Monday, January 4, 2021

“The Art of Staying at Home” by Roberta Tilden

Unlike most spiritual practices, the art of staying at home seems to become harder the longer we are obliged to do it, especially for those of us who live alone.  Fortunately, I am blessed by God with a cat to love, talk to and, at times laugh at.  My heart really goes out to those who don’t even have that. 

This got me to thinking about our Heavenly Parent, and how lonely and bored he must have been before he created our world and us, his beloved children.  What we are experiencing is nothing compared to that.  This down time can be an opportunity to pray, meditate, and study spiritual books.  After all there is only so much television we can watch before our brains start shutting down.

Remember, we were all created to love our Heavenly Parent, and to be loved in return.  God is truly our rock of eternal salvation.  Now is the perfect opportunity to turn to God in our hour of need.  Come now to God in praise and thanksgiving for all the wonderful gifts God showers upon us each day.

I would end with stay safe, but honestly no worries, we are all safe in God’s loving arms.      

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

“If He Had Not Come” by David R. Brock, Redmond, Oregon

One of the stories my mom read to us at Christmas time when I was a child was, “If He Had not Come”. Many decades later, though I don’t recall the details, I do remember the strong feeling I had when hearing it.  My concern, mostly anxiety,(though I doubt it had much if anything to do with the story itself) was that if Jesus had not come there would be no days off from school, no presents to buy and wrap, no secrets to keep from other family members about gifts to come, no new pajamas on Christmas eve (every year, without fail!), no stockings to hang by the chimney with care, no parties at school, no annual children’s Christmas pageant, no tree to decorate, no visit from Santa—maybe no Santa at all, no north pole, no elves, no Rudolph, no two front teeth so I could whistle Merry Christmas (as the popular carol went).

 Almost 60 years later, my response to “If he had not come” has changed. Hopefully I’m wiser and a little more mature, a little less self-centered.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I still get a warm feeling when I hear, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”  I would be sad if I didn’t hear “Joy to the World” or “Little Town of Bethlehem,” or “Good King Wenceslas” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” or even  “Snoopy versus the Red Baron”. Even though I’ve spent wonderful summer Christmases south of the equator, I’d prefer a little snow for the holidays and a few Currier and Ives winter wonderland paintings displayed around town—preferably a town decorated with thousands of holiday lights. And, dare I confess it, and please don’t tell anyone, I do take an occasional stolen glance at a Hallmark Christmas movie! 

 However! Beyond all of that, I wonder, If he had not come  . . .

  •  Would we proclaim and promote the worth of persons, ALL people, as clearly as we do . . . at least when we are at our best?
  • Would we expect to find God among the poor and the outcast and the widows and orphans and in places where there is no room in the inn?  Would we provide for and honor those people as we are taught to do—in unforgettable parables, in acts of forgiveness for prostitutes and persecutors?
  •  Would we have the courage, would we take the risks, to confront, to ‘turn over tables’ and drive out the corrupt and unjust as some among us do in the halls of power, the boardrooms of the strong and well-connected?
  •  Would we hold on as strongly to the hope that God is with us yet; that somehow in spite of all that is happening in our troubled world, goodness and right will eventually prevail?
  • Would we strive as valiantly to create communities of joy, hope, love and peace—even in fits and starts and ‘failing’ and starting over?
  • Would God seem as close, as present, as concerned, as gracious, as generous, as active in our lives, as much of an advocate for our wellbeing?
  • Would we understand that we too can be and are called to be the birthplace of God in the world?

Could God, has God, does God reveal many of those truths through other faith traditions? Is God made incarnate in our midst even from the dawn of creation, not only in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago? Yes, but, as Marcus Borg wrote, “Jesus enfleshes, embodies, incarnates, God’s Word, God’s revelation, God’s character and passion in a human life. Christmas means that, for Christians, Jesus is and should be decisive. What we see in him, the Word made flesh, is our revelation, our light in the darkness.”

I don’t think we are asked to say ‘no’ to a lot of the accoutrements of Christmas. Go ahead and watch “The Muppet Christmas Carol”. Decorate a tree in a thousand lights. Stuff someone’s stocking with silly little gifts. It’s OK. What we are invited to do, however, is to say yes to the fact that God DID come to us in a unique way in Jesus. What we are invited to do is to understand that because God came to us and comes to us, we see differently, we live differently.  We give life. We nurture life. We choose life at Christmas and every other day.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Look at the Day, Thankful for the Simple Blessings by Lavera Wade

 

Thankful I can hear the sound of the wind in the pines, the gentle lap of the waves on the shore, the prayers of the small birds in the early morning light, the silence of the morning covered in white.

