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God of sun and rain, God of calm and catastrophe,
Only you can heal our church, only you can heal our souls. You called the world into being; you were there before the beginning and you will be there long after the end. You seek in Holy Love to save us from aimlessness and sin. You are amazing!
Loving Lord,
I call you to be with us. Hold each of us close to you, support us with love, wrap your arms around us, let us cry if we must and help us to heal. Remove our anger and our doubt. I pray that, if it is your will, you will heal my church; that all may be one and that any conflict may be resolved: peacefully, fully and to your Glory. And, Lord, let me be a blessing. Let me be a peacemaker.

Almighty Architect,

We thank you for all that you have given us: millions of shades of green in the gardens, more than enough resources to sustain us, and people who strive to emulate you, who love with us and work with us.
I pray in Jesus’ mighty and loving name.
Amen.

 

To God be the Glory!

Love always,

Melissa
Melissa Pazen, MSW

INSPIRED COACHING, MELISSA PAZEN

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.net

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

© Melissa Pazen, 2017

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Today’s Stillspeaking Devotional, written by Donna Schaper, is called “Pointsettias”.  As I was reading, the phrase I’m using for the title jumped out at me and I hurried here to paste it and start my notes for my prayer.  And then, to have integrity, I read and reread the entire devotional. 

“Substituting details for depth” …is that when I buy so many Christmas presents for someone instead of spending time with him? …is that when I criticize the grammar and punctuation instead of lavishing in the thoughts behind the writing? …do I decorate for Christmas instead of contemplating the possibility of Jesus coming as a human and changing the world?

What does “prepare for the glory of the Lord by fixing the universe, despite itself” mean? I long to leave the world better than it was when I arrived, yet I have a bit of trouble realizing that sometimes I need to be ‘accepted the things I cannot change’, in Bonhoeffer’s words. I’m good at attempts to improve the large social ills and need to keep working on keeping my side of the street clean in my closest relationships.  Mindfulness, sometimes a difficult practice to keep in place.  

Quinn Caldwell’s All I Really Want has been a wonderful source of contemplation last advent and this. 

Unimaginable One,

I come to humble myself and to worship you, shouting your praises internally while be quiet externally. Your name should echo throughout the universe and I praise you, adore you. You are the almighty, the all mighty, and I am but one of your creations. Yet, you know me inside out. You know my name and speak to me individually through little bursts of inspiration. You are amazing!

Indescribable God

Loving Lord,

Today, I ask that you will heal Steve’s bruises from his fall. He’s feeling better yet plans to stay off the bruised leg today and that’s a little difficult for me to accept (even though I can’t change it). Thank you for the chance that he might work Saturday to make up the hours. 

I ask for the ability to relax my own aching neck and head today. I try to avoid pain medication for fear it will harm my kidneys and/or lose its effectiveness.

SONY DSC

Super-giving Source,

Thank you for advent meditation opportunities like the one I enjoyed last night. Thank you for Susan, who loves me dearly. Thank you for my faith community who are extensions of family for me. Thank you for a brain to think. I love you so much!

And I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be all glory!

Love always,

Melissa
Melissa Pazen, MSW

INSPIRED COACHING, MELISSA PAZEN

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.com

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

Today’s devotional is one of those that helps me. If you haven’t already, I hope you take the time to read it.

Times of trial are definitely times for reflection and determination to change ourselves for the better. I add to Rev. Robinson’s thoughts one more: Try to stop saying “why me?” instead say “of course me, every human – even Jesus – suffer times of trial. Now, what can I do to make something good come from this?”. Focusing on what God would have me do has been the best way for me to again feel God’s power. And when I feel God’s exquisite energy working through me, the importance of the trial melts away.

Still-speaking Sovereign God,
gold ore

You are the creator of all the elements of this earth.

gold oreYou are the fire that allows gold to become closer to pure. You are the ever-present energy that is the force to keep the world spinning. You are my creator. You are amazing!

Loving Lord,

This morning I have all my regular requests that I bring to you. I bring my sister, once again, as she struggles to continue her life here. If it please you, heal her completely and remove these recurring cancers. Make the chemo effective to the point that it totally removes the cells that mutate. Please keep Susan healthy and happy. Bring Bill Gunderson, Jill Thompson, and so many back to complete health, please. I pray of you to heal relationships and bring battling people to realize that they are merely your creations and they should, before all else, love.

Generous, Giving God,

Thank you for blood moons, to watch and revel in the glories of your creation. Thank you for Tom, who rescued me from a truly unattractive yard. Thank you for Helen, who went so far as to give of her bone marrow. Thank you for Susan and all friends who lift me up. Thank you for the world. Thank you for my life. Lord, I love you so much!

