Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Holy Place

One of the lectionary readings for this week is Psalm 48. The Disciplines reading for yesterday morning included these verses (12-14):
Walk about Zion, go all around it, count its towers, consider well its ramparts; go through its citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever.
The author of the devotional suggested that the reader consider Holy Places -- places where you have felt the transformational presence of God.

Where are your Holy Lands?

I thought it was an interesting question, and I stopped this morning to consider it. Where have I felt the transformational presence (my phrase) of God? What place feel Holy to me? (I'm going to avoid the obvious answer of my church's Sanctuary)
  • Even though I'm not going to say our Sanctuary, I will mention our church's chapel. I mention it because each year we use it as a prayer chapel for our 40 hour Prayer Vigil (from Good Friday to Easter Morning). I have spent a few hours alone in that room for the prayer vigil, and I always encounter God. When I walk into that room (when it is empty), the space feels holy to me.
  • I co-taught a book study for a couple of years in one of our Sunday school rooms. Now, to me it feels like a holy place. During those classes, I learned (and yes, I was a teacher) much about my faith in God.
  • I took my Emmaus walk in Ashland, Ky at First UMC. I will mention their Sanctuary. Every time I walk in it seems like a Holy Place to me.
  • I don't know what it is about the beach, but while it doesn't always feel holy, it does have the capacity to feel that way -- fleetingly
  • There are times when I walk in our city park, especially when I carry my camera and wander, taking pictures, when the park becomes a holy place.
  • A holy place doesn't have to be a happy one. Last Saturday we drove to Buckhannon to pick up G and a couple of friends. We stopped in Flatwoods for lunch at a fast food restaurant at the foot of the hill where our last board meeting was held. It was a sad place to be for me; I didn't like it. The last time I was there was for our board meeting. My friend's father was dying. I did find the presence of God that evening and the next day; I was grateful for it. (The sadness on Saturday did get overshadowed by the drunk man in line and the very long wait for lunch!).
Image: Beach, 2007


Monday, June 29, 2009

Whatever Works

I've been thinking about music lately. We're involved in a search for a new music director at our church, and I'm a member of the Search Committee. I've been asking questions and listening to answers.

I attended Annual Conference a few weeks ago and was impressed by the mixture of music that was used in worship -- classically based, old hymns, new hymns, praise music, contemporary anthems. The Music Director for Annual Conference's philosophy is "Whatever works."

I like that philosophy. Whatever works.

Why is it, I wonder, that the genre of music becomes more important in some people's minds than the ability of the music to reach God's people with his message? Why is it that we are willing to believe that we all have different gifts and different ways of being reached by God (in fact, is it Ortberg or Yancey who explains that we all connect to God in different ways). If that is the case, why do we assume that people will hear God in through music in the same way that we do ourselves?

Whatever works.


Sunday, June 28, 2009



When I was very young, Mom always grew marigolds in a planter at the front of the house. I say "always," although I don't really know how many years she did it.

I remember going out front with an envelope and watching as she collected marigold seeds. We put them in the envelope, and she said we would plant them the next year and grow more marigolds.

I don't know if we did or not, but I remember collecting the seeds.

Isn't it funny the things that stick in your mind? I probably wasn't any older than four years old at the time. Do you ever wonder what your children will remember when they grow older? What moments they will carry with them?


Saturday, June 27, 2009



Friday, June 26, 2009


All day long I've been hearing Michael Jackson's music. On the TV -- news stations, cable stations, local stations. It's on the computer and in the mall. And the Friday Five on RevGalBlogPals in inspired by his death.

