Greetings from Peter Mayer

Thursday, December 24, 2009


"Joy joy joy in the morning
Joy joy in the afternoon
Joy joy joy for the child is born
This night the promise is given to you"
Sing Joy by Peter Mayer

We are almost there. Thank you for making the journey this Advent. It is my hope and prayer that you've been able to take time to mark time to prepare for the glorious heavenly text message that proclaims,
"Joy joy joy for the child is born

This night the promise is given to you"

As you might expect, the days before Christmas are quite busy. Sometimes in the midst of it all I lose my focus on what's important, or more appropriately, "who is" important. The other day I experienced a lack of Christmas "clarity." So, after a long day I put my laptop on my desk (I didn't even turn on the light in the office). I just set it on the desk and went to bed. To my surprise, shock, embarrassment and ultimately, JOY, I came back in the morning to work at my desk, and there was the angel JOY.

Sue Ann had sensed that I needed a Little JOY to get through the week.What's so great about JOY is that she's in flight, on the move, making her way around town.

So, tonight, bask in the JOY that comes from knowing that God has sent light and love to the world through the birth of a baby.

"Joy joy joy for the child is born

This night the promise is given to you"

Sing JOY


A reading from Isaiah

2The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness -
on them light has shined.
3You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Adventure of Keep Walkin' 122309

"Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you're part of the plan"
Hey Joseph by Peter Mayer

A great gift that you can give this Christmas is the gift of encouragement. The storms of life coupled with bumps along the journey can tend to add up to sums which result in discouragement. So, you can make a difference by deciding to encourage those who are making and taking strides to reach their goals. And sometimes one needs to have that same talk with oneself.

A passage which has meant a great deal to me and continues to be like a guiding star is

Jeremiah 29:11, " For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope."

Joseph had a plan, but that plan got changed when he learned that his fiancée was pregnant. He now had a new plan to put Mary away. But, God's heavenly plan collided or intersected with Joseph's plan which was built with fear, shame and worry.

Peter's song is all about encouragement, hope and grace,

"Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Hey Joseph keep walking to Bethlehem
Hey Joseph keep walking, Hey Joseph keep walking
Keep walking Joseph you're part of the plan"

The angel by the name of Adventure has wings made from a license plate and a key as a vest. During this last week of Advent the O Antiphons are read and said. Check out this one which reminds one of the "adventure of keep walkin.'"

O Key of David and Sceptre of the house of Israel, Who dost open and no man doth shut, Who dost shut and no man doth open, come and bring forth from his prisonhouse the captive that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

Keep walkin' & Sing joy


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

dance joy 122209

These days of winter have come to bury you

No sign of spring and no promise to carry you

No flowers blooming in your window sill

And the beat of your heart is too still...

And the beat of your heart is too still...Oh sing

Joy joy joy in the morning

Joy joy in the afternoon

Joy joy joy for the child is born

This night the promise is given to you"
Sing Joy by Peter Mayer

On Sunday night Chelsea, Jessica and McKenna danced their way into the Christmas Overture. It was lovely, surprising and gracious. So, in the same space that the concert took place, I officiated at a funeral on Monday. Later on today in that same space there will be a couple get married who stand with his two sons from a previous marriage. On Thursday evening, Christmas Eve, we will gather around the manger and rejoice in the gift of the Christ Child who makes all things new.

We are all part of a larger dance. The rhythms might change, the steps may get switched around, but we're in this holy hoe-down together.

Dance joy and sing joy

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Sing" Fourth Sunday of Advent

This is a special guest h2o devo from Pastor Ruth Ann Loughry:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As we inch closer to Christmas, the numbers of carols on the radio increase. Every week
more airtime is given to Christmas songs. You, like I, might find yourself humming or
singing along. Or if you're a non-singer, at least tapping your finger on the steering

St. Augustine is often quoted as saying, 'He who sings, prays twice.' She, who sings,
prays twice. Indeed, isn't it fascinating that God gave us the ability to speak and use
words to express ourselves? Yet along with that gift came variations; we shout when
we're angry, we whisper when we're being tender, we sing to voice to any number of
emotions. Singing is a gift from God. Are you ready to sing a song of your soul?
I am so excited to share this text with you today. Excited because it's about two very
important women. I'm excited because I love music and Luke dictates Mary's song of
praise. I'm excited because we have a special guest with us this morning, Peter Mayer.

In just a few moments, Peter will sing to us these words:
Sing a song of love made new, Born on this Christmas day. Heaven and earth
rejoice in the view, when love is born anew. Love is born anew.

We are almost there. This fourth week of Advent is really like the last trimester of
pregnancy. Jesus' due date is coming; but He's not in the manger yet. So today for a
brief time, we get to sing along with Mary in her song of delight that her baby, God's
Son, is on the way, a few more months to go.

She sings these words in another translation of Luke 2, 'I'm bursting with God-news; I'm dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened - I'm the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.' i (Luke 2:46-49)

I can only imagine that perhaps God was singing right along with Mary. When Jesus was
conceived in her womb, God knew that love would be born anew. God had seen that all
of creation was good in the beginning of time when sun rays and blue fish, parakeets and
raindrops, brought God joy. But then as history played out, God's people strayed and
wandered not following their creator. With a grieving heart, God punished them and sent
them shouting prophets to get them back on track, often to no avail. Now in Mary, there
was to be a new beginning! A new creation. Love would be born anew.

