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Today is Oct. 25, 2013.  This morning’s Devotional, written be Rev. Kenneth Samuel, is based on

“But to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good, and even that is not enough.  For then you must learn to know God better and discover what God wants you to do.” – 2 Peter 1:5

faith_works_landscape

 

The devotional addresses the need for practices based on one’s principles (the values, not the school administrator!)  Mentioned is Congress and their deadlock and how it doesn’t serve ANYone.  Will you pray with me, please?

Practical Peace,

You are!  You called yourself “I AM” when you spoke with our ancestors.  Only you have the power and the peace.  You are glorious and graceful!  Only you are worthy of my worship.  Amazing!

Loving Light,

This morning I pray for all the leaders of government – not only in my country but in all countries.  Help them to remember they have been put in power not for their benefit but for the benefit of all people, for the common GOOD.  Remind them that you transcend religion – that worshiping you are more important than the way in which we pray or the name we give you.  Common to all these is the love of you and one another, the emptying/humbling of oneself, the need to pray/meditate.  Remind them that you have the power and without you, nothing can be done.

Congress

Again, I remember people who have asked for prayer – young and old, healthy and ill, starting life or nearing its end on this earth.  Thea, Susan, Blair, our Pastoral Search Team, Marsha and Mike, Mary, her mother & her family, my own self.  I pray for Steve and for my relationship with him.   And being a mere mortal, I know I remember fewer names than requests.

Incredible Imagineer,

You also gave us gratitude, along with so many gifts.  I am grateful.  Thank you.

And I dare to 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!

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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!

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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