• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Friday, March 26, 2010

Headed to Costa Rica

Tomorrow I leave for Costa Rica on a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip. I am the co-leader of a team of twelve (5 teens and 7 adults) going to build a house in Cartago Province for a single mother of three children.
You can read the blog of our experience here. Check us out there.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A God of Second Chances (and Third and Fourth)!

I met with an Anglican Bishop the other day. We had a great conversation about many things. In the course of our time together, he told me about a church that a friend of his started called the Church of Second Chances. Apparently, the founder and current pastor “fell” and was justifiably punished for his sins. I didn’t think any more about this until I was sitting in Sunday School class this morning reflecting on today’s Scripture readings. Then it hit me that this guy is onto something simple but profound.

When I got home, I googled “church second chance” and, sure enough, I found the link to the church – “Rivendale: The Second Chance Church.” I was intrigued. On the home page, the pastor, Sam Pascoe, tells his story. It’s not that juicy – but it’s worth a look. These sentences caught my attention – “Church is supposed to be a community where this human brokenness is taken seriously but still taken in stride. In the words of the ancients, church should be a spiritual hospital, not a holy hotel or a spiritual gymnasium. At its best, it is a place where our wounded souls are gently received, redeemed, restored, re-energized and returned to service.”

Today’s Scripture readings all speak of the “holy hospital” that brings new life in God. They are full of wonderfully hopeful words. However, what is painfully obvious in all the texts is that this new life doesn’t come without struggle and pain. Most of us can’t seem to embrace life in and with God until we’ve been broken down enough to open our hearts and minds to receive it.

Consider the ancient Israelites. God promised them freedom from bondage in Egypt, asking only that they follow God. However, their exodus didn’t put them on a short and straight road to paradise. They spent forty years in the wilderness – resisting, falling, complaining, and wanting to return to the familiarity of Egypt rather than risk the uncertainty of new life. Yet, by the time we get to today’s reading from Joshua, the people have made it through the desert –they’ve made it to the Promised Land and the new life that God had promised them. “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt” (Joshua 5.9). They didn’t go straight from “the disgrace of Egypt” to the Promised Land. How much easier it would have been if God had just transported them from one reality to the other. However, life doesn't work that way!

It certainly didn't work that way for the so-called Prodigal Son. What a shame that he couldn’t learn his lesson the easy way. No – life doesn’t always work that way. Instead, he squandered his inheritance, broke his father’s heart, disrespected himself, and ultimately “crashed and burned.” The boy who had everything, who had been richly blessed by God, ended up with nothing – no money, no friends, no way to support himself, and no self-respect.

Well, he did have one thing. He had the opportunity to go home – not as a privileged son but as a hired son. We know the story. His father embraces him, hosts a big party, and all is well. However, we don't know what happened after the party. I can’t imagine that everything reverted to the way it was before the son’s “fall.” Forgiveness, redemption, new life doesn’t exempt us from the consequences of our actions. It doesn’t mean that life is the same. What it does mean is that there is love, forgiveness, and the opportunity to create a new life – not to reclaim the old but to embrace the new.

Paul says it beautifully - “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!” (2 Cor. 5:17).

If you’ve had a “fall” of some kind and wonder where God is, know that there is a way home – not to what was but to the new creation that exists in Christ Jesus. I don’t know what that means for you or what it will look like for you. I do know, however, that Christ continues to make all things new and that God has a plan for your life. God never stops embracing, healing, loving, and molding us into the people that God wants us to be. Each one of us has a divine purpose as members of the Body of Christ. Where you end up may not be where you thought you were going. However, if you open your heart you’ll find that the new life is richer and more abundant than the old was because your heart has been healed by the one who brings new life. The desert doesn’t last forever. There’s a Promised Land on the other side! Amen!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sermon for Proper 19 - Who Do You Say That I Am?

I preached this sermon at Faith United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, FL on September 13, 2009.

Is there a more poignant question than that posed by Jesus to Peter in today's Gospel reading? "Who do you say that I am?" This probably came as a bit of a shock to Peter, who, like most of us, probably bristled at being put on the spot. The conversation began harmlessly, "Who do people say that I am?" Easy - just repeat what you've heard - the latest word on the street. No personal investment is necessary to answer this question. You and I could answer it as well without giving away anything personal about ourselves.

