Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Talk at St. Mary's::Stewardship:The meaning and purpose of our lives.

When Peter explained Stewardship during the Lenten Study, he broke it down into 4 parts:
prayer, work, service, and hospitality. I appreciated what he said last Sunday about how our Stewardship changes throughout our lives.

In my talk today, I will break down my Stewardship into the same four categories that Peter did, and tell how each of them relate to me.

Prayer. As long as I remember, I have always said my prayers, though they’ve changed through the years. As a kid, I said them at night and they consisted mostly of keeping me safe through ‘til morning. Turning off the lights and being away from everyone else was scary for me.

As a teenager, my prayers were that I would get good grades. That the cute boy I liked would like me back. And that my mom would understand me better.

When I became a wife and mom, my prayers turned more toward the safety and peace of my entire family, asking God to keep us ALL safely through the night. And the day. I try, along with Steve, to know God’s will for us and for our kids as we make decisions that affect us all.

Trying to discern what God wants me to do has been my goal for years. Sometimes it has taken knocking me upside the head rather than just a still small voice, but I keep trying.

Work. This is the doing part of trying to figure out God’s will for me. There are lots of good things to do and not many hours to do it. First and foremost, I try to be a good example for my kids and my grandkids and to be a good wife to Steve. Often, I am asked advice by my kids, but I realize that I lack a lot of needed information, so I try to rely on the promptings of the Spirit, continually asking God to help me to say and do the next right thing.

In the church, I am the Communications Coordinator, which is a fancy way of saying that I try to get the news out to everyone about activities that are coming up and help us to all stay apprised of what is going on in the church. The newsletter, the blog, and facebook posts are the way that I do that.

Next, service. I serve St. Mary’s every day as I post uplifting things to the facebook page. I serve people in my community by taking a meal to those who need to be taken care of for a while. In my extended family, I call my dad to see how he is and to visit with him. I call my brother to see if he needs anything & I take him to his doctor’s appointments and run errands for him when he needs me too. In my own home, I wash clothes, clean toilets, wash dishes, do laundry and all of the other things that you need to do to run a house. For my kids, I make orthodontic appointments, chauffeur, and help with homework, and for my older kids, I babysit their kids, my grandkids, just to name a few things. For Michael specifically, I give him baths, I cut up his food, and I teach him what he needs to learn about caring for himself and living with others.

Hospitality - I try to live by the wisdom that my mom gave me about not judging anyone until walking a mile in their shoes, metaphorically speaking. By trying to empathize with everyone, I find it easier be more merciful and to strive for justice for all. I try to stay pleasant and kind as I care for the people in my life. I try to be kind and polite to the people I come in contact with every day. I say thank you for things given to me, And I offer a smile and hello to everyone I see.

There is a story that I read many years ago that has stuck with me. It is a story that Robert Fulghum tells in his book, It Was on Fire When I lay Down on It:
The story says that a traveler from Italy came to the French town of Chartres to see the great church that was being built there. Arriving at the end of the day, he went to the site just as the workmen were leaving for home. He asked one man, covered with dust, what he did there. The man replied that he was a stonemason. He spent his days carving rocks. An­other man, when asked, said he was a glassblower who spent his days making slabs of colored glass. Still another workman replied that he was a blacksmith who pounded iron for a living.

Wandering into the deepening gloom of the unfin­ished edifice, the traveler came upon an older woman, armed with a broom, sweeping up the stone chips and wood shavings and glass shards from the day's work. "What are you doing?" he asked.

The woman paused, leaning on her broom, and looking up toward the high arches, replied, "Me? I'm building a cathedral for the Glory of Almighty God."

That story seems to embody my own. Very often, I am the one that figuratively sweeps up the stone chips, the wood shavings, and shards of glass left from the day’s work. There is a choice that I make every day, of how to view those circumstances. One choice is to be frustrated, and sometimes I choose that one. The other is to take up my broom and be grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to serve Him as I serve others - I try to do that one more often. During my days, what I do might be just small acts in the bigger picture, but in those acts, I am building my own cathedral - my life - for the glory of the Almighty God.

(added as an after thought)

Since David asked me to give the talk several weeks ago, every time that Peter has said one certain part at the end of the service every week, I have thought to myself that I wanted to include it in my talk. I forgot it, as I wrote my talk, but I remembered this morning.

This is the part:
"And now, Father, send us out
to do the work you have given us to do,
to love and serve you
as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit
be honor and glory, now and forever."

And I think that portion sums up our Stewardships and the Meaning and Purpose of all of our Lives.

Friday, May 15, 2015

"There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God."

I read something today that made me say, "A-ha". I hope that you enjoy it too.

The Bishop's Daily
May 15 - Psalms 85, 86, 91, 92; Ezekiel 1:28-3:3; Hebrews 4:14-5:6; Luke 9:28-36

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NRSV)

In the Baptismal Covenant (Agreement) of the Episcopal Church we have this question: Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

The response that question is: I will, with God’s help.

The verses above from Hebrews assures us that the reception we will receive when we fail will be understanding and sympathy. Because of this we can approach the throne of grace with boldness and "receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (pg. 304 BCP)

So when we fail we do not run and hide from God. We "continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers." (BCP 304)

This is the confidence that we have as Christians. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.
♥ Melody

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Life of Purpose and Meaning

Back during Lent, Peter, my priest, taught a discussion group about Stewardship, which he defines as Living a Life of Purpose and Meaning. A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a 5 minute talk on my Stewardship. Not a small or easy task.

So I've thought. And thought. And thought. And thought some more.

Stories have come into my head as I try to figure out what my personal credo is. Stories like the lady at Chartres. (you can read it here, starting on page 72.)

And the story that Robert Fulghum's tells about Dr Papaderos' meaning of life. (you can read it here.)

So after thinking and pondering and praying (repeat that several times), I came up with a list in bullet point form:
Live life on life’s terms (don’t kick against the pricks)

“To love justice, to do mercy, and to walk humbly with [their] God.”

Love God; Love my neighbor as myself

Agreeing on things is nice, but being nice is mandatory. Find common ground & build on that.

Reflect God’s light & love into other’s life

Accentuate the positive. Live a life of gratitude.

Always try to see the bigger picture.

I give the talk on the 17th. Wish me luck. I'll post the actual talk when I figure it all out. (if I figure it all out)

♥ Melody