Grace in the World

This year, wherever you are, at home or traveling, you'll come across moments of grace. Something that feels like a gift, a wink from God, or just good news. Maybe you'll snap a picture with your phone, or take back something from the experience. Submit your photo HERE. We share these moments of grace from this year in this space.

Slideshow image

EMPATHY

A sign (attached to a utility pole in DC)

A sign from God that, while all may not be right in Ukraine at the moment, each of us can continue to look up & pray for peace. Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Walking the dog at sunset

Walking the dog at sunset, saw a group of dogwood blossoms that reminded me of a congregation: some of us budding, others in full bloom, some... well our petals don't stretch as far as they used to! How graceful that we all bloom uniquely in God's love, each one covering where another petal ends, with plenty of overlap in between. Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Taking a moment

Taking a moment to appreciate those who serve through the eyes of a 6 year old.

Anonymous

Slideshow image

No one hurt

On June 8, the condo building in Jones Court, next door and behind GLC caught fire. One of the units belonging to an elderly couple was completely gutted. In responding to the fire the DCFD took out a portion of the church’s back fence. The first and most important act of God’s Grace was that no one was hurt in the fire.  The second act of grace was that neither GLC nor any other adjacent property was significantly impacted by the fire, with the lone minor exception of our fence behind the fellowship hall.

Mark R.

Slideshow image

Burrito Making

GLC finding grace in service to others.

Todd R.

Slideshow image

Rainbow of colorful flowers

 A nearby bridal shop on Wisconsin Ave often has notable storefront displays. Descriptions of the current one might include “a rainbow of colorful flowers… celebrating diversity & pride… a gorgeous spectrum of blossoms.” A quote by the late English poet John Keats could grace this scene as well: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. Amen.   

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Beautiful stained glass

Beautiful stained glass window at the Latvian Lutheran Church in Rockville, Maryland.

Anonymous

Slideshow image

Hospitality Abroad

 Hospitality abroad. Walking the Dingle Way in Ireland, I stayed at a B&B where our gracious host offered to take me to Sunday mass. It was in Gaelic, but the familiar contour of the liturgy was welcomed me. And so were a few poignant lines of the pastor's sermon spoken in English. As he greeted me and asked my name (Christopher) at the door, he declared "Christ-bearer!" and I replied, "yes, and only because Christ bears me, and bears with me." We bonded and he reached into his pocket, handed me a beaded crucifix and allowed me this warm photograph of luminous welcome. I learned later that he had been a teacher and married and when he became widowed, entered seminary and the priesthood to be a blessing again! Surely to me that day. 

Chris W.

Slideshow image

We the People

A gargantuan US Flag displayed over the central courtyard of a hotel—a poignant reminder that whether as a congregation, community, or country “We the People” all play a role in our collective success toward a healthier future. JFK may have said it best (in Jan 1961): “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

God's amazing grace

Sharing in the joy of spending some time with this cutie- Mileila, my Goddaughter McKayla's little one. She was a rainbow baby, so every time I see her I'm reminded of God's amazing grace.

Jill S.

Slideshow image

The gift of renewal

This large ball of wound rubber bands was spotted at a store service-desk... LORD, often we stretch ourselves thin to keep it all together: work responsibilities, relationships, bills, home chores, etc. Thank You for the grace of Sabbath, encouraging us to take time to relax and embrace self-care, in effect “rewinding” ourselves in your Love, so we may share this gift of renewal with others. Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Ressurection

This is a resurrection lily from GLC's garden. Each year its leaves sprout in the spring and die back in June. Then in mid-summer, the flowers spring dramatically from the ground on a bare stalk. Its passage from apparent death to surprising life reminds me of a similar story.

Pat H.

