HOW TO PRAY

I put on happy earrings this morning and it lifted up my joy. I prayed before getting out of bed and remembered that I was loved and held by God. I prayed before I prayed live, silently sitting down. I can walk, write, dance, color, wash dishes, many things while being in prayer. What is the way to pray? To pray, we simply need to open our hearts to God.

COMMUNION EVEN NOW

Despite the grumbling, complaining, arguing, and raging, God did not quit loving the people we read about in the Bible. God did not give up on them! Even now, when we grumble and complain and argue and rage at people who don’t agree with us, God still welcomes us with loving arms. We are beloved and transformed through the One who does not give up on us. Amen.

COMMUNITY

Two sisters in their seventies gave me comfort when I was pregnant with my second child who would be born 13 months after my first. I overheard one of them saying that when they were growing up, people always asked their father if they were twins. They were not, but they were not quite a year apart. People would then ask, “So why did you name them Jean and Jane?” Their father would reply, “Didn’t have enough time to think of anything else.” I thought the world of these women and knowing how close they were in age helped me realize my children would be alright.

Another woman also gave me comfort unknowingly. She came to church with her family one Sunday for “Homecoming Sunday” from wherever they had moved. Right in the pew in front of me, they came in one by one – quintuplets! Suddenly, two seemed like no problem at all.

Two people, not related, came to church every Sunday, dragging their portable air canisters with them. In a culture when many let any excuse keep them from worship, these two let nothing stand in their way. Every week, they inspired me.

So much of the impact that community has had on me has been from these type of silent testimonies, through observation.

We are mostly in a different space now. There are some who are worshiping together with precautions and many who are back at work. Still there are many of us who are still limiting our exposure to others. For me, it has meant that I have lost some of the connections and gatherings of community. Yet through this loss, I have discovered that true community can be found online. Through Zoom, I have taken part in several types of gatherings. My favorite is a weekly time of prayer with people spread across Tennessee. Some I knew and others were new to me. With the willingness to be vulnerable before each other and in prayer, I have discovered such depths of wisdom and strength, that I know I am growing in faith and understanding. I thank God for this blessing. I am hopeful that people will continue to find ways to develop community in new and safe ways. Let’s trust that God is doing a new thing right here among us!

In the Image of God

I recently read a quote by Barbara Holmes that said, “Goodness is a first principle of the universe. God declares it on the first page of creation.“ That sparks in me the thought that Creating itself is truly a primary characteristic of God. I have heard that our human ability to create is the imprint of God’s image within us. When I combine the two thoughts, I am struck by the realization that we have the ability to create goodness or its opposite. The choice is up to us.

The church I grew up and am ordained in is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We have often called ourselves a “People of the Book” and “People of the Table”. In more recent years, we adopted an Identity Statement stating, “We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one Body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.” To make the statement more tangible that year, the leaders of the Tennessee Senior High Church Camp decided that we would construct a table during camp that would include work from all of us while developing the theme of welcoming all as God has welcomed us.

It was a powerful week. At one point, everyone was given two nails. With these two nails we could create something positive or we could take those nails and nail Christ to the cross. I have kept those two nails taped to a piece of paper with that reminder written on it. With whatever gifts we have available to us, we each have the ability to choose what we will create. Will we create situations of loving care or selfish destruction? Will we create paths to help others or leave a mess of obstacles behind us? Will we build tables of welcome or locked-up barriers to needed resources?

May we all choose to create in the Way of God, the Way of Goodness, the Way of Loving Life, the Way of Good News. Amen.

Barbara Holmes as quoted by Richard Rohr on his May 22, 2020 Meditation

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

One year at a church camp for families, the theme was based on the Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Garden Song.” I didn’t know the song, but parts of it stuck with me: “Inch by Inch, Row by Row, I’m gonna make this garden grow … Inch by Inch, Row by Row, someone bless the seeds I sow.” This is an important reminder for me that none of us automatically knows how to do much of anything. We have to learn how to roll over, sit up, stand, walk, talk. We have to learn manners, the difference between virtues and vice. Yet, so often, as we get older, many of us feel stupid if we don’t know everything. Some assume that those at the top of the class are naturally smart, rather than noticing how much they work to learn the material. We may think that graduating from a graduate school means you know everything you need to practice in your field. Some schools are better than others about offering internships and practicums, but in fields like Law, the rules can change with differing legislatures. You can have a good grasp on what you are doing one day, then find out the laws have changed or the procedures have changed, and it is time to rethink, to start over. A minister can thrive in one congregation and shrivel in another because of the personality of the different congregations. New ways of relating have to be learned. Learning doesn’t take place all at once; learning happens over time and continues to be sharpened as different experiences hone it. Just like a garden is planted, bit by bit, worked in, changed based on what works best, the same is true of our lives.

The same is also true of our spiritual lives. We must cultivate (#hopewriterlife word of the day) what we want to develop. Do you want to be more loving like Christ? Start by planting little seeds of love and tend to them. Do you want to be close to the Life-Giver? Open your heart and mind to let God in. There is a Spiritual Hymn that says, “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus.” The Science of Positivity has embraced beginning your day in gratitude for your blessings and meditating on the good you want to have in your life. Angela Montano, a Spiritual Practitioner, says she wakes each morning and prays in the awareness that she is being held and supported by God’s love that is greater than she can imagine. My grandmother used to tell me I was going to turn into a chocolate cupcake because every time she offered to buy me something from the bakery, that is what I ordered. Likewise, our garden grows by the what we plant in it, how we tend it, what we dream of it being.

Each of us has the possibility to cultivate a deep spiritual life as we offer the love, forgiveness, and welcoming of Christ, inch by inch, row by row. And wouldn’t that truly be a beautiful garden!

Source: LyricFind; Songwriters: David Mallett; Garden Song lyrics © Reservoir Media Management Inc

#HopeWriterLife, #Cultivate