  1. What sort of music did you listen to as a child - this would likely have been determined or influenced by your parents? Or perhaps your family wasn't musical...was the news the background? the radio? Singing around the piano? I can't remember what kind of music I listened to as a kid. I seem to remember it was an AM station. I can remember being 5 years old, lying in mom's bed (I must have had a nightmare or something -- she was already up, getting ready for work). The radio was on, and the Beatles song, "Let it Be" was playing.
  2. Going ahead to teenage years, is there a song that says "high school" (or whatever it might've been called where you lived) to you? I remember in Youth group that the Youth who was organizing the worship service on a camping trip centered worship around "Dust in the Wind." I didn't like it (not the song, really, but the idea of it).
  3. What is your favorite music for a lift on a down day? (hint: go to www.pandora.com and type in a performer/composer...see what you come up with!) If I'm looking for music on a down day, I'm probably going to turn to The Message on Satellite radio or something contemporary on my iPod. I actually don't think I turn to music on a down day, though.
  4. Who is your favorite performer of all time? I have no idea. Of all time? I only seem to stay with an artist for a short amount of time, and then I move on to the next. I have some that repeat, but I don't think I could pinpoint to a favorite of all time.
  5. What is your favorite style of music for worship? I like all kinds of music for worship. Contemporary, all kinds of hymns. I think it what makes it my favorite is that it is well done, not the genre.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Answering Grief

The RevGalBlogPals offer a question each week for pastors to answer. They are often about unrest in the church, or how to handle the "politics" of church life, but this weeks was very sad.
A woman in my parish unexpectedly lost her adult daughter a few months ago. She has been experiencing severe, paralyzing, debilitating grief compounded by alcoholism. ... I feel helpless to help her. .... I really don't know what to do.
To read the entire quote, go here.

It's a very tough question. I doubt any of us face grief and its response that is that tough to answer, but I imagine many of us have faced the question of what to say or what to do to help someone who is dealing with a terrible loss.

It's hard. I never know what to say or what to do. I always feel inadequate to provide an answer -- whether it is in words or deeds. I never really know if what I have done or said is of any help at all.

I see some people who seem to know what to do or say, and I wonder how it is that they are so certain in their responses. Do they ever feel uncertain like me? Do they hide it? Or are they truly able to respond in confidence? Is it from experience?

No answers tonight. Just questions.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009



Begun with folder hands.
An admission of powerlessness.
There is nothing I can do,
O God,
Without you.
Whatever I bring to you,
Heartache, joy, concern
All is taken from my hands
And given to you
I fold my empty hands
And admit my lack of control.

Head bowed.
You are God, and I am not.
Thank you for this truth.
Too often I try to play God,
Taking blame, taking credit,
Taking responsibility
For what belongs in the hands
Of the divine.
Lay your hand on my head
And remind me.
You are God and I am not.

Eyes closed.
A temporary, voluntary blindness.
Closing my eyes to how I look at the world.
Seeking the clear vision of God.
Seeing with the clear vision of God.
Hoping to see the world
As you sees it.
Trusting, as one without vision
Would trust.
That you will lead the way
Even when I cannot see the path.

Our Father, who lives in heaven,
We praise your wonderful name.
Holy, powerful, loving God.
We place our trust in you,
And ask that your will be done.
Here in your kingdom on earth.
Thank you that you provide all we need
Daily grace abundant.
We place our sins at your feet
And ask for forgiveness.
Daily grace abundant.
We place our anger and selfishness
at your feet
And ask for power to bring
Daily grace abundant.
Light our paths through dark valleys,
And inhabit our worship,
So that you will be praised
And we will be blessed by your joy.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Window in Grace UMC, Keyser.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Verbs and Questions

The Friday Five last week is from a book entitled "Life is a Verb." In honor of Steve, who says that the word Christian should be a verb, and teaches all to "be a verb," I'm going to use these Friday Five questions for the post today:

