Lenten Devotional 3/31/19

March 31, 2019                                Psalm 84                      Rev. Erin Counihan

Psalm 84 (reimagined and prayed, for now)

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of this all.

My heart, my brain, my whole self, longs to be wherever you are, to rest in your presence, to curl up and hold somewhere within your voice.

To find home with you. Not structure or space, but that feeling, you know, of being so safe and loved and maybe surrounded by the smell of chocolate chip cookies. Laying on the couch in my sweatpants. With nothing expected of me and nothing on the agenda to do. That kind of home.

With you.

Because I know people, who have that calm about them. That peace and confidence and assuredness of your love. That posture, that peace, that can only come from complete trust in you. They journey through this world in chocolate-chip smelling sweatpants confidence.

O Lord, God of all, hear my prayer, listen and know, that I want to find hope and confidence and home in you. I want to find it and know it and remain with it and you forever.

Issue us fuzzy socks and board games, assign us each a cushion and a curled up furry friend, and call us family and welcome us home, O Lord…. We seek to be with you.


Lenten Devotional 3/30/19

March 30, 2019                       Psalm 149                                 Donna Cook

“Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.” Psalm 149:2

I’ll Praise My Maker (Isaac Watts 1791)

I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath;

and when my voice is lost in death,

praise shall employ my nobler powers.

My days of praise shall ne’er be past

while life and thought and being last,

or immortality endures.

How happy they whose hopes rely

on Israel’s God who made the sky

and earth and seas with all their train;

whose truth forever stands secure,

who saves the oppressed and feeds the poor,

and none shall find God’s promise vain.

The Lord pours eyesight on the blind,

the Lord supports the fainting mind

and sends the laboring conscience peace.

God helps the stranger in distress,

the widowed and the parentless,

and grants the prisoner sweet release.

I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath;

and when my voice is lost in death,

praise shall employ my nobler powers.

My days of praise shall ne’er be past

while life and thought and being last,

or immortality endures.

While I Have Breath by Robbie Seay Band

Lenten Devotional 3/28/19

March 28, 2019                                  John 8:21-32

A Litany for Lent

O Christ,

out of your fullness we have all received grace upon grace.

You are our eternal hope;

you are patient and full of mercy;

you are generous to all who call upon you.

Save us, Lord.

O Christ, fountain of life and holiness,

you have taken away our sins.

On the cross you were wounded for our transgressions

and were bruised for our iniquities.

Save us, Lord.

O Christ, obedient unto death,

source of all comfort,

our life and our resurrection,

our peace and reconciliation:

Save us, Lord.

O Christ, Savior of all who trust you,

hope of all who die for you,

and joy of all the saints:

Save us, Lord.

Jesus, Lamb of God,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world,

grant us peace.                                             

From the PCUSA Book of Common Worship

We’re Hiring!

We’re hiring a seasonal, part-time Summer Site Manager for AMEN St. Louis.

AMEN St. Louis (A ministry of Oak Hill Presbyterian Church) provides mission experiences, retreats summer camps and housing for church groups, youth groups, college groups, activists, and others seeking to serve in the city. Each summer, we hire a site manager to welcome, orient, and assist the visiting teams and camps. We are looking for someone with energy and organizational skills, who loves working with people (especially youth), who is detail-oriented and can manage some administrative tasks, who can who can make sure visiting groups have what they need, and who can think ahead and notice new ways we can better welcome and serve others.

Check out the full job description here:

Lenten Devotional 3/27/19

March 27, 2019                      Psalm 27                      Rev. Amy Bertschausen

Executive Director, Care and Counseling

Perhaps you know disappointment, or discouragement.  Those things are tough and we usually get through them with preserving and encouragement.  But Jeremiah is talking about despair. 

Despair is a spiritual thing.  Depression tends to be emotional/psychological—anxiety too.  But despair is that place where we ask the ultimate questions, the big why questions.  When we question our very existence and sometimes, maybe often times, we question the existence of God.  We come to know, in a painful way, that we (on our own) are not sufficient for this task of living and loving.  Jeremiah is asking these BIG WHY questions and he is in despair.

