Meditation Monday: Heal

heal

In chapel one morning I was struck by a verse in a worship song.

“Earth has no sorrow heaven cannot heal.”

Heal

What struck me was the absolute truth of this statement. There is no sorrow God cannot heal.   Will it be a fast and pretty process? No. The verse doesn’t make that claim. Will it be a painless and easy process? No the verse doesn’t make that claim either.

We are promised a healing. What that looks like and how it progresses is up to each individual’s circumstances and lives. But if we are willing so too is God.

Almighty God, there is nothing above you. You have set us a little lower than yourself. There is nothing on Earth that heaven can’t deal with. Help us to remember to bring to you all our heartbrokenness and feelings of sadness so that we might once again know a deep love and happiness because we have gone through pain to get to the other side with you. Amen.

Meditation Monday: Pastor Appreciation

Pastor Appreciation

And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15 KJV

October is pastor appreciation month. It is a time when we honor all the hard work by the “shepherds” of the church. It is a tough job and often thankless.

Pastor Appreciation

We assign one month a year to celebrate and thank our pastors. On social media there is a video going around entitled, “Some days Jesus has to shepherd me like this …” it shows a modern day shepherd grabbing something down in a deep hole. As he pulls to get it out we realize that somehow one of his sheep has slipped into a tiny but deep hole. Pulling it out by its hind legs in order to rescue it, the message is clear.

Not only do our pastors help to shepherd us through life with prayers, guidance and advice which feed our souls, sometimes they pull us out of the deep holes we fall into. We can recall some of these moments as we come to this month of thanks and appreciation.

Dear God help us to appreciate those you have set the mantle of leadership upon. We know we can be unkind at times, but we also are capable of the most loving acts of appreciation. Encourage us to show our thankfulness for our pastors, the shepherds of your flock. Amen.

Click here to read pastors sharing what they love the most about their job.

UMC Flood Relief

Flood ReliefOne Drop Of Water That Leads To A Flood

One drop of water is insignificant.

One trillion drops can stop an entire city!

In Louisiana, in a short time, millions upon millions of drops of water fell from the sky inundating the people, their pets and their homes with flood waters. Four parishes have been declared disaster areas because of this flood. There is much devastation and chaos.

Like snowflakes, individual water droplets are singularly beautiful, even innocuous and not all that forceful. But when they get together, their power becomes an overwhelming flood, sinking entire homes and killing people.

One Drop Of Grace That Leads To A Flood Of Love

Yet, just as much as drops of water coming together can wreak havoc upon a community, so too can United Methodists when we come together to bring grace and love to people devastated by flood waters.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is working with FEMA and other national disaster response organizations, including the American Red Cross, Lutheran Disaster Response, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, and the umbrella group, National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD). They are helping those affected by this flood with warehouse space, cleanup buckets, distribution assistance, and shelter for evacuees—opening hearts, minds and doors to those in need.

Banding together, United Methodists can take on the flood and show people how God is working their midst.

The best ways to help are to assemble and send cleanup buckets and to support the UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response Advance, #901670, with your donations.

And praying, always praying.

Dear God, we pray hope and peace to our brothers and sisters in Louisiana. We ask for your healing touch upon the land that is flooded. May the waters recede and the time of rebuilding begin. We will not forget them now or when the rains stop. Protect them especially the vulnerable. Watch over them. Amen.

Elections and The Common Good

Elections

Elections

For many, elections have become a competition, a horse race. They determine whose person wins and as a result whose beliefs and values are supposedly the best.

Yet elections are about more than who wins or loses. They are a right and responsibility of each citizen who is of age.

Many have fought wars both violent and nonviolent to give everyone the right to vote. We do their sacrifice an injustice by not participating in this democratic system that, while flawed, is better than all the others out there. It is better than coups, monarchies and theocracies.

The Common Good

Elections are also a responsibility. They ask of us to think and pray long and hard about how we are to be in community with one another. Elections are not about winning one for the team, but the common good. They are to make common the good for all.

As a connectional church this is not new to us United Methodists. “Every United Methodist congregation is interconnected throughout the denomination via a unique, interlocking chain of conferences. The United Methodist Church practices representative democracy in its governance.” We understand the rights and responsibilities of our Connection’s common good.

