Greetings from Peter Mayer

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shower of Questions

(This is an encore presentation of a devo first published on February 27, 2007)

"How can I come before You?
What worthy gift can I bring?
What glorious feast could I offer?
What songs of majesty sing?
Lift  this heart of sadness into gladness by your peace,
Before I can come before You, You come to me"

Ever Walk With Me Lord by Peter Mayer

Four questions in a row. They echo some of the interrogative statements in Micah 6:6-8.
Peter adds three other questions in this song at other points:
"Where is the path that leads homeward?"
"How can I hear when You call?"
"When at last grace has found me, will I recognize it at all?"

You might want to "sprinkle" some of this song on yourself by clicking here.

If you have ever been out walking, running or cycling when it started to rain and then become a downpour, you know what it's like to be soaked to the bone. These questions do the same. Each one is capable of being a month-long if not a lifelong course in following God. Collectively, all added up together they can provide such a shower that it's hard to see one's hand right in front of one's face.

Lent is a season to sing in the shower and also walk, talk and think in the shower of questions. It's a time to stretch and pray. It's a journey from ashes to alleluias. One doesn't go through these forty days and forty nights without having some questions, doubt, detours, wrong turns and hopefully u-turns of repentance.

Peter's hopeful message is about the love of God and conversely being children of God.
It's natural to have questions as we go in search of the answers.

But, let there be no question about it, God is calling you and wants you to know grace and peace.

I love the following quote from Isaiah 45:8:

Shower, O heavens, from above,
      and let the skies rain down righteousness;
      let the earth open, that salvation may spring up,
      and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also;
      I the LORD have created it.

Experience some "shower power" today!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

God is Loose

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 “God is Loose”

"Hey ey Hey ey this mercy moves
God is loose hey ey
God is loose in the world
Hey ey hey ey the universe is singing
Loose hey hey God is loose in the world"

Loose in the World-Peter Mayer

I’ve been in meetings for the last four hours, and yet I am energized beyond belief. “Why?” You might ask. Well, I think the simple answer to that complex question is as Peter Mayer sings, “God is loose in the world.”

Tonight our Executive Council and then Church Council received a report that has been in the making for the past ten months that is called, THE RESOURCE ALIGNMENT STUDY GROUP. Now, I don’t expect this to be at the top of the NY Times best seller list or make the AMAZON Gold Box Editor’s Picks, but it is all about God’s Future Promise for us at Bethany Lutheran Church.

Some of you are aware of the fact that when I came to Bethany in 2006, our debt was $5,000,000. To make that concrete for you, our debt service was approximately $1,000 per day. But, today, because of some amazing lead gifts and the faithful dedication and leadership of the people of God, we are debt free. We hadn’t anticipated paying off our debt until 2020. However, since we have been able to move beyond the debt, we are now asking the question, “What is God’s future promise for us?” “God is loose in the world.”

For the past week or so, I’ve been talking and writing about, “Blessed to be the blessing.”
I know that this is more than a nice thought or slogan. It is all about being engaged in God’s mission for our world.

“God is loose in the world” and so are we!”


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We Are Blessed We Are Broken

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 022613 “We are Blessed We are Broken”

"And you're Still in One Peace
Still in One Peace
We are blessed we are broken
Given one more chance to be
Found in you we are
In One Peace"

Still In One Peace by Peter Mayer

The following six words pretty much explain a great deal of human experience from a theological perspective, “
We are blessed we are broken.” At the same we exhibit a unique combination of blessedness and brokenness. Some days are filled with both realities in equal parts. On other days there seems to be more of one than the other.

I find these days of Lent to be a particularly good opportunity to ponder both parts of the equation, 
”We are blessed we are broken.”  Perhaps you do so as well. For during these forty days there are ample opportunities to reflect on the blessings of life as well as our broken pieces and parts. In some instances even the brokenness is a blessing. For we can learn and grow from all of our encounters.

Peter’s song, Still in One Peace plays with the notion of piece and peace. It amplifies the belief that even though we find ourselves in “pieces” at times, there is a Peace, a ONE PEACE that holds us all together.

