Clifton United Methodist Church
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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Pastor's Ponderings




Spring is just around the corner. I love spring.  It is a reminder that new life can spring up where you least expect it.  I look over the garden in the spring to see what plants survived the winter. If you have not heard, all my plants that continue to live are called survivor plants. Because I do not have a green thumb, any plant that continues to live under my care has a thirst for life and a desire to thrive.  Survivors are what I call them.  During the spring, I search closely in the garden for signs of life.  Granted, sometimes it is hard to distinguish weeds from plants. I do not rush to count something as a weed. I follow the advice of Jesus. I let the weeds and plants grow together for a while until I can judge which is which.

Like plants, we need not be quick to write people off. People will surprise you.  When you think they are a hopeless cause, they will do something to say that your efforts in their regard have not been in vain. Children will praise God for his involvement in their lives.  Neighbors will call on you to pray.   Even those personalities we call rough around the edges will praise God for his mercy.

God forever makes the impossible possible. Let us not put God in a box.  Let’s not limit what God is doing or capable of doing in this world and the lives of those we hold dear. Keep praying.  Keep witnessing.  Step out into God’s Garden to check out the new life that is springing forth.


Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. - Isaiah 43:18-21

Pastor Candy






There Can Be Wisdom in Knowledge                                                                    

Gloria Jean Watkins, aka bell hooks, is a writer that inspired me. Recently I heard that bell hooks' reading material was removed from an approved reading list in some colleges. I found that hard to believe. I wondered why she would be blacklisted. Is it her feminist views? I can understand censoring books in elementary and high school. But for college students, it seems strange. College is the time to gain knowledge and expand thinking. It is in college that there is the expectation that young minds will explore a variety of thoughts. This is their season to have the freedom to dialogue about a vast array of subjects without the penalty of judgment.

When I read Sisters of the Yam, which is authored by hooks, it spoke to me. She shared words for healing the black woman and the black community. In talking about things that contribute to stress in life, she states, “When black women find ourselves (and many of us do) living away from community, from friends, and family, to work ‘good’ jobs, and then use the phone to have that community, we may need to evaluate whether or not we are gaining in overall quality of life by being where the ‘good’ job is rather than where our love and support is. Going against the grain, choosing community over a ‘good’ job may be a hard choice for individual black women to make. Again, we are only able to make lifestyle choices that enhance well-being and reduce or eliminate debilitating stress if we believe we deserve to live well. Most black women do not have this sense of ‘entitlement.’ We are not raised to believe that living well is our birthright.”

Her words speak specifically to the black woman, but it is wisdom that men and women of every hue could benefit from hearing. In addition, she points out how institutional structures can harm the lives of people of color. 

Gloria Jean Watkins, aka bell hooks, went on to be with the Lord on December 15, 2021. I am thankful for her writings that encouraged me to practice self-care. I pray that her words will continue to enlighten future generations.


Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.  Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. – Proverbs 4:5-7

Pastor Candy


In preparation for Thanksgiving dinner, I gave my house a thorough cleaning. It is a slow process because almost everything I touch brings back a memory, and I pause to reflect. Some things that made me smile included handmade baby clothing, a child's bible that mentioned the day they accepted Jesus as savior, photos capturing memories of great experiences with people I love, and greeting cards from people who love me. Of course, I didn't have the heart to throw anything away. Instead, they were enjoyed and stowed away to be happened upon in the future.

Who would have thought housecleaning is one of God's tools to remind us of our blessings. In further reflection, God uses at least three elements to improve the state of the human heart. The elements I am considering are forgiveness, patience, and acceptance. They are God-given gifts to enhance our relationship with God, ourselves, and others. Forgiveness, patience, and acceptance make life more enjoyable. It gives us peace and makes us whole.  

In light of the tragedies around us, shootings, war, earthquakes, and fire, just waking up and freely breathing is a reason to give thanks. The beauty of God's creation, friendships, family, and church, are a few of the blessings God has generously provided. We are blessed.

The song Grateful by Hezekiah Walker has been running through my head.

