Tag Archives: Morton

November 15, 2015

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“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.”
Psalm 16:7 (NRSV)

God doesn’t go off duty at sundown. The psalmist understands from experience that praise and gratitude are present-moment activities regardless of time of day or circumstances. Counsel and change of heart appear. Something astonishing happens when I take this seriously.

The “nowness” at the center of this verse grabs my attention. I know counting blessings is a better sleep aid than counting sheep, but wakefulness isn’t my real concern when I am frightened or stuck on a problem large or small. I crave reassurance and counsel now.

For example, early in my career I was at odds with a coworker over a project we were assigned. I don’t remember the details of the disagreement, but a confrontation loomed the next day. I wanted to be ready for it and began rehearsing what I wanted to say. I still couldn’t get to sleep and began remembering other middle-of-the night conversations with God that transformed something I was stewing about into a blessing.

On this particular night God reminded me that my coworker and I were on the same side and I should start the conversation next day with that piece of information.

Why was I sure this came from God? The unexpectedness of it. Such a notion hadn’t been on my radar. In light of previous unpleasantness it would take a bit of courage. But I did it.

What happened? Letting my coworker know at once that I valued her abilities completely defused the confrontation and set the tone for getting the best work out of each other. There were a few bumps and disagreements along the way but we were delighted and proud of the results.

I call that one more blessing to count next time. And I have.

Prayer:
God of the present moment, we give thanks for your counsel and instruction of our hearts whatever the hour, but especially on a sleepless night. Amen

Question:
What current worry awaits God’s transformation?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (815 High Street) and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com
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September 20, 2015

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The Meeting Place

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
James 4:8a (NRSV)

I’m drawn
to love so great
with thanks and humble heart,
renewed in God’s healing presence
with joy.

I’m drawn
where silence reigns.
A welcoming place for me
to listen, let go, be changed and
to change.

I’m drawn
to tell folks how
meeting God draws us in
community to love, to share,
to serve.

Writer’s note: This is a Cinquain, an American form of poetry in which each verse contains five lines of counted syllables, 2,4,6,8,2. The meditation is meant to be read aloud.

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (815 High Street) and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

July 19, 2015

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A Touch of Healing

The big news is that the healing Jesus is coming. The people line up along the roadways and fill the marketplace. Everyone wants to get near enough to touch the edge of his cloak.*

Often when I reread a Bible passage I put myself back in that time and place, expecting to see something I overlooked previously in the story or the telling. This time it is easy to spot the regulars who have heard Jesus preach about God’s Kingdom and witnessed astonishing healings. Since printed handouts are centuries away, they personally invite friends, neighbors, and anyone who will listen. The crowd gathers seeking healing for themselves or someone they love.

The brevity of Mark’s report surprises me. He doesn’t waste words listing the ailments of body, mind, and spirit in the crowd. He has faith in Jesus to sort out exactly what is needed. I wonder? Do my prayers get bogged down with symptoms and scary diagnoses in instead of recalling God’s healing power at work? My thoughts fill with action words—cure, knit, mend, treat, create, recreate, restore, forgiveness, change, renewal, transformation, and wholeness.

The big news is the still the same in the 21st century. Geographical access far exceeds a roadside near the Sea of Galilee. The gospels writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John appear on the internet as well as in print. Jesus’ cloak now enfolds a community of believers who gather weekly in churches to meet him and share their experiences of God’s healing love. Touchable edges of the garment abound in towns, cities and rural areas of all sizes, everywhere two or three gather in Christ’s name.

*“And wherever he went into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.” Mark 6:56 NRSV

Prayer:
Healing Jesus, Help us wear the cloak of faith boldly so that the sick in body, troubled in mind, or discouraged in spirit are drawn to your presence. Amen

Question:
How will I be healed this week?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located at The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (815 High Street) and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

June 7, 2015

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“If you, God, kept records of wrongdoing, who would stand a chance? As it turns out forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped.”
Psalm 138:2-3 (The Message)

“Which is harder—to forgive or be forgiven?” I once asked this of a Sunday school class of 7th graders studying the Lord’s Prayer. As the discussion moved around the table, the consensus leaned toward “be forgiven because you have to admit you are wrong.”

Matt was the last to speak. Shaking his head vigorously, he said “No, it is to forgive. If my brother hits me and I forgive him, I can’t hit him back.”

Forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when society applauds the cleverness of “getting away with something,” the importance of “getting even,” and the right “to keep score forever.”

The miracle of God’s forgiveness is that it doesn’t depend on me or the people or situation involved. The gift begins with the natural generosity and transforming power of God’s love. I may hate to admit I’m in the wrong or prefer to nurse a grudge, but being forgiven brings overwhelming relief and gratitude.