  1. What awakens you to the present moment? When I went on my Emmaus walk, on the first evening, as I lay in bed, thinking about the walk (and not sleeping -- I didn't sleep at all that first night), I decided that in order to fully participate in what was happening, I needed to ensure that I focused on whatever was in front of me. All through the weekend, as I would find my mind wandering, or thinking about what might be happening next, or daydreaming, I would say to myself "Focus." I still use that word today to awaken myself to the moment --especially in worship or prayer. Focus.
  2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now? Nothing. It's midnight, but if it were daytime, and I were at work -- the post office, a busy street, a parking lot, hillside in the distance (across the river that can't be seen), downtown buildings
  3. Which verbs describe your experience of God? God participates, surprises, comforts, jokes, guides, silences, admonishes, loves and calms me.
  4. From the book on p. 197: Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go? I was in Junior High school. I was smart and dorky and shy. I had friends but wasn't one of the "popular" ones. Thank God that girl grew up. I would never want to be 13 again. I still have friends, am smart and probably dorky, but hopefully not shy. The 13 year old girl was OK, but I like who I am now much better.
  5. From the book on p. 88: If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be? Where is God calling me to be in ministry? (It's not the only place, but it's a big part of it right now.)
Image: The view out of my office window, back in February. I think I was interested in trying to capture the look in the falling snow. No luck, but that's the post office across the street.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

AU Choir at JMUMC

Africa University Choir at Johnson Memorial.

You have two more chances to be "blessed by the song" -- Beckley Temple this evening at 7:30pm and Wesleyan Chapel Monday evening at Summer Youth Celebration.

Great experience at JM last night!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Surprising God

I took a walk in the park this afternoon with a camera. As I was walking, I was thinking that there just wasn't that much to photograph -- everything is great, no flowers, no water except the creek. Just kind of ho-hum.

Steve caught up with me after his walk to the train and around, and we headed back to the cars. As we neared the fountain, he said, "Look. There's a parrot." I didn't catch what he said at first; I was trying to photograph a flower, so he said it again.

And there was a parrot on the fountain at the park.

As I think about it, it's a little bit like God.

  • To find the parrot, I had to make the effort to go to the park, belieiving that something was there that I needed to see.
  • I didn't find him on my own; it took someone pointing him out to me. Sometimes finding God is like that -- we need others to point the way.
  • In my own preoccupation, I would have missed him. What distracts me from God? What busy-ness in my life keeps me from seeing?
  • It was a surprise. Who expects to find a parrot in the park?

God is like that sometimes. We have to believe enough to see him. Sometimes we have to rely on our friends to point him out, and sometimes he's a surprise -- he doesn't appear in the way we would expect him to.

Watch out. He's there.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Power Unimaginable

I was reading a Disciplines devotional this past week. The author was discussing Mark 4:35-41. Read verse 39:
He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
The author of the devotional said to notice the power -- Jesus calmed the sea and the storm.

Do we forget sometimes? Do we fail to remember the Power of God? I think I do. I think I take him for granted -- that he's in my head when I pray. I think I forget that he's the creator of the universe, and I fail to imagine the Power.

Power to stop storms. Power to save. Power to love in an unimaginable way. Power to divide the sea and unite those who argue. Power to lead a whale to eat a prophet and to lead a ragtag group of church members to remember the Christ when they eat bread and drink "wine." Power to die and power to live again.

Power unimaginable.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Large is God?

How large is my God?

Large enough
So that I went to a church
To fly "solo"
for the very first time,
not long after I began this new journey,
I could feel Him in a new place.
In a sanctuary where I had never been before,
among people I didn't know,
My God was there.
Everything would be OK.

How large is our God?

Large enough
So that when I travel to the Annual Meeting
of our church,
the faith in our God is there.
Among the many.
Among the church.
Among those who come from hours away,
believe very differently than I do,
but still belong to our God.

How large is God?

Large enough
So that when a choir from halfway across the world
comes to a church in a place that they have probably
never heard of before,
they sing of God.
Their God is our God is my God.
People from the Valley of Hope
can bring God's spirit,
and find it among people
from Almost Heaven.

How large is God?
Larger than we can imagine.

