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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!

I’ve had “the weepies” since Saturday.  Today is Friday.  I’m stronger by the day, but I’m still emotionally fragile.  WeepiesAnd then this morning, I found this daily devotional in my email inbox. Maren Tirabassi writes such good stories. And prayers.

I know there are people with worse troubles than mine. I live in suburban US, spring has come; I don’t live in a war-zone or gang-ridden neighborhood, I’m not starving (far from it!) nor freezing. But my spirit is weak and my emotions are fragile.  Will you pray with me, please?

Inscrutable Imagineer,

The layers of your love and your plan go on forever; I can’t know them all, but I sure do love them! You are amazing and I love seeing ‘what happens next’, even when it brings me to tears. Only you can interrupt the mortal actions throughout my day, reminding me to focus on you… on your compassion… your brilliance.

Compassionate Creator,

I bring Thea and Jim and my own self to you.  I pray that your will be done, and if you don’t have a strong preference, I pray that Thea not have to go through chemo again.  She’s only 62 and I’m not ready to lose her.

self care - 12 steps

Hold my brother close, please, and remind him to take care of the marvelous being you have created, the one that we know as Jim.

And me: strengthen me. Grant me intelligent compassion: the ability to care for others and to care for myself just as much and to take care of myself. And help me to come, and to come to, and come to know, and come to know you.

Generous Giver,

Thank you for sunshine, and cold dew on the grass, and plants to ‘harden off’ as they prepare to go in the garden. Thank you for bleeding heart that came back, after Pat Hummel gave me replacements for the one I lost in the drought. Thank you for the pond and thank you in advance for the waterfall and the goldfish.  Thank you for popups that tell me of a book written by John Shelby Spong. Now I want to read it and Amazon has it for a penny. Thank you for sisters in Christ who pray with/for me. Thank you for my life.

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! 

 

Today’s StillSpeaking Devotional, written by Elissa Johnk, quotes this scripture:

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. […] To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people . . . .” – I Corinthians 9:19-23

So, she wrote this with me in mind (and people like me, all around the world).  I read it, then prayed the prayer, then went into the kitchen where Steve is washing dishes, and read parts of it to Steve.  And I prayed the prayer again, right in front of him. Those of you who know Steve know he hates organized religion and preachiness. I read and prayed anyway, because I want him to know I’ll try to love him better and occasionally take a pass on loving strangers.

arguing-coupleI’ve wondered for a long time how I can be so pleasant to friends and even strangers, and even do lots of stuff for them, but I won’t remember to do that for Steve. I’m not a tent-maker and don’t even want to be (heck, I’m a seminary drop out).  Yet, I believe it IS my Christian duty to show love to all people. It seems to me that if I wear a cross, I need to be a good representative of Jesus.

But here’s the thing. I need to remember to be good to Steve or else HE gets a bad representation of Jesus. Do you think Jesus went home to Mary and wouldn’t help mend the broken things that a carpenter could do?  (Mind you, one Gospel has him calling his mother “Woman” at the wedding feast of Cana, and being pretty nasty to her when she asks him to do something about the lack o’wine.) I hope he could curtail his expectations of his mother and treat her with love and respect.

LoveWordCloudDid Jesus have siblings? Popular opinion states that he did. I hope Mary & Joseph taught him respect for all family members. I spent years trying to show my parents just how wonderful I was. Much of this was at the expense of my poor sister and younger brothers. I try now to treat them well, even when they royally annoy me (as they so often do and I so often annoy them!). (I can’t explain why James, his brother, is such an authoritarian. He was raised by the same people as Jesus.)

Was Jesus married? Do I even need to care? If so, I hope his wife embraced his mission and travelled with him. I hope he treated her like a queen. I hope, in his perfect-Jesusness, his son-of-Godness, that he treated his wife and children well.

So here’s my prayer, and if you are like I am, and continue to strive to embody love, compassion, kindness; I invite you to pray with me.

God of Graciousness,

You make the goodness in the world. You still speak and since the beginning, your words are you. Your word is light, shutting out darkness. You are not evil. You are not the god who plays chess with the incarnate evil and sends bad things to happen to good people. You are goodness. You are kindness. You are love. You are amazing!

Lord of Light and Love,

I pray that today you will replace all selfishness with love. Help me to take enough time to replenish my resources, so that I remember to think before I speak or act. Write the words love and loving-kindness on the inside of my eyelids. Grant me patience. Grant me grace. Grant me compassion. Take me back to where I was in the honeymoon of my love for Steve. Give me new eyes to see all the good he does. Remind me that I don’t need to cure every ill of the world. Remind me to cure the ills at home.