So remember,
7”And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Monday, February 25, 2013

Faith in Angels

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 022513 

“Have a little faith in angels
You never know where they might be
Have a little faith in angels
And you might begin to see
You could have a little faith in you and me”
Have A Little Faith in Angels by Peter Mayer

It started to snow early Sunday morning. Throughout all three services it snowed and snowed. As of this writing (in early evening) it is still snowing. We don't have a Red Carpet (worthy of the Oscars) but rather a white carpet, in fact a comprehensive white blanket that makes all things look new.
Let me be the first one to say to you, "just 10 months until Christmas." Maybe that is why I have angels on my mind today. I want you to read with me a lovely verse from Hebrews 13:  "Let mutual love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:1-2) 
It seems to me that snow, lots of it, brings out the best in us. At least that is the case for a while until it turns brown and grey, freezes and re-freezes again and again. But angels, they too bring out the best in us as well. Isn't it amazing that the author of Hebrews almost 2,000 years ago suggests that they key to "having a little faith in angels" is also the key to hospitality.

On Saturday we had a Family Faith Night which began with worship (we focused on John 6-Jesus as the Bread of Life). Then we made pretzels together. Afterwards we ate with each other. We had quite an age range from 8 weeks old to 83 years young.
Check out the pictures here.
I like the fact that I'm surrounded by these pretzel-carrying angels.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

When You are Called to Follow Your Dream

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 “When You are Called to Follow Your Dream”

"Every dream that becomes is a star or a sun
Far too far to be real sometimes fading
But it calls you night and day
Longing to be more then behave
Believe be Light be Love"
Be Etc by Peter Mayer

I believe that Frederick Buechner defines vocation as "where your greatest joy meets the world's deepest need." Those are inspiring words which can also be disturbing as well. For, when we search our heart and soul, sometimes there is the realization that what brings us joy or what others would call "bliss" might not be the stuff we are doing on a regular basis. Or maybe, we just aren't getting to do it quite enough.

So, Peter's encouragement is to follow that dream. And what is a dream other than a message from God to use one's gifts and abilities to their fullest capacity. Your dream might be like that dog of a friend of yours that just won't leave you alone. No matter how hard you try to send the message or to position yourself, that dog/dream keeps coming back again and again wanting to be acknowledged, petted and taken for a walk.

So if this scene seems familiar to you, why not take a little time today and follow your dream. You'll be glad you did. I also think the world will be happy about it as well.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

When You Wear It

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 “When you Wear It”

Saturday, February 23

"Changed by Love
And sent to share it
When you're changed by Love
You shine the Light and wear it
In your heart in every place
Lift our hands oh God of grace
We will never be the same
We are changed by Love"

Changed by Love by Peter Mayer

I was in Minneapolis for the past 36 hours. I flew up on Thursday and was able to spend time with Hannah Grace and her beau Sean. All day Friday I was at Luther Seminary to interview prospective interns for the 2013-2014 year (which begins in August). I caught a flight home on Friday night. In fact, due to the wonders of wi-fi, I was able to write this devo and transmit it some place in the air over Nebraska to Cynthia Tanner.

I had nine interviews, and all I can say is “WOW!” The church is in good hands with all of these candidates.  I met with seven candidates in person and Skyped with two others who were not on campus today. All nine of them reflect the light and embody Peter’s words, “when you’ve been changed by Love.” It was a fabulous day and I give thanks for the people and congregations who have nurtured these folks along the way.

Several shared with me that dear people along their way have encouraged them to seek out ordination. So, I want you to think today of someone you know or have met along your way who you think might make a good pastor. It would be grand if you said something to them to encourage their journey.

“Changed by Love
And sent to share it
When you're changed by Love
You shine the Light and wear it”


Friday, February 22, 2013

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 “That We May Be Un-done”

Verse 3
"And we pray Thy Kingdom come that we may be un-done
Born again in Thy will be done today and forever
Cause we're the body of Christ right here
Broken, given, to be shared to be Love beyond our fear
Lord won't you turn our tears to dancing

We are blessed ...........every breath
We are blessed .........daily bread
We are blessed ......blessed
To be the blessing
Every breath ..........blessed
Take our hands and our footsteps ...  blessed
We are blessed to be the blessing
mmm be the blessing
mmm be the blessing
mmm be............the blessing"

Blessed to Be The Blessing by Peter Mayer

Years ago 7-Up made a big campaign about being the "un-cola." In Peter's first line of the third verse, he ties the praying of the Lord's Prayer to the action/reflection of the Beatitudes. He sings, "
And we pray Thy Kingdom come that we may be un-done." 
So, it causes me to think about what needs to be "un-done" in me this Lent? Sometimes I know that I say, "I'm so done with that." So, perhaps in some cases our unwillingness or stubbornness to remain vulnerable needs to be "un-done" or unwrapped or, to borrow a term from the world of software, to be "un-installed."  Or maybe, there is a spiritual hardening of the arteries which creates a lack of care and concern for those who are hurting and hungry. And we need some holy de-calcification coupled with a shot or two of Holy Spirit Lipitor.
Peter is identifying a classic struggle of wills, God's will versus our will. So, his song is an invitation/prayer to be "Born again in Thy will be done today and forever
Cause we're the body of Christ right here."  We're just one week into this Lenten journey, and it's probably fair to say that like little children we want to ask, "Are you there yet?" At the same time maybe we resemble the Children of Israel who instead of looking forward to the Promised Land were "programmed" to look back to the days and years of slavery in Egypt.

