Stephentown Federated Church

1513 Garfield Road, Stephentown, NY     518-733-5813

 

 

 

Stephentown Federated Church

1513 Garfield Road, Stephentown, NY

518-733-5813

 

 

Devotions by Bonnie & Music by Bev


September 2022




His Eye Is On The Sparrow

   (Play as you read the devotional.)


The Swaying Goldenrod


The Queens Ann Lace was swaying, so too the corn flowers, the green ferns, the cow corn, the pines, the oak, the poplar, the maple, the white birch, all swaying as I traversed through my afternoon walk on Avery Hand Road.

But wait, you can’t possibly have missed the greatest swaying of all - this late summer! That’s right the swaying Goldenrod. They are alive in glorious abundance this year! Around ponds, along roads, in meadows in back yards, their brilliant yellow shimmering, as the sun shines on them from a robins eff blue sky!

Certainly many stray away from the yellow flower because of allergies! However a principal benefit of this plant, as designed by the Creator, is to help many insects at a time when other flowers are no longer available. To some it is an important source of pollen, while to others the seeds and petals provide valuable food. Bees, butterflies, moths and others come to it, some even crawling into its flowers at night time to keep warm. Certainly we can relate to that in the last few nights.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 145:9 “the Lord is good to all and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Our God is good to all His creatures, but His care goes out to us with a special love, whether we are small or great. It is only through “His care and love that we live and have our being,” as we are told in Acts 17: 28.

I will always look at the abundance of the Goldenrod with a new heart. Our God cares over the goldenrod, so too we receive His love and care over each of us.

Blessings, bonnie


 

August 2022




Psalm of Stillness

   (Play as you read the devotional.)


The Empty Cup


This morning as I settled into my spot at church, I noticed my tiny communion cup from two weeks ago, was on the floor at my feet. I placed the cup in the hymnal holder. While driving home I realized I hadn’t gotten the cup out to throw it away. Yet by the time I reached home, that empty cup was speaking to me. I turned to my devotional book that a small group of us shared together in January to March, The Cup of Life. I opened to page 52, “The Empty Cup”, and I was blessed by the words and this tiny cup on the church floor.

“ The Spiritual path is a constant cycle of emptying and filling, of dying and rising, of accepting and letting go. The full cup is repeatedly emptied so that it can be filled again and again. This emptying happens in many ways. Sometimes I choose to be emptied of my fullness when I get involved in a situation where someone’s life asks for a lot of my time and energy. This emptying can be draining, but it might also be rewarding and satisfying because I have a sense of truly giving to another.

At other times, life empties my cup without ever asking my permission. Challenging, inconvenient, messy, struggling, frustrating experiences constantly empty me. I am also emptied when I choose to let go of my habits and behaviors that are harmful to myself and others.

While the process of emptying may be painful, it can also be growth-full. The empty times may feel useless, fruitless, and non-productive, but they are actually a means of our falling into the “immense depths” within ourselves where we see more clearly, learn to be less controlling, long more deeply for God, and touch life with greater reverence and gratitude. We enter into the deep realm inside of us that is filled with the mystery, awe and endless beauty of God. Emptiness is a gift that opens us further to the transforming power of God.”

I shall always remember how the empty cup at my feet, brought me to these words of encouragement.

Blessings, bonnie


 

Jul 2022






“ Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
God made their glowing colors,
and made their tiny wings.

The purple headed mountains,
the river sunning by the sunset and the morning that brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden:
God made them every one.
God gave us eyes to see them,
and lips that we might tell how great is God Almighty,
who has made all things well.”

 

Summer in the country!

One of my favorites things about summer, is sitting in my spot at church and feeling the gentle breeze coming through the open front doors. The sky is blue, with glorious white clouds gliding over the corn field across from the church. It’s country living at its best. Eckhart’s farm has its vegetable stand up. This years corn is delicious, and I just had my first BLT sandwich with tomato’s from the stand and lettuce from our garden. Every where I look Gods creation is on display, tiger lilies, yellow and ruby red finches at the feeder. Humming birds winds sing a tremble sound as they drink. The birds sitting in our lilac tree, spend the day preforming a symphony of music, and other birds in the back woods chine in as well.

I am humbled by the privilege of enjoying the beauty of Sunday afternoon, where I become part of God’s precious gift of life among all His wonderful creation. I am reminded of the words of a hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”



Amen. Blessings to you all, bonnie



Jun 2022




The Lords My Shepherd

   (Play as you read the devotional.)


 

I’m sitting on our back porch with Rick, humbled by the majesty of Gods grace surrounding us! A couple weeks ago I heard Rick mowing! A little while later he came in and said, “Lets sit out on the porch.” I wasn’t ready for the scene in our side yard. Rick has mowed, as only his heart would led him, creating paths encircling the yellow dandelions, the orange paint brushes, the little white and purple flowers. He called it our beautiful field. It has lasted almost three weeks and will soon be gone. It’s moments in our lives walking the paths through our “beautiful field,” that brings us closer to our God of creation.