Sing, Peter!
(Peter sings Chorus - Slide 1)

Yes, love is born anew. It never fails that new parents count fingers and toes. 1-10.
They touch them, they gaze at tiny eyelashes, they rejoice in silky, soft skin. New life. It
is amazing, mysterious, and beautiful. Only God could create such a creature as a baby.
Which is why it came as so great a surprise to Mary. This young teenager, inexperienced
with men, pushes back on Gabriel when he delivers the news of her impending delivery.
'How can this be?' It's what makes Mary's story so incredible to us: that divine and
mysterious conception. But remember, God has always been in the business of birthing
life where there is none.

To provide Mary's needed support, Gabriel tells her that Elizabeth, her aged cousin, has
also conceived a son - she who once was barren. And upon that news, Mary goes
running to the hills for a much needed female-to-female visit. Upon her entrance into the
house and cheery, 'Hello!' Elizabeth gets a strong kick from baby John in her own
womb. The Holy Spirit was moving. Elizabeth didn't see Mary's ultrasound to figure it
out, the Lord told her that standing before her was the mother of the Son of God. Then
Elizabeth rejoiced! She sang!

You know that feeling. Well gentlemen, you may not know the feeling of a baby
kicking, but you know the joy that comes when God acts in your life. Unexpectedly.
Marvelously. Decisively. In ways you never imagined and all you can do is rejoice or
sing! The check comes in the mail. The long lost daughter finally calls. Forgiveness is
granted and a relationship is restored. God's 'rivers flow through highlands and dry
lands, raise blossoms where nothing could bloom.' They are moments that God grants
us, to tell us in tangible ways that nothing will come between God and God's people.

(Peter sings Verse 1 and Chorus - Slide 2 and 3)

What happens when you and I are confronted with God's crazy call in our lives? When
an angel comes bearing an unexpected message of direction - what do we do?
We could decide to say no: stand still with eyes downcast waiting for the angelic being to
go away and we are alone again. Then we go back to all that is familiar and usual and
concrete, humming a comforting tune, trying to forget the encounter ever happened.
If God begins to change our lives anyway through aging parents, change of jobs, sudden
illness, we could actively fight it. Resisting with all our might and denying the reality we
see so that we don't have to alter or modify our routines, emotions, or best laid plans.
'Life the way it used to be' is a powerful catalyst for anger, depression and definitely, no
angels or singing.

But what happens when we say yes? What transformation comes when we say 'yes' to
crazy ideas from crazy angels who tell us that God is at work in our lives? Then we
embrace the unknown, get excited about mystery, actually look for adventure and come
alive. Our souls sing! Then love is born anew in us.

Mary sings about God who brings down the powerful and lifts up the lowly. We never
know what God will be up to when we accept a call. God's ways are not our ways, but
God is the only One to know the way. It doesn't mean we might not be scared or
encounter difficulties. Yet even when 'roads are long and weary', 'nights long and cold',
it is worth it! Why? Because the God of creation is birthing new life in ... us! We
'lovers are dreamers' and Jesus said we could move mountains with only a seed of faith.
With faith Mary accepted God into her body and therefore moved not only mountains,
but the whole of history. Say yes! 'Sing the song of your soul!'

(Peter sings verse 2 and 2a)

Mary is known in the Greek Orthodox Church as Theotokos, "the God-bearer." Only she
had the unique joy and burden of carrying Jesus into the world. Mary the God bearer.
Mary, the mother of God.

Meister Eckhart, the Dominican monk of 14th century Germany wrote, "We are all meant
to be mothers of God. What good is it to me, if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes
place unceasingly but does not take place within my self? And, what good is it to me if
Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace: What good is it to me for the Creator
to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time? This, then is the
fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us." ii

To be a God-bearer, doesn't depend upon gender. When you and I open the wombs of
our souls, we simply acknowledge the Divine who already exists therein. Then when we
say yes to angels' visits and new directions, the Holy Spirit kicks inside of us. The Spirit
forms our hearts and minds to carry God into the world. We die to self and rise to bear
life in new places, with new people in places we never dreamed of going. That's when
God sings, because we are pregnant to God's possibilities. As Elizabeth said, 'Blessed
woman (or man) who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!'iii

(Peter sings last Verse/Chorus - Slide 6 and 7)

Sing the song of your soul. Sing the song that God is currently writing on your heart.
Sing! Love is Born Anew! Let us sing! Amen.

i Eugene Peterson, The Message (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), p. 139.


iii Eugene Peterson, The Message (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), p. 139.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Smile Joy + Fourth Sunday of Advent 122009+

"Friends and dear ones from our yesterdays
Coming home to that familiar place
A sigh catches your breath then a smile for
The season of stars and promises"
Stars and Promises by Peter Mayer

We are definitely in the season of "stars and promises." Each day draws us closer to the holy moment of the "Word becoming flesh." It's a time to smile and rejoice in the good news that God smiles with us and on us with grace, hope and light.

On this day many years ago, Katherine von Bora Luther died. She was a former nun who married the former priest Luther. Together they had six children. You can read more about her life and witness by going to

On this Sunday we are blessed to sing and hear the Song of Mary.

46And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

This song echoes Hannah's song found in 1 Samuel.

Hannah prayed and said,
"My heart exults in the LORD;
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory."
2"There is no Holy One like the LORD,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God."
3Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed."
4The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength."
5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn."
6The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts."
8He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,
and on them he has set the world."
9"He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail."
10The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed."

