your Leader" - sermon by Ruth L. Foss, May 7, 2006, for Basic Lay Speaker class

Sermon on John 10:11-18
May 7, 2006

Take Me to Your Leader

When we think about a Shepherd, we think about some one who leads sheep. Some one who takes care of their needs. They make sure that they have what they need on a daily basis for life. They make sure that they are safe from harm. One who guides them into good pasture with plenty to eat and drink. When think about shepherds I think of someone like David. He was a Shepherd before he became a king. He tended the sheep and when they were in danger from an outside predator, he fought and risked his life for the sheep of the flock he was tending. He had no regard for his own life, only about the lives of these helpless animals that trusted that he would always be there for them and keep them safe from harm. He knew these charges he had and they knew him. I also think of Moses. He was like a shepherd in how he led the Israelites out of Egypt. Through his prayers to God he made sure that they had food and water. He also provided for them spiritually when he brought the 10 Commandments down off the mountain. Not that they listened…All they did was complain. But even through their complaining, Moses still sought for what was best for his flock.
I know how Moses felt when all he got was complaining. Being a parent I considered myself as a shepherd in its’ own right. I have three little sheep at home that count on me to lead them. They look to me for direction. They look to me to provide for them and when they don’t get what they want….they act like Israel in their 50th year…never mind 40. My husband Ray and I are considered one of their Spiritual leaders as well as daily provider. We take our position seriously. We want to make sure that they are provided for in all aspects of life. We are doing OK in our shepherding as far as we can see. I remember when Ray and our 4 year old Shanequa went to the store to get snacks and they were going down the bread isle. When Ray decided to buy some rice cakes Shanequa piped up with “that’s the body of Christ.” He could not have been more proud as tears welled up in his proud daddy eyes. She had remembered that we use rice cakes at our church for some of the people at communion. There was another time when she was helping prepare the Lords Table before our Rejuvenation service and she had to help with “the Body and Blood of Christ.” When our Pastor told her that is was just bread and juice then asked her when it became the Body and Blood she responded “After the Pastor Joel blesses it”. Now you have to picture this 4 year old little girl…standing there with her hands on her hips…looking as if we had two heads for asking. But where can we as sheep herders get direction? How can we know how to lead our own flocks as well as the flock of our community and of the world? Who can we turn to be our role model?
In today’s passage, it talks about Jesus being the “Good Shepherd”. About how He knows His own and they know Him. They know His voice and follow that voice. He goes and finds the lost sheep and brings them into the fold so there will be one unified flock and one shepherd. He laid down His life for His sheep so that they may enter into the “Good Pasture.” A pasture of peace and redemption. Into a land where they can have a restored relationship with their Creator. A place where they will dwell forever. Now this is my kind of role model. By being a disciple of Christ we are called to become more Christ-like as we continue our never ending journey with our Lord. By following His lead we are concerned about the world around us and the “lost sheep” within it. We know His voice by studying scripture and learning to discern His will for our lives. We can go to Him in prayer for guidance and direction. By imitating the “Good Shepherd” we will be able to reach out to our neighbor, to the lost sheep, and help them to an understanding of the Good News.
We all want a leader or shepherd in our lives. We need some one to give us direction so that we are not feeling lost and alone. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad leaders out there. They care not for the sheep that they lead but only their own skin much like the hired hand in the scripture today. When trouble strikes, they head for the hills leaving their sheep unattended and bleating with fear and confusion…exposing them to the world around them with no protection or guidance. How can we know who to follow? Well…ask yourself…are they following the ways of the world or the ways of God? God has given us a set of rules on how we are to live our lives. Do they follow them, do they need a refresher course or do they even know about God’s ways? What is the Spirit telling you? God has given us a sort of personality gauge in giving us His Spirit. Some people like to call it their gut feeling. Are you listening to that still small voice within you? It’s there if you are listening. Are you studying scripture? God uses His word to speak to us. Are you spending time in prayer? God does answer prayer and speaks to us in our prayer time if we only but quiet ourselves.
What will you do? We are called to become more Christ-like as we journey with our Lord. Will you be like the hired hand caring for the sheep…and with the first sign of trouble…when you are ridiculed or your life, as it is, is threatened… will you run and head for the hills to save yourself? Or will you be like the “Good Shepherd”, the Risen Christ, and reach out to the least, the lost and forgotten with no regard for your own life? Will you lay down your life for the sheep of the fold?
Who is your Shepherd today? Are you following the world as your leader or are you following the one true leader, the “Good Shepherd” found in our Lord Jesus Christ?

