Serving—with Holy Spirit Power! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 4, 2017

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power! (#BestOf)

Today was Pentecost at my church. Yes, I preached about the coming of the Holy Spirit. I spoke of the mighty acts of God breaking into the lives of all believers. This #BestOf post marks the day the Holy Spirit was poured out. I don’t want the Holy Spirit to remain sequestered to only one day a year. No! Our Advocate helped the followers of Jesus to turn the world inside and upside down. Read it again, and praise God!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 8, 2014

Acts 2 Pentecost-El-Greco-cropped

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power!

So there I was—at an evening meeting several years ago in a public building. Out of nowhere, the lights flickered. Went out! And stayed out. Immediately, everyone inside the building filed out. As a safety precaution, of course.

But—what happened? Was it a brown-out? Did something happen to a transformer attached to the electrical supply in the neighborhood? Everyone wanted the power supply to get back on line!

I narrated the story of Pentecost this morning, in church. I told about Jesus ascending to heaven, and then—what? Nothing! Not a thing, for days. But at last, when the band of beleaguered believers was all gathered together in one place, Pentecost happened! The Holy Spirit came with mighty power! The disciples became courageous overnight. And the Holy Spirit turned the disciples inside out and upside down. Life—as they knew it before—was never the same again.

As I preached this morning, I honestly felt like I was serving the congregation in a deep, meaningful, wonderful manner. Opening the Word of God. I’ve felt that in the past, and it is such an awesome, stunning feeling to have. Almost like Isaiah falling on his face before God Almighty in the Temple (in Isaiah 6). However, today had a different feel to it. This morning, it was almost like I was uncovering something rich, something precious. Something of immense value! And then, turning to the friends out in the pews. Showing them the treasure of immense value! Offering them the opportunity to come along on this tremendous journey.

What about you? How has your journey through life been going? This small congregation has had its ups and downs, but I felt that this particular message from Acts 2 was just exactly what I ought to preach to this congregation. I hope and pray that any time people consider this chapter in Acts that they also consider the tremendous opportunity that God is holding out to all of outs. Just like a treasure, a rich and beautiful thing.

I want to serve. I have been praying for opportunities to help, whatever way I can. In this case, I will try my darnedest to get out the Good News. And if I can serve, be helpful, and be kind along the way? All fantastic ways to follow God. And God’s Good News!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

Be Prepared! Be Kind, Too! (#BestOf)

This particular blog post reminded me of my striving to find kind, helpful acts of service EACH DAY in 2014. This is a wonderful reminder to me, to keep my eyes open and take every opportunity to be kind. (And, be prepared, too!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 20, 2014

you have a great smile

Be Prepared! Oh, and Be Kind, Too!

Today was a day to get things done. Two meetings accomplished, some computer work done, a bible study prepared, and some telephone calls made. Oh, and since it was Tuesday, I read to the preschoolers, too!

I noticed, too, that today was also a day of preparation. Preparing the bulletin for next Sunday’s service. Preparing the bible study for tomorrow, when I’ll have the opportunity to lead and facilitate the midweek bible study group. Both of my meetings were in preparation for various phases of ministry around the church. And two of my telephone calls were setting up other things around the church—other ways of preparing to be helpful in ministry.

I am getting into the swing of things around here. It seems that I am becoming more comfortable with the general day-to-day activities. However, I do not want to get too comfortable. If I do, then God tends to step in and gently (or sometimes not-so-gently!) shake things up. Occasionally, I’ve noticed that God will tend to shake me up. That’s okay, because the last thing in the world that I want to do is to get complacent! But still, it is disconcerting to get shaken up, even by God.

I have been praying regularly that God send me opportunities to be of service. I am aware that my sometimes-prayer to God is being answered, day by day. Sometimes in common, everyday kinds of ways (like when I smile at someone, and they thank me sincerely for my friendly smile!), and on occasion, in significant ways (like when I report on Feature Fridays, about the innovative and particular kinds of ministries to the hungry, the poor, the abused, the depressed ones in our world).

God keeps sending these opportunities to me. I keep fielding them, and keep on trying to be faithful. That’s it. I honestly try to be faithful to what God has for me to do. I know there are organizations in this world that try to do something, or try to be kind, or try to be of service. That’s wonderful! I encourage each one to find something that is meaningful to them, and do it with all their might! Or, perhaps some might want to find some outreach that is fulfilling and kind, and get fully behind it!

