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Good Morning “Holy Ones,”
I am writing you because I am about to start my 30-day retreat at Eastern Point Retreat House. In fact, I am now one day into the retreat. I am feeling both apprehension and excitement. I am here to listen to God and not my own voice of wants and desires. This will be challenging, but fruitful work for me to do at this point in time.
Listening is sometimes my strong point and sometimes my weakest link as a minister and friend. I love the part in The Art of Racing in the Rain where Enzo is talking about why he thinks in his next life as a human he will be a good person.
“Here is why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot speak, so I listen very well. I never interrupt; I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own. People, if you pay attention to them, they change the direction of one another’s conversations constantly. It’s like having a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street….Learn to listen! I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and listen to other people rather than steal their stories.” pp. 101-102
There are some things that I hold to be true:
God is love and we are of God. We have the spark of the divine in us and we can cultivate our holiness, ignore it completely, or just use it when we are desperate.
We are and will always be imperfect and make mistakes, hurt people, hurt ourselves, and those that love us. All we have to do is look at the fractured relationship of Peter and Jesus to know this to be true about human nature and our best intentions!
We are always forgiven and need to let go of the hurt and disappointment and move on. If not, we are liable to being imprisoned in our self-proclaimed “cardboard box” of security. God wants us to live in the “mansion” of our beautiful spirits and souls. Peter chose the right way, while poor Judas chose the “cardboard box” of death over life with faults. I choose life with many “happy faults and foibles.”
We are all on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Once we accept ourselves, we then begin to allow for change and transformation. It is always best to work with others as we allow for change and opportunities for growth. We learn that our authentic selves are often hidden underneath public veneers. We are often afraid to show our true selves for fear that others will find us weird or odd. Being odd can be an asset or a liability depending on how you use it! God made us unique and we might as well claim it and embrace it.
There are letters Paul wrote to the churches when he was travelling about promoting the gospel message. During this time, he was learning and growing in the truth and grace of his own life. He accepted his shortcomings and also accepted that God choose him through his imperfect humanity. Paul seemed to finally accept his own “oddities.” As I have said, this should give us all comfort and hope!
Our future is never guaranteed. We cannot predict the day or hour of our death or know what is ahead of us. I believe the most important thing is to be faithful; do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We may walk separate paths but we are all with God on the “dance floor” of life and living. Stay on the dance floor and move to the music. If there is no partner to be found or you’re off the beat; dance anyway! Someone will soon join you and your courage! I have always danced to the inner beat of abundant life and living. If this is weird or odd; so be it—Amen!
Within our own faith community, we have the security and freedom to intermingle and dance together or separate knowing that God is between us and leading us to a common and Holy Communion. Our lives are changed by the people we met and the conversations we have by sharing stories. We are called into communion and community by the breath of God.
Our “little, but mighty” church is in a wonderful transition. I see you taking on more ministry roles and working in teams that expect God to be with us. You will hear inspiring and thoughtful messages from your fellow members over the next three months. Linda, Anthony, Ginny, and Larry are preparing to share with you their thoughts on scripture. Others will lead worship, read, greet members and guests, and provide for flowers, coffee hours, and be good stewards of our building and grounds. It is what we are called to do.
We have roles, expectations, obligations as members of St. Luke’s. Join the dance with God and each other. You all are amazing Christians in your support and loyalty to the continued ministries and mission of St. Luke’s. The Visioning Team is working with all of us to help us find a focus, a clear message to our community, and set realistic and obtainable goals. This is much needed work after the first five years together. It is time to do some planning and get excited about our life together. We need all of you to make this happen. We have steps to learn!
I am confident that you will come together, listen and share with each other, and simply enjoy our “beloved community.”
You will be in my prayers as I refresh my own relationship with God and do more listening than talking!
I pray we all stay healthy and have time to enjoy relaxing during the “lazy, hazy days of summer!”
I am ready for this time for my own rest, restoration, and renewal of my life as a minister and my relationship with the Holy One.
I am listening to an audio-book called The Longest Road by Phillip Caputo. His reason for traveling across America was to ask this simple question: “What holds us together?” This would be an excellent question for all of us to ponder and discern while we are on sabbatical together—and apart.
Take good care and I look forward to my first Sunday back October 19th!
Yours in the Love of God and faithful to the life in Christ,
Copies to read are available in the parish hall.