Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 21, 2018

Reach out with God’s love. Isn’t that how it works? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry devoted his sermon to that concept on Saturday, at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. It doesn’t matter whether love is between two individuals (like Harry and Meghan) or between two strangers, God’s love is powerful. God’s love brings people into community. God’s love can be life-changing. Thank you, Bishop Curry, for clearly articulating timeless truths about God’s love. And kindness. And service, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

So today is Wednesday, the day when I facilitate a bible study at my work. I’ve been leading a series of studies on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, since Easter. (Another week, another post-Resurrection appearance!)

Before the bible study started, I met with Mary, the church council member in charge of the mission effort at this church. Yes, it is a small church. However—this church has a great track record, as far as supporting outreach into the wider world! It was instructive for me to see exactly where this church’s support went, and what they thought was (and is!) important.

This started me thinking about the verse for the month of May—my verse for A Year of Being Kind. Deuteronomy 15:11 – “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” What a verse for outreach! Whether you (or I) think of outreach as mission effort, or helping the community, or giving others “a cup of cold water,” this verse from Deuteronomy makes me think, hard.

This verse comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically, the five books of Moses, or the Torah. My youngest daughter and I just had an in-depth conversation about the books of the Law, earlier this week. She (who is going to declare an English major at college this fall) recently read several chapters in a related book, Leviticus. She made the insightful comment that many of the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Law Code were eminently sensible.

For instance, take this command: being kind and considerate to the poor and needy serves a communal purpose. It brings individuals into community, solidarity with each other. And, it helps people who truly need a hand. This command gives everyone a chance to be grateful—to the givers, for being blessed with resources to give away, and to the receivers, for being blessed with the resources freely given.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the land of Israel, two thousand years before the Christian Era, or about modern-day middle America—the suburban Chicago area, in fact. The poor and needy are still here, and we are still called, still commanded to be openhanded towards all those who are in need. God, help me to see where I can help. Be of service. Be kind to others. Lead me towards areas where You want me to get involved.

Learning more about mission? Learning more about outreach? Learning more about gratitude? What better way to spend the morning?

@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 meditation journey through Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

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Serve? Be Kind? Bless the Animals, Too! (BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 7, 2015

I enjoy animals so much! I enjoyed the Blessing of the Animals that happened twelve months ago, too. It’s part of my church’s outreach to the community. People love their animals, and I really want to show God’s love to everyone in our community—both people and their animals.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, June 7, 2014

blessing-of-animals

Serve? Be Kind? Bless the Animals, Too!

Clear blue skies, gorgeous weather, perfect temperature. Lovely morning! What a great day to be alive! (This is me, thinking.)

What could I find today to help people? How might I be able to serve, today?

Good thing that I had a church event planned for this morning, then. Yes, the Blessing of the Animals happened this morning. And sure enough, I had the joy of meeting 16 dogs and their families outside. They all came to the church parking lot for their animals to be blessed. I talked with the families, petted and blessed the dogs, and had a wonderful morning. I had prepared for cats, too, because I know a few people like to take their cats out on leashes. Perhaps in cat carriers, as well. But we did not have any cats this time. Oh, well. Maybe next time!

My son and his good friend came to help me with the animals. As I put it to the guys, I appreciated animal wranglers. I did have several dogs in the parking lot at one time, on a few occasions this morning. The guys really helped me out, and did their best to manage every dog! They acted as able-bodied assistants, and moral support as well.

I love animals, especially dogs. They offer companionship, warmth, and especially love. And as far as engaging their human families? They can connect with them in a fundamental way, and provide a great deal of mutual enjoyment and satisfaction.

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. I’ve been reflecting on the Church, and how the ideal picture of that community of believers is a lot like the relationship between animals and their human families. The Church also provides companionship, warmth, and especially love. And as far as engaging their fellow believers? They all connect in a fundamental way. Or, at least, that’s the ideal picture of believers coming together.

What about my son and his friend, acting as assistants? The analogy can be extended. The leader of the Church (or, the group of believers) needs assistants or helpers. These helpers direct and manage the activities of the individuals, or perhaps small groups. And, the helpers provide support and aid to the leader (or leaders), too.

All in all, my son, his good friend, and I had a wonderful time this morning with the animals and their human families. I blessed and prayed for a number of dogs! I also had an awesome opportunity to show the community that our church is active and cares about the people who live right next door. And on the next block. And down the street. That kind of opportunity is amazing.

I wonder what kind of opportunity for service will happen tomorrow? God willing, I’ll be ready!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)
 

 

How to Be Kind—with My Computer!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, October 28, 2014

hearts in hands

How to Be Kind—with My Computer!

I was not feeling 100 percent today. (I felt even worse yesterday . . . ) Being under the weather is unpleasant, to say the least! I wonder what God would say about me laying low, and not doing too much, either yesterday or today? I hope God would nod, and say, “That’s all right. You rest up, and take it easy.” I know that’s what I would say, if any of my children or my husband were at home sick. Or, not feeling well. But I can use my computer, even if I do feel unwell.

