Friday, March 17, 2017

God’s Spirit Whooshed Through the Pines by Brad Martell



It was a couple of days before the Community of Christ Cromberg, California Family Camp.  Lori and I flew into Sacramento earlier to spend time with our friends Ruth and Mike Seagraves and their family, before we all packed into the cars and headed off to camp together.  Ruth was the director and had asked Lori and I to be guest ministry for the week.  Lori and I were excited to experience a new campground and family camp, spend time with cousins who would be there, and share in ministry. 
As we were sitting around talking and laughing, Mike told us that their middle daughter was going to be baptized during camp by her grandma (Mike’s mom).  This just added to the anticipation and joy of the coming week.  For the baptize Mike was going to play guitar and sing, but was not finding the right song.  Lori asked if he knew the song “O Sun” by Peter Mayer (www.petermayer.net).  Mike loved it and began writing out the music and learning to play it.  Now the house was filled with Mike strumming a few chords, the scratch of his pencil on the paper, more strumming, humming 
. . . by the end of the day he could play it by heart.
At Cromberg campground they have an outside baptism fount.  It is up the hill from the cabins and tucked underneath towering pine trees.  When the time came for the baptism service the camp made its way up the hill gathering around the fount.  Warm sunlight filtered down through the still pines.  Bird song and twitters gave welcome to the sacred moment.  Beginning with hymns we joined our voices with the avian choir in that church of pines. 
As granddaughter and grandma descended into the pool of water, Mike began to play “O Sun.”  The song is about being filled by the sun, wine, and wind.  The lyrics express sacramental language of asking to be filled by life, strength, and breathe.  And to help us shine, to be opened-wide, and to pour forth the same life and love we receive from God through blessings of community, unity in diverse, sacredness of creation, and worth of all persons.
During the second verse of the song that asks “O wind, come fill me” a gust of wind whoosh through the pines surprising us all.  At the end of the verse the wind was gone.  As Mike finished the song, I looked at him and his face was just radiating with the huge bewildered smile that seemed to ask the same question I was pondering: “Did that really happen?”
When the service was over some of us practically sprinted down the hill to download the video that was taken of the baptism onto a laptop.  We hit “play” in wonder and anticipation.  “Did that really happen?”  It did!  That gift of gusting wind filled the pines, filled Mike’s and Ruth’s daughter, filled all of us with God’s Spirit in that sacramental moment. 
This was a baptism experience I will not forget as God’s Spirit whooshed through the pines! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lost and Found by Dodie Gregory



Possibly my story may have a familiar ring to some reading this………………..or not.
Due to a devoted mother I was raised in the church through childhood.  I even have a perfect attendance Sunday school sticker book.  I was baptized at 8 years of age and proceeded to embarrass my mom with my giggle attack during confirmation.  After graduating from high school and going off to nursing school, where I had no RLDS classmates and worked weekends, I slowly slipped away.  I married a Lutheran and neither of us pursued a spiritual path.  We had 2 children and occasionally took them to church. The effort was small.
Not to say I didn’t continue to recognize God in my life—there were just other distractions.  Actually I carried guilt along the way.  I drove by our church everyday going to and from work, but couldn’t bring myself to even look at it.
Brothers and Sisters from church extended an invite for years, as did my Mom, but of course I had other things to do.
OH! And I kept promising God I would be back but right then wasn’t a good time for me. By then the guilt was so strong that I felt ashamed to face my congregation.
So if all this applies to you, then you too have been found or else you wouldn’t be reading this.
SOOOO….finally God had enough of my excuses.  This is how it went down.
I’m just minding my own business one Saturday morning and out of nowhere I hear a voice saying “YOU ARE GOING TO CHURCH TOMORROW”.  That was it, no angels singing, no brilliant white blinding lights, no euphoria.  I looked around, no one there, and again, “YOU ARE GOING TO CHURCH TOMORROW”.  Having been steeped in being obedient, I went to the phone called my mother and asked her if she was going to church tomorrow?  She said, “Are you?” Me, ”yes, I’ll pick you up”.  And my life changed.
The congregation was awesome, no judging, no condemnation.  Just loving. I tease them to this day when I tell them I didn’t feel worthy to be in their presence but found out they are sinners just like me.
It’s been a journey but since we are human and live on earth, there are still ups and downs, challenges and rewards.   I’m no different than any of you but am blessed that God loved me so much that he gave me that extra nudge one Saturday morning.
Forever blessed and loved

