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I participate in a theology/bible study on Monday evenings.  This week, during our discussion on the series Living The Questions, we spoke of things that keep us from God and the theological solutions for each.  We spoke of them as blocks to our relationship with God.  

As has been the case quite a lot lately, a devotional arrived the next day that reminds me, invites me to meditate and helps me become nearer to God (I hope!). Donna Schaper wrote about “Laying on of Hands” – how the touch of laying on or even a massage can release blocked energy.

God-letter-building-blocks

I believe that there is a creative energy in the universe.  I believe love is this energy.  I call this energy God.  So the healing touch may indeed be releasing God’s loving energy.  Pretty cool, huh?

Incredible Imagineer,

You are all energy.  Your energy is the creative force of the universe.  Your energy is love.  You called the worlds into being and created people because  you want to be in relationship with us. We are your beloved creations. We are precious to you.  Amazing!

Lord of Liberation, Returning and Forgiveness,

I pray that you will inspire us to remove the blocks, whether bondage, exile, or sin.  Let us focus on restoring our relationship with you and valuing your people.  I pray you will remind us of the many ways we can overcome these blockages or obstacles.  Help us to remember  that the ‘what’ (being in relationship) is more important than the ‘how’ (choice of denomination or theological style).  With renewed fervor as we journey through Lent, let us end at the destination of your kingdom on earth.

antahkarana_lightning

Extravagant Energy,

Thank you for giving us  such abundant resources.  Food, thoughtfulness, air, light, wisdom – all things come from you.  We appreciate them, we see their value.  We love you so much!

Through Jesus, I pray,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

This one is also based on reading the Stillspeaking Daily Devotional from the UCC.  What a gift: when God sends a devotional that pertains so well to the tasks we have at hand!  

What God is doing is our story, our hope, and the source of our energy.When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said… ‘Where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.'”

John 1:38-39 

Umm, God?

Are you doing it again?  Are you playing with us and showing us the wonderful things you have in store for us?  Are you giving us an inkling of what you can do when you send a scripture passage and a devotional such as this one?  I think you are.  I know it isn’t whimsy; it’s deliberate on your part, and I am tickled by this.  I know only you could do it.  I know there is no other God.  I know that no entity other than you would want to do this.  I think you are so funny and so good to us.  Amazing!

Gracious Grandother,

I bring our congregation to you again today.  My sisters and brothers in Christ do an all but incredible job of embodying your spirit.  Your love lives in our church.  Your energy lives with us, too.  Your compassion is seen often.  Your plan for peace and justice is carried out by our members in the work we do in your name.  And you put me in the midst of these holy people.  I am overcome with joy and gratitude.

orange guy - prayer

 

Lord of Light,

I bring our congregation’s future to you again today.  If it pleases you, Lord, remind us all why we are together.  If it brings you glory, Lord, loose us from the bonds of our existing ways so that we can evaluate clearly what we are doing that best serves you.  If it pleases you, Lord, let us value our heritage and be true to it, even as we consider new and different ways.  If it brings you glory, Lord, send us visions of what you want us to be…  “that Congregational Church in Batavia…  the one that…”  Let us fill in those blanks, Lord, I pray of thee.

sesame_street_mad_lib

Generous Giver,

All that we see, all that we hear, all that we touch and taste and smell, and all that we know is true, all this has been and will always be a gift from you.  Thank you for light and air and animals, vegetables and minerals.  Thank you for technology and healing.  Thank you for beauty.  Thank you for our church.  Lord, I love you so much!

And I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Having been raised by a mother who was “gonna take a train”, I think Lillian Daniel (author of this morning’s StillSpeaking Devotional from the UCC) is in great company.  Our mother, Mary Jane (Peppard) Pazen was the daughter of a railroad man.  Whenever she was truly frustrated, she would say “I’m gonna take a train…” meaning she was gonna run away from home.  She never did that, but she certainly died too young, in my humble opinion. 

