Rev. John Zehring is a retired UCC pastor from Massachusetts.
Scripture: Psalm 16:11 (NRSV)
You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Reflection: Encounter the Divine
“In your presence…” When you go to worship or engage in private devotions, your hope is to seek an encounter with the Divine. What you are seeking is nothing short of desiring to find yourself in God’s presence.
Because the Psalmist speaks of being in God’s presence – and he had no special gift for this that would exclude you from the same experience – consider pathways which people have found over the eons to tiptoe into the very presence of the Almighty.
ANTICIPATION and EXPECTATION. Anticipate that the next time you enter a sanctuary for the worship of God, you will go to actively participate in worship and you will enter with the expectation of some kind of encounter with the Divine. Close your eyes to drown out external sounds to focus upon you entering into the presence of God. By anticipating, you prepare yourself, open your heart, engage your readiness and center upon the most important experience of the worship service, which is for you to find yourself in the presence of the Divine.
INVITATION. Invite God into your soul and treat God as an honored guest. There is a painting of Jesus standing at a door titled “The Light of the World” by the English artist William Holman Hunt (1827–1910) representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an unopened door, illustrating 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.” The door in the painting has no handle. It can be opened only from the inside. He knocks, but will not enter unless invited in. Create a mental picture of God standing at your door, knocking. Open it to extend an extravagant welcome and hospitality.
SEEKING. In Jeremiah (29:13), God spoke, saying "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” To seek is an active verb, not passive. It prompts us to do something, to take action, to go looking and searching. If we wish to share the Psalmist’s experience of being in God’s presence, the journey requires our intent to seek it. In the bookstore at a Benedictine Priory, I saw a sign that said “That which you are seeking is causing you to seek.” The majestic and mysterious wonder of God may be reaching down to touch you and cause you to seek God’s presence.
FASTING. You can fast from anything, not just food. The purpose of fasting is to seek to know God in a deeper experience. In fasting, you give something up to center your spirit, to be led beside the still waters, and to restore your soul. Consider an idea: fast from noise. Take a retreat from the screen, from electronics, from anything you can control that makes sound. Fast to seek to be in the presence of the Divine.
SILENCE. Set aside moments for silence. Teach yourself to appreciate silence. Mother Teresa wrote “God is the friend of silence. We need to find God and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. See how nature, the trees, the flowers, the grass grow in perfect silence. See the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. Silence gives us a new outlook on everything.” (Seeking the Heart of God by Mother Teresa and Brother Roger. NY: Harper Collins Publishers. 1991). Ironically, multi-tasking decreases your effectiveness. Silence gives you a new outlook on everything. Why not choose to go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence?
Loving God, more than anything, I would like to feel myself in your presence. I seek after you, I open the door of my heart for you to enter, and I want you to be with me. In this day, guide me to walk in your pathways and to sense that you are by my side. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at email@example.com.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those in the southern states who suffered from extreme weather over the weekend causing massive damage and leading to multiple deaths.
- For the family and friends of the more than 22,000 people who have died due to the Covid-19 virus so far
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the joy of celebrating Easter in all its old and new ways
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
First Congregational Church, UCC, Shrewsbury, MA
Pilgrim Church UCC, Sherborn, MA
Huntington Congregational Church UCC, Shelton, CT
Trinity Church, Shelburne Falls, MA
First Congregational Church of Shelburne, UCC, Shelburne, MA
First Congregational Church of Sheffield, UCC, Sheffield, MA
First Congregational Church of Sharon, Sharon, MA
Seymour Congregational Church, Seymour, CT
Seekonk Congregational UCC, Seekonk, MA
Scotland Congregational Church, Scotland, CT
First Trinitarian Congregational Church, UCC, Scituate, MA
This Week in History:
April 16, 2007 (13 years ago) 32 people are killed and more than a dozen are wounded in the Virginia Tech shooting. Seung Hui Cho, a 23-year old senior at the college, after kiiling two people in a dormitory early in the morning, entered a building and walked from room to room, shooting people with 2 handguns. After the 10-minute shooting spree, Cho shot himself.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”