A Meal and Memories

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I was  away from home and decided to have lunch at a chain restaurant that I enjoy and do not have easy access to when I am at home. As I sat to eat the familiar flavors, I was not prepared for the many memories that accompanied this meal. Although I had never visited this location of this restaurant chain before the memories made it feel like I was a frequent guest here. It was at another of these restaurants where I was introduced to a friend’s friend who would go on to become her spouse. This restaurant chain hosted us many times after church as my husband and I had a few minutes of conversation before I went back to work and he went home to enjoy the rest of his weekend. This was where we would often eat with a dear friend who now lives too many hours away.

In addition to my delicious meal, I was met by loved ones who have shared similar tables with me. I was thankful for the memories many of which I had not remembered in some time.
This has me wondering where you encounter unexpected memories? Where are you surprised by thoughts of those you love who are gone or far away? And how do you react to those moments?
For me, it was a privilege to dine with family and friends who are family even if everyone else at the restaurant sawing me dining alone. I welcomed the memories and when I was done eating sent them messages to know I love them and how they are well!
It makes sense that Jesus said when you do this remember me. When we gather around tables, we remember. When we gather around the table in our places of worship, we remember Jesus. So wherever you find yourself eating, open yourself to the memories.
Surprising God, Thank you for coming to us in simple meals with chicken and rice and chopsticks. Thank you for meals shared with those we love and thank you for memories! Continue to surprise and remind of happy times. Each time we gather around a table, help us to remember. Amen.

What Hats Do You Wear?

Each month many faith communities publish a newsletter. All the important dates and details about what is happening will be shared in those pages. Plus, the church staff is asked to write a short article each month. This is what I wrote for St. Giles Presbyterian Church in March 2011. As I reread it recently, I liked the idea of considering what hats we wear. I encourage you to think about all the hats you wear during the week and how many different roles you have in your daily life.

 

This month I promised to tell you what a DCE or pastor does the rest of the week.  You know about much of the Sunday stuff because that is when you see us.  If I asked you to describe what you do or how you spend your week, it may take you awhile to name a portion of what occupies your work week or weekday hours.  I’ll spare you a long list and instead share some hats I wear that explain how this DCE fills her work week.

Confidant-No matter your age, sometimes you just need someone to listen.

Teacher-I love leading Bible studies, book discussions, and teaching the children and youth.  Sharing faith and faith stories is a fun hat to wear.  

Student-I will always see myself as someone who can learn more and more.  Through conferences, books and magazines, and conversations with colleagues, I am constantly reminded how much there is to learn.

Motivator-Our faith journeys aren’t easy roads.  We need people to journey with us and motivate us to keep going when it is difficult.  

Planner-Lots of events, activities, and things happen here at St. Giles.  For each hour of something you see, hours of planning, preparation, emails etc. go into it.  Plus, planning lists, coordination with ministry teams, and putting it all on the church calendar.  

Supporter-Where can I help someone with what he or she is doing or suggest someone else who wants to help?  Part of my role as supporter is helping people see where the needs of the church work with their gifts and then supporting them as they share their gifts!

Cheerleader-Woohoo children, youth, and adults!  Way to go on sharing God’s love in so many ways.   

I hope this glance at the hat rack of this DCE answers the what does a DCE do all week question!

 

A Day of Giving Thanks

A Day of Giving Thanks
Recently I was asked to reflect on a ministry in which I participated while working at a previous church. As I thought about what to say, I realized how thankful I was for my time spent with the children and all the adults who taught them. This time of reflection encouraged me to spend some time creating a gratitude list. Until I starting writing my list, I didn’t realize how much I needed this practice. So I invite you to take a few quiet moments and write a gratitude list. In the midst of all that is going on in my life and the world, it was helpful to pause and give thanks.
Dear God,
You are the giver of all good gifts. When I stop and consider all I have to be thankful for, I am amazed. Here is my gratitude list for today-
visits from loved ones
smiles
the churches where I was called to serve
delicious food
people who lend a helping hand
courage to speak out for what is right
when children giggle
planning and taking vacations
phone calls from people who know me
hospice patients and families
work colleagues
my husband
my whole family
opportunities to give back
prophets who speak the truth we need to hear
a good cup of tea and time to enjoy it.
Thank you, God, for all this and so much more. Encourage me to stop and take the time to be thankful often. Amen.

My Book of Mean People Journal

My Book of Mean People Journal
Toni and Slade Morrison
Pictures by Pascal Lemaitre
This book was a gift many years ago from a dear friend. She knew I was going through a rough patch and bought this book to cheer me up. It is a place to share your feelings using words and pictures when you are struggling with mean people. I will admit that I have not yet written in the book. I pull it out regularly and imagine what I would write and draw when people are mean.
This journal gives you space to write about actions of mean people, times you are mean, what you would say to mean people, and what you wish mean people would stop doing.
This is a perfect gift for anyone who is having a tough time and needs a safe place to share their feelings. I like it much better than the book by the same name because the journal acknowledges that we can be mean too!