Smile joy, sing joy!


Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum,
et exsultávit spíritus meus
in Deo salvatóre meo,
quia respéxit humilitátem
ancíllæ suæ.

Ecce enim ex hoc beátam
me dicent omnes generatiónes,
quia fecit mihi magna,
qui potens est,
et sanctum nomen eius,
et misericórdia eius in progénies
et progénies timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo,
dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui;
depósuit poténtes de sede
et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis
et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum,
recordátus misericórdiæ,
sicut locútus est ad patres nostros,
Ábraham et sémini eius in sæcula.

Glória Patri et Fílio
et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio,
et nunc et semper,
et in sæcula sæculórum.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Table Talk 121909 Saturday

"The song of an angel, good cheer to a stranger
The loved ones you've known all the way
Coming back to the heart of the matter to scatter the whistles
And bells
You're telling the story of Christmas"
The Story of Christmas by Peter Mayer

My family and close friends know that I love the music of Peter Mayer, Bono and Sting. In fact, the word love might be an understatement. After observing me watch and listen non-stop over the past week to Sting's new dvd A Winter's Night-live from Durham Cathedral, Sue Ann used the word obsession. I confess and readily admit my deep admiration, attraction and attention for these artists who so amazingly communicate and engage folks via music. People at church are used to me quoting in sermons from that "great theologian" Bono. And of course, I "sing joy" because Peter and I have been able to collaborate together throughout the years. Tomorrow night Peter will be at Bethany in Denver. I know the Fourth Sunday of Advent is gonna be rockin'.

As much as I love the turn and twists of lyrics and tunes, what really tells the story of Christmas to me is the domestic drama which gets played out at the dining room table. What I'm talking about here is how my dear wife Sue Ann decorates and celebrates this Holy Season by making a place, a cradle, a room for the Christ child to enter in. It's subtle and sometimes I don't notice right away, but each and every day in our lovely home there is a new way she "comes back to the heart of the matter." The table cloth and bowl of stars in the picture has graced our table since the beginning of Advent. Each piece is a memory and a celebration of where we've been together with family and friends. Every crèche, candle and decoration is a reminder of the Reason for the Season.
She clearly and radiantly echoes
"The song of an angel, good cheer to a stranger."

I'd like to "sing joy" like she does,

Friday, December 18, 2009


h2o devos sj 121809

"Once again the story begins
Bringing good news in the night
Ring out the bells Christmastide

Break out the lights shine them bright
Hang them from tree and from rafter
Let them burn all through the night
Light up your hearts with the laughter"
Ring Out The Bells by Peter Mayer

I've written before about my day off being Thursday. So, yesterday I was able to get a massage, an H1N1 Flu shot and go to my Weight Watchers meeting. I wouldn't have initially equated that trifecta of activities with Grace, Play & Hope, but the more I think and pray about it, maybe there is a direct connection.

Peter is reminding us that we are in the story,
"Once again the story begins
Bringing good news in the night
Ring out the bells Christmastide."

It is all around us and yet, I am often too busy, too preoccupied, too tied up with what I think is important to let the angelic trio of Grace, Play & Hope invite me to "story time."
Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. So, today, make a wish, a time to let
Grace, Play & Hope invite you to "story time." You'll be glad you did.

Sing Joy,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Good Book 121709 Thursday

"I hear You in the gentle wind blowing through the trees
I hear You whisper in my dreams
Only You conceived the starlight that shimmers through the night
Only You can call me home from this life

I know it in my heart to be true
The answer to me is only You"

Only You by Peter Mayer and Jim Mayer

Sue Ann gave me a copy of the book U2 by U2 for Christmas. In one of the chapters Bono states that Jeremiah 33:3 is "God's phone number."

"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." (Jeremiah 33:3)

The Bible is full of "text messages" for our day and age. Sometimes, people tell me they want to read the Bible more, but they don't know where to start. That's a pretty fair point. Often at the beginning of a year people decide to start reading the Bible with the first book of the Bible, namely Genesis. Usually about two weeks into it, they find themselves in the Land of Nod and jettison the project. The Psalms are a good place to start if you are wondering or wandering around for a place to begin. Just start by reading a few of them. The words might connect to you or they may not. But, hang in there, they are the songs of people who were trying to follow God's voice.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a daily Bible email that goes out. You can sign up for it by going to the following link:

Peter sings,
"The word went leaping off the pages
breaking in the windows and leaping over wall
All you asked for was a cool glass of water
And you got a waterfall
God is loose in the world"

Loosen Up and sing joy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Song of your Soul 121609

h2o devos sj 121609

"The journey may take you through roads long and weary
May lead you through nights long and cold
But lovers are dreamers healing believers
You can move mountains by singing a song of your soul"
Love Is Born Anew
by Peter Mayer

Wow, I just listened to this song once again. It is amazing. And what really touched me was the notion that a mountain could be moved "by singing a song of your soul."

It takes faith to sing one's soul song, doesn't it? I mean, those cosmic bits and pieces of light and harmony which have been garnered through blood, sweat and tears can be so precious and spectacular. By singing one's soul song, it is obvious that one can be vulnerable. But, at the same time it is obvious that one can be valuable to another person who also is drawn to the light and lyric that one has to share.

Jesus said, "Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)

Making pretzels is a way that I sing my soul song. What does it for you? How do you sing your soul song?

