Being Kind at a Potluck! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, September 2, 2017

Looking back at this post from three years ago, I am amazed and humbled at the excellent advice I received from a fellow pastor friend of mine. He was so right: let the congregation know I love them. (And, I do! I did, and I still do.) I always try to listen with attentive, intelligent, compassionate ears. And, I truly do care. Great advice, and still applicable. Dear God, help me always to be kind and loving to the congregation where You have led me to serve.

Posted on September 8, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 7, 2014

look at things from different perspective

Being Kind at a Potluck!

What an enjoyable day! What a wonderful worship service! And, what a great celebration afterwards, at the hot dog roast and potluck dinner!

The day began with me getting to church early. I needed to email and print off the intercessory prayer project sheets. (Several people in our congregation do not have email.) My good friend and former co-worker Pastor Gordon came to St. Luke’s Church today to help me out with the celebration of communion. So, we had a wonderful service! Gordon’s sermon on prayer was excellent—sort of an encapsulation of several sermons I had preached in the past few weeks. And, just what the church needed to kick off the Prayer Project, an intercessory prayer ministry here at St. Luke’s.

I’ll say one thing about our church—they sure can serve up a fine potluck! Delicious food, and so much of it. I am so appreciative of our church members.

I tried to mingle with several different tables this afternoon. Eating first at one, and then another, and last, sitting at a third table. Almost like having separate courses.

The being-kind-part came in with me doing my best to listen. Listen to what the separate individuals were saying, The conversations they had amongst themselves, the responses to questions I asked, even observing the interactions of others from across the fellowship hall.

I am still not quite used to being a pastor. I feel rather surprised, still, at the congregation allowing me to go first in the potluck line. (I solved that one by stopping in my office for a few minutes to divest myself of my robe and the cordless microphone. Necessary things to do!) Pastor Gordon and his wife already had their food, and were seated. I’m grateful that Gordon was available to say a short grace before we started to eat!

Still, I remember some worthwhile advice I received from a pastor friend: “Love the congregation. Let them know you love them. Make that your top priority and primary aim for your first year of ministry.” (Excellent suggestion, may I add!) I want to let the congregation know I am there to listen. That’s one of the high priorities for me, one of the best ways I can possibly let these dear friends know I love them. Plus, I want to be able to internalize and process what I’ve heard. And then, I can ask intelligent follow-up questions, and have solid, worthwhile interactions. These facets of listening are just so important. And, an equally important way to show individuals in the congregation that I truly do care about them. I truly do love them.

Another marvelous byproduct? When I show love to others, I display God’s love, too. I pray that many may see, know, and understand that God loves them, through my speech and actions.

@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 Easter 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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Where I am of Service on Christmas Eve

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas-Candles-and holly

Where I am of Service on Christmas Eve

I planned a Christmas Eve service for tonight. A candle-lighting service. A service where we sang Christmas carols, read from the Bible, and—lit candles.

I know how special a Christmas Eve service is, for many people. Accordingly, I made a particular effort to do my very best planning for this service. I was at my friend’s Christmas open house a week and a half ago. Her son was home from college. He is a baritone, a music major (vocal performance emphasis). I had the brain storm to ask him to sing some special music for this Christmas Eve service. Of course, he said! (His mother assured me he would be there. And, he was!)

I prepared a short message. More of a meditation than a sermon. I laid it out, in clear fashion. I mean, why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I tried to make it straight-forward.

Here’s the situation. I’ll state it in plain words. Humanity was in a mess. (Still is, without God.) I mean, people going this way and that, doing what they want, not acting or thinking in a way that is pleasing to God, or living the way God wants them to live. Like the prophet said in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way.”

But God didn’t want humanity to be left out in the cold, or separated from God for eternity. There was no way for me or for you to get back to God, on our own. We were separated by sin. What could we do? Left all by ourselves, we were in a terrible situation, a horrible mess!

But, God.

God loved us. God wanted to reach out. To bring us back to God. But, not in a mean or angry way! Not in a fearful way, either. Instead, God wanted to reach down to earth in love. And how better to communicate to earth than to become one of the frail human beings God intended to reach? Yes, that same God wanted to reach to earth—reach to each of us, to all of us, in love. With love. Through love.

That was an important point I wanted to get across this evening, when I preached. After church, one of the people who attended the service told me that they had never quite understood why Jesus became a baby—until tonight.

God, I have a feeling I know at least one reason why You wanted me to say what I did tonight. Thank God for the leading and prompting I had as I prepared the service and my message. And thank God for the Baby born in Bethlehem.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

To Be, or Not To Be—Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, September 10, 2014

LOVE love yourself

To Be, or Not To Be—Kind

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Therefore, I was helpful and of service. I reposted a meme—with a toll-free telephone number and several websites underneath.

The words on the photos read as follows: “Every 40 seconds someone across the world dies from suicide. Every 41 seconds someone is left to make sense of it.”

The words beneath the photos: “Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or a loved one are dealing with thoughts of suicide, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

“National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (United States & Canada)
Lifeline www.lifeline.org.au (Australia)
Samaritans http://www.samaritans.org/ (United Kingdom)”

Life is precious. Life is given by God. Life is an opportunity to be of service, to be helpful and kind. But, sometimes, some people can lose hope. Hope in humanity, in society, in worthwhile activities, in meaningful employment. Feelings can be fleeting, and deceitful, and hidden. Situations can be upended in a big hurry. Other people can be detrimental, fickle, and wayward. This leaves certain individuals with what they perceive as little reason to live, to continue, much less to thrive.

Psalm 139 tells us that God knew us even before we were born. God loves us, and cares for us. God wants the best for us. Sure, we are not promised an easy road through life. Some people have a more difficult time than others. But, that doesn’t mean that God hides from us, or just leaves us all alone with no one to help us out.

