Be of Service? Togetherness and Unity! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, October 8, 2018

Yesterday was World Communion Sunday. With all the separation, argumentation and isolation in our respective neighborhoods and communities recently, I thought this post was much needed. There is much to be upset about, for sure. Not only individual separation and isolation, either. Pick a hot-button issue, and I am sure you would find people willing to come to blows about opposing views on that issue. I am for peace, and blessing, and cooperation. I dream of people coming together in friendship and amity, with smiles on their faces and outstretched, open hands. God willing, let it be so.

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

heart and people illustration

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

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

 

 

Being of Service? Where I Work! (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Interfaith Walk for Peace in Morton Grove happened yesterday, Saturday, September 24th. A wonderful experience! One of the other organizers of the Walk was Dilnaz. I remembered this post from two years ago, when Dilnaz and I first met. A good deal of friendship and interfaith work has happened since then in Morton Grove and the surrounding area. Wonderful, new friendships have started, too!

Many people today in the Morton Grove area advance the radical notion that people of different faith traditions and different ethnic backgrounds can get along in peace and harmony. What a marvelous concept! What a marvelous way to find ways to serve, too.

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 faith traditions 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! 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. I have noticed Muslim people here in the area being 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. 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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE 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!)

How to Serve? Provide a Safe Place for Prayer! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 5, 2014

PRAY prayer changes things

How to Serve? Provide a Safe Place for Prayer! (Feature Friday!)

Sometimes, stuff happens. Accidents happen. Disagreements happen. People get sick. Some lose their jobs. Anxiety flares up. Family fights continue. Some of us need to deal with things one day at a time. The business of living continues.

Like I said, stuff happens. And—what do you do when the stuff that happens is negative? Scary? Less than pleasant? Depressing? Downright awful? All kinds of feelings and emotions can come with those negative happenings. People can feel overwhelmed. Or alone. (Lonely, too!) People can give up hope. Or, people can get angry, resentful, even desperate.

A church in the Chicago suburbs is doing something about all that negativity. St. Luke’s Church in Morton Grove is starting an intercessory prayer ministry. The Prayer Project at St. Luke’s is providing a welcoming place, a safe place to share those deep prayer needs, with some faithful pray-ers. The praying people at the Prayer Project have volunteered to lift up the requests and needs that come to our attention, as they pray on a regular basis.

I am the pastor at St. Luke’s Church, and I have been preaching a summer sermon series on prayer for the past three months. We have examined prayer from many different points of view that are included in the biblical record. We’ve talked about some mis-understandings about prayer: consequently, “God is not a vending machine in the sky!” Have you ever had friends or acquaintances who considered God a sort of waiter? They would order things from some kind of heavenly menu, and give God a specific list of do’s and don’ts.

But—don’t many of us slip into that sort of thinking, sometimes? As well as that sort of praying? God, forgive me, but I know I do.

I have encouraged the praying friends at St. Luke’s Church to lift up prayer requests (as well as prayer praises!)–on a regular basis.  In the Bible, we are urged to join together in prayer, too. Who doesn’t need prayers of friendship, support, encouragement and comfort?

Thank God we can turn to God in prayer. The Lord will be right beside us, whenever and wherever the need happens to be. And—God will never leave you. Never forsake me. Never, ever. That’s a promise, made by the best Promise-Keeper I know.

(If anyone is in need of prayer, St. Luke’s Prayer Project can help. Our email address is saintlukesccc@sbcglobal.net. For more on prayer, check out my companion blog at  matterofprayerblog.wordpress.com. )

@chaplaineliza

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Helping One Another in Friendship and Prayer

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 2, 2014

PRAY God's help a prayer away

Helping One Another in Friendship and Prayer

A lovely day! Perfectly gorgeous, with blue sky and temperature right around 80 degrees. Almost perfect summer’s day. Just what an August day ought to be. Errands and some computer work filled up a good part of the day.

I did some self-care today, too. I went to a yoga class this morning, and spent an hour and a half working hard. Stretching, bending, holding poses. A ton of work, too. Many of the people in the yoga class are much more accomplished, even eager to get down to some advanced poses. But my teacher? Wonderful, welcoming, kind. (All things I admire.) Yes, there is encouragement to strive to do our best, to even try to reach a little further, or to get a little more out of the stretch or bend. She presents the class in just the way I prefer it. One of my children has done yoga in high school, and tells me of certain teachers who are much more dictatorial. Not mine! I am very glad.

However, I didn’t spend this whole day concentrating just on me. I particularly want to mention a friend I ran into over coffee. (Actually, there was a little group of us, but I connected with one person in particular, today.)

As we talked, I found my friend and I had a similar concern. A prayer request. It was almost funny (ironic?) how closely our two prayer requests matched. Tracked with each other. Almost as if God meant for us to talk with each other today. Of course, I don’t put such things past God. Piece of cake for the Almighty! God can certainly manage such a minor, even miniscule thing like bringing two people together to encourage and support each other.

Similar to when I was at the conference two weeks ago. There were over seven hundred people at the campus in the Pennsylvania small town. Wouldn’t you know that I happened to run into several people? It almost seemed as if these meetings were by chance. But after a few of the “by chance” meetings, I finally figured out that God must be up to something. (Just like God may well have done—orchestrating “by chance” meetings and coordinating impromptu conversations.)

In the same way, I suspect God’s hand at work in the situation later today, too. What a marvelous thing, to have such a loving, kind, gracious God. And, I continue to pray about this continuing situation (actually, in both of these continuing situations=my friend’s and mine). God, thanks for listening to us when we pray. And meditate. And everything in between.

@chaplaineliza

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