Being Kind at a Potluck! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, September 2, 2017

Looking back at this post from three years ago, I am amazed and humbled at the excellent advice I received from a fellow pastor friend of mine. He was so right: let the congregation know I love them. (And, I do! I did, and I still do.) I always try to listen with attentive, intelligent, compassionate ears. And, I truly do care. Great advice, and still applicable. Dear God, help me always to be kind and loving to the congregation where You have led me to serve.

Posted on September 8, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 7, 2014

look at things from different perspective

Being Kind at a Potluck!

What an enjoyable day! What a wonderful worship service! And, what a great celebration afterwards, at the hot dog roast and potluck dinner!

The day began with me getting to church early. I needed to email and print off the intercessory prayer project sheets. (Several people in our congregation do not have email.) My good friend and former co-worker Pastor Gordon came to St. Luke’s Church today to help me out with the celebration of communion. So, we had a wonderful service! Gordon’s sermon on prayer was excellent—sort of an encapsulation of several sermons I had preached in the past few weeks. And, just what the church needed to kick off the Prayer Project, an intercessory prayer ministry here at St. Luke’s.

I’ll say one thing about our church—they sure can serve up a fine potluck! Delicious food, and so much of it. I am so appreciative of our church members.

I tried to mingle with several different tables this afternoon. Eating first at one, and then another, and last, sitting at a third table. Almost like having separate courses.

The being-kind-part came in with me doing my best to listen. Listen to what the separate individuals were saying, The conversations they had amongst themselves, the responses to questions I asked, even observing the interactions of others from across the fellowship hall.

I am still not quite used to being a pastor. I feel rather surprised, still, at the congregation allowing me to go first in the potluck line. (I solved that one by stopping in my office for a few minutes to divest myself of my robe and the cordless microphone. Necessary things to do!) Pastor Gordon and his wife already had their food, and were seated. I’m grateful that Gordon was available to say a short grace before we started to eat!

Still, I remember some worthwhile advice I received from a pastor friend: “Love the congregation. Let them know you love them. Make that your top priority and primary aim for your first year of ministry.” (Excellent suggestion, may I add!) I want to let the congregation know I am there to listen. That’s one of the high priorities for me, one of the best ways I can possibly let these dear friends know I love them. Plus, I want to be able to internalize and process what I’ve heard. And then, I can ask intelligent follow-up questions, and have solid, worthwhile interactions. These facets of listening are just so important. And, an equally important way to show individuals in the congregation that I truly do care about them. I truly do love them.

Another marvelous byproduct? When I show love to others, I display God’s love, too. I pray that many may see, know, and understand that God loves them, through my speech and actions.

@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 Easter and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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

Advertisements

Being Kind on the Winter Solstice

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, 2014 photo credit - Kevin Jones

Winter Solstice, Dec. 21, 2014
photo credit – Kevin Jones

Being Kind on the Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day of the year, for those of you who are not familiar with this terminology. Yes, it is also Sunday. I led a worship service at my church this morning. Yet, I also walked through a sleeping garden today. The Chicago Botanic Gardens.

The Winter Solstice is the time of the shortest day, the time of the longest night. Starting tomorrow, the days will grow longer once more and the dark will wane. But today, tonight is the time of the most dark.

This morning at church was the fourth Sunday of Advent. We lit four Advent candles on the Advent wreath this morning. The lighting of candles, the return of the light is a prominent feature of the Christmas festival. The kindling of light is a similar feature in many other midwinter festivals—Hanukkah, for example. Sankta Lucia, and the Yule Log, to mention two more.

At the Botanic Garden at this time of the year, the lights are prominently displayed in many parts of the central gardens. Since this past weekend had a few temperate days, lots of people were visiting. Walking the paths, through the greenhouses, and viewing the special display. Oh, and the lights. Over 750,000 strings of lights decorate the outside areas. Mostly white lights, but also mixed with some red and green, with a few golden accents.

My husband, daughter and I walked through the garden, as I said, later in the afternoon. We sat on a bench for some little while, looking across the lagoon. And as dusk approached in the muted light of the overcast afternoon, the strings of colored lights shone more brightly.

When I see the quiet panorama of the winter Garden, I think of nature sleeping. I see the effects of the decreasing light. Because of my line of work, from time to time I have people telling me of their sadness, sometimes depression, at this holiday time of the year. Sometimes, it is beneficial to sit and be quiet at this time—if we can find the time. Certain people set aside the time around the Solstice as a time of quiet and reflection. (Just a suggestion.)

I try to meditate and pray on a regular basis. At the Winter Solstice, at the waning of the year, I can take advantage of this quiet, peaceful time. I can use this time not only for reflection, but also to let go. To release sad things, mad things, bad things. To lighten up and get rid of resentments and other baggage I’m holding onto. That way, I’m not only being kind to others, I am ultimately being kind to myself.

