Answering the Call to Prayer

“That has to be the dumbest commercial.” My daughter was emphatic in her disgust.

“Which one this time?” was my response.

She went on to describe a fast food restaurant’s advertisement where people are engaged in some activity: a baseball game, a wedding, and a meeting at work. Then a gong sounds (the company’s identifying mark) and one of the characters immediately leaves what they were doing to find the nearest gong-sounding restaurant. The closing scene is that person chowing down on one their meals.

It does seem a bit contrived. But then I was reading in Robert Benson’s book, “Living Prayer.” In it he describes how the monks at the monastery drop what they’re doing when they hear the bell ring for prayer. The question he raises is, “When the bell rings, will you answer the bell?”

Monks ceasing their activity to go to prayer seems much more logical and natural than a person pulling into a fast food restaurant when the gong sounds. But what about you and me? What calls us to pray? If the Spirit were to move or nudge us to pray would we drop whatever we were doing?

I was reading a blog where someone was describing a trip to Egypt. While there, this writer was struck by how often people would pray, how many times a day there was a audible call to prayer, and many people responded. They wondered, as a result, what that would look like in America?

The apostle Paul left instructions that the fledgling church in Thessoalonica was to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).” There are at least thirty-five other similar instructions in the Bible (according to my Google SEO). But how can that be a realistic expectation?

One way to attack the seemingly insurmountable instruction to always be at prayer would be to take a few meaningful steps in that direction. We could set a timer on our watch or phone to go off three times a day: start with morning, noon, and night. When those become a habit or second nature, we could begin to increase the number of times to four, then five, and stretch ourselves to six. Imagine praying as we awake, again at mid morning, then as we eat lunch, on then to middle afternoon, dinner, and when we go to bed. We might even be able to find a time to pause and prayer in the hours between dinner and bed—depending on whether you’re a night owl. This is not the kind of thing to attempt all at once, but slowly over time as we sense the Spirit wooing us.

I can almost sense resistance as this is being read. “We don’t have time for this.” “What would we find to pray about?” I find these things to be typical of busy people, but it really is a good question.

Book titles quite often catch my eye and last longer in my mind than the material between the cover. Bill Hybels wrote a book that falls into that category for me: “Too Busy Not to Pray.” Instead of looking for reasons to not pray, let’s just start doing it.

And the what is just as “easy” to address. Whatever you find. Scan the news on your phone and pick three things. Open a hymnal and pray the verses. Carry the prayer list from your church’s bulletin with you. Pray through your friends alphabetically: Monday for everyone who’s name begins with A, and on and on. Do a search on your favorite search engine for ways to pray. You’ll find lots of suggestions.

Now, with timers set, hearts committed, ears open, and armed with ideas for how to use the time, let me ask Benson’s question again: When the bell rings will you answer it?

I’m going to be giving it my best effort. Will you?

How Will You Enter the Door?

Day 3. 5 at St. Davids Christian Writers Conference

I was walking to breakfast this morning, and I began to notice I was walking differently. I felt alive. The air was invigorating. I felt an unusual spring in my step. I must have grown at least an inch taller. And then I heard my mother’s voice, “Stand up straight. Put your shoulders back. Walk with confidence.” The memory made me chuckle.

Why was it always so important to walk confidently, to walk like I was getting ready to enter into an important meeting?

As I reached for the door to enter into our gathering spaces, with this memory and question fresh in my mind, a new awareness came to mind: Mom was encouraging me to always be ready. I couldn’t know who I would meet. I wouldn’t know what important contact would be waiting ahead. The what or who didn’t matter as much as the how.

Our keynote speaker, Eva Marie Everson, drew her morning message from Exodus 3 and 4, The Calling of Moses. There were so many good points, but the one that struck me was the reference to Moses’ response to God in 3:4, “Here I am.”

Moses wasn’t giving a childlike response to a school teacher’s role call. Moses’ answer was clearly, “I’m ready.”

As much as my mother would deny her admonition was God’s message for me, I heard it that way this morning. God used that memory, that feeling as I walked to breakfast to remind me how each time I enter a door I need to be ready. This reminds me of the wise counsel of an elder pastor speaking to a group of us newbies, once upon a time, how we should always have a sermon, a prayer, and a song ready each time we enter a church.