Slideshow image

Thank you Jesus

One Sunday morning I walked by a scrap on the sidewalk. After a dozen steps, my conscience told me to witness it, so I snapped a cellphone pic, then proceeded to church. Viewing it later, I realized the frame captured red spray paint; a trodden oak leaf; perpendicular sidewalk slab joints; and the scrap piece of cardboard with one and a half words…which filled me with three: “Thank You, Jesus.” Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Courageous Faith

A white rose in my mother’s flower bed was in peak bloom during a recent summer visit. Along with a central red heart, black cross, and a circling ring of gold—this flower symbolizes Martin Luther’s pure and courageous Faith, which has now blossomed for more than five centuries in Christian ministries around the world. Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Hello!

In early May a young squirrel, no bigger than a stick of butter, scurried by on the fire escape. I gently tapped on the window, and he just stood up—tiny paws on the sill—as if to say: “HELLO!” Although he probably had not slept in a cave for three nights prior to our encounter, he was certainly the most AWAKE squirrel I’ve ever met. Amen. 

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Acorns!

Life’s tough for an acorn; after monoecious pollination amongst spring oak blossoms, they grow for 6-18 months on the branch, ripen, and fall to the ground. Then, if not carried away or consumed by wildlife, they have a very scant chance of rooting in a spot with favorable elements to grow into a sapling. The MORAL: Better to ‘BE LEAF’ than be nuts! Ecclesiastes 3 and… Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Blossom with Joy

For every living cell that grows, multiplies, and joins others to blossom with Joy...

Thank You LORD. Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Letting Go

Note to Self: Sometimes you need to let go… of anger, frustration, hurt, disappointment, fear, phobias, control (but no, NOT the steering wheel!) and just trust God is shaping, molding you into the person you are supposed to be—both for yourself, and as a gift in others' lives. As the last line in the poem “Desiderata” (Max Ehrmann, 1927) states: ‘Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.’ Amen.

Jim S. 

Slideshow image

Autumn Foliage

A tree displaying autumn foliage near the Tenleytown neighborhood in early October. LEADERSHIP: it’s not necessarily about being an early adopter, oldest, wisest, loudest, or even the most respected. It IS about being willing and able to encourage others to be the best THEY can be. Look up to Jesus Christ for a prime example… Hallelujah! Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Berries are the SAME

Interesting… how green BERRIES, and white BERRIES, and purple BERRIES, and blue BERRIES, found on the SAME plant, deriving energy from the SAME sun rays photosynthesizing in the SAME leaves, are fed by the SAME rainwater absorbed by the SAME root system rising up the SAME stem at the SAME time?! In the name of our heavenly Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: WE CAN. DO BETTER. NOW. Shalom Aleichem + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Ladybug

A lady-bug wandering across the back porch... Although the “Future” may sometimes feel like a heavy door handle that’s difficult to turn – shifting focus on the current moment might allow more HAPPINESS into our hearts, by accepting God’s grace for Today. Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

God's Grace

We can forgive others, just as we are able to say: “I am sorry.” We may cultivate flowers over proliferating weeds; we sound better singing praise, rather than shouting condemnation. We could choose to wage + Peace. We have food to provide for the hungry, building space to shelter the cold, medical care for the sick, and time to comfort the forlorn. YES, God has already given us GRACE; WE are allowed to ACCEPT it. Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

INRI

Two perpendicular hash marks, highlighted by orange spray paint, were recently etched in a sidewalk by property line or underground utility surveyors. But, that was not my INITIAL impression… either. John 19:17 & 37. INRI + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Gaggle of Geese

A small gaggle of geese resting on city grass... Some "search" results become available only when we STOP typing, clicking, turning pages, or channel surfing; LOOK up for a moment of calm stillness and natural light; and LISTEN to our... Peace be with you + Amen

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Christmas Carols

After Thanksgiving comes Advent, and with it... Christmas CAROL season! As we wait, and hopefully make a little space in our day for prayer & reflection--in the morning, after a meal, or before bedtime--this holiday MUSIC also reminds us of wintertime, fun, and the arrival of the Holy family. SO, come all ye faithful, SING with joy to the world--IT is WELL, with your Soul. Psalm 95:2 * Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Lord's Creatures

