The church I attend has been without a permanent Pastor for approximately two years. Our Bishop called Pastor Michael Kemper, who is a full-time Interim Pastor, to fill in and shepherd our flock.
After the entrance hymn, opening prayers, and before the readings, Pastor Mike invites the little children to join him on the steps to the altar to sit around him as he shares a story, on their level, based on the Bible readings for the day. Pastor Mike’s first children’s sermon was a little longer than our church family had ever heard. The second week, a little boy asked Pastor if he was going to tell them a long story again. Oh, such honesty. As time pressed forward, Pastor Mike told his stories at whatever length was necessary to get the message across and I feel that no one, young or old, concerned themselves with a time limit as he is an engaging story-teller. My inner child would always run up to the altar, with the little children, to hear their special sermon.
Pastor Mike never gave a bad sermon to the adults either. Truly, I wish he would write books as I know he would be my favorite author.
On October 2, 2011, we will blot tears from our eyes as we wave good-bye to Pastor Mike and his lovely wife, Jane. The Bishop has a new assignment for our favorite Interim Pastor. My inner child is throwing a tantrum because I do not want him to leave. My adult self understands that people must pass through our lives as they serve God’s purpose for our growth as well as their own. If I feel this way about my Interim Pastor, just think how the people felt in the towns that Jesus passed through during his ministry. I hope our paths will cross again on this earth, but if not, I will look for Pastor Mike in heaven some day.
Pastor Mike, you have given our church stability at a time we felt broken, prayed for us when we could not, and shared your smile every time we saw you. Our congregation is blessed to have been under your leadership. I pray the church(es) you serve will realize you are a blessing from God.
I am usually an early riser. It doesn’t matter if it is the weekend or a day off, I love a good sunrise. My mantra has been, “the early bird gets the worm”. Plus, I love long days.
In the spring and summer I tend to play a little game in the morning called, “who will rise first”. This game is played with the neighborhood birds and me. I try to rise before the first bird rolls out of the nest and let’s out it’s first chirp of the day.
You may think this is a little strange, especially to all of the night-owls reading this post after noon when you roll out of bed. All I am doing is raising my awareness of the beautiful creation God has given us. In fact, as I sit here on this beautiful sunny Saturday morning, I do not hear any birds chirping. My little friends have started to head south for the winter.
I challenge you to sit in awareness today. Let me know what facet of God’s creation piques your awareness. Feel free to share in the comments section below.
Mark 1:35 (NIV)
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Imitate an author and learn how to write. This was an assignment in my college Creative Writing class.
Freshen the Flowers, She Said
by Mary Oliver
So I put them in the sink, for the cool porcelain
and took out the tattered and cut each stem
on a slant,
trimmed the black and raggy leaves, and set them all -
roses, delphiniums, daisies, iris, lilies,
and more whose names I don’t know, in bright new water -
a bounce upward at the end to let them take
their own choice of position, the wheels, the spurs,
the little sheds of the buds. It took, to do this,
perhaps fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes of music
with nothing playing.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Freshen the Fishbowl, He Said
So I put them near the window, for the view
and took out half the water and moved the landscape
with my hands,
I chased the schools, and watched them all -
goldfish, guppies, killfish, mollies, barbs,
and more whose species I don’t know, in half murky water -
a waterfall of fresh tap water from a bucket to let them make
their own choice of school near the trees, the sunken ships,
the littlest of them all. It took, to do this,
perhaps twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes of care
with nothing dying.
Philippians 4:5 (NIV)
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
One of my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons was developed as a sort of documentary about animals and their habitats. A memorable part showed the chameleon standing in front of a slide show of color and he comfortably blended in with each color. One color slide, in particular, had him upset and stepping away in tears pounding on the ground in frustration and screaming, “I just can’t do it!” The color slide was a plaid.
I comfortably wear the colors black and brown in my wardrobe. When I was in high-school in the 80s, I had the coolest yellow pants and a bright orange t-shirt. A matching belt married the two into a super-cute outfit. I stood in front of my mirror on a number of occasions admiring the look, but ending up telling myself that “I just can’t do it” and never left my bedroom with that outfit on. It was too bright.
Jesus comfortably wore tunics and sandals. On the night He was betrayed, He went, with His tired disciples, into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. While deeply troubled about having to be stripped of His garments and die a horrible death, Jesus sweated blood. He even prayed for this cup to pass Him by. He never said, “I just can’t do it.” Instead He said to His Father, “It is your will and not my own”.
The chameleon and I could not see past ourselves, but Jesus could.
Perhaps you are being challenged today to go beyond yourself. Are you going to react negatively by saying, “I just can’t do it” or are you going to go to God in prayer and say, “If it is your will, Lord, I will follow”?
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Perseverance is as unique as each individual.
As well as many other women, I am infertile. I persevere to find meaning in life as a non-mother, while other women may persevere the legal hoops and red-tape to be an adoptive parent. Neither reaction is wrong, but we continue to persevere.
People diagnosed with cancer persevere to live one more day while researchers and doctors persevere to find a cure. A baby learning to walk perseveres each new step stronger than the last. The alcoholic perseveres sobriety. Mother Teresa persevered a lifetime of feeling that God had abandoned her.
Perseverance is as unique as we are unique to each other. If you notice someone having a rough day, go easy on them. You never know what they are in the middle of persevering.
James 1:4 NIV
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.