Tag Archives: #Service

40 Days in His Way

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Working in ministry, liturgical seasons just simply move way too fast. It seems like yesterday Advent was on our doorstep and now we are almost 2 weeks into Lent. Our 8 week bible study with Jeff Cavins is drawing to a close and small group Lenten study has already begun. We have a food pantry drive and collection over the next 2 weeks, and a Collaborative Lenten service event for End Hunger where volunteers meet to package simple, nutritious meals for those in need within the New England area. Not to mention, as new collaborative (2 parishes now working together) there is evangelistic and leadership training, council and liturgy meetings, and the gathering of individuals to write a new pastoral plan. We are most certainly a collaborative on the move! In fact, several of the leadership team are flying out today to be a part of the Amazing Parish Conference in Atlanta.

In the midst of all these incredible community blessings, I have been trying to take the time myself to rediscover all the ways God is calling me personally to conversion and transformation. This year’s Lent for me has been all about trust. Why trust? Well, with so many balls in the air, including seeking the sale of our home, I have needed to go deeper than a mere lip service of saying I trust God. Over and over again these past few weeks I have had to let go of timelines, expectations and results. Not an easy task when you are detail oriented by nature. Yet, what I have noticed is that when I am truly keeping my eyes focused on Christ, all the rest fades away into the background.

One service project that has surfaced for me this Lent is the 40 bags/boxes in 40 days challenge of de-cluttering for simplicity and charity.Perfect timing as my family prepares to potentially move out of our home of 20 years. So many things we have not used over the years that could be of use to someone else. Why do we accumulate stuff and hold on to things that we honestly do not need anymore? Sentimentality, and security? With every bag or box packed, however, my family is gaining valuable space and awareness of the way that clutter can occupy our lives. In our culture of accumulation I can honesty say we could do with “Less” in order to appreciate what it is that we”Need”. We need space in our days and our homes that only God can fill.

Reflect:

Take time today to see what is filling your day, your home, and occupies your time. Is there room for growth, and space for need?

Peace,Signature

Worth Revisiting:Never Underestimate the Gift of Ourselves

Much too substantial to be contained and far too priceless to be appraised, the gift of ourselves may be exactly what we are being asked to give this advent season. In little ways we can play an important part in shaping the lives of those we encounter in our families and within the world around us. Have you underestimated the gift of yourself this season? Don’t worry, God hasn’t..say yes today!

 

This morning I awoke to a beautiful gift- an extra hour of sleep, kids fed and showered, our pup taken care of as well, and my middle son making his lunch for school. As Peter stood there constructing his sandwich, in his dress shirt and tie laughing with his younger brother I felt so incredibly blessed. This was a moment that each of my family, without even fully recognizing had contributed to. Completing the gift, my hubby had ushered the boys into the car and dropped them each off at school with percussion set and books in tow. While these are all things that are a daily occurrence, today I was given the gift of appreciation both for what I do, as well as for the gift they each bring in themselves.

Image from:Always the Holidays.com

This advent as we light each candle in anticipation, open and unwrap each day, there is an inherent challenge. Are my steps and efforts directed towards society’s expectations, in an overly commercialized season of shopping, or they a gift to Christ?  ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (MT 25:40) What is the real gift Christ is asking of us this season? It is, I believe, to give the gift of ourselves to others. Our time, our talents, our love…all gracious endowments from God to begin with, are to be freely given to others.

Vatican’s Nativity Scene December 24, 2013

Yet, before we start thinking that these must be expressed as grand gestures, we look again at the infinite love witnessed in the tiny babe lying in the manger.  In this way, God reached out to each one of us to give us the gift of Himself – to convert and enkindle our hearts to change the world.  This love then is what we can bring each day to someone else in need. It might be a smile, a kind word, a warm meal, a handwritten note, a prayer or simply an unexpected act of love.

“One Good Thing” By Jillee

*While I have seen this idea before, I was reminded recently of a service advent calendar or advent jar. The idea is instead of receiving a candy or chocolate to honor the day, you choose a loving act of service to do individually or as a family. The ideas above are just a few, and will vary as do each of the gifts God has given you. More beautiful than gold, frankincense or myrrh will be your gift to Christ this season.

