Another week gone, and it is Wednesday again. I woke up this morning with the realization that I have not yet blogged on my experience of prayer and gratitude this past week.
It has been a busy week. I started working at correcting a decision made this summer that resulted in me stopping exercise. The pool schedule changed, the Aqua-fit instructor quit and although we could still go and workout to the music, there were far too many people who just hung about in small groups and floated about as they talked away. As they drifted behind me I ended up kicking them. So in frustration I quit going. Not wise, I know.
So this past week I have been pushing hard at my workouts. The result is my muscles are complaining, my joints are rejoicing and I am rediscovering that peace and relaxation that only comes after a hard workout. So I am grateful to God for what this renewed effort has brought me.
This past week has been a time of renewing friendships. A friend came to stay while she attended meetings for her denomination. The visit consisted primarily of long chats over supper and breakfast and late into the night–then we both went on to complete our daytime activities a little bleary eyed. But I am so grateful for friendship.
In this calling to ministry there is the inevitable loss of friends as when you make one either they move or you do. But the joy of these friendships is that they are greater than locality. So my friend and I talked long hours about our lives, our concern for our churches, our children, my grandchildren, her husband. We talked about our political concerns and our passion for social justice. We talked about the 3 weeks I spent with her husband when he trained for a service dog. We talked about the camping experiences we had when we both worked for the same camp as undergrads. This is a friendship with deep roots. And as sleep-depriving as this past weekend was it is something for which I am truly grateful. There is something deeply restorative about deep heartfelt conversation with an exceptional friend. I am deeply grateful to God.
What I did not do this past week was practice the prayer with the prayer beads. After Bible study last week I put my beads back in the drawer and forgot about them. As I reflected on that this morning I started thinking about why I wanted to lead a study on our spiritual roots and how to practice them.
The congregation I minister with is at a crossroad. They need to decide who they are as a congregation and then formulate a plan for how to proceed in the ministry that draws out from them and how to find a way to restore themselves as a congregation in the process.
I had spent the summer preaching about justice and mission, my passion, but thought that before the congregation made it’s choice that they needed to also hear about spirituality.
They didn’t need to learn anything. Yes, they are being introduced to a few different spiritual practices that may be helpful for enhancing their spiritual disciplines; but in truth each one at Bible Study has a deep and rich personal prayer life. I am discovering that I am the one who is blessed in the Bible Study, because these are the people who pray for me and for the people of the congregation and for the future of the congregation.
This preacher has a heart that is overflowing with gratitude for a congregation that is passionate about mission, deeply spiritual and loving to one another and to me.
How blessed am I? Blessed beyond what I can express.
Yet I also realize, having preached on Job this past Sunday that I am always blessed. God has walked with me in many difficulties, ranging from health, to injury, to autoimmune problems to unemployment. Along the way, I like Job have questioned my lot in life, but I never lost faith in God. The truth is, that when problems and suffering come they can destroy everything in our lives but they can’t destroy our faith in God. God is and will always be my God and I am so grateful to be his servant.
Let us pray:
Great and Eternal God, you have brought creation out of chaos
Reached deep into our hearts and drawn us into your heart
Altered our understanding of your presence and your grace in so many ways
Taught us again and again that you are God and we are not
Invited us into the peace and renewal of your presence
Taken us from doubt and despair and shown us how our faith has remained intact
Uttered words of strength, and comfort, rebuke and challenge
Declared your forgiveness
Eternal and Everlasting God, how can we adequately sing your praises? Amen