The challenge to this story is that Jesus didn't really care who "people" said that he was. He cared about what Peter thought. He cares about what you and I think. Peter, who do you say that I am? Greg, who do you say that I am? 'Okay, Jesus, you're putting me on the spot. But, that's okay, 'cause I have the answer. You're the Messiah.' That answer seemed to satisfy Jesus for the time, because we have no record of Jesus asking a followup question.

However, as Jesus taught his disciples that he was going to suffer, be rejected and killed, and then rise after three days, it becomes clear that Peter doesn't understand what it means for Jesus to be the Messiah. Peter doesn't like Jesus' version of messiahship at all. He takes Jesus aside and rebukes him. I can imagine him saying, "Look, Jesus. I'm excited about you being the Messiah. We've waited for so long for you to come and make things right. We've waited for someone to reestablish the kingdom of Israel and to restore us to our former glory. But there must be some mistake. The Messiah can't suffer and die. What kind of leader is that? Aren't you here to lead us to a brighter more prosperous future? Isn't that what we hear from the Sunday morning preachers – Jesus is here to make us feel good about ourselves, to bless us, to give us our heart's desires. But Jesus, you can't do that by letting them torture and kill you. Oh, and who ever heart of dying and then rising on the third day. Jesus, you've got to stop with the crazy talk!

Then it gets serious. Jesus responds to Peter's rebuke with a rebuke of his own. 'Get behind me Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.' That's some serious stuff – divine things vs. human things. The way of suffering and death or the way of worldly triumph and victory. Who among us wouldn't chose Peter's way rather than that of Jesus?

After speaking with Peter, Jesus calls the crowd to join him and his disciples. He says, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.'

Today, this text from Mark invites us to consider what it means to call Jesus Messiah. I assume that most of us here have no problem with that language – it’s the language of the church after all. We use the term frequently in our hymns and prayers. However, we're reminded today that discipleship is not just about what we say but about how we live. It is not enough to say that Jesus is the Messiah. We must translate that word into action.

The Epistle of James, from which we read this morning, offers us some guidance here. It is James who says, 'Faith without works is dead.' James tells us that it's not the words that we utter in this beautiful sanctuary that count but how we translate them into tangible actions throughout the week. In the first chapter, James says, 'Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.' What a profoundly simple definition of authentic religion! What an incredibly difficult definition of true religion to practice consistently in our lives!

As you know, I work for Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville. Habitat for Humanity is committed to helping people to put their faith into action. When Millard Fuller founded Habitat in 1976, his dream was that volunteers who wanted to live their faith would work side by side with those who lived without adequate shelter. Habitat embodies the true spirit of James – that we answer Jesus' question – 'Who do I say that Jesus is' with our actions.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the tremendous privilege of listening to a young woman in her early twenties talk about her experience of growing up in what she called 'the hood.' We'll call her Annie. She described her mother as a 'crack head.' Her younger brother was killed in a drug related incident. Crime was all around her. But something happened to Annie that changed her life for ever. One of the programs that HabiJax runs is called the Hick's Prep Club. Any teenager who lives in a HabiJax home or Jacksonville Housing Authority or Section 8 housing automatically qualifies to participate. The goal of the Hicks Prep Club is to give inner-city children the tools to get into college. It's a rigorous program that requires dedication on the part of the participants. Annie went to the tutoring sessions. She studied hard. She had to work to support her family; yet she continued to study and to attend the Prep Club sessions.

Despite all odds, she did well enough to qualify for another of our programs run in partnership with the University of North Florida, the Hick's Scholarship Program. She had to apply twice, but eventually she received a scholarship to attend UNF. She went to college and studied and worked hard. Then she became pregnant and things went into a tailspin. She flunked out. But something in her told her that she couldn't give up. She had her baby and dug deep within her soul to find the strength, hope, and courage to go back. She worked at night to support her child and herself. She studied and attended classes during the day. It wasn’t' easy. There were times when she wanted to give in – times that it was just to difficult. But Annie had been given a gift as a teenager that made all the difference. That gift was hope. Hope that life could be different. Hope that regardless of her drug addicted mother and regardless of she herself being a teen aged mother, she had it within herself to pull herself out or poverty, out of hopelessness, out of the cycle of despair, and into a new life for her family and her!

