It was this past Sunday in early afternoon. You all had returned home or to whatever tasks awaited you on this “day off.” JoAnne would not be home from St. Andrew’s for a few hours yet. So I brought Abby, our rescue dog and Border Collie extraordinaire, to run around behind the ELC and burn off some of her “exuberance!”
I love watching Abby race like the wind. She is free spirit and curiosity personified. At one point I made as if I were leaving when she was all the way down by the sand box. I watched her race at full speed towards me to catch up. At one point I set myself up to try to catch her, but with the cutting ability that would put an NFL wide receiver to shame, she blew past me (those collie swivel hips) and literally left me picking myself up from my face in the dirt!
A little dog has wonderful gifts and uses them to the fullest as she lives life to the fullest. In being all that God intends her to be, she is filled with joy. Is she perfect: hardly! She is prone to breaking at least 5 of the commandments on a regular basis if left to her own devices. But she uses what God has given her, is filled with love, and constantly reminds me that we, baptized into Christ and filled with His Spirit, could be so much more at peace if only we would use the gifts God has given us and live into the life God has intended for us. Don’t be afraid to use the gifts you’ve been given. I know we’re all so busy. Make time to enjoy what you’ve been given. Share what you have and be a blessing for others!
When I was asked by the parish’s Strategic Planning Committee to do this weekly reflection, the last thing I expected was that so many of my spiritual or intellectual musings would be triggered by my own experiences. News media, literature, current films or observations about y’all were going to be the stuff of a thought for the day.
So here I am again translating personal experience into a thought about who and what we are (and hope to be) as a parish. Most of you now know that I am down with Shingles which is as painful and as annoying as all the TV commercials for the vaccine claim! Once again, I am staring at the limitations of my body and the futility of making long term plans. My reluctance to take prescribed pain medication is now weighed against a total inability to function without them. I have made so many plans, must attend at least two conferences, am dying to get back into some reasonable (for my age) physical shape that two eye surgeries (with their mandated rest periods) have taken away. So much for my plans!
It is good, indeed humanly reasonable, to live one’s life with some kind of order. Haphazard decisions based upon momentary feelings are things I have always disdained because I truly believe that to live and act in such a way makes a person less than human.
But then the Lord has a way of revealing Himself in my life. I am being told “slow down” or “not today you won’t” or even better, “stop being so judgmental when others don’t live up to your expectations.”
The renewal of this parish will take place as all of us respond to doing what the Lord is calling us to do in the places we are meant to be and with whom He wishes us to work. It is on the Lord’s schedule, not mine. None of us can force anyone to walk with us, pray with us, come here and be with us or think as we do. All we can do is return to God our best as it has been given to us and to love each other as much as Christ has loved us. It is good to plan. It is good to live an orderly life. But we have to be reminded over and over (or at least I do) that we are not in charge of our own lives or anyone else’s. OK, Lord. I think I get it. I need to slow down!
It’s funny how there is usually this collective sighing of relief when Easter has come and gone. Great temptation for clergy as well as every parishioner: well the “church year” like the school year is close to winding down, so we can rest on what we’ve done and get ready for summer relaxation.
Now you will find few males (adult or child – ordained or not) who have the yearning of being one of the “Boys of Summer” as much as I do. God knew what God was doing. Vacation and holiday have their purpose of renewing us in body and spirit.
But this is not yet time for rest. Living “into Church” or “into our Baptism” really means that we are never “off duty” – not really. I am not speaking only of parish events that are a ‘coming such as plays (Godspell) or Wine Tasting Summer Fundraising event – as important as those events will be!
I’m reflecting more on the fact we’ve all been commissioned to go out into our “ordinary lives” and be evangelists – bring people to Christ. The “work” of being an active church member (translated: modeling Christ to all whom we meet) doesn’t slow down after Easter. It never slows down .,. or at least it shouldn’t.