Friday, March 23, 2012

Sally at Eternal Echoes offers this Friday Five:
OK I'll admit it, right now I am exhausted, there is so much going on and so much to do that I fell like I am running around in small circles, add to that the fact that there is so much that I'd like to do ....

What I need to do is give myself permission (make myself) to stop and to refocus, to breath the air and smell the roses to get perspective and to rest in God's presence, and sometimes that can be hard to achieve but I know that the harder it gets, the more essential it becomes. Somewhere deep inside I hear the Spirit whispering to my soul:

Live in me, make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself, but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined to me... (John 15: 4)

So I want to ask you

1. How do you intentionally make a vital daily connection with God? What roots you and gives you life?
I use the Book of Common Worship and pray the lectionary. It's been my practice for the past nine years. I find it fruitful. I also take a daily walk, not always at the same time or in the same place. I find this fruitful, too.

2. Do you have a favourite space/ place that you go to?
For sedentary praying, I can be found in my office. For the walking prayer, I'm all over the neighborhood.
3. Is there a particular passage, phrase or prayer that brings you immediately into God's presence?
Psalm 46:10.
4. Music- essential ingredient or distraction- discuss
Sometimes essential, if that makes sense. I often pray with music in the background, but sometimes appreciate silence.
5. Silence and solitude or engagement with like minded others?
Yes, and yes. I guess I'm an eclectic connector.
Bonus, a poem, piece of inspirational prose or music that speaks to you of that vital connection...
Wendell Berry's sabbath poems.

a marathon versus a sprint

It's all about patience and perseverance and hanging onto hope, I think.
And by "it", I mean life.
I've got nothing very shiny and new here,only a reminder to myself, I suppose, that while our culture seems to delight in things that are swift and shiny and not terribly demanding,life is anything but that. Life is messy,not simple, and the healthy responses to life often take time and patience and endurance and hope.

The past few months have been filled with lots and lots of pastoral care issues that are not going to resolve themselves with rapid and complete healing. They are the marathons of life, the long, slow runs that have hills and water stations set too far apart. They are the mountain climbing expeditions, replete with switchbacks and shaky footing and some rock slides.

In the past few months I've been called to work with some congregations that have slowly been fading because of their inability to cope with change in and around them, and now they're looking for help in the form of instant answers and quick fixes, of which there are few to none. It reminds me of folks who talk about instant weight loss to combat weight that took years to put on.

I'm in the midst of reading One Hundred Names for Lovee by Diane Ackerman, a writer whose work I've long admired. No stranger to the endurance road of relationship with a partner with chronic health conditions, Ackerman is a great guide for those who are called to accompany loved ones, parishoners, friends or neighbors on their marathon excursions. She writes that as she learned more about her spouse's diagnosis, she "grasped the implications well enough to half extinguish hope."

I'm also in the midst of reading Diana Butler Bass' new book, Christianity After Religion as I get ready for an upcoming meeting with the Book Group that Fills My Heart With Joy. I'm only a little way into this book, but like Ackerman, Bass writes with her usual straightforwardness of the realities of mainline Protestant congregations in the 21st century. Perhaps as religion "ebbs away" as Butler describes, we will be willing to run the long race in ways that make sense for the times in which we live.

The vibrant congregation I serve is forging some new pathways, fully recognizing that traditional responses really don't fit new situations. It's taking time, but we're working on patiently providing a variety of entry points for life and programming at the church so that mission and ministry can have some sprinty moments along with the marathon ones. More important, though, are the changes that are taking place so that we can discover new ways to humbly make a difference by truly living the gospel. In this I find the energy that fuels the marathon.

Image from here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Five: Lateness

My friend Jan at Yearning for God writes:

"All day I have looked repeatedly at RevGals to see where today's Friday Five is. . . . AND only right now, at 2 pm in Texas, do I realize I am the one in charge! I am sorry I am so late and forgetful.

That brings forth all the times I've been late or forgot something. How about you?

When have you been late or a no-show? When have you forgotten something or someone?"

1. at church:
I'm feeling anxious just thinking about this. I really detest being late or a no-show.
I can't think of a time, but people are probably too kind to remind me.
My stomach hurts just imagining it.
2. at home:
I'm late more often than I'd care to admit. I think it has something to do with #1....
3. at work:
Well, for me work is church. So, see #1.
4. with friends: I'm behind on all sorts of contact with friends. #1.
(You're catching on, aren't you?)
5. ? where else? I think I'm pretty prompt and on the ball when it comes to my kids.
(Oh, dear. I wonder if this is some kind of a quiz about priorities.
If time is a treasure, then this certainly reveals where my heart is.
Feeling rather indicted....)

The White Rabbit from here.