Curated Resources

Learning New Skills

Our grandson is five. He is beginning to want to help, with things like baking pumpkin muffins, which I think he experienced in kindergarten over Halloween. Anyway, he came into the kitchen and saw all the ingredients being assembled on the counter. “Can I help?” he asked.

Have you ever seen a five year old help with baking? We brought a stool out of the pantry and positioned him in front of the counter and the mixing bowls. He helped level the flour in the measuring cup (at least much of it). Dipped the measuring spoon into baking soda, only spilling some of it on the counter, deposited the rest into the mixture. Then came the eggs! He took one and tapped it down on the counter, perhaps just a little too hard, and with guidance, deposited most of it into the separate bowl, using his finger to move the remaining egg white from the shell to the bowl. He helped measure the oil and stir it into the eggs, buttermilk and pumpkin mixture.

What a mess! And later, after they came out of the oven, what wonderful, tasty pumpkin muffins!

As we ate the still warm, just out of the oven muffins, I reflected on, what else, interim ministry! We had fun! We made a mess! And the muffins were delicious! And best of all, a five year old is learning to measure and sift and combine ingredients to make a finished product. He is learning to follow instructions and to persevere when it seems the egg shell hit the counter too hard. And he is learning that his efforts can produce something good. And if you get some eggshell in the bowl – you can get it out!

Our congregations are often unfamiliar with the joy of discovery that is a part of every transition. Often they begin by wanting the process to be finished and get on with their ministry.

It would have been much easier to simply have our grandson watch as we made muffins. It is perhaps easier to glide into a congregation as it begins a time of transition and take over the helm providing pastoral care, preparing liturgy, overseeing anything and everything. It is both harder and messier (not on the level of a five year old learning to measure and mix ingredients) as even adults learning new skills involve an expected level of error and miscalculation.

I wonder how many of us who do intentional interim ministry enter a new congregation with an invitation to ask questions, explore possibilities and try new things. It is, after all, the possibility of needing a new wineskin along with the wine!

What are some of the things that you have tried? What are your experiences that have been messy but have produced something special?

Morning Hope

Psalm 130:5
“My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning, * more than watchmen for the morning.”

As I sit in darkness awaiting the morning light this verse often wanders into my mind. This morning as it came in I remembered actually serving as a watchman on the bridge of a destroyer. I was 17 and I had the watch before dawn. I was tired. I didn’t know what I should look for: anything other than water and sky. As I methodically moved my binoculars in a sweep back and forth on the horizon, I remember hoping that I would see nothing and, that I would be able to stay awake until the morning light. As the hours passed I found myself yearning deeply for the morning.

My prayer flies outward and upward, soaring on the morning wind as it stirs from sleep, growing as it catches and is caught by the prayers of others, waiting actively for the moment when the first hint of light bursts suddenly forth, and almost in an instant, darkness turns to day. May our prayers be a sign of our action that hope may be renewed each morning with the rising sun.

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All Saints’ – By Rev. Alan Mead

Today is All Saints’ Day. It is a day when Christians around the world remember and give thanksgiving for those who have died. In many churches I have served the names of all that had died since the previous All Saints’ Day were read aloud during the worship service on that day or, if no worship service was scheduled, on the following Sunday.

When I was younger I participated dutifully and prayerfully. Today, my participation is more filled with the personal memories and the present pain of loss.

As I walked beside the sea earlier today, at low tide, I felt the gentle touch of the wind, the sweet smell of the salty ocean carried gently by the breeze, and listened to the lapping sound of the surf. I looked out over the water, blue today, against a blue sky, and named in my imagination those who I have loved and who are no longer here. I will remember them tonight at worship, also.

May we remember in our hearts and imaginations those we love who are no longer here. Gracious and merciful God, thank you for all whose lives have connected with ours, and who are no longer here. Thank you also for this moment, and for those who are still here; for the mystery of love, for the joy of connection, and for hope.

Psalm 52:8-9 – By Rev. Alan Mead

Psalm 52:8-9

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;* I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will give thanks for what you have done * and declare the goodness of your Name in the presence of the godly.

I am coming through a time of grief and sorrow. It seems that I am through it and then, in a moment, I realize that the sorrow remains, not as heavy a weight as it was; but still there. One discipline that helps me is that of waking early, before the dawn, savoring a cup of coffee as I sit alone in the predawn darkness, and then praying the Office and reading the scripture for the day. I especially enjoy the Psalms, their honesty and their profession of hope. While prayer and scripture do not suddenly lift me out of my life’s sometimes painful realities; they do provide a sense of balance and of hope. This morning I read in the scripture a story of past and future, a story of the muddle we have endured with a strong voice speaking life and hope.

Power in Words

Power of Words

The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.  Proverbs 15:4 NIV

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

What a lie! The words we speak for better or worse will come to pass. Words elevate or destroy. Almost everything in life is contingent on words. Words are as useful as an oasis in the middle of a desert when used properly.

If a friend loses a loved one, our words may be the only consolation for their broken spirit. The lonely elderly man who doesn’t have any loved ones would give the world to hear loving words. Words can instill hope, encouragement, and order in ways that otherwise would be impossible.

Solomon frequently sought out “good and acceptable” words (Ecclesiastes 12:10).

Words can also destroy if misused. Belittling, gossip, slander, lying, and complaining are ways death is produced by words. When we use our words in these ways, we not only hurt people’s feelings, we also speak those horrible words into existence.

The creation is an example of how powerful words are. The detailed seven-day account explains how God created a different aspect of life on a daily basis through the power of His words.

Through words the contents of the heart are revealed. “A good person brings forth out of his mouth that which is good, and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil” (Luke 6:45).

Many will deny the Lord and be doomed to an eternity in hell over words. “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Mathew 12:36). This includes fussing, cussing, gossip, lies, false accusations, complaining, and every other useless word.

There is power in words. Use yours for good, not evil.

(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)

DEVOTION BY  POSTED 10/18/2017 12:00:01 AM ON Proverbs 15:4 NIV POSTED TO THE Spirit & Mind Devotion

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