Together our souls sing joy

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bridge Building 121509

"Only You can break down the walls that hide me away
Only You can turn the night into day
Only You can stop the darkness from over taking me
Created the land the sky and sea

I know it in my heart to be true
The answer to me is only You

Only You can stand beside me through all my thoughts and deeds
You raised the mighty Redwood from the seed
Only You formed the mountains that stretch to the sky
Cover them with moonlight tonight

I know it in my heart to be true
The answer to me is only You"

Only You by Peter Mayer & Jim Mayer

I was on my way to the YMCA yesterday when I saw the following words of wisdom written on a erasable white board positioned at the foot of the steps leading up to the membership counter at the Y:

"He who can't forgive others destroys the bridge over which he himself must pass" -George Herbert

I thought about those words throughout my workout. During these days and nights of transition it is natural to review the good times as well as the not so good times. I am reflecting on the relationships which have blossomed and grown and consequently some which have withered and died. I like to think of myself as a "bridge builder" and yet those words of Rev. Herbert have been constructive in assisting me to assess if I have been destructive by my own refusal to forgive others in the way I have been forgiven.

I looked up the quote for more information. One source I found gives a little more context, "He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven: for everyone has need to be forgiven."

When there is an impasse or lack of progress, I think it is helpful to assess the situation from the perspective of "capacity" and also "volition." In other words, is a person, institution, and congregation "capable" of doing what is asked, expected or required? Do they have the gifts and abilities to do the task or mission? Furthermore, do they have the will, the "gumption" as my grandmother would say, or the "heart" to do it?

So, I need to ask myself those questions in terms of forgiveness. My conclusion is that I have the ability to forgive, and so what keeps me at times from doing it? Well, I must confess in certain instances it is a lack of will or perhaps a sense of fear. Maybe I've spent so much energy on not forgiving that I'm not sure where that energy would be channeled if redirected. It's weird, but I've probably grown attached to the perceived pain or injury by another. And so it's time to be about building bridges, "for everyone has need to be forgiven" including me for my lack of forgiving.

I trust the Stars and Promises pointing to the long awaited Savior of the world will help me re-solve any construction problems I have.

Peace and remember to sing joy


Monday, December 14, 2009

Flow River Flow 121409

"Flow river flow through highlands and drylands
Raise blossoms where nothing could bloom
Come living water lift up your children
And nothing shall come between us and you"

Love Is Born Anew by Peter Mayer

Yesterday the Sunday School children presented their program entitled "THE FEAR NOT FACTOR." It was a wonderful way of getting ready for the coming of the Lord. One of the main reasons to incorporate the program into the 10:30am worship is to facilitate the children of the congregation to be faith formers through their singing, story telling and dancing. Another key ingredient in the mix is to present opportunities for parents, children, aunts, uncles and cousins to worship together.
As Peter sings, It's a marvelous time to pray,
"Come living water lift up your children
And nothing shall come between us and you."

G.F. Handel died 250 years ago in 1759. I find it amazing and wonderful that in this year of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of the Species that we are still taking time and making time to celebrate Messiah. For a little taste of this amazing work, check out the Bethany College Choir,

Two of the things that I think a lot about are a couple of questions which our culture wrestles with in many ways due to fantastic advances in healthcare and medicine. The two questions are:
1,"When does life begin; and 2, when does life end?"
And while significant progress has been made in regards to the technological and scientific aspects of our lives, it is fairly obvious that it is difficult for many of us to have authentic and civil conversations when addressing these questions. My hope and prayer this season is that Peter's words become personal and cosmic realities:

"Flow river flow through highlands and drylands
Raise blossoms where nothing could bloom"

Last February when our son Nate and I spent some time in London, a key stop was Handel's House. We took the tour and were amazed to find out that in the 1960s a soon-to-be famous musician rented a room in the Handel House.

Wow, Handel and Hendrix. Who knows what will happen next? Maybe the visitors from the East at Epiphany will include Lady Gaga, Bono and Sting.

Sing Joy,
PS, extra bonus, my good friend Denise from St. Louis sent me this note on Sunday morning after she attended Mass:

Msgr. Hanneke had a good message in his homily yesterday that made me think of the Advent devos. "Joy is the companion of the belief in Jesus Christ. The realization, the moment you truly believe in Christ can bring nothing but true Joy. Not the giddy joy of youth, or of meeting an old friend but a Joy from your gut that radiates through your whole being bringing peace and serenity."

Joy to the World,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

rejoice2 3rd Sunday of Advent 121309

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

From Philippians 4:4-7 we read:
4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:4-7

There is an old story about a young preacher who returned to his home congregation to deliver a sermon on a significant anniversary of the parish. He wanted everyone to know how learned he had become since he was the little boy that had grown up in that church.
And so he preached and he preached. He covered everything from Genesis to Revelation.
He covered topics related to philosophy, theology, ecology and eschatology. His words included things like stewardship, philanthropy, governance and administration. At the end of the service he stood out in the narthex greeting the congregation. People said all the appropriate nice things to him. He saw his second grade Sunday School teacher, and she simply shook his hand. She didn't say a word. Finally he couldn't contain himself any longer and said, "Well, how was the sermon?" She looked at him and thought for a minute and said, "It was like the peace of God." A big smile came to his face and then she said, "It was like the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding."

