Branching-Out

Autumn Prayer

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 24, 2021 6:00:00 AM

With autumn coming fast, pictures and other representations of pumpkins are populating the retail stores. Pumpkins are almost ready to be harvested from leafy gardens. Pumpkin-flavored everything can be found in numerous locations. It is fitting to present to you a prayer for autumn with pumpkins in mind!

Praise to you, God of the seasons!

Under the autumn sky, we behold your glory and artistic splendor.

Many are your beautiful creations

Perceived amid the colorful leaves and harvest miracles!

Keep us mindful of our own true colors as we

Image you, and show love and openness to our brothers and sisters,

Never forgetting your promise of eternal life with Jesus, your Son, and all the

Saints who sing of your unending mercy and love. Amen.

 

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, autumn prayer

About a Boat

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 20, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A friend of mine, Mary, was taking a course in spiritual direction many years ago. She asked me if I would let her do a practice session with me. We had had talks of a spiritual nature in the past, so I was happy to oblige.

We met and she asked me to try to visualize an encounter with Jesus. It wasn’t long before I could see, in my imagination, Jesus with me. We were in a rowboat, and Jesus was smiling a wonderful smile as he rowed. Jesus certainly knows me and my love of words very well, and so I saw a connection right away: my maiden name is Rowan, so, of course, Jesus was rowin’ the boat in which I was the passenger!

To this day, I remember how safe and secure I felt with Jesus in control. There were no troubles, threats, or worries in the boat, just Jesus and me. There was no real destination, but just a quiet togetherness. The whole exercise is a treasured memory, with an image I can recall when anxieties creep into my consciousness. The boat did not sink, because Jesus was rowing.

We read in the Synoptic Gospels about Jesus falling asleep while a storm tosses the boat, and his companions think they all will perish. When they wake Jesus, he calms the waters and sternly questions the apostles about the whereabouts of their faith. Jesus has control in this boating adventure.

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Topics: Sharon Krause, Rely on Jesus

Same Numbers

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

How we use words and numbers evokes different responses and understanding. Let’s consider the numbers 9 and 1. If we call 9-1-1 on the telephone, we are calling for help in an emergency or accident situation. When we solemnly recall the horrific events of 9/11, we remember the terrible terrorist attacks that claimed so many innocent lives. However, there are at least 11 instances in the various books of the Bible that present hopeful messages when we check out 9:11that is, chapter 9, verse 11. I will show you what I mean.

In Deuteronomy 9:11, we read that after 40 days and 40 nights, Moses received the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. Even though Moses would fling those tablets in anger at the sinning Israelites, we do see that God was seeking a covenant with his people. God gives us many second chances and wants relationship with us. That should inspire hope in all of us.

In Nehemiah 9:11, we are reminded of how God divided the Red Sea so the Israelites were able to pass and get away from the Egyptians who had enslaved them. Again, we see a reason for hopefulness.

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Topics: hope, hope and promise, Sharon Krause, hope in God

Compete

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 7, 2021 6:00:00 AM

From the time children are quite young, they learn about competition. They play board games, sidewalk games, school playground games, and learn that there are winners and losers. As the children grow older, the competition becomes more varied and intense. This year, the Olympics reminded us of the joy and persistence of competition on many levels.

There are many rewards when we compete: trophies, certificates, money, notoriety, excitement, records to break, attention, self-satisfaction, and titles. Many athletes try to just beat their own best performance whenever they compete. From retailers’ points of view, advertising is a means of competing for consumers’ business. 

While competition challenges us to put forth our best performances, it can also be overwhelming. Rivalry and egocentricity can cause some sinful tendencies. As in most areas of life, extremes can be sources of temptation. Balance in life is always a finish line for which to strive.

Fortunately, we don’t have to compete for God’s love. For example, we read in the book of Deuteronomy,

   For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty

   and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for

   the orphan and the widow, and who lives the strangers, providing them food and

   clothing. (10:17-18)

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, growing in faith, growing in love

Amazing!

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 1, 2021 6:00:00 AM

This time of year, I like to take rides on country roads and look for little hints of color changes in the trees. I love the season of autumn, especially here in New England,  and usually wait impatiently for stores to start displaying fall-themed products. To me, it is amazing how Creator God has equipped nature with such beautiful colors and the chemistry to realize them. It is all very pleasing to the eye.

But amazement goes a lot farther than color hitting the eye. True amazement cuts to our very core and can be life changing. Jesus, the Creator’s Son, filled many people with awe and amazement and astounded his followers over and over again when he walked among them. His miracles, teaching, and actions captured their rapt attention.

Particularly in the Gospel of Mark we read many examples of how Jesus inspired awe. In at least 13 verses we read words such as astounded, awe, and amazement. In Mark 15:5 we read that even Pilate was amazed.

My question is, do we take the time to be amazed at all the positive realities around us these days? Every time I turn on a newscast, there is mostly bad news, especially related to the pandemic virus and its variants. People’s reactions to limitations and mandates take up so much of their energy and time.