I also wanted to concentrate on the verse of the month today: Proverbs 19:17 – “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.” Coincidentally (or, providentially—depending on how you look at it), I read in an online article yesterday about several ideas for church outreach. One of them really struck a chord. The idea that resonated with me concerned a local school. The suggestion is for a church to ‘adopt’ a school in their community. Willingly filling a need for the school is a wonderful way of giving back to the neighborhood. And, it is a wonderful witness to the community, too.

Yesterday, I sent email to several members of the Church Council, telling them of this innovative idea. I received a go-ahead! One of our church members is also on the Parent Teacher Organization at her child’s school—a school in the neighborhood. She and I talked today, and I am so glad she can ask whether our church might be able to help with any special needs the school might have. Especially since the holidays are fast approaching, along with cold weather.

I suppose this idea was gestating in my head for about a day. On Sunday, two of the older ladies were talking after church about things they used to do for outreaches. Like, for example, collecting mittens, hats and scarves to bring to a Christian child welfare agency in Chicago. I know that my children’s elementary school used to do the same thing—collect mittens, hats and scarves for the needy in our community, too. (Of course, they are long past that age, with my youngest a senior in high school.)

I’m not sure quite what the neighborhood school will suggest to our church, but we can do our best to be ready. To be of service. Be helpful. Be kind. And if anyone would like to offer prayers for our church’s outreach to the elementary school, I would be very grateful. Thank you so much.

Gee, if I didn’t know better, I would think I’m starting to communicate this being-kind-sort-of thing. Thanks for the idea, God! May it be a blessing to many in our neighborhood. Including the good folks at St. Luke’s Church.

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service? Through Togetherness and Unity!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 5, 2014

bless be a blessing

Being of Service? Through Togetherness and Unity!

Separation. Anxiety. Fear. If I get started and think about things like this, these emotions can make me want to shrink away. Go hide under the covers. What’s more, I just spoke with four friends over the past few days who are feeling similar emotions. The yucky kind, the kind that can make me feel as if everything is all gray. Dingy, washed out emotions, lonely, tattered and torn.

Yes, I can listen when my friends tell me those sad, dark feelings keep encroaching upon my friends or acquaintances. I can journey alongside of them, and provide encouragement and support. Yes, I know what it’s like to walk through those dark times. Or to sit in them, even to wallow. And—I also know what it’s like to come out the other side. To walk together with others, to support and share with them in friendship, and encouragement.

Isolation is something that can sneak up on a person. Sure, being alone from time to time is good. Healthy. Even, needed. Just ask five of my close family members. All introverts, and all enjoy their alone time. All need recharging time. But—isolation is going one step too far. Even a couple of steps too far, since some individuals go to extremes. Isolation is something that anxiety and fear feeds upon. I appreciate learning more about positive strategies I will be able to use.

I know one thing that encourages me to bloom, to come back and share with people. I can stop thinking about myself, and concentrate on others and their concerns. I can provide encouragement, support, caring and love. Praise God.

World Communion Sunday is just another way to provide this companionship. Togetherness and unity. Instead of being separated from one another and from God, we are joining together, across Christian backgrounds. Alone? My tendency is to curl up alone, to isolate. Sometimes even to feel sorry for myself. (!!!) However, when I come into community, I join myself with the wonderful help of others who might be feeling similar, dark feelings. Together, we all can support and pray for each other.

One of the best things about World Communion Sunday is that it looks forward to the time of Christian unity, togetherness and ecumenical cooperation. Banishing separation, loneliness, anxiety and fear? Yes. Joining together in one body. What’s more, this helps us catch a glimpse of the hope-filled group of believers. All believers, from all over, can express togetherness, caring and love for each other. Another loving, worthwhile way to come before God.

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service? In the Town Where I Work!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SERVE because Christ served

Being of Service? In the Town Where I Work!

The town where my church is located is Morton Grove. Great town! And, multi-cultural town, too. People of many different cultures, different languages, and different religions all living together.

I attended a planning meeting for the Interfaith Ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve Service this afternoon. Excellent introduction to a number of other ministers and religious leaders from the community. I so much appreciated it. And—this was a wonderful way of serving.

I especially was grateful that this ecumenical service is so well laid out. Since this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Thanksgiving Eve service in Morton Grove, this celebration will be particularly poignant. Much support from the local congregations, too!

One of the people at that meeting was a representative from the Muslim Community Center, Dilnaz. She was eager to enter into the planning process. She also had a number of great ideas. We incorporated one—in particular—into the later part of the service. It involves children and youth, and will be a welcome addition to the multi-generational aspect of the service.

At the end of the meeting, friendly Dilnaz and I asked each other several questions. She is involved with a number of interfaith dialogues and outreaches in the neighboring suburbs. It turns out we both know a Presbyterian minister who also is instrumental in interfaith outreach in this area. (Yes, Dan, I’m talking about you!) I am pleased and amazed when that happens . . . when I find out that someone I’ve just met knows someone else I know.