There's something STARTLING, invigorating about standing face-to-face with another of the LORD's creatures... at which point one might consider a couple options: walk on with cautious reverence (for, in this case, a three-point rack of antlers); or, gently GRASP a cellphone/camera and pray for a still moment of GRACE. Gen 1:25 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Look for Light

Holiday decor & "fountains" @The Wharf near D.C. waterfront. It's dark by 5pm these days, SO look for Light...-heartedness: a goofy selfie with a friend; a post-rock concert SMILE from your teenager; dancing in warm socks & pajamas in the living room, having a pillow fight (Achtung! Watch the Tree) Hmm, I wonder if St. Joseph, needing to change the "Holy nappie" in the manger, ever got surprised WITH...a "wet beard"?! Ahh, original Christmas "dad-joke" JOY! Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Hope, Peace, Joy

A baby bib ILLUMINATED by a night-light... The hope, peace, and joy of Advent culminates with the Nativity of Jesus, who came into the world as a newborn infant, Holy yet--LIKE all of us--wholly dependent on HIS Mother's and Fathers' unconditional LOVE. "Let ev'ry heart, prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing!" * Hallelujah. 

Jim S.

Slideshow image

The Brightest Light

The planet Jupiter often appears as one of the brighter objects in the night sky. During this Christmas season, let's pray for Jesus' love to become the brightest light in our own hearts (Mat 5:16) "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." * Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Autumn sunset's rays

An autumn sunset's rays brilliantly reflecting off a mirror on the wall... When the magi visited Bethlehem in the first "anno domini" two millenia ago, one can only imagine how baby Jesus -- the Light of the World in swaddling clothes -- appeared to them. * Mat 2:10... 1 Cor 13:12 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Jesus Loves You

To all the wonderful, patient sock darners, loose hem stitchers, hoodie sweatshirt restringers, Christmas light untanglers, clogged drain clearers, scuffed shoe polishers, button sewers, "holy" pant-knee & sleeve-elbow patchers... and general fixer-uppers, WE sing: "Jesus LOVEs YOU this I know, for the Bible tells me so!" John 15:9-12 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

A Snowy Bush

A snowy bush... been there, done that?! Though a simple winter landscape, its ILLUMINATION stands out; were it not FOR the snow, we might miss the sun's rays reaching past shadows to caress the Earth, opening OUR eyes to the beauty found in many common places. Next time you venture out in the morning or late afternoon during some frosty winter white, stop to PRAISE what's bright! Eph 5:8-14 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Soup

SOUP: a "Simple, One Under-lauded Pot" meal & board game night = friendly Fellowship, plus a warm, satisfied tummy! If you missed it this January, don't worry: whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not, it will return to a "Great Local Church" near you! + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

JFK Memorial

JFK Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery. Our 35th President summarized mankind's perpetual struggle against four common enemies: Tyranny, Poverty, Disease, and War. All too often we witness new reasons to PRAY FOR the peaceful rise of democracy, sustained social equality, the availability of medical services, and stronger diplomatic COMMUNICATION... What if we all truly embraced the teaching OF Jesus CHRIST and his disciples? James 2:8 + + + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Quiet Sunlit Moments

In the quiet, sunlit moments, without the music, prayers, children's voices of worship, you can pause to reflect on the commitment made to this place by those before us.

Christine W.

Slideshow image

Great Art

In the pre-performance stillness, the Kennedy Center hums with anticipation of great art to come.

Christine W.