Just like Jesus, just like the bread at the Eucharist, we too are "Broken, given, to be shared to be Love beyond our fear."  I suppose that is what Peter really means when he calls us to be "un-done." For, we would prefer to be the guests at the banquet as opposed to being the "kitchen help." However, Jesus always turns the tables on us and shows us that he is not only the guest, but also the host and ultimately the feast of victory. In kind, our lives end up being transformed as we are "Broken, given, to be shared to be Love beyond our fear."

This sounds lovely in a theological sense, but as you and I know, it's hard work to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus. Especially, if one is "Broken, given, to be shared to be Love beyond our fear."

So, then Peter connects this reality to a request embedded in the Psalms,
"Lord won't you turn our tears to dancing."

We are blessed to be the blessing,

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blessed Are ...

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 022113 “Blessed Are…”

"Blessed are those who mourn they will be comforted
Blessed are the meek they will inherit the earth
Blessed are those who hunger for justice for God will use their hands
Blessed are the merciful mercy will be their dance
Blessed are the pure in heart they will see the Lord
Blessed are those who live in Peace they are children of the Word
Blessed are you who walk through the fire and suffer for the road God shows you ,
Through everything give thanks and sing for the Love of God that holds you

½ chorus
We are blessed ...........every breath
We are blessed ............daily bread
We are blessed ......blessed
To be the blessing"

Blessed to Be The Blessing by Peter Mayer

Peter's song keeps running through my head. I feel it has a certain choral lament aspect to it. When he starts in on the Beatitudes, it is such a cool "call and response" process that I feel is quite uplifting. As each line flows out, I think of people who:
Mourn; are Meek; Hunger; are Merciful; are Pure in Heart; are Living in Peace; and who Walk in Fire and Suffer.

I've thrown in a couple of my favorite quotes for you to pray about and think about today as you recognize that you and I are "blessed to be the blessing."  The first one is meant to "fire you up" just a bit. The second one is meant to "inspire you up" just a bit.

"For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere."
Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

"Moses was wise enough to know that people will often disappoint you, that they will be weak and unreliable, that they will forget to thank you, but you must love them anyway. You must do the right thing not for the applause or the reward but because it is the right thing to do, and you must never forget who and what you are really working for. Like the man who visited his Alzheimer's afflicted wife daily, do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are." (page 47-78) Overcoming Life's Disappointments By Rabbi Harold Kushner

Blessed are you.....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When You've Got a Mountain to Climb

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013  “When You’ve Got a Mountain Climb”

Blessed To Be The Blessing by Peter Mayer

Vs 2
"Well I asked for a straight line here I am with a mountain to climb
Valley deep and river wide oh but I am carried
Into the open arms of Grace I cry freedom from these chains
Let it ring in every place for all of God's children
We are blessed ...........every breath
We are blessed ............daily bread
We are blessed ...... blessed
To be the blessing
Oh with every breath .....blessed
Take our hands and our footsteps ...........blessed
We are blessed to be the blessing"

The first line of verse two gets me thinking about prayer. I know that sometimes when we pray for a specific thing to happen in a certain way, it can seem that the opposite of our intentions happen.  So, it is as Peter sings, “I asked for a straight line here I am with a mountain to climb.”  
I have experienced times in my life when I’ve asked for “smooth sailing” only to be confronted with more episodes of stormy weather. And yet, the very good news of Mark 4: 35-41 is that Jesus is in the boat with the disciples. 

Peter’s words indicate that the valley is deep and the river is wide, but that the prayer/singer is carried “into the open arms of Grace.”

Maybe you’ve got a mountain to climb today. If that is the case, put on your hiking boots, but rest assured you are not doing this by yourself.

We are blessed to be the blessing,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blessed to Be The Blessing

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 “Blessed to Be The Blessing”

Blessed To Be The Blessing by Peter Mayer

Vs 1
"It's not to hold and not to keep not to drown in the depths of me
But the word of God is breath to me and I am changing
But it's not what I have done but the way that I've been loved
At the cross-roads lifted up lifted by the Savior

We are blessed
We are blessed
We are blessed to be the blessing
Every breath ...blessed
Our hands and our footsteps ...........blessed
We are blessed to be the blessing"

Two years ago when Pastor Jessica Harris Daum (see bio and photo herewas our intern, she presented me with the idea that our congregation could and should grow in its ability to reach out into the community. What she was proposing was a “day of service.” As we talked and prayed the idea came to us that what we should really do was to CANCEL worship on a Sunday so that everyone might participate in SERVICE. So, that’s what we have done in 2011 and 2012. Our day is called BE THE BLESSING. The first year more than 750 people participated. In 2012 the number grew to be more than 850. 