This search for acts of service, this Year of Being Kind is giving me far greater dividends than I ever expected. Even down to the personal gratitude, caring and appreciation that comes from getting out of myself and giving to others.

So, on top of everything else, was this a day of introspection? Yes. And, I pray it was a day of service to others. (And to myself.) God, I wonder what you’ll send my way tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind with Singing Valentines (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, February 12, 2017

This is one of my favorite, poignant, heart-tugging posts from three years ago. Read it, and see if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 14, 2014

bouquet of valentine roses

Being Kind with Singing Valentines  (Feature Friday!)

This Valentine’s Day story happened about ten years ago.  Not to me, but to my husband Kevin, instead.

My husband was part of a barbershop chorus here in the Chicago suburbs then. Not a large chorus, but a very earnest one. The chorus was part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. Sadly, his chorus disbanded a few years ago due to aging membership.

But, enough background. On to the important stuff—the story.

Singing valentines were one of the signature fundraisers for my husband’s chorus. They would advertise for several weeks before Valentine’s Day. Requests would come in, and a Singing Valentine barbershop quartet would travel to the specified place, dressed to the nines in their concert attire (sparkling white shirt, spiffy red vest, black tuxedo pants, even with black garters on the sleeves). The quartet would sing two songs (such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”). One of the quartet would present the valentine recipient with a single red rose. Very romantic, and out of the ordinary, too.

My husband Kevin—the baritone for the quartet—went out with the rest of the guys to deliver several Singing Valentines. All of the quartet knew the drill for Singing Valentines. It didn’t matter whether they were going into a workplace, a restaurant, a home or apartment. They would go in, introduce themselves, sing two numbers, present the rose, and excuse themselves as quietly and quickly as possible. After all, they had more valentines to present.

However, this next Singing Valentine was different.

An older mother wanted her adult son to receive a Singing Valentine. Not the usual sweetheart or husband or wife, but it was the next on the list. The four guys drove in a single car from place to place. They had the address of this son, on Ridge in Chicago. Just south of Devon. They were unfamiliar with the facility. Misericordia, it was called. The quartet came into the facility and discovered it was a home for people with moderate to profound developmental disabilities. They announced themselves to the front desk. The facility was ready for them, and ushered the quartet into a large common room.

To the quartet’s surprise, the staff had painstakingly assembled between thirty-five to forty residents in the large room—residents in specialized wheelchairs, several sitting awkwardly, one even lying face down on a wheeled cot. This was definitely not the typical Singing Valentine. As Kevin recounted the story, the quartet went into a quick huddle. No snappy valentine delivery this time. Instead, the quartet did their two numbers plus an additional set of songs. They gave an impromptu mini-concert for the assembled crowd. (It was a crowd, too! About three dozen residents plus a number of staff.) At the end, the son was presented with a rose, and the quartet quietly excused themselves. On to the next Singing Valentine.

Kevin recollected, “We went into the thing with a very business-like attitude. But, we were shocked into the realization that there was something much more human at stake. I think we were all a little choked up by the whole episode.” The business of delivering Singing Valentines had transformed into something deeper. Something more meaningful, more intensely touching.

What an opportunity to be kind. What a way to show love. Happy Valentine’s Day, in deed.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 

A Souper Way to Be Kind (#BestOf)

A Souper Way to Be Kind (#BestOf)

 

souper-bowl-logo

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, February 2, 2017

Earlier today, I was reminded of the Super Bowl coming up in a few days. I passed the big screens of televisions at the gym this afternoon, and saw the promos for the big game. I like football, but for some reason, my thoughts came right to this blog post. The reasons behind this blog post are so worthwhile. I hope and pray that all houses of worship that are participating in this Souper Bowl of Caring receive a great deal of donations. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 31, 2014

What a Souper Way to Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

The Super Bowl is almost upon us, here in the United States. This finale to the 2013-14 football season will bring people from across the country—and across the world—together to watch the extravaganza, the festivities, the commercials. Oh, yes. And the football game, too.

As I have a pastor friend at a church in Ohio. (I featured this church in Ohio two weeks ago, with Yarn Alive!) My friend, Ross, is pastor of United Presbyterian Church in Cuyahoga Falls. One of the mission outreaches at their church is Souper Bowl of Caring. What, you might ask, is Souper Bowl of Caring? Good question! I’m glad you asked. Put simply, this effort uses “the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth in a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.” (from the Souper Bowl Mission Statement)

A brief history of this outreach, from the Souper Bowl of Caring website: “A simple prayer: “Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat” is inspiring a youth-led movement to help hungry and hurting people around the world.