Thankful I can see the colors of the changing seasons, the cherry blossoms, iris, daisies, roses, and marigolds, the changing colors of the leaves, snow on the bare branches.

Thankful for the taste of strawberries, ice cream, lemonade, and pumpkin pie.

Thankful for the smell of rain, a baby’s cheek, Thanksgiving dinner.

Thankful for memories of laughter, hugs, shared moments of silence.

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Psalm 103:1

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sunday School in a Pandemic by Lavera Wade

In one of my many Zoom meetings recently someone mentioned there was a survey of what church attendees missed most in this new world of Pandemic and Zoom, or where ever they were attending online services.  The list was:  1 HUGS, 2 coffee and cookies after the service, and 3. sitting at the table with a small group of fellow parishioners, and chatting about the everyday things. 

I am a hugger, I love Hugs and personally think there is never a point where a person could have too many Hugs.  Medical science has completed studies showing that good mental, and physical health is enhanced by Hugs.  I wonder if more people (especially the elderly) would have survived the virus if they had not been isolated, and thus received no physical touch by anyone, and especially anyone they loved.   

Which brings me to the story of our Sunday school class.  Our Sunday school class dwindled down to a half a dozen regular attendees before the virus closed the church.  After a month or so of not seeing these much-loved faces and sharing, I reached out and everyone was for meeting over Zoom.  Not everyone was able to attend but most were and so we meet once a week on Thursday and it has become my lifeline.  We open with a line of scripture, We read a paragraph from a book “Life Together in Christ” and  then share how the scripture and the reading from the book relate to our lives today.  We meet on Zoom for the forty minutes that are free.  Others pop in now and then, and we take delight in one members brand new granddaughter who grandma is babysitting, and we get to watch grow every week. 

I have shared with everyone I know, that I am keeping track of lost HUGS and the number is over 5 billion 756 thousand today.  I am blessed that I am closest to God when outside, on my knees, pulling weeds.  The spiritual practice of sitting outdoors listening to the early morning prayers of the birds, or the angels singing through the pines quiets my busy mind, and softens my heart. Some days just staring out the window as I enjoy the wonder of God’s creation fills my soul.  But that need for human contact still calls to me.  I will not live long enough to forget how precious a Hug is, when once again I can be face to face with all these people, I hold so dear.  And who knows sometimes when we are first able to feel safe, a complete stranger. 

The thought for the day is reach out, call someone your congregation address book is a good place to start, join or start a Sunday school class, or book club. Any group you can find or think of.  Human contact is good for your mental and physical health.

No it is just not the same, it is different, well from what I am reading we are not going to be together, in person for some time.  And what it will be like then most likely will be a new normal.  So we need to be as close as we can now, fill those lonely days with the voice’s on the phone, and the face’s on our computer.   May God bless us all with shared moments together in a pandemic.    

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Bloomsday during a Pandemic by Sandy Decker

For anyone who knows me well, you know that the first Sunday in May is always spent doing Bloomsday.  For those that don’t know Bloomsday is a 7.46 mile run in Spokane that has taken place in May since the 1970s.  Though Bloomsday has turned into so much more than a road race/fun run.  It is a community event that draws thousands of people not only to participate but to watch.  It grew to the all-time high in the 1996 at just over 61,000 participants and has now settled back down to around 40,000 to 45,000 each year.

Well, that has been typically how I would spend that first Sunday in May until this year, when the pandemic upon us has changed everything.  First the event was postponed until September then it was later changed to a virtual event.  With the virtual event, participants are to complete the 7.46 miles during a 3-day time span then report the time.

With the changes that have taken place with Bloomsday this year, it has me reflecting on why I do it.  This is my 40th year to participate in the event so I had a lot of experience to reflect upon.  I first began as a young adult, I was participating in an exercise class and many of my classmates were going to run the race.  I decided it would be fun to try and while I wasn’t very fast, I did run for most of the race.  This continued for a few years until life started getting in the way and I didn’t have time to train so I decided to take my five-year-old niece and walk.  This was a completely different experience and one I totally enjoyed.  For the next several years I took my nieces with me, then my sons as well.  One year I had one son in a stroller and one in a backpack.  Once my boys had moved away, I continued to do it by myself. And for the last several years my oldest son has done Bloomsday as well but since he is much faster than me, we part at the starting line and meet up again at the end.