When I heard Annie speak, she stood with her second child. She now has a stable, well paying, skilled job. And she is one of the newest owners of a Habitat home. She is no longer trapped in the cycle of poverty. She no longer lives with crime. She no longer lives with hopelessness. HabiJax gave her the gift of hope! People who put their faith into action gave her hope. People who knew that proclaiming Jesus as Messiah meant living it with their lives and not just their words created opportunity for Annie to make a better world.

Since its founding in 1988, Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville has empowered over 1,700 families – offering them not a handout but a hand up. What a gift. We've helped these families to create homes of their own. We've offered them the gift of hope. I am here today to offer you the opportunity to partner with us. You can be agents of hope as you live your faith in tangible, direct ways. We have giving boxes here today – house-shaped coin boxes. I ask you to take one with you and fill it up. The resources that you provide allow us to continue our work of offering hope to people who live currently in poverty housing, people who need a hand up, not a hand out, so that they can move beyond the cycles that keep them down.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to share with you all today. May God bless you as you, as a community of faith, proclaim with your lives as well as your lips that Jesus is indeed the Messiah! Amen!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Peace Through Understanding

A couple of weeks ago, Ward Ewing, Dean and President of General Theological Seminary in New York, spoke at Christ Church, Ponte Vedra, FL. During the education hour, a parishioner asked him if the seminary requires students to study other religions as part of their preparation for ordination. Dr. Ewing said that at this time comparative religion is not a required part of the curriculum. However, he did suggest that the seminary is moving towards offering more opportunity to learn about other religious traditions.

While his answer did not surprise me, I find it troubling that leaders of the Episcopal Church do not receive more comparative religion training. We live in a global world where the barriers of geography that once might have separated people of different faiths no longer exist. Islam is growing at a torrid pace in Europe and in the United States. Hindus and Buddhists continue to build temples across the country. International politics are rife with conflict dominated by religious rhetoric. In particular, people of the three primary Abrahamic religions often seem more in conflict than at peace.

Religious leaders of all faiths need a greater awareness and appreciation of each other if this is to change. I would suggest that an increased emphasis on the study of comparative religion would lead us in the direction of peace. Prejudice and misinformation often lead to a disregard of the beliefs and values of others. Xenophobia is the direct result of ignorance. On the other hand, understanding often is a first step towards tolerance, and tolerance towards peace.

Of course, nothing is ever simple. All three of the Abrahamic religions contain threads of violence. For instance, one can hardly ignore the divine warrior motif of the Hebrew Scriptures or the Christian imperialism that engendered colonialism and its attendant oppression of indigenous peoples. However, while recognizing and exploring this tradition of violence, it is also possible to see more peaceful, loving themes throughout the history of these great faith traditions. In Peace Be Upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence, Zachary Karabell notes that each contains a core of peace. He points out on page 5 that Christian worshipers worldwide turn and say, "Peace be upon you" (or something similar). Muslim's greet each other with the words salaam alaykum - "Peace be upon you." Jews use the word shalom - "peace.” Might this emphasis on peace be the grounds for greater harmony between these three great religious traditions?

All of us need a greater understanding and appreciation of these traditions. The negative impact of religious fundamentalism has made religious and nonreligious people alike fearful of others. It is easy, for instance, for Christians in this country to define Islam by what we experienced on September 11, 2001 or by the almost daily news of the Taliban or al-Qaeda. News of the conflict between Jews and Palestinians in Israel leaves many feeling that contemporary Jews are nothing but land grabbing opportunists. In many parts of the world, Christians are associated with the greed of capitalism and a blatant disregard for economic justice. All of these are stereotypes that belie the undercurrent of peace that forms the basis of our religious traditions.

If you are a religious person, insist that your religious leaders learn more about other faiths. Ask that they offer courses in the history of Judaism and Islam. If you are a religious leader, invite leaders of other traditions to speak at your place of worship. Begin a conversation that will lead to greater understanding and appreciation. Our world will be a more peaceful place for it.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Become an Organ Donor!