Slideshow image

Devotion

DEVOTION... to sunrise; to Earth; to music; to silence; to family; to friendships; to animals; to exercise; to work; to reading; to calm; to contemplation; to empathy; to repentance; to forgiveness; TO Grace; to charity; to prayer; to scripture; to Faith + OUR LORD's sacrifice. Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

The Joy of Faith

White roses arranged like the Luther Seal. Prof. at the Univ. of Wittenberg (1508) & author of the "95 Theses" (1517) that initiated the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther translated the Latin/Greek Bible texts into German (1521-34), and died in Eisleben, DE on Feb. 18, 1546. The rose's sky-blue background symbolizes that the joy of FAITH in the spirit is the beginning of our heavenly joy to come: anticipated by HOPE, but not yet revealed to us. Rom 10:10-11 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

God's Greater Creation

A crocus emerging around Leap Year. While many of these perennial, pre-Spring flowers are violet with white veins, this one had an opposite/complementary color scheme, an example from nature of how EACH individual develops in unique ways as part of God's greater CREATION. A related Zen-Shin adage: "A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just BLOOMS." Gen 1:12, 2:8 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

St. Patrick's Day

On St. Patrick's Day, the duo of Pat & Dorothy shared their harmonious harp & mellifluous flute in a wonderful program of Irish tunes, bringing the healing power of music into the sanctuary... of our hearts. Psalm 96:1 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Moments

Our magnolia tree on 3/17, as its BEAUTIFUL bloom fades... Once in a while we experience MOMENTS that we wish might last much longer: a child's first words & steps; the initial taste of a delicious, new recipe; the toss of a graduation cap; a parent laughing heartily with us about a shared memory; OR others... like Jesus praying in the Mt. Olives garden, before His arrest. But the show -- LIFE -- must go on; and the Passion, Crucifixion, & Resurrection have to be told again... FOR all our SOULS' sakes. John 21:25 + Amen.

 

Jim S.

Slideshow image

New Life

Early in the morning, the outside world exists in black and white, as if awaiting the sun to provide its colors. We also wait this week for new life. 

Christine W.

Slideshow image

Grace with everyone

It can be difficult to feel like a demographic minority, or in any other context; pangs of loneliness / inferiority easily creep into one's inner ear. All of us can improve efforts to broaden the scope of what's considered "normal"; lower the "burden of proof" we place upon others; and be more accepting of our neighbors "as is." Reflecting on JESUS' greatest commandments (Mat 22:36-39) may allow us to have more GRACE with everyone... including ourselves. Alleluia + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Strengthened by the journey

A rusty, butterfly yard ornament in front of a mostly occluded sun, moments before the April 8th total solar eclipse in northern Ohio. Often the future before us might appear as... a hopeful plan, a wish desired, an uncertain promise, or symbol of change. Perhaps our discernment will never be complete, yet still we arrive... a bit worn down, but not broken; older, but somewhat wiser; in need of rest, but ultimately strengthened by the journey. Proverbs 3:5-6 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

The Canticle of Brother Sun

A copy of St. Francis of Assisi's "The Canticle of Brother Sun". This 13th c. Italian saint's ecological hymn almost feels like a modern Earth Day poem or sermon; Pope Francis followed in his namesake's footsteps with the Catholic encyclical letter LAUDATO SI' (2015). The point for all Christians is clear: we have a reverent Responsibility to protect our ONE HOME. "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below." Amen.

Jim S

Slideshow image

Hot Topics

Media reportage can provoke a diversity of public opinion about "HOT TOPICS"; the scientific community derives "COLD hard FACTS" from logical deduction. This wide variance in human understanding might find a firmer foundation... in a BOLD concept called FAITH. Heb 11:1 + See you on Sundays. Amen. 

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Healing Begins

A single peony bloom on 4/30. It can be hard to GO FIRST; you just might: ...not have all the information required for success; end up operating in the blind; become an early adopter & then an "in-need-of-a-not-yet-available-fix-er"; be compared or judged prematurely; risk embarrassment... or vulnerability. But not so with blooming flowers... or apologies, which is how healing BEGINS. We may always choose NOW: I am sorry to all whom I have hurt, for what I have said, done, and not done. 1 Cor 13:6-11 + Amen.   

