Tag Archives: A year of gratitude

Finishing the Christian Year and a Year of Gratitude

I am not sure where the year went. One year ago I challenged our congregation to a Year of Gratitude. In January I added a gratitude jar. These challenges were not to create guilt, but to encourage a different way of living, a lifestyle change that embraced thanksgiving as a way of life.

Today in worship, I talked about how in Deuteronomy Moses exhorts the Israelites to not to forget, to remember God who has made it possible for them to flourish. I believe those are important for us as well. Giving thanks and offering prayers of gratitude helps us open our eyes and hearts and spirits to what God is doing in the world

You can find the worship service or the sermon alone at this link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lingering over the Memories

Earlier this week I noted that this was the first anniversary of my mother-in-laws death. Early November includes her “yahrzeit” and my own mother’s. Mostly this does not cause me deep grief, although I know grief. Usually, my memories catch me at interesting times and make me smile.

My sister reminded me of that today as she reposted a blog of mine from this day five years ago. https://revcindylee.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/memories/ This blog and memory still makes me smile years later. My mother was quite the shopper. She loved catalogs, shopping channels and was beginning to get into the whole “online” shopping thing.

It is such a gift to be able to linger over the memories. While occasionally there are still tender spots, mostly there are just smiles and sighs and thankfulness. In a month where many post daily gratitude posts, I am thankful for this gift of memories. I am grateful to remember those people I have loved and lost. Their memory is a blessing and in the moments of memories I say a prayer of deep thankfulness for lives well lives.

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Grateful for Family Promise

If left to my own devices, I tend to be an early morning person. When I have no set schedule, and can sleep until I am done, then my regular rhythm is to be awake early. at this point in my life that is not true. I tend to be up later and consequently am not that “early riser.”

On Monday night, First Church was hosting Family Promise. This great organization supports homeless families and helps them get into housing. Many, many congregrations enable this to happen by either “hosting” (which means having homeless families in their building for one week four times a year) or by supporting the hosting congregations.

Each family has their own room for a week, the evening meal is provided, as well as transportation from the day house to the church and back to the day house in the morning. The children then ride the bus to school, the SAME school everyday so they are not moved from school to school. The parent(s) either go to work or do some sort of schooling or apply for jobs.

Andrew and I were the overnight hosts.  Basically we spend the night and if there is an emergency, then someone who knows the church can help in what ever way possible. The families had to be in the van at 5:30 a.m. After Andrew drove them to the day house, we had a lot of morning left.

We went to the Y across from the church. This is our “normal” Y, but usually we are not there at 6:03 a.m. Who knew so many people were up working out and running at six??? The gym was very busy almost uncomfortably so on the track. We are not particulary fast, but we walk quickly. Many were “running” around us.

That morning, the views from the 3rd floor were stunning. To see the dawn slowly moving into morning with the crown from our steeple was lovely.

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Then just a few minutes later, the sunrise woke up the sky! Both First and St. John’s Episcopal were breathing taking.

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“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118: 24)

I am sure this is why sunrises were made! Tuesday was a long day. Sleeping at the church was not terribly restful, but the work of Family Promise is important, important enough to a lose a little sleep. What a gift it was to have that early morning to see the hope of a new day, to walk out the kinks from an uncomfortable bed and be reminded of the goodness of God and God’s constant invitation to be part of making a better world.

Today I am grateful for the ministry of Family Promise, for the opportunity to share a small part in that ministry and to be reminded of “joy comes in the morning” and each day is a day that God has made.

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Year of Gratitude; June: Week 3

June’s focus for our year of gratitude is Sabbath. Last week I noted I am not always good at taking time off and giving myself a break. I did so last week, but clearing my calendar so I could have more than one day off (after going a couple of weeks without one.)

This week I am on a sermon retreat. I usually try to schedule one each year, but often they get interrupted by funerals and other things. I get some sermon work done, but it never feels like enough.