And I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Love always,

Melissa

Melissa Pazen, MSW

Inspired Coaching, Melissa Pazen

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.com

 

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently! 

 

Again, a Stillspeaking Devotional touches me.  Mary Luti writes of 

in si·tu
ˌin ˈsīto͞o,ˈsē-/
adverb & adjective
  1. in its original place.
    “mosaics and frescoes have been left in situ”
  2. in position.
    “her guests were all in situ”

When I had breast cancer, in 2007, the tumor was “in situ”.  This means it hadn’t moved beyond the milk duct where it originally formed.  I give glory to God for having found it when it was SO small (6 mm – about 3/16 inch, photo is actual size).

6 mm - actual size

 

On Wednesday, I will have a repeat mammogram on the same (left) breast because it appears I have another calcification, often the precursor of cancer.  I know I’m not in control of these things, and I try not to worry.  

I keep giving this over to God and LET-NOT-YOUR-HEART-BE-TROUBLED-smtrusting.  Five minutes later, I’m giving it over again.  Sometimes I wish my humanity weren’t so human.  I know I’m not meant to be perfect, yet I long for serenity.  I long to be comforted and held secure in Jesus’ arms. I long to be able to rise above this.  As long as I keep my mind occupied with something else, something positive, I am safe.  My idle mind goes back to this over and over.  I guess the idle mind IS the devil’s playground.  I don’t believe in a personified devil, but I know there are forces of evil at work in the universe.  These are mine (and yours?) every time I slip from God’s embrace.  Will you pray with me, please?

 

Amazing Architect,

You created the universe and somehow you chose to create a wretch like me.  I praise you for finding me, for letting my blind eyes see you and the beauty of all your works.  I praise that you are creating still.  That you speak to us, not only from a document that is almost 2000 years old, but in the words of friends and your whispering voice.  I “hear” you in my quiet mind, with words you would have me think.  I worship you for this, the ability to turn my heart and my mind to the good, INSTEAD of dwelling on the bad… on my fears.  You are more than I could ever imagine; more powerful, more loving.  You are amazing!

Lord who Longs to make my joy full,

Joy-FullI pray you will be with me today.  I pray you will keep your loving arms around me and let me languish on your lap. I pray that in my time at church and my time with Kate & Will & Steve, you will keep my heart and mind on YOU. I pray you will banish my fears. I pray you will hold me close and remind me to lean on your perfect strength. I pray you will remind me that if you are for me, nothing greater can be against me. I pray that you will let nothing separate me from your love, even sickness – if it shall be so, even death whenever it comes (may it be years away!)

I pray for others who suffer with fear and illness: Craig, Thea, and many too numerous to mention – yet you know their names and my intent. I pray for all the littluns who arrived earlier than their parents planned: Emilie, Hayden & Ethan, Nick & Alex and many too numerous to mention. I pray for my congregation as we seek your will in becoming “Open and Affirming” of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders — and of all those for whom we see the differences and forget the similarities.

I pray that you will remind us we are your precious children, that each of us have a life that matters dearly to you.

Magnificent Maker,

You are the source of everything I sense – see, hear, smell, taste and feel.  You have given it all to me and my brothers & sisters in this world — and every human is my brother or my sister! I am filled with gratitude and I thank you.  And, Lord, thank you.  And by the way, Lord, thank you. May I ever be in awe of what you have done for me, and continue to do, and will do forever.

And I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2015

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

Somehow, even when we are all in Christ, it isn’t always easy.  Our United Church of Christ states that we are a church of extravagant welcome.  I’ve offered to try to craft a worship service for our next new member Sunday that conveys the message that “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here” — not just tolerated, not just allowed to sit on the side and be quiet, not just come in to service and duck out afterward because you don’t know anyone — welcome.  

I’m having a rough time coming up with ideas that are new and vibrant, yet comfortable enough that people who’ve been members for 45 years won’t be offended and leave in disgust.  As I’ve tried to speak with the pastor, director of children’s ministries, and director of music, I don’t feel as if I’ve hit upon anything that will fill the bill.

See, I believe that God not only allows us to be part of the universe, but that God aches with love for us and wants us to come and dwell together and be in relationship.  How do I come up with an hour’s worth of words, songs, dances, whatever that will convey this?

Ever-changing Energy,

You were the originator of the universe and yet, oh-so-many years later, every morning is new and each day is different.  You are always changing yet always the same.  One day in your presence is worth a thousand elsewhere.  Amazing!  I want only to commune with you, to live in the peaceable kingdom in your eternal joy.