And, God willing, I can spread some of the light. The light that God brings into the world.

Winter Solstice at dusk, Dec. 21, 2014 photo credit - Kevin Jones

Winter Solstice at dusk, Dec. 21, 2014
photo credit – Kevin Jones

@chaplaineliza

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

Helping, Serving—and Enjoying Myself!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas decorations

Helping, Serving—and Enjoying Myself!

The first part of the day? Service.

I served in the church, led in worship, and read for the Sunday school program. We also said good-bye to Tim, the wonderful youth leader in our church. He has done a tremendous job teaching Sunday school and leading the children, since this winter. Now, he’s graduating and leaving Chicago. So, it was a bittersweet experience, coordinating that aspect of the service. However, I particularly wanted—to be of service. Worship service, that is.

Helping comes next.

After church, I thought of helping out my daughter, who needed shoes. She had her heart set on gym shoes. And, yes, we found some powder blue Converse gym shoes on sale! Even, in her size! That was kind to my budget, believe me. Although, I urged her to consider finding some nice flats, too. Pretty, comfortable, and versatile. (I absolutely insist on comfort in shoes. No sacrificing my feet for fashion, believe me!) Lo and behold, she was able to find some ballet flats with some extra fancy designs around the toes. So, another helpful thing accomplished. Scratched off of the list of things to do.

Next on the agenda, enjoying myself. (I like to do that, believe me!)

In amongst all of the busy-ness, hustle, bustle and everything else, I found the time to attend my friend’s open house. In a lovely, gracious, vintage building, my friend Sherryanne hosted a holiday party—along with her mother and her aunt. This has been a holiday custom in her family since before World War II. I was fortunate enough to attend, and to enjoy all of the delicious things on the table.

Oh, and I enjoyed the excellent company at the open house, too. I saw some people I haven’t seen for quite some time. Perhaps even for several years.

The holidays can be fun! And, hectic. And—did I mention fun?

I’ll have fond memories from this year, especially from the Christmas celebration I attended this afternoon. Good food, good conversation, good friends. Thank You, God!

@chaplaineliza

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

Beginnings, and a Time to Be of Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent one picture

Beginnings, and a Time to Be of Service

Yes, here we are at the end of November, the waning of the calendar year. Yet—here we are at the beginning of the liturgical year—the beginning of Advent.

I led the worship service today, highlighting the first Sunday of Advent. A Sunday of waiting. A Sunday when we look forward to Jesus returning for the second time. It is also traditionally a Sunday of hope.

Sure, when some people think of Advent, they want to get through it quickly! Let’s get to Christmas, already! Enough with this waiting, this time of preparation. Race ahead to the baby Jesus, being born in Bethlehem. Yet—our Scripture passages for the first Sunday in Advent do not tell us about that baby Jesus, and a warm, fluffy Christmas card picture. Instead, we are focusing on the hard stuff. On the fact that Jesus is coming again in power. On the sin, and unworthiness, and the fact that God takes us dirty, sinful, unclean people and cleans us up.

At our church today, we had a guest preacher, a student from one of the local bible colleges. Noah preached a sermon on one of the readings for the day, from Isaiah 64:1-9. He did a fine job at explaining the text. I built the whole service around that Scripture passage, lifting up various parts of the passage in the different hymns and prayers, besides the reading of the sermon text.

So, that was how I was of service today. In formatting the worship experience today, I hope I tied it together with a biblical bow—I kept ringing the changes of Isaiah 64, in different ways.

I earnestly tried to make a cohesive structure for our congregation. And, I was glad Noah helped me to lead in worship today. All in all, I did the best I could. Or to paraphrase the words of the prophet, from Isaiah 55:11, I provided a space for the Word of God to go forth. God, bless Your word. I pray that it accomplishes that for which You sent it forth. Amen!

@chaplaineliza

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

Church Service, Serving Our Congregation

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, October 19, 2014

baptism_collage

Church Service, Serving Our Congregation

It’s another Sunday. It’s another day to gather together for worship. And, it’s a day to celebrate the sacrament of baptism. First baptism in several years at St. Luke’s Church!

Pastor Gordon and I led the worship service today, and it was an affirming, prayerful time. Excellent sermon, too. (Thanks, Gordon, for everything!) The baptismal font is situated in the back of the church, and after the sermon, Gordon and I stood next to it. I called the parents and baby forward, and the extended family and just about everyone in the congregation came and encircled the font. Such a warm and wonderful feeling! Such a special moment for everyone in the sanctuary, too.

