Friday, July 27, 2012

Be a lid or "Just show up"

This week, I had some time to catch up with some friends over dinner. We all are moms. we take care of people in our vocations and we all share faith in God.We talk about everything when we get together: work challenges, family stuff, health problems, joys, losses, the present, our pasts and our hopes for the future. It's always a lively time for conversation, laughter and a few tears. This time is precious to us.
On my way home from our dinner, I caught a ride with my friend Sally to my office and was sat for another good hour and continued to talk about God, our work and how all that works with family. Sally and her family created and work in a ministry called 6 Baer Essentials. Here is Sally's excerpt from her website that better explains the work they do:
6BE has a heart for the impoverished community of Dahley Ethiopia-a rural area just outside the capital city of Addis Ababa.  We believe that working with the folks of Dahley through our after-school program, library, sponsorship program, chicks for chicks  and community programs will create a future for us all based on Faith and Love. One day at a time, together, we can move towards Love and away from fear. Keeping families together, encouraging dreams.
Over the course of our dinner and extended conversation about ministry life, we came to the conclusion that either in Ethiopia or here in the states that: life is messy. It may seen like a simple conclusion to make, but as we shared stories from our daily lives; we realized more than ever that there is nothing tidy or predictable in our vocational or personal lives.  So often, I strive to MAKE something work, or PLAN out a project, and even DICTATE how the end result will be in something.

However (take a deep breath here):I don't have it all together. I don't have all the answers. I can't be and won't ever be the "magic bullet" to solve all obstacles and challenges that are and ever will be. Always, the process - people - and experience is MESSY! So then, one might ask, "Why do this thing that you do?".

Over many years, trials and tears I continue to work in ministry because I feel God has called me to it. Sally, I'd say would agree. While we know that God has called us to our vocations, we also know that and change, improvement and intervention is God's doing. Let me explain it this way.

A few years ago, I received a gift of a clay pot that you can cook a small chicken in. The pot has a glazed base that you set the chicken in and the unglazed top half sets on the top of the base to hold in the water, seasoning and juices while cooking. Before you place the chicken in the oven, it's important to soak the clay lid in water. Over the course of cooking in the clay pot, the chicken becomes really tender and the skin becomes a nice crispy brown. To be honest, that clay pot is the best chicken cooking tool I've used. It takes a plain fryer chicken and turns it into a meal you'd see on a gourmet cooking show. So here is my point. Living a life of faith is like cooking with a clay chicken pot.

The gift of the clay pot is Jesus.
The glazed base is God.
The chicken is the work or mission.
The Holy Spirit is in with all the spices and water the chicken simmers. 

You can imagine our laughter when we came to this analogy and I shouted, "We're the lid! Sally, we're the lid!"

Without the gift of Jesus we would not have a place to start.
Without the glazed base we'd have no place to rest.
Without the chicken, our purpose would be removed.
Without the Holy Spirit, we would dry out and crack in the heat of life.

"We are the lids.
We do have gifts.
We hold, protect and care
for the ones God places there.
Our job is to show up, soak up the Spirit, 
deliver it's care in the midst of the heat, 
for each one we meet.
 For this one till it's done, and this one, and even this one."

We all have missions that God calls us to. Yes they are messy. and yes we all will make mistakes. But knowing that God is carrying the weight of the world makes it a little easier to 'be a lid'. The next time you wonder if God might be calling you to serve, help, care or help - show up to the mess of life and ask God to help you be the lid that is needed there. 
Hold on.

What comes of it my surprise, shock, unhinge and bless your socks off and that's ok.Your the lid that holds things in place, until they are "done". God's kind of done can be different than our kind, but that's the way. Be a lid.

Image found at American Cancer Society.

Bob Ross helped me pick up the paint brush

I was really little when I used to watch Bob Ross on PBS. My favorite TV shows at the time were Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Wonder Woman and The Joy of Painting. Bob's gentle voice and encouraging approach to painting mesmerized me. I was amazed at his ability to quickly create happy little streams, clouds, and trees. Gotta love the "happy little trees".
One of the quotes that still sticks with me to this day is,
"I believe every day is a good day when you paint.". He's right. 
Now where did I put my oil paints?

Have a good day!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Be the change you want to see in the world

First things first, we (local youth and adults who attended the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering) would like to thank our home churches and community for the financial and prayer support that helped get us to and carried us throughout our trip to New Orleans from July 18-23.

For five fast-paced days we were at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's Youth Gathering in New Orleans, LA. During our time there, we practiced peacemaking, justice and christian discipleship. We we challenged by the human struggles still being dealt with by the people of New Orleans, were excited to hear church and world leaders like Bishop HansonPastor Nadia Bolz-Weber and Shane Claiborne speak and dance
and sing with the many amazing musicians that performed at the Super Dome. In the Convention Center we
we challenged to seek out ways to peace in our communities, schools, families and churches by learning more 
ways to serve others. We shared wonderful meals and southern hospitality together, walked many miles in the 
Louisiana rain, sun and heat, and learned how to navigate the trolley system when our feet needed a rest. On our service day, we learned more about the long-lasting effects of slavery and were asked to use our cultural and economic privileges to help those who have less power.

The trip was a whirlwind of activity that was taken in by our local CALY group: Chautauqua Area Lutheran Youth.
Our group included 16 people from five different Lutheran Churches in our county: Bethel, Immanuel, Holy Trinity,
St. Timothy and First Lutheran. These are the people in our group that witnessed the sights, sounds, and story of 
New Orleans and the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering: Julie Bihler, Darcy Whitney, Ian Eastman, Tara Eastman, T.J. Bihler, Bradley Bihler, Nathan Saar, Sophie White, Emily Whitney, Kirsten Magnuson, Emily Magnuson, Caylee Shelters, Nigel Eastman, Jeremy Hatfield, Sean Kilmartin and Danielle Guichard.

The stories from this experience are just starting to settle. Please ask about how we saw Jesus during this trip -
we'd love to tell you all about it!

A song we learned in worship this last week went like this, "I want my life, to make a difference. I want my life 
to make a change." May the words of this song, our experience in New Orleans and our faith in God help us to 
make a difference in our lifetime. May theses things help us to remember God's purpose  and call to serve others. Help us to be the change we want and need to see - everywhere we go.

PS. The gathering this year was a group of 38,000 Lutheran youth and adult leaders. In 2015, it's been announced that the National Youth Gathering will be held in Detroit, Michigan. We cant' wait to see all 38,000 of you again in Rock City!