Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Memorial Address

This morning when I woke up I thought I would share the memorial address from the funerl for Lisa Baluk. This is obviously a very unusual thing to do - however, this was a very unusual and beautiful young woman.

What I have realized is that she really embodied a person - who - as much as possible was present to her life. This is what I said about her.

Memorial Address - for Lisa

I have some notes from Lisa from a meeting I had with her December 27th to plan this day.It is written on a pad which says -
“This is the day that the Lord has made
Let us rejoice and be glad in it”

And she has Bible verses written - which you have heard
And these words: Fun! Fun! Fun! Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!

No need to wear black in color scheme
Bright bold colors encouraged - cheerful and happy
I know people will be mournful, but I also want happy time to shine through And so…..celebrate

I celebrate a young woman of wonder - who loved tinkerbell and roller coasters and Disney land.
I celebrate Lisa’s intelligence that we saw in so many ways. Intelligence as she managed this illness and seemed to know so much about every possibility. She had awareness and intelligence about her body. Often before the doctors told her - she knew. And more than that Wisdom about life and love and God

I celebrate a family who shows all of us what a family can be

I celebrate the relationship between Fred and Lisa. Lisa who “was humbled” that her dad retired and was able to be so much of a companion with her these last 40 months.
Fred who over and over again has expressed appreciation for what Lisa has taught him in their walks and her “carriage rides”

I celebrate Trixie and Lisa and the way that Trixie was able to completely and selflessly give to her daughter and drive her to appointments, keep track of medications, buy and prepare the foods that were needed as the diet changed and

I celebrate her relationship with Dennis, her husband to whom she said - Last Monday - “I love you with all my heart and spirit. You are my true helpmate in my journey. I would not have made it this far without you.” I celebrate their faith - reading the Bible and devotionals; listening to music and praying together.

I celebrate the message of the swans - Karl Road Christian Church was blessed to hear this story presented by Lisa - a story of healing and strength that she received from swans that came to the pond behind her parents home.Swans who she named Oliver and Tuz - named after her deceased grandparents- you see their pictures on your bulletin

The swans’ presence in her life were a Divine connection had a profound impact on her healing and belief system. When she told her story about them she talked about how much she loved her life - “ this wonder-filled planet, enjoying the riches of being a "spiritual being having a human experience." Today she wants us to celebrate that she loved her life! It was a gift!
We celebrate that!

I want to end by telling the Native American folklore story about the Swan and the Dragonfly. I learned this from Lisa.
The swan with great curiosity, asks Dragonfly about a black hole.

"Dragonfly said, 'Swan, that is the doorway to other planes of imagination. I have been the guardian for many, many moons. If you want to enter there, you would have to ask permission and earn the right.' "

Swan shows willingness to delve into the black hole.
.... Dragonfly says, "You must be willing to accept whatever the future holds without trying to change Great Spirit's plan."

Swan says, "I will be happy to abide by Great Spirit's plan. I won't fight the currents of the black hole. I will surrender to the flow of the spiral and trust what I am shown."

Swan goes through a major transformation, from an ugly duckling like phase to that of a glorious swan. Dragonfly questions what happened to Swan.

Swan replies, "Dragonfly, I learned to surrender my body to the power of Great Spirit and was taken to where the future lives. I saw many wonders high on Sacred Mountain and because of my faith and my acceptance I have been changed. I have learned to accept the state of grace."

Swan symbolizes the ability to see the future, surrender to the power of Great Spirit and accept the healing and transformation of her life. And YOU KNOW LISA was the SWAN

I celebrate Lisa who showed us how you surrender to the power of Great Spirit and embody the loving and healing power of God.
She was a light to me, to Karl Road Christian Church and our healing team, to the doctors and the nurses who attended her, to her friends, to Freddie, to Fred, to Trixie to Dennis.

I celebrate Lisa and I celebrate her faith and our faith that enables us to say goodbye knowing that she is in a place of peace and joy and celebration
That she is with our Lord and that we will see her in God’s time.
And I can only imagine the celebration that happened up there on January 2 at 2 AM.

Note: following this we listened to "I can only imagine" with Nicole Bunch signing to it.

Again, my life was blessed to pastor this beautiful young woman. I miss her.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fully human, fully alive

I am getting ready for tomorrow and preaching on being beloved by God.

I found myself drawn to the book "Fully human, Fully alive" by John powell.
His thesis of the book is that becoming fully alive is all about our vision and the fact that human beings can change their lives as they change their vision of life, themselves and others.. ThIs is not a new idea, of course, but he writes with such clarity.

i thiught I would share his view of the supplies and equipment that are required for this journey to becoming fulky human, fully alive.

1.Openness and flexibility. You must believe with all your heart that you do not possess all truth in proper perspective. You must be ready to be questioned by life.
2. Sensory and emotional awareness. "you will have to hear what your body is saying- when it is tired and when it is tense."
3. A friend -confidant-someone to whom you can ve totally open
4. A journal so that we can record events and our emotional reactions to them
5. Times of quiet reflection -it is the presence of threat in some form that distorts our vision. Times to relax, review and re evaluate help us to have our vision expand
6.The stretch marks of risk and revision-which means to act on our insights and try new behavior "doing initiates a learning process."

I have outlined what he writes about in pages and pages, but he writes to: read and see what you need to acquire.
And for me, it always a challenge to stay open to what God is trying to teach me.
I know it is easy to numb myself and become compulsive in doing rather than aware of what is really going on within me.
I think this is good stuff. Chew on it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

You are the Beloved

This year - 2011 - I am focussing each week on a word. A word from the text. This is the second Sunday I will be preaching, so we are just at the beginning, but already I find I really like it. One word for the week.

Last week, the word was STAR and we pondered about being star seekers and looking beyond to the signs that God gives us. Signs that are there that only we may see. It was really a sermon about that journey that we are all on.

This Sunday the word is BELOVED and it is found in the text when Jesus was baptized and God's voice declared him the beloved. And there is so much there about our need to hear that voice of love that is saying that you are MY beloved. I am enjoying this process of pondering this. It ultimately comes into part of our understanding of our own identity - that we are God's beloved.

This week has been interesting in Columbus as Ted Williams - a homeless man with the oglden voice - has received national attention and his identity and his life has changed in a heartbeat. Suddenly this man who was living on the streets in Columbus is now going to be employed by MSNBC and moving east - presumably into a house and a more conventional life. I wonder how that will all play out. A radical shift in his identity.

The baptism and this "Beloved" identity that we have as Christians seems to take a lifetime to integrate. Our identities seem to be based on all kinds of things - like family stuff and careers and gifts and body image. wSo, we have this Christian ritual (sacrament, ordinance) which is reminding us of the truth that under all of that there is a God who loves us completely. We are wrapped in that love throughout our lives. How to hear that? understand that? feel that? allow that to strengthen and begin to define us?

Tomorrow we will have the memorial service for Lisa Baluk - a 32 year old beautiful young woman who did know that she was the beloved. She did find a sense of identity, purpose and strength in that knowledge. That sustained her in these difficult 40 months since the initial cancer diagnosis. How did she live in that so completely - when so many other people are unable to?

I wish I knew that answers to this. I only pray that I might find peace in my own realization of how loved I am by God. And I pray that in some way I may be able to communicate it to others.