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Topics: appreciation, gratitude, Sharon Krause

Reception Challenges

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 13, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I still remember the phone call. My husband and I had just moved into our first apartment together, and I had the landlord on the phone. That was before cable TV, so people were dependent upon roof antennae and rabbit ears for their television reception. I was complaining to the landlord that every time trucks or heavy traffic passed by our abode the television picture would go kaflooey. The landlord said I should go out and buy a big box of nails and throw the nails onto the road surface outside the apartment. Of course, I did not follow his tongue-in-cheek suggestion.

I got to thinking about what can cause interference and poor reception in our spiritual life. Just as antennae reach upward, it is important for us to seek out God’s voice, to extend ourselves beyond ourselves, to reach out for the connection. A verse in the book of Lamentations encourages us:

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him…. (3:25) 

And the book of Deuteronomy says,

From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. (4:29)

We also have a promise in the book of Proverbs:

          I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. (8:17)

We can conclude that we have to be willing and active seekers of the Lord. So laziness or distractions can certainly slow down or inhibit our reception of God’s communication with us.

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Topics: listening to God, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, daily prayer, seek the Lord

Words

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 9, 2021 6:00:00 AM

   Therefore, O Lord, we humbly implore you:

   by the same Spirit graciously make holy

   these gifts we have brought to you for consecration,

   that they may become the Body and Blood

   of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ,

   at whose command we celebrate these mysteries.

When I hear the priest say this prayer at Mass, I see a touch of irony in the word “command.” At the Last Supper, after Jesus changed the bread and wine into his Body and Blood, he told the apostles, Do this in memory of me.” That was the command. To me, that is like saying, “Win the top prize,” or, “Realize your best possible dream,” or, “Enjoy complete health and happiness.”

When I consider the word “command,” I think of an order—as in military service—or a strict rule I should follow. However, this “command” Jesus gave about repeating his action in remembrance of him, to me, has a different connotation. It is like being blessed and given life-saving sustenance with what outwardly appear to be simple bread and wine. How grateful we should all be for such a command.

By doing what Jesus did at the Last Supper, we are fed the very flesh and blood of our Savior. And he did not make it complicated. He turned a Jewish observance of Passover with a dozen guests into a feast that has been celebrated almost every day of the year by countless followers! How joyful we should be to have that command from Jesus!

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Topics: celebration of the Eucharist, Last Supper, body and blood of Christ, bread of life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, Holy Communion

Olympics of Love

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 4, 2021 6:00:00 AM
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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, daily prayer, Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Pillows and Prayers

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 30, 2021 6:00:00 AM

The other day, I was cleaning out and rearranging items in a closet in my upstairs hallway. My husband was helping because he is much taller than I. He was passing down to me things from the upper shelf, and he just kept handing me throw pillows. I realized that I have a very large number of these decorative pillows, but I chose not to give away or dispose of any of them because they help me to decorate for different seasons and holidays. Their variety gives me choices and opportunities for different looks in my living room.

Leave it to me to think about correspondences between prayers and such mundane objects as throw pillows. Please take a comfortable seat, maybe with assistance of a throw pillow, and keep reading.

In our ideal daily prayer routine, we probably pray certain prayers in the morning and before retiring at night. Throughout the day, even if we are busy, we certainly can offer up little prayers for different people or circumstances.

What is it about throw pillows that I like so much? For one thing, they can offer support for your back. They are movable and flexible enough to stuff behind you as you nestle in to watch a television show or share in a conversation. With this same idea of support, you can offer a short prayer at any time of day for someone in the midst of a struggle. If that person know that you are praying for him or her, I am certain your support is a comfort. It is good for a troubled people to know that someone “has their back.” Prayer is a proven good way to do that!

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, daily prayer

Ready and Waiting

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 26, 2021 6:00:00 AM

The young man who resides next door to my husband and me has something hanging from his car’s rear-view mirror that caught my eye. Instead of fuzzy dice (Remember those?), a set of rosary beads, or a shiny crystal ornament that refracts the sunlight, he has a face mask or two dangling in their protective glory. I am sure he doesn’t misplace his virus shield and even has a spare if he does. It hangs there ready and waiting to be of service.

Nowadays, when we enter a store, we often see a jar of hand sanitizer or a sanitary-wipe dispenser ready and waiting for germ-laden customers’ hands or shopping carriage handles.

Meanwhile, bags nestle on the back seat of our car ready and waiting to be filled with groceries or other purchases because the stores we visit now have to sell us new bags if we don’t supply our own or choose to somehow juggle our treasures to our car. In many cases, we are asked to pack our own purchases in the bags we have brought. Safety first!

Extra air-purifier machines are strategically placed to frequently recycle the air we breathe. These machines are in medical buildings for sure, but not exclusively.

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Topics: RENEW International, Sharon Krause, daily prayer, God is our help

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