At the very first writers’ conference I attended one of the people I heard speak was Torry Martin. Torry is an actor, writer, comedian, and very wise speaker. He introduced me to the phrase, “divine appointments and holy introductions.”

What would happen if we would walk through every door, enter every interaction with an “I’m ready God for whatever divine appointment or holy introduction you bring my way” attitude? Imagine for a moment that God has people who need your readiness, your message, your encouragement waiting for you to arrive. Truth is: they are there, and they need what you bring.

B Kind 2 U

It’s just too gorgeous a day to sit inside. I worked outside this morning:

The bush at the end of the driveway was becoming a hazard, not to mention an unwieldy monster. There was a maple tree growing amongst the hostas along with other odd weeds. I cleaned out the front flower beds, too. It felt good. Warm, but good.

After lunch I was about to fall asleep…a nap might be nice…when several thoughts clamored for attention, and suddenly I was wide awake. Not wishing to waste any of them, I grabbed a few books, my flowers, Ipad, bottle of tea, and headed to the porch.

I needed to write about my flowers.

Yesterday, I went with my hub to get groceries. He loves to invite me, but then always rues the experience, because we always spend massively more money than what he’s allotted with his list…I never go with a list.

The first item off-list was my $5 bouquet of colorful daisies.

To be clear, I had absolutely no need for a bouquet of flowers. There was no holiday or celebration meriting a bouquet. The only reason my husband even suggested the purchase came from 43+ years of shared life with a woman who adores daisies. The more colorful, the better. And he knew they would bring me smiles for several days.

Knowing that I don’t NEED flowers, ever, has helped me develop the ability to deny myself this indulgence. I can talk myself out of a purchase quicker than anyone I know. The only reason I didn’t balk this time came from my awareness that “letting” my husband buy me flowers that would make me happy would make him happy and that was more important than even having the flowers. (Go ahead and read that again. It seems a bit convoluted at first, but I was going to let him be happy thinking I was happy.)

However, that’s not why I needed to write about my flowers. (But I love how we “take care” of each other like that.)

I love to buy people flowers. I’m thrilled to find places like Walmart, Kroger, and even Aldi have impulse bouquets at their checkouts—mostly because I can afford them. I’ve purchased flowers for single friends who have no one buying them bouquets. Beyond that, I have fun surprising people—for no apparent reason.

One time when I visited Mom, while her second husband was still alive, I was there over Mother’s Day weekend. I splurged a bit and bought a large spray of mixed flowers. She was surprised and pleased. We found a vase and set them in a central spot where she could enjoy them. Her smiles and child-like appreciation made my heart soar.

At one point, her husband came by the vase with its color and fragrance, and he scowled. He looked at me and grumbled, “Why’d you do that?” I was surprised by his saltiness. It took me a moment to gather my words, “Because it’s Mothers’ Day and I love my mom.” As if I needed a reason. With a hrumph, he headed to the door.

I get it. Not everyone is moved by flowers like I am. But truth was, nothing moved him to kindness, or sweetness, or selflessness. I’m sure he had it in his mind how the money could have been spent in a wiser fashion, more practical, less wasteful.

I know how to be frugal. I know how to live on less. But I’ve come to believe that a little whimsy and serendipity in life is necessary. So if it’s not flowers, what will make you smile? Have you left room for whimsy? Are you open for serendipity to work it’s magic in your otherwise monotonous life?

You don’t have to break the bank, or totally shred the schedule. You don’t need a reason or a season to break out of your routine. Take the long way home. Walk barefoot in the grass. Listen to the birds. Soak in the sun. Let the breeze blow through your hair…that last one may end up needing its own post for you to understand how freeing that can be…

Whatever you do today, make sure you don’t miss the opportunities to B Kind 2 U.

Home Part 3…Unpacking

Confession: I hate unpacking. I’m not a fan of moving either.

Growing up, one of my mother’s favorite Momisms was: a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Trouble for me was I had too many things and never enough places.

