Being of Service, Ecumenically

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, November 26, 2014

autumn road with leaves

Being of Service, Ecumenically

I am pleased to say that I was of service today. In a big way. In an ecumenical way.

Let me go back to the beginning. A little recap. Remember back a few weeks, when I met with Father Dennis and with several other religious leaders from the different houses of worship in Morton Grove. Father Dennis asked me whether I’d preach a sermon for this Interfaith, Ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve service. Of course, I said!

I love to preach! Absolutely love it. And with such a great text to preach from? Psalm 100 is an absolutely marvelous resource. You had better believe that I took advantage of the sermon helps and commentaries I had at my disposal.

Originally, when I first started blocking out my sermon about a week and a half ago, I had intended to preach on Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” I truly wanted to come up with a good sermon on that verse. But—as I prayed and did more and more research on this verse, I had some kind of problem. Grrr. I got nothing.

Maddening! Oooo! Here I was, on Monday morning, and I just could not write this sermon for Wednesday evening. Using Psalm 100, verse 5, that is.

On Monday morning, I finally started considering whether I might be coming at the sermon the wrong way. I read the Scripture text over again, with an open, receptive mind. And Psalm 100, verse 3, jumped out at me. “It is He who made us, and we are His; we are God’s people, and the sheep of His pasture.” Wow!! Bam!!

And the sermon almost wrote itself. Seriously. We are “All Sheep of God’s Pasture.”

I very much enjoyed preaching it, too. I hope and I pray that I was able to take the Word of God and transform it into a message that would reach hearts, trigger thoughts, and give glory to God.

God, thanks for giving me ears to hear Your voice, and a heart to continue following after You. Thanks for allowing me to serve you on the 50th anniversary of the Interfaith Ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve service here in Morton Grove.

Thanks be to God for God’s marvelous gifts to each of us, every day. Let us make each day a Thanksgiving day, and each meal a time to give thanks to God, the Shepherd of us all.

@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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“You’ve Got Mail!” — Kindness through Email

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, August 18, 2014

BK life is short-be kind

“You’ve Got Mail!” — Kindness through Email

Ever think of two people, and have a sneaking suspicion that the two of them would get along well together? I mean, more than a strong hunch?

Last week, I wrote about St. Viator’s High School. I also made a new acquaintance in Father Corey. (Can I call him a new friend? I hesitate, since I have a great deal of respect for him and I don’t want to impose. But, maybe, I do have a new friend. I could ask, next time he and I exchange email.)

When we talked last week, Fr. Corey told me about the Children of Abraham Coalition. This interfaith group has a worthy, worthwhile goal and cause. Let me quote from their mission statement: “Our mission is to educate others about the Abrahamic traditions, to be ambassadors for interfaith dialogue and to continue to learn about and build relationships between our religions as we work to fill the world with Salaam, Shalom, Peace.”

The Children of Abraham Coalition (COAC) has about four large events in the course of a year. In September, they are going to be getting together to commemorate the tragedy of 9/11 in a dinner at St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights. As Fr. Corey told me more and more about the COAC, I knew like a shot that my good friend Dan (the Reverend Dan McNerney, Presbyterian Church/USA minister) would be all over this like a cheap suit on a used car salesman.

So, I sent Dan a great, gratitude-filled email. (I mean, I communicated with him through email.) Dan is quite active in social media, and I sent him a new note, with the contact info about the Coalition. Dan is also active on his own, concerning Christian and Muslim relations. He regularly instructs interfaith groups face to face, as well as on social media. I told Fr. Corey about him!

After a bit of an email exchange with Fr. Corey, I made sure that Dan was in contact. I told him what a wonderful place St. Viator’s High School was. And, I made sure that Dan had Fr. Corey’s contact information. I hope that these two men truly connect. That was my prayer in the first place.

Dear God, bless the work of the Coalition. (For further information, check out www.coacoalition.org )

@chaplaineliza

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