Let us now in each of our country’s electoral process and our Church’s connectional process, seek the beloved community, the common good for all. Let us not only participate in a horse race that does not in the end care for the making of community but only in winning. We are not to vanquish one another but love one another as our God so loved us.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, … Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV

Meditation Monday: Seeing God

Seeing God

The first Russian cosmonaut in space was asked by ground control about what he saw in space.

His answer: “I don’t see God.”

Often when we look for God, we turn our attention heavenward. We look up literally and figuratively. Turning our focus to the sky we “watch” for God just as the disciples did when Jesus ascended. Instinctively we pray upward and we speak to God as if He is above somewhere. But this is not seeing God.

And yet Jesus tells us to look horizontally when we search for Him.

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The Beloved Community

Community

Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives. Martin Luther King Jr.

Whoever isn’t against us is for us. I assure you that whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will certainly be rewarded. Mark 9:40-41 CEB

The question of who is in and who is out of the beloved community is one of the threads running throughout the gospel of Mark. What we find when we study Jesus in Mark is that those who are on the margins of society – the sick, the dying, the poor, the “unclean”, Gentiles, children, women, Galilean fisherman, prostitutes and the demon-possessed, are all at the center of the community. Always have been and always will be.

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Love Is Enough

Love Is Enough

Love Is Enough

A state legislator, trying to justify raffling off an assault rifle at a fundraiser, proclaimed, “You can’t combat this kind of hatred (mass shootings) with overwhelming love. There is only one way to combat this…that’s either to remove or neutralize these individuals.”

Yet being Christians, isn’t “overwhelming love” required of us, even with our enemies?

“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete. Matthew 5:43-48 (CEB)

But is love enough? In a decade of mass shootings and suicide bombers, is love a powerful defense against self-hatred turned outward?

Love was never meant to be a “defense” against evil. Love has always been an offensive action against bigotry, anger and hurt. (Double entendre intended.)

As Jesus tells us in verse 44, love is an action as much as praying for your enemies is one. It is not a weapon. It is a verb.

Love IS Enough

So what does love do?

In a moment of violence love is the mother out with her son for a night of dancing, throwing herself in front of him taking the terrorist’s bullet. In another, love is a teacher shielding her students.

But love is at its most powerful before situations have deteriorated to the point of bloodshed. It is in the act of loving people continuously that we prevent them from becoming so filled with self-hatred that it spills over into hating others.

We must love these people who seem unlovable. It is in loving that we can combat violence and hatred. Love is enough.

This type of love is not a superficial love. We are talking about a deep visceral love that makes miracles happen. Not in some magical sort of way but like the love shown at other nonviolent protests that have taken place and changed the world. The kind of love that brings people together to become the beloved community, taking care of all God’s children. This is the kind of love all of us can exhibit towards each of us. This love is enough.

We must ask ourselves how we could have loved these people before they lost sight of their divinely inspired humanity. Perhaps if we can answer that question, the need for guns will be obsolete.

Should we try?

Meditation Monday: We Are The Church

We Are The Church

We are the church. Jesus promises to be with us no matter what.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

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Meditation Monday: True Inheritance

True Inheritance

It may sound very selfish.

“I hope the church is around long enough to have my funeral.”

For many churches that find their numbers dwindling, such a sentiment is often expressed to clergy as discussion about the future of the church takes place. While the sentiment is a bit self-centered, the need it calls to is deep.

The more important inheritance is to leave a place just as comforting to the next generation as the church has been to us.

True Inheritance

Even as we draw nearer to the time of our death as an individual, our legacy is still influenced by our actions or lack of action. No matter what our age, we as individuals and as a church must continue to look toward the future for those who are following in our footsteps or who have yet to know the freedom of the gospel.

Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 2 Peter 1:12-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Administration – A Ministry of Support

Administration

We seem to be in a time when “administration” is a bad word.  I hear too many pastors and laity who speak of “administration” as if it is a necessary evil at best, or at worst as if it gets in the way of “real ministry.”

The Ministry of Administration

The truth is that “administration” — when rightly understood — is actual ministry. It also provides the means, tools, resources, and planning to make ministry more effective.  Our ordained Elders should know this, in particular, because part of our vows for ordination include the promise to “order” the life of the church.  The Apostle Paul lists “administration” is one of the roles that God has placed within the Body of Christ to enhance ministry (I Corinthians 12:28).  And it is simply common sense that “administer” means “to or toward ministry.”

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