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A Beautiful Beginning...Again...

My friends gave me this lovely book.

I love the title, and I hold to the words as words from God. Genesis has similar words… “You are very good…” telling us who we are as newly formed and creatively designed humans…a new life full of wonder and hope and promise.

Books help me navigate life. They remind me of who I am and how I have been created. And, in many cases, they reflect life and project possibility.

This last week I picked up a book that Ken has read many times. And, in the midst of my own demise of working a job I love, (offering hope to hurting people, listening to stories, pushing my chair back and holding someone as they weep before finishing the tasks before us) – and then finding that the funding for my job had been pulled for the time being…therefore, looking for and applying for more jobs…I was driven to read. I was driven to pray. I was driven to listen to my heart.

You see I have felt more alive doing this job than I can even explain. Connecting with people on such a level as necessary as housing – just trying to make sure they have a roof over their heads – has been life-giving and rewarding. It has also been a huge reminder of who Jesus is.

In Matthew 25 of the New Testament we read, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me..” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

These verses remind me of something else that has been so very starkly engraved in my heart and mind as of late – there is enough for everyone, but when we live in an economy of scarcity, and we want to have more than the next guy – we squander any hope of “enough.” When we forget “I came that you might live life to the full…” (John 10:10) or somehow we mistranslate it to mean unbridled capitalism where more is always better instead of all sharing what we need – we forfeit “enough.”

The stories pouring in from all over the world – even now – searching for survivors in Libya and in Morocco, the war in Ukraine and the continued loss of lives seems overwhelming and exhausting to even consider.

And knowing that financially I am inept to help even a little right now – I am drawn to pray. Normally, I try to pray with my feet. I want to be the hands and feet of the Christ who comes to me through strangers, friends, my new pastor and friends at United Methodist Church for All People. I want to walk out the gifts and graces of hospitality, hope, love, and ministry. But, sometimes we find ourselves in situations of seemingly “not enough” and we are reminded to pray and hold up the arms of those who are able to give, search, rebuild, and offer “enough.”

My youngest child, Tate, made me a mug years ago. It is pictured here. Tate knows my tendency to “panic.” Tate has experienced this first hand. So…the mug! Instead of using it as a coffee mug-I have kept it in my bathroom – I want to see it. . .every day. “Don’t panic. Just pray.”

Oh how I am re-learning and re-practicing PRAYER! Even as I read this book – (spoiler alert) a modern rendition of Jesus as ‘Joshua’ living out, walking out, praying out the gospel in a fictional novel. I pray. I listen. I hope. I breathe. And, I wonder all over again at Jesus (Joshua).

You see what I am experiencing in our newfound church (and sometimes my workplace-sigh) is indeed THE GOSPEL being lived out for all people. (Thus – the name of the church – funny how that works – right?!?!) No, it is not perfect – nope! Neither am I perfect…but being a part of something like this makes me WANT to believe in “enough,” in “prayer” that connects all of us to each other, to God and to the universe we were created to inhabit and take care of.

"Don't put new wine into old wineskins. The Church must break new ground for the future. Old molds are part of the past and are not sacred. New situations need new tools if the Church is to help people through dificult times. Don't be afraid to use your imagination. God will enlighten you. You are the instrument of God. He will guide you."

(Excerpt from Joseph F. Girzone's Joshua and the Shepherd, Chapter 4)

There are several of us that are in deep discussion about prayer right now. We are finding new meaning and growth in this area of communication with God. Just this week I wrote to my family, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”

I so want to be the conduit of grace, love and hope that Jesus was and is. I fall short of this more than I fulfill it – especially as the wars within the church rage on against our LGBTQ+ individuals, families who love and support them, and pastors who refuse to condemn them to hell. What is happening?!?! God have mercy. Please help me pray. Help me love. Help me trust in you – O God. O God - help me remember that even the oppressors are created in your very image - Imago Dei. Oh Goodness. This is hard - is it not?

A friend sent me this quote this week after experiencing especially difficult moments.

Awww yes…sigh…yet again.

So, TODAY, I celebrate YOU friends! I celebrate you as a new beginning! I celebrate me as a new beginning (although I am not sure where I will be beginning again.) I celebrate my nephew and wife and their new baby.

I celebrate prayer – communicating with God and each other and all of creation where God makes all things new and brings hope and healing and possibility.

I celebrate my cousin who is celebrating being alive. (See below!) Yay! Tami!!!

I celebrate love over fear. Yes, Love More Less Fear!!

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