Extravagant welcome

Gracious God,

I come to you this morning, asking for your wisdom.  Send your holy spirit to be with me and with all those in my community at the Congregational Church.  Help Greg, Vicki, Laura and me to craft a service of worship of you and the extravagant welcome we promise people.  Remind us that each of us is just as you want us to be, your valued child.  Lead us, Lord, starting at the beginning place of love of you.  Take us to where you want us to be, whatever that looks like.  Help all of us to realize that each of us have different gifts and different skills and different ways of finding your divinity.  Help us to respect each of these ways, the old and the new, the typical and the unusual.  Help us to find ways to blend them into the most lovely tribute we can imagine.  Send us your spirit of gentleness, to avoid offense, and your spirit of restlessness, to keep us from repeating that which separates us.  Remind us that we are all Christ’s body. As you call us from tomorrow, where you live already, help us to find ways to enjoy your dynamic tension.  To include people in a way that shows your longing for them to come and be in relationship with you, with us, with one another.

WelcomeParty

Loving Lord,

Our building, our people, our computers for composing the words we will offer you together, our hymnals, our voices – all comes from you.  May we be caretakers of your gifts.  Lord, I am grateful for all with which you’ve entrusted me.  I hope to give you glory through my servanthood to your creations.  I love you so much!

welcome balloons

And I pray in the mighty name, 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!

Go-deep-go-strong-abatley-1

© Alison Batley (photo copyright)

Today my congregation hosts a prayer vigil.  We’re in a transition phase, since our pastor of 22 years retired.  The United Church of Christ (UCC) recommends taking time to adjust to leaving the old and envisioning the next pastoral period.  With a lot of help from the internet (amazing what one can find with Google!), I developed a guide for our prayer vigil today.   Among the resources:  

Prayer Vigil Guide for Visioning with the most lovely graphic (above)

Those who wanted a resource for their 30 minutes of solitude in our sanctuary (or elsewhere) have been given the following.  I pray it helps us to think about where God wants to lead us.

Throughout our four-week all church study, we used this little graphical guy doing various things.  I was fortunate to find him praying; it appears he’s likely copyrighted by Leo Blanchette.

orange guy - prayer

I’m posting the resource here, because some may find it helpful in considering their personal or congregational journey ahead.

To God be the glory!

Transitional Ministry Visioning Prayer Vigil

Enter into prayer:  praising God for the many wonderful ways our congregation embodies God’s love.   Praise God if you have grown closer to Christ at our church. Praise God!

Scripture:  

We continually remember before our God your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

~ I Thessalonians 1:3

Focus:  on whom God is for you, the purpose God has given you and the purpose for our congregation.

Scripture:  

“But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by God in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…”            ~ Matthew 16:15 – 19

Meditate:  on the times and ways in your life when God has guided you and the times God has led our church.

Scripture: 

But when the Spirit of truth comes, the Spirit will guide you into all truth.

~ John 16:13

Access the Holy of Holies in ways that work for you:  Listen to music, read, draw, do handiwork or your craft.  Enter into God’s Sacred Space.

Scripture:  

… beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.            ~ Phillipians 4:8

Ask:  for spiritual vision for our congregation and spend time listening to God.

Scripture: 

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

~ Proverbs 29:18

Pray:  that our church will be led by the Holy Spirit during the envisioning event and that each participant will come with a listening heart to be attentive to what others have  to say.  Pray that all will seek to align our personal desires with God’s vision, and work together to seek God’s direction.

Scripture:  

Call unto me, and I will answer, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.

~ Jeremiah 33:3

Ask:  God to guide the participants to discover key areas of ministry focus God would desire for us during the next five years.

Scripture: 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak.

~ Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 7

Scripture:   “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

~ Jeremiah 29:11-13

Pray:  for good participation from as many people as possible on March 10 in helping to envision our church’s future.

Scripture: From God the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

~ Ephesians 4:16a

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 addresses death and its sting.  Donna Schaper summons images of watching carrots grow in order to appreciate what it takes to change, and the time it may take.  Our congregation will be considering change this week-end at a visioning meeting.

 transformation

Many fear death.  I suspect almost all of us fear pain preceding death.  There are a few of us who look forward to learning what comes after death.  I believe I’ve been promised something wonderful, and I’m eager to see how it pans out.  I remember a sermon that included the thought spurring comment: “What if you were to arrive in heaven and find Hitler standing next to you?”  I supposed it was meant as a conundrum or something to lead me to be sorry for living a life in which I attempt to do good and avoid evil.  My response:  I hope I won’t care.  I’m hoping for a heaven in which I truly will be overjoyed to be there…  and that it will surpass my best times on earth, and I won’t have to go home to get up and go to work or clean the house in the morning.   Perhaps I’ll understand something about how we both got there.  Don’t know about these things now, I’m merely God’s flawed creation.  I’m not supposed to know everything, so I can relax in the knowledge that I don’t.

