“Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow”


We are all going through a lot these days – life has changed so much over the past few weeks – so different from our regular routines – with new and added stresses as a result of the Coronavirus.  It is easy to become discouraged.  One of the things that I am finding helpful is to focus on God’s faithfulness to me every day. 

I’ve been thinking about the words to the beautiful hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.

Many beloved hymns have great stories behind them about how the composer was inspired to write a hymn at a particular time in their lives – many of them born out of some type of dramatic experience – a tragedy, a loss, or some big event in the person’s life. 

However, Thomas Chisholm, wrote “Great is Thy Faithfulness” because he realized how God had been faithful to him during his whole life – each and every day – morning by morning – and he wanted others to know that God is faithful to each of us.

Shortly before his own death (at the age of 94!), Thomas Chisholm wrote this note: 

“My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.”

I encourage you to join me in considering God’s faithfulness … God’s great mercy and love … that God is with us to guide and to cheer us, and to give us strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.  

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your Faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23).

I’m grateful for God’s faithfulness, the strength He gives us, and the bright hope God brings into our lives each and every day,



 “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!  There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changes not; Thy compassions, they fail not:  As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow – blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Chorus:  Great is Thy faithfulness!  Great is Thy faithfulness!  Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided – Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”





Welcome to PFM Worship – Gathering Remotely – Message from Pastor

“Hope Has A Name”


Hello Friends!

I’d like to welcome you to Plainfield Friends Meeting and our online worship service.  Although we are unable to worship together in person, we can still gather together to pray, read scripture, and worship God in new and fresh ways. 


The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us – every person, every business, and every church – whether it’s working now from home, schools closing, finding enough groceries or toilet paper (who knew toilet paper would be the first thing to be hoarded?!), loss of income, being unable to visit loved ones in nursing facilities and hospitals – and – whether or not we actually contract the virus – we are all impacted and find ourselves dealing with stress and fear – and we find ourselves seeking to find new routines and rhythms of life. 

In canceling our worship services and activities here at the Meeting House, our concern is for the well-being – both spiritual and physical – of our congregation, our families, and the greater community we are called to love and serve in the name of Christ.

Our Ministry & Counsel Committee, along with our Clerk, Bill Heald, and I – are evaluating the situation each week as we make decisions about holding worship services and other things, and our goal is to continue to communicate with you, keep you updated, and we are working to provide you with some resources for times of devotion, prayer, and personal time of worship. 

So check your email, our website, and our Facebook page regularly.   We ask for your patience, your prayers, and your understanding – as we all find ourselves in unchartered waters. 

As Friends, we believe that our Meeting House – our building – is not the church – it is “us” – you and me – we are the church, we can continue serving Christ and caring for our neighbors. 

We are faced with some difficult challenges in the days ahead of us, and we find ourselves scrambling to find new ways to be the church, and not just attend church. 

It is my prayer that God will meet every one of us in a new and fresh way – as we meet together in a new and unique way. 

I know this is a little strange to be worshiping in your home – whether you’re watching online or reading the written version of messages.  It’s quite different for me as well. 

I encourage you to take some time Sunday morning to listen to this week’s message, to read and reflect on the scripture reading, and to spend some time in prayer – praying for each other, for your family, your neighbors, those who are ill, for store clerks, and for those who are attempting to lead and protect us.  I, too, value your prayers.  Please know that I am praying for you each day.

There is a song titled:  Hope has A Name – and his name is Jesus.  I like that phrase – Hope has a name – Jesus.  Today – I invite you into God’s presence to find rest, to live in God’s peace and to find hope in Christ in the midst of our chaotic world. 


“Fanning the Flame of Hope”

Cathy Harris – Plainfield Friends Meeting – March 22, 2020 – 2 Timothy 1:1-7



Hello Friends!  I’d like to welcome you to Plainfield Friends Meeting and our online worship service for Sunday, March 22.  Although we are unable to worship together in person, we can still gather together to pray, read scripture, and worship God in new and fresh ways.

I moved into my first apartment when I was about 22 years old. 

I remember how excited I was as I began gathering furniture to get ready for the big move.

Some furniture was given to me as “hand-me-downs” from family – a kitchen table and chairs and a coffee table and end tables.  I bought a couch and chair for my living room, and I bought a bedroom suit from my Grandma Sims – an antique double bed and dresser with a mirror that had been in her side of the family for over 100 years at that time – stuff that was built to last back then. 

But there was something else I wanted – something I wanted almost as much as any other piece of furniture – and that was a piano.

As most of you know, I really enjoy playing the piano, and I told my Mother that I would like to have a piano and that I was beginning to look for one. 

My grandmother knew I was moving into an apartment and offered to give me her piano. 

I’m not sure if she and Mom conspired about this or not, but I was thrilled.  Grandma told me she didn’t play the piano much anymore and would pass it down to me.  She not only wanted me to have a piano – she wanted me to have HER piano and wanted to pass it down to keep it in the family.

As both of my grandmothers were getting older, they both wanted to pass down things to me and their other grandchildren.  Unbeknownst to each other, they each started crocheting afghans for me and for each of my cousins. 