Image: The Choir from Africa University singing last night at Christ United Methodist Church in Wheeling.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Logos -- 1 Samuel 17

Our older son chose to play the trumpet in the band. Our younger son chose the same instrument. Our older son ran track in high school. Our younger son tried track, but until the moment he decided he didn't like it, I think he assumed, the whole time the older son was running, that he would run track, too.

At the beginning of last year, the younger son started piano lessons. He loves them, and loves to play the piano. I'm glad of that, for many reasons, but one of those reasons is that this is something that belongs only to J. G has never played the piano.

I was reading the lectionary reading this week from 1 Samuel. Read these verses (1 Samuel 17:38-39:

Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul's sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, "I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them." So David removed them.
We were talking in Sunday school a few weeks back about the armor of God. The teacher talked about how we support each other using this armor. We might link our shields of faith or use the sword of the spirit in support of another, but we each need to develop our own armor.

We each have different gifts. We each have different callings. Someone told me today, "He has a call of God upon his heart." Yes, he does. We all do, and for each of us, that call is different, praise God. I don't need to worry that my gifts are not the same as someone else's gifts. I only need to be Kim. My son only needs to be himself. God will use who we are and what he has given us to do the task to which he has called us.

If David had tried to go to battle in Saul's armor, he would have been defeated. Even though he was much less protected with his slingshot, he was armed as God wanted him armed, and he was able to go to battle using the gifts that were necessary for triumph.

That's all any of us needs to do.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Logos -- Mark 4:34-41

One of the lectionary readings for the week is Mark 5:34-41. Read these verses:
A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" verses 37-38
I've read that passage so many times, but I've never thought of it in this particular way. What jumped out at me when I read the Lectionary Leanings on RevGalBlogPals this evening is the application to our everyday lives. (I know; I've missed something very obvious!)

What happens when the waves toss our lives? What is our response? What is God's response? Do we believe that God cares or do we think he will sleep through the storms of our lives?

Are there times when we cry out to God and say, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" What is God's response?

When storms arrive, do we respond to them with faith or with doubt? Notice that while the disciples did respond in doubt, Jesus didn't jump out of the boat and leave them on their own. He responds by taking action, and by using the opportunity to try to teach his disciples an important lesson about faith.

We are never alone. God is there, and he does care.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Just not funny

Someone at conference invited the men in the room to come to a men's event this year. He said to the men, "You need to come; that is the weekend that the women rule the church."

Do I need to tell you how many ways and how deeply that bothers me? I know it was meant as a joke, and I do have a sense of humor. It's just not funny.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Different Ways to See Things

We watched a video at Annual Conference called ReThink Church. I've actually seen it before -- it's a great one.

One of the things it talks about is the United Methodist slogan open Open Hearts, Minds and Doors. It urges us to think of the word Open as a verb in addition to an adjective. Our doors, hearts and minds are open, but also, think of opening minds, opening doors and opening hearts.

Open minds. Open our minds. There are times when we think there is only one way to see something -- one viewpoint, which is right, while all others are wrong. That's not open minds. That's closing our minds to possibilities. It's also not very "United Methodist." Wesley encouraged us to use our reason (in addition to scripture, experience and tradition) to solve problems.

ReThink Church.

Open minds.

Open our minds to possibilities. Could it be that we are not always right? Could it be that there is a different, and yet correct, way to view life? Could it be that the way we have always done something, always thought of something, could be only one way to do it; only one way to think about it?

Is it possible for us to open our minds? Accept that we could be wrong, or at least accept that there is more than one correct answer? Or no correct answer at all?

In the vast complexity of God's world, I imagine that there are times when we get it wrong, or at least we only see one possibility, when there are so many more?

Open minds.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cross and Doves

In the comments, Bob asked about the picture of the cross I posted yesterday.

The doves are attached to strong wires. During the memorial service, the family members of pastors who died last year came to the altar, each with one of these doves. The doves were then attached to the cross. The cross that evening also had candles on it. It was beautiful.

