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!)

 

 

Blue Christmas? Hope this Helps.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, December 22, 2014

bluechristmas-1

Blue Christmas? Hope this Helps.

We had a Blue Christmas service tonight. In the freezing rain, and muck, and generally nasty stuff. Appropriate, indeed, for a service meant for people who are having a difficult time with the holidays. (Although the nasty weather probably convinced some people to stay at home instead of venturing out.)

Chaplain Sarah and I led the service. Even though we were few, gathered in the St. Luke’s Church sanctuary, I hope God’s presence made itself felt in a special way this evening.

When I was in my first unit of chaplain internship, Father Romy served as the chaplain supervisor. (A superb supervisor, by the way!) He didn’t always say this, but a common response from him was, “I hope that was helpful.” And—that would usually be the capper on top of some penetrating insight that he offered to the group of interns.

At the service tonight, we read a Psalm that is not typically read. Psalm 77, a psalm that can be viewed as disgruntled, almost despairing, in selected verses. We read Eugene Peterson’s modern translation from The Message, which gave the psalm a particularly poignant angle. The sharing time in the service became one of the high points, as well. And the candle-lighting at the end? All in all, a time to be sad together, to grieve together, to be quiet—together.

Just so, I hope and pray that the service tonight (Sarah’s offering and my offering) was helpful, encouraging, and a comfort to those who were there. God, in Your mercy, be with all those who grieve, who cry, who are lonely or depressed tonight.

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness, By Long Distance

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, November 22, 2014

a faithful God

Kindness, By Long Distance

Social media is a marvelous thing. But it can also be a lonely thing.

Sure, here we are. On one hand, so closely bound together, two people from opposite parts of the country who would otherwise never have met are now sitting IRL (in real life); They are sipping coffee together in downtown Chicago, talking each other’s ear off. On the other end of the spectrum, I know there are lonely people, separated and far away, in their apartments or homes, separated from meaningful interaction. These lonely individuals are nevertheless on social media most of the day, evening, and into the night.

I must admit, I laid low today. I was going to stay at home, quietly, after my yoga at the YMCA this morning. And, that was exactly what I did. But—a quiet afternoon? It was not.

As I mentioned to several people in the past few days, I have individuals coming to me, asking me for prayer. Several times in the morning I was further moved to ask several acquaintances for prayer, too. Keeping the prayer chain vital and active. It took a little while, but I prayed for individuals and groups, sometimes myself,  I felt energized and heard–on social media.

I don’t know—whether one or the other—or even more than one. God, may the praise and worship and prayer continue, whether You’re on social media or not, Even in real life.

 

@chaplaineliza

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Take Inventory. Number our Days. Be of Service.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, November 15, 2014

Autumn leaves  New York Botanical Garden

Autumn leaves
New York Botanical Garden

Take Inventory. Number our Days. Be of Service.

November. The year is winding down. Autumn of the year. With harvest time and thanksgiving, the growing season coming to an end, this can also be a time for quiet, introspection, and contemplation.

I read Psalm 90 recently. This reading from Psalm 90, verse 12, spoke to my heart. It seems even more appropriate today, as I think about the autumn of one of our older friend’s lives. A dear man, this wonderful, gracious, gentle soul always had a kind word for everyone. Who was so often able to turn a tentative or tense situation into a humorous one with his sparkling sense of timing and humor. This dear senior certainly walked closely with God, in the autumn season of his life, and all through, too.

I will remind us all of verse 12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” Practical advice, from this practical psalm. This psalm is the only psalm attributed to Moses, that great man of faith. Moses was a particularly nuts-and-bolts kind of guy, and it is fitting that the only psalm—or song—we have from him is an intensely practical one.

Ever have a bad day? A bad week? What about a bad year? Sometimes, that is what life brings our way. Sometimes, a bad day turns into an even worse season. Moses knew about times like that. Sure, Moses started life with a silver spoon in his mouth. Adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he had it made. For a while. Then, there was a change of direction. Talk about downward mobility. In Moses’ life, things did not go well—for years and years. And that was before he met God at the burning bush.

Yet, God was there.

God walked with him, right by his side, all the way. Through his difficult times, through the times when Moses felt he was all washed up. God did not leave him or forsake him.

What about today?