All of us can participate in the miracle of medical science and save lives by becoming organ donors. There are four types of donation: organ and tissue donation from living donors, donation after brain death, donation after cardiac death, and whole body donation. I am concerned here with donation after brain death or cardiac death.

Here are some statistics. As of June 10, 2009, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) listed 101,224 patients for organ transplant. On average, a new name is added to the list every thirteen minutes. An average of 17 people die each day waiting for an organ to become available to them. According to LifeQuest, 3,592 patients awaited transplants in Florida as of March 27, 2009. In 2008, Florida transplant centers performed 1,921 transplants.

The OPTN is a private, non-profit organization under contract to the Department of Health and Human Services. The US Congress established the OPTN as part of the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 (last amended in January, 2008). The United Network for Organ Sharing administers the OPTN. The OPTN runs a centralized computer network called UNet, which links all Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) and transplant centers throughout the country.

There are 58 OPOs serving 316 transplant centers in the United States and Puerto Rico, 39 of which are accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations). OPOs are responsible for evaluating potential donors, discussing donation with family members, arranging for the surgical removal and preservation of donated organs, and arranging for their distribution according to national organ sharing policies.

The OPO that serves northern Florida is LifeQuest Organ Recovery Services, part of the University of Florida. With offices in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Pensacola, LifeQuest works with over seventy hospitals and health care facilities to provide organs and support services for three transplant centers in northern Florida (Shands Transplant Center at the University of Florida (in Gainesville), Jacksonville Transplant Center at Shands Jacksonville (in Jacksonville), and St. Luke's Hospital (in Jacksonville)).

All major organs can be transplanted – kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas, intestines, skin, and eyes. By far, the most common transplants involve kidneys (76%) and livers (15%). The first successful kidney transplant took place in 1954. Since then, transplants have become more sophisticated, including a partial face transplant (2005), a double arm transplant (2008), the first baby born from a transplanted ovary (2008), and the first transplant of a human windpipe (2008). Extraordinary!

The government website organdonor.gov, (managed by the Health Services and Resources Administration) gives a brief summary of the views of major religious bodies regarding organ donation, saying “Most religions support organ and tissue donation as a charitable act of love and giving.” For instance, under Episcopal, the site says, “The Episcopal Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ, blood, and tissue donation. All Christians are encouraged to become organ, blood, and tissue donors "as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave His life that we may have life in its fullness."”

According to some studies, 80% of the population supports the concept of organ donation. However, the consent rate is approximately 50%. That is a large gap that you can help to close! Becoming an organ donor is very simple. In Florida, you can become a registered organ donor at a local driver license examining station. You can also carry a donor card in your wallet or purse that will inform family and medical personnel of your wishes. You can print out a card here.

Organ donation is one way to help save lives. It costs you nothing and in no way jeopardizes your own well being. However, the rewards to the organ recipient are profound. In addition, the rewards to surviving family members can be significant as well. They will have the comfort of knowing that even in death you were able to give life to another human being. That is no small comfort in the midst of grief and loss! So, register or print out your donor card today!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Will These Dry Bones Live? - A Reflection on Ezekiel 37: 1-14 for the Day of Pentecost

I attend a large, affluent, successful church in a very wealthy community in northeast Florida (Christ Church, Ponte Vedra). Each Sunday, the pews are full. The sermons are first rate and the choir sings beautifully. If I did not know better, I would be tempted to believe that every Episcopal church experienced the same dynamism, enjoyed similar opportunities, and had similar resources at its disposal. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be), I know better.

For thirteen years I worshiped in an Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Rhode Island that to this day fights for its very survival. In Rhode Island, a disproportionate number of parishes cannot pay their bills, spend down their endowments at an alarming rate, and face declining membership. This is not necessarily the fault of any one person or of the leadership of any particular parish. It is a sign of systemic cultural transformation. To put it mildly, the world in which our churches live has changed dramatically. Many church leaders in Rhode Island, for instance, have inherited aging, historic buildings, many of which are on the National Register, and all of which are incredibly expensive to maintain and whose architecture is anachronistic. The church unwittingly has found itself in the business of historic preservation rather than gospel proclamation. The church has become moribund at best, and leaders are virtually powerless to affect changes that will bring about necessary transformation.