Can becoming a forgiver be habit forming? I hope so. Jesus asks us to start with 70 times 7 and doesn’t give extra points for the magnitude of the offence. At what multiple does record keeping become irrelevant?

Perhaps making a habit of forgiving is not as improbable as it sounds. Being forgiven humbles and changes me. As opportunities to worship and thank God become more spontaneous, so does my willingness to forgive.

Prayer:
God of Love, help us to receive your forgiveness with thankful resolve to pass it on. Amen

Question:
What guilt or hurt feelings am I hanging onto today?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

March 15, 2015

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“From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way.”
Numbers 21:4 (NRSV)

When the train of life has sidetracked and I feel stranded or helpless, the red flag of impatience invites me to stop, listen and look before I leap backwards or charge ahead.

The Israelites chose to go back to the old ways of worship when they felt abandoned by the God who had brought them out of Egypt and set them on a journey into unknown territory. I usually want forward movement now regardless of whether the present delay may be short, long, or permanent.

The trek to the Promised Land lasted forty years. That seems like a long time until I realize it has taken me forty years to recognize the power of patience and to:

Stop holding so tightly onto my timetable for meeting expectations. God’s timing and resources are so much more extensive than mine.

Listen regularly to the still, small voice of the Creator who loves me, changes me, and stays with me no matter what.

Look around at God’s works with astonishment and gratitude. The Israelites received fresh water flowing from a rock and manna to eat when nothing seemed available.

My experience includes unexpected phone calls that completely change a proposed course of action. A co-worker’s faith journey that inspires me to see something I had never considered. A whimsical thought puzzled over for months reveals with joy and humor how unrelated pieces fit together perfectly as needed for the next step.

Prayer:
Generous God, help us welcome patience as an active force for love and change. Amen

Question:
What red flags will alert me to be patient this week?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

February 1, 2015

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Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
Psalms 111:2 NRSV

As soon as I read the word “studied” in today’s psalm, the following prayer, memorized in Sunday school, popped into my head.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our
learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly
digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed
hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior
Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Book of Common Prayer, page 236

“Hear, read, learn, mark and inwardly digest” came to mind without hesitation. I have always liked that image, but admit I needed to look up the final lines. Memorizing is out of style these days. Computers, phones and tablets make it convenient to look up something electronically I’ve read or heard about.

The psalmist didn’t have all these options. Study for him relied on careful listening and committing large chunks of Scripture to memory. Wisely he used praise to spark the imagination. In each line of Psalm 111 he recalls God’s wonders with delight and praise.

For me meditation has largely replaced memorization. I’m grateful for words from previous memory work. They continue to enrich my current understanding, but I spend less time getting the words verbatim and more praying and pondering what they call me to do or be.

Prayer:
Divine Teacher, help us to hear, read, learn, mark and inwardly digest Scriptures written for our benefit and your praise. Amen

Question:
What other Scripture passages will teach and delight me this week?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com

January 11, 2015

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“Then God said, Let there be light; and there was light. God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”
Genesis 1: 1-4 (NRSV)

I am a morning person who relishes an early sunrise and regrets the need for artificial light at 6 am. For me January 11, not December 21, is the day for celebration on my solstice calendar.

Until the 10th of January, sunrise at the latitude in central Iowa stays at 7:41 am. All minutes of light added since December 21 appear in the evening. I wonder. Was the 2nd day of creation one minute longer or shorter in the morning?

Just for fun I’ll pay attention to sunrise times for the next couple of weeks and then forget about it until next year. Like everyone else I’ll turn on a lamp if it is still dark when the alarm clock rings in January. I know spring is on the way. Sunrise will be earlier tomorrow.

The opening action in Genesis isn’t about the ratio of light and darkness on a particular date but the power of God to create and transform 24/7 regardless of the calendar. Unlike other energy sources God’s ON switch doesn’t shut down while we sleep or go off line in a storm.

Prayer:
Creator God, help us to be as grateful for your presence in darkness as we are in the light of day. Amen

Question:
What will I see tomorrow of God at work during the night that wasn’t visible today?

Written by Nancy Alice Morton

The Bridge is a collaborative ministry by four Downtown Des Moines churches. The Bridge Meditations are part of the ministry of The Bridge which is working to enrich the lives of those working, living and visiting downtown Des Moines. Programs developed by The Bridge offer spiritual formation and development, professional counseling, holistic health and family support. The Connection Cafe is a Bridge ministry which provides a free mid-day meal five days per week. The Connection Cafe is located next to the YWCA on Grand Avenue and is supported by many churches and civic organizations in its ministry. For more information, or to volunteer to help with The Bridge, The Connection Cafe or other Downtown Des Moines ministries contact Rob Hoover at 515-771-1481 or by email at theconnectioncafe@hotmail.com