Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Too much

I am watching Oprah with a woman on who can remember every thing that happened in her life. She is recalling television shows that Oprah has done and Oprah cannot remembers them. This makes me feel better, much better.

As I started to write this blog it is about my thinking I have too much going on and I am losing my mind - my memory.

This past weekend we babysat Jackson and Alyse for 4 days while Kacey and Brett went to Chicago and at the same time Brian, Huong and their friend Mike spent two nights when they went to a wedding. And of course, at the same time, I was putting together a worship service for Sunday and doing my work.

Everyone left on Sunday and on Monday I went to work - which I don't usually do to get everything done to go away. What that means is - preparing 6 worship services for church , 2 powerpoints, two worship outlines for Oakleaf and printing scriptures for 4 Bible studies. Is this too much?

And I am getting ready to go to Indianapolis tomorrow for three days for our General Assembly, then a trip to Seattle for my Aunt Shirley's memorial service, then fly in to Eric PA to finish out the week at Chautauqua Institute, and then a week as faculty at Camp Christian and preparing a keynote on "Doubt". Is this too much?

So I write this to say I can't remember right now whether I actually have registered for the general assmebly. I will find out tomorrow. And what is the name of the Hotel where I made a reservation for tomorrow. I hope to figure that out today. And all of that memory loss is - I believe - more than age - but the fact that I have TOO MUCH going on right now.

But - and it is a big but - I really like it all. Every bit of it - the kids, the grandkids, the work, the preparation, the travel. It is an abundant life - but sometimes - Too Much!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sermon for Heather Bentley Hick's Ordination

I preached this sermon Sunday afternoon for Heather's ordination
The title - "Do you love me?"

15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Feed my sheep

I Think about Peter – everything he has been through since the first time that he heard those words –from Jesus in John– come and see
He has Watched Jesus some amazing things,: Healing, exorcisms, miracles.
He has found himself at odds with Jesus, rebuked by him, he himself denied him,
He experienced his death and profound grief And then the wonder of the resurrection
and his appearance in the upper room. All that he has been through – and now this – at the end – It all comes down to this – private conversation
As Jesus comes to ask the big question – "Do you love me?"

And I think for Heather – after all is said and done,
After all the classes, the tests, the papers, after the graduation from Methesco,
After years of growing up in the church, working in various churches,, interning in this church , After being interviewed by the Commission on Ministry and the elders here at Gender Road
It all comes down to this – the big question – the pretty simple question
Do you love me

Now I have spent some time reading about this text and it seems to me we can to complicate it – talk about different kinds of love in the Greek. What do they mean?
Are the lambs different from the sheep? Do you love me more than “ these” what are the “these” – the nets, the friends? But that is not it.
But I think it all comes down to this questions – do you love me.

And the reasons is that Love is the center of the gospel, the call, his purpose, our lives, our God – LoveIt is love that rehabilitates Peter – from the one who denied Christ to become one of the Fathers of the Faith. It is love that shapes his life – as a fisher of people or as a shepherd of lost sheep

Peter is remembered in the Bible as a frail human being – sometimes strong, sometimes weak, sometimes impulsive, sometimes courageous
But after the resurrection he was brought again to his feet, brought to life and leadership by God’s generosity and grace and love.

And so dear Heather – that is your story – and my story – and the story of all of us who have heard the call of the Lord to pastor, to shepherd and it is a call grounded in love.

We are flawed and frail human beings - sometimes strong, sometimes weak, sometimes impulsive, sometimes courageous. We are loved by God, graced by God, called by God and empowered by God to shepherd God’s people.
Ordained – set apart – Holy

One of my favorite scriptures from John –
10:10 I came that you might have life and have it abundantly

And let me tell you – this life – that you are embarking on –
is an abundant life. Full of more excitement, joy, wonder and awe than you can imagine, I know this: you are going to be stretched and used by God
As shepherds - We pastor the people that God loves
• We are stewards of the mysteries
• We get to serve God through the body of Christ - the church.

Now – I am not saying it is always easy –
It is a weekendless life, often with a lot of meetings. We have to being available to people at what sometimes is inopportune time in our personal life.
We have to deal with things like budgets and stewardship campaigns.
And we serve in the midst of the rawness of life – we get to be with people in the most difficult and the most joyous times. We face situations that can almost overwhelm us.
And we get to see how people can respond well and poorly to trial
It is a multilayered, rich and abundant.life.

