August 29, 2011

Storms: The Satellite View

Looking at the eastern sea broad and seeing Hurricane Irene move slowly up the coast really wasn't much of a concern to me as long as the storm seemed far away from any of my loved ones. But the moment I realized that I had 2 children living in the projected path, I started making phone calls and emails. As it turned out, they were fine. In fact one was a little annoyed that I was worried about her at all. She kinda drew the line when I called her to remind her to get gas. And I suppose she has a point, but I'm still the mother. So she can be mad at me as long as she gets gas and is OK.

Storms seen far away can seem like things of beauty, although terrible. And the big-picture view, the satellite view, gives a different, more objective perspective. The satellite view is fine until you realize that the view from space is nothing like being on the ground in the middle of the rain and wind.

Still I am grateful for the different points of view. Each has its value and can help us make different kinds of decisions. And we need both--the big picture and the one from the ground. I also guess I could draw some theological points, but I think they are pretty clear.

Hope you are yours are safe from all storms.

Grace, Kathy

August 24, 2011

Kicking up a Storm for Breast Cancer

About 136 former cheerleaders got together to do a dance routine to benefit "Susan G. Komen for the Cure" (Breast Cancer). Each time someone views the video, United Healthcare will make a $.10 donation.

Their goal is to get a million hits, which will lead to $100K raised.

Please can you take a moment to watch the video - and, just as important, pass this link onto your network of friends, family and colleagues? It benefits a very important cause !

Go to:

Happy kicking, Kathy

The Universe Is Running Away

Yes, it is true. According to the latest science, the universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating pace. It is like, as one scientist said, throwing a ball into the air; and instead of it slowing down and then falling, the ball just keeps going up higher and higher and faster and faster. Hard to imagine, but that is the current thinking. We live in a universe of energy and dark energy, matter and dark matter.

This brings up so many questions, like: What is the universe expanding into? Or do words like "into," "up," "down" have any meaning in that context? We think we know so much, but, in truth, we are so ignorant.

The same is true in our thinking about God. Where is God? What does it really mean to have a relationship with God? We have inklings; we have Jesus; but that is about it, or maybe that is enough. But is also hopeful--every reaching to discover and know more. When I get tired of reading the news, I pick up a copy of Discover Magazine or Scientific American. Here is a lesson that we, the Church, need to keep in view:Hope is vital to our world and if we short-change hope, we as Christians have nothing real to offer.

In these days when it is popular to criticize the Church and bemoan our system of organization, we might remember that we are also the Body of Christ and we should act that way, even with each other. But we must also beckon our dark and broken world, to the Light of our Salvation.

The universe may be running away, but we must embrace, then share, the hope of Christ.

Grace, Kathy

The UniverseGlaxacy Is Running Away from Us

Yes, it is true. According to the latest science, the univer

August 22, 2011

Homecoming and Note Burning

With so much bad news, I thought I'd share a little good news about what is happening at our church. Yesterday, we had Homecoming. After a stormy Saturday night, the Sunday skies were clear. The crowd was great; the guest preacher was inspiring; and the supper afterward was filling (very).

Then we had the note burning. The entire process of expanding our church facilities has been amazing, with little, if any, dissent. While I am sure God's hand has been involved, there was also a whole lot of planning and work that went into making the project happen, from the real estate deal that one of our members brokered, to the congregational input, to the spirit of servanthood on the part of the leadership team.

Just so you have some awareness of the magnitude. To buy the land that will one day be the site of our new sanctuary, the church had to raise 8 times the amount it had raised in the past. No one really thought we could do it, but with everyone doing their part, we did. When the announcement came that the money was pledged, there was an audible gasp in the room. That was three years ago. Even in difficult economic times, the money came in and pledges were honored.

So we all had a part of that note and it felt very good to burn it.

What exciting things are happening in your church?

Grace, Kathy
Clarksville, TN

August 18, 2011

An Act of God or Unusual Force of Nature?

The news story getting a lot of attention over the last few days in Indianapolis is the tragic collapse of the stage at the State Fair. Sugarland band was preparing to perform, when an usually strong (70 mph) gust of wind blew under the temporary stage roof. Sadly, five persons attending the concert were killed and many, many more were injured.

I've listened to news reports since Saturday night, explaining over and over the details of the accident, trying to figure out what caused the stage to fall. Was it poor installation? Was there something structurally inadequate? Temporary stages like the one at the Fair, are put quickly so they can be taken down as quickly-- often several times during the Fair run.

"National experts" have been brought in to examine the structure and perhaps find some piece of information that will provide the clue that everyone wants to know, so we can know the possible cause.

A few commentators have used the phrase "an act of God" to explain what happened. Does this statement mean that God caused the wind to blow so hard that the stage collapsed? What sort of comfort would this comment be to the families of those whose loved ones were killed?

However, the explanation by the meteorologists who study weather patterns makes the most sense to me. Frequently, before storms approach, as was the case on Saturday night, it is not unusual for very localized gusts of wind to appear, which is exactly what happened.

The wind gust was not an "act of God." It was a naturally occurring phenomenon in nature which unfortunately had tragic results on a very stormy night. So many times, when persons are at a loss for explaining tragic circumstances, they look to blame God rather than ask God for help.