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Presence of the Holy Spirit by Laura Carnie



During my nearly 62 years of church membership I have been blessed with an awareness of The Holy Spirit’s presence many times. Some of those experiences were life changing and continue on in memory. Others were for the time, experienced, applied and became part of the fabric of my life.
Possibly the first memory of the Holy Spirit is when, as an elementary school age child, sitting under a big white tent on a wooden pew at the east side of the Hagerman, Idaho lava rock church building during a district reunion prayer and testimony service and being filled with joy and awe at the spirit present.
As I matured, my relationship with the Spirit became more personal. During my teen years, there were a number of experiences at camps and reunions. One Camp Cascade youth camp morning worship, vividly comes to mind. Again at the Cascade Reunion grounds where Cecil Gilmore offered my Evangelist Blessing which helped provide guidance as I made decisions about further education and marriage.
 As a young mother of one, pregnant with a second child, and experiencing problems, I requested administration hoping to avoid a miscarriage. The Spirit rested with me. Even though the words of that blessing requested healing and saving the pregnancy, I came out of that administration knowing that I would not carry the baby to term. Associated with that understanding was a blessing of peace and reassurance.
When called to the priesthood as an elder, I accepted and took the Temple School classes in preparation but kept asking myself, “Is this truly a call from God?” During my ordination, I had a sensation of heat flowing from my feet to my head and the hands of the elders. After the service, Lois Twitchell came up to me and shared that during the ordination, she saw a pink color come over me. Again the Holy Spirit was providing reassurance.
I’ll conclude with one final spirit experience. At the Mission Center Conference in Boise, fall of 2010, evangelist Harriet White walked up to me and indicate that she felt called to offer me a special blessing because she was made aware that I would face some special challenges during the next year. My mind immediately went to various family issues and challenges and accepted trusting her inspiration was from God. We went into a quiet room and I received the blessing. The words were of strength, courage and reassurance that God’s Spirit would be with me as I faced challenges to come.
On Saturday, January 29th of 2011, I had a medical emergency of a double pulmonary embolism and was put on blood thinners. As part of the treatment, the cardiologist recommended and got my permission for an exploratory angioplasty where a small tube is treaded from groin to heart to check for blockage in the artery and heart. Thankfully the artery was clean. But, in the process a small nick was left in my artery. I was kept until Thursday and sent home.
 By the following Saturday I had extreme abdominal pain and had my husband take me to emergency around four in the morning. After checking me over, I was sent home with an antibiotic. By late morning, the pain had increased to the point that I could not walk on my own, so my husband and son-in-law took me back to the emergency room. After hours of waiting and some testing, it was discovered that my lower abdomen had filled up with blood from the leak. There were no rooms available for hours, but eventually in the evening I was moved to a progressive care bed and then in the early morning Sunday into the intensive care unit. It was there that, having nearly bled out and with my body trying to shut down, I experienced the Spirit with me, reassuring me that It did not matter if I lived or died, God was with me and I with God, in life or death.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 NRSV
Physically it was and is an extended recovery. I have been forced to re-evaluate much of life. I find that I am more patient and more accepting of mine and other’s human weaknesses. I have had to take a new look at my remaining gifts and talents as regards my service to God and others. I find that I am more trusting of God, more aware of God’s Love. I am blessed and count my blessings often. God is Good! Our creator’s gift of the Holy Spirit for our guidance and reassurance is a wonderful gift of Love.