This year our day is June 2, 2013. We are now in the planning phase. Obviously we ask for your  prayers and best wishes to that we can continue to let our light shine.

The Bible passage which really spoke to Jess and me is a great purpose statement for what communities of faith are all about, we have been blessed to be a blessing.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Genesis 12

In one of my conversations with Peter I shared with him how people of all ages and abilities participated in this wonderful event. He was so inspired by it all that he wrote a song which debuted at the ELCA Youth Gathering this past summer in New Orleans.

So, today, let the words flow over your consciousness. Let them speak to your heart, your hands and your soul. Remember, you have been blessed to BE THE BLESSING!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Let's Go For a Walk

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 “Let’s Go for a Walk”

"Ever walk with me Lord
Each night and day a rejoicing
With kindness the harmony, justice the beat
You've turned my footsteps to dancing
Oh ever walk with Lord"

Ever Walk With Me by Peter Mayer

Peter and I have been working on this project "Passages4Passages" for some time now. We both came to the mutual decision that our lives, our faith, our vocations and own beings have been so formed and shaped by Bible passages that we wanted to find a way to retell them and present them in a new way for the passages of life, hence the phrase "Passages4Passages." At first Peter told me he didn't "get it," but the more he has thought about it, the more it has grown on him. I know that whenever I see or hear him sing a song like "Without Love," which is a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13, that we are onto something.

And so it is with this song of his that he wrote several years ago. It is a restatement of Micah 6:8.

8"He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?"
Peter's request, "ever walk with me Lord" really says it all. It's so basic and foundational for what being in alignment with God is all about.

So, today, have a great "walk."
In fact, imagine the Lord walking with you. It will make all the difference in the world.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

When You Are Tempted

H2odevos p4p Lent 2013 When You Are Tempted”
First Sunday in Lent

Luke 4

“Follow me to the place where dreams come true

Follow me and we can see this through

Follow me until the end on this you can depend

Follow me and I will follow you”
Follow Me by Peter Mayer/Roger Guth/Jim Mayer

Today on this First Sunday in Lent we turn our attention to Jesus being tempted three times  by the devil. It’s quite instructive for us because each time the devil approaches Jesus with the simple but complex word, “if.” So, that is also why I made the title of this devo, “When You are Tempted,” and not, “If You are Tempted.” Because as sure as the day is long, you and I are gonna be tempted. There is no presupposition about it.

And yet the “come-ons” from the devil are so sly and slick that they make it almost seem to be the right thing to do. First of all, Jesus is hungry after fasting for forty days. What would be so wrong in satiating his physical hunger by transfiguring some rocks into a bagel or two? And so it goes. Next the devil tries to get Jesus to go for power. Nice try, but it doesn’t work. Last but not least, the devil suggests that even the Bible suggests that angels will come as the answer to a Spiritual 911 call. So, the devil goes 0-3 on that particular day. He’s down, but not OUT! Jesus and he will do battle another day.

by Juan de Flandes

There is a great painting in the National Gallery in Washington D.C. by Juan de Flandes. He painted it for Queen Isabella of Spain (around 1500-1504). Yes, Isabella of Ferdinand and Isabella. Normally, if a character showed up with goat horns, and funky feet, we’d know who it was and what he was after. So, we’d take off in the opposite direction.

But, my experience is (and I’m sure yours is similar) that temptations normally don’t come with warning signals such as goat horns and funky feet accompanied by a pitchfork and some dude or dudette in a bright red suit with a pointy tale. Rather temptation comes naturally in such a way as to slither its way into our heart, soul or mind without us even knowing it. In fact, maybe it’s like a computer virus that “worms’ its way onto the hard drive of our soul only to be activated at a later date.

Jesus utilized Scripture passages to ward off the devil. You and I may not have the same ability as he did to quote the Good Book, but you can be certain that a prayer like “Jesus, help me,” is quite effective.

I really like what Peter sings,

“Follow me to the place where dreams come true

Follow me and we can see this through

Follow me until the end on this you can depend

Follow me and I will follow you”

This cosmic dance is a promise led by God. When you are tempted, Follow Jesus.