Not much has changed.

But I don’t just haul boxes from state to state, town to town, and house to house. There’s this emotional baggage I cart from place to place. And those boxes can be big, and extremely heavy. I’ve been carrying some of those boxes since childhood. And my kind husband has been kind and mostly quiet about the weight and the amount.

I’ve come to understand some of this baggage in new ways over the past two years, and more recently, thanks to Noom.

One of the things in my life that has been skewed and generally out of control has been my response to food and my propensity for overeating and eating unhealthily. It’s not that I haven’t known better (and taught others to do better), but I have lacked both the understanding of why and the willpower to stay committed to eating for health. The lessons provided with my Noom program fee, helped me to see what distortions and unhealthy rules I had adopted and lived by.

And while this isn’t a post about eating rules that sabotage health, the very thought that I continue to live by rules (aka unhealthy baggage) leaves me discouraged and waffling in my hope for things to get better. Unless I decide unpack the boxes, and get rid of the stuff, the thinking, the believing, holding me back from healing and happiness.

But what does it take to unpack the boxes I carried for a lifetime?

Grace. And by this I mean absence of judging and shaming. I’m referring to a gentleness that understands how beliefs are formed, and how they often necessary for survival.

Courage. I don’t see courage as the absence of fear, but as the commitment to move ahead in spite of it. The realization that the goal is important, but so is the process of achieving it.

Support. We were created for relationship. Not a one of us needs to go this alone. I love the biblical image of how during the battle the Israelites were winning when Moses lifted up the staff. When his strength wavered, his friends and family came alongside him and held up his arms. We need to find those who will offer strength and support when feel weak and vulnerable. And we need to find those we can lend support to.

Hope. We have to have that spark that encourages us to keep trying. We have to believe things can be better. One of my favorite movie lines comes from the movie “As Good As It Gets.” The main character wants to see his therapist, but without an appointment. When the therapist holds the line, the character walks out into the waiting room and looks at the other patients and asks, “What if this is as good as it gets?”

Because of the devastation of COVID-19 pandemic, many people are asking when things will get back to normal? When will things get easy and familiar again? When will things stop being so difficult? Why do things have to be so difficult?

Just as there is little sense in carrying around belief baggage that no longer serves, there is very little logic in trying to back in time. Life and time are always moving forward. We can choose to not go along with that, to carry unnecessary baggage with us…but why?

And therein lies my hope. Life is ever moving forward. I was made for life. I was made to move forward. That my friends is what is normal. Not reaching back. Not trying to fix today with outdated strategies from yesterday.

Here’s a terrific piece of good news! The roadmap I choose to follow, the Bible, teaches that God is making things new…every day. And for each day there is a promise: because of God’s great faithfulness, each new day is met with new mercies (Lamentations 3:23-24, author’s paraphrase).

So while I hate unpacking, I’m ready for a lighter load. And looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.

Home Part 2…Memories

I’m getting settled. Husband and I have worked together to make our one room (large family room) function as bedroom, living room, office, and exercise space. Cozy. Putting the bed (twin with trundle) together was actually a fun experience. Sleeping in it even better.

Today in Arizona my siblings will be scattering my mother’s ashes across the desert she loved so much. Because of limited finances (neither husband or I have jobs or income), I decided not to fly out and participate. Part of me is sad to miss out, but the practical side of me won out. I will close my eyes and see her smile as she spoke of her love of the desert, and I will be okay.

Many years ago, after my dad died, we scattered his ashes on the 18th fairway of one of his favorite golf courses. At first this seemed odd. I had served as a pastor in several states, performed many funerals, and each one ended in a cemetery. Dad wanted to be cremated: pragmatic and cost effective. No services: too emotional, not his style. So, casting his cremains where he would be happiest made sense. Enough that it then became my mother’s wish to follow suit.

Here’s what makes that extra special in my mind. Every time I pass a golf course (and I did that daily on my way to work for the year after Dad died) I would think of my dad. I would remember his smile and stories of good games and lousy outings when he got home and put away his clubs. My husband golfed with my dad and it has been a special source of memories for him, too. That’s how we remember Dad. Not e don’t have to go to a certain cemetery and stare at a rock. We see him alive and happy.