AMEN

Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 35,240+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

"Desert Places 101" - sermon by Ruth L. Foss, June 25, 2007, Wesley United Methodist Church, Concord, NH

Desert Places: 101

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-15a
Prayer:
Sovereign Lord God Jehovah
Be with us we pray as we look into our Desert Places
Send your Holy Spirit down upon us
Our Teacher of your knowledge
Give us eyes to see,
Ears to hear
And a willingness to obey
And we pray this in the Strong Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior
Amen

Sermon:

Good morning class and welcome to Desert Places: 101. I will be your facilitator for this class and the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, will also be here among us…circulating around the room making sure that we hear what we need to hear. There will be no test at the end of the class but…our Teacher may give us “pop quizzes” through out our lives…which I like to call Desert Places 102, 103, 104 and so on.

OK…I said there wouldn’t be a quiz but I do have a few questions to ask…how many of you have been in one of these Desert Places? OK…how many of you wish that you never had to visit these places on your journey of life? Now the last question…how many of you have learned something during your journey and come back stronger?

Desert Places/Wilderness experiences…how we wish we did not have to endure them. It is in this place where we feel lost and alone…we feel sad and hopeless. It is times like these when we wonder if there is any hope. We ask why do I have to go through this time…what good are they any way? We ask what have I done to deserve this? I haven’t done any thing wrong. I have tried to live a good life. So…why is this happening to me? How am I supposed to act when in the Desert Places anyway? Well…the prayer I have this morning is that we are able to get a glimpse of an answer to some of these questions.

First let us look at today’s scripture from 1 Kings. In our reading…Elijah runs away because King Ahab’s wife Jezebel has threatened his life. He runs to the wilderness…a desert place and when he gets there he falls asleep. Now…I think that if I were running for my life I would get exhausted and fall asleep too. I am sure that after all that had happened to him prior to this time, he wasn’t getting that much sleep. As Elijah was sleeping, an angel of God awakened him, not once but twice. He is fed cake and water.

Here is God’s providence. Elijah had been zealous in what he was doing for God. He had been faithful to what God had called him to do. God provided food and drink for Elijah so that he would have the strength he needed to continue on with what God had called him to do. Isn’t this how God feeds us through the Word today? God is providing nourishment for our souls so that we can continue on with the work that we are called to do. After Elijah is strengthened…he goes another 40 days & nights travel to Horeb the Mount of God (which by the way is the same place that Moses first met God. It sounds to me like this is definitely the meeting place of God in the Old Testament). Once he gets there…he goes into a cave and the Word of the Lord comes to him there.

At this point…things get real exciting for me. God tells Elijah to stand on the mount before the Lord…and a wonderful thing happens there. The Lord passed before him. WOW…to be Elijah! Just think of it…you are standing right where God tells you to stand and Our Creator passes by you…right in front of you. Can you imagine it…the Lord passes by you…so close that you can almost reach out and touch the hem of God’s robe? What a wonderful thing that must have been!

The next presentation of Elijah’s divine appointment is very helpful to me when I am in that quiet desert. There was a wind so strong it broke rocks in pieces, then an earthquake, then fire…but God was not found in these “phenomena”…I want to stop here for a moment and reflect a little about Yahweh…it is not unusual for God to make himself known in dramatic ways. As a matter of fact…in 1 Kings: 18:38 God revealed himself with a great fire that “fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench.” Here…God is…choosing a different way to reveal himself. God sends wind, an earthquake, and fire…which not coincidentally were phenomena associated with Baal, the storm-god…yet…Yahweh was not present in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire.

