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Archive for July 2011

SANCTUARY

 “As often as he could,

Jesus would withdraw to a quiet place to pray”

(Luke 5:15, The Message)

What is a Sanctuary? Several of us in the prayer group recently touched on that question as we sat together,surrounded by the morning light shining through our windows, nurtured by the colors and symbols of our faith that fill the room. Is it always a designated “holy” place? Or is it somehow broad-er than that — a place where we can feel safe and secure enough to recognize the holy wherever it is found? Mostly, we decided, it is a place where we can settle ourselves, find a still place for prayer or meditation, and feel safe enough to lean into the Divine Power.
 
A Sanctuary is a place of holy solace and connection.  Where do you find solace and connection to the Holy? Do you have a special place that you go, either physically or in your imagination, where you can feel safe and at ease? In our modern lives, there is much to make us feel anxious or unsafe. We may turn to television to distract us, but find the images that bombard us often only add to our sense of displacement or unease. 

 
 
 Nature can be a wonderful sanctuary. Standing on the shore, listening to the waves, reminds many of us of the consistency of God’s love, the on-going presence of the Spirit. Some people find their sanctuary in mountains, with the quiet presence of the towering peaks surrounding us, helping us to feel held by something bigger than ourselves. I know that people speak of gardens as a place of sanctuary for them, or deserts, or rivers. Any place that reminds us that there is a Life Force of which we are a part, that creates and sustains us, is a sanctuary. And we don’t even have to be physically there to feel the benefits–we can simply recall that space in our hearts.
 
 Our new gathering space is becoming such a place for many of us. I invite you to stop by anytime, to sit quietly and pray. You don’t have to come as part of a group, you can simply drop by anytime during the day when you want to have a quiet space, set apart for prayer or reflection. We will have a few meditation materials available on the table inside the room, if you would like to use them.Part of our task in living full and healthy lives is to cultivate a balance between the active and reflective aspects of our existence. One without the other is weakened. So as we work together and plan together and serve together, let us also remember to nurture our inner lives. May we each find ways to renew our energy and our faith, and may we continue to look for the places of sanctuary God gives us everyday.
Kim

Click here for the July 27th Newsletter

IT WAS A GOOD DAY

My Great-Grandfather Wilson was very old when I knew him.  Our lives intersected for no more than 4 years — I as a small child, he as an elderly man — but he is someone I think about often.  I remember traveling with my parents to visit family in the small town of Crawford, Nebraska, and there he would be: soft-spoken, gentlemanly, and with pockets full of lemon drops.  He must’ve liked children, for I never felt uncomfortable with him, and I knew that he thought I was interesting and important.  For a four year old, that is an awesome experience – plus there were lemon drops!

Long after his death, nearly fifty years later, I was visiting my grandmother (his daughter) in her home.  One night after dinner she brought out several bundles of small notebooks, held together with twine and rubber bands.  They were known as “penny notebooks”  long ago, and my great-grandfather had used them as diaries.  She showed me several years worth, mostly from a time when he was in his late teens and twenties, and I became fascinated with his life.  There was a strong practical streak in his writings, as lists of purchases and tasks were painstakingly enumerated.  There were also glimpses of people I would hear about much, much later – the young woman who would become his wife, for example. All mixed together, the mundane and the profound; buying lumber and burying a family member, selling a horse and courting a young lady.  He wrote it all. 

What he wrote about was interesting but not nearly as meaningful to me as the way he signed off most of his entries:  “It was a good day.” Almost every single day, no matter what, this young man of little means and limited horizons surveyed his life and pronounced that is was good.  I was so moved to think of him as a 19 year old, completing a back breaking day, and then faithfully writing that benediction at the end of it:  “It was a good day.”

What does it take to make it a good day?  Does it take everything going as planned? people doing what we’d like? bodies being fully healthy?  How powerful it is for me now, over a hundred years later, to hear the words of that young man, reminding me that a good day is any day we are able to participate in our lives and to be part of the lives of others.  It’s not magic, it’s not perfection.  But it is good.  It is God.

