Kairos Moments . . .
Reflections by Rev. Pamela Moyer
July 16, 2019
A few years ago on a life event anniversary, I decided to practice self-care, much like this week, when I’ll be out of the office. Self care should involve beauty! This quote is from the best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, Wild. Her mother says: “Put yourself in the way of beauty.” She has a personal transformation and healing as she hiked the “Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State” alone.
A few years ago, I walked 3 miles of the trails at beautiful Burke Lake Park, to put myself “in the way of beauty”. The geese were abundant; fishermen arrived, sweaty joggers panted while home school moms taught toddlers about fish, frogs and birds. Frisbee golf teams competed; retirees power-walked and someone practiced yoga on the amphitheater stage. I attempted fitness stations, but it was hot and muggy. Forced to rest and stretch periodically, I used the purposefully placed benches funded and dedicated to loyal Burke Lake fans, most of whom are no longer with us. I did not walk alone with my memories that day.
Park employees made their rounds for trash and limb removal after violent storms. They were present, but not intrusive; I felt safe and surrounded, even by strangers. There were picnics being set up and a few campers. The dead tree limbs and debris reminded me that they are always with us after a storm, disaster or crisis. The metaphor was obvious; the anniversary still held some debris in my own life – things not completed or emotions not processed. The people who supported me then surround me today; they help me pick up trash or cut down a dead limb, figuratively speaking. I don’t always know these encouragers well; they pass by with a smile, pack my groceries, some call to check in or give me a hug at church. Just their presence and positive attitudes can lift the dead weight of grief, when it surfaces unexpectedly.
That day was a fitness
walk: cardio, check! Hydrated, check! Sore muscles, check! Mission
accomplished. The unexpected benefits came from beauty: the water surrounding
the trails created quiet lapping sounds; the birds sang; children laughed; fish
splashed. My heartbeat slowed as I observed this beauty; it was an emotional
fitness walk too. Creator God has placed beauty all around us if we slow down
to notice it and participate. Whether it’s an ocean, lake, creek or a fountain
in a sculpture garden, this summer, please find some healing beauty, pause to
drink it in and enjoy! See you Sunday!
July 9, 2019
We have been thinking about and celebrating our National Independence this week. I hope you had a lovely time with friends and family. Did you see God at work during the week? Please share those “Kairos Moments” with me by phone (571.278.7115 cell) or new email (email@example.com), where you witnessed the energy of the Holy Spirit working in you or in others (remember, we are in the season of Pentecost for some time!).
Let’s talk today of personal independence. Of course, we are never truly independent due to our need for each other! Living in community creates more of an interdependence, where we rely on one another yet are separate to make our own choices. Different types of independence are shown when teenagers attempt to disassociate from parents; or college students away from home quickly learn appropriate boundaries when they move into a dormitory shared with 12 suitemates! New student drivers learn independence from hitching rides and then learn interdependence as they mutually respect other drivers and the state traffic laws.
What other kinds of independence can you think of? We mentioned in last week’s column and on Sunday the freedom to worship as we feel called to do. The United Baptist Church financially budgets and supports the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty [if you’d like more information, go online: https://bjconline.org/], an independent, legal and academic group which monitors and reports on all three branches of government to ensure that we are safe to study the Bible and worship, unlike many other countries, where the government declares free worship is punishable by imprisonment or death.
Priesthood of all believers is one of our Baptist freedoms: “God is equally accessible to all the faithful, and every Christian has equal potential to minister for God.” Soul Freedom is another: “The right and responsibility of every individual to form a personal relationship with God, without the imposition of a creed (a human summary of absolute truths), dominance by clergy, or the intervention of civil government (to promote or to authorize).” We also experience Church Freedom, that is the ability to be autonomous, “under the authority of Jesus, the Christ, local churches are free to determine their membership, ordain their leadership, determine the form of their ministry, and to associate with the larger Christian community.”
