Looking Ahead, Serving with Enthusiasm!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Sunday, March 16, 2014

THANK thank you God

Looking Ahead, Serving with Enthusiasm!

What a difference a day makes! Or, a few days, in this case. Today, I started serving in an interim position at a church in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. My arrival there was providential, to say the least. (I am sure I will say more about it, in the days ahead.) I am looking forward to a wonderful time of service.

One of my new responsibilities at the church is serving as interim music director. (They have a lovely digital piano!) I enjoyed playing the piano for the congregation this morning. I have been doing that on a periodic basis for two retirement centers in Chicago, about once a month. I’m sad to leave that part-time ministry, but happy and excited to move into a new, more varied one. Yes, I did active service today, by leading music, playing the piano, and praying in the church. I tried to be a blessing to the congregation.

Later today, I reconsidered the verse I’ve chosen for March, for this blog. It comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.”  When I consider my new position, I am energized! Excited! May I say—enthusiastic? I think, yes.

I talked with one of my wonderful relatives this afternoon, who rejoiced with me over my new position. She has worked in corporate business for several decades. (She is wise in the ways of business and savvy in interpersonal communication, from a fast-paced, cut-to-the-chase orientation. So useful, and so appreciated!)  She often gives excellent advice. Today was no different. Her thoughtful, to-the-point words struck home with me. She said, “Whenever I go into a new management situation, I always tell myself that I will try to actively like all the members of my management team. Working together is always easier and smoother when we like each other.”

Wow, God. Such an excellent piece of advice! I can see how important this is. If I like, respect and, in a Christian context, pray for people I work with, work will always go more easily and smoothly. I knew this piece of advice said in a little different kind of way. I remember one of my seminary professors telling us to pray for the congregation, and invite the congregation to pray for us, as church leaders. Regular prayer helps me like them, and even love them. Which is what God commands, by the way. (And it’s really difficult to actively dislike someone I’m regularly praying for, besides.)

This is going to be a busy week. I have a conference to attend for several days (for my certificate for Alcohol and Drug Counseling, or CADC). And since it’s Lent, I need to prepare a brief service for Wednesday night, on top of everything else. Busy, busy! But God, I know You will be right there next to me. Thanks for this new adventure! And thanks for the assurance that “whate’er I do, where’er I be, Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”

@chaplaineliza

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Of Sermons and Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, January 12, 2014

Worship - New Row Presbyterian Church

Worship – New Row Presbyterian Church

Of Sermons and Service

I was of service today. A friend of mine, Chaplain Sarah, asked me to help out. So, I did.

Let me back up, and give a little background. Chaplain Sarah went out of town for several days. A little vacation at holiday time. One of her relatives needed additional assistance, so she took a few extra days off from work to help out. Sarah knew she had Sunday services today to lead, and did not want to unnecessarily be concerned about preaching. She contacted me last weekend. She asked whether I could play the piano as well as prepare a sermon to preach at the two retirement homes where she’s a chaplain. Of course, I said!

That’s one of the things I have found I can do. (on a fairly regular basis!) I can be a pinch-hitter, to use a baseball analogy. I can willingly step up to the plate and go to bat for those who have emergency needs. I’ve noticed that’s one of my gifts—not that it’s listed in the ‘official’ listings of the spiritual gifts, but still.

As last week progressed, I knew I had to prepare a sermon on John 2:1-11, the wedding at Cana. I prayed about it, and had an outline and a general idea of what I wanted to say to the two little congregations. But I had the darnedest time just sitting down. Writing. Or, not writing, as the case may be. One thing came up after another. Friday passed and went. Saturday—anxiety time, except for the fact that the message was straight-forward and solid, and I basically knew what I was going to say. And I still couldn’t write. Correction. I finally could, but it was like pulling teeth.

I did finish the sermon by the time I got to bed last night. I was having so much difficulty that I was starting to think there was something spiritual I was up against. Something not of God, something that did not want me to be at the two services this morning. As I took off my hard contact lenses at the bathroom sink, the second lens popped out of my hand. I’m particularly near-sighted, so I was only able to hear the ‘click’ of the lens as it bounced on the sink—and then, nothing. No second ‘click’ as the lens bounced on the tile floor. Arrgh! Where did it go? In the water? On the rug? Not in the waste basket? I ended up looking for that lens for over an hour. Going over every inch of that bathroom, even to the other side of the room, five or six feet away. No lens.

So, I have lost my contact lens. Lost. No idea where it might have gone. Thankfully, I was able to call my optometrist and leave a message. I wore my glasses, except that the prescription is over twenty years old. I hurried to the services. My husband was kind enough to drive me in the car, since my eyes were adjusting to the foreign glasses. (I really don’t wear them much at all.) And, I played the piano and preached at both services. Chaplain Sarah did everything else. She did a great job! It was a team effort, and I was heartily glad I could help out. Oh, the sermon? It did the job, I think. Jesus changed a whole lot of water into a whole lot of wine. Superior wine, too! He provides for us abundantly. Extravagantly. I’m grateful to Jesus for blessing me abundantly, each day. I have a suspicion He can take care of me, too.

@chaplaineliza