“This prayer, delivered by Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, gave birth to an idea. Why not use Super Bowl weekend, a time when people come together for football and fun, to also unify the nation for a higher good: collecting dollars and canned food for the needy? Youth could collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar DIRECTLY to a local charity of THEIR choice.”

This outreach effort started in 1990. Other churches joined the team, and by 1997 Souper Bowl of Caring reached $1 million and kept right on going. In 2004, the first NFL owners joined the Souper Bowl team. Also in 2004, First Lady Laura Bush kicked off the caring effort that year. In 2008, the national total for the food and funds drive topped $10 million.  And it’s still continuing to grow.un

Whether in local congregations like the church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, or in city-wide efforts like in Houston, Austin or Dallas/Fort Worth, the Souper Bowl of Caring is a tremendous opportunity to be kind to people, where it counts—in the pocketbook. Pocketbook issues are a concern to people across the nation. With unemployment and under-employment so prevalent, and costs for basics such as heating going through the roof in this challenging winter, all the more reason to give something, if we can!

Pastor Ross said recently, “I hope you are able to make an extra run to the store just for this cause. We are blessed to be a blessing. The need is substantial, and UPC can help with your help.” What a wonderful way to bless those who have real needs. Whether with cans of soup or chili donated to local food pantries, or with cash donations to the charity of YOUR choice, please consider giving. What a way to join in. Join this caring team. For a Super—I mean, Souper Bowl, indeed.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry (#BestOf)

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I went in for a regularly scheduled dental visit last week. Teeth cleaning. When the dentist came in, he gave me a clean bill of dental health. As I read through several posts from June 2014 (when I was in the middle of my Year of Being Kind), I came across this one—where I talked about self-care, and how self-care was so important a part of the life of someone in the caring profession. I cannot emphasize this enough. It’s good to take care of oneself. Jesus is an excellent example for me. God willing, may I continue to follow His example and continue to take care of myself.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 17, 2014

kindness sand image

Being Kind, and More Adventures in Dentistry

There I was, having a snack on Sunday afternoon. Suddenly—I felt something hard in my mouth. And part of my molar was gone. Cracked. I felt the jagged edge with my tongue and took in a deep breath. Breathed out the sigh of frustration. I needed this like I needed another hole in my head. (Upon reflection, I suppose that’s pretty much what it is. Another hole, I mean.)

The dentist’s assistant and I talked yesterday, and I found out that I could have the first appointment on Wednesday morning. Thank goodness I have a responsive dentist! He was gone over the weekend, but will be back tomorrow. So, bright and early, I have the first appointment in his office. And, I am—almost—filled with trepidation to find out what are the next steps he suggests for this lower molar.

Today was rather challenging for me. Not too much, since I don’t want people to think my cracked tooth is causing a great, big hole in my mouth. But, it is rubbing a little sore in my tongue. Irritating, and bothersome. So much so, that I am speaking as if I had a slight speech impediment now. Since about the middle of the morning.

I reflected on my practice of being kind, as I sat in the office today. As I thought, I found I was concentrating so much on being kind to others. I don’t often sit back and allow others to be kind to me. Not to get all introspective or anything, but taking care of myself is important, too! The dentist’s assistant was very kind and understanding as she put me down for a special visit tomorrow—the earliest of the day, too.

This train of thought led me on. What other things am I neglecting in my life? How can others be helpful to me? And, how else could I be kind to myself?

I know, from my years of working as a chaplain, how valuable being kind to myself could be. Except, I call it “self-care.” I know that this practice is getting a lot of press now, especially since those in the helping professions are increasingly finding regular self-care to be a necessity.

Now that I’m talking about it, I can see how Jesus practiced self-care in His life, during His ministry. He would withdraw on a regular basis. Go away by Himself and be alone. Pray. I suspect He was resting and recharging His batteries (metaphorically speaking, of course—especially since batteries were not invented until 1800).

I ought to follow His excellent example and take time for myself. Be kind to myself. Follow good practices of self-care. Good idea, O Lord! Thanks.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 

 

 

A Poppy for Remembrance (#BestOf)

Memorial Day is right around the corner. Remember the veterans in the cemeteries, as well as all who served or are presently serving.

A Poppy for Remembrance

red poppy painting

A beautiful day! Clear blue sky, low humidity, comfortable Memorial Day weekend. All in all, a great day.

