He Said-She Said, TWT for 6.20.17

“O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech thee so to guide and bless our Senators and Representatives in Congress assembled, that they may enact such laws as shall please thee, to the glory of thy Name and the welfare of this people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” BCP page 821

Last week we all sat in awe at the mass shooting during baseball practice by members of Congress as one Party prepared to play the other in a tradition which began a hundred years ago. It seems we are sitting in awe more and more every week from seeing violence all over the globe.

For some reason I got to see both the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader speak their complete speeches from the well of the floor  in real time that fateful day. They spoke of dismay. One, of whom I’m not particularly fond, reminded me of the humanness of all of us. The listener was able to see/hear what the sound bites of the nightly news are never able to do….or perhaps want to do. I saw a person of faith speak of faith and prayers for the colleagues there. I was humbled by what I heard.

As much as we often let our blood pressure rise over those people and issues professing opinion and promoting policy with which we do not agree, I was humbled by a tragedy showing us the passion and friendship and, yes, the common faith in God we don’t see enough. That revelation broke my heart more than the madness of hate fired all over the baseball field that same morning.

Some days the “he said-she said” doesn’t really matter in the big picture of things. Lord, help me see the big picture in others rather than the small ones that get blown out of proportion. Help us all do that Heavenly Father, help us all.

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

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For Heroic Service/TWT for 5/30/17

“O judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” -Book of Common Prayer

Tending the vineyard,
Tom Welch

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We Are the World/TUESDAY WITH TOM for 5.23.17

“Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves…’”-Luke 9:23

Way back in 1985 a group of artists got together at the invitation of Quincy Jones (then of Motown Records) to make a remarkable statement about feeding the starving in Africa. Back then I was spinning records at a radio station. MTV was only 4 or 5 years old. Today as I watched the video/song that would become “We are the World” I saw a future Nobel Prize Laurette, at least two artists now deceased and a screen full of “big hair” from back in that day. The song spoke of coming together. It speaks of having more impact as a group than as an individual. Millions of dollars were raised from the sale of the album.

Luke 9:18-27 speaks in plural forms of “them.” I was reminded that earlier tonight. That let me know this was what I was to write. Take a look at all the verses then come back. I’ll still be here. Go ahead…..Look at all the different plurals.

I don’t believe Jesus expected us to make a difference on our own; though we certainly can. The power of being in community makes a greater difference on the world. It did thousands of years ago. It does today. Many times the most effective difference happens when we sacrifice something personal for a greater purpose. In letting go of control we gain freedom unimagined. In believing is something unseen, vision becomes clearer. My prayer for us as we wind down the “Great 50 Days of Easter” and come to Pentecost is that we recognize all of us matter in mission.

Tending the vineyard, Tom Welch

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Total Impact/TWT for 5.16.17

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit; but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”   –Philippians 2:3-4(NSRV)

Early in my career I was on one of those company trips to Europe for a select few. At dinner one night I listened to a colleague say how much money she had made the previous year, how she was on track for new records that year and what she would do over the next few years with newfound wealth. I felt sad for her as she appeared more interested in money than impact.

This summer will find countless numbers of youth having the time of their lives at church camps all over the country. Every summer since the 6th grade I’ve spent at least one week at camps like those volunteering time to help the college-age summer staff. Their enthusiasm toward the youth gives the campers a chance to encounter Christ in ways they can grasp. A benefit of those adult years has been to see many of the youth become adults and hear from them what has made a difference in their lives. It’s not the success in their careers they talk about as much as it was the memories made at camp, the chances their mentors gave them to see the face of Christ in one another.

That’s the kind of total impact that makes a difference. Join me for a moment and listen to this. As you do I pray your heart smiles.

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

 

 

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Thankful Sovereignty/Tuesday with Tom for 5.8.17

“So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.” –Psalms 63:2-4

A couple of times a year I will hear a group of people with an “open mic” express their gratitude for a retreat experience they’ve just completed. I’ve been going to them since 1991. Every time I sit there I often hear about those things eternal spoken from very ordinary people like you and me. You think you’ve heard it all before, and suddenly you hear something that hits you squarely between the eyes.

The writer in this chapter speaks of comfort and assurance in God’s presence. More than that though, to me it speaks to a hope found in faithfulness, a trust found in uncertainty, a reality that amidst the onslaughts of life our God reigns. Time and time again I heard that Sunday afternoon from people who spoke of “thankfulness.” Starting each day in prayer changes things, most importantly it gives an awareness that all those things ahead—even those things which we may fear— find God is already there to help us through. It’s in such times as those we can see His sovereignty ever more clearly.

Tending the vineyard, Tom Welch

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Enough Said/Tuesday with Tom 4.25.17

Once in a while I find a time when scripture says more than I write or can affix a story. When that happens, I believe what I am to share are the verses alone and nothing more. It’s times like today when I often hear more feedback than usual. My prayer is that these ancient words speak to you or have you share with another.

“My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity. Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous. Accept whatever befalls you, and in time of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation. Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him.

“You who feat the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not stray, or else you may fall. You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost. You who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy. Consider the generations of old and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed? Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken? Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected? For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of distress.” —Ecclesiasticus 2:1-11(NRSV)

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

 

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Faint-hearted- Just Dance/TWT for 4/18/17

“From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” -PSALMS 61:2-4

In recent days I’ve heard from two children of God; both of whom are leaning again on that rock “that is higher than I” as they seek His will in their days. For some reason the words “and He loved them to the end” speaking of Jesus in his final two days on earth come to mind, banking them off the words above.

You know Jesus could have chosen to avoid Good Friday. He didn’t. He wanted us to know He’d go through hell for us so that those of us who call Him “Lord” would one day be with Him in Paradise. There are times when the enemy comes in the form of fear and anxiety to try and tear at the fabric of our souls. In those trying times, perhaps every day of our lives, Christ showed us the answer.

He hung on that cross, loving you and me “until the end” of that wretched day knowing He would tower over the enemy on Easter morning. Let’s dance with Him, taking our refuge in His love this Easter Season.

Tending the Vineyard, Tom Welch

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