So today, Mom will become one with the desert, and that makes me smile, but it will forever be owls that will trigger my memories of Mom. Like this little guy, perching on my coffee mug. It will be endless games of Scrabble, or Words with Friends…and I’m sure she would have loved Wordle.

This morning, I’m immensely grateful for the past two years (see previous posts that explain this life change). The cost was enormous. The discomfort, loneliness, distance, and loss immeasurable. I can’t thank my husband, daughters, and grandchildren enough for supporting me and loving me through this.

Once when I was in the throes of a teenager angsty tantrum, Mom and I had words. Exasperated, I went to the garage where my dad was creating beautiful pinecone wreaths. I had barely left the steps when the angry words came tumbling from my mouth, “How do you put up with her?”

He slowly removed his work gloves, set them on the table, and turned to look at me. I swear the moment was developing in the slowest motion possible. I stepped onto the garage floor and waited for him to speak.

“She’s your mother and you will respect her.”

That’s it. That’s all he said and then he went back to work.

I thought about that scene several times over my two years caring for Mom. Her rigid schedule and OCD behaviors could make me crazy in a blink. Her quirky rituals and superstitions most times made no sense…but that’s how she was. And I learned that I not only respected her, but loved her fiercely. And I would do whatever it took to make sure she was happy and well-cared for…to the very end.

I miss daily Scrabble. I miss knowing what day it was and exactly when it would be time to eat…and what. Nine pineapple chunks for breakfast with sliced banana—12 slices and exactly the same size. How to make a half a deli ham and sliced swiss cheese sammich with just the right amount of mustard. Dinner: Monday hotdogs; Tuesday boca burger; Wednesday mashed potatoes with Lloyds bbq; Thursday Gorton’s panko fish portions; Friday pizza; and Saturday grilled cheese. Sunday was up for grabs, but her two favorites were jumbo shrimp from Culvers, or a quesadilla from Chipotle.

I miss so much, but more than things…I have memories.

Home Again…Part 1: Adjusting

Two years. So much can happen. So much can change. I’m sure I don’t have to explain that to you…you lived the last years, too. If you’re reading this you survived them, too.

Two years ago I went to the best conference of my life. Connecting with other women clergy within my denomination energized me and encouraged me. I was excited to get back to my congregation. But first a quick visit to get my Scrabble fix with Mom.

Two years ago she got sick and never really bounced back. Her breathing issues were complicated by her anxiety. Or was it the other way around? The cycle was vicious. Then the natural progression of age related dementia began to show up unannounced. Another severe lung infection and we called in support from hospice. She had several infections, but they cleared up with medication…except for this last time.

The day before Christmas Eve was a typical day. Sure, her appetite was off a little. But she was scolding the officials and coaching the teams from her chair as she watched a couple bowl games. Before that we managed to get in a game of Scrabble. All in all, a pretty normal day.

Until bedtime. As she was completing her usual bedtime routine she began to have breathing issues which switched on the anxiety. A dose of morphine, holding her hand for a bit so it could kick in, and then walking her to bed and tucking her in seemed to quell the attack. But her sleep was restless, and she cried out for it all to end. More hand holding and gentle words. I called hospice and was directed to use a med that would help with the secretions. This seemed to bring a little relief and she fell asleep. And then she was gone.

My husband and I had dreamed of somehow being able to purchase Mom’s house and live out our retirement in the beauty and warmth of Arizona. Not having enough means and Nelson needing to be in Ohio for his mom brought me back to Ohio.

In one of our conversations on the long trip home, I tried to express part of what made this obvious choice so difficult for me. I’m nearly sixty-five years old, and this is the first move I’ve made, we’ve made, without knowing where or what, without having purpose or direction. Limbo. Waiting. Trusting. Wondering. I’m living an unsettled sort of peace. And I’ll confess, I’m not particularly fond or comfortable with this strange mix of circumstances.

But I’m home. And we’ll continue to work out all that means, and where that goes. Because that’s what we do.

