Cleaning out my basement left me broken hearted and brought me closer to Christ.
True Confession: I love to watch the television show Hoarders. Watching that show makes me feel better about my own cleaning abilities! But when it came time for me to clean out my own basement, I found myself reduced to a puddle of snot and tears on the floor.
As the chihuahua and the cat watched (the cat was totally judging me) I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit that set my feet on a Lenten journey which will lead me closer to Christ... CLICK TO READ
(Note: This message was the heart of my Ash Wednesday sermon on March 6, 2019. It was originally published on my blog at BeckieWrites.com as part of series of weekly devotionals)
Glaucoma: The Silent Thief of Sight
About a month ago, I was sitting in my office having lunch at my desk. It was a quiet Friday afternoon and I was alone in the church. After finishing my yogurt, I decided to take a break from starring at my computer screen. I could feel my eyes growing dry from starring at the monitor all morning.
I stood up from my desk and wandered over to the large bookshelves that line the walls of my office. I am a bibliophile at heart and my shelves are filled to overflowing with a variety of books: poetry, theology, church history, Methodist history, Christian nonfiction, and even some guilty genre pleasures like sci-fi, fantasy, and historical romance.
My fingers came to a stop as they found the spine of a thick tome. It was a textbook that I had used in college entitled An Introduction to Reading and Understanding Poetry. I gently pulled the book from the shelf and smiled as I regarded it’s slightly worn cover and the brightly colored Post It Notes bursting from the edges of its pages.
“Hello, old friend,” I murmured to myself as I opened the book at random. “It’s been a while. How time flies.”
*(Please don’t judge me because I talk to books alone in my office. Scientific studies show that people who talk to themselves are more creative and better problem solvers than people who don’t!).
I felt my heart give a little lurch of excitement as I flipped through the pages. I had been incredibly weary these past several months. My summer had been anything but relaxing and restful.
Dear Reader, perhaps you also know what it feels like to be exhausted. I thought that perhaps some lovely lines would be exactly what I needed to help me unwind during that quiet Friday afternoon.
As I perused the pages, a random title jumped out at me. It was a poem by T.S. Eliot entitled The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
“Here’s a piece that’s worth rereading!” I thought to myself.
I’ve always favored the neoclassical period (Woohoo! Mr. Alexander Pope for the win!),but lately Eliot had been growing on me. I had explored The Wasteland on my Kindle over the summer and been surprisingly impressed with it. Perhaps I would find a new appreciation for Prufrock now that I was older.
I have a complicated medical history and I’ve had glaucoma since I was four years old. The painful thing about glaucoma is that it is the silent stealer of sight. Sight slips away, bit by bit, over the years. There are long stretches of time, sometimes years, before one can notice what they have lost.
I carried the book back to my desk and began to read- or tried to do so. As I focused my eyes on the text of the poem, I was horrified to realize that I couldn’t make out a word. Frantically, I began turning the pages. While I was able to read the large text of the titles, the tiny print of the poems themselves was all but indecipherable to me.
The blurry pages in front of me were a glaring reminder of what had once been. I had graduated from college 2011. Seven years ago I could have read that text. It would have hurt my eyes after a time, but I could have managed it.
Since years had stolen Eliot from me. .
Yes, I could still read them on a Kindle or an iPad, but I feel as something is missing if the words are not viewed on an actual printed page, especially when it comes to poetry.
How had I not noticed sooner? How hadn’t I noticed that I had been steadily increasing the font size on my iPhone for years and that lately I tended to opt for audiobooks instead of print?
I stood up from my desk and stalked over to the bookshelf once more. Then, I snatched the Harper Collins Study Bible, which I had used ruing my years in seminary, and opened it at random.
It fell open the book of Psalms.
It was a blow to see that the Psalms were indecipherable to me as well.
My vision blurred even more, but this time it was not because my eyes were dry and tired. Biting my lip to hold back tears, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What kind of a pastor can’t even read the Bible?”
CLICK HERE to read the rest of this sermon on my website at "Rev. Rebecca Writes: Read, Write, Pray"
This sermon was originally delivered on 21 October 2018. I received some of the inspiration for this sermon during the Order of St. Luke retreat. You can find out more about the Order of St. Luke by visiting our website.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5, NIV).”
