Monday, November 22, 2021

Love Kindness ..................................by Lavera Wade

November always speaks to us of the many things we are thankful for.  This last month I have been blessed by several strangers who have been kind to me in unexpected ways and how grateful I am for their help.

My husband I were unloading our utility trailer at the transfer station recently, when the young fellow unloading a truck next to us finished what he was doing, came over to us, and in a matter of minutes he helped my husband finish the job.

It is leaf cleanup time in the neighborhood and neighbors on both sides have been by several times to help me load their trailers and take the leaves to recycle.

Micah 6:8 speaks to us of what God requires of us, that we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

Thankfulness for random acts of kindness by strangers are best rewarded by passing the favor on when we are blessed with the opportunity to help a friend or stranger.

Sometimes a kind or thoughtful word can make a strangers day.

I pray the Prayer of Examen each evening, as I thank God for the blessings of my day, I am as grateful to remember the opportunities to be kind, as I am for the kindness others show me.  

When we ask God that we may be filled with loving kindness, we often find we are blessed with moments when we are at peace with our world. 

This life is not about who we are individually, but who we are when we walk humbly with God, and trust that He will lead us in His ways. 

And so, in this season of cold, dark nights, may you be blessed with many opportunities to provide random acts of kindness to strangers and friends. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

It is about us………… by Lavera Wade

Many years ago, when I was new to Community of Christ, I was attending Discipleship Now, a two-year program devoted to everything a disciple might need to know.

The instructor that weekend was a well-known member of the leadership of the World Church, whom I had not met before.  As the class continued we were asked to raise our hand if we had thoughts to share.  At the time I was not comfortable with silence, and when a question was asked and no one responded for what seemed a long time I would raise my hand to offer my thoughts.  I had spoken a few times that morning, and once again I had my hand in the air, as no one had offered to speak, when the instructor turned to me and said “it is not all about you Lavera”.  I was flabbergasted and did not know what to say. I do not think I said much the rest of that weekend.

Years passed and every now and then I would think of that incident, not because I held a grudge, but with curiosity, what was the lesson in that incident.  I was beginning to think maybe I talked too much and would learn more if I learned to listen more.  I was recently attending a class that was preceded with the instruction. Please do not ask to speak a second time until everyone has shared.

Another year and another class and this thought was shared. 

When we have become indifferent to our need to be seen in the eyes of others as wise, then we are ready to receive wisdom from God.   

Another year passed and I was in a women’s meeting and we were sharing about people who had played a significant role in our faith journey. A woman spoke who shared about her grandparent, but she went on to say if she was to name a second she would name the minister who spoke at reunion many years ago, who at the end of his sermon he said  “Remember, it is not all about you”  I burst out laughing.  The next morning, I opened my morning meditation and the message read “It is God and I working together, that brings me to a place where I can serve as a faithful disciple.”  

I am not sure I will ever get over thinking events somehow are about me.  I have learned to listen more then I share, I am always working on keeping my ego out of the conversation.  Most of all I am grateful to a loving God who continues to teach me how to be a faithful disciple.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tender of the Small Spaces by Sandy VanDerWalker

Reposted from 2019

Dear Friends,

We are about to begin the retreat season at Samish Island Campground. I remember coming here a little over 2 years ago not having a clue as to the expectations and dynamics of my role as a volunteer in this place. The word volunteer can often carry a somewhat broad and abstract job description so I decided to start doing what I enjoy doing and what I felt needed to be done such as weeding, cleaning, and such. It didn’t take long for those routine tasks to become a bit frustrating and challenging for me. The work I was doing seemed so insignificant in the larger reality of this place.

Then I began to hear the amazing stories shared by our guests as to what this place means to them. I heard expressions of sacred, holy, eternal, peaceful, beautiful, and extraordinary. As I embraced these stories I found my daily tasks becoming a part of my spiritual practice. As I worked I tried to be intentional in becoming more aware of my surroundings from the sights and sounds above me to the warmth and diversity below me. I tried to be intentional in thinking about the guests who were present in this place or those guests who would soon be coming.

Through this experience I discovered what my job title and description is in this place. I now think of myself as the “Tender of the Small Spaces”. My job description is to help make the small spaces of this place, in their natural simplicity, warm and inviting for our guests. To help create opportunities for our guests to stop in the midst of those small spaces, wherever they may be, to gain a sense of connectedness, an affirmation of peace, a renewal of possibilities, or whatever they may be searching for. I am looking forward to seeing you this season and sharing with you in the tending of the small spaces in this place.

Blessings of Peace,
Sandy

Monday, August 9, 2021

Tried by Fire by Roberta Tilden

 A couple of weeks ago I glanced out the window and was happy to see what I thought were cloudy skies.  Then my daughter-in-law called me in a panic.  She told me to step outside.  That’s when I saw the red glow of a wild fire and found out that we were at stage two evacuation.  My kids insisted I pack a bag and go to a motel.  I realized as I stepped out of the front door and looked back at my home that almost everything was replaceable.  It is just stuff.  The only thing I would be sad about was losing family pictures.

Well I ended up having a nice little “staycation” and then went back home safe and sound.

Our church community has been tried by fire this year, with the Covid pandemic.  I wonder as we look back, what we will carry forward, and what we will leave behind.