I went downtown (in my suburb) to have breakfast with a few friends mid-morning. Today was such a lovely day that I almost felt like skipping down the sidewalk. My friends and I strolled along, talking, when I spied a man with a big bunch of poppies. The man stood near a street corner. He had on a baseball-style cap, but with some military insignia emblazoned on it.

I had been wondering about poppies. I always get at least one poppy on Memorial Day weekend. More, if I can. Poppies are for remembrance. And—I know I will be remembering my father and his three brothers, who all fought in World War II. They served in various capacities, in various branches of the armed forces.

My father Jack was stationed in the China-India-Burma theater of operations, in the Army Air Corps. I don’t really know too much about his service, because he never told me much. Except that the weather was really unpleasant, there were insects all over (of every description!), he was heartily glad of mosquito netting at night, and that the bulk of his time in the Army consisted of “hurry up and wait.” On occasion, while I was growing up, he would get stern and call for me and my older siblings to come “front and center!” I knew what that meant—I better show up speedy-quick! And be quiet and respectful, once I got there in front of him, besides.

But, back to poppies. The poppies are made by veterans in the VA hospitals, and distributed in many, many places by the American Legion, and the American Legion Auxiliary. But where did this originate? The red poppy was a symbol of the fallen soldiers, taken from a poem written during the first World War by a Canadian officer, Colonel John MacCrae: “In Flanders field the poppies blow,/Between the crosses row on row—“ The servicemen who returned brought back this vivid memory. Soon, poppies became a symbol of remembrance of the fallen servicemen and women who lost their lives during the wars. The disabled veterans took the poppy as their own, making them and distributing them for remembrance, on Memorial Day. And, contributions go towards rehabilitation work and disabled veterans, nationwide.

So—there I was. Face to face with this man in the baseball cap. I didn’t have too much in my wallet. Only a couple of bucks. But, I gave it to him, put the dollars in the can. He gave me a poppy, out of the large, red bunch of paper flowers he held. I told him about my dad and uncles, in World War II. He nodded, and said he had served in the first Gulf War, and pointed to an anchor pinned to his chest. “I was a Navy man,” he said. He wasn’t very talkative after that, but he certainly seemed grateful to receive the donation. And grateful for the openness on my part, to hear about him and his service.

God, bless this veteran. And every other veteran, nationwide. Especially those who have died in the service of our country.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, May 12, 2016

I re-read this post, and reflected on it. On how countercultural it is to follow this advice. Really, not speaking up? Keeping quiet? Strange, but true.

Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet!

Posted on May 14, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, May 13, 2014

quiet--more you can hear

Of Being Kind and Keeping Quiet!

Ever get the feeling that you said too much? That you should have kept your mouth shut? That you would have been much better served if you had said nothing at all?

I got that message today, several times. Loud and clear!

First, as I met with a colleague, we had a regular, periodic meeting where we updated each other on the state of the workplace, the people we work with, and any coming events both of us need to be aware of. As we talked, I asked my colleague (an older and wiser person!) for some advice. And, I got some! Ears open, listen hard, and keep quiet! (It could very well have been “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” but my co-worker did not say that. Not today, at least.)

Wise words. I listened to them, filed them away, and thanked my co-worker!

Again, later in the day, I ran into a friend of mine. We talked about a number of things. Lo and behold, I got the same (unsolicited) advice from my friend. Slightly puzzled, but still very much open to the advice, I considered what had been mentioned to me. Hmm.

After dinner, I went to a get-together. A group of friends and acquaintances met tonight near downtown. I greeted a good number of people I knew tonight. Including one person who told an interesting anecdote. She had taken a cab today, downtown. A work associate was in the cab with her. She was amazed to observe her associate tell the cabbie exactly how to drive. With great precision. Exactitude. And demanded that the cabbie comply.

As she watched the drama unfolding beside her, my friend felt something—inside of her—was the matter. Bubbling over. She didn’t know quite what it was, so she prayed. Asking God to help her calm down and stay in the moment. Not get all bent out of shape. She realized she was getting upset at how ridiculous her fellow rider was being. It was a victory for her (yay!). Previously, even a few years ago, she would have wanted to tell her associate exactly how ridiculous she thought their words and actions were! But now, it just stayed a want, a desire. Nothing came out of her mouth! Nothing that she might have wanted to take back. (Thank God!)

God, that’s three times today that You brought communication to my attention. Or rather, lack of communication. (I know, I know. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”) As I said before, these are wise words! God, please help me to listen, and follow them. Help me to be an active listener AND a responsive, caring person. One who doesn’t let her mouth flap in the wind. Wise words, indeed!

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)