Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January Prayers

This is my letter for the church newsletter. I thought I would share it on this blog.

Dear Friends
I write this in a chilly office on a very cold day in January. I started this day with my own mantra which is: “I am here to be with you.” I pray this every day and remember that my purpose and my life comes from my relationship with God.
As I unpack this simple phrase, it means - - I am here – on this earth, in this home, in this marriage, in this calling, in this moment –
to be with you, my God, , Jesus, spirit, love.
And as I say those words and pray those words, I start to remember that God, the source of life is here with me.

January has been a very cold month in Ohio and in many ways it has been a hard time. And so my letter is a gift of a prayer for all of us. Both my simple mantra and this wonderful prayer by Ted Loder. May we continue to remember that our life is rich and deep as we open ourselves to God’s presence.
Who is HERE

Oh God, gather me now to be with you as you are with me.
Soothe my tiredness;
quiet my fretfulness;
curb my aimlessness;
relieve my compulsiveness;
let me be easy for a moment.
O Lord, release me
from the fears and guilts which grip me so tightly;
from the expectations and opinions which I so tightly grip,
that I may be open
to receiving what you give,
to risking something genuinely new,
to learning something refreshingly different.
Forgive me
for claiming so much for myself
that I leave no room for gratitude;
for confusing exercises in self-importance
with acceptance of self-worth;
for complaining so much of my burdens
that I become a burden;
for competing against others so insidiously
that I stifle celebrating them
and receiving your blessing through their gifts.
O God, gather me to be with you as you are with me.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meetings and Ministry

This has been a month of meetings! These are the meetings I have been to this month: worship and music, board meeting, hospitality meeting, elders meetings, staff meetings, district ministers meeting, regional ministers meetings, 2 Northland ministers meeting, a Wellstreams meeting. Some have lasted an hour and some as much as 3 hours.
Sometimes I wonder whether this is time well spent, sometimes I know that this meeting is absolutely essential to the life of the organization.

What I know is that communication is key for an organization as well as developing relationships. And so, these meetings serve a purpose well beyond what appears to be happening in the moment.
At the same time, there is the frustrations. Sometimes it is poor attendance or lack of focus. Sometimes it is wondering what is the real purpose of this time together.

Anyway, one part of my shadow is my impatience and that certainly can get in the way of my trusting the process that involves people coming together to talk, discuss and make decisions about the work of an organization.

So, I guess I write this in confession today. I confess that too often I fail to discern the ministry that can be part of the meeting if only I will be patient and open to those who join me at the various tables at which I sit.

Lord, have mercy on me and guide me in your way of life. Whether I sit beside the bed of a person in the hospital, lead a Bible study or attend an organizational meeting.
May I be faithful to you.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year

What else would I title the first post of 2014? A new year.

And I think alot about what it means to be a new year. I am very much a person who is about new year's resolutions because I am always about new beginnings. And the new year is a time for reflections and renewed SOMETHING.

Yesterday was, of course, the first day of the year but for our family it was a celebration of "Christmas" - that is to say, the exchange of gifts. And it was fun and silly and filling. So for me, it was not the first day of the year because it was the end. I guess that makes sense.

Anyway, today, January 2nd I ponder new - beginnings, habits, plans, wonderings.
And as I write this I sit in my family room in front of a fire listening on pandora to the "Eva Cassidy" channel. (Eva Cassidy is a blog of her own - maybe later this year) Candles are lit and I am ready to write about the new year.

This morning I put together the worship service for the first service at Karl Road Christian Church in 2014. As we go back to that familiar and wonderful story of the 3 kings, magi, wise men who traveled miles and miles and miles following a star and seeking something. A king? a child? the meaning of life? a savior? an adventure? what? I love the story and the sense of what that journey means today.

Our theme for this year is Be Bold. The word BOLD came to me in the fall and I continued to believe that was what God wants for us to explore this year - not just the verb (faith is a verb!) but the adverb and adjective. How do we live this life of spirit - BOLDLY! And now - what does that mean?

So this morning I started my day with lots of resolutiions like - making my bed and starting the day with a devotional. The devotional a gift from Charles - and it was signed by the author. It is called "The President's Devotional" and I think I will like it. Today the writing was about frailty - recognizing our own frailty which helps us to live in love and not judgment. He writes: "The greatest among us is nothing more than sin stitched together. The least among us is not much worse, and maybe a bit better. We're kept alive and thriving only by the grace of God."

And it all relates to the reading I have been doing for the last two weeks of books by Brene Brown. What has been coming to me this month as I have been pondering BOLD - is that bold can only happen if we are willing to face our vulnerability. We cannot have courage unless we are willing to face and then transcend our fear.

So, the thoughts keep coming and I wonder as always what God is going to do with me this year, with us (that is Karl Road Christian Church) and with you - whoever is the you that is reading this blog.

What I believe and trust is that this path of opening ourselves to the one who gives us life - this path of looking up and walking into the unknown searching for more - love, God, hope, peace, - is a great adventure. That at times scares me but I trust will lead to something I cannot imagine right now as I sit in comfort in my home.

Happy New Year - may this year for all people be truly NEW