Years ago, I remember shopping with an infant in tow desperately trying to gather all that was needed so not to return. One day when walking past an aisle I saw an elderly man standing alone staring at a wall of supplies and looking completely lost. Knowing all that I had to do that day I could’ve kept going past, yet I felt that strong inner pull to walk back. As I approached, I leaned in and asked if I could be of any help. His whole body sighed as he turned and said, “Oh, thank you yes, I have been here looking for so long!” His eyes shone and his gratitude was unsurpassable. After asking him a few questions and locating the item, he then turned to me and said, “Do you know how many others have walked past me?” My heart ached at this, and still I realized that I too had been given a choice that day. That day, I saw Christ in my fellow brother, and responded to the call to love. It marks a very important faith moment in my life, one that I return to whenever I feel my own schedule has unique importance.

Jesus, this season I want to stop and celebrate your presence and love in others. Prayerfully, I desire that I can also be a reflection of you for those that are in need of love, mercy and forgiveness in their lives. Open my eyes and my heart to see where I need to be, what gift of myself that I can give, and what lessons are to be learned. Thank you for reminding me that though there is great need there is also great hope.  For, in seeking to follow, you continually guide my feet and strengthen my purpose.

Peace,

Signature

This is Community

This week, as my friends and colleagues can attest, I have been battling a rather persistent cold which has chosen to seize my vocal cords and keep me up at night. Lack of a solid night’s sleep and my stubborn refusal to call it a day or throw in the towel has not been helpful either. Yet, in waking this morning I had to smile. For in my stubborn courage, or selfless foolishness as some might see it, I realized that I had become the epitome of my own mother.  

My mom, I know, had to have been sick at times, but as the sole provider I cannot ever really remember her taking off work. As a farm girl, she was conditioned to rise before dawn and work until sunset, giving her all to each and every day. Though later an adult, her modis operendi had not changed and if I slept past six, I could look forward to a discussion of  how I had chosen to sleep the better part of the day away. There was, in her mind, much to do, to be done, and discover in the day that could not be done whilst lying in bed.

One time, however, when I was about eleven I can clearly recall my mom getting very sick and my own confusion as to how to proceed next. Since it was just the two of us and our family lived at least an hour away, I knew that my mom was now suddenly depending on me. This particular stomach virus that had beset our community had resulted in the hospitalization of the elderly and the young alike. The first two days, I had cared for my mom and myself cooking and cleaning up, while making sure my mom had enough liquids and cool washcloths.

By the third day, though, I was tired and looking into the fridge and cabinets, I knew I was going to have to ask for help soon. Not to mention, I was getting concerned that my mom might need to see a doctor, as she didn’t seem to be looking or feeling any better. Given that it was summer, and I was not seeing my friends at school, essentially no one else knew of the predicament. My mom, a true introvert by nature, had several close friends but was not one whose sudden disappearance from society would readily be questioned. I knew that the time had come when I would have to break the silence, and my mother’s privacy.

In a well placed phone call to my friend Cathy, who belonged to my church, I found solace.

“Cathy, I’m a bit worried about my mom..

Elizabeth, are you taking care of her by yourself?”, suddenly came her aunt’s voice on the other line.

Yes, ma’am. I’m just not sure what more I can do..

Don’t worry.. have you had dinner yet?

No, I was going to see what I could make”, I replied knowing that it would be a Spartan meal at best.

We were just about to sit down ourselves..I will be by in a few minutes with dinner.”

And, just like that I breathed a sigh of relief,  and knew that God had it all covered.

The very next morning, my pastor would bring my mom to the doctor for tests and anti nausea medications. Over the days to follow, the women from the church had prepared each meal that we would need, even bringing fresh well water to eliminate the chance that our water might be a contributing factor. It would be a week before my mom was up on her feet fully, and another two weeks before she could eat normally. As I look back on this moment I cannot help but wonder what I would have done for this length of time without my community, my brothers and sisters in Christ?

