Winter Music Concert? What a Way to Be Kind!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sing, make music Ephesians_bible_verse_music_scripture_case

Winter Music Concert? What a Way to Be Kind!

I went to a winter music concert tonight, along with my oldest daughter.

The winter music concert was at my youngest daughter’s college. I enjoyed going! Both choruses and instrumental ensembles were very good, musically and in terms of performance. All of the performances had youthful vigor—yet that was just what I expected from musical groups from a college. Excitement and enthusiasm, bubbling over.

First, each separate group performed on their own. And then, intermission. Afterwards, a large, combined musical ensemble performed several selections from Handel’s Messiah. Again, a youthful exuberance was evident, and made up for some small problems in executions. All in all, everyone certainly seemed to be putting their hearts into it.

I was reminded of a number of student concerts from the past. Not only my children’s concerts, also concerts I’ve participated in. Both secular and religious concerts, too. I love to make music, and I have tried to pass that love to all of my children. I know performing is often a real upper, a real kick for groups—choruses, bands, orchestras. When people are truly trying their best, the audience can tell.

What a wonderful night.

What a way for the students and faculty conductors to be kind.

@chaplaineliza

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How to Serve . . . with Enthusiasm?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, March 6, 2014

BK no act of kindness is wasted

How to Serve . . . with Enthusiasm?

As I’ve said before, it’s a wonderful opportunity to find acts of service to others! Many spiritual and religious traditions raise up the practice of service, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the Recovery program. Following the lead of these time-tested spiritual paths, I’m trying to find an intentional service opportunity every day, and then blog about these acts of service on a daily basis.

Intellectually, I agree with the verse I’ve chosen for March, which comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.” But operationally, HOW do I do that? What does it look like?

My daughter and son have caught me out. They have noticed times when I try too hard, and put on my pleasant people-face and my smooth public-voice. Deep down, I don’t want to be “fake-y” or to put on a false face when I perform acts of service. However—I  know I sometimes do try to fake it. “Fake it until you make it,” as one common Recovery saying goes. I think this Recovery saying had situations similar to this in mind. People working on recovery from an addiction are advised to get involved in regular service to others, but service is sometimes the last thing recovering addicts or alcoholics want to do. Thus, “fake it until you make it.”

All the same, I am purposely trying not to try too hard. Humility in service is a challenging thing to pray for (and even more challenging to actually attain). I thought long and hard before I started this year-long adventure of service, because I do not want anyone to think I am trying to earn brownie points with God. Instead, these acts of service are a grateful, loving response to God. According to Ephesians 2:10, God has set out acts of service for me to do, already. After some talking (with several spiritual elders) and some hesitant praying, I finally figured I had better get to work and make myself available for some loving service opportunities.

So, what was my act of service today, you may ask? Several! I did a few needful things around the house for a friend of mine today. Plus, I was kind and I smiled at two clerks at a store. And, I sincerely listened while another friend told me of continuing difficulty with the landlord. None of these service opportunities were huge, but I think they were appreciated.

Whatever way you slice it, I think those acts of service all count. They were all loving, intentional acts, and I even was pleased to get a response to each one. I don’t always get a response! But this time, I did. And it felt good to me to help others. To be kind, and to serve others. The way that God (as I understand God) intends for me to do. Thanks for this task—I mean, this opportunity to serve others.

@chaplaineliza

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Youth Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 10, 2014

Little Houses Painting by Mindy Newman

Little Houses Painting by Mindy Newman

Youth Being Kind (Feature Friday!)

It’s Friday, and it’s service-time! Actually, any time is time to serve—as I’m readily finding out. Also, it’s time for Feature Friday.

I graduated from seminary almost nine years ago. Many of my seminarian friends are now actively serving in professional capacities. Including Dennis, who is pastor of Simpson United Methodist Church in Evansville, Indiana. Dennis and I are now Facebook friends. Not too many days ago, I happened to see something on his Facebook page that intrigued me. So, being naturally inquisitive, I clicked through and checked it out. “FREE HOME REPAIR” was the headline.

Since I was the volunteer mission communication coordinator for my former church for about ten years, I still have great interest in anything mission-related. This FREE HOME REPAIR appeared to be a likely mission opportunity.  I opened the webpage. “Work Camps – home repair youth mission trips” was the secondary header. Even though the snow lies thickly on the ground (both here in the Chicago area, as well as throughout Indiana) in the first full week of January, it is none too soon to make out an application for Team Jesus Workcamp 2014. My friend Dennis was encouraging members and friends of Simpson Church to be sure to get in their applications by February 14.

Youth volunteers doing hands-on work for a mission project is not all that unusual. However, a feature of this particular workcamp that caught my eye was that the work teams will be “representing many Christian denominations.”  How awesome is that? Different denominations, and all growing in their faith through service to others. With hammers, dry wall, paint brushes, tubes of caulk. Oh, and smiles, thankfulness, and gratitude.

As I said, the work teams representing differing groups and different denominations  attract me more and more. My personal religious journey is all over the Protestant map, with a sprinkling of other spiritualities, too. Added to that, my chaplain training was in several multi-cultural hospitals where many faiths are represented. I have a deep appreciation for that God-shaped hole that St. Augustine talked about, and have seen that hole filled in many differing ways.

I know, through first-hand opportunity, that service to families that include elderly, low-income and less-abled people can be rewarding. The experience of doing service in community with other people, plus growing in faith in God, incorporates this two-way dimension. First, the horizontal dimension. The volunteer workers become cohesive, sometimes cementing relationships that may last for far longer than the home repairs they accomplish. The workers can also build relationships with those they work for, minister to. Second, the vertical relationship. This aspect draws youth workers and youth leaders closer to God, and has the potential to release God’s love to many people. Not only to the workers, and to the recipients of the work, but also far beyond these.

This work effort is only one of so many in the United States. But for each family in and around Evansville that is helped, it means so much.

@chaplaineliza