hope dawns

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A bright band of warm hope
Spreads across my horizon
A reflection of your glory
Shining in dawn of new day

All else seems hard and cold
Winter debris lingering
Fields and forest cloaked
In dark and dingy gray

Then a ruffle of feathers
Bare branches swaying
Birdsong rising
In happy, hopeful chorus

Swooping the fence line
Skimming the cornfield
Winging the hedgerow
Floating the riverbank

In trills and tweets
I hear echoes of the ages
Hope sailing high, yet
Love singing strong

Peace be with you.
Do not be afraid.
He is not here.
He is risen!

Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.

I’ll be with you …
day after day after day,
right up to the end of the age.

Hope dawns.

René Morley

Matthew 28; Luke 24; Mark 16 ; John 20

naomi’s joy

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I was up early this morning, thinking about Naomi. Actually, I was thinking first about baked beans and chili and how the smell of bacon puts me off but it sure tastes good at five a.m. Beans in the oven, chili simmering stovetop, and dishes draining on the counter, I sat down with a piping hot cup of coffee just in time to enjoy a gorgeous sunrise. And that’s when Naomi came to mind.

I have been reading the book of Ruth this week. It’s like comfort food from scripture. I read it over and over, using different versions, soaking it in. I love how God so powerfully demonstrates his love in four short chapters.

Here’s the skinny: Naomi and her family are refugees. She loses her husband and both sons in their sojourn to escape famine. She has two daughters-in-law and no retirement plan. Her future looks bleak; she is bitter and depressed. Naomi decides to return home. One daughter-in-law determines to stick with her.

Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law is epic. Her resolve is like a soothing balm to Naomi’s aching heart as they trudge the long, dusty road home together.

Where you go, I will go. Where you live, I will live. Your people will be my people and your God, my God. Ruth 1

Naomi didn’t know what fate might await a washed up old widow woman or her young widowed companion. She didn’t know that God had a plan for their well being. She didn’t know that they were part of his master plan for redemption. Wounded by hardship and compromised by circumstances, she couldn’t see the end of her trail. She could hardly see where to place her next step. But she trudged on, thankful for Ruth and not to be alone.

Naomi couldn’t know that her heart and arms would be full to overflowing soon, that Ruth would marry again and bear her grandson. She didn’t know that God was setting them up for a happy-ever-after, rewarding Ruth’s faithfulness and restoring Naomi’s joy.

May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done. Ruth 2

This morning, I wondered in the sunrise: Did Naomi catch a glimpse of good fortune? Did Ruth find hope for her future? There must have been a glimmer, something to draw them onward, homeward? There must have been a can’t-help-but-hope sunrise or two along the way.

If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me. …
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
Psalm 139

I am thankful for the gifts in a sunrise, for the surge of hope that comes with the triumph of glorious early morning light. It rises up in us as inky black gives way to rosy, ripe citrus hues. Our spirits lift on the updraft; our view shifts to the brightening horizon. We can’t know what the day or the journey holds but we can know that anything is possible, this new day.

I can appreciate now, more than ever, that it was a wee grand-boy who restored Naomi’s joy. Hope fulfilled to overflowing!

~ René Morley

hopeful peace

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I haven’t been very consistent in chronicling my peace journey this year. But time after time, I’ve been reminded of my One Little Word. Peace.

I have a peace phrase for each month. In January it was blessed peace — the Barocha! In February, pathway of peace. In March, perfect peace. In April, gift of peace; God was there, midst the tragedy. And in May, seeds of peace — while I was wrestling for peace!

This month, it is hopeful peace. Well, yes.

A couple of weeks ago we learned that our pastors are moving on. Just when we were settling in! (Or hoped we were.) I have to admit that I was surprised by the timing. But I am not surprised by the decision. Down deep, I knew this would not be a long term appointment for them. I anticipated this day would come. We will miss them so much it hurts.

It’s hard to imagine this little country church moving forward without their leadership. They have given much for great impact in a short time. And there is much work yet to do. So much that I might easily become discouraged. I remain hopeful that their replacements will be implements of continued progress. The pathway ahead is uncertain.

Soon after that, I took a wild ride on a roller coaster of reorganization at work. When the wheels squeaked to a stop, still solid on the rails, I had more responsibilities and new projects to manage. Under other circumstances, I might have been rattled. I was only thankful.

Inexplicably, it might seem, in the face of these recent upheavals, I remain hopeful and at peace. Beneath the surface runs a strong current of faith. To me, these uncertainties are opportunities for God to reveal himself. My hope is not in myself or my abilities. It is not in my title or position or association. It is not in my pastors or dear friends. My hope is in God; in God I trust.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Speaking of hopeful … First thing this morning, a calendar reminder popped up: M’s due date! Yes, indeed, Henry James was due to arrive today. He doesn’t seem to be minding the calendar. But that is okay, we know he will come soon. Nothing suggests hopeful like anticipating the birth of a grandbabe.

20130620-081857.jpgGigi’s ready for you, Henry James! Yes, oh yes, your Mommy and Daddy, too — more than ready! And your cousin Ollie, our sunshine boy. Lots of aunts and uncles and second cousins (Sophia arrives today!) … most certainly your Pops and your other grandparents, too. Please come soon! Perhaps June 22 — what would have been your great-grandpa Dave’s 74th birthday? Or, well, whenever it suits you.

~ René Morley