Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012


Scripture:  Psalm 4:3 But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.

My children recently turned 2 years old and are now talking “a mile a minute”.  Often when I am engaged in deep concentration and they want to get my attention, in a repetitive melody, they will sing,  “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!”  Sometimes I am so focused on my work, while I hear them calling out to me, there is a delay before I respond.  In some ways, they seem to mimic my behavior because they continue to cry out to me before realizing that I have actually answered them.  Mommy…Yes, my children…Mommy, Yes, darlings…Mommy, Mommy, Yes, what is it that you need, my nuggets?

I often hear my children the first time when they call.  God also hears us the first time when we call.  We are children of God and he loves us more than anything else.  While we are precious in God’s sight, this does not exempt us pain, distress or loss.  At times our anguish brings us to the point where we are pleading with God.  Like my little babies, we cry, “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God!!!”  We question if God hears us, we question if God will respond.  The good news is that the Lord cares about our every need, even the most mundane.  When it comes to his children, God neither sleeps nor slumbers. 

Prayer:  Oh God, give us the ability to hear when you respond to our cries.  Help us to recognize signs of your resurrection in our lives today.  Amen.

 The Reverend Tiffney Marley

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Scripture:  Psalm 4:1  Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

"Hellooo, it’s meee…  Helloo, it’s meee.."

The story of Bright Stanley, the little gold fish, is favored by my children.  "Helloo, it's meee..." is Stanley's cry of distress as he seeks to be reunited with his friends (school) in the great bit ocean.  As I read Bright Stanley to my children each night, my heart breaks for little Stanley as he tries to find his way in the vast blue sea.  He is overwhelmed and his experience is not much different from our own yearnings for clear direction in life.  Bright Stanley is vulnerable and is forced to stare in the face of his own mortality as he tries to find his way.

Often as we think of Easter, we visualize the resurrected and glorified Christ who has all power in His hands.  Jesus was raised from the dead and the Divine hope is for us to experience signs of resurrection in our everyday lives.  Resurrection is not intended to be distant reality.

The truth is as we struggle in our relationships, as we toggle the uncertainties of financial instability, as we stare into the face of our own mortality, maybe we feel great anguish, maybe resurrection and new life seem very far away from us.   

Similar to the Psalmist in our text, we are crying out to God, “Answer me when I call”…”Hellooo, it’s me…!”  Lord hear my prayer.  Lord where are you?  Where can I find you?

Prayer:  Oh God  we cry out for you.  Hear us when we call.  We yearn for your touch, we long to see your face.  Help us to recognize signs of your resurrection in every aspect of our lives, especially when we feel lost and disconnected from your presence.  Amen.

 The Reverend Tiffney Marley

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday, April 14, 2012

Proclaiming Forgiveness 

Thus, it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed…Luke 24:46b-47a

Most of us have heard stories of individuals and communities who have forgiven great atrocities.  We have our own stories too and my guess is that each of us has forgiven our fair share of faults.  
As always in these matters, Jesus is our role model.  He was betrayed by his closest friends; mocked, beaten and spat upon by his enemies; his hands and feet nailed to a cross and a crown of thorns placed upon his head. Yet, in his final moments, Jesus cried, "Father, forgive them.”  

I love the image of Jesus sitting on the right hand of God, leaning over and forever whispering, “Father, forgive them.  Forgive her.  Forgive Cathy, for she does not know (the impact) of what she is doing…”  Jesus calls us to also forgive one another even as we are being forgiven. 
A few days ago, I ran across a reflection I wrote back in April 2001.  Though I had not read it in a while, it reminded me of that particular time in my life and how far I have come.  I hope it will inspire you as well:   

Why I Should Forgive
Holding on to past wounds and hurts
   carrying grudges and not resolving issues is costly -very costly.
It costs me present joy, peace, and sometimes my sanity. 
It renders me immobile, paralyzed; unable to think and act clearly.
Who or what is worthy of that?

Often the offender has gone on, merrily living his or her life;
   oblivious or unconcerned that the infraction ever occurred
   while I spend hours, days, weeks mourning and grieving my wounded self.

How much of me shall I give to any one thing?  What does that suggest about my faith?

More and more, I desire the full grace of forgiveness;
   the ability to receive it but also to practice it unconditionally.
Whether the offense was intentional or accidental;
   an act of carelessness or indifference doesn’t really matter.