Oh that daily we might give thanks to God for those little moments that come and forever find a spot in our hearts. I believe our God shines on us each day and if we are alive and awake to His glorious nature we find blessings that carry us through the challenges of the world. Amen.

Love and blessings Bev, bonnie


May 2022




The Fragrance of Christ

   (Play as you read the devotional.)




 

This past weekend we found the perfect chair, completing the fifth meditation spot on our four acres. Yes I have five meditation spots, each with their own sense of wonder. Each day I visit one or more. Since my retirement, I have found this daily devotion centers me in ways that calm, strengthen and bring me closer to God.

This week as I sat under the magnolia tree the fragrance of the flowers surrounding me and stilling me, I was reminded of Corinthians 2: 14-15. “But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along the Christs triumphal procession. Now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God.”

Oh that I might be like the fragrance of the magnolia flowers, the nearby Lilac blossoms, sharing with others the very fragrance of Christ love, that fills me in my quiet meditation spots. Many times in Scripture we hear that Christ spent time in meditation and prayer. In Luke 5: 16 – “But Jesus with drew to the wilderness for prayer.” Also in Mark 6: 45-46.

Jesus made sure he often withdrew to quiet, solitary places to pray. Many things clamor for our attention and we often run ourselves ragged attending to them. Like Jesus however we should take time to with draw to a quiet place to pray. Strength comes from God, and we can only be strengthened by spending time with Him.

Find your meditation spot, God will be waiting there for you.

Blessings my friends, bonnie


The Fragrance of Christ


Refrain: Lord, may our prayer rise like incense in your sight.
May this place be filled with the fragrance of Christ.

1. I will thank you, Lord, with all of my heart.
You have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels, I will bless you.
I will adore before your holy temple.

2. I will thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness and love,
beyond all my hopes and dreams.
On the day that I called, you answered;
you gave life to the strength of my soul.

3. All who live on earth shall give you thanks
when they hear the words of your voice,
and all shall sing of your ways:
"How great is the glory of God!"

 

April 2022




Hymn of Promise

   (Play as you read the devotional.)




 

Bursting


As I head out on my morning walk the mountains have been painted in brush strokes of pinkish red. The pine trees are the only trees which have not been touched, they are a deep vibrant green among the pinkish red oaks, birch and maple trees. Soon the pinkish red buds on the trees will burst into spring leaves.

In returning home I plant 108 seeds; a flat of 72 holding yellow squash, zucchini, peas, green beans cucumber’s, and winter squash. The other flat holding 36 Sun flower seeds. I placed each seed in a pellet of soil, watered and covered each flat. I placed the flats on the table in our sun room and waited.

Three days, yes three days later, seeds were bursting open in new life, shooting up and out of the soil. I transplanted each gracious gift of vegetables and flowers from God, in larger containers and placed them in my greenhouse. I couldn’t help but think of our Savior, three days buried, then bursting out into new life. New life for you and for me.

As we celebrate Easter and Christs resurrection bursting from the tomb after three days, we are humbled. Humbled by Gods transformative grace, restoration and eternal bursting life in Christ.

We are also graced by God’s bountiful creation bursting in are yards; daffodils, tulips, crocus’s, yellow forsythia bushes and more burst forth. Our spirits are lifted as we listen to the symphonies of God’s birds in the trees. Amen.

Love, bonnie


 

March 2022




Sanctuary

   (Play as you read the devotional.)


The sun is up earlier these days. I woke last week, looking out the bedroom window. I didn’t stir. Outside, along the tree line a young maple was transformed. It stood among the pines, clothed in orange leaves that have hung on all winter, blazing brilliantly in sun light, on fire in Gods amazing grace. Here in my back yard was a moment of God’s glorious blessing, His bright light welcoming me to the new day, in this place of sanctuary.

This week as I held our devotional pamphlet for Lent, the title struck me in ways I hadn’t imagined, “The Sanctuary for Lent.”

The first three days of our devotions has dealt with the presence of sanctuary in many places; in a church, in a Global sanctuary for Elephants, in the most sacred area of the Jewish temple, where the high priest encountered the presence of God. Danielle (writer of booklet) writes “to the psalmist the sanctuary is the “Shelter of the Most High. It is a place to take a deep breath when there is a threat and constant terror of destruction: It is a place to feel assured and affirmed, secure in the protection God offers. Whether it is a majestic church or a safe place from abuse, we all need sanctuary in our lives.”

Certainly in the last two weeks we have seen, through tearful eyes and broken hearts, the need for sanctuary as over two million Ukrainian’s have fled from terror. Many countries and people across the world have joined together to met their needs on their perilous journey, offering sanctuary.

