Thinking About Gifts, and About Service (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, November 17, 2017

In the waning of the year, I get introspective. Not only about the harvest, but also the closing down of nature’s bounty. November, with its blustery weather blowing leaves from trees, and the cold snaps and freezes causing the ground to harden, is a challenging month to like. (Unless you are one of my daughters, who has a birthday in November. Today, in fact.) As I re-read this blog post, I saw several other things to be thankful for. See whether you might agree.

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service (#BestOf)

winter sunrise Evanston lakefront January 2015 - credit Joe Agnew

Posted on November 18, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, November 17, 2014

Thinking About Gifts, and About Service

Stewardship. Not a common word, for sure! Most people probably never even think of it. Or, at most, it might come to mind for certain folks at this time of the year. In connection with charitable giving.

Yes, that was how I used it, yesterday. In my sermon on being a good steward. Actually, I stretch the truth slightly. My sermon was not about stewardship. Instead, my focus was on taking stock, as in Psalm 90:12. The psalmist calls us all to “number our days.” So, I mentioned the end of the year, gathering in the harvest, taking an inventory. And with that as my springboard, I took a leap into my first stewardship sermon. Talking about being good stewards not only of our money, but also of our time, talents, health and relationships.

I prayed for my children today, as well as my friend’s children. (I am using the book The Power of a Praying Parent.) I prayed that each child might discover that unique gift or set of gifts that God has given to each of them. And again, I was reminded vividly of the verse for November: 1 Peter 4:10 “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”

Sure, it’s one thing, to ooh and aah over a child’s budding attempts at a gift. Like, for example, a painting brought home from school. Or playing an instrument at a youthful band recital. Or being instrumental in winning the contest at a junior high sporting event. Budding gifts like that are easier to receive, and easier to display. But what about those whose gifts are more hidden? Or people who are more shy, or even more bruised, as a result of things out of their control?

This is a prayer anyone can pray. We all need to follow God more nearly, more dearly. It is my responsibility to pray for small (and not so small) children. And young people. And middle-aged and older people.

I encourage everyone reading: pray for others. And don’t forget yourself! You are a trusted, gifted child of God, too. We all need to serve with whatever God has given to each of us. May it be so, 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!)

Being of Service? At a Prayer Meeting! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, November 21, 2014

be still and know Ps 46-1

Being of Service? At a Prayer Meeting! (Feature Friday!)

I have not attended an old-fashioned prayer meeting for some time. Years, in fact.

I corrected that oversight this evening. I could not be there for the whole prayer meeting, but I came for what I could. Almost the last hour and a half of the meeting. Earnest, honest, heartfelt. Praise and prayer lifted to God.

Where was this prayer meeting held, you wonder? At a smaller church, North Shore Assemblies of God in Skokie, a little ways from my home. But not too far, since I was able to get over there fairly quickly. The church was warm, the congregation friendly.

Like I said, it’s been a while since I was plunged into a pool of prayer like that. As I walked into the sanctuary, I felt the warmth. After the solo was over, the worship leader led in a time of prayer, and then the pastor had people who wished prayer for healing to come forward. The pews emptied—of pray-ers! More than half the congregation were up front to pray alongside of, and with, those who wanted prayer. More singing, and another prayer leader came up. Gave her testimony about her oldest child, and led the congregation in prayer. Small group prayer, this time. We prayed about children and families. Deep time of prayer!

I was amazed at the coincidence. The prayer leader: she drew people’s attention to a book I’ve been using since the beginning of the month. “The Power of a Praying Parent.” Or—was it a God-incidence? I have been praying a chapter of this book each day in the month of November. Just to have this group of friends in Christ pray using the same book, the same words as I do? Wonderful.

(I have been having a fruitful time praying the various chapters from this book each day in November, for my four children, and my friend’s five children. But, that’s another post. Another time.)

The evening of prayer and praise closed with Pastor Fred Sindorf coming to the front and praying. For children and grandchildren (still growing and grown). Most important, praying that God touch each person in attendance tonight.

May God bless Pastor Fred and his flock, including my friends Shirlene, Trisha and Morgan. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers!

@chaplaineliza

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

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

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