Collect Moments With God: Do

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 10:12-22

The “Do” of the Collect prayer form is the petition portion of the prayer.  Contained in the petition is a double “do” – (1) what we want God to do which in turn will (2) lead us to do for others.  For example, “Show us mercy (God do this) so that we can show mercy to others (we will do for others).”

But what about the times when you do not feel you can do one more thing?  Those times when you feel like more things are being “done” to you and I am not talking about a day at the spa, shopping spree, or tickets to see your favorite team take on their biggest rival.  I’m talking about those days when you have two flat tires on the side of the highway and it is pouring down rain and the bolts are so tight on your tires that the tire iron will not loosen them and you are two hours late arriving to an event two hours away.

I’m not speaking from experience…but events like these come close to a day that Andrew lived a few months ago.

It is moments like these where we feel like all of this junk is being “done” to us and it jades us from wanting to “do” anything at all.  Or if we do anything…it is for “me”.  Human nature is to defend and secure ourselves when we feel under attack.  Thoughts of caring for others quickly disappear.  Like a turtle we shrink back into ourselves.

Sometimes the question of “why is all this junk being done to me” can be answered.  There are causes and the “done-ness” is the effect.  But sometimes we ask that question and the answer we receive is silence.  We do not know why.  What we do know is that God has been here before.  God has been here with God’s people – not understanding, asking why, feeling used and abused, feeling frustrated, feeling angry, wanting to care only for self, consumed with survival and not turning an eye to the revival of others.  God has been here before – and God has seen God’s people through time and time again.

I treasure God’s love letters to God’s people contained with the Torah – like our text for this week.  The words of these love letters bring incredible assurance:

“Remember, you were once a slave and stranger in a foreign land and I brought you out of that.”

“Remember, there was a time when all of this junk was being done to you and I was your constant companion, your hope, your guide.”

“Remember, there has never been and there never will be a time when I will not do for you…and because I do, you will do also.”

Junk happens.  Junk is done to us.  Sometimes we can control it and sometimes we cannot.  So lament the junk and let it roll off your back.  As my colleague Lisa says, “Breathe in the goodness of God and exhale the garbage.”  I am sure we will question “why” junk happens and is done to us for the rest of our lives…but we will never have to question whether or not God is with us in it and if God will lead us through it.  Our God is faithful.  Our God does for us.  And in gratitude for all God has done and continues to do, we are invited to do for others.

Prayer: “All who love and serve your city, all who bear its daily stress, all who cry for peace and justice, all who curse and all who bless: Risen Lord, shall yet the city be the city of despair?  Come today, our Judge, our Glory, be its name, “The Lord is there!”* Amen.

*”All Who Love and Serve Your City,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 433.

The Gospel According to Showtunes: Seasons of Love

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 39:1-7

This week pastors and lay people from all over the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church will gather in Lakeland for our Annual Conference event.  It is a time to celebrate the ministry that God has led the Florida Annual Conference (comprised of over 700 churches) to and through this past year.  It is also a time to look ahead to where God is leading us in the future.

I most look forward to Annual Conference because of the friends in ministry that I am able to reconnect with during the event.  We worship together.  We grow together.  We eat together – and eating together is a priority – we are United Methodist, after all.

This Annual Conference will also be very special because I will be ordained and brought into full connection membership to the Annual Conference.  On June 13th, 2014 – a Friday and a full moon! – I will close my six year candidacy journey.  Over the past six years I have moved from inquiring candidate to certified candidate; from certified candidate to commissioned provisional elder; and now from commissioned provisional elder to ordained elder in full connection.  During these six years I have laughed and cried; I have doubted and felt affirmed; I have watched God transform relationships – bringing some to a close and rooting others all the more deeper.  I am so blessed to have had Andrew by my side throughout this journey.  I was called to this life and I chose this life – a life of ordained service in the church, a life of itinerating when the appointive authorities say it is time to move, a life of middle of the night phone calls for pastoral emergencies and meetings after meetings after meetings.  Sometimes I apologize to Andrew for this life that I have brought him into because he did not choose it…but then he looks at me and says, “But I did choose it…I chose it when I chose you.”

I know what you are thinking…he’s a keeper.  And I intend to do just that.

My Annual Conference experience will be a full one.  I am

  • Hosting a lunch
  • Assisting with the coordination of all seven worship services
  • Participating in two worship services
  • Co-hosting the inaugural Annual Conference 5K
  • Singing in a memorial choir
  • Being ordained
  • And hugging a whole host of people that I love very very much.

I am thankful for the season in my life.  It’s a crazy one, but it is so full of God’s abundance and love.

And next week…I will sleep.  Very very well.

Prayer: “Be still, my soul: your God will undertake to guide the future, as in ages past.  Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last.  Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know the Christ who ruled them while he dwelt below.”*  Amen.

*”Be Still, My Soul,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 534.