Friday, May 28, 2010

Thought-Provoking Friday Five

Rev Gal Blog Pals writes: "There is a German expression: ich würde die Hand dafür ins Feuer legen, which means: 'I would put my hand in the fire for that.'

I learned it many years ago, while reading the Best Reference Letter Ever: written by a very distinguished linguistics professor for a student who went on to win a prestigious international scholarship. This student, he said, was destined for greatness; and he submitted his judgment with the certainty of the expression above.

I’ve always held the concept as a very important indicator in my mind. “Would I put my hand in the fire for that?” I sometimes think, and it helps me to make a decision or see a situation more clearly. It’s similar to “is this the battlefield I want to die on?”

These days (certainly as every day) there seems to be so much difficulty, wrong, pain, injustice, and mismanagement in our world, and I need a little revitalization. Often when I feel this way, I’ll write a list of things for which I’m grateful, but that’s certainly been done, and I need a bit of a stronger draught.

So, what are five things for which would you put your hand in the fire? Things / people / causes in which you believe passionately and completely? This might be demonstrated in that you would take extraordinary (for you) action…donations, marching, writing letters…or merely in the way you live your life. You may give as much or as little detail as you wish."

This Friday Five really got me thinking. What are the five things I would put my hand in the fire for? After some thought, here is what I came up with:

1. Mental Illness---My mom and sister both have battled with it. I've seen how others have treated them because of the illness. I also see ignorant people about the illness. I will fight for this illness forever.

2. Jesus/The Trinity/Faith--Where would I be without my faith? How could I not put my hand in the fire after what Jesus did for each of us? He died on a cross to save us for our sins. I respect others who dont believe in God but for me, I couldnt live and survive the ups and downs of my life without faith. The Holy Spirit walks beside me and brings peace into my life. I would put my hand in the fire for any one of those!

3. Diaconal Ministry---Not everyone is called to be a pastor, but is called to work in the church. Me being one of those people. I continue and will continue to be the voice of this roster.

4. My family and friends---I would do anything for those that mean the world to me and have been and will always be there for me. It is all about the risk of love!

5. Im having a hard time coming up with a 5th one...I guess Ill leave it at that!

God bless you all and have a blessed memorial day weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Love Camp!

Camp has played an extremely important part in my faith journey. It was fun to open the latest issue of the Lutheran magazine and see an article about how camp changes people etc. You should check it out! (And I'm not just saying that because I was quoted in the article!) Camp truly has made me into the woman of faith that I am today. I am super duper excited that as of the other day, I already have 16 youth from church signed up to go to camp this summer which is the most we've had since I started here. It makes my heart happy. Camp truly does have an impact beyond words. So I guess I just want to say.....go to camp, send your kids to camp, etc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also dont forget to check out the great article in this month's Lutheran magazine!

I love camp!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"What If...."

What is the Holy Spirit up too? How does the Holy Spirit call us to reach out to all those around us? In other words, what is our mission and ministry in this context? How can we be missionaries to all those around us?

This afternoon I was part of a joint retreat between our two synods. As I sat around the table, I must be honest I wondered why I was there; why I had been invited to be there. I found myself listening and hearing how the Holy Spirit is at work in the world and church in our area. I was excited to hear what we are up too but I also found myself reflecting on the "what if" conversations which allowed me to open up and be me; to share my passion; to open our churches up to the down-trodden, the poor, the mentally ill, and the list goes on and on.

One of the people at the retreat asked a very honest question. Stories began to emerge. Mine being one of them! (After crying in front of a room of who don't know me well and others who know me well, I began to see why I was there. The Holy Spirit had called me to be there!) But enough about my stories, the cool thing was as I listened I saw so many stories begin to emerge. I also remember thinking if we do something, things can, will and DO happen! The Holy Spirit is ACTIVE AND MOVING IN THE WORLD!

I walked away thinking about the many ways we can reach out. What are the "what ifs" in the midst of our contexts? "What if....we reached out to our young adults....., what if we reached out to the mentally ill.....what if....what if....what if....!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blessings

Will see how long this lasts? I've been so good about posting lately. Hopefully I can keep this up!

Not too much has been on my mine lately so this will be a short post. However my grandpa (my dad's dad) celebrated his 80th birthday this weekend. Wow!! I love my grandpa so much and have learned so much from him. Such a humble, hard-working man! And as I remember Grandpa's life and celebrate his birth, I can't help but think about life in general and the blessings that come in the midst of life. My family is such a blessing! Where would I be without them?!?!