Grandma Wilson told me to go ahead and use the afghan she made me, but Grandma Sims told me NOT to use the afghan she made, but to put it up and save it.  Both of them wanted me to have something that I could pass down to my own children.

There are a lot of things in life that we pass down to our families – some things are passed down intentionally … some things are passed down unintentionally without planning it or thinking much about it.  Other things are passed down through genetics – like the color of your hair or your eyes – things you can do nothing about.  Some things that are passed down are good … some are not – such as when grudges or hatred are passed down.

We pass down things such as special pieces of furniture, family heirlooms, and photographs.

We teach our children about values and love and our faith – we hand those down to them in hopes that they will succeed – succeed, not in the sense that they will never fail, but in the sense that they will have the tools and skills – the ability to cope – as they face life’s joys, disappointments, and challenges.

I’ve always liked this passage of scripture – where Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him to continue his faith in Jesus – the faith that had been passed down from his mother and grandmother – and for me, it is a sweet reminder of how my own mother has played an important role in my faith in God — but what really struck me this week as I read this – was how Paul encouraged Timothy to not be gripped by fear, but to use the gifts God had given to him – to fan them into a flame.

I think Paul was reminding Timothy who he was in Christ – that God had not given Timothy a spirit of fear – God had given him the gifts of power, love, and self-discipline (other translations say “sound mind”). 

Those gifts were deep within Timothy, and Paul was reminding his young friend to put them to use.  God would work in Timothy, through Timothy – to go into the world around him to represent God.    

I’m not sure what all was happening in Timothy’s world at the time – if he was wavering in his faith or facing a particular challenge or difficulty in his life – or – perhaps Paul simply wanted to pass along these words of encouragement to Timothy before he died. 

Paul said: Timothy, God has not given you a spirit of fear – God has given you gifts – gifts of power and love and a sound mind – and God will work in you and through you – fan into flame these gifts that God has given you.

Tom and I bought a wood stove insert several years ago for the farm house. We really enjoyed that on cold winter evenings.  We would get some kindling and get a little fire started, and then blow on it – trying to fan it into a larger flame so we could stoke the fire and put some larger pieces of wood on it to get it really going.  In the morning when we woke up, it looked like the fire had gone completely out, but as we stirred the ashes, we could see the embers – still hot – still alive – and we would add fresh wood, and blow on those embers – fanning them into a flame. 

And just like stoking the embers in a wood stove, God calls us to use our gifts to fan the flames of hope. 

So much has happened the past couple of weeks with the Coronavirus pandemic emerging around us – we are inundated with news updates, we’ve seen people hoarding toilet paper and food – and things around us are in chaos. 

It is scary.  And yet, Paul says that God did not give us a spirit of fear – he has given us gifts of power, love, and a sound mind.  And to fan those gifts into a flame.

So, I’ve been sitting with the question the past couple of days – what am I fanning into a flame?  Am I fanning fear into a flame?  Or am I fanning faith – the gifts God has given me – into a flame?  Panic or careful planning?  Fanning the flames of hope?  What are you fanning into a flame?

With everything that is going on around us, we are confronted with our fear of the unknown – unknowns on many levels.  Fear can wreak havoc in our lives – affecting us physically, spiritually and emotionally – or – fear can serve as a catalyst for God to lead us into some new ways of living and serving God.

Our fear reminds us that we are not in control, but we do serve the God who is in control.

We serve the same God we did last week.  God is with us wherever we are and God is with us – even if things seem chaotic and uncertain.  Another Friends pastor told his congregation this week that – “We don’t know what will happen tomorrow – but if you stop and think about it – we never did!”

Where are you turning and who are you looking to? 


Psalm 121:1-4

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

Our fears are – naturally – going to be drawn to the next article about the Coronavirus – or to the store that does or does not have toilet paper. And while we do need and want to be informed, we don’t want all of our attention to be focused on our fears or for fear to wreak havoc in our lives. 

Where are you looking to in these uncertain times?  The Psalmist encourages us to lift up our eyes to the mountains – to lift our eyes and look to God – who will provide us with help and hope. 

I know it can be discouraging to not be able to get out and to gather together face-to-face for worship on Sunday mornings – for me, that time together is very special – to worship God and to fellowship together and encourage one another. 

But I also know in my heart that our church is more than our Sunday morning worship service – that we are the church – and that our ministries – individually and as a faith community – continue – with Family Promise, with helping the school, continuing to deliver food to the food pantry. 

God has given us – power through his Holy Spirit, God has given us love, and God has given us a sound mind – to not only take care of ourselves and our families – God is working in and through us – you and me – to love those around us – to not simply attend church – but to “BE” the church. 

The world needs to see God’s love in action – maybe especially right now.

Yes – continue to practice “social distancing” to take care of yourselves and your loved ones – but even though we must keep physical distance right now, our hearts are as one and as close as ever.  We have to be physically separated, but that doesn’t keep us from being spiritually connected. 

But when anxiety and fear emerge – what are you fanning into a flame – fear or love?  And – Where are you looking?

