Blog: Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen

May 28, 2020

Dear Friends, The President of the Montreat Conference Center, Richard DuBose, wrote in an emailed newsletter that our current situation feels like driving in the fog. We can only see a few feet ahead of us and if we turn our bright lights on, in an attempt to see further, it only makes things worse. I resonate with that sentiment.  As the information swirls around us – much of it conflicting and all of it evolving – decisions seem to be made best at a slow speed for only the few feet ahead of us. That is how I am approaching making decisions…

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A Message from Ellen

May 13, 2020

May 13, 2020 Dear Friends, In the last newsletter, I shared a word that helps me describe where we find ourselves.  We are currently in a liminal space.  That means that we are not where we were, and also not yet where we will be.  We know that life will not be the same going forward, but we don’t yet know exactly what the future looks like.  Liminal space can be good or bad but it is always unsettling.  In the case of the pandemic, the liminal space we are in is very stressful and, for many, filled with grief…

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Mother’s Day Offering

May 4, 2020

Mother’s Day has traditionally meant a special offering in our church to support the ministry of Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina (PCSC), which serves older adults at 6 retirement communities across the state. Eric Skidmore and Bick Halligan, two PCSC Trustees, participated in a Zoom call to promote the Mother’s Day offering. Click here to watch the video conference.   The Mother’s Day Offering provides charitable care to residents who have outlived their life’s savings due to old age or costly medical bills, so that they can continue to call PCSC “home.” Although our church cannot gather for worship due…

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A Message from Ellen

April 29, 2020

Dear Friends, There is a great word to describe where we find ourselves right now – liminal space.  To be in a liminal space means that we are no longer where we were, and it is clear that we are not yet where we will be.  To be in a liminal space is to have one door close and to find ourselves in a hallway with no other door open and no clear sense of which way to go.  Liminal spaces are almost never comfortable.  Sometimes we choose a liminal space, as when we graduate from school without a firm…

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A Message from Ellen

April 15, 2020

April 15, 2020 Dear Friends, Our faith teaches this very odd thing, that suffering can be redemptive.  We say that it was, in some way that we cannot fully understand, the suffering of Christ that allowed God to enter into our own suffering and to redeem or use our sin and suffering to save us – to make us holy.  And anyone who has tried to follow Christ for more than a week, knows that this process of “being saved” or made holy is not a quick trip.  It takes a lifetime of suffering and redemption to move us, even…

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Nightly Prayer – April 14, 2020

April 14, 2020

Teach me, O God, so to use all the circumstances of my life todaythat they may bring forth in me the fruits of holiness rather than the fruits of sin. Let me use disappointment as material for patience;Let me use success as material for thankfulness;Let me use suspense as material for perseverance;Let me use danger as material for courage;Let me use reproach as material for longsuffering;Let me use praise as material for humility;Let me use pleasures as material for temperance;Let me use pains as material for endurance. Author: John Baillie Source: The Oxford Book of Prayer. Edited by George Appleton.…

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In the Darkness

April 14, 2020

By Jim Rowell Isaiah 42:16-20 John 9:1-41 Since Childhood Helen Keller grew up blind, deaf and unable to speak. Yet, through the patient work of one dedicated person, Helen was able to make a meaningful contribution to the world through her writing, teaching and inspirational example. In her autobiography, Keller records the endless days of anticipation and despair, waiting for someone to draw her out. Then she describes the day she first met the person who would do just that; life-long friend and teacher, Anne Sullivan. She writes: “Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it…

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Christ Is Alive!

April 12, 2020

Martin Luther King was assassinated ten days before Easter in 1968.  The impact of his life and teachings extended far beyond the United States.  Hymn author Brian Wren (b. 1936) was serving at the time in a church in the United Kingdom.  As he prepared for Easter services in 1968, he was dismayed that none of the Easter hymns in the hymnal said what he wanted to say to his congregation in light of King’s death.  So he penned these words to offer Easter hope in response to tragedy. Christ is alive!  Let Christians sing.  The cross stands empty to…

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Prayer for Easter Sunday

April 12, 2020

by Jill Duffield, Presbyterian Outlook editor PRAYER FOR EASTER SUNDAY Alleluia, a new day dawns, all we thought God-forsaken and dead pulses with divine life and light. Risen Lord, we went to the graveyard expecting to mourn and attend to the rituals of death, but instead discovered the tomb empty and your living presence. God’s power to reverse and upend our greatest fears and assumed intractable realities shock us and all we can do is shout for joy. Amen.

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In The Cross of Christ I Glory

April 11, 2020

This hymn text is written by Sir John Bowring (1792-1872), a Unitarian world traveler who could reportedly converse in 100 different languages.  The title of this hymn was engraved on his tombstone. In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o’er the wrecks of time; All the light of sacred story gathers round its head sublime. We tend to associate the cross with darkness, but this hymn is full of references to light.  The cross, which has outlasted and outshone all civilizations, is the focal point of hope for all generations.  As an extensive world traveler, the hymn author would…

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Holy Week – Holy Saturday

April 11, 2020

by Jill Duffield, Presbyterian Outlook editor PRAYERS FOR HOLY WEEK When all hope is lost and we see no way for goodness to overcome evil, God, come to our aid. When darkness overwhelms us and paralyzing uncertainty fells us, God, come to our side. When the liminal space between cross and resurrection feels eternal, God, come abide with us. Amen.

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Nightly Prayer – April 10, 2020

April 10, 2020

Dear God, This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! You, Lord, are not far from us. You promise not to forsake us, and as we enter the weekend, we ask for a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. May the Spirit descend upon each of us in a time of anxiety, nervousness, and uncertainty. Through the flesh of Jesus Christ, a new way, a new life was opened to us. Jesus Christ, born in flesh, humbled in body and spirit; Jesus Christ, the one who extended his hand to those on…

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Beneath The Cross of Jesus

April 10, 2020

Scottish hymn writer Elizabeth Clephane (1830 –1869) lost both her parents when she was very young.  She was in frail health most of her life.  In spite of her illnesses, Elizabeth joined her sister in caring for the poor and sick in their community.  Both women gave away most of their earthly belongings.  Miss Clephane composed this much-beloved Lenten hymn shortly before she died, but unfortunately didn’t live long enough to hear it put to music. Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand, the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land; A home within…

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Holy Week – Good Friday

April 10, 2020

by Jill Duffield, Presbyterian Outlook editor PRAYERS FOR HOLY WEEK God whose giving knows no end, today your Son goes to the cross in our stead and for the sake of the world. He utters forgiveness with his last breath, unwilling to succumb to vengeance or hate. As we contemplate his sacrifice, we pray for the faith to imitate his endless compassion and unfathomable mercy. Amen.

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Nightly Prayers – April 9, 2020

April 9, 2020

First Prayer Dear God, As the day comes to a close, we are reminded of the command to love one another as you love us. We give you thanks for that love. Just as Jesus extended a hand to others, you call us to serve. For those in our hospitals, in our assisted living facilities, in our airports, in our grocery stores, we give you thanks for their hands. For their ears. For putting themselves out there. And for all others, Lord, who cannot work from home, who serve in other ways, thank you. Our world is hurting. A world…

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