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, we read in Ephesians 1:18. As we go through our days, may we each find that we hold our lives with greater care and deeper gratitude.  May our hearts see the goodness around us, and may we know ourselves to be both the recipients and the deliverers of God’s love in all that we do. And may we know all our days to be good.

Thanks be to God,

Kim  

 

 

Click here for the July 20th Newsletter

TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE GOOD THINGS

Henri Nouwen was our guide through Advent this year.  His writings were the daily devotionals we shared as we prepared ourselves for the coming of Christ in our lives.  Today I turn to Henri Nouwen again, as I prepare for a different time in my life.  As many of you know, I will be starting treatment for lung cancer in the next week or so.  The disease I have is curable, and we are hopeful that the treatments, though demanding, will usher me into health.  Yet this is not a time I would have chosen for myself or anyone else.  Many of you have shared with me your own journey through the world of chemo and radiation, and your prayers and good thoughts are immensely helpful.  So are these words, taken from Nouwen’s book, Bread for the Journey:

 To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives, the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, requires hard spiritual work…

 As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings…

“Hard spiritual work.”  Indeed. And yet I look around me and notice the compassion that radiates out from those who have done just that work.  I recognize the strength that is offered to me and to others by those who have done the hard spiritual work of living their lives, as fully as possible, every single day, no matter how things are going.  It doesn’t have to be cancer or illness that asks this of us — it can be divorce, or grief, or depression, or any number of things that could so easily keep us from “claiming the fullness of our beings.”  These are experiences we would not choose, but having come upon them, we can listen for the invitation to greater wisdom and depth that they offer.

In every situation, we are held by our loving God, which gives us courage and hope.   I pray that all of us will learn what we need to learn in order to lead “undivided lives” — lives that embrace all that we encounter, ask for the help we need with humility and grace, and then grow stronger and more compassionate in everything we do. 

Thanks be to God.

Kim

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SUNDAY WORSHIP – JULY 24th

Please join us this Sunday

July 24th

3:00 pm

2668 Washington

 

We will combine informal worship with our business meeting while nibbling on finger foods.

 

Please bring a plate of appetizers or cookies to share.

(Anything sweet or savory that doesn’t require a spoon or fork. 

For example – cubes of cheese, crackers, brownies, deviled eggs, cookies, olives, etc.)

 

The Church Council will provide beverages.

 

Please note that, while only members of FCC are

entitled to vote on business items, everyone is

welcome to attend and to participate.

 

 

 TAKING DOWN WALLS P
 
It was only a single wall — not even a “load bearing” wall, at that. Just some pieces of wood and sheetrock that divided our offices into two spaces that were the perfect size for a few people to meet, or a few boxes to be stored.

  

It just took a week to tear it down and create something totally different: a space for worship, for gatherings, for eating together, for celebrating our common life. Taking down that single wall opened up a light-filled, Spirit filled room that has already been the home for a memorial celebration, a blessing of a baby, shared worship and communion, and prayer group. It was only a single wall, but taking it down has changed so much.

Every Sunday at 4:00 we gather in our new space to pray and share reflections on our lives and our faith, and to celebrate communion together. This time for worship is informal and interactive; there is no sermon, and all are welcome to share their thoughts about the readings. We gather up the cares and concerns of our lives, as well as the places of gratitude, and we hold them together in the light of the Spirit. We often sing — sometimes from the hymnal, other times simple songs of prayer. Always we have time to sit in the shelter of one another and God’s love, drawing deeply from the Well that nurtures us. Our gathering is “worship” in the truest sense: the turning of our hearts and minds toward the Di-vine, and the celebration of the gift of life.

I hope you will join us on Sunday. Come, see our new, lovely space. Come, meet with old friends and new ones. Come, allow yourself to rest in the Love of God and be renewed for another week. We have begun our work of taking down the walls in our lives that keep us from living into all that we are called to be.

Come and join us.

You are welcome here.

Kim

 

Newsletter – July 6th

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