Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 21, 2018

Reach out with God’s love. Isn’t that how it works? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry devoted his sermon to that concept on Saturday, at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. It doesn’t matter whether love is between two individuals (like Harry and Meghan) or between two strangers, God’s love is powerful. God’s love brings people into community. God’s love can be life-changing. Thank you, Bishop Curry, for clearly articulating timeless truths about God’s love. And kindness. And service, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

So today is Wednesday, the day when I facilitate a bible study at my work. I’ve been leading a series of studies on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, since Easter. (Another week, another post-Resurrection appearance!)

Before the bible study started, I met with Mary, the church council member in charge of the mission effort at this church. Yes, it is a small church. However—this church has a great track record, as far as supporting outreach into the wider world! It was instructive for me to see exactly where this church’s support went, and what they thought was (and is!) important.

This started me thinking about the verse for the month of May—my verse for A Year of Being Kind. Deuteronomy 15:11 – “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” What a verse for outreach! Whether you (or I) think of outreach as mission effort, or helping the community, or giving others “a cup of cold water,” this verse from Deuteronomy makes me think, hard.

This verse comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically, the five books of Moses, or the Torah. My youngest daughter and I just had an in-depth conversation about the books of the Law, earlier this week. She (who is going to declare an English major at college this fall) recently read several chapters in a related book, Leviticus. She made the insightful comment that many of the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Law Code were eminently sensible.

For instance, take this command: being kind and considerate to the poor and needy serves a communal purpose. It brings individuals into community, solidarity with each other. And, it helps people who truly need a hand. This command gives everyone a chance to be grateful—to the givers, for being blessed with resources to give away, and to the receivers, for being blessed with the resources freely given.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the land of Israel, two thousand years before the Christian Era, or about modern-day middle America—the suburban Chicago area, in fact. The poor and needy are still here, and we are still called, still commanded to be openhanded towards all those who are in need. God, help me to see where I can help. Be of service. Be kind to others. Lead me towards areas where You want me to get involved.

Learning more about mission? Learning more about outreach? Learning more about gratitude? What better way to spend the morning?

@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 Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

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Be of Service? Offer to Pray! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yes, it’s a beautiful autumn day! But—not for some. For patients in the hospital or in extended care centers, for their loved ones sitting alongside the beds, for homebound people unable to leave their residence as well as their faithful caregivers. The beauty of the day is not the first thing that comes to mind. And sometimes, the beauty of the day doesn’t come to mind at all. I’m reminded that the deepest cries of each of our hearts is heard by the Lord. Thank You for hearing us, God.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 29, 2014

PRAY God understands without our words

Be of Service? Offer to Pray!

How to be of service? Show people I care? I offered to pray, several times today.

I wish I had magical powers, or super powers. Some kind of power other than myself that would support, comfort and encourage these people. Wait . . . I do have that power! God’s power. The Holy Spirit will readily come alongside of anyone who needs healing, is hurting, or discouraged, or troubled. The Holy Spirit’s other title is Holy Comforter, which is exactly what several people needed today. And, I am encouraged—in a number of places in Scripture—to come alongside of people who are hurting, or damaged, or otherwise messed up. I am with them in support, caring—and prayer.

This is where my using the ministry of presence comes in. Remembering these few individuals, I saw immediately that I had the opportunity to ease the difficulty. Or sadness. Or disgruntlement. Or downright anger. I am reminded of this verse from Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Well. That is what I am striving to do. How I try to operate.

I know that some grumpy or hurting or disadvantaged people do not want to be comforted. Okay. I hear that. I’ve got it. No. Nothing. Not at all. I don’t absolutely have to be forced, arm twisted behind my back, to talk to these individuals. Sometimes—and this is is awesome, and remarkable, and God-honoring—I don’t need to interact directly with these hurting individuals. Sometimes, I have offered to pray at a future time (as with one person today). Of course, I said! I want to make people feel as comfortable and content as possible.

What do you do when you encounter people who are hurting, or in pain, or discouraged? Do you avoid them? Or, do you engage with them, interact and see what is the matter? It does not matter, since God can still work in their lives. God can come alongside of them while they are sleeping, and ease the nightmares. God can work in their lives and alleviate the suffering and pain. God can spread comfort, encouragement, and support. Most of all? Our God is a mighty, wonderful, powerful Helper, ready to ease anxiety and heal disappointment, discouragement, and anger. And—we don’t even have to pray out loud for those caring activities. The Holy Spirit interprets our groanings too deep for words. The Mighty, Loving, Generous God knows. Amen!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Be of Service? Offer to Pray!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 29, 2014

PRAY God understands without our words

Be of Service? Offer to Pray!

How to be of service? Show people I care? I offered to pray, several times today.

I wish I had magical powers, or super powers. Some kind of power other than myself that would support, comfort and encourage these people. Wait . . . I do have that power! God’s power. The Holy Spirit will readily come alongside of anyone who needs healing, is hurting, or discouraged, or troubled. The Holy Spirit’s other title is Holy Comforter, which is exactly what several people needed today. And, I am encouraged—in a number of places in Scripture—to come alongside of people who are hurting, or damaged, or otherwise messed up. I am with them in support, caring—and prayer.

This is where my using the ministry of presence comes in. Remembering these few individuals, I saw immediately that I had the opportunity to ease the difficulty. Or sadness. Or disgruntlement. Or downright anger. I am reminded of this verse from Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Well. That is what I am striving to do. How I try to operate.

