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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prayer of a Pastor in Advent



O Lord my God
I am so very tired.
Everywhere I look there is work for me to do.
When I rest I wake refreshed for a moment and then feel guilt.
There is so much to do.
I want time. 
And I know you have given it to me.
Forgive me.
I cannot do all the things.
And even worse I cannot do the things I know I should do.
There seems to be no energy in me.
I long for you and the sustenance I know you give.
I pour myself out with hope to serve you.
I wait longingly for rest.
I know hope and I know joy are coming.
Forgive me and help me forgive me.
I pray others will forgive me when I cannot live up to all I should be.
I pray you will wipe away the shoulds from my life.
Forgive my failures. 
Free me to serve without fear.
Release me from the bondage of all I do not know, my fear of unknown, my worry, my desire to fix all I cannot fix.
Let me rest in you.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
I am waiting for you to come and 
shine in me with radiant energy so that I may serve you.
Use me and let my life be, my call be, let me be,  used according to your will.

Amen.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thoughts on Hospitality



I’ve learned that hospitality is risky.

  I have to risk vulnerability, rejection, judgment, dismissal.  

  Hospitality means that I desire connection with another.  I desire that we will connect, that we will love one another as sisters and brothers in Christ.  

Hospitality is full of hope and anticipation for what God may do in our relationships.  

The hope that I may open myself willingly to others and that they would receive me and reciprocate.  The hope that in reaching out my heart will grow in connecting with others.  

Anticipation is not the same as expectation.  Anticipate does not know what will happen but welcomes the newness and unknowing with joy.  Expectation defines what I want to happen.  Expectation is not necessarily bad, in fact I think it’s really good to have clear expectations for many things.  

Yet, I’m not sure expectation has any role in hospitality. 
  I’ve been thinking that expectations in hospitality and in offering myself to others, in offering space to others, in opening myself to the world—just seem to be unhelpful.  Either I limit what God will do or become disappointed and hurt by others.  If I am truly offering hospitality—wouldn’t it mean that I do not have an expectation of them?  Wouldn’t it mean that I put it out there and let it go?  I can still hold to anticipation, but perhaps I should stop expecting others to react, respond, reciprocate in various ways.  It seems like true hospitality must be without expectation because it has to allow space for the Spirit to bring comfort, change, peace,… whatever is needed.  How can someone feel truly welcomed if they feel they are expected to be a certain way?

Perhaps the only expectation for hospitality is the expectation of authenticity.  Yet even that can be hard for people. 
  Do expectations force people to be certain ways?  As in, “I have to be authentic because she wants me to be?” 
I always go back to the tattered notebook paper which had Nouwen’s definition of hospitality written in black marker that hung in my office as a missionary:  “Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer space where change can take place.”
Even this expects something—a change.

Reminds me of chemistry- which I was horrible at but had a teacher who tireless worked  with me and worked so hard but just struggled so…. But chemistry always has a reaction.  Things come together and you expect a reaction to occur.

If the hospitality I offer—is open, selfless, just an offering of myself  and what I have--  can I want a reaction? 
  Sometimes we want healing, we want reconciliation, we want a growing deeper, we want a movement forward...
Most always wanting connection – certainly grounded in my extroversion. (yes there are times I want to just sit in bed and do nothing and be with no one, or walk in the woods with just me and my dogs... but I feel as though I have a yearning, an urgency to be connected -- not for the sake of being connected but connected with the purpose of sharing Christ.) 

I value connection with others.  I value connecting with them as people, as children of God—we may have nothing in common—but somewhere, somehow we are connected…  and that must mean something.  

Perhaps that is the one thing we have in common and from there—couldn't something grow deeper? 

Certainly we will not be connected to everyone in the same way – the same depth—but something of hospitality and connecting with others must be this purpose, this power- in seeing and saying, “I see you. And in seeing you I acknowledge that you and I have been created and we have the possibility of unity."
(wasn't there something like this in that movie where people were blue?)

 The possibility of unity is not something for us to work at or make happen- but for us to listen deeply enough to hear God speak, to be still enough to feel the Spirit move, to in some way realize that we have both been redeemed and made new by the same Christ who lived for me and you and died for me and for you and rose for me and for you.

Hospitality opens the door to connection and yet connection does not mean “I like you” or “I agree with you.”  
But somewhere it must mean I value you.  I value who you are, I value that you were made for a purpose.  I value that you have gifts.  Inherently, hospitality must honor another person.  
Honor who they are as different from me and honor who we are together as connected with me. 
  Honor seems to be a way of loving the child of God that is in you—The Christ in me sees the Christ in you—and as children of the kingdom/kin-dom connected through the blood of Christ – we are family and we love one another. 

How do we live this hospitality?  Seeking connection, forsaking expectation, hoping with anticipation, open for God’s presence to dwell with us so that we are freed from fear, so that we can truly be our authentic self, with the hope that connection will be birthed?

For so much of who I am, I believe this to be my deepest longing.  Not to run and retreat from others even when the world has been hurtful… but to experience the truth of what I know must be possible because of Christ.

Christ came for all the world and died for all the world. 
  The World is my Parish. 
At Pentecost the reality of unity was experienced— All Speaking different languages, and yet the Spirit made them One. 

Hospitality- Connection—Honor- - Unity 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Call, A Confession, and A Covenant seeking Unity


These are my thoughts and hopes for the church--

In a world where divisiveness is rampant, there is little to model unity and we believe the church is being called to reveal to the world a way to move forward in the midst of difference.  

While resolutions are being put forward to change the wording in the Book of Discipline, and statements are being made suggesting schism,  we desire to create plans and possibilities for moving forward even without complete resolution and agreement.  Yet still moving forward in the messiness of theology- in the messiness of what it means to be church.   And are we yet alive?  We believe we are and can continue to be.  

How can we inspire and share with others that even in all of this, it is still worth it to be this messy, imperfect, Body of Christ, that may muddle through and loving one another especially when it is hard to do so?  How can we reveal that we do not give up- that church is not just an idea, but a reality of people who come together to love not because it is easy, but because the Holy Spirit makes it possible and our lives are richer for it.   How can we reveal the kingdom of God when we are so focused on our own animosity and disagreements?

We do not argue over how we understand the trinity, the divinity of Jesus, the mystery of the sacraments, the truth of the resurrection- why should we debate this? These were Wesley's essentials, if we cannot think alike we can love alike and "if your heart is with my heart, take my hand." 

We confess that we have failed to listen to one another and we have allowed our egos to rule, rather than our hearts.  Too often, we seek to be right, rather than to learn.  We seek to claim who is on God’s side rather than to love.  We repent of our earthly desire to win debates, and ask God to help us love one another even when we do not agree.  We commit to pray for God to work through us to create a third way where we may be one in unity in the midst of our differences.

We covenant together  to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind and to love our neighbor as we love our selves, not because we agree with our neighbor, but  because we were Created by love to love,  Jesus calls us to love, and the Holy Spirit empowers and equips us to love.  

We covenant to focus our time and energy on the mission Jesus Christ has given us to make disciples and to transform the world.