We come together on this day in worship so that God who gathers us, speaks to us, feeds us and sends us might shape, transform and mold our lives into something useful and practical for the furthering of the reign of God. It is clear from the lessons that "kingdom coming" needs to flow out of us in response to God's law, mercy, grace and love.

We hear pretty clear, concise and simple instructions on how to do this from the words of St. Paul who wrote, 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

In other words, "REJOICE, squared or to the second power." And the reason for rejoicing, the cause for celebration is because the Lord is near.

A great way to gain insight into a text is to read it in various translations. One translation is called THE MESSAGE by Eugene Peterson. Listen to these words,
4-5Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
 6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Let me repeat, "It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." That's really what Advent is all about. We've been talking about how to move beyond the "crush" of the season to focus on the "crèche," namely the "reason for the season." Rejoice might have certain connotations for us. We might feel, you know there is too much stuff going on in my life right now that I don't feel I can REJOICE. But, think, imagine, "try this on for size" "Celebrate God all day, every day." In other words, one needs to move from thinking or being stuck on self, to being focused, centered on Jesus. Peterson encourages us, "don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray." Often when I visit homebound members, they lament that they aren't as involved as they once were. I encourage them to pray. "Let petitions and praise shape your worries into prayers." WOW, talk about faith formation. We hear in this set of passages, "letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down."

Advent is about making time, taking time to mark time. It is not about "doing time" or even "killing time" but rather to 5Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!

A person who reveled in him and who revealed him was St. Lucy. You can learn more about her life and death by


Sing Joy,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Beautiful and Bountiful 121209 Saturday

©created by Delia Stewart

"Wrap it up in yesterday's newspaper
Whatever you got to give we could use as well
A most unlikely place for Christmas
In a junkyard shop to find Emmanuel
Flim Flam preacher man fix it King
Arch rival of the squeaky clean
Out of broken pieces sees a beautiful thing
That's a Junkman
For this worn out world he loved so well
With a troubled treasured story to tell
There's not much time but it's yours and mine
Before the night is through
If you've got anything left to give
This is for you"
Junkman's Christmas Eve by Peter Mayer

Peter sings, "Out of broken pieces sees a beautiful thing"

You can see in the picture of Bountiful an upside down shovel. More specifically it is more in the spade category than a shovel. And being an upside down spade or shovel is probably an appropriate symbol for each one of us as we imagine and re-imagine all the gifts we've been given.

The psalmist wrote and sang, "What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?" Psalm 116:12. So then, listen once again to Peter's words, "Out of broken pieces sees a beautiful thing."

There is plenty when we take time or make time to see and hear the beauty and bounty all around us. We're about half way to Christmas Day. I invite you to be like the "junkman" and adopt an attitude of gratitude. The world is full of beautiful and bountiful pieces and peaces of joy!

Sing Joy,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Redeem 121109 Friday

H2o devos sj 121109 Redeem

@created by Delia Stewart)

“Crooked arrows and keyless locks
Rusted dreams in an old toolbox
Bruised believer he’s taken his knocks
That’s a Junkman’s Christmas Eve”
Junkman’s Christmas Eve by Peter Mayer
Thursday was my day off so I spent my time doing the usual day off stuff. There was a bit of a thaw in the weather yesterday so I took the opportunity to walk around Wash Park. I’ve registered to walk in the Salt Lake City Marathon on April 17th, 2010. This event is 20 weeks away so I’ve started training in earnest once again.
As I walk I thought about the 3 R’s. Not so much of “reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic” but, REJOICE, REDEEM and RECLAIM. A fair portion of the devos this season have centered on the notion of taking time and opportunity to rejoice.
It is with artists like Delia and Peter who guide us into thinking and praying about the many ways that God takes the lead to redeem. You can see on the picture of Inspiration that there is a bicycle chain of some kind which highlights the bottom of her robe/skirt.
Peter tells the story of a “junkman” who is a “bruised believer.” One of my favorite definitions of healing comes from Dorland’s Medical Dictionary the 25th edition (I think). It states, “healing is the restoration of integrity to injured tissue.” When we’re honest with ourselves, one another and with God we acknowledge our “injured tissue.”
Fortunately, the “bruised redeemer” comes to us “bruised believers” and makes something new and wonderful out of us.
As Peter sings, “That’s a Junkman’s Christmas Eve”
Sing Joy,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

GOD IS! 121009 Thursday

H2o devos sj 121009 God IS!

“It’s takes a leaving to see where you’ve been for so long
And it’s never quite the same old place you knew
The scenery will change but home will remain
The part of me that still belongs to you
It’s Christmas time I’m coming home to you

We were looking for the hometown of America
Around the world they’re looking just like you
They sent a rocket ship to Mars to investigate the stars
They keep fallingl as we are passing through…this town

We were looking for the main street of America
Looking for the heart of America
We were looking for the hometown of America in this town”
In many parts of our country the weather has been quite cold. The wind blows and you can feel the chill all the way to the bone. It’s cold. At the same time I get these warm reminders and glimpses of my hometown. I think about how when I was a young boy getting ready for Christmas programs, baking cookies, counting down the weeks and days via the Advent wreath, and doing a little Christmas shopping.

Now that I’m an adult I suppose it’s only natural to pick-up and sample nostalgic memories like little bits and pieces of holiday treats. I’m really working on truly being present in my waiting, watching, worshiping and wondering in preparation for the gift of the Holy One born in Bethlehem.

