When the Spirit Leads

Photo of JuneI 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

About Anger and Stress

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

Wading or Waiting through Lent?

It seems that each generation is called to wading and waiting for the Lord. And sometimes it seems while we wade and wait, we forget that the Lord is near, indeed here, in spirit and truth through the end of the age. The Lord himself is wading and waiting with us, for us, to remember . . . Continue reading

Father, Forgive Them . . .

Walk in ForgivenessYesterday evening my husband and I went to see the movie Son of God. Two scenes are embedded in my mind and heart both have to do with forgiveness . . .
The first is the scene of Jesus asking ‘Which is easier to say; Your sins are forgiven. or Get up and walk.? The Son of Man has the authority to forgive sin.’

The thing about saying ‘get up and walk’ to someone is that most of us could say this to someone and that would not happen, the person wouldn’t get up and walk. But it did happen for the paralyzed man when Jesus reached toward him and helped him up. It was after the man got up and walked that Jesus looked around and then said ‘The Son of Man has the authority to forgive sin.’

Throughout the New Testament Jesus is called The Son of God and also The Son of Man . . . Jesus had the authority to forgive sin because of who Jesus is. But what has Jesus said to us about forgiving sin committed against us? He said we must forgive other people the same way He has forgiven. Now which is easier for you to say to someone? Get up and walk? or ‘Father forgive them’ or “I forgive them.’ Think about that for a time . . . Who gives us desire to forgive? Who gives us authority to forgive? Who gives us ability to forgive? Who has the final say when it comes to forgiveness?

The other scene from the movie that is embedded in my mind and heart is Jesus on the cross saying ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’
So often we think that people are fully aware of the wrongs they are doing toward us or other people or even God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit. What is our reaction then? What action do we take? A lot of times we assume what might not be true. Maybe not everyone is really aware of what they are doing all the time . . . the people chose to release a murderer back into their population rather than Jesus who would never murder anyone . . . I mean, what seems more crazy than that? Really? What is our response supposed to be? Wouldn’t it seem the sane response would be to say – put that murderer back in jail and release Jesus? Jesus was executed and what did he say? Father, forgive them . . . How do you think his followers responded? I think they too, forgave . . . but they told the story and the story continues to be shared . . . Now what are we going to do with this knowledge in our generation? It’s a good question for us to ponder and discuss . . .

Giving Up to Take It In (Fasting to Feast)

DoveAll around the world Christians and non-Christians are talking or hearing talk about this season of change that many churches have named ‘Lent.’  Traditionally it is taught about as a season of fasting.  As a child it was all about giving up meat on Wednesday and Fridays, especially Friday.  Friday Fish Fries got started this way – the fishermen must have started it, I thought, when I was a child.  I thought it was the disciples who were fisherman who started eating fish on Friday – the day Jesus died, maybe fish helped them remember him.   That was my childlike faith and since I wanted to be like the disciples I, like my family ate the fish on Fridays.

Then I grew up a little, and I heard the story about the disciples and Jesus after the resurrection and the fish fry they had and then I thought it interesting that the first disciples Jesus called were fishermen and how he said he would teach them how to fish for people and now he was asking them to feed him fish for breakfast.

Then I grew up even more and learned some of the purpose behind the season of lent and about purposeful fasting.  I learned it didn’t matter so much that you gave up meat, you could give up candy or soda or any kind of food and that the money and time you spent purchasing and devouring could be given to the Lord’s purpose . . . to the church or a family or person or organization in need or perhaps some of the money and time could be well spent on items that would help mature your own faith life, devotional books, calendars, prayer and thought journals.

Several years ago when I went on a silent retreat I was inspired to consider giving up my own attitudes and will to take IT in – IT being the Spirit of God.  Some people talk about having the will of God like it is so easy and natural – but it isn’t, and Jesus never taught that having a holy spirIT filled life would be easy or comfortable.

40 days of fasting in the wilderness is what happened to Jesus after the Spirit of the Lord descended and rested upon him.  I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like you are in the wilderness, but this world has a lot of wilderness places where we can find ourselves alone . . . having the Word of God resting in our hearts can help us resist all the things that Jesus resisted.

So, if you’ve never fasted for your own benefit – I’m giving you permission to do that.  Not that you need my permission, but more that you need to give yourself permission to give up whatever you want to – an attitude, television, shopping, desserts, coffee, cream, anything and take the time to care for yourself,  if you need to do that – and you do – fill yourself with the loving words of God, “Come to me all of you  who are tired and weary, afraid, busy, overwhelmed, lost . . . Come to the Lord and allow the Lord to help you care for yourself during this season so that you can care for others feeling a little less pressured, forced or rushed. God loves cheerful giving . . . because God loves you he want you to remember that caring for yourself is a loving thing to do and Jesus wants you to love yourself as well as the Lord and your neighbor – you are in the middle of that equation:  Love of God + self + neighbor = the 2nd greatest commandment.    The first is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength . . . maybe give up doubt, fear, or anger toward him . . . toward yourself . . . toward other people . . .   let this be a season of letting the Spirit of the Lord Rest Upon You . . . .