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Tidal Basin ducks

A pair of ducks in the D.C. Tidal Basin. Paddling a bit farther back--quietly tucked into another's peripheral vision--may allow a friend or partner that little extra SPACE they need on occasion; perhaps floating nearby HELPS, while staying just beyond direct quacking range?! Go with the GRACE of God, and Her peace, which surpasses all understanding (Rom 8:22-26). Happy Mothers' Day + Amen.   

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Bloom

When this noisy but often lonely world has you feeling a bit hollow inside; when you are suffering "inbetweenly" (as "rightly" & "wrongly" always seem up for debate); when you desire more sunshine as that solar orb dips below the horizon; when you feel like God's "Holy earbuds" might be in when you pray... then the best thing to do is: BLOOM. The Greatest Love of all is what MATTERS MOST: keep sharing it. Heb 12:1-2 + Amen.

Jim S

Slideshow image

Our Heroes

Quotes on the marble facade of the Kennedy Center in D.C. Memorial Day unofficially begins the summer season, with family cookouts, pool openings, and warmer weather. We remember our heroes by displaying the national flag... but perhaps we should also laud our artists, musicians, authors, and performers too? The human spirit is lifted highest by those endeavoring to illuminate the beauty and grace within each of our souls. Philippians 4:8 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Showing Up

A profound honesty, ascribed to St. Mother Teresa, embroidered on a wall hanging... Faith is not just a "God thing"; it's also a measure of human TRUST. It can be simply showing up: to work; to church; to meals; to help... even when it's likely to be hard, or long, or tedious. It's holding the door for--or being generous to--someone who may seem undeserving. Faith is JESUS washing His disciples' feet, trusting they'll continue along 'The Way' without His presence. Thank You LORD for showing us that Maundy... is Faith. John 13:34-35 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Tall grass

Do you remember laying down in the tall grass as a child, just staring up at the blue sky through a leafy tree canopy overhead? So, what's stopping you?! Psalm 23:2... Happier Sabbaths + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Whiff of Gratitude

We were cracking open pistachios that day and the shells quickly filled the dish. Then we noticed how the soft early evening light washed over their gentle hues of pale rose and sage. It was a lovely gift of the moment--a random pattern of the dropped and strewn, a photographic reward for simple focus on the common and--in this instant--the discarded. An attentiveness to things within view, a re-cognition (re-thinking) of persons within reach, is not only our embrace of the evanescent of our days. It is something of each day's embrace of us. And what a gift to behold side by side. Such preciousness without presumption, such discoveries without expectation or demand. Call it something like a meditation, a mere whisper of wonder, a fleeting whiff of gratitude. Call it something.

Chris W.

Slideshow image

Christ's Loving Light

A parent and student's shadow on the last morning of the school year. Our human frailties can occasionally block Christ's loving light; family members and friends often gracefully overlook these shortcomings, providing space for redemption in our relationships (Psalm 92:2). No one can be everything to everyone, but we all need to be ________ for someone: "fill-in your blank." Happy Father's Day + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

Where are we going?

Where we have been and where we are going can be measured in footsteps, heartbeats, breaths, memories, and clock ticks... Keep track of the Time (God is here); live in the Present (All is well). Hab 3:19 + Amen.

Jim S.

Slideshow image

A GMC guest this week insisted on sharing with me her "tithe." She said it's important to her to give back for all GMC and GLC do. Like the "widow's mite" story (Mark 12:41-44), a gift like this is humbling, inspiring, and deeply generous.

Pastor Brett

Slideshow image

Unexpected Beauty

Light reflected off common things—like this kitchen discovery of spoons on a countertop—can surprise and startle me with unexpected beauty. It seems something of a metaphor of God’s ways of life and light and love with us. Even if absorbed, reflected. Even if held, disbursed.

- Chris W.

Slideshow image