The Scripture goes on to say “and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.” Then silence…but…it was not until there was this…silence…this quiet, before the Lord’s still small voice was heard, and it was heard by Elijah. The sound of silence…a gentle whisper…is dramatically different than the sound of rock-splitting wind, the earth-splitting earthquake and the roaring sound of fire. This piece of Scripture tells us that the Lord’s word doesn’t need extravagance to reveal the Lord…or even to manifest the Lord’s power. The Lord so often reveals himself to us in the quiet moments of our lives. This gives me hope in those desert experiences in my life. I know that I will hear God’s voice, God’s comfort, God’s guidance and direction calling out to me in the wilderness. If we would just be still and listen…there is hope!

This reminds me of a poem written by one of my favorite poets…my husband. Its called Speaking from Silence. It is about Elijah’s and our voice in the wilderness. It reads: “After mighty wind, the trembling of the earth, a roaring fire. Then audibly silence, to fill the Prophet with awe. Within the sheer silence was God, heard by the Prophet. A message of guidance…of instruction…to overcome his fears and follow God’s will.” As Elijah…we will hear the guidance of our Creator as we travel through the desert if we are attuned to God’s voice.

We have choices in the wilderness…God’s chosen people, Israel, spent generations captive…oppressed…by Pharaoh in Egypt. God sent Moses to free them from their oppressors. Being held captive for so many years is a wilderness experience in itself but…we see God’s mercy and grace as God sends Moses to free them from their “desert place.” This was God’s providence to them…to give them a way to be free.

After a fashion…after the plagues that God sent down on the Egyptians…God, through Moses, sets the captives free. From there…they are lead into the desert, a 40-day trip, to a better land. While they are out in the wilderness…God again provides for them…and yet what happens? How do they react to their experience…to God’s provision? Well…Psalm 106 vs. 13-14 tells us what happens. It reads “but they forgot His works, they did not wait for His counsel. But they had wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert.”

How many times have we acted like Israel in the desert? How many times have we forgotten what God has done in our lives…how God has sustained us in and brought us through our desert places? How many times have we thought that God has forgotten us? How many times have we relied on our own strength to survive trials instead of relying on God and letting God work out His plan for our lives? We try to be the author instead of the actor. Like Israel we just wander around in the unfamiliar places…we wander in the desert…trying to find our way out without our Guide. Like Israel…until we follow our God…until we are still and listen for that still small voice…we will wander until we get it right. Just think about it for a moment…Israel’s 40-day trip turned into a 40-year lesson because they wanted it their way. They wanted to travel the highway instead of the footpath that God had planned for them. What a lesson we can glean from Israel’s “Desert Places” expedition.

Now lets look at another example…lets look at Jesus in Luke 4. Jesus was filled with the Spirit and led…by the Spirit…in the wilderness, a desert place. While he was there…He was tempted by the devil…now we all know what it’s like to be tempted. But…listen to what Jesus did when He was tempted during His desert experience. He relied on the Word of God to get Him through. Each time He was tempted…His answer began with “It is written.” The Living Water was His strength…His peace…through His desert experience. By relying on God and His Word…He made it through desert experience. God provided a way out…His Word…and Jesus took God’s footpath in stead of the wide highway of society. As a matter of fact…Matthew 4: 11b tells us that after He was tempted…and made it through…”Angels came and waited on Him”…God’s providence in the wilderness was seen again. Like Elijah and Israel…God provided strength and sustenance in the desert place. How this providence was received is what made the difference in these stories.