I don't feel that God causes unfortunate events to happen. Sometimes circumstances come together -- like extreme wind before a storm -- that cause tragic consequences. Many years ago I heard a young pastor friend preach his wife's funeral. She died in an unfortunate hiking accident. Kevin, the husband, explained to those gathered, that when Brenda fell, "God was the first to shed a tear."

I truly believe that "God was the first to shed a tear," Saturday night, as the stage collapsed in front of a very large crowd gathered to see a popular band. My prayer is that those who were touched by the tragedy will seek God as they deal with the events that left some of them injured, as well as families and friends who are mourning the loss of deeply loved persons.

God, we are often at a loss to explain tragic circumstances. Sometimes there is a reason why things happen. Sometimes there is no reason. In these times of confusion and loss, help us to look to you, to seek you, and to rest in your presence. Amen

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana (suburb of Indianapolis)

August 12, 2011

If You Don't Think General Conference Effects You, Think Again...Hard

The UM Reporter came in the mail yesterday. You need to read it. Look on the first page at the article entitled, UMC body recommends big changes. Then continue reading on the back page. Look carefully at the discussion of the "guaranteed" appointment and note two things.

First, when the bishops talk about streaming-lining the process, they actually do mean that bishops and DSs will make the decision. Please hear this. I can witness to the fact that Cabinets do abuse their power to appoint or not appoint. I have seen this in our Conference under more that one bishop and in a couple of other Conferences. Abuses associated with naming someone as "unappointable" do happen. Naturally, no one thinks their ministry is ineffective, so many think that losing the guaranteed appointment will not effect them. But this is not true. This is not true. Surprise, clergy do not really have a guaranteed appointment now. The fact is that there needs to be greater accountability by the Cabinet, recourse for the pastor, and checks on the power of the bishop. I have witnessed fear and intimidation tactics used and it isn't a pretty site. If you don't think this can happen to you, it can and it might.

Second, if most Conferences are like ours, the delegates elected to General Conference have not been in the ministry very long--at least at that level. Of those elected clergy in our conference, only one has been to General Conference before. While I'm all for fresh thinking, there is also a price to be paid for inexperience. And with all the possible changes to the Church, inexperience will be a handicap.

Having been to General Conference (as an observer only and not a delegate), I can say that General Conference is as political as any government body. If you know your delegates, please urge them to prepare well but also ask them to contact other delegates in other Conferences to begin building coalitions now. Also attend the pre-conference briefings. If you aren't having any, insist that you do and then go. There are a lot of proposed changes--sadly driven by a lack of money and frustration over membership decline. And we all know that poor decisions result when they are made in fear and trepidation.

All I am saying is General Conference decisions will effect you. Insist on getting the facts. Be informed. Communicate with those elected to represent you to make sure they do.

Grace, Kathy

August 10, 2011

Seeing God

Late last week we had two friends who had heart catheterization. Fortunately neither had any problems. When I emailed the wife of one friend saying I was thankful for the good results, she emailed me back saying, "We were thankful God was with us." Her response awakened one of my frequent thoughts: "Would this friend feel that 'God was with us,' if the results revealed heart blockage requiring by-pass surgery?"

Fast forward to Sunday as we continued our search for a church. We ran into a former member of Mike's past church. She told us about her upcoming surgery for breast cancer. She concluded by saying, "I am seeing God so much over the past weeks, as I have dealt with the biopsy and then working out a plan of treatment."

I was taken by her words. Despite the anxiety involved in each process from discovery of the lump to treatment plan, she was able to acknowledge that "God is with me." I want to be like her, acknowledging God's presence, when life is smooth, as well as when there are challenges. Asking myself questions like, "Where Is God in what I am experiencing. I know God is with me, teach me, guide me, help me see you."

God you are in everything that happens. Help me see you in all that is in my life. Amen.


August 9, 2011

Love Costs...Even at Church

Recall the story about bleeding woman in Mark 5:21-34.

Awareness and healing are important here, but I think there is a lot more to this story. Some people just wear us out, even at church. As one spouse told me, the first person who presents him or herself at your door and wants to be your best friend is usually the last person you need.

We’ve all been with those people who seem to suck the air out of the room. But I don’t think the woman in Mark was like that. Rather, I believe she was desperate. She surely had tried doctors, medicine, and probably every home cure she and her family could think of. Jesus was her only viable option. She sneaks up behind him and touches the hem of his garment and poof she is healed. She can feel it, but so does Jesus. He feels some of his power leave him.

Her touching him, his healing her, cost him. Any counselor can explain to you how this feels from their side--the one healing. There was plenty more power in Jesus, but that is not the point for us. Because we don’t have unlimited power, we need to be replenished. When someone touches us, whether consciously or unconsciously, we are affected. It costs us.

One thing that surprised me when I did counseling is that people do not identify with your strengths; rather, they unconsciously identify with your weaknesses. Probably because that is where we put our energy--trying to cover them up. Yes, we are wounded healers, but still wounded. And it can be difficult to overcome your own weaknesses, prejudices, character flaws, and even bad habits to reach out and help someone, no matter how desperate.

Yet, we are call to love fully. Yes, even those well-intentioned people in the church. But we need help. We need help keeping healthy and maintaining boundaries. We get tired and there are always desperate,needy people.

Where do you go to be replenished? How is it with your soul?

Grace, Kathy