July 21, 2011

A Few Sundays Later...

Finding a new church that Mike and I could attend together following retirement has been top priority. We attended another United Methodist church several times during the past year, when Mike took a vacation Sunday. However, the first Sunday after our last Sunday was so difficult. We went to the early service at our new church, and then I told Mike that I needed to go back to 'my church' for one of the services. That idea was fine with him, so off I went -- slipping in after the service began, sitting on a bench against the wall of the sanctuary, and then leaving when the last hymn began. I cried the whole time, wondering if coming back was making the adjustment harder or easier.

During successive Sundays, I have followed the same pattern -- returning for one of the services at 'my church.' I realize that I will have to make the change gradually. I just cannot walk away from people whom I have loved and have loved me for fifteen years. Right now, I have to care for myself and my grief. I know that these feelings are temporary so I am trusting God to give me strength and guidance for the days ahead.

God, there are many clergy families who are experiencing changes -- new appointments bring moves and moves can be challenging. Remind all of us that you are in everything that happens, even grief and change. Increase our awareness of your presence so that at all times we can be nourished in your love. Amen.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

July 15, 2011

How's Your New Church?

While I really dislike feeling unsettled, there are some real pluses to moving. For one thing the house begins totally clean and uncluttered. Although in our case, we are still moving all the stuff our girls left behind. And I like meeting new people, even though I miss old friends.

But moving has never been something I look forward to. When I think about it, it is just overwhelming. As I prayed for those of you who moved this year, I remembered the time we moved from our first to our second church (actually there were 4 churches on the circuit with a total membership of over 650). My husband was off at junior high camp leaving me with our 4 week-old baby, and, thankfully, my mother-in-law came to help. Because I was so nervous and excited, I stayed up most of the night before. The move went OK even though the moving van folks were lazy. Our furniture was mostly hand-me-downs and might not have been much to look at, but I certainly didn't want it scratched up. And the moving men didn't take kindly to being directed by a 25 year-old young woman. Believe me, my husband never left me alone to move by myself again. Even so, I grew up a lot that day.

The new parsonage was nicer than the one we left, but the church folks had run out of money and only did part of the needed work. I'm not sure what they thought we would do with carpet rolled up in one of the bedrooms. But since there were only three of us and we didn't need that room anyway, I just closed the door. Looking back, it is both funny and sad--but mostly funny.

If you moved this year, I hope it went well and that you are off to a clean start. Sometimes it's good to start fresh, with renewed hope and faith. Please know that others are praying for you during this time of transition.

Grace, Kathy

July 11, 2011

I Have My Soul Back

Mike, my one-day-retired-husband said to me, "I feel like I have my soul back."
I replied, "After only one day? That's great!"

When Mike was still pastoring, I said to him one day, "Wouldn't it be nice if people came to you asking for ways to deepen their faith rather than complaining?"

He had just dealt with a situation where someone complained, "Why were the flags taken out of the sanctuary?" (referring to the flags that were removed for youth Sunday so that the young people could have more room for their play). Then there was the time that a director of the food pantry yelled at one of the clients (completely inappropriate); and the list goes on and on.

Dealing with people is part of the job, but it can batter your soul. So when Mike said to me, "I have my soul back", I knew that he already had new energy even after one day of retirement.

Thank you God for restoring Mike's soul. Inspire all pastors to take time to "Be still" with you so that their souls can be restored even in active ministry. Amen.

Jacquie Reed,
Fishers, Indiana

July 4, 2011

A Lesson in Humility

For this story you'll first need to know that my mother was in the hospital, seriously ill.

At the end of each Sunday's service, people are regularly invited to come to the altar to pray. And this Sunday was no different. So when this person came forward, he did so in the company of others. However this was a little different, because for several years our church had prayed this particular man through a series of legal issues that left him a convicted felon.

Sadly, he still wears his shame; and its weight makes him stoop and look far older than his years. Once very active in church, after his release it took many months of reassurance from many people that we wanted him to come back--as far as we were concerned, God had forgiven him as had those of us at church.

Then my husband signaled me that this person wanted me to pray for him. So I left the choir loft and walked to where he knelt, wondering why me. No one had ever asked me to come forward to pray. But I was glad he came forward and thought perhaps I could help him. However, imagine my surprise, when--while still kneeling--he said he wanted to pray for me and my mother.

So there we were--him still kneeling and me, standing over him with my hand on his head. And there he prayed for me. He had come to help me and my Mom. Time stood still and I'm really not sure what all he said, as I cried and felt the presence of God surround us.

Afterward, I stepped outside to regain my composure. What a lesson in humility. What confronted me was that in my pride, even with good intentions, I went to help him, instead of seeking to be a vessel of God's grace. But grace was poured out on us both.

When I retook my seat in the choir, someone thanked me because they had been praying for him too. What else could I say? "No, he prayed for me and my mother. Through him God helped me."

Grace, Kathy