10Q10Q -- faith, life, rethinking church, following Jesus...stuff

Come join in the discussion of faith at the Koinonia Page where scripture and life intersect in conversation and exploration. Visit on Facebook, Twitter, and Dave's Web Page too! I'd welcome your company at Palmyra First United Methodist Church, where I hang out, too, come and see!

Friday, July 22, 2016

I Talk to Myself-- Help!

Yep, I do, I talk to myself.  It's frequently my transition into prayer.  Sometimes when I struggle in prayer I feel like all I'm doing is talking to myself.  Yes, I do answer.  Yes, God answers!  Yes, the Holy is my help.  And, my praying doesn't always look the same.

A common thread in the places I've visited this summer is prayer, is that, "prayer" doesn't seem to look quite the same in any two places.  Many forms.  Many relationships with the Divine.  All connected.

Prayer at Nuevo Nacimiento UMC (New Birth UMC), Lebanon, PA looks like conversation with neighbors, musical praise, new ideas,  a night apart for listening, and indeed some of the usual hands-folded, or hands-raised prayers.   What I observed was that God answered prayers with the heart, the community, the world around and an inner voice of ideas.

Prayer at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelionople, PA permeated the work of the church in contemplative ways.  Outside the front door was a labyrinth for prayer walking.  In the processes of leadership and planning were moments for silence to listen for God.  Prayer included traditional and corporate prayers in worship liturgy.

Prayer at All God's Children UMC in Aulander, NC shone with action, caring for children, families and neighbors daily.  Prayer was often prayer on the move.  Prayer showed up around worship formed in the spirit of 12-Step meetings and indeed in more familiar ways.

Prayer's common ground was a deep and passionate relationship, connection, seeking-after God. Each community lamented moments that this relationship had taken a second-best position, and how secondary status led to disconnection in practical things like succeeding at tasks in ministry, lost vitality in worship, exit of people, wandering direction, and/or a loss of hope.  Prayer only needed this common ground of seeking God, not a common form.

So, I talk to myself and always believe God is ready to join the conversation.  My prayers are at their best and most exciting when I too am pursuing the Divine.   I find that God's not fussy about my skill, my method, my location, my tools...only my intention to seek the Holy.

In Shamokin, PA, more than 20 years ago, this truth began to find a deeper place in my life as I daily walked the neighborhood, past the culm piles and into town.  Each foot fall moved the rhythm of my prayers forward.  It was the rhythm of listening.  It was the rhythm of lives.  It was the rhythm of retreat.  It was the rhythm of silence.  It was the path to health and life seeking God.

Be encouraged in your seeking the Holy, God, Jesus, Spirit.  Jesus himself modeled conversational prayer on the road to Emmaus.  He gave us a guide to prayer in the Lord's prayer.  He shared contemplative prayer in his retreats to the wilderness.  He shared practical healing, feeding and life-giving prayers.  He celebrated God's grace and offered encouragement.

Maybe your self-conversations, walks, acts of kindness are where your prayers begin.  I'd love to walk with you in this journey of seeking God.  I'd value hearing the forms your seeking takes.  Tell me how it's going.

Emergency Vest -- No Worries!

The emergency vest is for servants.  I was serving at The Northeast Jurisdictional Conference of the UMC.  Here's the second update video from our Study Renewal leave.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

True Love, Trailers, and Truth

Penny and I picked up the Study Renewal adventure as she flew into Columbia South Carolina. That's true love, when your spouse flies in to join you on a study trip!  And we had great fun exploring the Savannah area, our Wesleyan history, as well as, our national history.

The trailer remained in a mysterious whirl of parts complexities, insurance conundrums, and personal patience exercise.  In short, we stayed in a motel in Savannah and bought a tent at Walmart to camp at the Wild Goose festival in Hot Springs, NC.  Finally, we drove home leaving the trailer at Camping World awaiting parts and repairs.

The truth is that this study snafu reflects life. Plans don't always...er... almost never, go exactly as expected.  Love, grace and faith offer the choice of how to respond.  How I respond, depends on how I practice.  I hope this adventure was an opportunity to practice love, grace and faith.  I could tell you, "Of course I was gracious, loving, and faithfully patient," but you'll have to ask those around me to get an honest and complete answer.

What I do know is that the God of Love is, was, and will be with me.  I do know that I made it everywhere I planned to go.  I do know that navigating the unexpected served as an invitation to grow and trust God.

What's your day held?

PS an update video coming soon.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

One Step At A Time We Make the Road

A beginning in Savannah, GA
   "We Make The Road By Walking" is the title of a book by Brian McLaren on the story of the bible in our lives.  It is also how we do life.  A journey always requires taking a step at a time.

    In my last post I mentioned a bit about John Wesley's feeling of failure regarding his mission in Georgia.   Here are some of the reasons:

  1. John was accustomed to success at Oxford and in much else;
  2. He had come to bring the Gospel to the Native Americans,
    and he failed to understand their culture, needs and willingness to hear him out--no luck here;
  3. In the new world John tutored a young woman, Sophie Hopkey, with whom, he fell in love.  Unwilling to act in a timely way, Sophie left and married another.  John, spurned, refused to serve communion to Sophie and her new husband.  Sophie's new husband, protective, brought civil charges against John (with a bit of a biased jury). And John high-tailed it back to England, heartbroken and disheartened;
  4. Wesley Monumental UMC
    Savanah, GA
  5. As a well-educated and ordained priest of the Church of England, John was now doubting his salvation and his calling.
All, in all this was not feeling like a good season to John Wesley, but his journey and God's grace was still to unfold with next steps.

