Helping Out, with Bakery Goods (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Thursday, August 3, 2017

Almost everyone loves baked goods! This post reminds me of spreading the caring around, being kind with extra baked goods. Especially in cases like this one, where I can show caring and be kind to some friends at the YMCA where I also go to the gym regularly. God bless these guys!

Helping Out, with Bakery Goods (#BestOf)

Posted on August 4, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, August 3, 2014

Baked goods photo

Helping Out, with Bakery Goods

Today being Sunday, we had church service. And, we celebrated Holy Communion. I am so grateful to Rev. Kris Ronnow for assisting me with Communion. (Thanks, Kris!)

The good folks at the church I serve love to get together and eat. Have coffee. Talk together in the fellowship hall after the service. Plus, the church has some great things to eat, every Sunday! Meier’s Bakery, only a few blocks from the church, sends over some of their day-old bakery goods to the church. They are so kind to do this! Thank you, thank you, Meier’s Bakery!

But wait, there’s more! Several dedicated ladies from the church serve the coffee and pastries each and every Sunday. They prepare the coffee and make sure there’s a pitcher of ice water. They put out all the baked goods, and they see that everything happens smoothly in the coffee hour after the service. I am hesitant to mention the ladies’ names, because I would be sure to forget someone, and I would be so sad to omit someone’s name. Ladies, thank you one and all! You have a wonderful ministry to the congregation at St. Luke’s Church.

Sometimes, the bakery sends over a good many baked goods, more than the people who attend coffee hour can eat. So, individuals from the congregation take home things. For example, someone works at a retirement home, and took pastries for the residents. Another time, someone took things for a senior center, for a function later in the afternoon. And on occasion, I take some baked goods over to the YMCA near my house, for the gentlemen at the men’s residence.

I know I’m repeating myself. This is just such an awesome thing that Meier’s Bakery does! And, I wanted to mention something that happened today, too.

One of the wonderful ladies was cleaning up in the kitchen, after almost everyone had left the fellowship hall. I came into the large serving area to pick up several bags filled with buns, loaves of bread, and a number of doughnuts. She stopped still where she was. “Really!” she said. “You are so kind to do that for those men at the Y residence.”

She then told me about an older relative of hers, staying at a nursing home some distance from here. She would go to visit, and see a number of older veterans at the home. An outgoing person, she talked with some of them. She found out that many of the veterans had next to no money, even no resources. She felt so badly for these veterans. I agreed, and told her that some of the men at the Y residence were veterans, down on their luck, or on disability, or some other terribly sad story. All true. And sad.

Yes, I was able to bring the men some baked goods today. God, I hope I was able to bring a smile to a few hearts when I went to the YMCA, too. Both are important. And—both are so needed.

@chaplaineliza

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(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Easter 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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Get Ready, Set—to Be of Service!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, December 10, 2014

winter road

Get Ready, Set—to Be of Service!

I’m getting ready. Yes, I am getting ready for a bunch of things in these next few days. Getting ready for the little Sunday school program at our church on Sunday, getting ready for the open house I’ll be hosting this weekend, getting ready for the upcoming Advent and Christmas Eve services. Even getting ready for my own, personal family Christmas celebration here at home. (Although, that is taking less of a priority right now.) Just several more in the list of things that need to be done, or checked off, or marked as completed. Little by little, I am accomplishing a good deal.

All this getting ready is exciting, enervating, and a little bit nerve-wracking. A lot of thinking work, and some writing and preparation, and some contacting people by telephone and email. Yes, it’s important. And to add to the mix, I am still the church pastor. I need to check on the shut-ins, and see how they are doing, just as I usually do. Yes, their families usually check on them during the holidays, too. But I would very much like to see whether I might be able to stop by each home, during Advent.

One service that is especially on my heart this time of year is the Blue Christmas service. What is a Blue Christmas service, you ask? I’m glad you asked!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”—or, is it? Christmas can be difficult to many people, for many reasons. That’s why St. Luke’s Christian Community Church is offering a Blue Christmas service on Monday, Dec. 22—an alternative Christmas service for people for whom Christmas is a difficult time. Holiday and family gatherings can be negative and difficult. This Blue Christmas service is a time and place where sad, grieving, lonely people can join together to share their emotions with people who feel the same way.

I am just finalizing the features of this special service, and I would like to ask for prayer and good, positive thoughts to be sent to St. Luke’s Church, and to those leading the quiet, reflective Blue Christmas service that evening.

I hope, I pray that all of our services are welcoming to those who attend. God willing, may it be so!

@chaplaineliza

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Be Kind? Bless Animals! Be of Service? Serve Spaghetti! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 3, 2014

Cute-Kitten-and-Puppy-Wallpaper 2013-06

Be Kind? Bless Animals! Be of Service? Serve Spaghetti! (Feature Friday!)

Talk about a blockbuster weekend! Blessing of the Animals, tomorrow morning. Spaghetti Dinner, tomorrow evening. World Communion Sunday, Sunday morning. All happening at St. Luke’s Church in Morton Grove. A weekend full of activity, for sure.

