October 31, 2011

All Hallows Eve

You probably know that Halloween really began as All Hallows Eve. Some even suggest that the holiday (or holy day) goes back a lot further to pre-Christian times. And like many holidays, the Catholic Church baptized the pagan celebration and gave it a new Christian meaning.

But whatever its origins, Halloween is fun. It's a topsy-turvy time when kids can knock on your door and demand candy, and years ago, threaten you with a trick. Pranks are common and surely a nuance for adults. But Halloween is a time when people can let off steam. And since many of us live a pressure-cooker existence--that's not all bad.

It's also a great time for community outreach. Our church hosted a Fall Festival on Saturday night that featured car trunks full of candy, a bonfire, and other fun stuff for kids. And did the kids turn out! We had over 250 from the surrounding neighborhood--many of whom to do not to any church. And for me, any time a kid can come to the church and see smiling faces, it's a good thing. Jesus calls us to bring little children to Him, and this is an easy and great first step.

Happy Halloween, Kathy

October 27, 2011

I Can "Out-Nice" You

As a pastor's spouse, one thing that we are all generally good at is being nice. Being nice smooths stormy seas and often opens the way to friendship. So what's wrong with that? Nothing, I'm all for us being nice to each other. The problem comes when its used one of two ways. The first way is to be passive-aggressive to cover anger to get our way. It's really being not nice in a "nice" way. The second way is more to my point. Being nice can also be used as a way to keep others at a distance and not really engage them. It just allows us to maintain the appearance of civility.

Did you see the TV news report about Claremont School of Theology on your local PBS station Tuesday night? Here's the link: ttp://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/july-dec11/religioused_10-25.html.

Frankly, I'm not sure if Claremont is still a UM school. Recently the school has come under heavy criticism for promoting itself as an interfaith school. In fact the report did not say the word "seminary," but did tout Claremont as part of the University of California system. And perhaps there is something to be said about pastors getting their theological formation with other persons of other faiths training to become religious professionals.

During the report Najeeba Syeed-Miller talked about the need for authentic inter-faith dialogue as opposed to just "out-nicing" each other. That is, we need to find ways to work on our world's serious problems together--including religious bigotry and intolerance. And I buy that, but being nice has another side. It lets people co-exist long enough to also find things they might like about each other. And if you like a person, it's much easier to work with them.

So what do you think? Would you rather have the appearance of civility or no civility at all? Would you rather have authentic relationships or merely superficial relationships? Sorry, but I'd really like to have both.


October 26, 2011

The Gospel According to Indy Food Swap

Food Swaps are becoming common across the country and involve a group of people gathering and exchanging food items that are homemade or homegrown. I attended the second Indy Food Swap last Saturday, held at a United Methodist Church. Thirty-four participants of us were assigned places at a table to display our items. We were allowed twenty minutes to visit each table and see what each person brought. Then the swap began.

I brought whole wheat biscuits, my "signature item." Others brought salsa, cake pops, cookies, various kinds of soups, cookie mix in a glass jar, lots of jams and jellies, candy apples, wine, and many kinds of breads-- pumpkin, banana, poppy seed. The swap was fun as everyone moved back and forth across the room, quickly filling arms and baskets with treasures.

Simultaneously, in the basement, a large group of homeless people were having a free hot meal of homemade tamales. There was also a table filled with various free things such as books, clothing, shoes, and household items.

As I walked around the old four-story church, I sensed God's presence blessing all of the activity, which God had made possible. Many of the homemade items were filled with vegetables harvested from backyard gardens. Those who prepared the meal and were in conversation with the homeless were gladly responding to Jesus' message to "Love one another as I have loved you."

I left the swap with a bag filled with soup, bread, jelly a few cookies, and a soul renewed with God's presence.

God, there are many places where your people can be fed, physically and spiritually. Thank you for this fun opportunity to experience both. Amen.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

October 25, 2011

Are You Going to Your Charge Conference?

I have to admit that I don't have much patience for meetings generally and I really don't see the point of much of what we do at Charge Conference. (Ours is tonight on my husband's day "off.") If you are familiar with this meeting, you also know that every District Superintendent does theirs differently. We had one DS who ran through each one in about fifteen minutes. Then we had one DS who liked to hear herself talk, so she kept folks for a couple of very boring hours. You would think these people could read the crowd.

Understanding the reason we have Charge Conference does not help. And it is very uncomfortable to have my husband's salary discussed and voted on. So I don't go. We say we want to revitalize the church, so we have killer meetings instead?!

I just wish we could do the whole thing by email.