This is what it means to truly be a community, to be the body of Christ. We were not ever meant to be alone in our faith, or in the care of others. The reading this Sunday spoke of giving generously, like Christ himself, who gave up his very life so that we could have life eternal.  We are asked to give of our excess, to be content with enough, and to share with those in need. There is, of course, a flip side to this. We have to be able to take help too when we are in need. Maybe you are the one that everyone goes to for assistance, the first on the scene. Allowing others to be of help is an invitation for them to give generously of themselves. It is also an exercise of humility on our part, a suppression of pride, and an opportunity in this moment to experience grace and mercy. How can we give what we do not fully recognize a need for in our own lives?

This week’s challenge..How have I experienced mercy in my own life? Where can I give more fully of myself to my community? Where can I show mercy as a member of the body of Christ?

Peace,

Signature

Never Underestimate the Gift of Ourselves

Linking up with Laura at Day by Day In Our World for 40 Days of Seeking Him!

  This morning I awoke to a beautiful gift- an extra hour of sleep, kids fed and showered, our pup taken care of as well, and my middle son making his lunch for school. As Peter stood there constructing his sandwich, in his dress shirt and tie laughing with his younger brother I felt so incredibly blessed. This was a moment that each of my family, without even fully recognizing had contributed to. To complete the gift, my hubby ushered them into the car and dropped them each off at school with percussion set and books in tow. While these are all things that are a daily occurrence, today I was given the gift of appreciation both for what I do, as well as for the gift they each bring in themselves.

Image from:Always the Holidays.com

This advent as we light each candle in anticipation, open and unwrap each day, there is an inherent challenge. Are my steps and efforts directed towards society’s expectations, in an overly commercialized season of shopping, or they a gift to Christ?  ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (MT 25:40) What is the real gift Christ is asking of us this season? It is, I believe, to give the gift of ourselves to others. Our time, our talents, our love…all gracious endowments from God to begin with, are to be freely given to others.

Vatican’s Nativity Scene December 24, 2013

Yet, before we start thinking that these must be expressed as grand gestures, we look again at the infinite love witnessed in the tiny babe lying in the manger.  In this way, God reached out to each one of us to give us the gift of Himself – to convert and enkindle our hearts to change the world.  This love then is what we can bring each day to someone else in need. It might be a smile, a kind word, a warm meal, a handwritten note, a prayer or simply an unexpected act of love.

“One Good Thing” By Jillee

*While I have seen this idea before, I was reminded recently of a service advent calendar or advent jar. The idea is instead of receiving a candy or chocolate to honor the day, you choose a loving act of service to do individually or as a family. The ideas above are just a few, and will vary as do each of the gifts God has given you. More beautiful than gold, frankincense or myrrh will be your gift to Christ this season.

Years ago, I remember shopping with an infant in tow desperately trying to gather all that was needed so not to return. One day when walking past an aisle I saw an elderly man standing alone staring at a wall of supplies and looking completely lost. Knowing all that I had to do that day I could’ve kept going past, yet I felt that strong inner pull to walk back. As I approached, I leaned in and asked if I could be of any help. His whole body sighed as he turned and said, “Oh, thank you yes, I have been here looking for so long!” His eyes shone and his gratitude was unsurpassable. After asking him a few questions and locating the item, he then turned to me and said, “Do you know how many others have walked past me?” My heart ached at this, and still I realized that I too had been given a choice that day. That day, I saw Christ in my fellow brother, and responded to the call to love. It marks a very important faith moment in my life, one that I return to whenever I feel my own schedule has unique importance.

Jesus, this season I want to stop and celebrate your presence and love in others. Prayerfully, I desire that I can also be a reflection of you for those that are in need of love, mercy and forgiveness in their lives. Open my eyes and my heart to see where I need to be, what gift of myself that I can give, and what lessons are to be learned. Thank you for reminding me that though there is great need there is also great hope.  For, in seeking to follow, you continually guide my feet and strengthen my purpose.