Benediction-Psalm 133:1

Benediction-Psalm 133:1

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
And what does this look like in today’s world? We must ask for forgiveness for what we have done wrong and seek justice for all! We must listen to the stories of our kindred and seek justice for all! We must speak out against violence to any of our kindred and seek justice for all! We must work toward a day when all have enough food, equal opportunities, safety and security. And we look forward to the day we can say-How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!

 

Words in italics are Psalm 133:1 from the New Revised Standard Version.

The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

 

Recently, I was sick. Sore throat, fever, headache, coughing. It was terrible. I had no energy. I was not hungry. And possibly the worst part,  I could not talk for three days. No talking. No whispering. I communicated with my husband using hand gestures and texting. As I was not talking, I was thinking. Here are some things I learned-

I would not enjoy a week-long silent retreat!

I enjoy the sound of my own voice.

I enjoy communicating with others.

 

“But God definitely listened. God heard the sound of my prayer.” –Psalm 66:19

 

God, you hear my prayers whether I say them out loud or hold them in my heart. You know me when I feel well and when I feel terrible. And through all my days, you love me and I am thankful for your love. I pray for all those who are feeling unwell today. Ease their pain. Grant them rest. Blanket them with your love. In your healing and holy name, we pray. Amen.

 

Stopping By a Church

I love visiting churches. I love hearing stories from church members as they celebrate their history and their hopes for the future. Earlier this summer, my Dad and I were walking through Ketchikan, Alaska and discovered St. John’s Episcopal Church was open to visitors. We opened the door and climbed the steps to step into their sanctuary. We were greeted by a very welcoming church member who told us the history of her church.
In 1904, when the church building was completed, it was at the water’s edge. You could tie your boat up at the front door and come into worship. As the town has expanded they have created land farther into the water and now you can drive or walk to the church. I took pictures of some of the stained glass windows that date from the 1930s.
I recommend you stop in the next time you pass a church that is open for visitors. You never know what or who you might meet inside.
Loving God, Thank you for your faithful communities across the world who share your love. Thank you for open doors and open hearts. Give us the courage to stop and strike up a conversation. Open our eyes to see you in each other. Amen.

Worship Words-Psalm 105

Encouraging the participation of as many people as possible in each worship service is very important. This requires that we look at the service and see where people are excluded who cannot read, who cannot stand up for long periods of time, who cannot see the printed words, etc. I’ve rewritten Sunday’s Psalm (Psalm 105:1-11, 45b) to make it more inclusive and participatory. It could be used as a call to worship, read with the rest of the Scriptures, or a litany somewhere in your service. Before reading the Psalm, the reader will need to instruct the congregation that their role is to repeat the phrase, Praise the Lord!, whenever the reader pauses and raises a hand.
Because this reading is responsive, there is no need to print it in the bulletin or project it on the screen. This change encourages people to look around and look up while responding to the Scripture reading.

One-O give thanks to the Lord, call on God’s name, make known God’s deeds among the peoples.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Sing to the Lord, sing praises to God; tell of all God’s wonderful works.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Glory in God’s holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Seek the Lord’s strength; seek God’s presence continually.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Remember the wonderful works God has done, God’s miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-O offspring of God’s servant Abraham, children of Jacob, the chosen ones.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-The Lord is our God; God’s judgments are in all the earth.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-God is mindful of the covenant forever, of the word was commanded, for a thousand generations,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-the covenant that God made with Abraham, the sworn promise to Isaac,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-which God confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.”

All-Praise the Lord!

Psalm 105 is quoted using the New Revised Standard Version.

Worship Words-Psalm 139 as Confession

Sunday’s Psalm reading is 139:1-12, 23-24.
When I visit a hospice patient and am asked to read Scripture, I ask what they would like to hear. Many times the response is a request for me to pick something good. Psalm 139 is a reading I return to regularly. No matter where we are in our lives, we all need a reminder that God is with us right here and right now. I encourage you to read this Psalm on good days and bad days whenever you need a reminder of God’s constant presence in your life.
Call to Confession

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.

See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Prayer of Confession (Unison)

Faithful God, You know each one of us. You see us. You listen to us. And yet, we still run. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? Holy One, we know the answer, and yet, we keep running. So forgive us for doubting your faithfulness. Forgive us for doubting the gifts you have bestowed upon us. Forgive us and help us to forgive ourselves and each other.  Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Beloved children of God, Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe. God knows you and loves you. Live your life remembering you are forgiven and loved. Amen.

 

The words in italics are from Psalm 139 in the New Revised Standard Version.

Lessons I’ve Learned from a 6 Year Old!

Today, my niece, Ella, turns 6! To say she is excited about her birthday is a huge understatement. So, in honor of her special day, I’m sharing 6 lessons I’ve learned from this amazing 6 year old!

 

1-Take time to enjoy the sweet things in life!

 

2-Don’t take life too seriously!

 

3-Have fun! Be a kid!

 

4-Love your family even when it isn’t easy!

 

5-Take time to relax.

 

6-Try new things! (like ordering room service!)