Choosing Acceptance

There are frequent moments in my life these days when my body reminds me that I am getting older—an ache here, a pain there—and I could pretty easily get discouraged about aging. I would love it if my body didn’t succumb to aging. It would be wonderful if I could wake up one morning knowing that my body was not going to get any older or more decrepit! Ah, but we know that is not the case. In fact, aging is inevitable. Nothing much we can do about it except what we know about eating healthy foods and making time for exercise.
In her book, fIRSTLIGHT¸ Sue Monk Kidd talks about when her 30-year-old husband had a routine surgery in which he lost his voice unexpectedly. The damage was permanent. A nerve had been severed during his surgery. She prayed for a year for a miracle, but there was no miracle. In spite of her prayers, his voice did not return. She writes,
Still struggling to accept what happened, I opened the mail one morning to find a letter from a college teacher whom I’d not heard from in eight years. Out fell an orange sticker, as small as a postage stamp. On it was a gull, its wings spread in flight across the sky, and these words, ‘There is a miracle inside you.’
It caused me to remember the lines in the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The miracle we found was acceptance.
The story is a good reminder for me that no matter what I am struggling with, whether it is aging or something more immediate, accepting what is so is not the same as giving up. It is an act of surrendering my concerns to God. It is an opportunity to live a life of peace rather than a life of resistance.
When there is nothing more we can do and our prayers seem to go unanswered, the greatest gift we can give ourselves is the gift of acceptance.
-Barbara Moore

Create in me a clean heart…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

I was feeling a bit low…well, maybe a lot low. Things were not coming together as I thought they should and my heart was getting heavier and heavier. Let’s face it, I was really discouraged!

OK Lord, I believe I’ve done what I can… the rest is up to You, I surrender it all!

That’s when I got the urge to open my closet. What an overstuffed mess. I started pulling things out; clothes I haven’t worn in this millennium, a box of papers I wrote in college 30+ years ago, bags from conferences I attended, my high school baton! I bagged up 10 garbage bags of clothes that I donated, I purged all those old papers into the recycling bin (but not before I read them…oh, memories); I filled the garbage container with knick-knacks and souvenirs from places I barely remember.

When I was done, not only did I feel lighter, I had a feeling of freedom. I didn’t feel weighted down anymore by things I’ve held on to for way too long. That’s when I was able to acknowledge that, like my closet getting a thorough cleaning, the Holy Spirit is there for me for the asking, to cleanse my heart of the garbage that collects over time only to weigh me down with negative thoughts and miserable feelings.

Thank you Lord for creating in me a clean heart and renewing a right spirit within me!

Paula Gaboury

Do you ever feel like good ‘ol Charlie Brown when it comes do your servant ministries at church?

Do you ever feel like good ‘ol Charlie Brown when it comes do your servant ministries at church?

See if you have ever had one of the feelings listed below.

“I’ll mess this one up, and they will never let me hear the end of it.”
“I could never say all that in front of so many people.”
“If I just mix in with the others, no one will notice if I’m wrong.”
And mypersonal favorite…”I’ve never been very good at this sort of thing.”
Folks, whether you are writing a blog post for our website or being our Sunday morning liturgy reader or, heavens to horror, are taking on a children’s message for the first time, I’ll let you in on a little secret.
NO ONE KNOWS WHEN YOU GOOF UP!
And if they do, they’ll never tell you because they goof up all the time too.
Mike Shultz, Grand Master of getting it wrong.

Going Home

Many of us are transplants here in Minnesota.  I wonder what going home means to each of you?
Recently I was on vacation and traveled to what I will call my hometown. (Not my home) I am not able to call it home anymore.  I left this small town in Wisconsin back in the early 70’s.  In many ways it has changed from my elementary and high school days. The memories are still there but many of the people I loved and cared about are gone.
It used to have a vibrant downtown business main street which has died along with those loved ones that used to live there. But mindsets have not changed I am sorry to say.  I do not see in some of those I encountered the social justice that is so close to my heart. There is still what I will call a fear of anyone that may be different from them. It is as if time has stood still, a time warp if you will.
Mike’s Aunt Betty had taken ill and was hospitalized before I left on this journey. During my trip she was making a journey and trip home of her own, she was dying.  She was really making the trip home.  Over the 41+ years that I knew her we had several conversations about our churches and our faith.  She was so sad when she was not able to physically attend church anymore. She was such a faithful servant that touched so many along her path.
While it is sad for those of us left behind I feel joy knowing that she has gone to her eternal home with our/her Lord and Savior the one that shepherds us along our journey.  In Ecclesiastes chapter 3 it reminds us that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die.
My earthly home is here in Savage, MN at this time, but someday I will be called home like Aunt Betty to sit at that banquet table with my good shepherd Jesus.
Shelley Shultz

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.—Matthew 22:35-40.

Lately I’ve been reading John Wesley’s sermons. Of course they are all interesting, but The Almost Christian sermon just won’t leave me alone. John Wesley lays out who the Almost Christian is: The Almost Christian follows all the rules, laws, regulations of church and country. The Almost Christian gives money to those in need. The Almost Christian lives the Golden Rule, attends church regularly, prays, and avoids evil. Basically, they don’t make any waves. What John Wesley is challenging us all to do is become Altogether Christians.

What is an Altogether Christian?  Altogether Christians trust in the Lord and gives of themselves without trepidation. They live the great commandment of loving God and their neighbor. All actions are for the glory of God, without any benefit to themselves. They reach out in faith, even if it’s not the popular thing to do and even if others judge them harshly.

