“In His great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3)


 snowdrops - blog

I must say that I wasn’t looking forward to Winter this past Fall when I considered the Winters of the previous two years. What with record low temperatures, lots of snow and wind, freezes and thaws, Alberta Clippers and Polar Vortexes all combining to keep us on our toes. That brought a record number of water main breaks and many folks had to deal with frozen pipes in their homes. As Autumn gave way to Winter a few months ago, I thought to myself, “Could it be Winter again so soon?” When the projections came in for a milder Winter, I couldn’t have been more hopeful it would be true.


We got away pretty easily this past Winter. It played out just as the computer models said it would. And now Winter is giving way to Spring! Hurray! Spring is just another gift of God’s grace that lifts my spirits in wonderful ways. Spring never ceases to amaze me as the days get longer and the trees bud out and new life springs forth all around. And in the midst of it all, hope abounds.


As I left the parsonage the other day to make my way to the office, the above pictured flowers greeted me. I stopped to take a closer look. Less than two days before, the ground was still covered in snow. Although the snow had melted, the ground is just covered with matted down leaves and sticks and debris placed there by various storms. Even still, the mighty little snow drops pushed their way through it all, standing tall amongst the debris making a statement about life itself. The word that came to mind was hope.


As I gave thanks to God for the beautiful day and the moment of insight, I couldn’t stop thinking of Jesus, the Resurrection, and the hope that it brings. That even in the midst of what seems to be certain uncertainty, we have hope. When conventional wisdom tells us it isn’t so, we have hope. When we find ourselves in that place, feeling piled on by the debris of life, in Christ, we have hope. Hope to rise again. Hope to rise above it all.


Hope to stand tall in the midst of the challenges of life.

God Is Love

God Is Love

“Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1)

 cactus heart 3

           Scripture is loaded with stories of events that took place in the wilderness. The word “wilderness” conjures up images of a wild and uncultivated land, like a desert where only wild animals live. It’s not typically the kind of place where one would want to be led by the Spirit. And yet, that’s exactly where the Spirit leads Jesus after he is baptized in the Jordan River.

            Last year I took a trip to Arizona and spent some time in the desert wilderness. It was a stark, remote place that was stunning and beautiful in its own right. It is a risky place where one can get into trouble if certain precautions aren’t taken. One must literally pay attention to each and every step you take as you journey through it. But as you get to that place of keen awareness, you are opened to a truly glorious place where you sense the closeness of God. There is something about the stark, isolated nature of the land that just makes you feel closer to God.

            The Hebrew word for wilderness ismidbar. The root meaning of midbaris “speakʻ or “word.” Most who has been through the wilderness experience will share that the presence of God seem close in the midst of that experience. One could easily conclude that God speaks to us through the wilderness experience. The writers of our sacred scriptures sure felt so.

            My wilderness experience last year brought me up close and personal with this prickly pear cactus in the high Sedona Desert. It was truly amazing to stumble upon this “disfigured” cactus in the midst of my desert sojourn. I felt so loved by the “One” who created it all. As the season of Lent unfolds, I pray that you have the opportunity to spend some quiet time in the “wilderness” with God. You never know what you might stumble upon.

Christmas Letter 2015

P1260805Christmas 2015

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.      

(Philippians 4:4-7)


One of the greatest joys of the Christmas season is getting cards and letters from folks we don’t usually hear from. These people may be friends or relatives whom we’ve had a close relationships with in the past, but with whom we’ve become separated from due to life circumstances. A dear friend of mine and I parted company 12 years ago as I was sent to a new church and he moved to Wisconsin. And due to our various busy schedules, we don’t get to see each other that often. What a joy it is to receive a letter from him at Christmas. I really look forward to hearing from him and what is going on in his world.

            It always brightens my day because no matter what the letter says, I am transported back in my mind to the times we were together. He was such a great friend and a positive influence in my life. He was my first mentor in pastoral ministry and he ended up becoming a life long friend. It takes a special person to be able to do that. One who is relational and other-centric from the get-go. He was a person confident in his own skin, yet he never allowed that confidence to make him arrogant. The joy I experienced in his presence I feel today when I have that letter in my hands.

            It’s truly a special gift when someone takes the time to write to someone they care about. The process of giving and receiving a letter has caring written all over it. First comes the gathering of pen and paper or computer keyboard. Then thoughts come to mind of the person you are writing to and what you want to say. You go about your task of choosing the right words to convey your caring. Then reviewing what you wrote to make sure your thoughts transferred to the text. For the one receiving- the anticipation that comes from hearing from someone you care about. You open the letter or e-mail and read the contents. You take your time and digest each word all the while pondering what it says and what the person means to you. It truly is one of the greatest things we can give to or receive from someone we care about.