    In London John found his way, on May 24th, into a Moravian Church on Aldersgate St. (We now refer to this as his Aldersgate Experience), where his heart was "strangely warmed."  He reconnected to God's love and grace in a personal way.  His "failure" was a next step that eventually led to a Methodist church in America on every crossroad of the new world.  (UMC.org UMC History)

Wesley UMC, Thunderbolt, GA
        A bit like the Emmaus Road (Luke 24) experience of the disciples, John didn't recognize God's presence in everything at every moment.  He did, however, find God's presence in the steps he was yet to take and in the places he could not yet see.  (Cf. Hebrews 11:1)

     We make our faith journey by walking one step at a time.  We don't usually see very far ahead.  We don't as individuals, nor as churches.  Just like the disciples and like John Wesley, God always has greater things beyond or moments of failure, discouragement and fatigue.

     So, we take a step.  We go forward, backward, sideways, but we take a step.  In the walk God is there to be found and grace with love ready to show up. 

     So what are your failures?  (I have mine.)  Can you embrace them?  Can you trust God to use them in the next steps of the journey?  I encourage you to join me in keeping notes, journaling, about your insights, prayers, thoughts, questions and ideas.   Then perhaps we can share, in due time.

    Grace and love in this step and in the next.

10,000 Joys in Christ
Pilgrim on the Journey with God, Pastor Dave

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Here Are the Answers!

   Guy Noir, Garrison Keilor's detective character, is always,"seeking answers to life's persistent questions." Truth is we'd all like clear, quick answers to questions like: What should I do next? Is this the right time and place for this? What does God want? What should my church/community/group do next/now?

    In truth there are few easy answers. Psalm 62 starts, "For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation."  Psalm 121 begins, "I lift up my eyes to the hills--from where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth."  Answers come in waiting, working, things bigger than ourselves--all the places that take commitment and time.  Answers come from things, the One, bigger than ourselves.

    Along the way on this Study-Renewal journey I have met a seminary student, several pastors, church interns, people of all sorts and all seem to rejoice in the time to renew, listen for God and to learn.  One pastor said "I'm jealous."  and another reflected, "It's important to have that time as we serve longer pastorates."  Although there seems to be a broad recognition of the need for renewal, listening and learning (the stuff of prayer), there is also a confession that few people of faith and congregations take time to meet the need.  We have a great start!

   Having seen the sites of John Wesley's first mission work in Georgia and reviewed his assessment of the effort as a failure,  I'm reminded that answers come with time, work, waiting and needing help. I expect to come home with new questions, ideas and conversations to hold.  (See previous posts.)  I suspect that I will come bearing no easy or quick solutions to our congregation's struggles to make disciples and grow.

    So, if we want answers, then we prepare for holy conversations with Holy Spirit redirections.  If we want new possibilities, then we commit to time with God and one another in fresh ways.  In September we're planning to have a dinner (I hope covered dish) and a time for representatives from Palmyra First to share learnings & insights from the summer.  Also I'll share a few learnings and insights.  I anticipate that from there we'll continue the conversation around tables (food tables, the Lord's Table, meeting tables, kitchen tables, restaurant tables...), maybe even a monthly food and conversation around a lunch, dinner or dessert!

   Yes, I'm seeking answers to life's persistent questions!  It will take effort and require persistent patience.  We'll do it together and the report of 2000 years of followers of Jesus Christ is that God has never let us down!

   I trust you will keep praying, learning, resting and sharpening one another, while I commit to doing the same.  I look forward to seeing you soon.

10,000 Joys in Christ
Student and Disciple Pastor Dave

Monday, July 4, 2016

When Life Takes a Turn...Say Thank You!

    I was traveling on I-26, just barely across the South Carolina line, when a bee starting buzzing in my face.  One swat and I felt the brush of metal on my fender;  truck and trailer had swerved in into the center media guardrail just feet from the yellow line.  
    I pulled back toward the lane.  The combination of soft shoulder, incline, and bump of pavement, sent the trailer tilting and bouncing.  In the blink of an eye I wondered, "Can I keep this on the road?"  Thankfully, I did!
     Pulling off to the roadside, I discovered my passenger side trailer tire was gone, and the rim damaged.  A roadside help call and the wheel was replaced with a spare.  

    Heading down the road I became quickly aware something was still not right!  So, a bunch of stops, conversations, and insistence landed me at a Camping World for assessment.

     The verdict, a bent axle, among other lesser things.  The prognosis, as of this writing, is still up in the air, awaiting insurance adjusters, estimators, and schedulers to all chime in--interupted by a July 4th holiday

    Once the accident happened and the remedy set in motion, I went to pick up my bride, Penny, at the airport, to head to see John Wesley sites in Savannah and stay at Skidaway National Park in the trailer.  Oops! Regroup.

      In the mix I was overwhelmed at first.  Then I was a bit discouraged.  However with a bit of time I was able to give thanks for no injuries in what easily could have been worse.  I was grateful that Penny was joining me and I'd have company for some of the decisions.  I was rejoicing that I had resources to meet the needs--insurance, a credit card, a hotel and more.

    Reflecting, I'm reminded that few journeys that are worthwhile in life, go directly from point A to point B.  They almost always have some accidents, incidents and outright failures to go with the progress and success.  

    Watch for my next post that will have some "Easy Answers" and connections of failures to John Wesley's life and mission in Georgia.  Thank You for your prayers and support.  All is well.

10,000 Joys in Christ
Pastor, never swat bees and drive, Dave