Some of my thinking behind A Year of Being Kind fits in, here. The verse for September is applicable, too: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” I wanted to come alongside of people, trying to do 365 Days of Service. I wanted to ease some people’s difficulties, and be of service. (Even more than I usually am, that is.) I find today, World Suicide Prevention Day, to be immensely significant. If you or someone you know are hurting today—or tomorrow, or next week, please consider calling the number above, or going to the websites listed above. Please.

God loves you. I do, too. God holds all of us in the hollow of God’s hand. And, we are all held close in the loving, caring embrace of the Lord.

@chaplaineliza

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

LOVE you are loved

Being Kind at a Potluck!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 7, 2014

look at things from different perspective

Being Kind at a Potluck!

What an enjoyable day! What a wonderful worship service! And, what a great celebration afterwards, at the hot dog roast and potluck dinner!

The day began with me getting to church early. I needed to email and print off the intercessory prayer project sheets. (Several people in our congregation do not have email.) My good friend and former co-worker Pastor Gordon came to St. Luke’s Church today to help me out with the celebration of communion. So, we had a wonderful service! Gordon’s sermon on prayer was excellent—sort of an encapsulation of several sermons I had preached in the past few weeks. And, just what the church needed to kick off the Prayer Project, an intercessory prayer ministry here at St. Luke’s.

I’ll say one thing about our church—they sure can serve up a fine potluck! Delicious food, and so much of it. I am so appreciative of our church members.

I tried to mingle with several different tables this afternoon. Eating first at one, and then another, and last, sitting at a third table. Almost like having separate courses.

The being-kind-part came in with me doing my best to listen. Listen to what the separate individuals were saying, The conversations they had amongst themselves, the responses to questions I asked, even observing the interactions of others from across the fellowship hall.

I am still not quite used to being a pastor. I feel rather surprised, still, at the congregation allowing me to go first in the potluck line. (I solved that one by stopping in my office for a few minutes to divest myself of my robe and the cordless microphone. Necessary things to do!) Pastor Gordon and his wife already had their food, and were seated. I’m grateful that Gordon was available to say a short grace before we started to eat!

Still, I remember some worthwhile advice I received from a pastor friend: “Love the congregation. Let them know you love them. Make that your top priority and primary aim for your first year of ministry.” (Excellent suggestion, may I add!) I want to let the congregation know I am there to listen. That’s one of the high priorities for me, one of the best ways I can possibly let these dear friends know I love them. Plus, I want to be able to internalize and process what I’ve heard. And then, I can ask intelligent follow-up questions, and have solid, worthwhile interactions. These facets of listening are just so important. And, an equally important way to show individuals in the congregation that I truly do care about them. I truly do love them.

Another marvelous byproduct? When I show love to others, I display God’s love, too. I pray that many may see, know, and understand that God loves them, through my speech and actions.

@chaplaineliza

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

Being Helpful? Re-Tweeting about NAMI!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, September 3, 2014

LOVE heart candle flower

Being Helpful? Re-Tweeting about NAMI!

I read a heartbreaking blog post today. It was about space, and television, and that alien from the planet Ork, Robin Williams. And yes, it was about depression. And other mood disorders. I also made a new blogging friend today in Joani, Episcopal priest and blogger at Unorthodox & Unhinged (Tales of a Manic Christian) at wordpress.com.

Initially, I found a link to this post on Facebook, in a large group where both Joani and I are members. I followed the link, read this post, and I was so moved that I retweeted it on Twitter, at my handle @chaplaineliza. What Joani also mentioned was that NAMI began their annual conference today in Washington D.C. What is NAMI, you ask? The National Alliance on Mental Illness. And, tomorrow is ‪#‎Act4MentalHealth: Thursday, September 4th. The day that mental health advocates are going to march on Capitol Hill, as well as take action online, to push for comprehensive mental health care, nationwide.

The brilliantly funny Robin Williams (or, Mork) had the disorder chronic depression. Joani’s description of it in her blog post was so poignant. I quote: “Depression and its companion mania are commonly misunderstood. Happiness and sadness are ordinary human emotions. They ebb and flow with the ups and downs of everyday life and they ebb and flow in us all. But different in kind are the moods that manifest themselves in the heights of mania and in the depths of depression.”

Her description seemed achingly familiar, in a distant way. I don’t often willingly think or talk about this, but I had a bout of severe postpartum depression after the birth of my second daughter, 28 years ago. Talk about a Slough of Despond . . .

I can dimly remember feeling barely able to get out of bed. Crawling around the apartment like a snail or slug, barely able to go from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen. It’s a good thing that my daughter was breastfeeding, since I can hardly remember feeding myself and my older daughter, much less her. (My mother-in-law was living in the upstairs apartment at the time. She would often bring her older granddaughter, who was the light of her life, upstairs to visit.)

The depression lasted for about six months. I had absolutely no idea I was in depression until it lifted. I have no idea how or why it ended, either. I just thank God that it did.

In retrospect, I thank God for my mother-in-law and for my mother. I also am thankful for my (now, former) husband, for managing one day at a time through these dark days. I never spoke to him about the depression, not until a very long time afterwards.

Joani’s post ended on a hopeful, positive note. God loves us so much. So much more than any of us can comprehend. As she closed her post, “That the whole world would taste and see that God is good.  Be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Mormon, Scientologist, Wiccan, Agnostic, Atheist, Romulan, Vulcan, Klingon, Earthling, or none of the above — . We may be lost in life, bereft in death. We may be lost in this place and in this time, but lost to God — NEVER.”

(If anyone would like to read Joani’s post in its entirety, you may find it here: http://celticjlp.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/lost-in-space-maybe-lost-to-god-never/ )

@chaplaineliza

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