I also look forward to that time of cosmic Christmas when I am reunited (and so are you) with all the loved ones who now celebrate the wedding feast that has no end.

I’ve shared with Caitlin our ministerial intern that on Christmas Eve the task of the preacher is to simply “get out of the way of the Christmas Story from the Gospel of Luke.” Pastor Ruth Ann and I are scheduled to share in the preaching duties at our services on Christmas Eve at 1:30, 3, 5, 7, 9 an 11pm. On Christmas Day we will have a Julotta Service at 6:30am and then Caitlin is the preacher at 10:30am. The gospel lesson for Christmas Day is John 1. We hear in those lovely words a cosmic and galactic rebirth narrative. In essence the story is told like this, “before there ever was God IS!”

Savor that for a bit today,
And remember to sing joy

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Exit Sign 120909 Wednesady

"We were driving down the main street of America
Young and free and so misunderstood
Looking for the exit sign, a place to ease our mind
Some kept movin' on and some would stay for good
On in this town"
This Town by Peter Mayer

Life is a journey. That, my friends, is quite the understatement. However, it is helpful
to be reminded of the transitional and transitory nature of all things related to life and living. Just when I think certain things are "set in stone" it becomes apparent to me that change is one of the constants of life.

I've always been buoyed by the passage from Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for all time." There is an objective reality expressed in that statement which is not dependent upon our subjective manners of thinking and feeling. And yet, at the same time we are subjective by nature. Luther himself came up with the question, "What does this mean?" In other words, "How will it play in Wittenberg?" Now, I hasten to add once again the objective reality isn't dependent upon the pragmatic or subjective nature of things. However, we are flesh and blood, looking to understand and discern the mysteries of divine and holy realities.
How wonderful then, that Jesus came into this world not as an "object" but as a "subject" who set aside his royalty to embrace humanity, in all of its reality.
Peter sings of "this town." There's that "this-ness" again. And so, our journeys are not fluffy, speculative out of this world adventures, but lived out in the here and now, in this town, this place and this time.
As we travel we watch for "exit signs" "a place to ease our minds."
It doesn't matter if you're on ROUTE 66 or a country dirt road, I invite you to take time to watch for the "exit signs" to SING JOY!

Sing Joy,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

THIS 120809 Tuesday

H2o devos sj 120809 “This”

“Joy joy joy in the morning
Joy joy in the afternoon
Joy joy joy for the child is born
This night the promise is given to you”
Sing Joy by Peter Mayer

One of the many things that I love about being a member of a church is the grounded reality it brings to my life. Church is not an abstract concept. It is a reality which is called into being by the Spirit of God. Sometimes experience in a church can be disappointing and even frustrating. At other times it can be so marvelous that words simply cannot describe it.

The picture at the top of today’s devo is of prayer shawls. They have been lovingly created by volunteers so that people who are in need of prayer might feel God’s love and grace wrapped around them. It’s that simple. It’s also that complex.

Peter sings “for the child is born
This night the promise is given to you.”

As you may have guessed I really like the idea of “this” in those lyrics. While the context is obviously the story of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem I am certain the “this-ness” transcends and translates across the miles and ages into our very time and place.

“This night the promise is give to you.”

So, it is coming right now, right here, among all the things going on in our lives.

Sing joy this night


Monday, December 7, 2009

In the "NICK" of TIME 120709

Encore performance originally sent on
S&P 2005 "In the Nick of Time" 12-06-05
updated for h2o devos sj 120709
In the "Nick" of Time
Saint Nicholas Day, Bishop of Myra, c. 342

"It's Christmas time again New Year's 'round the bend
There must be something more than give and take
What it's all about turns you inside out
'Till you finally see the difference you make
This Christmas this Christmas
There's a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to...
Love is in short supply such an obvious demand
Shouldn't be so hard to understand
We hang the lights for hope look for the star to follow
Peace on earth for what it's worth is in our hands"

This Christmas by Peter Mayer, Jim Mayer and Mac McAnally

Whenever I get dismayed by the commercial aspects of this season I listen to Peter's song, This Christmas. So as you might expect, I listen to it a great deal. In fact, several times a day. For me it's like a lyrical and Biblical version of "It's a Wonderful Life." What this song does better than anything else is that it provides a clear, distinct, simple answer to the complex question, "Does it matter?" May I have the envelope, please? The answer is, "YES!" "Yes, it does matter." And what matters even more because of the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, you matter and so does everyone else.
"There's a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas

Start with the best of you
Followed by the rest of you
The things you say and the things you do
This Christmas"
Lend a heart, lend a hand
Make a start, understand
Lend an hour, lend a day
Wrap yourself to give away"

Yesterday was St. Nicholas Day. You can learn more about him by checking out the sermon from yesterday, ADVENT DREAM

It seems to me that you and I both have the opportunity for the next 18 days of giving to make our presence the present.

As Peter sings,
"Wrap yourself to give away"

Just in the "Nick" of time,


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Give Yourself 120609 2nd Sunday of Advent

H2o sj 120609 GIVE YOURSELF
2nd Sunday of Advent
+Nicholas+ Bishop of Myra, c 342

“It’s Christmas time again New Year’s ‘round the bend
There must be something more than give and take
What it’s all about turns you inside out
‘till you finally see the difference you make

This Christmas this Christmas
There’s a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to …”

This Christmas by Peter Mayer, Jim Mayer and Mac McAnally

Several years ago Peter asked me if pastors ever “collaborate” on writing sermons together. I indicated that many pastors attend weekly studies on the Biblical texts for each week. But, I doubted whether too many pastors actually sat down and wrote their sermons with one another. Peter shared that often songwriters ask another song writer to give them input or collaborate on a project they are working on which seems to be stuck or not quite where they want it to be.

