I spoke at a gathering sponsored by Methodist women recently and as usual prayed the evening before and the morning of for preparation of hearts and minds and for the Lord to lead me in the preparation and presentation.
In the morning I read the readings assigned in the RCL for the Morning Reading. One of the readings was about the parts of the body all needing each other and how no part can say they don’t need the other. I was compelled to share this reading that morning. Unity in the body of Christ is so very important. We are, regardless of denomination, one body of Christ. After the presentation we shared Communion and while speaking with women after the presentation I was both surprised and honored to discover I had been in the company of women from Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Assembly, ELCA and WELS churches.
When we focus on the life of Jesus Christ, minor doctrines fade away and God’s love shines brightly.
The mixture of people in attendance reminded me of an experience I had while attending The School of Evangelism many years ago. I spent a full week at a Seminary where the students were mostly clergy and many were clergy in the process of leaving one denomination and switching to another, or who had been raised in one denomination, failed the discernment process in that particular denomination and were ordained in another denomination. There were Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican and Episcopal clergy in attendance. The only non-clergy persons were me and 1 or 2 spouses of the clergy. I was encouraged to attend the course by the then Sr. Warden of the church and I still thank God for Bill and his encouragement. He saw a gift in me that I hadn’t recognized, a love for the church and God’s people in the church and outside of the church.
We are indeed, one body – each part has a different way of functioning externally and sometimes people get caught up in arguing which denomination has ‘it right’ – but when we remember that each denomination is called to have the same heart and mind of Jesus Christ who is the head of the church eternally, then we will remember how important it is to love each other in spite of some differences in sacramental rites and beliefs – wine, grape juice – or neither/ wafers – substantial bread / infant and/or adult baptism. Sacramental rites are outward expressions of inward grace. That is what God is most concerned about – our inward grace because the more of that that we have, the more outwardly graceful we become and treat ourselves and each other.
Jesus Christ did not get hung up matters of tradition – he was caught up in proclaiming the love and grace of God for all people no matter what their tradition or position in society was. I believe we are called to be like him today – to open our hearts and minds to each other and when we do that – our church doors will open and the altar rails will also be open to more people, regardless of tradition.
When we break bread together in Word and Sacrament it is truly a blessed day! I might add it was also made beautiful in singing together the Love song – lyrics and melody included in the book.
God gave His Son to the whole world and Jesus died for the whole world but the story doesn’t stop with his death – it begins anew with his resurrection and continues beyond the Ascension, the story and His Life continues on through all who believe and receive His Life through the forgiveness of sin.
Lord, keep leading your church in this generation through the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through all people. AMEN
Our society seems to take two stances on anger – either it is 100% unacceptable or it’s funny. The Lord doesn’t think there is anything funny about our anger nor does the Bible teach that anger is 100% unacceptable. In fact we are given permission to be angry with an admonishment to not sin when we are angry.
Anger management is important. Learning how to discern what we are angry about is equally because it helps us express our anger in more appropriate ways and can move us towards taking some constructive action. Continue reading →
The condition of our heart is one way our health is measured; Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually. Sometimes we get so caught up in traditions and doctrines that we forget about the things that really matter to God.
Sometimes we all say the wrong things, we use bad words, not only swear or cuss but also words that cut people down. It’s hard to erase what the ears hear. But what is impossible for us to erase, the Lord can write over. Continue reading →
Someone said to me something like this “Well, if all you want to tell me to do when I’m stressed is pray I don’t want to hear it.” I tried to explain that that the book is about more, how I think it’s more about Jesus’ life and his living out a prayer filled life.
You see, I don’t think prayer as Jesus taught about it to his disciples is stagnant, I think prayer the way Jesus taught is more about action, motivation and direction. And I for one know that I can always use a little more positive kind of action, motivation and direction in my life than I would have without the example of Jesus and the way he let prayer lead him . . . out of temptation into God’s will.
There are so many things that tempt us in this world but the biggest temptation is the temptation to doubt that you can overcome temptations that are placed in front of you in order to detract you from loving God, self and your neighbors and that, it seems can become a bigger struggle after a person chooses to take a path, not of least resistance but of greater resistance of the things, the people, the forces that work to tear apart that which God desires to keep united or to tear down what God wants to build up or to try to unite that which God does not want united or to maintain something that God desires to change into something new .
One of the most powerful prayers we can pray is a very short one – ‘Lord, not my will, but yours be done.’ And this prayer pertains not only at the end of our lives, but throughout our entire lives. Of course, it helps to learn about what God’s will is and to have others help discern that as well.
What are you praying for? It’s a question I ask myself – am I praying for what I want? or for what I think I should want? or am I praying for God’s will to prevail? And then, am I willing to give up my will, my desire for my life in order to accept the will of God for my life?
I attended the Ash Wednesday Service this evening and I have a confession to make. I don’t like getting ashes put on my forehead, never have. When I was a young girl I didn’t like the ashes falling onto my glasses and into my eyes when I blinked. Perhaps that’s where my dislike of ashes on my forehead began. When I got a little older I realized that a lot of people don’t walk around with ashes on their foreheads and so I felt ‘conspicuous’ and I don’t like feeling ‘conspicuous’ so that perhaps compounded the issue of my dislike of ashes on my forehead. Then I got a little older and came across a verse in the Bible where Jesus tells people when they fast they shouldn’t disfigure their faces so as to be seen . . . so I went without getting ashes for a short period of time and was considered a little ‘rebellious’ for my age by a couple people in the church. But my mother didn’t force me to do something I struggled with. Then for a time I fell away from church and when I came back to church, well getting the ashes on my forehead again for the first time wasn’t so bad. It was evening and the only place I had to go after church was home so I wasn’t going to feel ‘conspicuous’ But somehow I was still disturbed with having ashes on my forehead. Mind you, it wasn’t the dust part I didn’t like, I didn’t mind the ‘Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.’ I just didn’t like the ashes on my forehead and then when I started reading the Bible I came across that verse again where Jesus told people not to disfigure their faces and I asked professors and Priests and Pastors why we are still putting ashes on our foreheads and I received the Historical Church Tradition answer. But I wanted more than an answer, I wanted oil on my forehead – when you fast put on oil and wash your face. That’s what I’ve wanted for so many years and a couple weeks ago I told my Priest – I’m still waiting for the option of having oil instead of ashes. He touched my arm and said, “I know! I know! and smiled.” A couple years ago I asked him if I could have my ashes on my hand instead of my forehead and he is kind and so he obliged and having the ashes on my hand helps me to reflect on the life of Christ, the manner in which he died for me (and for you, for everyone, our sins killed him, may they not kill us and may we remember also that he forgave us our sins and granted us peace . . . In the midst of a chaotic world, I am praying that we may all have a peaceful Lenten season of change in our hearts, our minds, our homes, our lives and in the world.