Am I alone in this?


October 19, 2011

Have You Heard the One About...by Len Sweet

Take some time today to laugh out loud.

"Methodism is at its best when its humor is at its highest. When a politician asked a retired bishop for some advice, the bishop told the politician to go out into the rain and lift his head heavenward. 'It will bring a revelation to you,' the bishop promised. The next day the politician reported back: 'I followed your advice, bishop, and no revelation came. Only water pouring down my neck. I felt like a fool.' 'Well,' the bishop said,'isn’t that quite a revelation for the first try?'”

From Len Sweet's forthcoming book, The Greatest Story Never Told: Revive Us Again.

Grace, Kathy

October 17, 2011

Really Like Your Opinion on This

Friends, Please look at the video at the address below and let us know what you think? The video is about the church and its future. It's really a "glass half empty" vision of the UMC, but it might match your experience.


Thanks, Kathy

October 12, 2011

Whi Is Building Your House

Each year the Indiana Conference has a retreat for clergy spouses. This year the theme was 'Who Is Building Your House?' based on 2 Samuel 7:27-29. Our bishop, Mike Coyner, gave the opening address, "Ten Foundations for Your House." A summary of each foundation follows:

1. Faith - Faith has to be part of your own life, marriage, family. You may need faith supports beyond your congregation.
2. Fidelity - Your marriage is more important than your spouse's ministry. Be faithful to each other. Be your spouse's best supporter not another critic.
3. Family - Don't give your family short-shift because of ministry. Plan family time far ahead and get on your calendar.
4. Friends - Feel free to develop friendships and keep them after you move. Don't go back for pastoral duties but for friendships.
5. Flexibility - You and your family have to be flexible. Ministry is not a 9 to 5 job, but don't let it become a 5 am to 9 pm either. You can also use that flexibility for your own needs.
6. Finances - You and your family need a financial plan. You may need to be the one who handles your finances. Use a tax firm or tax person, it will pay for itself.
7. Furnishings - Enjoy your parsonage and make it your home. Respect and appreciate your house, but be honest too. Have an annual evening with trustees and SPRC chair. Furnish with flexibility and with an eye to the future.
8. Freedom - Ministry provides a lot of freedom, so use it. Freedom to have friends beyond one congregation. Freedom to know you are part of something bigger (UMC). Freedom to know you have immediate respect. Freedom to participate as you choose (old "pastor's wife" rules are dead).
9. Fun - Make your life and ministry fun. Take God seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously.
10. Future - Think long-term (parsonage, kids, your life). Think "legacy." Hope for the future and work for it.

The retreat was held September 16, 17, and 18 and was attended by 60 spouses, including one husband, from all over the state.

I felt that Bishop Coyner's foundations gave fresh energy to old, familiar topics in ministry.

Thank you God for times of retreat and renewal. Amen.

Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana

October 3, 2011

Who Is My Faith Community?

A pastor at one of the churches we've been visiting sent me a welcoming email saying "I hope you like our faith community." Now, in our search for a church following my husband's retirement, I kept saying to myself and telling friends, "I have to find a new church." Week after week after visiting six different churches and not feeling connected at any, I feel frustrated. I continue to tell myself, "I want to find a new church. I want to find a new church."

However, when I read the pastor's email that did not use the word "church," but "faith community," I realized that a faith community does not have to exist with the walls of a church. I remembered a song written years ago by Avery and Marsh, "I Am The Church," where a church is described as "the people" and "all who follow Jesus all around the world."

So the next day when I walked into the YMCA to swim, I saw the energetic young woman who teaches the Bible study I used to attend. She described an experience where her faith was tested and how God helped her through. I affirmed and encouraged her.

Then, after swimming I went to Target and saw a long ago friend, whose husband died last year, leaving with two teenagers to support. She explained how she was looking for a job but was unsuccessful. I told her I would pray for her and we exchanged email addresses to keep in closer touch.

A few days later, I was tutoring the teenager with whom I have worked since she was 8years old. I always ask when we conclude how I can pray for her, and she asks how she can pray for me. A fellow intercessor is always helpful.

As the week continued, I ran into people at the library, on a walk, again at Target, at a wedding, and various other places where I shared their joys and concerns, offering to pray. I gradually realized that I needed to change my perspective on "church," recognizing that I have a faith community wherever I go-- and interestingly, my frustration over finding a church ceased. I may be still searching for a church, but my faith community is all around.

God, thank you for opening my eyes to your where I can find those with whom I share a belief in you seemingly wherever I go. Amen.

Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana