Serving—with Holy Spirit Power! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 4, 2017

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power! (#BestOf)

Today was Pentecost at my church. Yes, I preached about the coming of the Holy Spirit. I spoke of the mighty acts of God breaking into the lives of all believers. This #BestOf post marks the day the Holy Spirit was poured out. I don’t want the Holy Spirit to remain sequestered to only one day a year. No! Our Advocate helped the followers of Jesus to turn the world inside and upside down. Read it again, and praise God!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 8, 2014

Acts 2 Pentecost-El-Greco-cropped

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power!

So there I was—at an evening meeting several years ago in a public building. Out of nowhere, the lights flickered. Went out! And stayed out. Immediately, everyone inside the building filed out. As a safety precaution, of course.

But—what happened? Was it a brown-out? Did something happen to a transformer attached to the electrical supply in the neighborhood? Everyone wanted the power supply to get back on line!

I narrated the story of Pentecost this morning, in church. I told about Jesus ascending to heaven, and then—what? Nothing! Not a thing, for days. But at last, when the band of beleaguered believers was all gathered together in one place, Pentecost happened! The Holy Spirit came with mighty power! The disciples became courageous overnight. And the Holy Spirit turned the disciples inside out and upside down. Life—as they knew it before—was never the same again.

As I preached this morning, I honestly felt like I was serving the congregation in a deep, meaningful, wonderful manner. Opening the Word of God. I’ve felt that in the past, and it is such an awesome, stunning feeling to have. Almost like Isaiah falling on his face before God Almighty in the Temple (in Isaiah 6). However, today had a different feel to it. This morning, it was almost like I was uncovering something rich, something precious. Something of immense value! And then, turning to the friends out in the pews. Showing them the treasure of immense value! Offering them the opportunity to come along on this tremendous journey.

What about you? How has your journey through life been going? This small congregation has had its ups and downs, but I felt that this particular message from Acts 2 was just exactly what I ought to preach to this congregation. I hope and pray that any time people consider this chapter in Acts that they also consider the tremendous opportunity that God is holding out to all of outs. Just like a treasure, a rich and beautiful thing.

I want to serve. I have been praying for opportunities to help, whatever way I can. In this case, I will try my darnedest to get out the Good News. And if I can serve, be helpful, and be kind along the way? All fantastic ways to follow God. And God’s Good News!

@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 PEACE journey through Lent and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind with Singing Valentines (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, February 12, 2017

This is one of my favorite, poignant, heart-tugging posts from three years ago. Read it, and see if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 14, 2014

bouquet of valentine roses

Being Kind with Singing Valentines  (Feature Friday!)

This Valentine’s Day story happened about ten years ago.  Not to me, but to my husband Kevin, instead.

My husband was part of a barbershop chorus here in the Chicago suburbs then. Not a large chorus, but a very earnest one. The chorus was part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. Sadly, his chorus disbanded a few years ago due to aging membership.

But, enough background. On to the important stuff—the story.

Singing valentines were one of the signature fundraisers for my husband’s chorus. They would advertise for several weeks before Valentine’s Day. Requests would come in, and a Singing Valentine barbershop quartet would travel to the specified place, dressed to the nines in their concert attire (sparkling white shirt, spiffy red vest, black tuxedo pants, even with black garters on the sleeves). The quartet would sing two songs (such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”). One of the quartet would present the valentine recipient with a single red rose. Very romantic, and out of the ordinary, too.

My husband Kevin—the baritone for the quartet—went out with the rest of the guys to deliver several Singing Valentines. All of the quartet knew the drill for Singing Valentines. It didn’t matter whether they were going into a workplace, a restaurant, a home or apartment. They would go in, introduce themselves, sing two numbers, present the rose, and excuse themselves as quietly and quickly as possible. After all, they had more valentines to present.

However, this next Singing Valentine was different.

An older mother wanted her adult son to receive a Singing Valentine. Not the usual sweetheart or husband or wife, but it was the next on the list. The four guys drove in a single car from place to place. They had the address of this son, on Ridge in Chicago. Just south of Devon. They were unfamiliar with the facility. Misericordia, it was called. The quartet came into the facility and discovered it was a home for people with moderate to profound developmental disabilities. They announced themselves to the front desk. The facility was ready for them, and ushered the quartet into a large common room.

To the quartet’s surprise, the staff had painstakingly assembled between thirty-five to forty residents in the large room—residents in specialized wheelchairs, several sitting awkwardly, one even lying face down on a wheeled cot. This was definitely not the typical Singing Valentine. As Kevin recounted the story, the quartet went into a quick huddle. No snappy valentine delivery this time. Instead, the quartet did their two numbers plus an additional set of songs. They gave an impromptu mini-concert for the assembled crowd. (It was a crowd, too! About three dozen residents plus a number of staff.) At the end, the son was presented with a rose, and the quartet quietly excused themselves. On to the next Singing Valentine.

Kevin recollected, “We went into the thing with a very business-like attitude. But, we were shocked into the realization that there was something much more human at stake. I think we were all a little choked up by the whole episode.” The business of delivering Singing Valentines had transformed into something deeper. Something more meaningful, more intensely touching.

What an opportunity to be kind. What a way to show love. Happy Valentine’s Day, in deed.

@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 PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 

(Best Of) Being Kind with Singing Valentines (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, February 13, 2015

This is one of my favorite, poignant, heart-tugging posts from last year. Read it, and see if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, February 14, 2014

bouquet of valentine roses

Being Kind with Singing Valentines  (Feature Friday!)

This Valentine’s Day story happened about ten years ago.  Not to me, but to my husband Kevin, instead.

My husband was part of a barbershop chorus here in the Chicago suburbs then. Not a large chorus, but a very earnest one. The chorus was part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, historically named the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. Sadly, his chorus disbanded a couple of years ago due to aging membership.

But, enough background. On to the important stuff—the story.

Singing valentines were one of the signature fundraisers for my husband’s chorus. They would advertise for several weeks before Valentine’s Day. Requests would come in, and a Singing Valentine barbershop quartet would travel to the specified place, dressed to the nines in their concert attire (sparkling white shirt, spiffy red vest, black tuxedo pants, even with black garters on the sleeves). The quartet would sing two songs (such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”). One of the quartet would present the valentine recipient with a single red rose. Very romantic, and out of the ordinary, too.

My husband Kevin—the baritone for the quartet—went out with the rest of the guys to deliver several Singing Valentines. All of the quartet knew the drill for Singing Valentines. It didn’t matter whether they were going into a workplace, a restaurant, a home or apartment. They would go in, introduce themselves, sing two numbers, present the rose, and excuse themselves as quietly and quickly as possible. After all, they had more valentines to present.

However, this next Singing Valentine was different.

An older mother wanted her adult son to receive a Singing Valentine. Not the usual sweetheart or husband or wife, but it was the next on the list. The four guys drove in a single car from place to place. They had the address of this son, on Ridge in Chicago. Just south of Devon. They were unfamiliar with the facility. Misericordia, it was called. The quartet came into the facility and discovered it was a home for people with moderate to profound developmental disabilities. They announced themselves to the front desk. The facility was ready for them, and ushered the quartet into a large common room.

To the quartet’s surprise, the staff had painstakingly assembled between thirty-five to forty residents in the large room—residents in specialized wheelchairs, several sitting awkwardly, one even lying facedown on a wheeled cot . This was definitely not the typical Singing Valentine. As Kevin recounted the story, the quartet went into a quick huddle. No snappy valentine delivery this time. Instead, the quartet did their two numbers plus an additional set of songs. They gave an impromptu mini-concert for the assembled crowd. (It was a crowd, too! About three dozen residents plus a number of staff.) At the end, the son was presented with a rose, and the quartet quietly excused themselves. On to the next Singing Valentine.

Kevin recollected, “We went into the thing with a very business-like attitude. But, we were shocked into the realization that there was something much more human at stake. I think we were all a little choked up by the whole episode.” The business of delivering Singing Valentines had transformed into something deeper. Something more meaningful, more intensely touching.

What an opportunity to be kind. What a way to show love. Happy Valentine’s Day, in deed.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

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

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

Helping Through Spade Work

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 16, 2014

LOVE tell someone you love them

Helping Through Spade Work

When I used to help my mom with her garden in the backyard, I’d do all kinds of things. Mow and rake the grass, weed the garden, dig dandelions from the grass. Oh, and I’d do spade work. First thing, before anything else at the beginning of May, I’d dig up the two areas where she’d customarily plant her vegetables. On one side, usually she would plant beans and peppers. Next to the small sidewalk that went out to the back gate. On the far side of the yard by the neighbor’s garage (in a nice, sunny south exposure!), she would plant a number of tomato plants, usually two different varieties.

I remember doing the spade work, preparing the ground before I even thought of getting the plants. Mom would come out to watch what I was doing, and usually we would end up talking about the plants she was planning on putting in the garden, and which stores she would get them from. She wasn’t able to physically do heavy work any more. (I came alongside of her to do something she enjoyed so much. I was being kind!) She would always remind me about carefully digging up the soil and then breaking apart the larger clumps of dirt with a rake. I needed to make sure the soil was well-prepared before we planted.

That’s very much what I’ve been doing, last week and this week. Preparing the ground for a special Sunday coming up. World Communion Sunday. I want to make certain that everything is ready. I want this communion celebration to be special. Memorable. I know this is God’s house, and what we do here is worship of God. Our celebration each Sunday is for an audience of one—God! Naturally, I want it to be the best it can be. But I also want it to be meaningful and special to the congregation.

Thus, the extra spade work in preparing for the first Sunday in October. Making sure things are set, and special music is ready to go. (I still have to do more on that end.) At least the theme for the service and my sermon are already coming together. My good friend Bob, a retired minister, will be coming to assist me with the service. (It will be great to see Bob and his wife Gayle again!)

I hope I am doing good work in faithfully caring for this garden. The garden called St. Luke’s Church. I strive to be faithful, to preach, visit parishioners at the hospital and at home, teach bible studies, and provide pastoral care as best I can. I try my best to love the congregation, too. An older minister friend of mine said that was the most important thing—let the congregation know I love them.

Sprinkling a garden with love and caring? That always helps. God will provide the increase, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

Making Connections? With Sincerity!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 27, 2014

blessed are the peacemakers Matt5-9

Making Connections? With Sincerity!

Some folks have the ability—the knack—of making instant connections. I won’t claim to be that skilled at connection-making, but I must admit . . . I do do that. It sort of just happens. I’ve spoken about this before in this space. My husband and children poke fun at me on occasion, and I don’t know why connection happens so suddenly. So meaningfully, sometimes. It just does.

The first time today a connection occurred was at a big-box store. My college-age daughter and I had chosen a bunch of items, over almost an hour. I even tried on a pair of shorts (on sale!), and they actually fit me. We also picked up several things for my daughter to take to college in less than a month. Lo and behold, when we came to the register, I did not have my credit card with me. Boy, was I red in the face! The cashier was so wonderful about it! She reassured me that she would set aside all of our things until we returned.

My daughter and I schlepped all the way home, picked up the necessary card, and went all the way back to the big box store. Yes! The cashier was still at the same register. I promptly went and bought everything I had originally placed in my basket, an hour before. I could tell that the cashier and I had made a connection, as brief as the communication was between us. I was sincere in my apology, and told her several times how kind it was for her to keep the contents of our cart by her cash register. She stopped—actually stopped—in ringing up our things. She told us, “Of course I would do that.” I could feel the sincerity radiating from her, as well as friendly concern.

Only a few minutes’ interaction, yet truly honest and sincere. Wonderful!

The second time a connection happened to me was in the evening. I went to a coffee place to get some beverage. The server who got the beverage for me was a lovely young woman. On top of that, she had stunning dark make up on her eyes. (Not too much, just to emphasize her eyes.) I complimented her on the make up, and made a comment about how attractive make up like that looked on dark-complected women. I also noticed her earrings—large, simple crosses. I happened to mention them, too. She seemed a bit taken aback at first. Yet she thanked me in not-too-much time, and responded willingly enough.

She related about certain well-meaning customers. When hearing that her ancestors came from the Middle East, certain people ware surprised to hear that she is a Christian. Her whole family attends church, too. I tried to encourage and support her, and I believe she was grateful for my words. So grateful! I also told her about a Presbyterian church not far from here, and how I had attended the church some years ago. Many of its members and friends were and are Christians from the Middle East—Iraq, Iran, other countries.

I mentioned how sad (beyond belief!) I was at all of the reports and brief articles I have been reading. Christians from the Middle East becoming refugees. Horror and absolute fear, on the run for their lives. She immediately said she purposely did not think about them, with a look that told me so much. Troubled, anxious, fearful. Moreover, she didn’t want to be overwhelmed. But the two of us? We drew on that deep something. And somehow, connection happened. Praise God.

I pray for both of these women, for them and their families. Please, God, hear my prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Pentecost,  Alexander Sadoyan

The Pentecost,
Alexander Sadoyan

Serving—with Holy Spirit Power!

So there I was—at an evening meeting several years ago in a public building. Out of nowhere, the lights flickered. Went out! And stayed out. Immediately, everyone inside the building filed out. As a safety precaution, of course.

But—what happened? Was it a brown-out? Did something happen to a transformer attached to the electrical supply in the neighborhood? Everyone wanted the power supply to get back on line!

I narrated the story of Pentecost this morning, in church. I told about Jesus ascending to heaven, and then—what? Nothing! Not a thing, for many days. But at last, when the band of beleaguered believers was all gathered together in one place, Pentecost happened! The Holy Spirit came with mighty power! The disciples became courageous overnight. And the Holy Spirit turned the disciples inside out and upside down. Life—as they knew it before—was never the same again.

As I preached this morning, I honestly felt like I was serving the congregation in a deep, meaningful, wonderful manner. Opening the Word of God. I’ve felt that in the past, and it is such an awesome, stunning feeling to have. Almost like Isaiah falling on his face before God Almighty in the Temple (in Isaiah 6). However, today had a different feel to it. This morning, it was almost like I was uncovering something rich, something precious. Something of immense value! And then, turning to the friends out in the pews. Showing them the treasure of immense value! Offering them the opportunity to come along on this tremendous journey.

What about you? How has your journey through life been going? This small congregation has had its ups and downs, but I felt that this particular message from Acts 2 was just exactly what I ought to preach to this congregation. I hope and pray that any time people consider this chapter in Acts that they also consider the tremendous opportunity that God is holding out to all of outs. Just like a treasure, a rich and beautiful thing.

I want to serve. I have been praying for opportunities to help, whatever way I can. In this case, I will try my darnedest to get out the Good News. And if I can serve, be helpful, and be kind along the way? All fantastic ways to follow God. And God’s Good News!

@chaplaineliza

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