I know that some grumpy or hurting or disadvantaged people do not want to be comforted. Okay. I hear that. I’ve got it. No. Nothing. Not at all. I don’t absolutely have to be forced, arm twisted behind my back, to talk to these individuals. Sometimes—and this is is awesome, and remarkable, and God-honoring—I don’t need to interact directly with these hurting individuals. Sometimes, I have offered to pray at a future time (as with one person today). Of course, I said! I want to make people feel as comfortable and content as possible.

What do you do when you encounter people who are hurting, or in pain, or discouraged? Do you avoid them? Or, do you engage with them, interact and see what is the matter? It does not matter, since God can still work in their lives. God can come alongside of them while they are sleeping, and ease the nightmares. God can work in their lives and alleviate the suffering and pain. God can spread comfort, encouragement, and support. Most of all? Our God is a mighty, wonderful, powerful Helper, ready to ease anxiety and heal disappointment, discouragement, and anger. And—we don’t even have to pray out loud for those caring activities. The Holy Spirit interprets our groanings too deep for words. The Mighty, Loving, Generous God knows. Amen!

@chaplaineliza

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

Kind to Myself at a Silent Retreat

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, September 20, 2014

Be still, and know that I am God Ps 46-1

Kind to Myself at a Silent Retreat

I spent today in silence. At least, most of the day. In silence, reflection, prayer, and meditation.

At first, when I thought about participating in this retreat, I couldn’t justify spending a whole Saturday away. A whole Saturday when I intentionally separated myself from the busy, day-to-day, hustle and bustle. But the more I thought about it, the more I considered it to be something I needed to do. For myself, and for my spiritual health.

So, yes. I was kind to myself today. As the title of the day of prayer said, this was a Soul Care Day. A day to be gentle with the soul, and to reflect on scripture. The two reflections of the day touched me deeply. (Both on the Good Shepherd; the morning reflection on Psalm 23, and the afternoon reflection on John 10.) It was deeply moving to have a connection with God in such an intimate way. Another powerful thing that moved me as well was the additional material each participant received.

I found I appreciated the prompts that helped me join this silent retreat fully. Concerns (about myself, others close to me, my work), weariness (of body, mind or spirit), distractions (that occupy or nag at my mind or heart) and fears (“what ifs,” outcomes, expectations). I was encouraged to bring any or all of these things to conscious awareness, as they came to mind, and set them aside. So I might fully enter into the retreat.

A third thing that touched me deeply was a private prayer time I had with the retreat leaders. This was a kind and giving act they offered. A precious gift, and I welcomed it. Three people prayed with me. One I have only known and seen several times. The other two I have known for a long time. One woman has a number of children, with two the exact ages of my two youngest. She and I were in a mom’s bible study together for years, before I even went to seminary. (And the third? My spiritual director, and an amazing woman of faith.)

It was restful and helpful for me to step away. Step out of a leadership position at the church where I work, and rest in the hands of God. Walk with the Good Shepherd for a short time, and rest in the green pastures of God’s grace and love. Thank You, God, for this wonderful opportunity to rest in You.

@chaplaineliza

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

Challenging Service, in Chicago (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 8, 2014

father gave me a gift-belief in me

Challenging Service, in Chicago (Feature Friday!)

Today is Friday, and it’s time for another Feature Friday. Except—this Friday feature is more challenging than some in past months.

What would you do if you were orphaned as a small child, and had no other close relatives? Or, how would life be different for you if you grew up in a poverty-stricken, single-parent household? What other serious events or continuing situations could radically change your story?  Would that fundamentally change how you grew up? Who you were, and more importantly, who you became?

This Feature Friday post tells about Emmaus Ministries, “Ministering to men in prostitution since 1990.” (according to their website) One big part of the ministry is trust and respect. Always in pairs, walking the streets alongside of the men. Coming alongside and listening to their stories. Stories are powerful. Everyone has a story, but some people cannot tell their stories. The people at Emmaus Ministries go out of their way to find out about the stories—sometimes difficult and traumatic, often painful—from the men on the street. As these relationships of trust and respect grow, the workers at Emmaus help the men to take steps to get off the streets, into a more stable place and position in their lives.

Some on-the-street experiences come from the founder of Emmaus Ministries, John Green. “Streetwalking with Jesus,” a book written by John Green with Dawn Herzog Jewell, vividly tells about justice and mercy. As he reflects on Micah 6:8, Green deals with such questions as “how do I live justly? To whom do I show mercy?  How may I walk humbly with God?” Working with male prostitutes is truly a challenge. And, a merciful and just way to live out the Good News.

The stories can involve addiction and alcoholism. Long-term unemployment (both for the men as well as their families). Homelessness. Other forms of instability and hardship, trauma and violence. Sometimes, several of these difficult items come into the stories. But the workers and volunteers at Emmaus Ministries are there to listen with compassion, to try to understand, and to help where they can. For example, on Emmaus’ blog, a recently-released person expressed his gratitude for the letters and calls that came to the prison for him. In fact, they were the only calls and visits this man had, from anyone, while he was imprisoned. Talk about gratitude!

Just having the opportunity to say you’re sorry? Or, I’m grateful? Or, I’m so afraid? Emotions! Scary, unpredictable! Sometimes; though, taking advantage of that blessing means so much. If you came from a shaky foster family, or a dysfunctional family in extreme poverty, this relationship with the workers at Emmaus sometimes might be the first healthy relationship they have had with another adult.

God bless every person blessed by Emmaus Ministry! And God be with those who will be in sme trial or tribulation. God, please! In your mystery, compassion and love, be with every person as they go about their business. Help Emmaus workers point many people to God, and let everyone know that Emmaus Ministries is truly a loving, caring, and worthwhile ministry.

@chaplaineliza

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