Thursday, February 23, 2017

Don't Harvest to the Edge of the Field

Who would expect that a sermon on the Leviticus admonition not to harvest all the way to the edge of the field could give insight on how we work! Well, Maggie’s sermon—and her example about how she “harvested” all the work and did not leave work for a co-worker—certainly convicted me. I know that it is better to share the work and to include others in the process, but sometimes it becomes easier to do it myself.

And if Maggie’s sermonic nudge wasn’t enough, this week on Facebook a Christ Crossman ex pat living in TX posted a quote from Baden Powell: “When you want a thing done, ‘Don’t do it yourself’ is a good motto for Scoutmasters.”  

The harvesting all the way to the edge in terms of work is not intentional, but it does tend to creep up. I remember at one church I served, I recognized that a second worship service was needed. I was given approval by the PTB to begin the earlier service provided that it not cost the church anything extra. I managed to do it. Here at Christ Crossman, as we have moved to include more technology in what we do, especially in worship, I have taken those tasks on myself—not because I wanted to do them all, but because everyone else was already wearing so many hats, I couldn’t bring myself to add work to their plates.

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had some advice for God’s chosen, somewhat reluctant leader. Instead of handling all the people’s problems himself, he should appoint leaders to handle most issues, bringing only the most serious for Moses to deal with.

Responding to Maggie’s implied question of how am I not giving someone the opportunity to serve and to work with a purpose, I first say, “Oh, my. Mea culpa.” Forgive my thoughtlessness, O Lord. Forgive my arrogance, O church.

Exodus 18:23

 If you do this and God directs you, then you will be able to endure. And all these people will be able to go back to their homes much happier.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Relentlessly Kind

Like many of us, I was raised with the admonition, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” So I have been silent in this venue for a bit.  Being silent, however, can sometimes be construed as giving silent agreement to words or actions that may be unjust, harmful, or demeaning. How do we navigate this divisive time in our world when it seems that it is now okay to say anything about anyone whether or not it is true, helpful, or insightful?

This week I saw a video[1] of Lady Gaga who, I am learning, speaks and acts from a deep center of faith and commitment to justice. Along with the Dalai Lama, she talked of how important it is for us to be “relentlessly kind.” Instead of “pointing fingers at where we think the bad guys are,” we need to forget the labels and act out of our common humanity with kindness.  This is not the same thing as allowing injustice or hatred to go unchallenged. It does mean to remember that we are all children of God whether we agree or not. As Willimon writes in Fear of the Other, “The Other may be regarded by us as Other, but is never an Other to God. The Other may be an enemy to the United States, but God is not an enemy to the Other. The Other may hate us or God, but God loves the Other.”[2]

Where and how can I act with relentless kindness today, tomorrow, and every day henceforth?

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

[2] Willimon, William H. (2016-04-05). Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love (Kindle Locations 831-833). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Lord Is My Light...

“The Lord is my light, my light and salvation, in God I trust, in God I trust.” Thus begins one of the psalmists in a poem/hymn about facing moments when we feel assailed or set upon. Some of those moments come upon us suddenly while others creep unnoticed into our presence until we are engulfed.

Many years ago, I noticed that I had a tendency to have a good bit of difficulty with my life during the month of February. During one of my upper-class years of college, I made a declaration that February would not defeat me that year. I cannot remember any specifics about what I did differently. I think simply taking note of the darkening of my spirit helped me face it and keep from being overwhelmed.

It was not for many years that I ever heard about S.A.D., or seasonal affective disorder. Also known as the winter blues or blahs, and other names, it is believed to be partially caused by the lack of daylight hours and the tendency to be less active during the winter months. Some treatments involve sitting with source of bright light, and intentional increase in physical activity.

This week we will begin a series of services looking at our version of S.A.D., or Spiritual Affective Disorder, exploring some of the ways that we can engage with the light of Christ in common everyday activities that can become spiritual practices for us.