Sunday, March 28, 2010

Standing at the Gates!

It was going to be a busy Sunday. Being the planner that I am, I had decided to skip my normal Sunday lunch with friends for a focused time of preparation. We were hosting Stations of the Cross this afternoon and the crew of volunteers would be there ready to pull the event together in only an hour and a half. I wanted to have things ready so they could just kick it in as soon as they arrived.

Things were clicking along and I had avoided all distractions at this point. As I got ready to move one more table to it's designated area for the afternoon I spotted her in the hallway.

"Can I help you?" I asked from the Fellowship Hall, really hoping the answer would be quick so I could return to my long list.

"I want to pray", her accent was thick. I walked toward her while sharing that the sanctuary is open and she is welcomed to pray. She nodded. I pointed to the door of the sanctuary.

She didn't understand. She told me she had come from a "long way away". From her difficulty finding the English word she desired, I could tell she did not mean Texas. She was having as much luck understanding me as I was understanding her. I realized this was not going to be as simple as pointing to a pew and getting back to the signs that needed to be made.

However, I kept hearing our morning sermon (yes, I get to hear it three times). They stand at the gates and are hungry to enter. "Do we stand as a builder and reject stones or do we stand as a greeter and say 'come on in'?" I opened the door to the sanctuary, motioned and asked her if I could pray with her. I was still holding my sandwich I had been eating as I moved tables. I found a home for my lunch and we moved into a pew.

The more I listened the more I realized that her accent was not the only reason she struggled to find the right words to explain her situation, she was extremely tired. She was overwhelmed. She was concerned for her family. The details of her story are not as important as how for a moment on a Sunday afternoon time stood still.
A women from the other side of the world (literally) was in the neighborhood and saw the church. (I am sure it was the new entryway). She was having the same kind of stresses that every other person that takes a seat in those pews every Sunday has. She needed someone to stop, put down their chicken salad sandwich and listen.

As I prayed over her, she sobbed. Almost as if she was releasing the stresses of the last couple weeks. She stood to leave, I asked her if she would come back and experience the Stations of the Cross. She simply thanked me and said she needed to go.

Because of her weariness and accent, there were moments during our conversation I missed. I am not sure if her sister from Boston is coming back into town. I didn't completely follow if she would visit her son before going back to her country. However, I did catch that she believes a miracle happened today as she walked into the church. I have to agree.
She reminded me that we are both stones that the builders reject, yet we are both passionately loved by God.

May we both stand at the gates of righteousness and beg to come in!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who hears me?

I have been having problems with the wireless microphone I use for worship. I have been aware every since at June wedding when I found my voice projected over the speakers as I waited with the groom and the groomsmen. I didn't mean to be heard through the sound system.

So, I am consistently making sure the button is on mute, sometimes pulling the ear piece to my back or turning the microphone off just to make sure. However, over the last nine months, my voice has gone over the sound system when I have desired to be muted. Yea, can you imagine, me wanting to be muted? This past Sunday as I slipped out of worship to make sure phone calls were being made for a cancellation, I made sure the button was on mute as I headed down the hall. Yet, when I took my seat back in the chancel area, Andy said, "we heard your voice over the speakers". Ughhhh.

For months I have been trying to tell people that I am not forgetting to mute my microphone, there is something about the mic. As you can imagine my frustration was high. The sound guy did realize that my mic was coming in and out of mute even when he simply held it in his hand. So, I have given up on wireless #1 countrymen and will make another plan from this point forward. The problem with my microphone is fixed or at least remedied for the moment.

Yet, this experience has gotten me thinking. What if everything we said was heard through a sound system? Would everyone appreciate what you say? Is what we say full of integrity and honor? Wow, that is something to think about.

Next time I prepare to open my mouth, I am going to ask myself those questions. God hears everything I say and really, that should be enough to temper my words. Hmmmm.

When I was little my mother used to say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". Well, if you can't say something nice, remember it could be heard over the sound system.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I was thinking the other day that I have probably spent around 25 years developing my opinions about issues. That is a lot of time molding my thoughts about the controversial topics in the world.
I go along very peacefully thinking I know how I feel about things. And then someone takes a seat in the cushy chair in my office and tells their story.

Darn it! What does that particular angle of the issue do to my well developed opinions? Sometimes their perspective changes how I thought I felt about something. I am not talking about just rolling with whatever comes across my view and going back and forth as if having no real opinions. I mean, a real life with real emotions and consequences begins to mold how I once thought about something.

Possibly my view were black and white about the situation and I could rationalize the view from Scripture, experience, tradition and reason (yes, wouldn't Outler be proud).
And then I am given a chance to look into a world from a perspective that I have never even considered and the moment changes the issue completely.

My point is...sometimes I can be so sure of what is right and wrong and then God places a person in the midst of my opinion and all of a sudden the issue is not as simple as I so confidently thought all along.

I share this awareness because maybe this is true for you also. Maybe you are pretty sure about how things should be in our country, in our churches and in our lives. However, until we spend a little time in someone else's world we do not really know.

I know, I am as surprised as you that God is moving in me this way.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Monday

Running on very little sleep, my morning started early. However, before the clock got much past a decent hour of 6:45 a.m. I had recieved a phone call and a text message expressing how prayers were being sent to God on my behalf for the day ahead.

I was heading by myself to Columbia for some important interviews. Somehow I knew early, I was not taking this trip alone. Before I reached Lebanon, I had at least a dozen text messages telling me of thoughts and prayers. With each new ring of my phone I felt covered by a community, a support system.

When it had been all said and done, I recieved close to 40 (humbling) text messages, phone calls, facebook posts or offers of prayer expressing encouragement. So, it should come as no surprise that the question during my 3 hours of interviews that brought tears streaming from my eyes was "do you have a support system?"

I wanted to just hand the people behind the table my cellphone and say, "I don't know, what do you think?"

This past weekend at a spiritual renewal weekend I attended, there was a lot of conversation about being in community. I will admit, I had never thought much about community. I have friends, great friends. I have family, an incredible family. Yet, the idea of a community of support had not crossed my mind, until this weekend.

So, this Monday as God hit me with a 2x4 across the head, showing me the blessing of support and I was moved deeply.

Busy people experiencing another busy Monday taking time to express a word of encouragement to me made me realize how vital community is to this walk of faith. This display encourages me to take the time to make that text, write that note, make that phone call to say words of support to another traveling this road.

Because you never know when another Monday will become a sacred Monday.