Other individual freedoms need more discernment, like the freedom to choose medical care, a job, a mate, where one resides, what one believes or what attitudes to have!
July 2, 2019
We had a wonderful Independence Day Cookout and Indoor Picnic this week after Worship! Thank you to our grill masters, Ben Hester and Otto Mueller (who made the melon monster); thank you to our organizers, Dot and Aubrey Jones and the many who brought delicious desserts, helped set up, decorate and clean up! We even had a Corn Hole game (thanks to Vickie Youngblood), Word Search and Trivia games with several prize winners! Thank you too to Sally Norris for providing beautiful red, white and blue flowers in Worship and to Jeff Snavely (who played jazzy clarinet during the worship service), Melissa Snavely on piano and David Evans who led our patriotic singing!
We plan to continue celebrating for the whole week; the office will be closed on Thursday, and Sunday our worship will include patriotic hymns, Independence, Religious Liberty and culminate with Communion. Please join us and if you’d like to wear your patriotic colors again, feel free!
There are different types of freedom and independence. We specifically celebrate the courage of our nation’s founding fathers, the victory of the Revolutionary War and the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Can you imagine being a patriot like Franklin, Jefferson, Adams or John Hancock, standing up to the monarchy, risking a charge of treason and death? They stood up for what they believed, even if others were too afraid of the consequences. There are reenactments in Philadelphia of the Declaration of Independence signing and readings of the document every year all over the country.
One of the benefits from those courageous Patriots we celebrate this week and living in the USA is our ability to worship freely. We financially budget and support the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty [for more information, go online: https://bjconline.org/]. We will explore more about other freedoms, especially those we have as a Baptist, in next week’s sermon and article.
June 25, 2019
This past Sunday, we had two Biblical illustrations of transformation and change: 1 Kings 19:8-15a (Elijah) and Luke 8:26-39 (demoniac healing). The context of our passage was drought and the battle between God and Baal. Queen Jezebel had killed Yahweh’s prophets. One man, Elijah, God’s agent was put to the test against 450 Baal prophets to declare whose god was superior. You recall that “fake” god Baal never appeared despite the prophets’ dancing, singing and hurting themselves! Although Elijah doused the wood three times with water, putting excess in the trench, God brought burning fire to the wood! Natural laws would have made it smoke and sputter, but fire and lightening fell from heaven and the people realized that Yahweh was the true God.
Still, Elijah’s life was threatened and he panicked! Though God had always shown him paths to follow, this time he ran the wrong direction. Has that ever happened to you? He hid in the caves at Mt. Horeb and had hoped to hear God’s voice in the whirlwind, the earthquake and the rain, but he did not. God challenged him, “Why are you here?” Then there was silence and a small whisper, “What are you doing here, Elijah? Go back the way you came through Israel to Damascus (North).” God’s next assignments would be the way God would deal with Jezebel. God reassured him, and this time he trusted God and obeyed.
Our second story of miraculous transformation is from Luke 8:26-39. You may know this passage that is also found in Mark 5:1-20. The very talk of demon possession makes us uncomfortable; most scholars believe the symptoms described were from a traumatic event or seeing Roman Legion atrocities ~ our PTSD. The man was afflicted with real disease of the brain and nervous system: psychosis, epilepsy, raging frustration or muscular contractions. He was healed by Jesus.
The curious people came to see the man they locked away and feared. When they saw him composed, clean, dressed and articulate they grew fearful! Rather than recognize Jesus as legitimate Son of God, they kicked him out of town! Jesus’ compassionate healing went against cultural complacency; they like things as they were.
Doesn’t that sound like us? Humans are not usually happy
about change, unless it’s quick and visibly beneficial. Routines make us
comfortable and complacent; but God challenges us to change daily! Our
spiritual lives were transformed when we were baptized. The Holy Spirit
continues to change us, if we listen for that small whisper, “What are you
doing here?” Are you called to serve? Yes! Let’s talk soon.