I have always admired people who God has blessed with the gift of a green thumb. My grandmother always kept a lovely garden. I can remember being a little girl and watching her as she lovingly tended her tomatoes, cucumbers, flowers, and the bushes around our home.
As my grandmother grew older, it became harder for her to get down on her knees in order to pull weeds. One day, she called me away from where I was playing in order to help her.
“Here,” she said, “Get down on your knees and help me pull these weeds.”
I was all too eager to try to help her. Sadly, I was not particularly good at gardening. With a huge smile on my face, I dropped to my knees and wrapped both of my hands around what I thought was a large leafy weed.
I can still hear her voice as if it were yesterday. “No! Don’t pull those,” she shouted with a sigh of exasperation. “Those aren’t weeds! Those are flowers! They just haven’t bloomed yet!”
“I’m sorry!” I said sadly as I looked at the green stems that I clutched in my hands, “I thought they were weeds! I didn’t know! What do I do now?”
CLICK HERE to read the rest of this devotion at "Rev. Rebecca Writes: Read, Write, Pray"
This devotion was originally printed in The Fishline, our church newsletter .
God's Love is Without Measure
“She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family (1 Kings 17:15).”
I confess, I am obsessed with measuring things. I can tell you how many calories are in an apple (95), a banana (105), or your average slice of pizza (about 330).
I count every mile that I run each week (my goal is 25) and the number of calories I burn during each workout (last evening I burned 372 calories on the treadmill).
I measure my food portions, count my steps, keep track of my office hours, and even count the number of books I read (104 so far this year).
Apparently, I’m not alone when it comes to my obsession for counting things. There are a plethora of apps that help me on my quest. My Fitness Pal, Map My Run, and Good Reads all serve as a handy little programs that I use to help me to organize my life. The popularity of such applications shows that our society has a love of keeping count and keeping score.
In the story from which this verse was taken, the prophet Elijah encounters an elderly widow who also has an infatuation with counting....
You can find the rest of this sermon on my blog at "Rev. Rebecca Writes."
This sermon was originally delivered on 11 November 2018. It was originally posted to "Rev. Rebecca Writes," as part of the weekly "His Encouragement" series.
What Does Strength Look Like?
When I was a little girl, a well meaning family member purchased an early Christmas present for me that I absolutely adored: a bright red superhero cape.
I was delighted with the present. I tied the cape around my shoulders and ran through the house yelling, “I’m Super Girl! I’m Wonder Woman!”
“No running inside,” said my long suffering grandmother. “Go outside to play.”
Eagerly, I rushed outside of the house. My grandparents had a wide open front porch that was, in my mind, the perfect length for a runway.
“I can fly! I can fly!” I screamed with joy as I raced to the edge of the patio. “Look at me! I can fly!”
I threw myself with abandon into the air. For one weightless moment, it really did seem as if I was flying. Then, I crashed to the ground with a solid thump.
I was lucky that my grandparents’ home had a soft lawn to break my fall. Sadly, I wasn’t a very bright child. After taking a few moments to catch my breath, I got to my feet and tried again to fly.
I tried again-
I spent many long happy evenings attempting to fly after taking a running leap from my grandparents porch. I had almost forgotten about my many failed attempts until, years later as an adult, I saw a picture on Facebook of a similar red cape; however, this one included a warning label that said, “WARNING: PRODUCT DOES NOT ENABLE YOU TO FLY.”
Apparently, I was not the only child who had dreams of being a superhero....
Read the rest of this devotion at "Rev. Rebecca Writes"
Rev. Rebecca Holland, M.Div. O.S.L.
Hello! My name is Rev. Rebecca and I serve as the solo pastor at Christ Community United Methodist Church. I believe that preaching is one of the most important aspects of my job. PWhile I have done my best to commit my sermons to writing here, please know that the art preaching is an oral act. When I prepare sermons, I often include images, video clips, music, props, and ways to engage physically with the message. I love to gather with our church family to worship and sing hymns to God; I absolutely love to share the Word of God with people.