I once had an amazing mentor who gently accused me of being a functional atheist.  I was aghast at such a label!  “Well,” he said, “you say you believe in God but you act is if everything is up to you.”  BAM!!  I knew he was exactly right.  I was in a place of utter despair because I was failing at something, couldn’t make sense of it, and wondered if I was even a human being, let alone a decent one.  WHY?  Why had God put me is such a situation only to fail. 

It was only in my utter despair that I would come to God for help.  It dawned on me that perhaps, just maybe, I could lean on and trust God a teensy weensy bit sooner than after I fell into the pit of despair.  This is my life long spiritual learning curve—to stay close enough to God, whether things are going well or down the toilet.  Did I say life long?  Life long.

So I cling (with my whole and feeble heart) to  “The lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”   It turns out, I don’t have to visit despair quite as often.  But when it is honestly unavoidable, I know I can take shelter in God in the days of trouble.

Thank you, God, for sending people who speak truth to us with love.  This lent, help us to seek you in everything ordinary, everything painful, everything lovely and just everything

Lenten Devotional 3/26/19

March 26, 2019                   John 7:37-52                                  Josh Smith
                                                 Psalm 25

“See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!  Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.  May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.”
– Psalm 25:19-21

“Nicodemus…asked, “does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” – John 7: 50a-51

Man I love to talk.  And argue, with spirit.  But after years of debates and arguments in locker rooms and conference rooms and construction trailers, I’ve made few enemies and never been in a fistfight.  Somehow me and the other guy always connect when we take a second to keep silent and listen, at least enough to part ways on fair terms.

But I can have real, unforgiving enemies with just 10 words on Facebook or a news feed.

I think it’s because apps and websites are bad venues for hearing.  People read those first 10 words, peg you as the enemy, and nice goes out the window well before they make the effort to understand you.

Jesus seemed to be in a bad venue for being heard.  He interrupted a party festival, loudly, by proclaiming Living Water was about to flow out of him and if you drank it, that same water could flow out of you.

After that, most people just didn’t want to hear the rest of what Jesus had to say.

Even before the living water comment, a lot of the religious leaders couldn’t stand one word out of Jesus’ mouth, so great was their hatred for what Jesus represented.

Jesus might have prayed the short prayer from Psalms 25.  Maybe he sighed.  People were talking about him, viciously, in the other room.  Some of them wanted to kill him.  Nicodemus, though, asked for his fellow rulemakers to stop and listen, before condemnation.  Nicodemus didn’t understand everything Jesus was on Earth to accomplish, but he knew there was value in listening. 

None of us deserve to be heard less than another, or more than another.  And someone, or some One, might be saying something really important. 

Prayer: Lord God help me to listen more than speak.  Help me to hear others

Lenten Devotional 3/24/19

March 24, 2019                          Mark 5:1-20                        Rev. Erin Counihan

First of all, Heather MacArthur has an app on her phone of Bible cartoon stories, and you really, really need to ask her to show you the cartoon pigs from this story rushing over the mountain’s edge.

Now then, whenever I read this story, I think of this person- someone’s son, someone’s childhood friend, someone’s cousin, someone’s dear one, who was overcome by this “demon”, by this “legion”, by something so terrible they were so afraid of him and for him that the entire town cast him out, chained him up, and left him to live alone in illness and pain. “For safety” I’m sure.

And I always wonder…. Who now are we sending away, chaining up, casting out, holding off in a distance, for their safety and ours, of course…. Someone’s baby, someone’s sibling, someone’s childhood friend….

And how would Jesus find them?

Prayer: God, find them, unbind them, welcome them. And help us to do the same. Amen.

Lenten Devotional 3/23/19

March 23, 2019                          Psalm 143                               Dena Roper

Psalm 143:8

   Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,

       For in you I put my trust.

    Teach me the way I should go,

       for to you I lift my soul.

Sometimes I forget.

I forget that I am not alone. 

It was so much easier before. 

Before my parents died. 

I always knew they were for me. 

I still have extended family, but it’s not the same. 

They all have their own traditions that aren’t mine. 

I have my created family, my church family. 

But I still wake up in the middle of the night alone. 

But then I remember. 

It’s dark now,

but the dawn is coming. 

I am not alone! 

God is with me! 

God is always there with me!

Always there to hear me.

To know me and smile at my quirkiness.

To comfort when the night seems too long.

I know that God’s grace has forgiven my sins.

That that love is Always there.

Dear God, thank you for being there even in the darkest of nights.  You are the morning!