I make this point in the context of the Day of Pentecost when we celebrate the “birthday” of the church. On this day, we read how the Spirit of God descended on the followers of Jesus, giving them power to proclaim God’s love and to continue the work of Jesus in our world. However, before we read about the Spirit, we read those famous words from Ezekiel about the dry bones.

Ezekiel was one of the great prophets of the exile. After the capture and destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E., Ezekiel’s ministry changed dramatically from offering oracles of warning to proclaiming prophetic words of hope. As a prophet of the exile, Ezekiel proffered the assurance of God’s faithfulness to people who experienced a disorienting and bewildering world. In the midst of hopelessness, Ezekiel offered the hope of restoration to homeland and temple.

Today, we read Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel. 37. 1-14). The Lord places Ezekiel in the middle of a valley that was full of dry bones – many dry bones. The Lord asks him, “Mortal, can these bones live?” Ezekiel wisely responds, “O Lord God, you know” (Probably a good idea to defer to God on this one). In fact, God does know, for the bones come together. Out of death comes new life – once dead bones resuscitated by the breath from the four winds.

This of course is a type of resurrection story. The dry bones are the exiles of Israel who had no hope of new life. They had no greater chance or restoration than the skeletons in the valley had hope of resuscitation. However, the trajectory of God’s work throughout the biblical record is from death to live. God always takes what is moribund and imbues it with new life and hope. The good news is that God moves God’s people in the direction of reconciliation, from hopelessness to hope, from division to unity, from discord to peace.

In fact, the people of Israel did enjoy restoration. The exile ended and some chose to return to a somewhat restored Jerusalem. However, it is fair to say that even restoration brought change. The old adage, “You can’t go home again” is true because while we were gone “home” changed. Therefore, anyone looking for God to restore things to “the way things were” will be sadly disappointed. That is just not the way things work.

Many churches in our Episcopal communion are moribund. They are on life support. They are spending down endowments, selling off property, transitioning from full-time to part-time clergy, cutting programs, circling the wagons – in short, doing anything to postpone the inevitable. They have become like the dry bones in Ezekiel’s valley. Can the dry, bare bones of the church live? The hard truth is that many of them cannot live in their current state.

When I served on the Congregational Development Commission of the Diocese of Rhode Island, we talked often about the need for transformation and consolidation. When something no longer works, it is time for bold, faithful action. It is time to celebrate the past and to embrace future opportunity. In many cases, future opportunity will not come until death is complete. However, we are a stubborn species. Often, we hold on until the very end, often allowing our affection for a familiar and perhaps even beautiful building, our love of tradition, or simply our comfort with the familiar, to supercede our desire to serve Jesus and to proclaim the Gospel. The work of the Commission, therefore, was virtually impossible because the churches that were closest to death were the most likely to hold on the tightest and to be the least effective.

I believe in transformation. I believe that the same God who restored the people of ancient Israel continues to work miracles of love in our world. I also believe, however, that the very institutions created to serve as vessels of God’s love have become the walls that prevent us from exercising the power that we proclaim at Pentecost. The dry bones can indeed live. God will see to that. However, we must be willing to let go, to allow some pieces of our institutions to die. Leaders will need to make difficult choices, to run the risk of offending, to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. We need to worry less about preserving institutions and more about loving people. We need to concern ourselves less with historic preservation and more with momentous transformation. God is with us, asking us, “Will these bones live?” They will indeed live – if we get out of the way!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hurry Up And Wait - A Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

Icon of the Ascension, by Andrei Rublev, 1408 ...Icon of the Ascension by Andrej Rublëv. Image via Wikipedia

Hurry up and wait - an overused cliché to be sure. However, it fits the spiritual life so well Life often is so busy that “hurry up and wait” seems like an apt description of what we do everyday. Teenagers hurry to grow up, only to find that growing up requires a lot of waiting. We race down the road so that we can make a meeting, only to have to wait in a traffic jam. We hurry to make it to the doctor’s office on time, because we would never want to be late for a doctor’s appointment, only to wait for what seems like an eternity when we get there. Waiting is what we do. In our immediate, I want it now, lives, waiting is just no fun. Therefore, we try to find ways to find instant gratification, like microwavable meals, fast food, and all sorts of promises to make life what we want it to be – right now.