Please pray for the gift of spiritual discernment as make the decisions that will affect our future.  Our communities may be somewhat different as we journey forward.  But with God as our partner, we will move safe and sound into the future.    

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Since I Met You by Pam Robison

I was a GOOD person. I followed all the laws--well, mostly! I'll admit, I did go a little too fast sometimes, but never anything major. I had a job I was good at--not something I loved, but it paid well, and we lived very comfortably. I donated to organizations that helped the less fortunate...did all the things I should--that society expected of me as a good person.

I went to church regularly--Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night...attended camps and retreats. I read my scriptures and prayed faithfully--over meals, at night, whenever someone asked me to.

I knew all about you. You were part of my life--but safely separate from my everyday activities. You were "up there"--where I could take you down when I needed to, but you didn't get in my way.

And then I met you--really met you. You left "up there"...stepped out of the pages of my scriptures--and called me by name.

You came into my life and disrupted it! You led me down paths I used to ignore...into situations I didn't want to deal with. You showed me people in need--real people who needed me, not just my money. You asked me to speak up...to speak out...to be your hands and feet...your voice.

Life WAS so much easier before I met you--but I can't go back. I don't want to go back. I don't know where the road is leading...who my fellow travelers will be...what I will experience. I don't know how difficult my life will be, moving on--but I've learned that none of that matters since I met you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

“Love one Another” by Nancy Sacry

“I want to find ways for us to work together. I know we’re not always going to agree, and I’m okay with that.  But if we have the same goals–of making this world a better world–isn’t it possible for us to find ways to accomplish that together?” Pam Robison

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  1John 4:11-12 NIV

What a mess! Our world seems to become more divisive every day. And yet the thing that give me hope is the community we have formed in our little congregation. To be sure, we don't all agree on everything, nor do we vote the same, nor do we always agree on some of life’s deep questions, but the spirit of God has allowed us to create a community, a family of love and trust.

I cannot do all things myself, I can't fix the bitter rancor and divides that we are daily bombarded with by the media, but I know that because of the love of God we have created a safe haven of love and sanctuary in our congregation. When one hurts, we all hurt. When on grieves, we all grieve. We celebrate the joys of life together. I may not see things your way, but I can take the time to see things through your perspective.

We can create havens of sanctuary in our congregations. We can support people, even when we don't agree with them on everything. I learned a lesson in listening a long time ago with my job. Most people don't care if you truly agree with them, they just want to be heard and affirmed by having someone listen to them. When the Christ in me sees the Christ in you, it changes our heart.

 We recently spent hours helping someone who had been judged by the apartment community they lived in.  To be sure there were actions by all parties that were causing the situation to deteriorate, but if we didn't help, the situation would have gotten worse.

 Our church community was being judged for helping this person. One of the people came to me and questioned "how could we be so blind? Didn't we know they were just using us?" My response was that God called us to love and value the worth of persons. My thought was even though others had decided this person was not worth helping, God did. That didn't mean we approved of everything this person did, but just that God valued them, and so too did we.

 When we build walls of judgement, we keep others out, it’s safer that way, less messy, and certainly makes life easier, but it’s not what we are called to do. Love one another, in doing so we make God visible.

Not easy, but part of the journey as disciples.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Today, I Experienced Jesus’ Kindness by Gil Martell

I drive special needs school bus for First Student. The morning of November 13, 2018 God’s grace and generosity was expressed through the encounter of two of my students, who are in the Live Skills Program.

Life Skills Program is a very basic, how to feed oneself, verbal and non-verbal communication, dressing of self, going to the bathroom, and other minimal skills.

Brian is a student who uses a wheel chair and needs others to help him move it. He has been taught to use his hands to turn the wheels of the chair for only limited distance. Painful, yes, but it is a feeling of independence for him. The morning of November 13th when his sister brought him to the bus, she informed the bus aide and me that Brian was fussy. Brian lacks good speech skills to communicate how he feels and his needs. My bus aide, as she was fastening his chair in, was trying to comfort him with kind words. Brian sobbed loudly and we could tell he was upset with his sister for some reason.

Gloria, whom we picked up earlier, sat close to where Brian’s chair was fastened. She sensed he was upset. Gloria is almost non-verbal, very cognitive delayed, and has weak motor skills. At times Gloria can get very hyper and yells loudly. When she got on my bus earlier before Brian, my bus aide learned Gloria was upset with her brother that morning too.

I let the Special Ed Resource students depart when we arrived at the school. Brian and Gloria waited for a school aide to get them. I ask Gloria if she would like to help me with the bus chair lift, since she and Brian were both still a bit agitated. I showed her which buttons to push on the remote chair lift and she did her best. When Brian was safely lowered and off the lift, Gloria reached over, put her arm around Brian, and leaned her head to his head. That simple gesture of kindness put smiles on their faces. Gloria’s reaching out brought both Brain and herself comfort and healing in that moment. Two of God’s children sharing kindness with each other. I was overwhelmed as I observed the physical act of kindness of Jesus through Gloria and Brian. Yes, all are of Worth and all are called to share Jesus’ kindness.

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I notice power had gone out from me.”  -Luke 8:40-48 NRSV