Today, the 2nd Sunday of Advent at our congregation, Pastor Ruth Ann will present a sermon that she and I collaborated on. She is going to be narrating what we call an “Advent Dream.” And in the middle of the dream there are two visitors, John the Baptist and St. Nicholas. Two people from two different times in the history of the church. It’s been a blessing to work with Pastor Ruth Ann on this sermon and I pray that it is a blessing to the congregation.

As Peter sings,
This Christmas this Christmas
There’s a gift that only you can give
This Christmas this Christmas
Give yourself to …”

Peter is echoing the life, ministry and words of St. Nicholas. For here was a saint who gave and gave of himself, (much of it anonymously). We are called to simply give the gift of self. It’s precious, sacred and wonderful.

At the end of the sermon with John the Baptist and St. Nicholas verbally wrestling with each other and the congregation, Pastor Ruth Ann will declare:
Two men, living several hundred years apart, both had a message to share with the world about Jesus Christ. My Advent dream helped me see what these two men had in common.

• Both, prepared ways for God to enter into the lives of people.
• Both, paid the price for being faithful to their vision and understanding of Jesus.
• Both spent time in jail for following Jesus.
• John the Baptism ultimately lost his head because he was relentless in calling Herod into accountability. And St. Nick was relentless in showing mercy and being responsible to those who were in dire straights.

The bottom line of this Advent Dream is to embrace God’s dream and vision of a time when
"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Sing Joy,

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stir It Up, Saturday, 120509

H2o devos sj 120509 Stir It Up

“These days of winter have come to bury you
No sign of spring and no promise to carry you
No flowers blooming in your window sill
And the beat of your heart is too still…
And the beat of your heart is too still…Oh sing

Joy joy joy in the morning
Joy joy in the afternoon
Joy joy joy for the child is born
This night the promise is given to you”
Sing Joy by Peter Mayer

I’ve shared with many of you before that I love to collect eggbeaters.
It seems to me that this simple kitchen implement has “stirred up” through out the years
all sorts of creative juices. People have probably looked at their eggbeater and said to themselves, “Self, I can make this just a bit better.”

The Prayer of the Day for the 2nd Sunday of Advent (12/6/09) reads as follows:
“Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son.
By his coming give to all the people of the world knowledge of your salvation;
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen”

So, as the prayer requests, we are asking God to “stir up our hearts.” I’m interested in you sharing with me what “stirs up your heart?” How does God “beat it or whip it up” in order that your cardiac state is elevated? So, drop me a note at

“stirrin’ up the water, stirring up my soul
a light comes to the darkness
come and make me whole”

Sing Joy,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mystery 120409

H2o devos sj 120409 Mystery
+John of Damascus+ 749

“haven’t made sense of the mystery
but it makes sense of me”

Still In One Peace by Peter Mayer

I take Thursdays as my “day off.” So, it was spent doing some Sabbath (i.e. self-care) reflection, prayer, hanging out with some buddies and exercise. Sue Ann and I also had a great lunch with our son Noah. I even learned how to restore my itunes library which mysteriously disappeared into thin air.

Winter has come to Denver. It is very cold outside. At the health club on Thursday I had a conversation with a man (don’t know his name) but he brought up homeless people. I told him that I had read the folks at the Denver Rescue Mission housed over 300 men last night. We talked about individual responsibility, as we well as individual, corporate and social response to the needs of people in our society. Our conversation was like a sermon, a prayer, a confession and litany all rolled into one.

December 4th is a day set aside to honor John of Damascus. I doubt if there will be any John of Damascus parades or parties held today. I don’t imagine that I’ll be receiving any John of Damascus cards. Nor with the stores have fliers in the newspapers regarding John of Damascus sales. Way back in his day there was a big controversy over the use of icons. Like most things in the realm of spirituality there are those “holy things” that can be misused and abused. So, the rulers of the day, as I understand it outlawed the use of icons. John of Damascus wrote in support of icons. He was able to do so because he lived in a Muslim country (and consequently was outside the legal scope of the authorities.)

Check out what he wrote in a piece called On Holy Images, “We see images in creation which remind us faintly of God, as when, for instance, we speak of the holy and adorable Trinity, imaged by the sun, or light, or burning rays, or by a running fountain, or a full river, or by the mind, speech, or the spirit within us, or by a rose tree, or a sprouting flower, or a sweet fragrance.”

As Peter sings, “haven’t made sense of the mystery, but it makes sense of me.”

A wonderful tool or delivery system that helps with mystery during the season of Advent is the Advent wreath. It is wireless. It is GREEN. I simply love thinking and praying about the coming of the Lord. It is the Lord who comes to us in the most unlikely of settings, experiences and even people.
I invite you to light one candle. Pray for warmth, illumination and guidance.

Sing Joy,
Ps Tonight our choir presents Handel’s THE MESSIAH. Talking about joy being sung and heard!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wait for the Call 120309 Thursday

H2o devos sj 120309 Wait for the Call
+Francis Xavier+ 1552

“You look for deliverance and some revelation
With no song of spring you wait for the call”
Sing Joy by Peter Mayer

My kind and gracious colleagues, Pastor Ruth Ann and Caitlin the Intern agreed to indulge me in wearing some non flammable Advent wreathes as a type of headgear. I think it is a trend which is definitely going to catch on this holiday season. Watch for it
on shows like Entertainment Tonight and Oprah. I hope you remember you saw it here first.