When my kids were little and had the abandonment fears, I always made certain they knew I would never leave them and that I wouldn’t die when they were young, if it were within my power to avoid it!  I saw Kate a few weeks ago and I hugged her with all the strength in me.  I wonder if my kids know how very precious they are to me.  Wowee! 

Everpresent Energy,

You created the universe, I’m relatively new here.  Yet you gave me memories of my childhood and adulthood.  You created relationships and we are tasked with making the best of these.  Amazing!

elephant lady

Loving Lord,

I think today of my sisters. Thea, my biological sister, has another chemotherapy session this morning.  I pray you will hold her close as she undergoes this wretched nuisance in order to keep her body from developing cancer again.  Susan, my sister in Christ, continues to deal with family issues around her upcoming wedding. I pray you will send  you love and inspiration to her as she talks with her children and as Matt talks with his.

I think of Steve, my true love.  While he hasn’t received an answer from his interview last week, Lord, they said he would know several days ago.  If it is meant to be, he’s ready, Lord and I pray you will keep him healthy and strong.  If it is not what you want for Steve, I pray you would give him a final answer and send  your strength to him.  Perhaps this is the wakeup call for him to lose weight and stop smoking.  If so, give him LOTS of strength, patience, and a cheerful attitude whenever he can remember.  I know it would be hard for him, Lord, but I know with you beside him he could feel very good about having made the decision to improve his health. 

I think of my own self, Lord.  I thank you for the data analysis position.  I love the work.  I need, however, stamina.  It is hard for me to get up so early and work so long.  I pray you will continue to show me ways to even our financial situation.  I thank you for all you’ve done so far.

take-the-a-train-c Generous Giver,

You’ve handed us so much — for free, and sometimes we forget to  be grateful.  I appreciate my car, the circus, trains, my friends & family, and the memory of my mother.  Oh, and I appreciate dry skin cream.  Lord, I love you so much!

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Today’s StillSpeaking Devotional was written by Rev. Donna Schaper and called “Wiping the Dust Off our Feet”. I’ve never thought of wiping the dust as I leave anyplace, unless it was leaving a warehouse floor to go into an office or leaving a messy outside (snow, rain, mud) to go inside.  I suppose if I lived in a dusty desert I would more frequently wipe them.  

The scripture for the Devotional is Luke 10:11.  Luke 10 is  Jesus’ directive to those he sent out, two by two.  Wiping the dust was to convey ‘you have not welcomed us nor given us peace, so we want nothing from you‘.  That’s quite a slam.

Eternal Energy,

You even created dust.  In some places, dust is mixed with sand and water to make bricks and mortar.  For many of us, dust is simply something we don’t want.  Sadly, Lord, there are more elements of your creation that we don’t want:  pain, cold, ice…  we often dismiss them as bad.  There are other things you’ve called into being that we sometimes consider good, sometimes bad.  Kermit the Frog’s song “Green” comes to mind.  He speaks of the difficulty of being green, then goes on to the beauty of green.

Henson and Kermit.jpg

Loving Lord,

Today I pray that you will remind me to look for the upside of things I find troubling.  Move me from complacency.  Stir my interest in seeing the good.  Help me to do good.  Help me to bring your kingdom to earth.

I also ask to lean on your strength with all the Valentine’s candy that’s around.  I don’t need it, but I want it – even knowing that it’s not nutritious.  I bring Susan to you as she strives to slim a bit.  Sometimes Lord, a few pounds can be so hard to shed.  Give her your inspiration on new things to try.

I remember our relationships on this Valentine’s Day.  I pray for Susan’s with Sarah, Aaron, Matt and her parents.  I pray for mine with Steve, my children & my siblings.   Let us be blessings to these people, Lord.  And those with whom we come into contact at any time of the day.

Valentines-Day-Wallpaper

Generous Giver,

All that I am, all that I have, all that I experience comes from you.  I am always grateful!  Lord, I love you so much!

