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Back to blogging

It’s been a month since my last blog about the Great Plains  Annual Conference. Following conference I took a week for sermon planning and a week for vacation. Seemed fairly straight forward and well planned.

You know the saying, “the best laid plans….” It was a good two weeks, but as the week of my sermon planning time began, a neighbor and a friend died. It was unexpected in many ways, I had seen him the week before and I would never guessed I would be planning service within 10 days.

In my neighborhood, I am not the “pastor” particularly. Some of my neighbors attend church in other denominations than mine. Some of my neighbors do not. To be a “neighbor” is a wonderful thing as opposed to being whatever my “vocation” might be. Yet, it was a privilege and honor to be asked to preside at this man’s funeral. It was his request and so I sat with his daughters and we found a way to honor his life and spirit.

He had many  talents,  not the least  of which was gardening. He was meticulous in pulling weeds and keeping his flowers and his lawn beautiful. He was smart and funny. I will miss him.

During the time I was so blessed to become acquainted with his daughters, brilliant and funny and accomplished each in their own jobs and professions. I now have in my home, a few things in which to remember this wonderful and thoughtful human being. These past few weeks have reminded me again how precious life is and how each person plays a part and makes a difference in the lives of others.

As I begin my second year at First UMC, I am so grateful for those people who created this place for people all over Wichita to encounter the living spirit of God. I am blessed to continue in ministry with the gifted people in this community of faith. Life is precious and the call of Christ is to be a neighbor to every person we meet and to make a difference in lives of others. I am thankful my friend’s life and death and memory reminds me of this reality and call. I am graced to serve in this city and in this place and in this neighborhood. Life. Downtown.

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Third Sunday of Easter

I have told myself off and on that I would post every Monday on my blog. Over the years, it has been sporadic at best. When I began at First nine months ago, I thought, wow, I could just post the link to our worship service each week. I have done that once or twice!

So, today, I attempt again to post my worship video link on Monday. I love the season of Easter. Fifty days to celebrate and ponder that moment, that experience that event is so much fun. Yet, the truth is that mostly once that first Sunday is done, the baskets are put up, we gobble up too much chocolate and go back to the mundane. Or at least I tend to.

I got asked yesterday, “Why are there 50 days in Easter? It was brought up in our Sunday School class and everything else is 40: 40 days and nights in the ark, 40 years wandering in the wilderness, 40 days of Jesus’ temptation, 40 days of Lent.” I said, “Well, it’s actually 40 plus 10. Forty days from the first Easter morning that Jesus walked and talked and shared with his disciples. On the 40th day he ascended into heaven and then there were 10 days that the disciples waited until the day of Pentecost.” Those who know me, know I love this stuff! There are reasons behind the traditions of the church that get lost in the need to have something new and interesting. The traditions of the church were used as teaching tools for the faith, ways in which each person could learn and deepen and grow.

I like to say, “isn’t it interested that we go all in for the forty days of Lent, but after one day of Easter, we are over it.” Perhaps, it is that our world is far more like Good Friday than Easter. That being said, I do, enjoy the celebration of Easter. This year I am doing a sermon series on “Life Lessons From the Games we Play.” Yesterday’s game was Apples to Apples, which my family loves! I didn’t say it well yesterday (in the preaching moment, sometimes things get dropped!), but what I wanted to really point out is, if the green card in the game said “believer” what red cards would be played? Would they include everyone? Women, Men, Old, Young, Straight, Gay, black, white? I continue to pray our community of faith would include all!

Here’s the link to the worship service yesterday:  Life Lessons: If this, then that

 

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Reflections on 2014

It has been a year. That sentence in its simplicity speaks volumes for my life and the life of many I know. It hints at grief, uncertainty, joys and surprises. My brother blogged about his life in review at The Kansas Expatriate Like him, I really enjoy the “year in review” from newspapers, magazines, new commentaries and even those “facebook” movies. Every event in a year in “review” hits people differently. However most people, I would guess, view the year from a very personal set of lens.

