Pause

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

John Muir in Our National Parks (1901)

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Listen

Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame. There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.

Romans 10:9-13

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Think

“Elmer! Elmerrrrr!!!!” At the end of the day in Yosemite National Park, neighbors gather around campfires and smoke fills the valley floor. Someone starts the cry “Elmer!” Suddenly a campfire three sites away echoes the same name.

I’ve heard several origin stories that aim to explain this Yosemite tradition. Elmer is a lost boy, some say, or a bear who loved to raid picnic baskets. Strangers don’t have to agree about who exactly Elmer is to join in on this tradition and feel a sense of commonality as the name “Elmer!” echoes through the valley.

Professing Elmer is not the same thing as professing Jesus — not even close! And yet this tradition reminds us of a wonderful, perplexing truth about Christianity: while many Christians profess the same Lord, we don’t always agree on everything.

Stepping out in faith requires us to live into this mystery. We confess that Jesus is Lord and believe as best we can, and we trust that Jesus will one day clear away the smoke that separates us from God and each other.

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

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Pray

Loving God, I believe — help me with my unbelief. Heal the wounds that exist between Christians around the world and teach me what it means to be a part of the family of God. In the name of your son, our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.

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Go

I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
No turning back, no turning back

The world behind me, the cross before me,
The world behind me, the cross before me,
The world behind me, the cross before me,
No turning back, no turning back

from “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” author unknown

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

Heidi Thorsen Oxford is a recent graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City (MDiv, ’17) and an alumna of the Episcopal Service Corps, St. Hilda’s House. She is currently on the east coast pursuing work as a hospital chaplain, but home in her heart will always be California — especially Yosemite National Park. She lives with her husband, Will Oxford, and their two beautiful cats.

Walking Towards Morning: Here I Am to Worship

Ken Medema

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