And I bring to you those with ills of mind and body. I bring those who aren’t handling life as well as they should and those who don’t have the resources to manage things well. I bring those who cannot bring themselves as well as those who don’t realize that they can bring themselves to you. I pray for a better and just economy. I pray for wisdom for the world’s leaders. I pray that your kingdom come on earth and turn upside down the belief that all resources are finite and insufficient.

Generous Giver,

Thank you for sunlight and lamps that bring the full spectrum of light indoors. Thank you for a husband who washes dishes and cleans the patio after the winter. Thank you for the promise of spring in the bulbs that stick their heads out. Thank you for colors, especially the green of growth. Thank you for my life.  I love you so much.

I pray claiming the promise of Jesus. That if we ask in his name, our joy will be made full.

Amen.

To God be the glory!

Love always,

Melissa

© Melissa Pazen, 2015
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!

Have you read the stillspeaking devotional for today? If not, click here. It’s a God-moment, when we turn everything upside down; just like Jesus told us to do.

“Blessed are those who appreciate it when they get head lice, for theirs is the kingdom of good parenting and good relationships.”

~ the gospel according to Melissa (the heretic)

(clearly NEVER to be included in the formal church tradition)

 

I’ve had head lice. Kate was then Katie. She was in first grade and had longer hair and brought them home. Louse - adult male that lives on h;umansChris never got them. Katie and I shampooed with a nasty potion every three days and tried to comb out the nits. We washed combs, brushes and anything that touched hair. Mostly we wanted to stop itching!

But God! God helps us to reframe our thoughts about these little parasites, even while we strive to eliminate them.  Lice show us that love and affection have taken place and love is always a good thing.  Will you pray with me, please?

Lord of Lice and Love,

You created everything, even lice. Each has a purpose and a place in your world. Monkeys eat lice. I guess it’s part of their balancing of their diets.  

You are bigger than just the creator of humans, monkeys and headlice. You called the universe into being. You were there before it existed. You will be here long after all of us have turned to dust. You are amazing!

Light of Love,

I humbly approach you this morning. I bring all of my brokenness and I pray for healing. I pray for forgiveness, for me and all who have wronged me OR YOU. Part of getting over things for me is to understand. Yet even when I can’t understand, help me to forgive. Help me to allow people to be less than perfect. Help me to enjoy the journey with them, help me to ask your forgiveness for my sin and to forgive those who have wronged me, deliberately or inadvertently. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus is said to have taught disciples to pray:
Abba, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation. (Luke 11:2-4)
 Jesus turns the world upside down
Tall order! And I pray you will help me to forgive those who I feel should be indebted to me in any way; for those who have trespassed or sinned against me.  I find my judgment runs rampant like: 

“Losing” (Tenth Avenue North)

I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong, yeah?
Don’t they know it’s wrong, yeah?
Maybe there’s something I missed
But how could they treat me like this?
It’s wearing out my heart
The way they disregard
This is love, this is hate…
We all have a choice to make
Oh, Father won’t You forgive them?
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
Well it’s only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that’s mine
Seventy times seven times
‘Cause Lord it doesn’t feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it’s not that much
When I think of what You’ve done.
This is love, this is hate…
We’ve got a choice to make
Oh, Father won’t You forgive them?
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
Oh, no!
Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not
Freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down
Oh, Father won’t you forgive them?
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
Yeah, I feel like I’ve been losing
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’
I feel like I’ve been losin’
Oh, Father, give me grace to forgive them
‘Cause I feel like the one losin’

Lord, I pray for your grace. Heal me from sin, especially the sin of judgment when I’m hurt. Marianne Williamson wrote:

At a certain point, we forgive because we decide to forgive. Healing occurs in the present, not the past. We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.

Lord, help me to love.  And Lord, help me to love. And Lord, when I forget, help me to love.

Generous Giver,

You’ve given me all that I have, especially the ability to forgive.  I am truly grateful.  Thank you for full spectrum lights to use even in the darkest winter.  Thank you for green tea.  Thank you for technology and the ability to write my prayer to you and the memory to remember to pray. Thank you for my life. Thank you for the lives of those around me, and the lessons I learn from my community. Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus taught me that when I ask in his name, I shall receive, that my joy be made full.  I pray for that joy and your peace as 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!

“So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one either side, with Jesus between them.” – John 19:17-18 

This morning’s StillSpeaking Devotional is simply entitled “Good Friday“.  In it, Matt Fitzgerald states “I don’t believe God sacrificed Jesus.”  I’ve wrestled with the “Jesus had to die to fulfill the scriptures” line in the past. I had a little trouble at last night’s wonderful Maundy Thursday (I’ll always think of it as Holy Thursday) service thinking of “the sacrifice to come”. Perhaps there is a cross, not a ruler (not even the golden one…) nor a lesson plan on our altars — but, to me it’s logical.  The Messiah came to love and serve and that’s the opposite of what was expected — even what was hoped for, desired.

love-cross-upside-down1

Jesus taught love and servanthood and the world — humanity, evil incarnate — couldn’t tolerate substituting those for the law.  To those in power, it may have been seen as justice.  And when justice is at odds with love, with continuing to be true to what one knows is true, I have to hope I could stand, as Jesus did.