Tomorrow is October 4th, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. For the portions of the church that observe and honor the saints, St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment. What more appropriate day to observe a Blessing of the Animals! When I did an animal and pet blessing in the spring several months ago, we had sixteen dogs and their human friends come to the parking lot of St. Luke’s Church. Great opportunity for our church to bless pets and communicate God’s love and caring to both the animals as well as their human families.

As I said to the St. Luke’s congregation, I will be out in the church parking lot from 10:00 am until noon. I will bless any pet that comes by, big or small. I will even bless pictures and photos of pets, if people choose to bring them by. I look upon this as a ministry. I love animals, and this will be a wonderful outreach and offering to our community and neighbors.

And then, tomorrow night! Believe me, almost everyone at the church has been gearing up for this Spaghetti dinner all month. At the midweek bible study, people were preoccupied with the dinner, and preparations, and lists. I heard a lot of excitement! That was great! However, I also heard some anxiety, and preoccupation with the details. Accordingly, I included a special prayer at the bible study. I prayed that the dinner might go smoothly, and that God be lifted up and honored by everything that happens tomorrow evening. I know several people at the bible study appreciated my prayers.

Isn’t that the way it is sometimes, when the schedule is too full? Loads of checklists and details and planning and forecasting. When a person isn’t able to squeeze in one more little thing? Too busy even to turn around. Yes, it can be a lot. Even too much, sometimes. It’s a good thing that the congregation only has this dinner once a year.

I appreciate the celebration and blessing of World Communion Sunday, the following day. I have prayerfully arranged the worship service for this special Sunday. I hope and pray that it will be a blessing for all who attend. As well as for the friends who will be at the church at different times on Saturday, too. God, I pray that You are lifted up and honored in many ways this weekend. With animals, with spaghetti, with fellowship, in celebration.

@chaplaineliza

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Of Service? Naturally!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 25, 2014

people with whom our hearts are knitted

Of Service? Naturally!

I had the opportunity to be kind, helpful and of service today.

It was like this. Someone called the church some days ago, and wanted to know whether she might be able to rent out the church for an event in a few months. We arranged to meet this afternoon, at a time that was convenient for all of us. The office manager, Sunny, and I showed the woman around the church, answered as many questions about the facility as we could, and were genuinely as helpful as both of us could be. Sunny even let the friendly woman know that she could make herself available as photographer—since that is another business that she has. The woman laughed, and mentioned something about the full services our church provides. We all agreed on the humor in that situation.

The woman seemed to be both pleased and touched to see the preschool children, as well as the babies and toddlers. The children were taking their nap right after lunch, when the two of us peeked into several spaces where the children usually made their presence well known. But, not at this time. It was nap time, and we were especially quiet, even while checking out the facilities.

I had a good day before that, too. I grabbed a quick lunch with Pastor Gordon, my former fellow pastor at St. Luke’s Church. Gordon and I always have a wonderful time together, and he is so helpful and wise on top of everything else. He and I periodically meet together to talk, since he has so kindly offered to mentor me and give me some handy tips for church administrative and procedural matters. Of course, I was tickled to death at this prospect. Gordon has several decades of solid experience, and he is one of the best people I can think of to mentor me. Solid stuff he communicates, and so helpful, too.

After that, meeting with the cheerful, pleasant woman at church was the main event of the day, as far as I am concerned. It felt good to be responding to someone who was asking genuine questions about our church, and had real interest in our building. I know St. Luke’s Church building is a modest facility, but I certainly appreciate its many good qualities. And, I hope I highlighted them today. God willing, yes!

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I am an Advisor—Of Sorts

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 18, 2014

books image

In Which I am an Advisor—Of Sorts

I really enjoy teaching! And, talking with students. Advising, informal counseling, I am not exactly sure what you would call it. But I know I have a good deal of expertise in a number of areas. I would like to share my knowledge with others.

I don’t believe I ever mentioned this before, but a few years ago I worked at the graduate school of a university in town. For almost four years, I was coordinator and instructor for a small program in one of the departments. Part of my responsibilities involved not only teaching, marking weekly assignments, and interacting with students, but also advising, and working with students to explore the course material.

(Yeah, it was twenty hours a week. Yeah, I was only a part-time employee with absolutely no benefits. Yeah, I was dependent on a grant to the department, and when the grant ended, so did my job. And, yeah, I am still a bit disgruntled, because despite everything I truly enjoyed my job! However—consider my rant over. On with my current way of being of service!)

So, I am familiar with advising and counseling, and especially providing new ways of thinking about the course material. I enjoyed it, as I say. All of it! In my present work situation at St. Luke’s Church, I have the opportunity to again advise and encourage a young man. Tim is acting as our youth worker, teaching Sunday school and working with the five to seven children we have most Sundays. (He’s also doing this Christian education work as field education for his college degree.) Tim is going to graduate this December. He has a youth pastor job waiting for him out of state. Except—I see a few gaps in his college learning.

That’s why Tim and I are going to meet together every other week, and I’ll advise and mentor him during this fall semester. I am so pleased we can have this time together! As I said, I do enjoy communicating knowledge. I am so appreciative for those teachers and mentors in my life, and I always strive to be as nurturing and helpful as I can to those who come to me for advice or mentoring. I know many of the graduate students I assisted told me explicitly how much they appreciated me and my words. And encouragement. And counsel.

God willing, Tim will find what we talk about helpful.

@chaplaineliza

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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

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