            I can imagine what the Philippians must have felt when they received this letter from Paul. From the contents of the letter it seems as though Paul really loved them. Within it we find love, compassion, vulnerability and encouragement written all over it. Paul’s caring for them is plainly evident. I wonder if they felt the same joy and anticipation I felt when I received my letter from my friend in Wisconsin? Did they, like I feel transported back in their minds to the time when Paul was in ministry with them side by side almost ten years prior? Were they willing to receive the advice and encouragement he had for them to face the challenges he was addressing?

            One thing I do know is its truly a gift that this letter has been preserved through the ages that we might read it and ponder anew Paul’s words as Advent gives way to Christmas. May we allow the peace of God, which transcends all understanding to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. May that peace arise above the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season. May God’s peace settle our hearts and minds despite the anxious times we live in. And may our hearts be thankful, rejoicing in the Lord always.    

Analysis Paralysis

Dec 4 blog photo

            Another day, another mass shooting in our land. How discouraging! When we look at the collective upset in our nation and in our world, it’s easy to become numb to these events and label them as such; just events that don’t really impact us, of course until they do. I must admit when I consider the complexity of the challenges we face, I find hope in the words of Isaiah in the 25th chapter starting at the 6th verse:

            On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation! For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain. (NRSV)

            The season of Advent speaks of a time of waiting but also a time to prepare. When taken together it is a time of active waiting, where we can’t allow the complexity of our challenges to keep us from acting. A great place to start would be to engage one another and be agents of healing, where we awaken hope, restore dignity, and give and receive forgiveness. As disciples of Christ, are we not called to do exactly this?

Count Your Blessings

blog 4Thanksgiving is a great time of year to get together with family and friends and celebrate all the blessings in our lives. It’s so easy to give thanks to the Lord for blessings of family, a bountiful harvest of plenty, safe harbor, heath, long life, etc. But I came across this list of “blessings” which I think we ought to consider giving thanks for.


~Give Thanks (A Different Kind of List)~

For Not Having:

            Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would you look forward to?

For lacking knowledge:

            Be thankful for when you don’t know something. For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

For difficult times:

            Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.

For limitations:

            Be thankful for your limitations. They give you opportunities for improvement.

For challenges:

            Be thankful for each new challenge. It will build your strength and character.

For mistakes made:

            Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.

For exhaustion:

            Be thankful when you are tired and weary. Because it means you made the effort.

For setbacks:

            It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

For troubles:

            Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings.


This list comes from deep within my files and unfortunately- the author is unknown. So if anyone reading this knows who penned this, please notify us so we can give proper credit. Whoever it was, I give thanks for its content which helps us to truly distinguish the depth and breadth of the abundant life that God has in store for us!

Autumn Blessings

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims Godʼs handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19)

 matt blog oct 2015

What a truly marvelous time of year to live in the village of Westfield. There is something about Autumn that truly stirs my soul. Be it the beautiful warm weather we’ve been having, or the magnificent color of the countryside, or the smell of concords wafting through the air, or the harvest itself, where one senses urgency, purpose and gratitude all mixed into one, or a combination of all these things! Autumn touches me in a way that no other season does.


On a recent Sabbath day, I mounted my bike and headed into the hills surrounding the area. The harvest is in full swing and those I encountered working the machinery had nothing but smiles and waveʼs for me. The sunshine was bright but there was a crispness in the air. The wind blew gently, stirring up the leaves that had already fallen to the ground. I had to maneuver my bike to miss the large Black Walnuts that had fallen from the trees into the street. Two lake freighters plying the waters in the distance caught my attention bringing to mind a vastness that goes well beyond our little village. Yet as I took all this in, I couldn’t help but sense the order to it all. Humanity working in conjunction with the firmament that God had created. Not fighting the created order, but working within it. And what a beautiful thing it was.


As I took it all in, there was no denying the presence of God in and through and around it all. There was no speech, nor were there words, but the creative power of God was obvious, and through and around it all. There was no speech, nor were there words, but the creative power of God was obvious, and everywhere on display. How truly blessed we are to be alive and part of it.

Maybe, just maybe…..

NYC 2015     What a beautiful day this September 11th is. The sunshine is absolutely beautiful- blue skies with nary a cloud in sight. Temperatures in the mid-Seventies- the kind of day that I love so much. On days like today, it is easy to thank God for the beautiful world that has been given to us to live in. How ironic that on this day 14 years ago, on a carbon copy weather-type day such as this one, the beauty of that day was completely shattered by the violence and hatred of humanity against itself. Who can forget the
horror of that day?

Those who have eyes …….see

P1410415Recently, while sitting at the desk in the parsonage office, I gazed out the window as I waited for the printer to do its job. I quickly noticed how tall the bushes had gotten with all the rain that we have been having. As my gaze intensified and clarity of sight increased, I saw a beautiful bird in the midst of it all staring intently back at me.It was waiting for me to make my next move. I sat motionless for a while looking straight at it, admiring God’s handiwork right in front of my nose. Read more…