What about certain people you and I know, who find themselves at a difficult point in their lives? Health reversals. Unemployment. Loss of loved ones on whom we deeply depend. What happens then? Is God distant, or uncaring? There are some words in this psalm that could lead me to think so.

When I talk with individuals today, sometimes these people tell me about their rough times. How much of a challenge it is, even to get up out of bed in the morning. To continue, one more day, walking through chemotherapy. Sitting by a loved one’s side in an extended care center. Counting pennies, counting the days, waiting for that next unemployment check.

Remember, Moses was very practical, and I urge everyone to remember the words that reach out to others. As this psalm takes a final turn, we come across the words “Teach us to number our days.” Just as my dear senior friend did. Sometimes, in the painful, lonely autumn of some lives. Take stock. Take inventory. Take a step back.

I know I need a time of introspection sometimes, in order to be able to reach out and to serve.

What about you? Please, God, help us all to be introspective, to number our days, and to serve You.

@chaplaineliza

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I Try to be Kind, Try to Journey with Others

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, November 8, 2014

BK hug a blanket of kindness

I Try to be Kind, Try to Journey with Others

Ever have someone close to you need help? Assistance? Someone to be there, with him (or her). This kind of situation is probably all too similar to so many people. As someone who is familiar with care centers and people who might need more care at home, that clears my brain and heart to be present with people.

I know I’ve spoken about this aspect of care and concern before. As a chaplain, my inner ‘antennae’ are sensitized to people who are going through stuff. Any kind of stuff. And it’s not only the people I know, but it’s also others who know them.

It doesn’t particularly matter. Whether I’m called a chaplain or a pastor, I still come alongside of people. I still try to be calm, gentle, welcoming. A practice I’ve developed in the past few years, it doesn’t always work—it doesn’t even usually work. But when it does, I try to journey alongside of others. Use my less-anxious presence.

Sometimes, I am so grateful to have people appreciate my presence. At other times, they haven’t. They want to be alone, or with their friends. They can be hungry, angry, lonely or tired, and therefore snap my head off. But regardless, I offer to be there. To be of service. To be kind.

Thank God that many people are grateful, thankful for company while they are going through stuff. And for the others who aren’t, at the time I asked? That’s okay. Some people have real challenges, and it’s difficult for them to come up smiling all the time. I understand, better than others. Hugs help, too.

@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

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

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, September 19, 2014

fearfully wonderfully made Psa 139

God Made Each of Us Special (Feature Friday!)

Ever have a line from a song play over and over in your head, almost like it was on an endless loop? Yeah. That happened to me the other day. It usually bothers me a lot, but not necessarily this time. The particular line was from the gospel song “Something Special” written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. “God made you something special/You’re the only one of your kind.” It’s hard to get mad at a song if it has lyrics like that.

What triggered it was a blog post I saw earlier this week from a blogging friend of mine from New Zealand, Barry Pearman. In his blog Turning The Page on September 16th, he talked about how God had each one of us in mind when God created us. Formed us inside of our mothers, and crafted each part of us. Barry says, “Often I think about . . . the fact that God knows every one of us on a deeply intimate level. We are not a commodity product, a resource to managed, a number on a spreadsheet. You as an individual are of incredible value to God.”

Wow. I’ll say it again—wow! How many people today do not think they are valuable? Do not think they matter? And, do not think God cares about them? I would say that many people are in this sad, lonely situation. Barry mentioned the “internal bully” that tries to interfere and intimidate people into accepting their negative, internal self-monologue. Oh, do I connect with that!

Barry’s inspirational blog has the uplifting theme of assisting people with mental health. “Your own or others,” as the synopsis says. Plus, near the top of the blog—in the right side margin—Barry is featuring a post called “6 Keys to Helping Someone Who is Suicidal.” In this month of September, where mental health, suicide prevention and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) are highlighted in so many places, I also wanted to lift up Barry, his wonderful work, and his positive, nurturing blog post featuring Jeremiah 1:5 and Luke 12:6-7.

I remember the prophet Jeremiah, and the good and gracious words God spoke to him in Chapter 1: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you.” So, we come back to the idea that each of us—every one of us—is special. Valued. Yes, Jeremiah had problems in life, but he knew that God was walking right beside him.