It does not take too long before we recognize that life just does not work that way. Hurrying may be an unavoidable part of our lives, but waiting is perhaps more important. In our sacred story, there is lots of waiting. During Advent, we wait for what lies in the seemingly distant future. During the hours between Good Friday and Easter, we await the resurrection, enduring the emotional trauma of crucifixion, wanting to fast-forward to the good news.

Today, we await something else. Thursday was the Feast of the Ascension, the day that we tell the story of the resurrected Jesus’ last day on earth. What were his last words? In Acts, just before the ascension, Jesus says, “Wait in Jerusalem for the promise from the Father.” In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says, “stay here in the city until you have received power from on high.” Two words that we have a hard time hearing – wait and stay!

As we live out the story through our liturgy, we sit today in the waiting phase, waiting for the power from on high, waiting for the promise of God to become reality in our lives. Liturgically, we will experience the fulfillment of that promise next Sunday on the Feast of Pentecost. It is then that we celebrate the beginning of the era of the church, the era of the Holy Spirit, the era when God’s people possess the power to change the world. We will get to that next week.

However, this week we contemplate what it means to wait, what it means to anticipate God’s action in our lives in ways that we cannot imagine. We contemplate the exercise of spiritual waiting. The Lutheran author, Holly Whitcomb recently wrote a book entitled, “Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting.” She says that she wrote the book for those of us who have been brainwashed by the media to think that we have to have our desires fulfilled instantly. Waiting, she says, is a spiritual teacher that tutors us in patience, loss of control, living in the present, compassion, gratitude, humility and trust in God. She uses the metaphor of a river, suggesting that we spend our time pushing against the river, trying to redirect it to suit our needs and desires rather than learning to let go and to let the river take us where it will. Whitcomb quotes the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who advised: “Trust the slow work of God.”

Consider the ancient Israelites. After God liberated them from slavery in Egypt, they did not march directly to the Promised Land. They spent forty years waiting in the desert, no doubt frustrated, confused, and even angry as they wondered what God was doing with them. Even Jesus spent forty days waiting in the wilderness before he began his ministry – waiting, learning, struggling, questioning, allowing God to form him. These days were not wasted. They were days of formation, days when God prepared Jesus, taught him, gave him the told necessary for the days to come.

All of this waiting! Living with the slow work of God. It is enough to drive even the most patient among us a little stir crazy! In what parts of your life are you waiting? Are you able to trust in the slow work of God? Are you able to put aside your own agenda, your own timetable, and to let God lead you in ways that are best for you? Whitcomb challenges us to quit worrying and to relax into the grace of God. Of course, that is much easier to talk about than to live out in our lives. It is a great challenge to let go, to let the river of life take us where it will instead of fighting to go somewhere else. It takes great trust that God loves us, that God knows what is best for us, and that we live most completely when we place our lives in the hands of God.

Like any spiritual discipline, spiritual waiting requires that we be intentional about what we do. The best way to exercise this discipline is to take moments throughout the day simply to be in God’s presence, stilling the mind and the soul, letting go of our frantic quest to get somewhere. Letting go means training our mind to relax, practicing moving from busyness to stillness, learning simply to be in God’s presence.

We have a hard time with this – even in church. We move from one prayer to another, one piece of music to another. We become uncomfortable with silence. We want things to keep moving. And that is how we live our lives. On a personal note, I have been waiting a long time for the next chapter in my call to discipleship to unfold. It has been frustrating, agonizing at times, as I have tried to force my agenda, my goals, and my dreams. However, it has not worked. It is time for me to be still, to trust the slow work of God, to know that in this in-between time God is shaping me, healing me, equipping me for what is to come. I admit that it is painfully difficult. Yet, it is necessary work, work that entails letting life’s river take me where it will, work that requires me to stop paddling frantically upstream, work that necessitates that I trust that the God who has been with me so far will not forsake or abandon me.

If, like me, you are frustrated and wondering what on earth God is doing in your life, I encourage you to sit, to wait, to allow God to reveal God’s path in God’s time. Allow the slow hand of God to guide you where God would have you to go. Embrace the opportunity to wait, to rest, to regroup, and to refresh before God sends you back into the world to proclaim God’s love. Amen.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]