Time-Out Corner/TWT for 2.21.17

We have thought on thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple. As is thy name, O God, so is that praise unto the ends of the earth.” –Psalm 48:9-10(KJV)

Once upon a time I spent a few days at a retreat house.  Most of the time there was silent. The first morning we began prayers by singing (a Capella  in four-part harmony) “Love Devine All Love Excelling” by Charles Wesley to Prichard’s Hyfrydol. That was quite a beautiful wake-up call as those were the first words said that morning and quite a surprise to me to be among such gifted singers. Unless we make time to still our soul I don’t think any of us can effectively weather the storms of life. My prayer for you is you find that time this week.

Sometimes the glory of the Lord comes in the deep recesses of a searching soul, perhaps in an outdoor chapel at a favorite campground or in the magnificence of a cathedral. Sometime it comes upon us in a wave of grace amidst unexpected loss. As Charles Wesley wrote: “… all thy life receive; suddenly return, and never more thy temples leave. Let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee.” So, dear reader, sometimes going to the “Time-out corner” isn’t so bad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwso5lke6Fk

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

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Grace Notes/TWT for 2.14.17

“Perserve me, O God; for in thee do I take refuge…..Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth; My flesh also shall dwell in safety. For Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fullness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” –Psalm 16:1 & 9-11(ASV)

In recent days I’ve heard from two people who question life events; one of recent tragedy and one of happiness to come amidst uncertainty. My soul heard a longing for answers; even for peace from within each of them. There may be times when we struggle on “what to do” to ease such anxiety, doubts, or the search for answers.

In your mind’s eye see yourself as a first grader clasping your hand in that of your favorite relative as you strolled down a sidewalk. Take a second to find that place. Are you there? Did you not find happiness in that moment? I bet your heart was full of joy. I think that’s what God wants for each of us; to feel that confident joy.

The older I get, the less I know……other than to turn to God and sit quietly when trying to find peace whether for me or for others. I couldn’t give answers to either of these precious souls. What I could give them was love and share a holy silence with them for a moment, and that I did. Sometimes I think the greatest grace is just to connect rather than to understand.

It is in those moments of grace I think we should take note.

Tending the vineyard, Tom

 

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Whirlwinds/TUESDAY WITH TOM for 2.7.17

“The voice of thy thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lightened the world; The earth trembled and shook.” PS 77:18(ASV)

Recently I experienced a literal tornado for the first time. After the storm a first responder shared with me that for all practical purposes I should not still be here. You know what was interesting after the storm? The night sky was breathtakingly beautiful and clear. With the loss of electricity we were completely void of artificial light. The winds were calm, just as they had been only ten minutes earlier. As I prepared for sleep I thought how the “earth trembled” earlier that night as the house was shaking.

You know, there are times in our lives when the voice of God speaks to calm us in the whirlwinds of life. You might find yourself completely surprised at the suddenness of it all. When there is no artificial light, those things of the world than distract us, we can find God and the majesty of His thunder and His truth. So dear reader, when the assaults of life come, look for the pure Light of the World. In Him there is no darkness at all, nothing artificial, nothing temporal; only those things eternal.

Tending the vineyard,

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His Name Was “Mac” TWT for 1.14.17

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” –Micah 6:8

Do you have those special moments in time when you knew that chapter in your life never got what you would have hoped? Such was the case for me as I learned this Christmas of the passing of a friend. He was born in 1944, so there were some years between us. We were introduced to one another in 1991 on a retreat we in which staffed together. We wound up sharing a room at the retreat center that weekend. I never heard snoring like I did that first night. (I had to relocate the 2nd night so I could sleep!) That was the genesis of a friendship in which we both spoke of how we never got the time we wanted to let it grow more.
That wasn’t the noise of that first night, though, that resonated in my soul since that time with “Mac.” He was a law enforcement officer, later in his career sheriff for a dozen or so years to a largely metropolitan area. Guys like that are trained to sniff out the bad in others, the distasteful things in society. You know what Mac taught me? He taught me not to judge a book by its cover; that there truly is good somewhere deep inside nearly all of us…..and that sometimes with the law there is a justice called mercy where you need to let the situation go rather than take it “by the book.”
Are there those times when you show mercy? Are they as often as those times you need mercy? I think man is at his best… when he is at his most humble…. when he holds the keys of power and lets the keys fall from his grasp in the name of mercy. His name was Malcolm “Mac” McMillin. He made the world a better place….walking humbly with our God. Well done good and faithful servant. We are all richer by your example.
Tending the vineyard,
Tom Welch

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That New Year’s Baby/TUESDAY WITH TOM for 1.3.17

“I will recount the gracious deed of the Lord, the praiseworthiness of the Lord because of all that the Lord has done for us….He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. –Isaiah 63:7-9 (NRSV)

As we start the New Year some are facing new obstacles and unprecedented pain. Some are facing days of hope ahead. And yet some others are just glad they made it to the New Year in one piece.

It doesn’t matter in which group any of us may fall. The steadfast love of the Lord comes at times in a storm of vengeance and at other times as a wave of grace. Yet, it does come. I have a friend who is asking the painful “if only I had….” dilemma as his family deal with heartbreaking circumstance. You know, if we think about it too long I believe we could beat ourselves up with that question.

Holding that question in context of these words from Isaiah, think of them in terms of a mid-wife or a mother in childbirth; anticipation, anxiety, pain, new life. So, dear reader, approach the New Year with the promise of a steadfast God and lift the New Year to His loving arms.

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

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Sweet Milk/TUESDAY WITH TOM for 12.20.2016

 
“The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. …. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” –Isaiah 9:2&6(NKJV)
It took thousands of years for Him to come. It has been nearly two thousand years since He walked among the people. Some walk through the holidays without a loved one for the first time. Some are walking again without a loved one during this time of year. Some walk far, far removed in one form or the other from family.
The Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God came to walk with us. In fact, I believe He counts on us to show Him to the stranger, the friend, the relative, those who are a function of our day like the clerk at the store. And, yes, He wants us to walk with those we know who wander in the darkness of their days. It’s really simple, show and share the milk of human kindness.
That kind of milk is as sweet to the one who gives as to the one who receives. I believe the Prince of Peace lives in moments like that. Hoping you have a glass full of sweet milk this Christmas, I remain,
Tending the vineyard,
Tom Welch

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“Daddy, I can hardly wait!”/TUESDAY WITH TOM for 12/6/16

“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them…..The nursing child shall play over the hold of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.” –Isaiah 11:6-9

I remember the first time I saw the original Albert Bierdstat’s “Peaceable Kingdom” hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. It was breath-taking. 17 or so years later I sat at the foot of my daughter’s bed on a Sunday night. The then 2nd grader proceeded to tell me what she had learned that morning in Sunday school. “Miss Patsy said there would be a day when a child could play over the snake’s home and run around with a lion. Could it REALLY be, Daddy?” I told her there would indeed be a day like that.

I don’t know why I treasure the season of Advent more and more with the passage of time until we come to this passage on a Sunday morning once again.  Imagine it for a moment. Look at that entire chapter. Hold it in perspective, then turn to the events of today around the world. What a timeless message. When this story was revealed to that 2nd grader it was in the midst of unprecedented turmoil in her days. We said our prayers that night and I sat at the foot of the bed for a moment to watch her fall asleep. Just about the time I thought she was gone one eye popped open. She said: “Can it REALLY be, Daddy?” I promised her again it would happen one day. She smiled and said: “I can hardly wait.” She then collapsed into sleep with a smile on her face.

Abba Daddy, I can hardly wait too.

Tending the vineyard,

Tom Welch

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