Love Will Find A Way…

This morning I was struggling to get into a reflective mood. I stayed up late doing homework, got up early to do more homework and just wasn’t feeling it at all. So, when I feel that way I go straight to the iTunes for some inspiration. Like always, something came up on my shuffle that centered me and calmed me some.

Here are some of the lyrics:

“Love Will Find A Way” by Celia Whitler

Searching, longing for someone to know.
Listening, waiting on your own.
Deep inside you know life is a winding road.
Faith will lead when you’re alone.

Love will find you, when you think you’ve lost your way.
Love will speak to you, when there are no words to say.
Love will reach your heart when you’re lost in this world of doubt.
Love will find you somehow.

Looking back it’s clear to see the path you’ve chosen doesn’t always lead you to your goal.
Someway, someone will show you love.

I’m still in my dreaming for the church mode, and this spoke to me after reflecting on my pastoral care reading for the week. People are lost, heck, I’m lost most of the time. Faith is the part of us that guides us and brings us somewhere we can be accepted and love. I hope that my ministry can create a place for that to happen. That as people feel lost on the road of life, there is always a welcoming place, free from judgment and ridicule. A place that is comforting and not hurting, that can show people the unending love of God. That’s my hope anyway.

Small Things…

Today, with the time change and the dreary weather, attendance and participation in worship were less than one would like. Even with those factors, there were some great moments had. It may not have been during the actual worship service, but God moments did happen. In between services, I had many heartfelt discussions about the nature of relationships and how society is functioning today.

One conversation was about how we don’t have community like there once was in our churches and towns. People don’t rely on one another for anything now, and there was a mutual dependence that made everyone stronger. This got me thinking about how we are too often working with the mentality of being completely self-sufficient. This is just not realistic, and maybe the church needs to be the agent that brings strong communities back into our society.

I don’t have any specific ways to do this, or really have a plan to find those answers. I’m just thinking that we need to strengthen community, and the church might be the place to start.

Any ideas? Please share!

Grace and Peace,
Z

My Hopes and Dreams…

Today, as I focused my personal reflection time, I thought about why I’ve come to where I am and what I can do from here on out. I thought about my hopes and my dreams for myself and the church. Trying to remember those things where I felt most hopeful and connected to God in the church. One of the most recent moments was at General Conference in April/May of 2008. Yes, in the midst of the most political activity known to the United Methodist Church, I found God more clearly than ever. A moment I was a part of during that conference will always stay with me.

During one of the morning worship services, a young adult choir was brought together under the direction of Mark Miller. The song we sang was, “Draw the Circle Wide.” It was later in the conference and many of use had grown very weary with the state of the church and whether it would become fully inclusive of all people. Everyone I knew personally in that choir were there to push the church we love to fully embrace each and every person, no matter what! We were told before the performance that since we were part of the conference worship, we would have to remove our rainbow stoles for the morning. At first this troubled me, as it was a sign of our commitment to working for a cause, but after the song was finished I knew that our message was clear without the visual addition.

I felt part of a great witness that day. Calling for each and everyone of us to draw the circle wider and expand the reach of the church in love to ALL. This is more than a mission or idea, but a way of life. This is how we should operate. This is my hope and dream, that one day this will be but a stone on the path to great change. It will take a lot of work, and growth personally, but I am committed to a fully inclusive United Methodist Church and will do all that I can to see that happen.

Below, I have included a recorded performance of the song by a group recently. It is the same version and with the same director. I am working on getting the video from General Conference in a format I can share, but this is just as moving to see. I hope that you can watch and listen and think about how you already “draw the circle wide” and how you can “draw it wider still.”

Grace and Peace,
Z

Escalation…

As I sat in the first session of the parishes Lenten Study, we talked about relationships and how escalation is a part of broken relationships. The idea that we are constantly upping the ante with one another, to be better than someone, or to try and be something new constantly. I thought about how easy it would have been for Jesus to simply put all the people to shame with his gifts in those final days, but he didn’t. Jesus let things happen, and lived out his calling.

On a more personal level, I thought about how I never feel good enough for the people around me. I feel a constant need to be fresh and new, and do something exciting to impress people. I can never find contentment in what is happening at that time. I can’t believe that I’m accepted just as I am, and don’t need to impress or be better than others. I am, who I am. If people are my friends, than I should be okay with who and what I am around them, not worrying about whether I can be something better or different. I need to pause and appreciate what I have and not worry about the need to escalate situations to impress or sustain a relationship.