But, not only, are my family a blessing, my friends are as well. I have to admit in high school and elementary school I was not one of the popular ones. I did have friends etc but I was often picked on. (I wish I could show those people who I am and what I've become!) And because of that, I think I often held back who I really am etc when being placed in a new situation. However after camp and most especially seminary, I think I really began to realize that I could have friends who loved and treasured me for me!!! The neat thing about it is TODAY I look around and realize how amazing it is I have such wonderful friends and family. Yeah I think I do question if I am really ME around them but then I realize that I am ME!!!! Recently I was reflecting on those friendships and realized how many more blessings I have in my life than I ever imagined. Some of those blessings, it seems to me, I didn't even realize where there. WOW!!!!

Thank you for being my friend and letting me be who God created me to be without compromising that. I hope that I have done the same for you! God bless you all!!
Let us all be blessed to be a blessing to others!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Pebble in the Shoe of the Church

"Are you going to be a pastor?"
"No, I don't feel called to that ministry!"

As you can tell, one thing has been on my mind a lot lately....more than usual that is. A friend once said that "Diaconal Ministers are called to be the pebbles in the shoe of the church." As I look at this statement, I would change it a bit to say that all of us who serve on other rosters are called to be those pebbles.

The reality is many people are called to work in the church but not necessarily...Ordained/Word and Sacrament ministry. I know for me I knew that I didn't want to be a pastor and didnt feel called to that ministry. However when I got to seminary and started looking at the other rosters, I all of a sudden heard the Holy Spirit calling me into this new roster. Everything I read about it, I just heard the Holy Spirit speaking louder and louder and louder to me!

I'll admit it hasn't been easy. It's been full of pain. It's been full of some beating us up over this whole thing. I just wish people understood what a gift Deacons/Deaconesses, Associates in Ministry and Diaconal Ministers are to this church! But then I hear the voice of some who truly get it. I think of the words of one of my friends/colleagues said this weekend, "Diaconals, AIMS, and Deacons are wonderful gifts to this church." It is these kind of words that make me continue to carry on...to continue to educate...to continue to be who God has called me to be without compromising that.

I'm thinking that sometimes it pays to be the pebble in the shoe of the church.....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Humbled!

I'm feeling a little humbled at the moment......

As a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA, I've always seen it as very important for me to be a voice; to be a voice for a new roster that so many dont understand or even know what it is!Too often I find myself fighting for those that will come after me and the others just like those that came before us did for those of us that came after them. (Ok does that make any sense at all?)Today I attempted to make a step that I felt was important for all of us who serve in this roster and the other two rosters of this church; Deacons/Deaconesses and Associates in Ministry! And the cool thing is it was accepted/passed! I'm not sure what this means for our future but I feel it will be a vital and important step.

I'm humbled at the voices who rose in light of this action. Thank you for showing me that I do have gifts for ministry and am a gift to this church. Most of the time I know that but sometimes I forget that when the pain, doubt, etc creeps in! You are all blessings in my life! Thank you!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today's Two Cents

It's been a crazy busy day today...funeral, young leaders event, council, and the list goes on. I'm so tired but thought I would post a quick little post to keep my readers happy. The weather around here has been so crappy the last week or so...rain, rain, and more rain. I wish the sun would just come out. It would make a huge difference around here. I don't think people would be so sad, crabby, or whatever.

As for life, nothing new really is happening. It was interesting. At the young leaders event, we watched one of the Rob Bell videos which was fantastic. The conversation talked about living in the present and not dwelling so much on the past or looking to the future. It really hit the nail on the head for me and was something I needed to hear especially in light of my last blog post. Maybe I need to take that advice more to heart. Live for the moment and not dwell so much on what I yearn so much for. Just a thought!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Raw Emotion

Wow....my 310th post. Doesn't seem possible...especially since I don't seem to have many readers. If you feel like it, you should comment. I love receiving comments on my blog!

I've been feeling really excited for all of my friends that are expecting babies. However it also makes me sad which is hard to express with people which is why I am posting on my blog...a place for me to share my emotions without feeling guilty etc. I am definetely at the place in my life where I want a family etc. I love holding babies and yearn to be a mom! I know that it will happen when I least expect it and in God's timing. However that timing is hard to trust in. I find myself rejoicing with my friends but then behind closed doors, I often find myself shedding tears because I truly want to be where they are at. It's hard to express that with my single friends who aren't where I'm at. It's also hard to express that with my married friends who already have children or who just don't want any children at all. I'm conflicted! There are times I really find myself closing off how I feel about this subject because I dont want to offend or hurt anyone if you know what I mean. I think part of me also is consumed by fear too; what if I cant conceive, etc. My biological clock is ABSOLUTELY ticking! I would be more than delighted to adopt but I also want to experience carrying a baby etc. My time will come! I just need to find Mr. Right etc and I pray and hope that that will happen sooner rather than later!