I made the opening statement about baptism, being a sign and sacrament of God’s grace and mercy extended towards us. Gordon then addressed the parents, and told them of baptism signifying God’s promise not only to us, but also to the dear baby, baptized today. I had the privilege of praying over the water, thanking God for the repeated demonstrations of God’s grace and mercy throughout the Bible, using water. I also asked God to transform this water we used from a common use to a sacred, sacramental use. Then—Gordon baptized this dear little one in the name of the Triune God. Amen! He introduced her around to the whole congregation as a new member of God’s forever family.

I know there are differences in beliefs. Some people believe strongly—personally—in infant baptism, or in believer’s baptism, or in full immersion, or in sprinkling, or in something else I haven’t mentioned yet. I realize there are differences, and I try to honor those when I can. This way, the way I just described, is the way that is traditional at St. Luke’s Church. As pastor there, I strive to follow their practices as best as I am able. Even though I went to a bible college for my undergraduate degree which leaned heavily on the practice of believer’s baptism by immersion, I have since embraced the Reformed tradition as my personal understanding. (I’m trying not to get all theological on everyone, I really am.) Suffice it to say that I am open to different understandings and views of baptism.

I thought this service not only lifted up God and displayed God’s Word through Gordon’s sermon and the sacrament of baptism, I appreciated this extended family gathered here to celebrate their youngest member becoming part of God’s forever family. I take the vows of the baptismal service quite seriously. I will strive to do my part to raise this dear little one in the knowledge and nurture of God, and God’s grace and mercy. True, this kind of service is more official than what I usually seek out for these blog posts. That makes this pastoral service all the more special. God bless this little one, the baby’s family, and everyone in attendance today. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

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

Helping through Reflection and Planning

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, September 22, 2014

HAPPY make your soul happy

Helping through Reflection and Planning

Thank you. Thanks to all of you who faithfully follow this blog. Or even, occasionally follow this blog. I appreciate your presence, your comments, and your prayers and good thoughts. I may not have outwardly said anything up to this point (at least, out loud or in print), but I sincerely do thank you for your reading.

For those of you following at home, you may have noticed that I went on a silent retreat on Saturday. A Soul Care Day, a day set aside for spiritual reflection, direction and spiritual formation. This day of silent prayer was rich for me! I received so much from it. I not only received spiritual nurture and recharging, personally, but I also received some good thoughts and leadings about several situations that are on my mind. So—all to the good!

Now, what about the reflection-and-planning part? Where does that come in?

I needed to put the final touches to planning the Sunday worship service today, and everything fell into place. (Excellent!) I also put in some time to planning World Communion Sunday, October 5th. I enjoy crafting a worship service, and finding complementary parts of the service, as well as appropriate hymnody and special music. Now, I just have to write the sermon for Sunday . . .

The notes and reflections which I wrote down on Saturday are a treasure trove for me, upon reflection. I am grateful and appreciative that I was able to take the time to attend this Soul Care Day. I realize only now that the insights I received are like layers of an onion—and that I have substantial work to do to mine the information and get further insights. More will be revealed to me, I’m sure. More, over time. That’s what I need for right now.

Upon reflection, I feel like the Little Engine that Could. (I think I can, I think I can!) Chugging right along, steadily, my calendar is never boring!

@chaplaineliza

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

Being Kind? Remembering.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 30, 2014

God I fail you, but i need your comfort

Being Kind? Remembering.

In the aftermath of a memorial service today, I have two vivid memories that come to me. First, one of the hymns. Second, the remembrances and tributes to the person who has died.

The hymn “Morning Has Broken” has always been one of my favorite hymns. Except—I have always sung it in the context of a Sunday morning worship service, and usually as a gathering hymn. This was a bit different. We sang it today as an opening hymn, it’s true. But the opening hymn of a memorial service. The words touched me in a new way today. Especially poignant to me, in light of the memorial aspect of the service, were the words of the third verse:

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning.
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation, Praise ev’ry morning,
God’s recreation Of the new day!

I thought of the new day of those now standing in the presence of God. The new surroundings, the new . . . everything. How comforting and encouraging these words can sound, especially to loved ones who have so recently lost someone to a devastating illness.

Now, second. The remembrances and tributes. The person remembered today was truly special. Everything everyone said at the service was intensely meaningful and heartfelt. I was so moved, I couldn’t help but tear up at times. Even though some of these memories were humorous and lighthearted, too! But, the humor was tinged by bittersweet. This dear person will be sincerely missed.

Memorial services are just that—places to gather together, to remember together, and to mourn together. And like today, places to laugh together, and to cry together. God, be with all those who mourn today. Not only this dear person we had the service for today, but for all those who have been lost, who died, and who were killed in recent times. Comfort those who mourn. Help them reframe their understanding and encourage each other in these sad times.

We can truly thank God that God is with us, every step of the way. Even when we can’t find a way ahead, even when the way is dark or stormy or uncertain. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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