This is a terrible situation and yet we see the promise of sanctuary being given to people in need, in all kinds of ways. Turn to March 4th’s Lenten devotion and re-read the psalmist’s message in chapter 91: 11-13.

May we each find a way to be a sanctuary of Gods grace and love, to others on their journey in life.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

bonnie



Sanctuary

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You

It is you, Lord
Who came to save
The heart and soul
Of every man
It is you Lord
Who knows my weakness
Who gives me strength
With thine own hand

Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and Holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving I'll be a living
Sanctuary for you

Lead Me on Lord
From temptation
Purify me
From within
Fill my heart with
You holy spirit
Take away all my sin

Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You

 

Feburary 2022





This Is My Father’s World

   (Play as you read the devotional.)


God’s Light

 

 

 

Last month I shared a story about having breakfast with our birds. Since then we’ve weathered through a North-Eastern Storm. Rick put up another ledge outside our windows over the sink. During the storm we had numerous new arrivals, over whelming me in their beauty. The purple finches described in my Petersons Field Guide, as “like a sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” Countless yellow and light brown-gold finch covered the ledges, while the cardinal couple, the Junco’s, Jays, nuthatches, chickadees and others waited their turns on the limbs of the Magnolia tree. Because it was so cold during the storm, all the birds have been puffing themselves out, showing off in new ways their regale palette of colors.

Then this morning, February 5th, the storm seemingly pasted, we stood watching the birds. Suddenly God chose to shine His light through the trees. The Magnolia tree was alive with hundreds of tiny lights, the limbs of the tree clothed in diamonds and crystals. Not only the Magnolia had been transformed, the Bean tree, the Oak tree, the Maple tree as well, all bathed in God’s light. As we stood looking out at the glory of Gods transforming light we too experienced our hearts bathed in God’s light.

In moments like these we find ourselves in a “thin place.” A “thin place” is when we experience God’s nearness in those uncluttered moments of our lives.

In Dr. Beverly Rose’s book “So Close, I can Feel Gods Breath” (experiencing his nearness in thin places) she writes, “God waits for us in thin places beckoning us to grasp the beauty of his handiwork – and reach out for the hand that made it. He breathes in our lives and hearts in miraculous ways, his mysterious stirrings as ubiquitous as radio waves invisibly reverberating within earshot-and often just as silent. Yet if we orient our internal antennae to the Divine, we may just discover what our eyes can see and our ears can hear.”

Oh my!!! As I go into our sunroom to send this off, the light of Gods creation is shining through the tall Pine trees along the side of our lawn. The tops of the pines glistening pure white, a blinding light. Another thin moment of Gods amazing grace. Amen.

Blessings, bonnie



 

January 2022





How Great Thou Art

   (play as you read the devotional.)


The Table

 

 

The Table - Well yes it's 0 degrees here, as I look out my back door. So no, I'm not going out for my morning walk. And so you could call me a wimp. I have opted for a breakfast with the birds, and no not outside on the back porch.  Rick has recently put a wooden ledge outside our double windows, each six feet high in the kitchen. Right above the new ledge is a bird feeder. We have four seed feeders out and two suet feeders. I sit by the windows nearly every day with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy endless flights of birds landing at our windows. This morning is no different even with 0 degrees, many are landing on the feeder, two or three at a time, and others on the wooden shelf. While I sat in my grandfathers rocking chair eating my oatmeal with bananas and dried cranberries, I realized I was “at table,” with our birds.

Each one sporting their own creative colors from their maker, our God. The blue jays tall, the color of the sky with white and black highlights, the tufted titmice with their gray winds and top hat, sporting an orange patch beneath their white bellies. The regal pair of cardinals, the male the brightest red ever from head to tip of tail. His mate light brown belly, darker brown feathers with red peeking out from her tail feathers. The Junco’s in their slate gray colored suit with a white belly. The nuthatches in their gray-blue feathers, white belly’s and black heads with long bills. Certainly the chickadees, sparrows, and morning doves fly in. Yet the most regal is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. A tall nine inch bird with an all red cap on its head and a zebra black and white back.

The branches of the magnolia tree reach out in front of these windows. The birds land on it branches, waiting their turn to feed. I am suddenly over whelmed. I thank God daily for these birds yet this morning I thank God for this blessed gift of community and a peace that has settled over me in the sacred time around table.

I am reminded of the stream of people coming down the isle to the table, to receive the cup and bread of life broken for you and me in Jesus’ name. Each person a colorful creation created by the same God who has brought these birds to the table at our windows. It is a humbling experience when we gather around the table, no matter where or with whom of God’s creation we join. Amen. Blessings bonnie

Blessings bonnie and bev

 


How Great Thou Art

Verse 1
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow’r thru-out the universe displayed!


Chorus
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!


Verse 2
When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze,


Chorus
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!


Verse 3
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in –
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin!


Chorus
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!


Verse 4
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!


Chorus
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!