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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, September 14, 2018

e-Devotions from The Rev. Bob Dannals

Friday, September 14


"Grace in the Grout"

“Grace is everywhere,” exclaims the dying cure in The Diary of a Country Priest. It is a modest, telling insistence on immanence: God’s near presence in the world, in the daily rhythms of life. It is experienced most distinctly in the pressure point between the exterior and the interior of life, in the social, political and moral realities of our day — what one theologian has called “grace in the grout.”

Preparing for a series this fall on the Sermon on the Mount and reading again the Beatitudes, I thought about the many people who are trying, with God’s grace, to reach beyond their own interior, private faith to apply compassionate service to the lost, the least, and the last. The first verses, you recall, are about the meek inheriting the earth, the hungry being satisfied, and the consolation of those who mourn. But it also seems that a part of living and doing the right thing is getting criticism — or worse. That portion of Jesus’ sermon ends with: “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that — count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens — give a cheer, even! — for though they don’t like it, I do!” (The Message Bible)

Jesus makes the compelling case that anything worth doing is worth standing up and being counted. He gives us a glimpse of a God who can give us the strength we need to take risks, to enter the tough places, engage in challenging dialogue, rubbing grace into the grout — when playing it safe may look to win the day.

These aspects of ministry are tough! Often we are glad to have others serve the least desirable, to take the controversial stand, and to read about other people’s journeys in faith and action. Sometimes the enthusiasm for mission gets lost somewhere, and we end up living vicariously through others.

Thus I am doubly impressed with many Christians who live close to the bone; who every day try to imitate Christ in their service. My hat is off to and my heart is warmed by the many people in the various parishes I’ve served who want to close the gap of hypocrisy that exists between our stated beliefs and the way they live.

So if you are working hard to raise kids in the faith, if you’re seeking to proclaim a thoughtful, progressive gospel, if you’re laboring to write something compelling to a complex society, if you are exercising an active faith in business and industry, and if you are leading with integrity, honesty, and civility — God bless you!

 Yes, grace is everywhere — but it’s felt to be more real when it is expressed through our hands and heart, when it is rubbed into the grout.


Tuesday, September 04, 2018

e-Devotions from Bob Dannals

Tuesday, September 4

Those who are generous are blessed... Proverbs 22:9

The truth in this passage is ancient and obvious, yet it needs to be said and enacted again and again and again. Generosity extended for loving and just reasons blesses both the giver and receiver. Though proved many times over in history, the wisdom writer must have detected a nagging hoarding and self-interest among the people of Israel.

Challenge and Opportunity:

Our hearts and desires are capricious characters. We KNOW that a generous life is the way to behave; we've known that sweet feeling of giving. It's life-giving and soul-deepening. But then our selfish voice comes along: "Oh, you need, you deserve that ____________________." And even when we can afford that item/purchase, another voice speaks: "you know, that is not going to bring you lasting satisfaction, you didn't need that possession; you could have used those resources for something/someone beyond self.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

e-Devotions from Bob Dannals

Wednesday, August 29

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. James 1:22

The Apostle James must have had a reason to speak so forcefully about the works of faith. We assume that his community needed to hear about spiritual discipline and putting their faith to good use for others. In essence he wants believers to show the substance of their faith by real action, every day... in short, "walk your talk."

Challenge and Opportunity:

We've heard the adages for many years: "his words are empty;" "she is just hot air!"; "all hat and no cattle." We've all had our moments when we were caught short of substance -- we talked big, but we didn't follow through. And we can usually catch it easily in others; some have a very keen radar on empty promises or that which is fake. Each day we can make our words and promises count by our actions, by following through.

Daily Devotionals - Based on RCL Proper 17, Year B:

Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Monday, August 27, 2018

e-Devotions from Bob Dannals

Monday, August 27

My beloved speaks and says to me: 'Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away ...' Song of Solomon 2:10

The "wedding songs/poems" in the Song of Solomon are intended as analogous to humanity's relationship to God. They are a series of "love notes" between a woman and her beloved. This particular text depicts a springtime environment during the mating season. Scripture often takes the feelings and passions in human relations and places them as allegory for divine love. We shouldn’t place too much emphasis on any literalism in these descriptions.

