Sweet treat

January 22, 2019, Steven and I joined the Texas Tropical Trail (TTT) group in Alice, TX for its 158th monthly partner event.  And what a time we had!

Everything— from the morning’s assortment of colorful doughnuts, coffee, and juice at the Chamber of Commerce to the tour of the historic courthouse to lunch at the country club to the four afternoon presentations— kept us clamoring for “more, please.”

The last speaker, Betty Ash, a retired teacher, captivated us beyond imagining.  Her early Jim Wells County history was a firsthand experience: exciting, hilarious, and memorable.  But her Native American stories— a glimpse of South Texas history that’s rarely discussed— had us wholly engrossed.  My hand hurt from trying to jot down every precious morsel.

Two-thirty came around, but we just weren’t ready to go!  So, Nancy Deviney, TTT executive director who plans surprises in advance, eased our reluctance by reminding us of “the optional tour for those of you who are interested.”

Sweet treat

Better than the bonus plan, the unexpected giveaway turned out to be quite a piloncito: the sweet treat that mom’s grandmother would gift to each of her country-store customers (and children) as both a token of appreciation and an incentive to return.

Because we’d visited the First Presbyterian Church in Corpus Christi in January and Pastor Chip Blackshear had told us about the beautiful stained-glass window that had been moved to the church in Alice, Kathy Wemer of the Nueces County Historical Commission had arranged for our group to view the window.  So, eighteen of us rushed to visit with Pastor Kris Bair at the First Presbyterian Church on North Adams Street.

What a pristine sacred space!  Regardless of where one sits or stands, the stained-glass window is the focal point behind the altar: a delectable ethereal delight.

        

           

                    

                       

       

       

       

               

               

Prayers from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Dear Lord, please forgive me when I forget that you are God and the owner of my heart, the caregiver of my life and the teacher of my soul.  I confess that the world is convincing in its teaching that the acquisition of material things can bring happiness and that being right and being in power are more important than following you.  Forgive me when I choose to judge others because of their politics, their education, the color of their skin, or the amount of money they have in their pockets.  The love of power, fame, and material wealth can twist my Christian intentions from selflessness to selfishness, from welcoming to wall-building, and from caring to critical.  I repent from my lack of faithfulness and ask that you light the way of love for me to follow so that I might be guided by the truth and the life found within the way of Jesus Christ in whose name I pray.  Amen.

Father, we come to you through your son and our lord, Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit with thanksgiving.  Continue to intervene in our lives in miraculous ways so that we may proclaim your miracles to those near and far from you.  Help us to not be gripped with fear, but instead give us the courage to be your spokespersons.  May you be glorified in all we say and do.  Amen.

Heavenly Father, my God, and King!  I come before you in awe of your greatness.  I pray that in those times of frustration that I will be gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love as you are so often with us, your children.  I thank you, Lord, for upholding me when I am falling and raising me up when I am bowed down.  I thank you and praise you for filling all my desires, hearing my cry, and saving me!  Amen.

Holy and most faithful God, we thank you for your grace and for the gift of your Son, Jesus.  Help us turn away from the worldly life of sin and turn instead to Christ Jesus so that your Spirit may dwell in us to give us life and peace.  Thank you that, in Christ, we do not stand condemned.  Thank you for your love and forgiveness which restore us to righteousness.  In Jesus’s name we pray.  Amen.

Lord, we are yours and you are ours.  Help us to sing a new song.  Let us worship you with the entirety of our bodies, thus bearing witness to the Incarnated One.  We pray in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Lord, you are our rock.  You are our foundation in times of darkness, and we know we can trust in you.  Yet sometimes we cannot feel your presence.  Give us strength to praise you and hope in you when we do not have the strength on our own.  Meet us in our despair, gracious God, and hear us when we cry out.  You are the one our souls long for.  We praise and pray to you now in your Holy name.  Amen.

Loving Father, we live in a world with many defined boundaries.  We view people on opposite sides of those boundaries as our enemies, our oppressors.  Purge our feelings of hate, enmity, and bitterness, and replace them with humility, patience, understanding, strength, and courage.  In our difficult work, help us to live with your eyes and your heart in the sure knowledge of our future hope in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Merciful God, I am grateful that your love surpasses all knowledge and understanding.  It is impossible to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love you have for me.  May you speak to me in my heart to influence, direct, and guide my every step so your purpose for me will be fulfilled to the fullest.  In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

You strengthen us and bless us, O Lord, because of your endless love for us.  This love is too great for us to comprehend, but we thank you for it and for the grace you shower upon us.  How wonderful you are.  You care for us.  You grant us your peace.  When we falter, Lord, you pick us up.  When we stray, you lead us home.  We long to be in your presence and ask for your blessings of strength and comfort that we may shine your light into the world.  We love you, Lord, and praise your name.  Amen.

March 30, 2019

Working on the thank-you card that I’d promised to send Pastor Kris, I googled the address of the church and was stunned to learn that the First Presbyterian Church will close by December 31, 2019.  This is very sad for the church community, but what will become of the beautiful stained-glass windows?  Both a final worship service and a celebration of the life of the church are planned (Meghan Donald; Alice Echo, 2019).

April 5, 2019

The church is not that building.  The church is the people.  The building is the sanctuary where we meet so, if we stay together as a congregation, the church is alive and well.  We can rebuild the building as long as we stay together (Rev. Gerald Toussaint).

Links of interest…  First Presbyterian Church of Alice to close by the end of the year…  History of the stained-glass window originally at the First Presbyterian Church in Corpus Christi…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals & archive / publications…  Texas Historic Sites atlas…  Texas Tropical Trail

WP posts…  Authentic delight…  Dunes chapel…  Prayerful messages…  Third charm