This song came to mind as I was reflecting on this:

Come and Find the Quiet Center

Come and find the quiet center
In this crowded life we lead,
Find the room for hope to enter,
Find the frame where we are freed.
Clear the chaos and the clutter,
Clear our eyes that we may see,
All the things that really matter,
Be at peace and simply be.

Silence is a friend who claims us,
Cools the heat and slows the pace.
God it is who speaks and names us,
Knows our being, touches base.
Making space within our thinking,
Liftting shades to show the sun,
Raising courage when we’re shrinking,
Finding scope for faith begun.

In the spirit let us travel,
Open to each other’s pain.
Let our lives and fears unravel,
Celebrate the space we’ve gained.
There’s a time for deepest dreaming,
There’s a time for heart to care,
In the Spirit’s lively scheming,
There is always room to care.

Come and find the quiet center
In this crowded life we lead,
Find the room for hope to enter,
Find the frame where we are freed.
Clear the chaos and the clutter,
Clear our eyes that we may see,
All the things that really matter
Be at peace and simply be.

This song has always been moving to me, and really forces me to think about my life and where it is leading. I need to take the time and see what is around me and recognize God’s presence. May you too find time to pause and find room for God to enter.

Grace and Peace,
Z

You did it to me…

Matthew 25:31-40

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‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Something from scripture finally made into my journal/blogging today. This passage was shared on the bishop’s daily e-mail devotion. These verses remind me of our interconnectedness as humans. There is a connection through God that each and every person has, whether everyone recognizes it or not. How we act towards one another matters. The way in which we work for justice and mercy, matters. If we even think about the problems in the world, matters. We have not been called to a “wait and see” faith, but a faith of action.

One specific line moved me today: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” This is really making me think about life, calling, and just general treatment of others. God is a part of everything, and the way in which we respond to each other is an embodiment of God’s creation, God’s love. There aren’t exceptions to this, not any “levels” of worthiness. People are sacred in God’s sight, and thus should be in our sight as well. That means as a progressive, liberal person I need to recognize the sacredness of people like Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson. Now, I can disagree with them, but how I respond is what matters. How I act and listen is important to the treatment of others.

How are you embodying God’s creation in your actions with others? How can you improve on this? Why are you waiting to change the way you see others? What is God calling you to do in this area?

Grace and Peace,

Z

Something to listen to and watch…

I have continued my Lent discipline by journaling, but I didn’t have a great revelation to share to the masses. However, I was reminded of the greatness of this song and how I can find some peace in listening to it. Take the time to pause and listen to this song and reflect, or pick another song and do the same. Enjoy!

Grace and Peace,
Z

The Cold…

Cold Poem by Mary Oliver

Cold now.
Close to the edge. Almost
unbearable. Clouds
bunch up and boil down
from the north of the white bear.
This tree-splitting morning
I dream of his fat tracks,
the lifesaving suet.

I think of summer with its luminous fruit,
blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,
handfuls of grain.

Maybe what cold is, is the time
we measure the love we have always had, secretly,
for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love
for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe

that is what it means the beauty
of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.

In the season of snow,
in the immeasurable cold,
we grow cruel but honest; we keep
ourselves alive,
if we can, taking one after another
the necessary bodies of others, the many
crushed red flowers.

I have found myself looking towards poetry and music for inspiration and meditation this Lent. So far Mary Oliver has made two appearances, and will probably make a few more before the season is over. Her writing brings to life the simple things that embody complex emotions and feelings, they bring to life creation and God. Her writing brings to life my imagination and faith like it hasn’t been in some time. I hope that you also can experience some of that when you read poetry or listen to music.

A few line in this poem really focused my thoughts today. “Cold now. Close to the edge. Almost unbearable.” Almost unbearable is the key. At times, life and its challenges seem so unbearable, almost enough to cause a stop to everything. But we fight, keep ourselves alive, remembering the things that are worth it. Remembering the things that brought us to this point in time. Just like the seasons, sorrow will pass… these moments keep us grounded, recognizing over humanity. The cold of winter reminds us of hte hard times, but a brighter, happier season is only a few months away.

Our faith is kind of like the cold. When we struggle, question, doubt, we think that it may be unbearable. However, we are always reminded of something to get us to the next season. Something or someone comes and guides us to recognition that God was present all along. “Cold is the time we measure the love we always had.”

Grace and Peace,
Z