I pray using the name of Jesus, my Savior and brother,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

In this morning’s StillSpeaking Devotional from the United Church of Christ, Rev. Talitha Arnold talks of super-wildfires that have started in New Mexico because humans quickly extinguished the lesser wildfires.  Things that should have burned off years ago are part of what ignites now.  She goes on to say that giving up the old dead items is a metaphor for giving up things for Lent.  She alleges that sometimes, giving up can be a good thing and suggests giving up anger, fear, lack of trust.

I think I’ll ‘give up’ hypertension!  If I eat less sodium and add exercise, maybe that will work.  Perhaps I could also ‘give up’ 10 – 20 lbs…

It’s me again, God

Only you have the power to change my indulgent ways.  Only you have the power to remind me to care for this body you’ve given me to house my soul. 

good

Lord who Loves me,

I pray today that for these next 40 days, you’ll help me to hunger for you, not salt or chocolate or fatty meat.  I pray today that for these next 40 days, you’ll remind me to walk and meditate on you – or that you’ll send a support partner with whom I can practice “God Talk”.

They tell me it takes at least 21 days to build a habit.  I recall that “crisis counseling” is limited to 12 weeks, because by the end of that time, the crisis should have passed.  Lord, I call upon you, with these friends who read this as my witnesses, to inspire me and breathe me full of your peace – to avoid the yearning which I’ve filled with food.  Set me on fire with love, Lord.

fire-good

Incredible Imagineer,

Thank you for my brain; thank you for the will to try again.  Thank you for the wake-up calls of Steve’s interview (in which the prospective employer had concerns for Steve’s health) and my blood pressure check this morning (in which my hypertension remained at State 1). Thank you for my sisters and brothers in Christ.  Lord, I just love you SO MUCH!

 And I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

My congregation is ‘in transition’, having had our previous ‘settled Pastor’ of 22 years retire just about a year ago.  We have enjoyed the talents, skills and inspirations of an ‘interim Pastor’ who will continue the journey of faith with us until we again find a ‘settled Pastor’.  We are in the midst of re-envisioning our congregation.  We have an all church meeting soon and today, as I started to pray and muse about this, quite a bit came to me.  Being who I am, there’s a prayer at the end.

21st C church 

God calls us to be the Christian Church.  In our denomination, the United Church of Christ, God’s charge or purpose for each congregation is believed to be a little different from all others. 

As we begin this new chapter in our congregation’s history, might it be a reasonable time to consider, on a grand scale, how we will best serve God?

Do I speak heresy when I say that perhaps it’s time to reconsider each of the regular activities, as well as each of the ministry teams and each of the paid positions?  What if I would suggest that all of us resign from our posts, at least while we seek this year’s iteration of God’s purpose for us?  You see, it’s easier to consider what we should be each aspect of our ministry if we don’t have a face associated with a role. 

Then, once the 2013 vision is articulated and we find the areas where we can agree and feel God’s will, each of us could apply for a job after we’ve called a ‘settled’ pastor?  I understand some of these activities and roles are in our church constitution/covenant, but I wonder if we’re truly following God if we continue to be bound by papers drawn up some time ago.  Perhaps we need to agree to release our roles… perhaps planning to do so shortly after the ‘settled pastor’ is called… and then for the next few months, we truly can be free to create the Congregational Church of Batavia and to create it to the best of our understanding of God’s plan for it.

How would the new church look?  I don’t know yet, and I bet you don’t either.

21st C

I understand that we’re in a relatively conservative area.  I see that many of us appreciate best the worship style with which we were raised: prayers, music and order of worship.  I know that familiarity often leads to comfort and the opportunity to relax while attempting to connect with The Divinity we call God.

I also understand that the words my parents used and the words I use are unlike the words my children use.  While I know I’m likely more than half way through my life, my children are only beginning their adult lives.  While I am at a point where my income likely will not continue to grow, I suspect my children can expect that their incomes will.  And I know the fixed portions of our congregation’s budget are likely to increase as well – water, heat, power, communications – all of these utilities have increased in cost and likely will continue to do so.  Perhaps there are items we’ve never considered because the current budget is stretched.