Desert Places…we don’t like them but they are necessary. In them we are stretched to grow. In them…we learn to rely on God and His Word and less on our own devices. In them…we are able to look at our lives to see our growing areas. In them…we learn to hear God’s still, small voice. But have no fear…God is always with us. He will not leave or forsake us. God tells us…during these times…to “be still and know I am God.”

The feeling that I get when in my desert place is beautifully written about in Joyce Rupp’s book “May I have this Dance?”. The Poem is called Dry Bones. It reads, “tiredness grounds me into a quiet stupor of the Spirit. I yearn to be inspired, to be lifted up, set free beyond the place of deadness. The struggle goes on, however, and you and I God, we exist together with seemingly little communion. Yet, in the deepest part of me, I believe in you, perhaps more strongly than ever. I am learning you as a God of silence, of darkness, deep and strong. I do not wrestle anymore, only wait, only wait, for you to bring my dry bones into dancing once more.”

I am sure that many of you have felt the same way in your own desert place. Yearning to be done with the journey only to realize that the only way through is to wait on God…and God’s time is not the same as ours.

We have a choice to make during these times…these seasons of life. We have two ways to respond in these desert places. We can either behave as Israel and try to do it on our own and complain the whole time…or…we can follow the example of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, and rely on God and His Word to sustain us. The choice is ours to make. There is no short cut or easy way out of our desert places but…how we react while we are in them is what makes a difference…how we respond to them determines how long we stay in that area of our journey.

In closing…I would like to share with you a writing by Henri Nouwen found in his book “The Dance of Life.” It is called The Garden of Our Hearts. I feel that it sums up our Desert Experience beautifully. It reads, “Solitude is the garden of our hearts which we yearn for love. It is a place where our aloneness can bear fruit. It is the home for our restless bodies and anxious minds. Solitude, whether it is connected with physical space or not, is essential for our spiritual lives. It is not an easy place to be, since we are so insecure and fearful that we are easily distracted by whatever promises immediate satisfaction. Solitude is not immediately satisfying, because in solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval. But if we do not run away, we will meet there also the One who says: “do not be afraid. I am with you, and will guide you through the valley of darkness.”…Lets keep returning to our solitude.” May we embrace our Desert Places full knowing that we have a guide…there is “light at the end of the tunnel”…there is a lesson to be learned here and will hear our Creator’s voice say “Be still and know I’m God.”

Please pray with me…O God, our help in ages past…our hope for years to come…bring the freshness of your presence in such a way that we can celebrate you even when we do not see you…praise you when we do not feel you, and thank you even when we do not hear you.

AMEN


by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog

“God’s Whisper” blog
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 35,240+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.

"Won't You Be My Neighbor" - sermon by Ruth L. Foss, Marlow United Methodist Church, Marlow, NH

Won’t You Be My Neighbor
(Marlow UMC 7/15/07)

Scripture Reading: Luke 10: 25-37
Prayer:
Sovereign Lord God Jehovah
Be with us we pray as we, together,
Begin to discern who our neighbor really is
Send your Holy Spirit down upon us
The giver of your knowledge and wisdom
May we have eyes to see,
Ears to hear
And a willingness to obey
And we pray this in the Strong Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior
Amen
Sermon:

How many of you remember the TV. “Show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood”? I remember it very well. I remember the neighborhood song he would sing at the start of each show. The verse I remember the most is “I always wanted to have a neighbor just like you…I always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day…since were together we might as well say. Would you be mine, could you be mine, won’t you be my neighbor. Won’t you please, won’t you please…Please won’t you be my neighbor.” (Sing) I always wanted to live in his neighborhood. He was so nice and had lots of fun and adventures each day. How I longed to be his neighbor. Now that I am older…I still want to live in a neighborhood like his…but now that I have a personal relationship with Christ…I have been given a broader view of my neighbor. It is a view that is given to us by the Word of God. A view that makes us ponder on and think…who is my neighbor.