It doesn’t matter whether you or I walk beside each other on the path each day, or journey alongside of someone who is hurting—mentally as well as physically or spiritually. We can still help each other to carry burdens. My 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.” Yes, I want to come alongside of people. Yes, we can ease each other’s burdens. And yes, I want to communicate God’s love, encouragement and support.

– See more at Barry’s blog: http://turningthepage.info/mind/#sthash.rORNc5Dx.dpuf

@chaplaineliza

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Sharing with a New Friend

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 16, 2014

friendship you do stuff

Sharing with a New Friend

I made a new friend today! We live in different states, and had never met in our lives before today. But, I really feel we made a connection.

The two of us spent some time talking, and we weren’t satisfied with peripheral or superficial nonsense. We didn’t even begin with banalities, but instead immediately started to communicate on a deep level. Like we had known each other for some time. (Again, so satisfying!)

In my new position, I don’t have many opportunities to meet friends. I mean, good friends, who I can truly talk to. I appreciate people who are friendly and kind, of course! And so many people I’ve met in the past several months are that way. It’s truly a blessing. I mean that. But—I am a pastor. I serve as a minister. Right off the bat, that causes some separation. I need to maintain some professional, objective distance in my position, while at the same time being appropriately empathetic and understanding.

My many months in chaplain internship (Clinical Pastoral Education) have reinforced that, to be sure. Yes, I can come alongside people who are hurting, and try to be a comfort, support and encouragement. Chaplain internship has sharpened my skills at journeying with people as they are in trouble—either in terms of poor health, other kinds of crisis, emotional or spiritual upset.

It’s a good thing I have a number of friends from the years before I became a pastor. It can be lonely, even though I do have several long-term friends I can take the liberty of calling at pretty much any time. But these few long-term friends are not always available. (They lead busy lives, too!)

Of course, I try to be of service when I can. This fulfills me, nurtures me. It’s true that I am trying to follow the suggestions made in Micah 6:8 this month. “Live justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God.” Just like when I took a senior acquaintance to the hospital for an outpatient procedure, earlier this week. Just like when I made reminder calls to several people for an upcoming activity. But I would sincerely like some kind of intimate connection—like that of having a good friend.

So, finding another friend is always a welcome thing. Yay! Thanks, God. You know what I wanted even before I formulated the thought. And, I just might be the answer to prayer for my new friend, too. Again, thanks!

@chaplaineliza

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Come and See—See Where I Can Help

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 20, 2014

SERVE because Christ served

Come and See—See Where I Can Help

Another day, another conference. Just before noon today, I went from the National Assembly of the Federation of Christian Minstries to the New Wilmington Mission Conference. A mission conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I’ve attended NWMC for a number of years—always before with at least one of my children in tow. Not this year. But, it’s great to see what is going on in outreach and misson, all around the world.

I especially wanted to see the mission fair on Sunday afternoon, where many different mission and outreach agencies (local, regional and international) come to share their message. Their story. Come and see. Come and see what these different outreaches are doing. How they are touching lives. What a difference they are making. Come and see.

Then, in evening meeting at the outdoor auditorium, I heard the call again. Come and see. The speaker for the evening (Rev. John McCall) gave an excellent message with some heart-touching illustrations from his time in Taiwan. As he repeated, come and see.

I take this to mean, “Come and see where I can serve. Where I can help. Where I can be kind.”

I may not be able to go to another area of the country, or overseas, to serve any time soon. But I can certainly go to where people are hurting, or lonely, or anxious. I can carry the good news of God to people in need. Or, to someone who is homebound and lonely. Or, to those who are anxious, and in need of prayer. In need of someone to come alongside of them, to journey with them. If I come and see where the needs are, then I can go out and serve. Help. Be kind.

As my friend Stuart mentioned to me over dinner tonight, he and several others from his church helped some refugees from the Middle East move into an apartment recently. He saw where the needs were, and he responded. He helped. He was kind to a family he didn’t even know. And this family has opened their hearts and their doors to my friend and the other couple from their church. The family from the Middle East considers these Americans to be part of their extended family now. Because my friend saw this family’s need for some used furniture and kitchen supplies, and helped them move into an apartment, this refugee family is now so grateful and thankful. They feel welcomed and encouraged. Such a small thing, and yet how needed.

Come and see where the needs are? Go and serve.

@chaplaineliza

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