Certainly my year has been filled with ups and downs. Several of my posts have focused on a year of grief after the death of my mother. Some showed frustration with my broken foot and how that affected my mobility and ability to do what I wanted and loved to do. Others spoke of the gift of pastoring when grief was thick and deep as so many of my congregation died this year and some of those deaths tragic which reminded me of my own grief.

My year has also been filled with joys. I walked a 5K on Thanksgiving day, something I could not have done earlier with my broken foot. I spent wonderful days with family and friends and found ways to focus on the good in spite of what could have been an invitation to spiral into despair. I also took the challenge to blog daily during November and while I didn’t make it every day, I did most days and that felt great.

In many ways it has been a difficult year, but it has also been a very good year. I love the Kingston Trios “It was a Very Good year.” It is a melancholy song relating life to wine and that each year is a very good year. In truth, even in wine, some years are better than others. The weather, the sun versus the rain, the timing of the harvest affects the grapes and how they produce the final product. I have decided that while life is often like wine, I have the choice of how the weather, the circumstances and the events of the world and my little place in it affect how I choose to live in response. I choose faith. I choose love. I choose joy.

So as I review 2014, it has been a year. A year of sorrow, a year of joy and a year of deepening faith that grace abounds and God loves me, God loves us all more than I can possibly imagine. So on the eve of 2015, I ran across this photo from Codeblack faith on facebook
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May it be a prayer that ends this year and gives comfort and strength for the year ahead. In the midst of it all, I truly am graced to serve.

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Life of Faith

I continue to respond to the challenge to blog each day. I have missed a couple. I am grateful for those who prompt me to consider writing each day.

In my daily devotions I ran across this quote from Linda Carter:

“In one sentence, a life of faith is this: Avoiding the very real,
very human propensity to let the worries of the indeterminate
tomorrows divert us from what we have to do today,
we dive into the day’s own trouble, seeking in it
justice and God’s commonwealth,
firm in the knowledge of the love of God for us.”

Truly it is real that the worries of tomorrow divert us, diver me from what has to be done today. Sometimes those worries nag me in the middle the night and rob me of rest and send me into a new day weary from troubles that have not appeared. A life of faith rests in the knowledge of God’s love and grace and that same grace and love is sufficient for whatever lies ahead.

The beloved writings Christians call scripture of filled with promises of God’s care and of hope. Jesus said “Don’t worry about tomorrow, today’s troubles are sufficient for the day.” Basically Jesus said has anyone ever added one moment to their life by worrying about it?

The takeaway for me is that when I allow worry drive me, nag me or distract me from the life in front of me, I am losing a very real chance to live life to its fullest. Certainly there are always problems, there are always distractions and issues to be addressed. Each problem or distraction or issue can be an opportunity for me to grow, for me to pay attention and for me to make choices as to how I will live authentically and faithfully.

Today I choose to live life “firm in the knowledge of the love of God” and surrounded by God’s infinite care. With that knowledge I am graced to serve.

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Return to blogging

I have changed blog sites!  When Google made changes this summer, it would not let me into my old blog pastorcwatson@blogspot.com   There were all kinds of steps to walk through, and I grew more and more frustrated.  The blog was tied to a church e-mail, not mine and I just quit trying.  I promised myself I would get back to blogging, but of course, other things got in the way.

So having checked out the “statistics” of my friend tikiman1962@wordpress.com who blogs through Word Press  I decided it was time to start again.

Since my last blog, life has been shall we say interesting.  A friend and the executive director of Inter-faith Ministries died unexpectedly.  I chaired the search committee to find a replacement.  It was difficult important work that I took to heart.  It reminded me that while each one of us is unique and unrepeatable, all of us will find a time when someone else must continue the ministry.

My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  He has had surgery and without further treatment has been declared cancer free.  I am deeply grateful.  Life is fragile, a gift and deeply connected to God.

I am glad to be back to pondering, writing and sharing some reflections in a new space.  As always, I am deeply

Graced to Serve

 

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