In the Gospel Lesson from Luke 10 today…we find the parable of the “Good Samaritan.” This parable was intended to teach the lawyer…and us…that no human being was and is beyond the reach…the range…of our charity. The law of love called the lawyer…as well as us…to be ready…at any given time…to give our life for the need of another. The lawyer asks an important question. It is a question that I am sure that we have all asked ourselves, at one time or another…”Who is my neighbor?”
This Parable also tells us that what really matters is to act as the Samaritan did…in the same simplicity…governed completely by the need of the man, woman or child that confronts us.

Let’s take a look at the Parable of the Good Samaritan and see what it tells us about who our neighbor is. This is a parable that is an indictment of social, racial and religious superiority. This is a parable that shows us what happens when we are more concerned about our status and what others will think. It also tells us what happens when we set aside our differences…put others needs before our own… see others through the eyes of God…and do what God has called us to do.

First…there are four main characters in this story. There is the man who was robbed and left to die, then there is a Priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. Now lets stop for a moment and look at the characters of our story. (Pause) You have a man that comes down from Jerusalem…now the parable doesn’t tell us if this man is Jewish but more than likely he is. He has come down from Jerusalem so you can suppose that he is of Jewish descent. Next you have a priest…a Holy man of God. Now there were two types of priest, a High Priest…who I like to refer to a s a Lead Pastor…and a regular, ordinary, Priest… who I like to think of as an Associate Pastor. These were the Religious Leaders of that time. They were responsible for the Temple and there were things that they were allowed to do and things they were not. They were set apart from the rest of the people and were consecrated as holy. They were “the best of the best.” Next you have the Levite…whom I like to call the Lay Leader or Laity. The Levite was responsible for the lesser ceremonial things to be done at the temple but…they were still considered a holy man. Then you have the Samaritan…a man hated and despised by the society around him…an outcast of society. One of the “low life’s” that no one should even give the time of day. These were people who were once Jews and inter-married with pagan tribes. They were People of the Promise…God’s people and they had “turned their backs on God…They had soiled their heritage.” They were despised more than pagans…They were worse than pagans!

Now…let’s break the parable down into parts in order to see more clearly what God’s Word has to say…what insight we can glean…from this parable. They way that I see it there are 4 parts to this story…I break it down as follows:

1. The Question and answer concerning Eternal life found in vs. 25-28
2. The Question concerning ones neighbor found in vs. 29
3. The Parable of the Good Samaritan found in vs. 30-35
4. The Conclusion with question in vs. 36, the answer in 37a and a final admonition in 37b.
OK…now that we have that down…lets see where it takes us.

1. The Question and answer concerning Eternal life found in vs. 25-28

Now…here we have a Lawyer…a Scribe… who knew the law. He may have thought…I know the Law like the back of my hand. I live it, breathe it, and eat it. I can recite it in my sleep. Let’s see how much this person called Jesus really knows. Let’s see how much I can impress him. So in vs. 25…he asks, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” It is almost as if he is asking what can I do to impress God enough to assure my inheritance of eternal life?

Well…Jesus…knowing what everyone was thinking before they even spoke it…knew what this man was up to and decided to play along. So in verse 28 He asks, “what is written in the Law what do YOU read there?” Well…now the lawyer can show off his stuff. He quotes from both Deuteronomy 6:5 and Lev. 19:18 and replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as your self.” Now this lawyer must have thought, see how perfect I am. I know what I know what I know. Take that! But…isn’t how this lawyer may be thinking how we may think at times. We think that if we can know all the answers to all the questions we can use our “Scriptural Prowess” and win over all those unchurched lost souls around us. Well…most times this doesn’t work. We wind up scaring away people rather than bringing them into the sheepfold. Our witness to others is less dependent on the right answers and more on the love of others. ‘If we truly love God, our neighbor and ourselves, our neighbor would be drawn to our love not our knowledge.

