Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Holy Spirit

I am getting ready for Pentecost this Sunday which is our celebration of the gift of the HOly Spirit.

God keeps showing me the various ways in which spirit is working in different people.

Sunday night we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast. In the morning we had breakfast with the other three couples who were staying there. One of them was a married couple who talked about their story of being led into a new life together. She had been a nurse and he was an executive in accounting and she used the term "call" to describe her desire to start a business in Grove City. It is a essentially a meeting center or party house where they host all kinds of celebrations like weddings, parties and even funerals. She talked about the joy for her of being the place where people come to make memories and celebrate. I heard the work of the spirit that guides us into that sort of life decision.

Before we left, we talked to BJ who is the owned of the B and B. He shared his story of how much he hated his job for 40 years and then bought this property and slowly restored it and it became the place of hospitality that it is now. I asked him about the Civil War memorabilia and he said that was a passion of his too. But another passion is that he travels all around the world working in 3rd world countries - building homes and doing whatever needs to be done. He has worked with Habitat and Doctors without Borders and with a friend has started his own very small mission to Central America that is in the Hocking Hills. An awesome story and I felt the spirit all over the place.

This morning I got word from Audrey that Sharon Watkins, our General Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is going to give her a writing for her "Easter Project." This project has so clearly been spirit driven. As Audrey started with this idea - she wondered if she could even get the 50 writings that she needed. Then she wondered if she could get any denominational leaders - like regional ministers and of course, Sharon herself. And it has grown and grown. Now every day she is publishing 2 writings because she has more than enough. There is talk of a book being published out of these writings. Sharon at first said that she would write, and then that she would not and now - this morning - in the last week - YES she will and she will have her husband write too.

I am awed by all of this and feel blessed to see and sometimes participate in the work of the spirit.

God is good, All the time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reflection on Appreciation

I woke up this morning in the Robert E, Lee Room in the Georgian Manner in Logan Ohio. We spent one night there in the beautiful Hocking Hills of southern Ohio.

It is a beautiful setting. The Georgian Manner sits on Lake Logan. It is a large home with a spacious front porch with white rocking chairs overlooking the lake.
Chuck and I spent hours in those chairs last night and this morning, reading, talking looking at the beauty of the day. Watching heros, swans, ducks, geese, butterflies. The longer I sat, the more I saw, the more I appreciated.

And this morning waking up in this room I began to notice the myriad details of this home. It has been lovingly and painstakingly restored by the owner, BJ. He said he bought it and thought he would put in 18 months fixing it up - but it took 7 years. He is a Civil War Buff and the rooms all have antiques and memoribilia from those years. In the Robert E. Lee room there is a portrait of Lee, an antique rifle, a map of the western seat of the war. In the corner there is a dressmarkers torso with civil war uniform and a hat. I could go on and on about the lamp, the carpers, drapses, marble topped dresser, and this is only one room.

What occurs to me is that this is the result of someone's passion, creativity and inspiration. And I get to appreciate it.

And what I am recognizing is that appreciation is almost a decision to live in a way of life. It is about taking time to reflect, to notice and then to appreciate what is there. Somehow, I see appreciation as the fruit of our spiritual life - it happens when we stop, breath, look, notice.....and find ourselves awed.

My sense of appreciation today is much more than this beautiful Bed and Breakfast. I have time to reflect on the last few days at church and recognize how much creativity, inspiration, love and goodness has been part of our life together.

We had a wonderful meal on Saturday night and a great worship service Sunday morning to celebrate the 50 years of ministry of Karl Road Christian Church And as I reflect on it I appreciate:
In the table decoations done by June and Dottie and Barb
In the lovingly put together picture frames done by Kim and Jim
In the warm and welcoming emceeing of Alan at the meal
In the care that Marsha took in compiling a book about these 50 years
In the wonderful food prepared by Thom
In the heartfelt sermon by Herb on Sunday

So much care by so many people. So often I heard - "The devel is in the details" but as I look at a beautiful B and B and reflect back on a memorable weekend I know that God is truly in the details.

And when it is all said what I keep learning is that taking the time to look back, to reflect, to notice....leads to appreciation....and leads to a sense of abundance.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Prayer Wall

I put together a prayer wall this morning outside of my office.
This is an idea I have had for a while and with the 50th anniversary celebration of our church this weekend, I finally just did it.

It is pretty simple - because I am pretty simple when it comes to anything that has to do with crafts.

I put on it some quotes about prayer:

Pray, and let God worry. --
Martin Luther
Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?
-- Corrie Ten Boom

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
James 5:16

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Martin Luther King Jr

I also put two lists -
- people in the military
- people with cancer

And then I put a description of what this is about - a place to see and remember to pray for others. It is also designed to be interactive. So I put post it notes and a pen there for people to write the name of someone who needs prayer. And we will see.

As I was working this morning I got a phone call from the Columbus Dispatch. A woman wanting us to subscribe to the newspaper. She obviously did not hear my greeting: "Karl Road Christian Church."