I am grateful for the things that you have done
Yes, I'm grateful for the victories we've won
I could go on and on and on about your works
Because I'm grateful, grateful, so grateful just to praise you Lord
Flowing from my heart are the issues of my heart, it's gratefulness

The holiday housecleaning was an excellent start to an ongoing project. There is plenty of work yet to be done within me, and I imagine with you as well. Each day is another opportunity to get things in order. I thank God for the days and moments that slow us down long enough to recognize our blessings.

 Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Pastor Candy







There is the adage that there is someone out there for everyone. We are told to be patient if we haven't met the love of our life. It will happen when you least expect it. But, I wonder how we measure that perfect one. And if someone seems to be a good match but you break up, does that mean you blew your chance at love forever? Well, that can't be true, blown forever, that is. Yet, love stories continue to abound, with couples finding new love or reigniting old flames. 

A friend called me recently and said, "I want to get married." I thought perhaps she had someone special in mind but soon learned no one was waiting in the wings. As we continued the conversation, I realized she was lonely and frustrated and desired someone to help carry the burdens she had to manage alone. After hanging up, I wondered if marriage would help or bring other frustrations.

It got me thinking about the many widows I've met over the years who refuse to marry again. Perhaps they met the perfect one and don't want to take another chance. Or maybe they survived a marriage and couldn't see going through it again. Marriage is not easy. Staying in love is not easy.

In the Song of Songs chapter 3, there seems to be a warning about love.

All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves; I looked for him but did not find him.  I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves. So I looked for him but did not find him.  The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. "Have you seen the one my heart loves?" Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother's house, to the room of the one who conceived me. Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

Love relationships can be exhilarating, overpowering, and frustrating. As Song of Songs reminds us, love should not be pursued until the time is right, nor commitments made until you are mature enough to handle it.

I'm a romantic. I want to believe there is love for everyone who wants it. Love for anyone who seeks it. I even think that there is more than one perfect someone out there. But I'm also realistic too. If love is going to be for a lifetime, it requires a lot of work.

One of scripture's greatest love stories is that between God and his people. They break up and get back together. However, love is an everlasting one. In Isaiah 54, we are told

For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.  The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young, only to be rejected," says your God.  "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.

If we recall, God and Israel fell out because of her sin. It was not really abandonment as much as stepping aside and sending judgment. But God's love for her never departed. God put in place a means for a reunion and reestablishing the relationship. Israel was a formidable nation to love. Always wanting her own way. But God never gave up. God never gives up on any of us. I think God, too, is a romantic.

Pastor Candy  



           On the Path




This picture is from the Michelle Obama Trail.  Some of the Clifton ladies introduced me to the trail. Although the path is well-traveled, it is not crowded. At least not in the early morning. Several regulars are seen on this path. We greet one another. Encouragement is given to keep the body in motion. Quite a few of the walkers and bikers are in pairs or small groups.  One man in a group of six told me I needed to have a walking partner. He said coyotes had been seen on the trail.  If I had a partner, we would appear to be a pack, which would scare the coyotes off. Thankfully, I have not seen coyotes. 

Deer are often spotted in the woods and crossing the path. I enjoy watching them. I recall one standing on the concrete while munching on a bush. He watched me approaching him, and it was apparent he was not moving unless it was necessary. When the distance between us shortened to about 3 feet, he took off into the woods.

I enjoy the path, the people, the animals, the beauty, and my time there with God. When I am lazy about getting in my exercise, the reminder of all that I’m missing on the path urges me forward.

David, in Psalm 16, speaks of a path.  He says God has shown him the path of life.  This psalm, like most of David’s psalms, is a prayer.  David opens with a request for protection and an acknowledgment that it is only in God that he can find safety. As David continues, he speaks of people around him who have chosen to place their allegiance with other gods. But David has the good sense to know that all he ever needed has come from God Eternal.  God will never abandon him. Furthermore, God leads him to a good life, placing him on the right path.  As a result, his life is filled with joy.

In this day of many voices vying for our attention, it is good to know there is one voice that will lead us in the right direction. God beacons each of us to join him on the path. It is a beautiful path where we find love, encouragement, sustenance, protection, and joy.  Whatever we need, God will provide. As the psalmist has written, “You show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11

My fellow companions in the journey, I encourage you to stay on the path.  The path with God always leads us to joy.

Pastor Candy