I’ve been awake for the last hour, and perhaps this has been my vigil (it’s 5 am my time).  I was disappointed that we weren’t able to populate an overnight vigil at our church, that people weren’t willing to spend time in the sanctuary, but perhaps I need to merely be happy for those who participated in the “do it yourself vigil”.  I’ve been re-reading Jan Karon’s Mitford series.  (The tales of Tim Kavenaugh are sweet.)  

Last night, I had the privilege of sitting with a friend who was moved to tears at Taylor Churney’s singing – perhaps it was the song, or some still incomplete mourning, or merely being with God in the moment.  Whatever it was, I love that our congregation has created a little Mitford here in Batavia.  We are able to be our transparent, authentic selves with one another, that we can be true to our God and ourselves.  I believe we can ask little that is more valuable.

This is disjointed, but I hope you find the thread that weaves it together: love.  Will you pray with me, please?

God of grace,

You started this whole thing, from the cosmos on through history to the present and beyond.  You were there at the beginning and made it begin.  Your power creates all things.  And it is love.  I am but a mere mortal, one of your creations.  You are amazing!

Lord of love,

I wish I could say I wouldn’t have betrayed Jesus or deserted him in the garden.  In my heart, I know my weaknesses; I could easily have rationalized handing him over to the Romans and I know if I were tired after a good Seder with wine, I would have fallen asleep.  Lord, I cannot believe it was your intent for Jesus to die, but I cannot believe his life could have culminated in any other way. Those who live in darkness thought they could extinguish his light.  And, OH, were they wrong!

CrossHeart

Perfect Parent,

Thank you.  Thank you for my life.  Thank you for Jesus’ life. Thank you for lights that keep out the darkness and help us to have glimpses of your eternal love.

Lord, I love you so much.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen. 

 

Love to you this Eastertide

and always.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2014

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

 

The prayer at the end of this devotional,  published today, reminds me of Stephen Ministry and my training for it.  The body of the devotional is exactly the kind of story that led me to a talk I gave a year ago in San Diego.

child-abuse-620x349

I doubt the Stephen Ministers are often privileged to have someone share such serious parental abuse, yet I pray that as each care giver stands in the mud with her/his care receivers (official or unofficial), we can lean on God’s strength to avoid slipping with them into the ‘slough of despair’.

Will you pray with me please?

Unimaginable One,

You call us out of the darkness.  You created the light and you invite us to come live in the light of your kingdom.  We are honored, humbled, privileged.  You are amazing!

Lord of Love,

I pray for all who suffer the abuse of power by another human.  I pray especially for the vulnerable who should be cherished and protected but who are harmed by those who they were told to trust.  I pray for those who are told they must be wrong or that they are liars when they tell another adult of the abuse.  Be the comfort.  Be the healing energy.  Enfold them in your loving embrace and let them again feel safe.  You are the love through all the world and beyond.  Only you can help them by empowering them and others to do well.

Child_abuse

I pray for those too weak or naïve to protect the vulnerable.  Lord, please open their eyes and let them lean on your strength.  Let them use your strength to create a safe place for the victims.  Let them help to keep the victims out of harm’s way.

child_sexual_abuse

Lord, I bring to you also the abusers.  They have been weak to these sins; they have not overcome the temptations.  Bring them, too, into the light, Lord.  Show them the path on which to put their feet.  Make their journey aim for your kingdom and straighten the path for them as they begin to walk with you.  Send your saints to them, to walk beside them and encourage them and love them.

Gracious Giver,

You are the source of the technology to deliver the devotionals.  You put the thought into Donna Schaper’s mind to write the words we read.  You inspire me with forgiveness for perpetrators of hate, compassion for those to weak to stop what they know is wrong, and love for those who suffer from violations.

All that we have, all that we cherish, all that we enjoy comes from you.  I am grateful.  Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus told us to ask in his name, that our joy be made full.

I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Not to us, but 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!

Quinn Caldwell did it again!  The Devotional on “Clean House” finally got my prayer/blog juices going!  Most of us raised in Catholic/Christian church communities remember the story about Martha and Mary.

Some say “cleanliness is next to Godliness” and I go along with those who say “cleanliness is next to impossible”.  A story circulated when I was a child about a woman on her hands and knees in some public building, scrubbing.  As her arm shot forward she whispered “I do”, back “my work”, forward “for the glory”, and back “of God”, over and over again.  My thought is that in every task, there is an opportunity to praise God.