The Psalmist says to turn our eyes toward the mountains – to lift our eyes toward God, and to focus on him. 

Paul told Timothy that the Holy Spirit would see him through – that the Holy Spirit would give him the strength he needed – and not only strength he needed, but God’s love.

God is working in you and through you, and when our eyes get focused on the chaos around us, we are reminded to lift our eyes to God, who does not sleep and watches our coming and going.

Let’s fan the flames of hope and love through the power of the Holy Spirit.


Scripture Readings:


NIV – 2 Timothy 1:1-7

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my dear son:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid [a spirit of fear], but gives us power, love and self-discipline [sound mind].


(NIV) – Psalm 121:1-4

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.


New International Version (NIV) – Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®



“Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me” – A prayer by Howard Thurman (Quaker)*

Open unto me – light for my darkness.

Open unto me – courage for my fear.

Open unto me – hope for my despair.

Open unto me – peace for my turmoil.

Open unto me – joy for my sorrow.

Open unto me – strength for my weakness.

Open unto me – wisdom for my confusion.

Open unto me – forgiveness for my sins.

Open unto me – tenderness for my toughness.

Open unto me – love for my hates.

Open unto me – Thy Self for my self.

Lord, Lord, open unto me!



*Used with permission from Friends United Press, Richmond, IN.

Please join me in singing the hymn:  “God Will Take Care of You”


  1. Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
    God will take care of you;
    Beneath His wings of love abide,
    God will take care of you.


God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.


  1. Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
    God will take care of you;
    When dangers fierce your path assail,
    God will take care of you.


  1. All you may need He will provide,
    God will take care of you;
    Nothing you ask will be denied,
    God will take care of you.


  1. No matter what may be the test,
    God will take care of you;
    Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
    God will take care of you.


Let God Worry?

Martin Luther wrote a lot of short sayings about faith and being a Christian.  A few of them include:

“Peace if possible, truth at all costs.”

“If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.”

“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”

“Be thou comforted, little dog. Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.”

Hang In There.jpg

I recently came across one of his sayings that I really like: Pray, and let God worry.”  It’s a nice quote – a simple saying with a nice sentiment.  However, if we stop and really think about the meaning of it – and take it seriously – to pray and let God do the worrying – I don’t know about you, but for me, that can actually be quite a challenge! 

A few years ago, my son moved back to Indiana after living/working in Japan for four years.  He and his fiancee’, who is Japanese, talked before he left Japan, and decided to delay getting married for four years while he went back to college to get a second bachelor’s degree in hopes of getting a better job.  My son asked me to make his fiancee’ a wall hanging of some sort that said “Hang in there!” – so I quilted a picture of a cat sliding down a wall with a caption to “Hang in there!” 

The picture was a cute reminder that the waiting would eventually come to an end, and they would be able to marry (which they did this winter!).  As I think about that cute cat picture, all of the effort to keep from giving up and falling was on the cat herself. 

Worry is sort of like that.  It can kind of sneak up on us.  At first, we pray and try to give it to God, but it’s easy to hang onto our worries and frets because it gives us the illusion – false illusion – that we are in control of things. It can begin to feel like it really is all on our shoulders, and we suddenly realize – when we are feeling a little like the cat on my wall hanging – that we could use some help. 

I don’t know about you, but the past couple of weeks have been fairly stressful with all of the news about the Coronavirus spreading.  The news stations are talking about it all the time, which adds to our anxiety – and worrying can take a lot of our time and energy. 

Several years ago, a Lutheran pastor – Kae Evensen – wrote an article about praying and learning to let God do the worrying.  She wrote: 

“God is the ultimate worrier, and God is good at it. Just a quick skim of the Bible will tell you all about it. In Genesis 3, God is walking around the garden looking for Adam and Eve when they’re hiding … and think how God fusses over the Israelites and their Egyptian situation, or remember the prophets and how they gushed endlessly about God’s concern for justice and also for love.”

Evensen says that Jesus was a worrier, too.  Remember?  Jesus worries – not only about “the least of these”, but also about the whole city of Jerusalem; and before his death, Jesus is concerned about his disciples – his friends – and prays that the “Holy Spirit take over as Comforter to those who follow him”. 

I have never thought about God – or Jesus – as worriers, but I find the idea intriguing, and after thinking about it, I would agree.  I think God – and also Jesus – were/are worriers – because they love us.  Perhaps (as Kae Evensen wrote), God’s greatest joy is to take on our worries and concerns, and that “God’s answer does not come as we might imagine, but is revealed again and again to us in the cross … And that Christ worries so we don’t have to.” 

Pray and let God worry.  Of course, we will still worry from time to time as different situations in our lives arise.  I think it’s an ongoing process – to keep going back to God – to pray and let God do the worrying.  We can “sit down, drop our heavy sacks and simply remember: it’s all been done” – and that’s the Good News of the Gospel – it’s not all up to us!  Jesus worries so we don’t have to! 

In this season of Lent – when we are preparing for Easter – especially this year in light of all we are facing together as humankind – join me in seeking to pray and to let God do the worrying, and remember – you are loved. 



“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 4:6-7