Something to Ponder …
Aside from my first Sunday at Fairmont Community and Milligan United Methodist Churches, we have taken most Sundays since then to get reacquainted with our spiritual ancestors. Abraham, Hagar and son Ishmael; Abraham, Sarah and son Isaac; Isaac, Rebekah and their boys Jacob and Esau.
You might say that Jacob, the trickster, met his match, having to labor 14 years for his equally cunning uncle Laban in order to win the hand of Leah, and then Rachel, as wife. And let’s not forget Jacob’s children … daughter Dinah and those 12 boys!
If you think about it, each of them had their faults. And so do each of us. Yet, there is a vein of goodness that connects our spiritual ancestors to each other. And us to them. That lifeblood that we have in common … that is passed from one generation to the next … the gift of faith.
And that got me thinking … who are those whom we have known in our lives who have that vein of goodness? I wonder if we could name those persons who have shared with us the gift of their faith.
They may be parents or grandparents; teachers or coaches; Girl Scout, Boy Scout, 4-H or business leaders; farmers or gardeners; pastors or preachers; teammates, co-workers, Bible study or dance partners; older than us; younger than us; sisters or brothers in Christ.
There may be a whole lot of people that we have not been in relationship with or that we don’t even know by name. Yet, they have made us a little different kind of person because they said something, wrote or sang or played something, created a sculpture, painting, or something else to express the goodness, kindness, purpose, faith, or belief within them. Their gift to you. To me. To the world. To keep us thinking. And remembering. What it is that connects us.
Creator and Connector of All, the gift of faith comes from you, but we often recognize faith best when it is shared by those doing their best to be faithful. Thank you for the gifts they have shared so we can know faith … and you … today. Amen.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Something to Ponder …
Last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia, have been weighing heavily on my mind. And on my heart. The images of Friday and Saturday remain with me. Tiki torches. Confederate flags. Helmets and shields. A car ramming into the crowd. Nineteen injured. One dead.
No, I didn’t do a complete re-write of the sermon as some of my clergy friends did. But we prayed for what is not right in our world. We named it for God and for those in our little corner of the world to hear. Racism. White supremacy. Deep divisions in our ways of thinking. In our ways of relating with God’s people.
Apparently, there is more to be said since I am awake at 3 AM Thursday morning, rewriting this week’s ponderings.
Maybe it has something to do with Clifton calling me yesterday from Schuyler to see how Mr. Pat and I were doing. He mentioned the flooding in Schuyler. And his family in Louisiana.
That got me thinking about the diverse community of Schuyler. 50% Latino, nearly 50% Anglo, with a growing number of African and Asian families adding to the mix. I LOVED living there!
I remember proudly the letter that Schuyler Central High School athletic director Jim Kasik wrote toward the end of the school year ("Proud to be a Warrior"), which called attention to the racist remarks Schuyler students hear during sports contests.
I remember my June phone interview with Brad Roth, a Mennonite pastor, writing an article about proclaiming the gospel among rural diversity. In a follow-up email to Brad, I wrote:
My prayer is that we, as humans and as Christians, would be more intentional about engaging with persons who are different from us. That we would not be fearful of the other. That we would not be hurtful or hateful. That we would not just tolerate or accept. That we would take a cue from the children among us, be intentional about "holy mingling" with all others, and find Love there.
May it be so. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Something to Ponder …
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. –2 Corinthians 3:18
Last week at Session V of the Two Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, Sr. Kathleen Flood invited us into a time of reflection, providing these suggestions: 1) Ask yourself, “What needs to be unveiled in my life?” Is there anything that I don’t want God to see? 2) Or, look in the mirror, remembering “I am grounded in God. What do I see reflected of the image of God?” If there is something there to let go of (that is marring the image), remember that God does the transforming.
What needs to be unveiled? Nothing new here, at least nothing I want to bring up. Yet.
Is there anything that I don’t want God to see? Well, that’s a different question than has been asked before. God knows everything, has seen everything I’ve done or not done, that I’ve owned up to (confessed) in varying degrees time and again.
But I don’t want God to see what I feel. I don’t want God to see the part of me that is that little girl, scared to speak for any number of reasons. Don’t want to say the wrong thing. Don’t want to make someone mad. Don’t want to look stupid. Don’t want to be made fun of because my idea is silly.
But when I look in the mirror, I see the woman that God has never stopped transforming. I see the woman empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak up, speak out, and speak for. When a wrong needs to be made right. When feelings need to be shared, in love, regardless of the outcome. When God presents a new way of doing things. I’m not yet transformed completely, but the Spirit is getting me there. One degree at a time.
Loving God, as we open to you, transform us into the image you see us becoming, one degree at a time.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
I thank God for long skirts. Long skirts, or sometimes long pants, are my Sunday morning attire. Typically black, but not always.
And I am especially thankful this time of year that long skirts hide the hideous bug bites, spider bites, or whatever these big red blotches are that surround my ankles, settle around my knees, and, well, you get the picture.
But unsightliness is not the worst about these blotches. The worst is that they itch. Ohmygoodness, they itch! And the second worst is that the largest blotch is seeping. Because I scratched. But I digress.
This week I’ll be attending the fifth session of eight of the Two Year Academy for Spiritual Formation. It is held at St. Benedict Center north of Schuyler and is hosted by The Upper Room, the same folks who publish our Upper Room daily devotionals and a whole host of spiritual resources for seeking Christians.
In preparation for the week, I’ve been reading several books. One by Anne Lamott suggests that three simple prayers can get us through our days and help us to move forward. Everything she has learned about prayer boils down to three essential prayers.
She says, “My three prayers are variations on Help, Thanks, Wow. That’s all I ever need, besides the silence, the pain, and the pause sufficient for me to stop, close my eyes, and turn inward.”
These 6-day sessions of Academy spread over the course of two years provide me the silence and the pause for me to go deeper in my relationship with God. Yes, it’s like a class or course, but it’s also like spiritual retreat. To grow in our understanding of God and self. To grow in relationship with trusted companions on the journey with us. To put away the long skirts and be seen and known. Blotches, wounds, and all. And be healed by God’s grace.
Help. Thanks. Wow.
Holy Spirit, power and grace, help us to pause. Show us the way forward. Amen. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Pastor Pat Norris
Something to Ponder is by Pastor Pat and is printed on the back of the bulletin each week.