This week I chose to be part of the Great Plains UMC offerings of a retreat called “A Time Apart.” Pastor Rebecca is offered this as part of the Transition into Ministry program and I decided to tag along. Beginning Sunday evening, it ends this this afternoon.

What a gift this has been! The retreat is being held at The Spiritual Life Center in Bel Aire, north of Wichita. I could have slept at home and driven in and out, but chose to stay. A much better choice as I was up early and walked and walked in the evening and had plenty of quiet and reflective time. At home I have a tendency to be driven by the many things left undone. The space is beautiful. This  morning I saw the moon reflected on the water, one of the many times this small body of water was as smooth as glass:

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I am not sure the moon in the water is all that evident in my picture but it was beautiful The water’s edge is teaming with life: baby turtles, little sun fish and big carp and catfish often nibbling on the moss. Some crawdads and water snakes. Geese honking and swimming, small and large blue heron, standing tall and paying attention to the water.

This retreat, respite from the normal daily tasks of work have been good for my soul. This time has allowed some creativity and energy to be part my long range sermon planning. The time is work, but at different pace, in a seperate place and surrounded by prayer and grace. The chapel where we held Morning and Evening Prayer has amazing accoustics. Perhaps you can imagine what it sounds like when several preachers sing! One of my favorites this week, was a personal favorite, It is Well With My Soul.” 

So today I plan to write a thank you note to the Spiritual Life Center for providing such a beautiful retreat setting. I will say thank you to the retreat leader. I have found myself profoundly grateful the last few days for this gift of time and space.

How do you find time and space for retreat from your normal everyday activities? Where do you find rest for your soul? Is it well with your soul? I pray you find Sabbath this week, where you may encounter the God of grace and love.

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Year of Gratitude: June

We begin a new month in our year of gratitude. This month our focus is:

June 2019

Sabbath: This month begins summer break for people in school. Vacations, camps and all kinds of outdoor activities abound. Summer vacation has often been a time to relax, enjoy outdoor activities and time away. This month we give thanks for Sabbath and time off.

I always loved summer, either as a kid or when I had children at home. It was an easier time, with trips to the pool and the park and grilling out and time away. I still love summer for riding my bike, walking, hiking, eating every meal I can outside, listening to the birds a different rhythm.

In this weeks blog, I don’t want to focus on sabbath so much, as the historical events remembered this week. I don’t know about your news feed, but mine been filled with the honoring Women’s Sufferage and the 75th anniversary of D-Day. There are precious few that are still alive that participated D-Day and none that were part of passing the Woman’s Suffrage bill in U.S. Senate.

Both of these events were historic for the lives of many. On June 4, 1919 the Women’s Suffrage bill passed to allow women the right to vote. It would not be until August 20, 1920 that the ninteenth amendment would be ratified by a majority of the states. It wasn’t perfect, women color still to this day continue to struggle to exercise their right to vote. But Methodist women, both Anglo and women of color, have been on the forefront of this important step toward equality.

D-Day was a changing point in World War II. The sacrafice made by the soldiers and the medics in life and limb and sanity of mind and spirit was great. This was the event that began to turn the tide against the ugliness and the hatred and the bigotry of nazism. We must never forget the horrors inflicted upon our Jewish brothers and sisters, the Roma, homosexuals, dissendents against the Nazi regime, athletes, theologians, artists and others who were systematically murdered. Fascism in whatever form it rears its ugly head must be called out and named so this can not happen again. I am forever grateful for all those who stood up and fought against this perverse political understanding.

So while this is not a post on Sabbath, it is a post to encourage us to think about those who have gone before us. This is an invitation to thank someone today who has made a real difference,  has made stand for equality and against the powers of bigotry and hate. Perhaps you know someone who is serving in the military, as an Americorp or Vista or in the Peace Corp. Could you write them a note and say thank you? Maybe you know someone doing an internship in the church, in the schools, at a medical facility and is working to make the world a better place, a place where all are welcome. Today, write a note, pick up the phone or find a way to say thank you to those who continue the work of those who have given of themselves to make the world more peaceful and more just for every one.