And then Jesus answered, You have given the right answer; do this and you will live.” Now I can just imagine the scene…the lawyer standing around with all his buddies…they high five each other…the lawyer going around saying, “who’s the man…who’s the man!”…His buddies saying “you are…you are.” (Act out) Now the lawyer stops for a moment and thinks, “Hey…I don’t mind hanging out with and having barbecues with my neighbors next door. I love them. They are awesome. We are always there to help each other but this is too easy…there must be some kind of fine print here…I need to make sure.” So he asks the probing question. So now we come to part 2 of the story…

2. The Question concerning ones neighbor found in vs. 29

The Lawyer then asks, “and who is my neighbor?” He may have been trying to find a loophole (being a lawyer). A way that he could love his neighbor only if they were getting along. He may have been thinking well…my neighbor is OK most of the time but I remember the time when my Ox got stuck in the hole and my neighbor was too busy to help. Boy did I hated him then. I always stop every thing I am doing to help him and this one time he was too busy.” He may have wanted Jesus to define who his neighbor was so that he could justify not liking some one just because they were different.

Don’t we all think that way some times? We love our neighbor and accept them because they are not irritating us at the moment. Don’t we tend to shy away from people who are different thinking they are strange and we don’t want to associate with them? Don’t we put conditions of love on people in our lives and say things like “I would like you better if…” “He/she would be a more likeable person if…” and the like at times? Don’t we shy away from and avoid people from different countries and cultures at times with out even getting to know them? Don’t we stereotype people with out even giving them a chance to prove themselves to us? Don’t we tend to judge a whole race or culture by a few that have done things that are evil? Don’t we act more exclusive within our churches at times instead of the inclusive way we are called to act by God’s Word?

The Bible states we are all made in the image of God. We All come from the same roots that began in the Garden of Eden. We are all made for God’s pleasure. Jesus came to save All people not just a chosen few. We need to start looking at each other through the Eyes of God not through the eyes of man. We need to take the log out of our own eye to help remove the speck in our fellow mans…. The next part of the parable/story, part 3, is the Parable of the Good Samaritan

3. The Parable of the Good Samaritan found in vs. 30-35

Now comes the teaching moment for Jesus. He spoke in parables because they were easier for the people to relate with. They would understand more of what was being said to them. But isn’t that still true today? I know that I find it easier to relate to a situation if some one shares their story with me verses researching the issue on the Internet.

Jesus tells of a man coming down from Jerusalem and is stripped of his clothing, beaten, and left half dead. This man has nothing to identify him. You can’t tell who he is by his clothing or speech. The robbers have taken of that by taking his cloths and leaving him half dead…unconscious. Some one who was going by might stop if they could identify him with their own ”group” of people but no chance of that happening. (Boy they could have really used a CSI team for this case).

Now after this man is left on the side of the road…a Priest comes down the road…he sees the man on the side of the road and passes by on the other side as does the Levite who comes down the road. Now…we expect compassion from clergy…we assume that they would stop and help…but…they pass by on the other side. Why would they do that? They are “people of the cloth”…they are supposed to help people in need. Maybe they were on their way to perform some religious duty…maybe they didn’t want to get their hands or cloths dirty from the mess that was there. Maybe they thought the victim was dead and because they were dead they were not allowed to touch him. Or maybe they thought that this person was faking, he was a decoy for the robbers so that they would stop to help and be robbed themselves. Whatever the reason they went by on the other side.

Now I ask…don’t we do and think the same things? We don’t want to get involved. If we get involved maybe some thing bad would happen to us. We would rather stay in our safe zone than to step out of our comfort zone and help. Are we not told to be in the world not of the world? To me…this means we need to get involved. In order to make a difference we have to “show up” and be accounted for. (Shea Farm)

