Thursday, July 28, 2016

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Choir Chairs in the Chapel

Through Stained Glass:  A Mid-Week Reflection-Choir Chairs in the Chapel

Sometimes the week gets away from us, huh?

We set out in one direction only to go about a way because of unexpected events.

Or because we misread the directions.

Or because we need to go a different route for our own sanity’s sake.

Either way, sometimes the road we set out on is not the one we end up on.

This week has been a week. As one who really enjoys crossing off things on the ‘to do’ list, I’ve done more adding than subtracting. Yesterday especially, from the moment I got to the church to a little before seven, I was on the go. I had intentions of getting a lot done yesterday, like this midweek reflection and some other administration type tasks.

That just didn’t or wasn’t going to happen.

At one point during the day I found myself getting a bit frazzled.

I was worrying about how I was not only going to get things done but also if I could keep up with all the added fun. I love meeting with people. I don’t love being distracted by my worries when I meet with them. Nothing is so important, administration-wise, to keep me from being in community with the person I’m visiting.

Yesterday, when I had a 20-minute break in my schedule, I did something I had not done since April:  sat in our chapel.

I turned off my phone (okay, I left it upstairs in my study) and I lit some candles. I sat in one of those beautiful choir chairs gifted to us by Mildred Holland and I watched the flames dance before the crucifix hanging in the chapel.

The air conditioner was blowing but the sun streaming through the beautiful stained glass windows on Ottawa street warmed me. The church was silent. So silent you could probably hear the church mouse taking care of business. Outside the humidity radiated off the empty streets, but inside, the little lights of the candle illuminated the love of God.

Friends, whatever is before you, you don’t have to get it all done now. In fact, you will always have things to do.

Only one question is helpful.

What is the next, small step?

When you figure it out, take it.

Yesterday the small step for me was to sit silently in our chapel. There were emails to write and phone calls to make, sure. However, what I needed was not on the ‘to do’ list.

Those few moments of silently sitting and prayerfully listening in the chapel gave me what I needed to get through those last few hours of the day.

Sometimes we need to call an ‘audible.’ Sometimes the tasks on our lists can wait. Sometimes we need to find our way to our favorite chair or park to just be.

Be not afraid to venture off the beaten path of things to do. It might be there you find what you’re really looking for.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Thank You Bar B Q

Thank you.

Yup, thank you.

In just over 24 hours people will be lining up at the doors of First Presbyterian Church just as they have for the last 30+ years wanting not only food but also fellowship.

To see this barbeque come alive is really something. Everyone always rises to the occasion to help raise the tent! I mean that figuratively and literally. The week leading up to the barbeque, the event of the summer, our church becomes like a beehive. If it isn’t Charlise and Debbie, with their worker bees Keith and Ken, then it is the rest of you dropping off cakes and pies, as well as community folk buying tickets. Usually when they stand in the office purchasing their tickets they say something along the lines of “This bar-b-q is something I look forward to every summer.”

Tomorrow will be here before you know it. We’ll be serving slaw and que while the community listens to live entertainment and we all share a meal together.

While in some ways the preparations have become routine and though this event may causes a little lot of anxiety in some of us, it truly is a gift. There is something holy about a community coming together to break bread and share stories.

It makes me think of the Psalm we read the other night at our session meeting, Psalm 133. The psalmist declares, “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!”

Isn’t that the truth?

In some ways, tomorrow isn’t just about an annual event, nor is it just a fundraiser. Tomorrow is also a demonstration of sorts.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Tomorrow we as a community will dine together and in so doing make a statement of how goodness and love can and will prevail against evil and hate. In our unity as a community, even if it is for a brief moment in a tiny town like ours, we demonstrate to the larger world that there are people who not only find time to be together but take the time to catch up and be present with one another. Tomorrow we will show our community and others just how wonderful and lovely it is when brothers and sisters get along.

I know many of you won’t be able to sleep because of how excited you are for the barbeque! As we stay up late thinking about all the things that can go right, may these words help shape our time together tomorrow:

Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through him who loves us…Child of God, known by name, and whose very hairs are numbered. Praise and adore God and thank him forever and ever.

~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Church, let us break bread together, on our knees, on our knees!

See you at the kirk house.

Oh, to all of those you have helped and will help, thank you!


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Healing

Stories have the potential to heal.

In fact, stories are what give light to that desire we have to be happy. We want our lives to mean something. This desire for meaning is the originating impulse of a story.

Do you know why we tell stories?

We tell stories because we hope to find or create significant connections between things. I like what Dr. Daniel Taylor says about stories, “Stories link past, present, and future in a way that tells us where we have been (even before we were born), where we are, and where we could be going.”

Our stories teach us that there is a place for us; not only do we fit in, but we are needed.

Here is a simplified explanation of how stories heal:  when we tell our story it is no longer just mine but it is ours. In enabling another to understand and have empathy, we move out of the sense of isolation the experience fostered and into community, a requirement for healing.

This past Sunday in church we read from 2 Kings and explored the story of Naaman. We touched based on all that went into the mighty warrior’s healing. From the nameless slave girl who spoke up when she wasn’t supposed to about the prophet who could help heal Naaman, to the muddy Jordan River that was unlike the other magnificent waters with which Naaman was more familiar. His reluctance and pride prevented him from the healing he needed—a healing that wealth and power couldn’t provide. Still, it was his own servants who had to convince him to enter into the healing narrative of God in the little river.

It took a hodgepodge of people to help heal Naaman. Healing didn’t happen until Naaman gave himself completely to the process. He also had to accept the help he probably wasn’t expecting from a group of unnamed people.

Naaman in the end has a story to tell, one of healing.

At the end of my sermon I made a request…extended an invitation of sorts to you.

I offered up two questions that I think can help us in telling our stories of healing.

  • From what surprising place or person has your healing come?
  • If you believe healing is given and not purchased, where are you being led to give healing today?

Finally, I asked if you all would be willing to share your stories with me. Some of you have already. I want to hear your stories; not to be nosey but to enter into your narrative and to see you tell your story of how you know healing!

Friends, your story is beautiful. Your story is needed to help heal a broken world. Your story is needed to reassure the rest of us that we not alone in this world. Rather, we have each other.