Today, I choose to start fresh;
   certain that this day will have its own measure
   of things to learn, experience, enjoy AND forgive.
   It’s something I want to do.
Forgiveness sets me free and gives me back my life. 

Prayer: Holy Father, help me to proclaim the good news of your forgiveness in word and deed.  Amen.  

 The Reverend Dr. Cathy S. Gilliard

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Surpassing Peace

Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Luke 24:36b

I dare say that any of us knew what to expect that spring morning in 2006 when we arrived in Biloxi, Mississippi to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  News report had barely done justice to the devastation.  Even after seven months, the scene was almost unbearable. Hundreds of thousands of persons were still evacuated from their homes.  Many had little or no remaining savings, little or no insurance and very few, it seemed, had been able to return to the homes they had once occupied. 

I still remember one special lady in particular, Mrs. Alberta Paige. She was 83 years old and like everyone else we met, Mrs. Paige had her stories and was eager to tell them.  Her father had been a United Methodist minister and when he died he left her mother with one dollar and fifty cents and six children to raise. By profession, she had been a reading specialist and had pursued a doctorate degree – quite an achievement for a woman of color in her time.  She and her husband had traveled the world and lived in England for a while before returning to the Gulf Coast where they purchased a beautiful four bedroom three bath home on a corner lot. When he died at age 47 of lung cancer she was only 43.

In the early morning hours of August 29 as Hurricane Katrina roared her ugly head through Biloxi, Mrs. Paige was sleeping soundly in an upstairs bedroom. She said she felt a gentle nudge on her shoulder - the sort of nudge like when you bump into someone on a crowded street. The nudge caused her to wake up and when she awakened she looked out her bedroom window to see the whole neighborhood submerged in water. She opened her front door and nine feet of water gushed in as she just watched. When the waters subsided they left mountains of mud and carried away almost everything precious and dear to her - a life time of accumulated things. For five days Mrs. Paige lived in her upstairs bedroom until finally, the firemen came and made her leave. "They told me I must be either stupid or paralyzed," she said. "I know that I am not really stupid like those firemen said, and I knew I wasn’t paralyzed. I knew what was going on.  But not one time was I afraid. I had peace."
My peace, I give to you says our Lord.  Peace that surpasses understanding.  

Prayer:  Loving God, grant that we might have peace even in the midst of life’s greatest storms.  Amen.  

 The Reverend Dr. Cathy S. Gilliard

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Seeing is Believing

Jesus himself stood among them…Luke 24:36b

We are still in the Easter season.  Still being raised up.  Still being filled with hope.
The disciples are huddled together behind locked doors.  They are afraid of the authorities.  They know what they have seen.  How Jesus was mocked, tried, and crucified.  They know the full penalty of being guilty by association.

Like Thomas, they are filled with doubts and fears.  But much to their surprise, Jesus is out looking for them and when he finds them he blesses them. “Peace be with you.” 
Jesus does not chastise or criticize.  He does not condemn, scold or ridicule.  He anticipates their bewilderment and offers himself to them.  According to John’s gospel, he breathes on them and inflates their lungs with his very own breath. 

What wondrous love is this from our Lord who is forever consistent in his engagement with his followers – both then and now?  Jesus says, Look at my hands and my feet.  Touch me.  See for yourself that it is I.  Touch so you can believe.  

At best, that’s what we do in the church.  We help people see the presence of God in our lives and in the world.  Because we are made of flesh, we don’t always get it right.  Ask anybody, we make mistakes galore.  But we keep working at it because we know that there is a power beyond ourselves. 
Jesus says that those who have not seen and yet believe are blessed.  Easter faith is all about believing when we don’t see, obeying when we don’t understand, going on when we don’t feel like it; and trusting that whatever lies ahead, Jesus will show up when we need to be assured. 
Prayer:  Good Lord, help us live as Easter people.  

 The Reverend Dr. Cathy S. Gilliard

Sunday, April 15, 2012

SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 2012

Scripture:  I John 1: 1-2: 2

The California water that runs through the house pipes is a bit like its land – oddly drying or arid -- perhaps its softness or dryness depends on the city pipes?  Regardless, since moving home, I have discovered that my hair is back to the way I knew it growing up, wavy and dry and free.  Living in the humid South made me fight with my hair just so I could recognize myself. Here, I am a part of a common crust of desert-air Believers, walking in the joy of sharing a common experience, not just of the vanity of hair, but of the life that embracing the Word who is with us, gives. 

 Luba Zakharov

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