Somehow, I am reminded of “Spirit” a lovely hymn written by James K. Manley, as he finished his doctoral thesis:

wind

Spirit, spirit of gentleness,
blow through the wilderness, calling and free,
Spirit, spirit of restlessness,
stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.

You moved on the waters, you called to the deep,
then you coaxed up the mountains from the valleys of sleep;
and over the eons you called to each thing;
“Awake from your slumbers and rise on your wings.”

You swept through the desert, you stung with the sand
and you goaded your people with a law and a land;
and when they were blinded with idols and lies,
then you spoke through your prophets to open their eyes.

You sang in a stable, you cried from a hill,
then you whispered in silence when the whole world was still;
and down in the city you called once again,
when you blew through your people on the rush of the wind.

You call from tomorrow, you break ancient schemes.
From the bondage of sorrow all the captives dream dreams;
our women see visions, our men clear their eyes.
With bold new decisions your people arise.

(James K. Manley (20th century), hymn-writer. Published in Everflowing Streams (1981). “Spirit,” l. 1-4 (1978).)

Spirit of Gentleness,

You blow goodness and mercy just as the gentle wind blows ripples on the water.  You are the origin of my every thought.  You send inspiration to move me from my mental inertia.  I worship and adore you.

Spirit of Restlessness,

Stir me from placidness; guide me, I pray of thee, on a gentle but steady course of bringing your kingdom to come on earth.   Set my heart, mind, soul on your loving kindness.  Let me seek only to improve the world for all.  Let me be a calming presence among those in turmoil, helping to bring glimpses of your joy and your glory.

Spirit who calls me to freedom,

Thank you for calling me from tomorrow and breaking the ancient schemes.  Remind  me that my only bonds are those from which I could break through by following you.  Help me to make reality from the dreams of the captives.  Help me to report the women’s visions and encourage the men to clear their eyes and see you.  Help us all to arise and do your holy work.

Spirit who Cried from a hill,

Thank you for whispering to me in the silence.  Thank you for waking me in the night to meditate on you with the sting of my hand ‘falling asleep’.  Thank you for the extravagant blessings you have bestowed on me.  Thank you for a world of freedom in my head, to imagine your world of freedom on earth.  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!

This musing stems from reading the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill’s article about the Oscars, and a connection many nominated films had to mental illness.

Silver Linings

“These movies taught us that love can endure against all odds and transform our minds in the most surprising ways. And they reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage to believe in ourselves.” ~ US First Lady, Michelle Obama

Enduring Energy,

You are the inspiration for screenplay writers, even when they don’t know it.  You are the origin of everything.  I find you everywhere and I worship you.  You are love.  You are loving energy.  Amazing!

Loving Lord,

I come to you today asking for your focus.  Help me to keep my mind on carrying out your purpose and creating good.  Remind me to affirm the good I encounter.  Help me to remember to state the positive and to make more of it.  Let me help, in my small way, to bring your kingdom to come on this earth.

I pray for Thea, more than 2/3 done with her chemotherapy:  help her to eat well, rest well and stay strong through these days.  Let her breathe in your healing, loving energy.  Let her build her strength emotionally as she practices your loving ways.

chemotherapy-treatment

I pray for Denise, as she heals.  I pray for Tom as he goes through chemo.  I bring to you Joyce & Joe as they mourn the loss of Joe’s father.

What cancer cannot do

I pray for Sarah, struggling with a job she does not enjoy, but one that will help to cover her living expenses.  Draw her near you.  Show her a loving community in Boulder where she can be nurtured, and in turn, nurture others.

I pray for  Susan, building a new life with Matt.  You are the model for our relationships, Lord.  Show both Matt and Susan how to be loving of each other while taking care of themselves.  Let them build a strong family together.

I pray for Dianne and Bob, as they consider a brand new chapter in the location of their lives.  Open their eyes to see the area.  Inspire them to think of what’s best for themselves, their children and Dianne’s parents.  Show them your plan, Lord and remind them to be open to it.

I bring my congregation as we seek your will for us over the coming years.  Where would you have us work for you, Lord.  What would you have us do?  Please, Lord, open the eyes, hearts, and minds of our members as they see the resource we’ve written for the prayer vigil.  Thank you for inspiring Greg to put a copy in every worship guide this Sunday.  Whether members one week from tomorrow pray in our sanctuary or elsewhere, let them seek your purpose, Lord, and let them find you as they search for you with all their hearts.

Gracious Giver,

The snow gently falling outside is lovely and brings much needed moisture.  I’m warm and comfortable here.  Thank you for the abundant gifts and blessings you have bestowed upon me.  Bless them all, I pray, and use them and me for your will.

Through Jesus Christ,

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!

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!

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November 2017
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