Thursday, July 26, 2018

Labels

the dry erase board was covered in notes
marketing ways of labeling others
ways of separating, dividing, and creating fear

are we all just soup cans
lined up on a grocery shelf
segregated by our outward devices
lacking what is seen by the heart?

please let me lose my paper label
torn with relief from my sides
pour me out and let me splatter
see the colors born inside

The 79th General Convention


Did you know that our Episcopal Church is made up of dioceses in 18 different countries?

I hadn't. This is just one bit of information I learned this month while at General Convention. As a first time delegate to General Convention, I was amazed and overwhelmed and inspired by the breadth and depth and diversity of the Episcopal Church at General Convention. Granted, the Episcopal Church is not perfect, and there were some long dry meetings. However I learned so much about how the church works on the international level and about good work going on throughout the Church.

Every three years, delegates, bishops, youth, alternates, vendors, and more gather together at General Convention to help guide and govern the Church for the next three years. We lift each other up in prayer, celebrate good work, mourn losses and injustices, and work together to move forward along the way Jesus calls us.

This year at General Convention, some big news headlines were about revision of the Book of Common Prayer, the Presiding Bishop's call to the Way of Love, Immigration reform with the visit to the Hutto Residential Center, sexual harassment in the Church, and further opening up the Church to the diversity of human beings throughout the world. This September, Sunday the 30th, we will be having an Adult Formation class about General Convention and some of the resolutions and changes which came out of this summer's grand meeting. I hope you will join me that day in conversation about the work of the Church today.

Find more information about General Convention at: generalconvention.org.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Witness

"So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight." (Acts 1:6-9)

Jesus tells his disciples that they are going to be his witnesses, to the ends of the earth. We have talked about being a witness this year. Being a witness requires seeing and sharing. The disciples had seen a lot of things when it came to Jesus and his ministry. They had seen God very handily at work in the world and now was the time for them to go out and share their stories with others. Being a witness means not only talking about Jesus, but sharing, through words and deeds what God has done for you.

Witnessing as a spiritual discipline requires trust in the Holy Spirit. We share in ways that sometimes feels very vulnerable to us. Sharing about something as personal as God at work in our lives opens us up in ways we are not all used to. As a witness you also have to trust the continuing work of the Holy Spirit. No one will be immediately transformed because of your story, however, your story can be a starting place for someone else's journey to God. How can you intentionally be the face of God to someone else today?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Small Groups

"Jesus was never a lone ranger." (p. 149 Spiritual Disciplines Handbook)

Nope, Jesus wasn't a lone ranger. One of the first things he does in his ministry is chose twelve disciples to walk with him and to be with. He spends hours with his disciples, teaching them, talking with them, eating with them. Jesus has a small group in which to process and work towards his goals and to support him when the going gets tough. (Though in his case, he was usually supporting them...)

The best small groups have an intentional purpose and agreement, they have a structure which everyone supports and have leaders who keep the group on track. Otherwise, small groups come in many many many different kinds of groups. Bible study, book study, prayer, action, games, hobbies, support, ministry, training, coaching... all sorts of small groups exist in the world. Small groups help us understand our lives by experiencing the ways others' understand their lives. Small groups give us connection and relationship and allow us accountability when we set out on the road.

While we have some small groups here in this community, we don't have a small group for everyone. There are many groups in the wider community of Franklin and I hope you are part of a small group which supports you in some way. If you are in search of a small group, let Kaycee and I know. There are many ways for the community here to connect to each other and there may be opportunities waiting for you!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Spiritual Direction

"Spiritual direction is a relationship that allows one to assist another in discerning God's activity and presence in his or her life. This relationship assumes that we all need help to listen to God and live out his call." (p. 116 Spiritual Disciplines Handbook)

Many people experience spiritual direction for the first time at a retreat. They are scheduled time with a priest, monk, nun, or other spiritual director where they are to talk about where God is in their life at that time during the retreat. Spiritual direction is a God centered relationship requiring trust and maturity. The spiritual director gives a new perspective to the life story of the directee by helping them see God at work through conversation, reflection, and exercises.

Find a spiritual director with whom you can have a good relationship some times takes a while. Many retreat centers, diocesan centers, and some churches have lists of trained spiritual directors, however, as a relationship, it is important to find someone you trust and who will listen to you. The best starting place with spiritual direction is to start talking about where God is in your life with someone you know who listens well to God and can speak truthfully and compassionately. Who helps you see God's movement in the world?