The next person to show up on the ”crime scene” is a Samaritan. Scripture reads that the Samaritan “is moved with pity…compassion…he bandaged the man up, poured oil and wine on the wounds, out the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn where he took care of him. The next day he paid 2 denarii (which a that time was t days pay) to the in keeper and told him to take care of the man and when he came back he would pay for what ever the extra expense was.” Wow…now that is a friend! If I am ever down and out like that I hope that some one would treat me with that much love and compassion. Not even the traditional hostility between Jews and Samaritans stopped this man from helping this man in need. Again…this man was despised and hated by the people of this injured mans race but he was full…of …compassion for this man. What a testimony of loving others and seeing others through God’s Eyes! The last part…part 4… is radical…

4. The Conclusion with question in vs. 36, the answer in 37a and a final admonition in 37b.

At the end of the story…the parable...Jesus asks the Lawyer which one was a neighbor to the injured man. The Lawyer answers the one who showed mercy…compassion. And Jesus tells him to go and do likewise. Go…and do…likewise…what a difficult thing to do. We live in a fallen world full of prejudice, fear and suspicion. We live in a world of division and strife. We are taught the only one you can truly trust in is yourself. So…how can we go and do likewise? We hear on the news and read in the paper about people who step out of their comfort zone and to help others…even to the point that they too are in danger. They are considered heroes in our society. Go…and do…likewise. Now I don’t know about you…but I am not sure if I were in the same situation that I would be able to do the same…I hope that I would. We help the elderly person in the market get their groceries into their car. Some one has lost their wallet and we take it to the police department so that they can contact the person and let them know it has been found. We participate in a Cancer walk that supports Cancer research. Go…and do…likewise. These…random acts of kindness…these are ways we ARE doing likewise. We CAN make a difference.

Now we’ve broken it down into 4 parts…we have gone through and talked about the 4 main characters of this parable…But…I can’t help but think of a fifth character in our story…the robbers. We don’t know if them were men, women or children but what we do know is how they considered others. They had no regard for another’s life. They stripped the man, beat him and left him on the side of the road half-dead.

When you think of it…isn’t this the way that society would have us be. In our society today we are lead to believe that we are nothing unless we have it all. It doesn’t matter how you get there or who you have to hurt in the process. Just get there. Not only does society tell us that it is a “dog eat dog” world, “survival of the fittest”…but it also robs us of our peace and joy. If we want to be accepted…we want to have the “good life” we must act how society will have us act. How much joy and peace is there in that for a disciple of Christ?

In Psalm 82: 3-4… we are told to “give justice to the weak and orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” But instead…we have a tendency compromise our beliefs to just fit in, to belong. We go with the flow in order to not make waves and stand out like a sore thumb. We have made ourselves like gods…judging our neighbors by our standards not God’s. If we continue on this track…we will “be laid low” and brought down…for how we judge others…we also will be judged.

You may be thinking to yourself…well that was good for that day and age but things are different now. Society is not the same way today as it was when this was written. This was meant for the people in the Olden Days. It doesn’t apply to us now. They have Social Services that can help these people…why should I do their job? Well…Colossians 1:6 tells us that “The message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It is the same all over the world.” No matter what…God’s truths do not change. God’s instruction to us is the same as it was yesterday…as it is today…as it will be tomorrow. God is Sovereign…it is us who change and compromise.

We have two choices in how we react to others. We can be like the Priest and Levite and make a wide birth around those who are different. We can concentrate on our differences rather than similarities. We can ignore the fact that we are ALL God’s creation therefor are bond together in the family of God. Or we can, like the Samaritan in this Parable, reach out in love and compassion to those in need around us. This reminds me of a verse in a song by the Young Bloods called “Get Together”. The verse goes…”If you hear the song I sing…you will understand…you hold the key to love and fear…all in your trembling hand…just one key unlocks them both…it’s there at your command.” Which will you chose to unlock…the fear that comes from society full of suspicion and hate or the love that is found in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ? The choice is yours.

Amen


by Pastor Ruth Foss
sermon blog
meditation blog
“God’s Whisper” blog
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH


All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 35,240+ of my poems at www.raymondafoss.blogspot.com Poetry Where You Live.