You know I love it – I love being a pastor and all that it is
And today as I pondered exactly what to say to you – I thought I would share with you 3 things I have found to be true As my best friend Oprah says – this much I know.
First I know is that we are called and gifted and grace to love the church. Because that is the only way that we can serve the church is to love the church. And we love the church the way we love our family – warts and all.
We love the church and we learn the beauty of the way God works throughout all the generations in the church –
– in the innocence and wisdom of children,
– in the skepticism and zeal of youth,
– in the busyness and dedication of working adults,
– and in the goodness and faithful witness of the retired saints.
And let me tell you about elders in the church – they are elders – for you they probably will be.elders but for all of us – they are a gift to the pastor as we share our faith and work together in ministry.

Remember Jesus said – Feed my sheep – it will never be YOUR church – it is God’s church.
And as someone once said to me many years ago – We are in the loving business –
God is in the changing business. We are called to love.
And God – our wonderful God– helps to love EVERYONE.

Does this sound like Pollyanna preaching – Maybe – but I can only tell you that if you ask God to open your heart to those difficult and hard to love sheep that are placed in your care – God will do that. I think it is an example of God’s supernatural power!
God will enable you to want to love them and to begin to see them as God sees them.
We feed the sheep as we love them with the heart of our Lord.

2. I know we have to keep learning.
When I was in seminary what I learned was so important – but so preliminary. You learn About the Bible, about pastoral care, about church administration, about church history and theology.
There is so much more to learn and keep learning.
For me and my generation – just keeping up technologically has been a task.
• But learning about the world, t
• Spend the rest of your life studying this treasure – which is the word of God,
• And learning about people and how they work and develop and grow and refuse to grow
• And learn about how to communicate with clarity and non defensiveness
• learning about yourself – your shadows and your gifts and your deepest desires
• Learn about the Holy spirit…. deepening your life in the spirit and finding out about what prayer is and does
This much I know – it is the greatest gift to the church for you to be a life long learner
And it is an act of humility as you live out the reality that there is always MORE to learn

3.I have one final suggestion = of what I know to be true
You should take notes – keep a record of what is happening because it is noteworthy.
Take notes on what you are doing and what God is doing through you and what God is doing around you.
These days we can blog and twitter and write in our facebooks – all of which are great.
But keep a journal and then in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and more you look back in awe and what God has done. Our faith is a resurrection faith –
Resurrection means “return to life” and as God has called you to come into the life of individuals and bring God to them – You will experience and see Resurrection – you often will get a front row seat.

And Jesus said
I came that you might have life and have it abundantly
And Jesus said – Heather – do you love me?
Because love is the center of my life

You are being ordained today – set apart as a holy woman and responsible for paying attention to the Word of God in whatever locale God places you.

I want to end with a quote from one of my spiritual directors – Eugene Peterson said that the assumption of spirituality - is that God is always doing something before I know it.

“So the task is not to get God to do something. I think needs to be done,
but to become aware of what God is doing so that I can respond to it and participate and take delight in it.”

Get ready, Heather,
God is doing something and preparing that place for you to feed God’s sheep
My prayer for you and all of us is that
we may see God at work, love the people in our care and delight in all that is doing in our midst. Amen ,

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Full House

We have a full house tonight.

Rachel and Brock, Chuck's grandchildren are here for the week. Rachel is 14 and Brock is 11. They are great company and we have had fun all week in Bible School.

Marnie Reagan and Addie are here as well. We have three bedroom and one basement. We are full. Marnie and Addie are sleeping together and Rachel and Reagan are sharing a room and Brock is on the couch in the family room and Chuck moves from our bedroom to the basement (this is what happens when you get older! ) We are full.

Plus there is a mouse in the house. It was sighted last night by Rach and we tried to say the we didn't believe it. Then this morning Marnie told me that she saw it and said not to tell the kids - because they would "freak out"
Unfortunately as she was whispering that to me and Chuck - (no easy task because we are hard of hearing these days) the mouse was making another appearance - this time in the family room in front of Brock and Rachel. It ended up in the kitchen in the corner.

So Chuck got a mousetrap and it is in the kitchen in the corner.

Now it is Saturday evening and the mouse has been sighted in Marnie's room where Addie was watching TV. Brock is running around with a broom right now (what does he think he is going to do - sweep it away?) and they have notified Chuck - who is presumed to be the "Mouse Killer" in our household. I don't know about that.

I am, of course, in the family room writing this.

So....we do have a full house - hope everybody can sleep tonight. I know I will because I have my own bedroom. And I have church tomorrow - I can't lose sleep over this!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vacation Bible School

I think I am going to survive it - we have two days to go.

Vacation Bible School as one person said to me this week is the longest week in the summer for the adults and too short for the kids.

