Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection--Pass the Thanksgiving

How do you give thanks?

With song?

With dance?

With poetry?

With photography?

With silence?

With friends?

What do you give thanks for?

Your pet?

Your home?
Your grandkids?

Your spouse?

Your life?

There’s much to be thankful for:  good health, a home filled with love, a church family who loves God, and for a good book on a sunny November day. Remember though, some folks may be going through a difficult season and what they need isn't a lecture about this or that but a listening ear. 

Be gentle to one another during these holy-days. Be present with one another. Be kind to that uncle of yours who presses your buttons because he's lonely and wants the attention. Be sweet to that relative who talks over everybody about all the things you could care less about because they, like you, just to be heard. Above all, give the gift everyone will be most thankful for:  yourself. 

Friends, during these holy-days, do take time to remember those who are away from loved ones and say a little prayer for them; do make an effort to celebrate what is good and beautiful in our lives; and above all—do all you can, while you can to show much you love one another. 

Don't talk about the Cubs...okay maybe jut a little but not to the point where your grandma who is a Cardinal fan loses her dentures.

Don’t sweat the small stuff—like burnt rolls and undercooked sweet potatoes or the stain on your tablecloth.

Don’t talk politics. Just. Don't. 

Tell those you gather with, whether you seem them every day, one a year, or you’re having Thanksgiving supper at a local restaurant—how much you appreciate them.

Here’s something else to consider. We’re all we got. This life together is the only one we have right now. Let’s do our best to celebrate one another.

I love what the psalmist says in Psalm 66. Particularly I love the paraphrase from Presbyterian Pastor Eugene Peterson:
Take a good look at God’s wonders—
    they’ll take your breath away.
He converted sea to dry land;
    travelers crossed the river on foot.
    Now isn’t that cause for a song?
All believers, come here and listen,
    let me tell you what God did for me.
I called out to God with my mouth,
    my tongue shaped the sounds of music.
If I had been cozy with evil,
    the Holy One would never have listened.
But God most surely did listen,
    God came on the double when God heard my prayer.
Blessed be God: Adonai didn’t turn a deaf ear,
    God stayed with me, loyal in God’s love.

There’s much to be thankful for.

In case you didn’t know or you haven’t heard it in a while

I am thankful for you. Your presence in my life—whether it is a physical one or simply a digital one—makes my life brighter. You are a gift to this big and beautiful world.

I offer these words as a blessing and a benediction. They come from one of my favorite poets and writers, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Pass on the goodness of life wherever you find yourself this week!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Prayerful Spaces

Tomorrow has been talked about for months over a year now.

Tomorrow has been discussed and dissected in more ways than those poor frogs in the high school biology class.

Tomorrow is an important day for our country.

Tomorrow is Election Day.

Tomorrow will be interesting for some.

Tomorrow will probably be on the minds of most of us.

Less than 4 hours from now tomorrow will be today.

In times like these, when there are competing voices for my attention, I do my best to stay center within myself. By this I mean:  I do my best to slow life down and listen for that still small voice within that reminds me of my belovedness as a child of God.

Tonight as I find myself restless (less so because of the election and more so because my phone has been misplaced) I find comfort in these words from Jesus:

25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Hmmthat last line.

It gets me every time.

I want to extend an invitation to you.

Tomorrow from 7:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. the church will be open, specifically the chapel and sanctuary, for you to come and pray. Or if you want to simply get away from your smartphone or T.V. or that obnoxious neighbor who still has their Cubs ‘W’ flag flying, know you are welcome to come and do so.

You will not be bothered in anyway. There will be no formal service.

Only the quiet of the chapel, the flicker of candle flame, and the prayers of the Spirit who prays on our behalf when know not what to pray.

Our church is your church—a place where you can come and find rest in Christ.

I echo these words shared by Father James Martin:

"God is the God of the living." Which means you can encounter God in not only in your prayer, but in your daily life. Seek the Lord.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever Christ may send you; may Christ guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm; may Christ bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders Christ has shown you; may Christ bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Tomorrow—will be okay.

But for tonight, rest assured that even now God is as close as your next breath

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Prayerful Ponderings

Time away has been good so far.

While it is not vacation, the education I’m gaining has been wonderful.

The space we our gathering in is beautiful. On the grounds are plenty of places to pray. I have utilized the labyrinth as well as the swing, which faces the woods. I’ve watched geese do what geese do and leaves fall gracefully to the ground.

When we aren’t learning about how we are ALL in some way or another in transition, we are sharing stories about the people we are away from.

On numerous occasions I’ve found myself talking about you all and the family of faith we are. My colleagues can’t seem to get past my agebut I assure them I’m 31 and have had some life experiences that have equipped me for pastoral ministry.

They aren’t convinced but they are grateful that someone young is interested in transitional ministry.

We are preparing now to discuss change and the importance of self-care. Two topics I know I am in need of learning more about. Change is hard. Change is inevitable. Change is not bad. Change, as Sam Cooke says, ‘gonna come

In the silences between the meetings and discussion groups, amidst worship and daily prayer, I find myself in prayer.

You, beloved friend, whether we are best friends or barely know each other, I prayed for you.

I prayed that the love of God would warm your heart.

I pray Christ’s mercy heals your heart.

I will continue to pray the Holy Spirit inspires your heart.

Time away has been so good. There is so much to be excited about. The temptation is to look at all the negative places and remain there. Thankfully God is present amidst it all.

May you remember you are God’s beloved. May you know Christ presence within. May you allow the Spirit to shine through youthe way light shines through stained glass!

Peace friends.