Thursday, February 10, 2011

Children of Light

I owe a thank-you to Jennifer Whittaker, the writer of this week's d365 devotional. She mentions the following passage and it is worth remembering as I am feeling nudged to move once more into the realm of church service.

"For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light — for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord."

Ephesians 5:8-10

My pastor and I discussed opportunities for service yesterday, exploring those areas of my nearly 20 years of service. Certain things gave me great joy as they were recalled, brought out of the dimness, and reexamined in the daylight of the present time and space.

Others were best left to the darkness.

For instance, I have no intention of ever putting myself back into the position of being attacked by a parent because there were potato chips and candy present at a youth group meeting.

I don't ever want to clean up a church after a case of sexual misconduct in ministry again. Ever. Did I say ever? I meant ever, ever, ever.

On the other hand, I would welcome an open conversation with a parent who laments that their child states s/he doesn't believe in God. It would give me great joy to engage in a discussion of belief and science or one about the mystery of baptism. It would tickle me to no end to feel relevant to people making the effort to grapple with issues of faith. I could imagine great satisfaction working for social justice.

In today's writing, Jennifer also cites Matthew's gospel, Mat. 5:18-20:

"Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

All of the above points to the inevitable question: When a person is faced with re-shaping their own self-definition, what influences the definition? Do we please others? Do we please ourselves?

Do we please God?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time for Blessing

It's time for new imaginings and blessings in this new year and new month. Writing again, taking notes in class, and painting with a hand that, although not completely rehabilitated, is at least functional. Doing things differently is a bit awkward, especially sleeping. Can't get the hang of sleeping on my back.

That's OK, since my husband can't get the hang of listening to my snoring when I do.

Some things are easy to remember, like wearing my splint on my hand when I go out. It keeps me from moving the hand in ways it shouldn't move, and has the added benefit of protecting the vulnerable outer wrist from bumps and dings.

Other things are harder to remember, like putting it in ice twice a day and taking ibuprofen regularly to fight the inflammation. Until it swells and discolors and just plain hurts, that is.

Being a blessing in the world is like that, too. Once in a while it is so easy to be a blessing to people we care deeply about, like family or close friends. Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek"-the forgotten. It's easy to see, remember, and bless our children, our spouses, our closest friends.

But the meek, the forgotten, the ones who are passed by with no notice taken? Not so easy. Do they mourn alone because a spouse has died? Who remembers their birthday? Do they face financial woes with no one to confide in when they are over-burdened?

I wonder how I can be a blessing to someone I have forgotten today.