The cross with the doves (no candles) was placed in the back of the altar area the next day. It was terrific looking -- as if the doves were flying around the cross.

The theme of Annual Conference involved the idea of power from the Holy Spirit. Doves were everywhere, including flying off the balcony railing. The top middle image in the collage is one of those doves.

Images: (Starting in top left hand corner and moving clockwise, and then finally to the center) Upright of lighted cross, dove flying off the balcony railing, unlighted cross, lighted cross, horizontal railing of the cross, cross prior to memorial service, and in the center, detail of doves, showing wire.


Friday, June 12, 2009


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Thursday, June 11, 2009


Opening worship altar -- West Virginia Annual Conference, Thursday morning.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer break?

Bob left a comment yesterday on the blog that said:

In our church the start of ordinary time seems to start a period of people stepping back and looking at church from the outside. Usually coinciding with summer it seems to me like everything goes on vacation Sunday school, Bible studies,even the choir, it seems kind of sad.
I've seen the same trend in our church, and I imagine that it is kind of common, and it is kind of sad. I understand why it happens -- people are on vacation, volunteers need a break from what they are doing. I do wonder, though, if there is an alternative.

If normal programming is not popular during the summer months, then what can we do instead? How can we adapt our ministries to fit the circumstances? What new thing can be done to allow for growth in ministry, even during Ordinary time. Even this time of year offers opportunities for growth in ministry -- where are those opportunities and how can we take advantage of them?

Does oridinary time allow for time off? Or can it be a time for growh?


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Time for Growth

One of the lectionary readings for the week is the story of Samuel looking for the next king after God and he were disappointed by King Saul.

Think of what Samuel must have thought when God tells him to anoint David. David, the shepherd, the youngest of all of the sons of Jesse. He had so little obvious potential that even his father leaves him in the fields when Samuel comes to pay a call.

Faith and trust in God must have been required of Samuel in this instance. He had to imagine the potential in this teenager. Potential for growth. Potential for leadership.

I read an article today about this season in the church year. Ordinary time. The time when the exciting red paraments are replaced much too soon with the boring green ones. Ordinary time. Even the name isn't very exciting. This article suggested that we think of Ordinary time as a time for growth. Green for growth. In what ways is your church prepared for growth? What potential is there for growth. Does this time require trust and faith on your part to see the period of growth through to its logical end?


Monday, June 08, 2009


G turned 16 today. We had a nice dinner at Olive Garden followed by cake. He also passed his driver's license test today. Scary.

I was surfing this evening and stopped by the UM Reporter Blog. From there I went to this article by Gordon Atkinson. He speaks about his church's first web site, built when no one knew what the internet was.

Back when I was not much older than Grant, I played with my first computer. It was a Radio Shack version, with a dark screen and green letters, I think. I could make it calculate the area of a triangle. Wow.

I took Computer Science in college. Most of it was classroom work. I worked in the computer lab for about 20 minutes during the whole course, and probably finished the semester being able to calculate the area of a triangle. Wow.

During my Master's degree work, I taught biology labs and was forward thinking enough to manage my gradebook using a compute progam. I had to go to the library to have access to a computer, and everything was stored on a big floppy disk. Later, toward the end of my graduate work, I used a computer in the science building to do graphs for my thesis. They were drawn by a plotter that used pens.

And so it went. I worked my way through DOS, monochromatic monitors, AOL, basic windows, and computers with less storage space than my iPod has now.

I sit here with a computer on my lab on which I can watch a movie or do much more complicated procedures than the area of a triangle. Really, I'm not that old. There has been that much change in the last 20 years. Amazing, if you think about it.

