Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Gathering Together


Here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian our online service last week focussed on 'Church Unity.' A video can be found here, a transcript here.

Jesus describes His work among us, more than once, as a bringing together, a gathering. He speaks in terms of a common table, a common home with many rooms, fish that are brought together, a harvest that is brought in, a party to be started.

He uses the same image when He describes the mission He left to His disciples. They were the ones sent out to bring the guests together, they were going to be fishers of women and men, the harvesters that would bring the crops and fruits together.

We are called to participate in that bringing together. Jesus sees unity as an essential ingredient of discipleship. John 17:21 “As You, Father, are in me and I am in You, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me.

On the positive side, the current pandemic has seen many coming together in unexpected ways. Virtual communities. Online gatherings. Folk gathering food to provide resources for overstressed food banks. People making an extra effort to see that their neighbors are doing O.K. There have been great expressions of support towards those on the front-line, working in the medical services and other essential industries.

On the negative side there are some who have shown little concern for their neighbor and have complained about their individual rights. Religious, political, racial, and economic conflicts have not gone away, but in some instances been re-ignited by people's fear of the unknown. There has been an unhealthy obsession of looking for somebody to blame.

Our need for togetherness is more needed than ever before. The church is commissioned by Jesus to be a visible demonstration of unity, in a world that often pulls itself apart. Historically our faith communities have not been shining lights of togetherness. We are separated by past conflicts and present theological differences.

Yet still, Jesus prays for our unity. Still He gathers us. It is often in a time of crisis that we allow our barriers to come down and recognize that God actually is at work in those who differ from us.

For some music Bryn Haworth, “We're All One.

Prayer: “Lord, take away all that separates us from each other. Make us appreciate our differences. Help us to complement each other as we work towards healing the devastation the current pandemic has inflicted upon so many lives.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Heroism Around Us

The Heroism Around Us

An online service from this past Sunday here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, “Ideal Homes” can be found here. A transcript of the service is available here.

We read in Matthew 25:31-46 “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to Me.”

Reinhold Niebuhr was one of the most influential theologians of the 20th Century. When he was 59, he had a slight stroke which left him partially paralyzed on his left side. It cut his energy back to a fraction of what it had been. His wife, Ursula, adjusted her workload as a professor, in order to care for him.

Niebuhr wrote afterward that he had made a discovery. “I learned to know the goodness of men and women who went out of their way to help an invalid. Among the people who impressed me with their helpfulness were my doctors, nurses, and therapists, my colleagues, and friends.

I soon learned that some of these people, who entered my life professionally, or who served with me non-professionally with visits and walks, showed me an almost charismatic gift of love. And, of course, my chief source of spiritual strength was my wife. She was my nurse, secretary, editor, counselor, and friendly critic through all those years of illness and occasional depression.”'

The current pandemic has reminded us that our lives are surrounded by everyday heroes. We often forget the heroism of the ordinary people around us.

We can also fail to see the value of our own actions. We may not feel that the little things we do are making that much of a difference. They make a big difference to those who are positively enriched by them! Let us keep on doing the good that we can do and let us continue to lift each other up in our prayers.

For some music “It Is Well with My Soul” by BYU Vocal Point.

Prayer: “God, Our Savior, fill our minds with Your wisdom, so that even the 'little' things we do during these unusual days, may be enriched by Your love. Amen.

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Gratitude


This past Sunday here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we gave thanks for our Parents and for 55 years of the educational ministry of our Nursery School. An online service can be found here, a transcript here.

In a time of disruption it easy to forget the many blessings that still surround us. As the quote above from Melody Beattie reminds us, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.” Here's a quick (in no particular order) list of ten blessings gratefully received.

1. Good Health (and health care). Even if your health isn’t great, it could be worse. The current crisis reminds us we are surrounded by angels in our health care systems to keep us alive!

2. Money in the Bank. Having just a few coins makes you richer than most people on Earth.

3. Good Friends. Often, it’s the quality of friendships, not the quantity. We can be friends at a distance!

4. Your Parents. Even if they were, or are, dysfunctional, they gave you life.

5. Pets. Pets offer one of the best examples of unconditional love.

6. Learning from Mistakes. If we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much, so it is definitely one of those things to give thanks for.

7. Music. If you can hum a tune that puts a smile on your face, then you have been blessed by the gift of music.

8. Breathing Fresh Air. Being able to step outside to breathe in fresh air is a great reminder of how many little things we should be thankful for.

9. A Bed to Sleep in. A bed is one of those things that’s easy to take for granted, until you don’t have one.

10. Laughter. Without laughter, the world would be a terribly sad place. They do say laughter is the best medicine of all.

And, truly, I could just keep on going and going and going. So make your own list. Make it 20, 30, 40 or more... An attitude of gratitude is never a bad thing to embrace! For some music “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord, O my soul ) by Matt Redman .

The Rev Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Focus from the Scriptures


It's been months now. How quickly things changed! Maybe we feel impatient, living in close quarters with family members, or frustrated with how others are responding to this pandemic. We long for normalcy.

Because of the pandemic and the precautions we are taking to prevent its spread, life has turned upside down. Schools and businesses are closed. Shelves in grocery stores are empty. Normal routines have been replaced with new ones. Social distancing is a reality. There are many unknowns and uncertainties. Church services are suspended.

This past Sunday here at Mount Hebron we had an online 'virtual' communion service. If you wish to celebrate with us a link can be found here.

I have found that more and more, during this time of challenge, I have needed to focus on God's Word. Here are some Scripture verses that I have found helpful during this time of quarantine. I pray they may also be a blessing to you. Read through them... and take the time to meditate upon them.

Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 46:1-2 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change…

Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice … The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 Peter 5-7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” -1 Peter 5-7

Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.

Isaiah 43:1-4 “I have called you by name, you are mine…you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Colossians 3:12-15 “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another… forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you… Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.

For further meditation, a musical setting of Psalm 91 by Esther Mui "My God, In Him I Will Trust."

However these days are finding you, I hope you will find comfort from God's Word.

Rev Adrian J. Pratt