This Muslim/Christian interfaith dialogue has been going on for some time, although a number of people are (knowingly or inadvertently) putting on the brakes. Because of the new, hardline Islamic State (IS or ISIS), I have noticed Muslim people here in the area being extra cautious in their interactions in public. I am glad that people like Dilnaz, our Muslim friend at the planning meeting, was so genuine and outgoing. Believe me when I say that I have seen reports of some hesitancy, even some downright animosity toward Muslims, in the greater Chicago metro area.

I am even more happy to see reports of some push-back. Some backlash against the hardliners in IS or ISIL. A group of British Muslim young people came up with an excellent video, and use of a hashtag: #notinmyname. This shows people throughout the world that the extremists are just that—a small, even tiny percentage of the whole of the Muslim world. You go, young people! God be with you. God be with me, too. God be with all of us!

@chaplaineliza

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A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 11, 2014

do_small_things_with_great_love-6382

A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners

I remembered something today. Something I haven’t thought of for a number of months. I remembered offering some piano lessons to several children, at reduced cost. These were not my usual piano students. No, these were children who lived at the Jonquil Hotel, a single-room residency building that is part of Good News Partners, a ministry that tries to make God’s love and caring tangible in the lives of those they serve. Good News Partners is located in the North of Howard section of the Rogers Park neighborhood, in Chicago just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The other housing options of GNP make up a unique housing continuum, with a shelter, rental housing, and cooperative housing.

I traveled only a few miles, and crossed the border into Chicago. I transitioned into a neighborhood where I made sure to lock the car doors and be certain that nothing of value was visible from the exterior of the car. Just in case. Right near the Howard Street El station.

The families I worked with, for a brief time, were in transition from homelessness (or the verge of homelessness). The Jonquil Hotel was—and is—a caring, nurturing residence to build community and confidence among the individuals and families living there. The piano lessons only lasted a few months. I wish I had been able to assist some young people in learning to play the piano. But, I realize the tenuous situation many of the families are in. I understand—a little—what it is like for them to have fear, anxiety and worry as near constant companions. I can relate, because my former husband and I were in a similar situation when my oldest two children were small, before they entered school. No firm or continuous employment for either of us, for many, many months. But that’s a topic for another post.

I offered the children what I could—piano lessons. And, I was a kind, friendly face and voice that came once a week. Yes, I assisted with piano instruction. However, I also encouraged the children in other ways. I would always ask what they were learning in school. I tried to engage them in conversation about things they might be interested in. I used my friendly smile and my less-anxious presence (so valuable in the health care setting!) here, too. I never asked, but I do hope it made a difference in the lives of these children and their parents. God willing, it did.

This situation several years ago with Good News Partners came to mind because I’ve met another family recently. Not as dire a situation, but I was asked whether I could teach piano, again. Of course I can. And, I will. I hope and pray I can be useful in this situation. I hope and pray that God goes before me in helping this dear family, too.

@chaplaineliza

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Serve? Be Kind? Bless the Animals, Too!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, June 7, 2014

blessing-of-animals

Serve? Be Kind? Bless the Animals, Too!

Clear blue skies, gorgeous weather, perfect temperature. Lovely morning! What a great day to be alive! (This is me, thinking.)

What could I find today to help people? How might I be able to serve, today?

Good thing that I had a church event planned for this morning, then. Yes, the Blessing of the Animals happened this morning. And sure enough, I had the joy of meeting 16 dogs and their families outside. They all came to the church parking lot for their animals to be blessed. I talked with the families, petted and blessed the dogs, and had a wonderful morning. I had prepared for cats, too, because I know a few people like to take their cats out on leashes. Perhaps in cat carriers, as well. But we did not have any cats this time. Oh, well. Maybe next time!

My son and his good friend came to help me with the animals. As I put it to the guys, I appreciated animal wranglers. I did have several dogs in the parking lot at one time, on a few occasions this morning. The guys really helped me out, and did their best to manage every dog! They acted as able-bodied assistants, and moral support as well.

I love animals, especially dogs. They offer companionship, warmth, and especially love. And as far as engaging their human families? They can connect with them in a fundamental way, and provide a great deal of mutual enjoyment and satisfaction.

Tomorrow is Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. I’ve been reflecting on the Church, and how the ideal picture of that community of believers is a lot like the relationship between animals and their human families. The Church also provides companionship, warmth, and especially love. And as far as engaging their fellow believers? They all connect in a fundamental way. Or, at least, that’s the ideal picture of believers coming together.

What about my son and his friend, acting as assistants? The analogy can be extended. The leader of the Church (or, the group of believers) needs assistants or helpers. These helpers direct and manage the activities of the individuals, or perhaps small groups. And, the helpers provide support and aid to the leader (or leaders), too.

All in all, my son, his good friend, and I had a wonderful time this morning with the animals and their human families. I blessed and prayed for a number of dogs! I also had an awesome opportunity to show the community that our church is active and cares about the people who live right next door. And on the next block. And down the street. That kind of opportunity is amazing.

I wonder what kind of opportunity for service will happen tomorrow? God willing, I’ll be ready!

@chaplaineliza

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