Perhaps my proposal is radical or ridiculous.  However, I would suggest that all of us try to take a big step back.  I would suggest that we pray to be loosed from whatever holds us to our ways, at least for a little while.  I would suggest that we seek God’s will first, and while celebrating our rich congregational heritage, we spend time in prayer imagining how the church of the 21st would look, and how OUR church will look in the 21st century.

Ministries to the oppressed?  Ministries working for justice, not just handing someone today’s food or clothing.

Ministries to the ‘spiritual but not religious’?  Ministries in which those who otherwise would not fit, nor access the Divine Deity, might feel comfortable taking an occasional step… or being with others who consider themselves spiritual?

Ministries to those with ‘alternative lifestyles’, perhaps affirming that ‘while I’m not of that lifestyle, we are all children of the one God and I see your lifestyle as authentic, valid, viable.’

Worship on days other than Sunday and/or at times not ‘first thing in the morning’.

Worship with different language, music, modalities, methods, or locations.

Worship that demonstrates our respect and value for participants at every stage of life.

There are more, I’m certain, but I’m only one flawed woman.  I can’t imagine them all.  Together, with the Spirit of the Living God, I know we can.

 

Will you pray with me please? 

Divine Deity,

You have been in existence forever, far before any of us were conceived and far before our ancestors even could conceive of us.  You are the energy that keeps the universe changing.  You are the word, and your word is love.

Glorious Grandother,

I pray today for my congregation.  I pray that you will inspire each of us, as if you were whispering in our ears.  Lord, we seek to know your will for us. Lead us to be your people.

Extravagant Ever-presence,

All that we have comes from you.  Thank you for this congregation, filled with loving, giving people.  Lord, we love you so much!

In Jesus’ name, I pray,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

This morning’s StillSpeaking Devotional is entitled “Unmake”.  In it, Rev. Quinn Caldwell addresses the things we worship that stand in the way of our relationship with God.  He recommends finding a symbol of it and taking it outside to smash it.  I love his lighthearted approach to Christianity, all the while cutting to the heart of my humanity.

broken idols

Glorious God,

You are the only God I worship. Yet I get caught up in ‘things I gotta do’. I know praying first and getting with you is the best way to go about my day and yet, sometimes the demons of life pull me far away.

Loving Lord,

I pray today you will remind me that we are side-by-side and your arm is wrapped around my shoulder. Together we will knock down every idol that tries to take my attention from you.

Incredible Imagineer,

Everything I have is from you. Thank you for technology that helps me — the “appointment” to pray that I set each morning and snooze for a half hour each time I’ve murmured a short phrase of praise or gratitude. Thank you for my life! Thank you for your wasteful, extravagant love. Lord, I love you so much!

Through Jesus,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Continual Creator

From valleys to mountains, the whole world reflects your wondrous deeds.  Praise of you echoes in the canyons.  Your majesty is without equal.  For you are the healer of the sick; you are the energy that awakens us in the morning; you are the light that overcomes the darkness.  Amazing!

Enlightening Engineer,

You’ve heard my prayers for so long now.  I continue to pray for Thea and all those taking chemotherapy.  Thank you, Lord, for her successful transfusion and increased hemoglobin and white cell counts.  Thank you for the success of the surgery and her treatment so far.  Lord, I pray of thee, continue to be the healing elements that strengthen the bodies of the sick.  Continue to be the wisdom of the medical teams.  Continue to be the compassion of those who give care.  I pray for Meg Blomquist and all who love her as they mourn for her grandfather.  I ask for healing for Carolyn Oke’s Mother, Laura Bernabei’s young friend Emma, Tom Schmidt, Carol Crane, and Carolyn Oke’s friend Candi. 

Bless our relationship heart

I pray for our relationships, Lord.  Let your love, compassion and mercy shine through us as if we were glass (recently cleaned!).  Let all with whom we come into contact know the possibilities with you at their sides.  Let us be blessings to one another.