So when she understood, she immediately said - would you pray for me?
And I said - "Sure." Then I told her I was the pastor. Her name is Wendy and she asked for prayers for her and her children. She is under stress.

Her name is now on the prayer wall.

We all need prayer.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thinking of Mother

I have thought a lot about my mother the last few days.

It is not because of MOther's Day - because that day was not for us a particularly special day. We were rarely together on Mother's Day because I never lived near my mother once I became an adult. Instead on that day I would hopefully remember to send flowers and to call her. Dutifully. No, Mother's Day was no big deal for us -

Instead I think of her this weekend because I have spent some time on the sides of soccer fields watching two grandchildren - Reagan and Jackson - play soccer. And that my mother would have loved to have seen.

I did not learn how to do my hair and nails from my Mom, I did not learn how to shop or really how to cook or to decorate a home. She did those things, but that was not at all a passion for her. Her passion was sports. She watched sports as an adult and she played sports as a young woman. My mother was an athlete - and if you met her in adulthood, you might not have recognized it right away. She was not a small woman and did not continue playing sports (except golf in her 50's) after she married. But in high school and in college she played everything - field hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and softball.

And so, this weekend, watching Reagan go after the ball and being part of a team and so confident in the game would have pleased her immensely. And seeing Jackson as the soccer superstar - completely focussed on a game and scoring goals and being the goalie that never got scored on would have been fabulous.

So...I share my mother's name - Margaret - and I share her love of sports and I know that if she were here, she would share my love of watching these kids have fun on the field of play!!

Happy Mother's Day to all of us who are blessed to be mothers and to have mothers!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One of the Crowd

In the past few days I have been part of two crowds that have been really meaningful to me.

On Saturday I gathered with 13,000 people in downtown Columbus for the Cap City Marathon. Some people were running a half marathon - (13.1 miles), some - like me - were running or walking a quarter marathon - (6.55 miles) - and others were doing a "Commit to be Fit" 5k. Some were very fit and fast; others (like me!) were not so fit but determined. It was all very inspiring - and a lot of it because there was such a crowd. There were even more people as we found crowds welcoming us when we walked or ran through the middle of the city and at the finish lines. Some of that crowd was cheering people with signs, or clappping or calling us by name. It really was wonderful and I was surprised that I walked as fast as I did without stopping. And being in the crowd was a big part of that for me. It was also fun to be part of the crowd that gathered afterward - receiving free fruit, water, chocolate, bagels and even champagne. Most of all there was that shared sense of satisfaction that we had done something good for ourselves that morning.

Last night I was with a different kind of crowd at the Fairgrounds. I was part of the Nehemiah Action meeting of the BREAD organization. Bread is a social justice group that includes over 50 churches, synagogues and even a mosque. We work together to help make a difference in the lives of people in our community. At this annual meeting, we are inviting community leaders to come and make a commitment to an action that we believe will change some systemic problems. Last night our major issue was job creation in Columbus Our research team learned thqat in comparison with 16 other similar cities, Columbus ranked dead last in small business development. They also found that 2/3rds of new jobs come from small businesses. So, 4 members of city council came and pledged to work together to plan and fund "incumbators" which would help to fund small business entrepreneurs and also to give them expertise. It was gratifying to see that something really does seem to be happening. We also heard reports from other issues from the past - about how our organization has worked with community leaders in combatting truancy, neighborhood blight and health care problems. By the time we left I also felt that same sense of satisfaction that by being there - we had done something good for others. And so, it is clear we are not always called to lead but just to do our part as part of the crowd. Being together, working together can really make a difference. Amen!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


This is a picture that I received for my birthday from Kim Veatch. It is called "An Invitation to Love" And it is just so perfect - expressing the heart of our faith. God is continually offering us an invitation to love. And then it is up to us whether or not we want to accept it.

I write this as I prepare to go to church this morning. I sit in my living room and look out the window at some familiar and beautiful sights. I see the maginifcent tree in my front yard that is now green and inviting to birds and squirrels. I see our red bird feeder and birds that come and go throughout the day. I see the chain that connects to our porch swing - another invitation to me to come and rest and to the children - our grandchildren and children in our neighborhood to come and be with us. Our front porch is a very special place for Chuck and I. When we are home we frequently sit and read and drink and eat and be in this place of invitation. Yesterday I say there and eventually 10 children joined me - Addie and Reagan and 8 from the neighborhood. These children - originally from Sierra Leone - have found that "Mr. Chuck" is the one who will give them snacks and popsicles and help put air in their basketballs and even lend them a mower to mow their yard. And I got to do yesterday what I love - I devised a game and had all 10 kids running around the front yard looking for a ceramic rooster. (you had to be there.)

So a porch, a swing, a birdfeeder, a tree. A painting. There are so many forms of invitation. My hope on this Sunday morning is that I will continue to grow in my capacity to invite and to love. And that I will say YES to the invitations that come my way.