Friday, May 07, 2010

God's Peace

Laying in the Haitian rubble, the words “God’s peace to us we pray” were sung by Ben Larson as he took his final breath. In the last moments of his life, Ben mustered up all the strength he could to still ask for peace in the midst of the world as he drew his final breath.//As I am reminded of Ben’s final words, I can’t help but reflect on our gospel reading for today when Jesus proclaims: “Peace I leave with you;//my peace I give to you.// I do not give to you as the world gives.// Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid (John 14:23-29).”// What does this peace look like? //In other words, what is the peace Jesus gives?// Where and how is it that we see peace in our world today?//

It seems to me, that to most of us, peace is the absence of violence and war, but is that the peace that Jesus speaks of in today’s text?//According to Webster’s 9th New Collegiate dictionary, peace means “ a state of tranquility or quiet; freedom from civil disturbance; state or period of mutual concord between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity; or harmony in personal relations.// In all actuality, it seems to me that the peace Jesus gives reaches far beyond these definitions. The peace Jesus refers to is the peace that connects each of us to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; knowing that God will bring healing and wholeness to all who ask for peace while keeping God’s Word front and center.//

This peace Jesus offers to us is a communal peace; a peace that asks us to try and get along with each other despite our agreements and disagreements. It is a peace that opens our hearts and minds to joy and celebration even in the midst of our own struggle and strife knowing that God will always be with us. God will never leave us or forsake us.

However sometimes it is extremely difficult for us to trust in this peace; this shalom, that Jesus offers especially when we cannot feel that peace in the midst of our struggles and strife. Yet Jesus asks us to trust in the promise of the Father who promises to bring joy and peace into our present lives through the reign of God.//

In the book “Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, edited by Darrell Gruder, the author writes, “A definitive answer to the question, What is the reign of God? cannot be given.// But we can at least sketch some of its contours by listening to the Old Testament’s prophetic forecasts of the coming day of God and the prophets’ expectations of God’s intended future for the world.// In lectures given in the early 1980s, philosopher Arthur Holmes summarized that prophetic vision as shalom.// It envisions a world characterized by peace, justice, and celebration.// Shalom, the overarching vision of the future, means ‘peace,’ but not merely peace as the cessation of hostilities.//Instead, shalom envisions the full prosperity of a people of God living under the covenant of God’s demanding care and compassion are rule.// In the prophetic vision, peace such as this comes hand in hand with justice.// Without justice, there can be no real peace,// and without peace, no real justice.//Indeed, only in a social world full of peace grounded in justice can there come the full expression of joy and celebration (P.90-91).”// Shalom is the peace that opens our minds and hearts to the full reign of God who comes to bring us a peace that passes all human understanding; a peace that comes to us even in the midst of fear and doubt.//

Just weeks earlier, while the Resurrection is still a mere rumor, Jesus comes to the disciples who are gathered in fear in a locked room. He meets them in their fear, shares his peace and sends them back into the world to spread his word.// Again Jesus speaks this peace to us on the eve of his death. He reminds us that God has come to bring us comfort for troubled hearts and courage in the midst of fear.// Jesus will embody the peace he offers throughout the events of his arrest, trial, crucifixion and the resurrection.// Luther Seminary professor Mary Hinkle Shore writes, “As the events of the immediate and distant future unfold, Jesus’ followers will be able to trust that the One who loved them enough to send the Son still loves them and still seeks to dwell with them.// They will know they are not orphaned.”/ Jesus will bring peace to us even when we are afraid. In all actuality, Jesus’ presence provides hope and promise, comfort and peace.//

Ben’s widow Renee and cousin Jonathan later reported that the last words Ben sang where more than likely sung to the tune of the hymn, “Where Charity and Love Prevail.”// Looking at these words, it seems to me that this hymn captures what it means for us to trust in the peace that passes all human understanding.// Listen for a moment to these words from the hymn: “Let us recall that in our midst dwells Christ, God’s holy Son; as members of each body joined, in him we are made one;// Let strife among us be unknown; let all contentions cease, Be God’s the glory that we seek; be his our only peace.”//

God is our own only peace; our only peace who comes to us in God’s Holy Word, who comes to us at God’s Holy Table,// who comes to us through the power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,// and who brings shalom to all those who trust in this One who brings the only peace that passes all human understanding.//

So God’s peace to us I pray….
Amen! //