I pray for my dear husband Steve as he interviews for new employment this afternoon.  I’m grateful that, even though he has a job, you sent a recruiter to call him and remind him that his capability and worth is much higher than what’s needed for his current position.  Remind him that he is your beloved son, that you have made him carefully to fulfill your purpose for him.  Let the people he meets see him for who he truly is, let them be open to hearing his skills and his love of audit work.  Let them know that with Steve as their Quality Manager, their product will be of the highest quality needed for the intended application.  Let them realize the value of having him travel to Elk Grove and work with him to make a reasonable offer.  And if this position is not the one you have chosen for him, give him the elation of being contacted out of the blue. Let him post his newly revised resume and let the job you want for him to come sailing to him.

Cartoon-JobInterviewGD

Extravagant Giver, Lover of our Souls,

We know that all good gifts around us come from you.  We are grateful for moisture from yesterday’s snow and rain.  We thank you for preparing our earth for abundant growth and harvests.  While we are grateful that we have enough, you continue to pour your blessings upon us.  Lord, I am grateful for my life.  Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus said that we should ask in his name, that our joy be made full and so,

I pray in the holy name of Jesus,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

In this morning’s Stillspeaking Devotional, the Rev. Lillian Daniel writes of a gay man from a conservative background, and how he felt alone both at church and with LGBTQ individuals who didn’t share his religious heritage. I love that she says:  “And I am grateful to the UCC for its early and extravagant welcome to those who have been wounded by other churches.” 

Jesus ate with the unclean, publicans & sinners.  He might even have been willing to share a meal with me.  How can I do anything less?  I continue to find the loving spirits in those who disagree with me most strongly, because Jesus showed me how.

Chicago pre-dawn

Omnipotent One,

Only you could call the worlds into being.  Only you would have thought to create species and breeds with such variety; from manx to tabbies, from lipizzaner to quarter, from pug to wolf hound, from gay to straight, from conservative evangelical to post-modern liberal.  All of us are your creations.  Amazing!

Lord of Light,

In this pre-dawn time when the sky lightens, I come to you. I think of Thea and her upcoming transfusion today; remind her that while with you, she will come to no harm.  Let her feel a sense of energy as blood filled with hemoglobin and good counts of white and red cells flow into her body.  Strengthen her in body and faith.  Let her remember that our love surrounds her and let that be a comfort; fill her with a sense of calm.

As the day begins, I bring Susan and Matt to you.  Let them take their time and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they should be friends, committed to one another, or married.  Lead them to the proper outcome for all the right reasons, Lord.  Show them your will for them, Lord.  Open the hearts of each of their family members.  Let them revel in the love you have created in them.

Just before the sun rises, I remember Steve and his interview on Friday.  It feels as if it might be a longshot, but Lord, it would be such a gift to us to not need to strugglewith money!  I know he could do the management aspects of the job and I only hope he would be happy with it.  Please, Lord, if it be your will, let him get it!

Now as I turn to my workday, I pray you will remind me you are beside me always.  Inspire my work and  my work choices.  Let me be a blessing and a purveyor of your light, your enlightenment.  Let me help to bring your kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven.

Gracious God,

We have everything we need.  In you, we have our refuge and our strength.  I am so grateful; Lord, I love you so much!

And I pray in the most holy name of Jesus,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Omnipotent One,

Only you could have created a world with the grand canyon: water eroded rock over billions of years.  Only you are still around since before it began, and will be long after this world is gone.  You are the creative energy that called the world into being; you are the loving energy that calls us to be with you.  Amazing!

Lord of all Lands,

Remind us, that as we walk it is only because of your design.  Remind us to walk toward you.  Remind us to serve your purpose.  Remind us to love.

Generous Giver,

I feel your energy in my body as I think of things such as this.  I feel your hand on my shoulder as I go through my day.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for guiding me.  Thank you for inspiring me.  Lord, I love you so much!

Through Jesus I pray,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Melissa Pazen © 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

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