So, this is what I have done but the question is why.  Why has this become part of my tradition and why have I kept on for 40 years.  I think it is several things, one is the personal accomplishment.  As I said, I am not particularly fast but I have always finished in a respectable time and feel good about participating.  Even beyond the personal accomplishment it is about being part of a community event.  It is about the fun and celebratory atmosphere that surrounds the event.  This year it will not be quite the same without the community celebration.

It occurs to me that all those thousands of people who participate in Bloomsday are following a common path with the same goal in mind.  The flow of people moving at their own pace but in many ways helping each other continue on the path.  Over the years I have had people, strangers, tell me that they were following my pace and it help keep them moving. People are all on different parts of the path. At times there are people moving along the entire race course at the same time. We are all moving together along a path to the finish line and to win that prize of a coveted t-shirt for the finishers 

Our faith community is like this, we are all on a common path with the same goal in mind, being in service and the mission of Christ. We are at different places on this path going at our own pace. At times we may need to look to someone else to keep us going and at times we may be the one that keeps others going.  The one difference I would say in this analogy is that on our faith journey we do not reach the end and then are done.  The journey doesn’t end at a finish line and we part ways. We may reach certain goals and accomplish tasks along the way but we continue along this journey together.

During this year, when everything has changed so much, let’s remember that we are in this together, traveling on the same faith journey all at our own pace yet with the same goal of loving and serving God and sharing His good news with others.

Although things are so different, we keep on because of that dedication that we have to each other and to God.  Just like I will be out doing the virtual Bloomsday without the community because I am dedicated to my tradition and I want to get the t-shirt!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Invite People to Christ by Carol Ann Reiff

 

When Terry finished Medical School we had to pay back the public health service.  We chose to go to a small town in Mississippi.  Moving to the “Bible Belt” was something we were not prepared for.  We moved into a very large, 100-year-old home in the middle of a small town, just 3 blocks from Terry’s clinic.  People treated us like we were royalty, bringing us vegetables every day.  We were not used to black eyed peas, boiled peanuts, and food we didn’t have in Montana.  Most of the time when they came, introducing themselves and offering food they would say something like, “Do y’all have a church to go to?  We’d sure like you to come to ours.”  Funny, we didn’t feel pushed or offended in any way.  In fact, we felt wanted, even cared about.  We drove most Sundays to our own denomination in Jackson, an hour away.  But sometimes we couldn’t so we’d attend other churches nearby.  We became so close to those people that when we finally left Durant one of the churches gave us a farewell dinner.  We loved their revivals with such talented singers.  Our children went to the Bible schools in the summer and I attended an inner-denominational bible study.  It was in that little town that I began to love Jesus and the Bible.  People there were very serious about their faith.  They took the bible very literally and tried to live up to Christ’s call in their life.  I still don’t take every part of the Bible literally but I hope I take it seriously.  It was there I also learned that inviting people to Christ didn’t have to be difficult.  It’s like giving them a gift of love.  It’s like giving them something so precious that life is more beautiful than it ever was before.


Monday, July 6, 2020

Meditation on Hymn “We Shall Overcome” By Roberta Tilden

We shall overcome – I remember fervently singing this song when I was in high school.

I remember watching innocent people being beaten with clubs and attacked by dogs just because they wanted equal rights.  Been there done that.  I thought we had overcome fear and prejudice permanently.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Here racism is rearing its ugly head again.  What is a person to do?

Fortunately those of us who belong to Community of Christ have a real vehicle for change at our disposal.  We have been encouraged to proclaim Christ and create communities of Joy, Hope Love, and Peace.  I do believe that we SHALL overcome one person at a time.

Walking hand in hand to create communities where people truly respect each other, and love diversity is our calling and our hope. 

We can pray for peace but we must also work for peace.

Will we live in peace someday?  Perhaps that is up to you and me.  Violence and racism can be catching, but so can Joy, Hope, Love, and Peace.  Live your commitment to the Christ and someday we will live in Peace.