As the week winds up, our bloggers are returning us to the essentials. They offer a counterbalance to whatever sorrow, aggravation, worry or rage the week has brought to us. The image above is Bonnie Jacobs meditation on the laundry — just in case your week has been like that, too.
Jan Edmiston reminds us that Jesus asked us to many things, in his name, and never asked if anyone was ready. As churches ponder whether we’re ready for a particular person, or a new venture in ministry, being ready is not the essential question. “Note that Jesus never said:Are we ready to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? Are we ready to love our neighbors as ourselves? Are we ready to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand? Are we ready to stop judging people? Nope. Jesus just told us to do it. Ready or not. The Spirit will tell us what to do and help us do it. We simply need to pay attention and trust the One who calls us.”
If we need practical ways to bring something to life, Laura Stephens-Reed is sharing a series of reflections on planning from our abundance, instead of from panic or the oft-spoken, deep desire of every single congregation in the United States to bring in young families. As a starting point for reflection, she observes, “Over the past couple of weeks I have shared a survey to get to know the gifts of individuals in your church better and some questions to help your congregation reflect on its collective blessings. This noticing is essential for planning out of abundance rather than out of worry. It brings subtle invitations from God to the surface. But to be able to respond to these nudgings, congregations must consider how gifts are already being used. Some that are newly noted will be completely untapped, while others are likely being stretched in unsustainable ways.”
If we’re feeling less clear than we want to be, Delesslyn Kennebrew gives us the words of her mother, who often said: “Your name will go further than you ever will.” She adds, “In other words, there will be people and places who will hear of your name and the reputation attached to it that you may never know. There will always be someone who has heard about you and you need to be mindful of how you carry yourself so that you can help what they might hear. Obviously, none of us can completely control the script that is written in the public square about us but we can be careful to live our lives in a way that is holy and honorable.”
If the week has been busy and full of distractions, meetings and emails, Rachael Keefe returns us to the work of agape, sharing her poem which includes these words of faith:
“God loves without condition
remaining steadfast when people choose
anything and everything else to worship
God waits for each one of us
without ever giving up…To speak words of love is not enough
our call is to live in the Word of Love
recognize the value bestowed on us
by the One whose breath we breathe
in whose likeness we are made.”
Knowing that fresh words can help us hear the familiar in new ways, Leslie Scoopmire offers us a riff on the Lord’s Prayer, including these words:
“Help us to understand
that all are wounded and in need of healing,
Help us to lower our defenses
and not impugn the motives of those we love,
opening ourselves to the vulnerability and blessing of love.
Help us to judge
only as harshly as we ourselves wish to be judged,
and no more.”
Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian Church. She is the author of Meeting God at the Mall.
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