I wonder if that is why it is so hard sometimes for the modern church to adapt to technology, especially if there aren't that many young people involved. Change is hard anyway, and it has been speedy over the last few decades. Does it take extra pushes from people who see the advantages of up-to-date web pages and email announcement lists to make things happen? How long will it take for everyone to realize that even older people (not all of them, but at least some of them) have email addresses and search the web? Do we have a responsbility to keep up with technology to reach the limits of evangelism?


Sunday, June 07, 2009

All Good Gifts

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above
Then thank the Lord
Thank the Lord
For all his love.

Sermon prep
Stories about stained glass
arriving at just the right time.
Idea for a sermon from a man
written years ago
but still echoing in my mind.
Blown through the recesses
by God.

Dinner celebrating youth.
An excuse to eat ice cream.
A safe trip in the dark
Family who will travel 4 hours
Just to be there.
Comfortable hotel room
Friends who pray.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above
Then thank the Lord
Thank the Lord
For all his love.

A little girl who loves her pastor
because he'll supply a slide.
Welcoming congregation.
Song of Solomon?
Chance to speak about the joy of our ministry.
Chance to proclaim God's presence.
Song of Solomon? Really?
Wrong scripture read, but who cares?
Sometimes it's all just for the stories.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above
Then thank the Lord
Thank the Lord
For all his love.

Enjoying my boys.
Safe travels.
Weirton seems closer in the daytime.
Joy in a strange bridge.
Friends who laugh.
Song of Solomon? You're kidding.

Youth choir traveling from Georgia.
Fifty young people singing in fellowship.
Praise, hymns,
Peace, Love and Jesus.
Beautiful voices raised in worship.
God present and reminding us.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above
Then thank the Lord
Thank the Lord
For all his love.

Image: Sanctuary of Christ United Methodist, Weirton
All Good Gifts is from Godspell.


Lesson and Image for the day

Lesson for the day. If you have to drive somewhere, and even if you start a four hour trip at 8pm, you will eventually arrive, and each minute of the trip brings you closer to the hotel.

I must say, however, that the last hour is 75% of the trip. Why is that?


Friday, June 05, 2009

Settling In

The Friday Five on RevGalBlogPals is about moving. I haven't moved in years and years, so I thought I would answer these questions with my latest move -- from one job to another -- in mind.

  1. A big move is looming, name one thing that you could not possibly part with, it must be packed? There were things in my lab which made it feel like my space -- Longaberger baskets, colored pens, pictures, CDs, etc.
  2. Name one thing that you would gladly leave behind I was ready for a change, so leaving my old job behind was OK. I gladly left the rats behind!
  3. How do you prepare for a move: a. practically?Oh, not very well. I was very concerned as I left my old job that I would leave everything in good shape, with the things that needed finished or inventoried or organized done. During the two weeks between resigning and starting the new job, I focused mainly on that aspect. I had known that I was waiting for something, without looking for it, for a while, so I had been doing my best to keep everything in a manner that would allow for change, but it still required almost all of those two weeks to prepare the lab to be left. That didn't leave me much time to pack and finish. In fact, I had to go back the Saturday after my last day to finish. b. spiritually/ emotionally? I was surprised that emotionally it wasn't a difficult move to make. I think God had already prepared me for it. I was ready. Spiritually, I wonder if anyone beginning to work for the church would feel inadequate. I did, and sometimes still do. It's just trust in God that gets me through. Mostly...
  4. What is the first thing you look for in a new place? As I moved into my new office, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the space functional and feel like my space. It was fun to do.
  5. Do you settle in easily, or does it take time for you to find your feet in a new location? Physically, because there was a time of overlap in my new job when I didn't have an office (or a phone, a key, or a trash can), it took some time to settle in. That was a strange time of limbo, but it wasn't long, and it worked out. As to settling into the job, I'm still doing that in some ways. Maybe it's best to never do that; maybe always being willing to grow and change is a goal.


Thursday, June 04, 2009


I'm working on a PowerPoint presentation for our Annual Conference Luncheon. I've been doing some reading of older programs from anniversary dinners and annual reports, pulling out quotes to use in the presentation.