Advent is a time to wait and watch for the child. During this holy season it is most appropriate to answer the call of the Holy Child to be a child once again. As Peter sings in THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS

“Ribbons and string, cold frozen streams
Forgotten dreams running wild
When every Mother and Father is a child”

For many years, I’ve been a fan of the work and ministry of Francis Xavier. Today is his day. I give thanks for the work and ministry of the Jesuits who share their intellectual pursuits and gifts of discernment. They help individuals and communities “wait for the call” and consequently to answer the call.

A call that I send out to you this day is to be mindful and grateful for the Holy Child, born among the lambs, which grew up to be the Good Shepherd. It is this Good Shepherd who in the words of Luke 15:6 searches, seeks and calls all of us home. “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ ”
Sing Joy

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


H2o devos sj 120209 Rejoice Always

“Joy joy joy in the morning
Joy joy in the afternoon
Joy joy joy for the child is born
This night the promise is given to you”
Sing Joy by Peter Mayer

It’s a short little verse. Just two words long, or better yet, two words short. It comes from 1 Thessalonians 5 verse 16, “Rejoice always.” As anyone who has been with me before my coffee kicks in during the morning knows. Or when I’ve had a very long, trying tiresome day my colleagues and family are aware that I am not always in compliance with the dictates of this short, little passage.

And yet, during this holy season of waiting, watching, wondering and worshiping we are called to “Rejoice always.” Peter’s encourages us “sing joy” morning, noon and night.

The church sign reminds us that Advent is the cure for “spiritual tryptophan.”
Now, you might be asking, “what exactly is tryptophan?” Fortunately, here’s a great explanation for you.

The wedding reception was in full swing. Unfortunately, the wine had run out.
Mary, the Mother of our Lord came to Jesus and told him about the problem. We read in John 2 that Jesus said something like, “I will serve no wine before it’s time.” Well, actually here’s how the exchange went,

“3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’4And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’"
It doesn’t sound like Jesus was very interested in following 1 Thessalonians 5:16 either (well, and to tell the truth it hadn’t been written yet). But, Jesus did something to make the celebration continue.
Check out the following link to see and read how a famous painting (at the National Gallery in London) portrays the scene.

The late Roland Bainton used to quote the late Martin Luther who in describing this passage from John 2 indicated that sometimes in personal relationships, the “wine does indeed run out.” But, Luther was quick to point out that Jesus is also at the table when this happens. It is his presence and word that enables us to “rejoice always” even when the glass appears to be half empty or totally empty.

“Rejoice always.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


H2o devos sj 120109 Ca(red)
World Aids Day

“Come gather together you children who wander
Looking for dreams that the whole world has squandered
You’ve lost them you’ve sold them for pockets of gold
And you long to come in from the cold…Oh Sing

Joy joy joy in the morning
Joy joy in the afternoon
Joy joy joy for the child is born
This night the promise is given to you”
Sing Joy by Peter Mayer

24 years ago I was serving Immanuel Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Missouri. Some things were different back then. Some things are still the same. One day a young man who obviously was down on his luck and quite sick asked to speak to me. He was on the road. When I spoke to him he wouldn’t make eye contact with me. He handed me a note. It was from an Episcopal priest in California who basically stated the sad details surrounding this young man’s situation. He was very sick. He was trying to get back home to a town in the East. He was the prodigal son looking to patch things up before he died. He had AIDS. Would I assist him in this journey?

As I said earlier, some things were different back then. Some things are still the same. I had at that time back in 1985 been visiting young men at the Kansas University Medical Center who were also diagnosed as having Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. There was lots of confusion, prejudice, fear and sadness. I indicated to the young man that I would assist him with food and travel expenses. As I invited him to make himself at home, he took off his jacket. I was stunned as soon as I saw his T-shirt. Printed in bold type was the word “Yeshua.” I asked him if he knew what that name meant. He indicated, that someone had given him the t-shirt and he was just wearing it. I told him the word meant “Jesus” in Hebrew. My mind immediately thought of how God has a sense of humor. I was taken to Revelation 3:20, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” I thought to myself, “thank you God, for giving me a sign.” Like the folks in Matthew 25 sometimes we don’t see Jesus when he is standing right in front of us.

A couple of people who I am blessed to call friends are Dr. Donald Messer and Julie White. Don is the founder of the Center for Church and Global Aids. Julie is a member at Bethany Lutheran and the founder of One Mother
Now these two have “ca(red) so much that they’ve jumped into this whole pandemic of AIDS and see Jesus in the midst of it all. Like all the RED things going on they along with many of you as suggests are:
incREDible, inspiRED
adoRED and have lots of streetcRED.

I am very proud of the efforts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can learn more about this ministry by going to

If you are wanting to get involved, I pray that you check out the Center of Church and Global Aids and ONE MOTHER. You’ll be glad you did. And most important of all, the people who are so in need will be glad you did, too.

Let’s share the gift we’ve been given,
“for the child is born
This night the promise is given to you”

Sing Joy,

PS, today is a good day to wear RED. I’ve got my chuckie T’s out and Sue Ann has her Nine West out!