Now back to Mary and Martha. As I read again the well-known verses, one word jumped at me: “distracted”.  Hmm. Mary-Martha-wordle As I was commuting to work, the morning pair on Air1 (Christian radio. I love the rock & roll!)  The discussion between the songs was on multi-tasking vs. being present to one task.

Bingo!   That’s me alrighty!

Here’s how I now read the back story on the passage.  Jesus’ was invited by Martha.  Likely he and the apostles needed a roof over their heads for the night.  Or perhaps he wanted to speak with a small group.  It’s possible Martha and Mary had gone out to hear Jesus earlier and as the crowd headed home, Martha said she would welcome Jesus into her home.  At any rate, Martha invited Jesus.

Somehow I suspect it was an impulsive act, else the house would have been fully prepared before Jesus’ arrival (Right?  If Jesus were coming to your house tomorrow, would you stay up all night cleaning and cooking?  I sure would and I’d be praising God for the creation of the ‘open 24 hours’ grocery store, too!)

So Jesus enters the house.  Chances are Mary (who might not even live with Martha) simply gravitated to Jesus.  She sat at his feet and listened.

If I were Martha, I likely would be hovering around the edge of the people, finding the cobweb I missed earlier and the grass the dogs brought in on their feet.  I’d be listening and multi-tasking.  You see, I can’t sit still when people are in my home unless it’s up to my standards (not perfect, but pretty good)!

So Jesus would be on the love-seat in our family room or maybe I talked him into taking my recliner.  Mary would be at his feet.  Followers who could fit would be in the family room end of the great-room and I’d be inching from the group to the kitchen.  And then I’d think, “Oh, Lord, let me be sure the bathroom is clean!”  Let me say, I wouldn’t begrudge Mary the opportunity to listen.  Oh NO, I would not!  But, if she really loved me, she’d be helping me, too.  We can listen and work!  We’ve been doing it since we were children.  (right?)

Now, would I go to Jesus to ask for intervention?  Unlikely.

Would I be wishing Mary would help?  Would I be trying to catch her eye and jerk my head to signal “come here”?  Might I crook a finger at her if she still didn’t come or wave my hand toward me? You bet I would! Here I’ve invited a great man into my home so we could listen, but she isn’t even helping!  The ingrate! Acting as if she’s too good to do housework!

But here’s the thing.  Mary was able to pay attention.  She could focus on Jesus and his words.   And Martha was catching the occasional word, I bet, while her mind would not stop racing of all that should be done.

Poor Martha, don’t hate her, realize that she is a victim of the circumstances with which she grew up.  She’d been taught to be more concerned about the state of the household than ANYTHING else (well, if she had children, their faces would be cleaned before she started on the house).

I’m often like Martha.  I find it hard to spend 20 minutes with Jesus (or any name for God) in the morning.  I don’t do it before I leave the house because I’d need to get up 20 minutes earlier.  I do it when I get to the office and the devotional shows up.  Sometimes I’ve found that it’s noon before I’ve finished reading the devotional.

Lately, I’ve found it hard to turn off the noise of my emotions and spend time with God in prayer.  And you know I love to pray and talk with God, but it’s been hard.

How are you like Martha?  What gets in your way?  What shares the time you could be listening with God?

Lest you now feel guilty, let’s go the other way too.  How are you like Mary?  What is it about God that draws your attention away from any other priority or item on your “to-do” list?

Perhaps you, like me, have been made human.

Mary n Martha-feet Jesus,

You call us o’er the tumult of our lives’ wild, restless sea; day by day your sweet voice soundeth saying “Christian, follow me!”

Almighty Architect,

Your voice can be heard over the tumult.  Your voice can be heard across the years.  Ever-changing, ever-the-same, you are the source and the solution; you are the cause and the effect.  You are the energy of love and creation.  Amazing!

Lord of the Light,

Show me today how to pay attention to you.  Pull me to focus only on you.  Amid distractions, remove my sight of them and my hearing of them.  Even if only for two minutes…  or even one, grant me moments in your glorious presence.  Make the light and the sound and the smell and the thought only of you.  I can’t do it on my own, even though I want to do it – so much.  With you, I can do all things.  You strengthen me!

Lord of Love,

You know the desires of my heart.  You know those for whom I pray, you hear me when I think their names.  Susan, Matt, CJ, Gary, Holly, Molly, all my sisters in my Monday night group that I miss, Carol’s neighbor, Steve, Chris and Kate, Ramya and Will, Meghan and her husband.  I thank you for the return to health of Thea and Lisa. And, I pray Lord, for my own health; help me find ways to strengthen my immune system and awake rested in the morning.

Generous Giver,

As I type on this technology and send it to friends through ways Mary and Martha would never have imagined, I thank you.  And I thank you for the distractions, for they are the sins I need to overcome.  Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus said to ask in his name, 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!

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!

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