Uggg! As a world class rule follower I find that putting myself in uncomfortable situations are something I mostly try to avoid. That places me quite firmly in the Almost Christian realm. I don’t want to be an Almost Christian, so I’ve decided that I will step out in faith and I will put myself in situations that are not middle-class comfy. Want to join me?

Paula Gaboury

Finding God Through Prayer

There are many books, articles and good resources on what it means to have a personal relationship with God.  I have found one of the first steps to establishing a personal connection is through prayer.
Although finding a quiet place free of distractions is my favorite time to pray, I have also found it rewarding to pray during walks out in the neighborhood while walking my dog.  The prayer group at Glendale had a prayer focus for the month of June praying for the children south of the river suburbs (Burnsville, Savage, and Shakopee in particular).  Especially for our neighborhood children who face food insecurity or who will spend their summer days home alone.  Pray how God might be calling Glendale Church to serve our neighborhood children who are in these situations.
By having a prayer focus in the community gave me a chance to listen to God’s nudging on this topic.  Walking outside with this prayer I noticed children in the neighborhood that I hadn’t noticed before.   By the end of June, I had a deeper understanding of childhood struggles and food insecurity – all things that I had cared about in my head had found a deeper root in my heart.

Mark 9:36-37    New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Lisa Duffy
 

Miracles

On Sunday I heard a good sermon that invited me to think about miracles. I was reminded about two miracles Jesus performed, one in healing a woman who had been sick for twelve years and another about Jesus bringing a little girl back to life. Such events led people to be “filled with amazement.” They amaze me too.
Then I got to thinking about miracles that have happened in my life of the lives of people I know. Sometimes we call it luck, or fortune, or fate, but we rarely call these happenings miracles. Is it because we don’t live in the Bible? Is it because Jesus isn’t part of it? Or is it because we never think about God being active in the world today? We have trouble thinking about events as miracles.
Think about the events of your life. Look back and try to see the possibility that God was in a moment that we have known. As we think about it, we may come to understand that to see a miracle we must be open to miracles.
Ron Nicholas

My soul will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.  Proverbs 23:16

A friend of mine recently shared that for several days in a row she had been waking up very early in the morning—so early that the birds were still quiet.  She related that in the pre-dawn silence a single bird would give a long whistle, and suddenly all the birds would begin singing and chirping.  It was as though that single bird whistle gave all the birds permission to begin their songs for the day. 

We each have the opportunity to be that single bird, to lead others with our songs.  However, unlike birds that usually have only one song by which they are known, we have many songs we might choose to sing.  We could sing a song of joy or hope or love; we also have the potential to sing a song of sadness or discouragement or gossip.  Interestingly, whatever song we sing is likely to produce other similar songs.  When our song is one of joy or love, for example, others experience love and joy, and they take up the song and share it with others.  When we sing songs of discouragement or gossip, it seems that those around us begin to feel that discouragement or to gossip about others.

We are blessed to have the ability to choose the songs we sing.  I am present to the fact that there are times when I don’t choose a song that offers joy or love or anything positive. I am also present to the impact the song I sing has on others.  My prayer is that when I hear birds singing, I will be reminded that my song leads others, and I will be moved to lead a song that makes a positive difference for those around me.

Barbara Moore

I am excited to have been given another chance at something I thought I wasn’t very good doing.  God works that way a lot.  Several years ago some members of our congregation got a chance to see how very poorly I perform certain fix up, clean up, and paint up jobs on a mission trip to Rockford Illinois.  It was a grueling week for others who had to either work along side me, or worse, follow after me making ‘corrections’.

I told Shelley after that week was over that she had permission to cut off whichever hand I raised the next time a mission team was being formed.

Detroithas done well, and will do well, without me.

But not Kenosha…that city on Lake Michigan and I will reacquaint this next week because I remembered some other things from our week in Rockford.  I remembered how much I enjoyed some of the work we did, and how much I enjoyed working with the youth that went with us on that trip.

And this is a youth mission trip after all.  And I don’t believe I read the word ‘scaffolding’ in any of the literature, so I’m on board with both hands and with God to help me and the 11 saints who will put up with me.

I’m not only ‘on board’, I’m excited.

Mike Shultz

I have a story I have been feeling a need to share.

My sister-in-law Elisabeth most likely doesn’t remember this incident because Elisabeth is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Many years ago I was the manager of a gas station in not the best part of the Twin Cities.  One day at work Elisabeth came to visit me (a very rare occasion).  While we were talking, a young lady came in and asked me if I could give her $10.00 worth of gas but she didn’t have any money.  She gave me the same sob story I had heard a hundred times before.  She assured me she would come back and pay me later.  I declined her request as I always did.  Elisabeth was appalled that I didn’t believe the young lady or help her in any way.  Elisabeth then bought the young lady’s gas.  The young lady thanked her and took Elisabeth’s name and address and said she would send her a check.  After she left I told Elisabeth she would never see that money again.  She said it didn’t matter but she was sure she would get a check.

Several weeks later when I was visiting my brother, Elisabeth made sure I saw the check and thank you note from the young lady. This incident caused me to change my views about other people’s needs and the generosity of others.

While sitting in church last Sunday, The Bible verse that was read triggered this memory and moved me, so much so, that I took my program home and posted the verse on the bulletin board in my office.  It is now my favorite passage.

Hebrews 13: 1-2     Let mutual love continue, Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

I know now that back then I unknowingly entertained 2 angels.  My sister-in-law Elisabeth and the young lady she helped.

My Prayer:   Dear God,  Please walk with Elisabeth during this trying time in her life for she truly is one of your angels.   Amen.

Paul McEathron