 

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A Year of Gratitude End of May +++

I missed writing my prompt for our year of gratitude last week. I was attending the Festival of Homiletics in Minneapolis and posted two blogs, and had planned a third. Obviously not done! So I have a whole lot of gratitude, many random thoughts and a few things I want to share.

The Festival, as always was inspiritational and filled my “cup” both spiritually and intellectually. I am deeply grateful for all those who make this event possible every year. This was my fifth time to attend, and I have never been disappointed. The theme was “Preaching as Moral Imagination.” You can find my thoughts from the first couple of days here and here. The preachers were wonderful and challenging.

Some quotes that I continue to ponder from Anna Carter Florence:

(When speaking of Zaccheaus) “What Zaccheaus wanted was an unobstructed view of Jesus and what he got was an unobstructed view of Jesus in his life.”

As preachers, like Zaccheaus we need to learn to climb trees, “to try and see Jesus in the text, in the people, in the world, in each other, in the hard covnersation and in the meetings.”

So I am thankful for time away, for time to worship and learn and reconnect to the art and practice of preaching.

This week I am grateful for the clergy and laity that met at the Church of Resurrection to ponder and consider a way forward in the United Methodist Church. What’s next? UMC Next gathered people from every annual conference in the United States to pray, to have conversation and begin to discern a way forwawrd that would truly be open and inclusive for all. You can find the details of their meeting and their commitments here

I am deeply thankful for all those who gathered together and did the hard work to move the United Methodist Church in the United States in a new direction. I am personally committed to doing whatever I can to be part of this new direction.

This weekend is Memorial Day and I will give thanks for all those who have gone before me. I will decorate the graves of those I loved, and tell stories and laugh and maybe even shed or two.

What will you being thanks for in the next few days? What groups, or institutions or people are you grateful for their leadership and their commitment and their vision?

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A Year of Gratitude: May, Week 1

I have every “good” intention of writing this on May 1. However, I was traveling that day and did not get this weekly prompt written prior to leaving. Once I arrived in Goshen, Indiana, I have been preoccupied with having a very good time with my family.

The month of May’s focus for our year of gratitude is:

Celebrations: This is month is filled with holidays and celebrations. Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and graduations abound. This month we give thanks for all those opportunities to celebrate milestones, and events and people in our lives.

There are all kinds of celebrations during his merry month of May! Today, case in point is Star Wars Day; “May the fourth be with you!”  A made up holiday that thousands if not millions embrace because they are fans of the movie franchise.

Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo, or the fifth of May which is the date of a battle where the Mexican army beat the French in 1862, the celebration itself is much bigger deal in the United States then it is in Mexico. The day can be a day to celebrate and honor Hispanic Heritage. Like many celebrations in this country it is often an excuse for a party.

I don’t believe this is a bad thing. Human need to celebrate and to give thanks. Since the focus this month is on celebrations, milestones and the events and people in our lives. I am deeply grateful this week for time with my family.

My daughter and son-in-law had a wedding out of state. This gave the opportunity for Andrew and I to come and spend time with our grandchildren. We have been to a soccer meet, baseball games, have participated in First Friday in Goshen, and will attend church tomorrow.

I have cooked, baked and been to the Farmer’s Market. Mostly, I have just loved being with my grandsons. Monday we plan to stop by another daughter and son-in-law and enjoy those grandchildren as well.

How will you celebrate this month? Are there graduations, or weddings or anniversaries or birthdays or reunions? Will you gather with family and friends around a meal or grill? This week, find time to spend with at least one person and celebrate your relationship. Write a note to someone you deeply appreciate just to say “Hi” or “I love you.” It’s May! Let’s celebrate!

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