Challenge and Opportunity:

Very often we see our relationship with God as nothing more than another compartment of living ... that is, we call upon the Lord when in trouble or merely open our "drawer" of religion on Sunday, and we don't rely on God's love and guidance in all aspects of our life, every day. These notes from Song of Solomon underscore that our relationship with God is to be just that, a two-way daily encounter with the living Lord whereby we are strengthened by God's Spirit and guided and directed by grace. By its very nature, then, it fosters all of the expressions and emotions of human relationships.

Daily Devotionals - Based on RCL Proper 17, Year B:

Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Friday, August 24, 2018

Late summer e-Devotion from Bob Dannals

Friday, August 24


"Back to the Salt Mine"

As if an internal clock ticks during the final days of vacation and the summer break, we are prompted by the “back to” messages of school, work, and routine. For Christians this doesn’t have to be a reluctant Jonah-like disdain for the work we’ve been given to do.

The most important thing we do is to show up with faithfulness, willingness, and encouragement. According to the scriptures, we don’t need to be certain or the best. We don’t have to perform or prove ourselves. According to the stories of significant saints, we don’t even have to want to be there. All of these would be significant if the restoration of the world were up to us!

In addition to faithfully showing up, we are also to receive and appropriate God’s vision of love and justice in our context — to recall the biblical salt mine and be reminded that Christ is calling each of us to be “salty” and press ourselves into the marrow of our society. What distinguished Jonah in Ninevah was not his reluctance but his vision of what God was doing through him for that city.

As the fall calendar gets filled up we have the outstanding privilege of breaking through the mundane of routine and realize how each of us can be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” In the journey may we cast our individual dreams and needs into the larger mission of the church — of connecting and engaging ourselves in worship, prayer, and study, of generosity and service so that we can be of good use to one another and to those beyond our parish campuses. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

e-Devotions: Inbox Inspirations from Bob Dannals

The Rev. Dr. Robert (Bob) Dannals is currently Interim Rector of  All Saints Episcopal Church, Beverly Hills, CA.  I became aware of his daily devotional pieces (based, for the most part, on the lectionary readings for each following Sunday) while he was Interim Rector at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City.


Wednesday, August 22

... be strong in the Lord... Ephesians 6:10

The Epistle writer counters fear, doubt, anxiety, and anger with strength. He does not understand strength as brute force or domination. In fact, quite the opposite! He himself exhibited strength by submitting himself to sacrifice and self-discipline. He enacted it in countless ways including imprisonment and beatings.

Challenge and Opportunity:

This text portrays a believer who is ready to do his/her best in God's strength. Very often that begins with a realization of our weaknesses -- that we need God in our daily endeavors. It follows by a dedication to receive all of God's merciful benefits and to extend them to others. This often involves self-offering, a trait that our prevailing culture doesn't see as "strength." But Christians know better ... just look at the person of Jesus and we have our model.

Daily Devotionals - Based on RCL Proper 16, Year B:

Joshua 24:1-2, 14-18; Psalm 34:15-22; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

eDevotions from The Rev. Bob Dannals

The Rev. Dr. Robert (Bob) Dannals is currently Interim Rector of  All Saints Episcopal Church, Beverly Hills, CA.  I became aware of his daily devotional pieces (based, for the most part, on the lectionary readings for each following Sunday) while he was Interim Rector at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City.



Tuesday, August 21

... choose this day whom you will serve ... but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

To this day there is an enormous rock which sits at the edge of the valley at Shechem. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see Joshua standing before the 12 Tribes of Israel speaking from that rock. Their forty years of wandering in the wilderness were over. They had successfully entered the Promised Land, and they are now forgetting what it means to live in a covenant with God. Thus, he is biding them to renew their commitment and to rediscover their allegiance.

Challenge and Opportunity:

In America we take choices for granted. One reason is that in our consumer culture, "Madison Avenue" has saturated our buying environment with options. Last month while shopping at a CVS I counted 30 different kinds of toothpaste. Really, do we need that many choices!? But to choose is a privilege from God called Free Will. God wants us to choose to be in relationship with the Living, Redeeming, and Merciful One, not out of compulsion, but in freedom, with joy. Every time we have a Baptism we all stand and we're given the choice to renew our Baptismal Covenant ... I can hear Joshua now: "choose you this day whom you will serve." By the way, we don't have to wait for the liturgy at church. You can renew your commitment by your bedside each morning.

Daily Devotionals - Based on RCL Proper 16, Year B:

Joshua 24:1-2, 14-18; Psalm 34:15-22; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

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