I kept finding references to planting seeds.

Isn't that something we do all the time? When we are raising children, when we are working, playing, sharing with friends, planning our finances. Aren't there many times when we plant seeds for the future?

I think planting seeds requires faith -- perhaps more faith than any of us have on our own. The faith we need is a gift of God, and it walks hand in hand with a fruit of the spirit -- patience.

May I have the patience and faith to plant seeds.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Be still

Be still and know that I am God.

Simple words. Easy to type. Not so easy to put into practice.

I'm preaching this Sunday in Weirton. I'm thinking, I'm reading, I'm preparing. I'm feeling as if I am running behind in preparation, but I'm trusting that it will work out.

Part of the preparation has been prayer -- probably not enough, but still, there has been prayer. I went to the chapel in the church where we have our offices. I went there to pray.

I'm sitting in the chapel, trying to start talking to God, when I felt as if he kept interrupting. "Dear God, will you..." Be still. Be quiet.

Be still and know that I am God.

There is such wisdom in that sentence, because what I really needed was to know that God was God. God is God.

If we can remember that, then trust comes much more easily.

Leave it to God to know the answer before I ask the question.

Be still and know.

Image: Window in Beverly Hill UMC.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Friday Five -- Big To Do

I haven't done a RevGalBlogPals Friday Five in a while, so here's one:

  1. What home fix-it project is on your Big To-Do? The stairwell needs sanded and painted, and perhaps carpeting on the steps. The bathroom needs a renovation.
  2. What event (fun or work) is on your Big To-Do?3 VACATION -- we missed it last year; we're happy to be going this year. At work, Annual Conference is coming up.
  3. What trip is on your Big To-Do? I would love to go back to Europe -- to Scotland, Ireland, England, maybe Italy? Closer to home, I think a trip to Washington during the Cherry Blossom time would be good.
  4. What do you wish was on someone ELSE's (partner, family member, celebrity, etc...) Big To-Do? I wish my boys had the Big To-Do of straight A's on their lists. Or at least getting homework done and turned in.
  5. Getting inspired? What may end this summer having moved from the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-da?By the end of summer? Hmmm. I don't know. By the end of summer?


Monday, June 01, 2009


In Sunday school yesterday, we talked about a paragraph in the International Series student book. The first paragraph in the "Living the Faith" section talks about how the author believes that churches more readily attract women than men. He supports this by saying that the church loves Christmas, with a baby in a manger and angels in white. Churches love stained glass and altar flowers. He says that we value "feminine" virtues, such as patience, innocence, goodness, self-control and submission.

The whole concept bothered me.

First of all, why would the fruits of the spirit, such as patience, innocence, goodness and self-control be considered "feminine." Submission? To assume submission is a feminine virtue is insulting in itself.

Consider one man I know who is the soul support of his Down's syndrome adult daughter. Do you believe for one moment that he doesn't have patience? That God hasn't given him that gift? Do you think he would call it a "feminine" characteristic?

Self-control? Feminine?

What about the man who was a practicing lawyer who submitted himself to the call of God and becomes a pastor? Is he less masculine than he was before his ordination? Of course not.

And I also want to ask if these are the only characteristics that we celebrate in the church. What about strength? Courage? Faith? Hope?

Consider the widow who walks foward in strength and courage, facing a future which she would have chosen to avoid. Are those characterstics solely for men? Of course not.

All of that aside, however, I think there is a flaw in the logic to begin with. The community of faith called the church -- the body of Christ in the world -- does not need to "attract" people. We are not selling church. Rather than choosing a church based on how good it makes us feel, or how much we gain by being present, perhaps it's time to realize that what is important is how God calls us to serve in his Church. Not what we can gain, but what we can give. What good can we do? How can we serve?

Those questions are certainly not masculine or feminine. They are questions for the children of God.

Image: Vine at Ritter Park