This year we had 60 kids pre registered and I heard 68 altogether so far. It really has been an awesome week. This year I am the "storyteller" and I introduce the Bible story of the day four times (with 4 different groups) and afterward talk to the kids about the story that was acted out for them.

We have "Bible clothes" for the kids to wear and each group is instructed to put on their "Bible imaginations" before we start the story and get in some sort of costume. Amazingly, they are doing it - even the junior high kids and it starts the whole process with a lot of fun.

Yesterday "Jesus" was a special visitor at the home of the pharisees and the kids were nonored guests. They came in to a room with a variety of chairs - some hard and some soft and not enough and found a place to sit. Afterward Jesus told them that we need to live humbly and let others take the best seats first. And he also talked about inviting everybody - even the unpopular kids - to parties. Then he left.

I led them in a discussion about not living a "Me First" life and about reaching out to those who others rejected. With each group - even the kindergarteners - I asked tham about times they felt lonely and watched these darling children look at me seriously and nod their heads. Because, of course, that is true. We all have these times of feeling lonely and uncertain.

What Bible School is reminding me this week is of how a church can really be a place where everyone is accepted as who they are. It is exhausting, chaotic and kind of crazy - but every child comes in and has a place for themselves. We have some really caring adults and yoouth. They are learning stories from the Bible - but more importantly - they really are experiencing an environment of love.

But I am glad we only do this one week a year!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Lake House at the end of the road

I have just returned from three nights staying at the LaKe House - a little cabin in the woods in Hocking Hills.
It is just big enough for two people with a porch across the front, a king sized bed in the living room with the couch, a reading chair and a small TV. There is a kitchen and a hot tub and it sits on a lake. It is in hocking hills and we have been on excursions to see the Rock House and the Cantwell Cliffs. Awesome!

This is what I wrote this morning after 3 days of resting, reading, fishing, walking and more resting.

I sit on the porch and see trees reflected in the lake
The dock has our fishing rods from yesterday's activity
Two chairs are beside the fire ring where we sat and talked and sat in silence in front of the glowing embers.

We have rested and found peace here.

i ma grateful for this time with good sleep every night and naps in the afternoon

I am grateful for having to face my sadness and my losses

i am grateful for books I have shared with Chuck (including Alice Cooper's book on Golf!)

I am grateful for walking and seeing magnificent rock formations and awesome natural beauty.

The first day I was here I lay on the dock and looked up at the sky and the underside of the leaves. And saw again as I continue to see - that everything is more.
There is so much going on that I cannot see it all - let alone interpret it.

Again and again I find the best definition of God for me is "more."
there is more beauty here than you can see
There is more healing here than you realize
There is more love than you can even imagine.

I thank God for this time and I am grateful for the healing and the peace of the lake house.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th ruminations

Today is the 4th of July and it should be a good day. One of the best parts of today is that my sermon is done! Saturdays are a mixed bag for me if it isn't and today it is! Hooray.

We have the annual Northland 4th of July Parade and our church has a float in it. I will walk with them up Karl Road and hand out flyers about Vacation Bible School and family fun day. This is always fun for me!
Chuck is at the church and helping with a lemonade stand and just hanging out. Addie and Reagan will be in the float. Should be great.

This afternoon we will all go to Kacey's for a cookout and then to the Reynoldsburg fireworks.

I am really looking forward to Monday when Chuck and I are going to Hocking Hills where we have rented a cabin for 3 days. It is on a lake and we will get to just hang out and rest. Last night we were in bed at 8:30 and both of us were exhausted. I hope I can get my energy back. I wonder if I have a health issue that I am so tired - or if it is just 3 family deaths, a mission trip and the weekly work of preaching that has caught up with me.

This may be a prelude to next summer when I get my Sabbatical. I found online a place in East Tennessee which is designed for Sabbaticals. They rent the cabins for $200 a week with a MINIMUM stay of one month. Right now that sounds so appealing to me. I originally thought I would do a Sabbatical that would involve a lot of travel and learning - right now all I want to do is rest and read and write.

I have two other events that are taking up space in my head right now. The first is that Heather Bentley Hicks asked me to preach her ordination in 2 weeks. What an honor that is - but I keep thinking about what to say. About loving the church, loving the people, loving God and of course loving and caring for ourselves. Anyway, it is there on my mind.

And now, we received word of the topics for the week for Advance Conference in August. This camp for young adults is one of my favorite weeks of the year - and it is also an interesting challenge to do me "Keynote." This year I volunteered to speak about "Doubt and Faith" and already my mind is starting to ponder that. I like the process - and look forward to whatever comes.

So, today is a Holiday and always a time for the things I like best - family, food, fun, and ruminating!