Participation

Are you an observer or a participant?  I know, it depends on what’s going on.  My extroverted personality tends to get me involved.  My lack of boundaries causes me to say yes to things I don’t always “want” to do.  And because I’m somewhat ADD, well, I just don’t sit well.  I like to be where things are happening.  Unless the “happening” is in the kitchen or on a sports field of play.  I do know my limitations.

Ah, limitations in participation.  They are pretty much self-imposed, wouldn’t you agree?  We have our list of “can’ts”  that we are quick to recite when with really can’t or don’t want to do something.  When I was a kid and my grandmother wanted to teach me to knit and crochet, I was quick to use the excuse that I was left handed and therefore couldn’t learn.  I’m not exactly sure where I got that, unless it was from my first grade teacher, who I absolutely exasperated, as she struggled to teach me how to write my letters.  Perhaps she determined and announced that I was unteachable because I was left handed.  Anyway, it was an excuse that served me well on summer days when I was clearly more interested in playing outdoors than learning to knit one and purl two.

All this thinking about participation, reminded me of one of my favorite passages in scripture.  It was penned by Peter: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV)

I found this passage early on in my faith journey, thanks to a small book by Bob Benson entitled, “Come Share the Being.”  You can borrow my copy, but I want it back.  In it he invites us  to really contemplate how we have not only been invited, but we are equipped to share in the divine nature of God.  You and me, with all our stuff—good and bad—have been given the great and precious promises so that we can participate in the divine nature of God.  Does that give you chill bumps, or knock you upside the head, or break your heart?  Think about it! 

Now, given that we’ve been given ev-er-ee-thing (hear that word broken down and pronounced in a slow exaggerated manner) that we need, how (how, how, how) can we continue to throw up excuses and can’ts when God asks us to do something?  It is time to stop letting a few do the work while we observe.  

It is time to participate.  

If you’re ready to plunge right in, by all means go ahead!  The water’s great!  But if not, if you’re feeling a little more timid, if you need a little more confirmation (if your cousin’s name is Gideon), than stick your toe in and watch what God will do.  Remember when the Hebrew children were willing to put their toes in the Red Sea or the Jordan River, the waters parted. 

You have been given everything, God’s most precious promises, to be able to participate in the divine nature.  And yes, that does mean you—no matter what your first grade teacher, or mom, or boyfriend, or boss have said!  

I don’t what time the clock says as you are reading this, but I know it’s time to stop observing and start participating.  What are you waiting for?  You have everything you need.

Where am I…why?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

This morning I attended a Zoom training provided by my district for ministers/pastors. The District Executive opened by reading the scripture noted above. She preface the reading by saying she had heard several people expressing their concern over knowing what God’s will was/is for their lives. “God’s will is plainly stated in scripture.” And then she read the all too familiar verse.

There are other scriptures that make God’s will and expectations clearly and plainly known. We’re the ones who get all Gideon (see Judges 6:36-40) and keep asking God to make is unmistakably clear before we will act—only delaying the obvious out of fear or selfishness.

One example from the Old Testament, Micah 6:8 begins with the prophet asking the question he already knows the answer to: What does God require of you but to do the right thing (act justly), be kind (love mercy), and walk humbly with your God (author’s interpretation).

At one point in Jesus’ earthly ministry, he was asked a young man what one thing needed to be done to inherit eternal life. He did well on the keeping the standards of the day (teachings of the Law and prophets), so Jesus challenged him, nudged him toward greater growth: go and sell everything you have and give the money to those with need. This was too much for him, and he went away sad. Jesus seemed to be telling him that he can’t claim an eternal reward when the temporal needs of those here are so massively obvious, and we can do something about it. There will be no riches taken into heaven, so invest them here in those with need.

But I digress…

When Kris read the scripture Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, I began to weep. I have been here caring for my mom for nearly two years. Two years away from my husband and family. Two years away from the job that is my calling. Two years separated from friends. Two years feeling like I’m wandering in the desert and looking for the Promised Land.

Honestly, I find myself resentful and angry, depressed and discouraged. I cannot count the times I have cried out to God, “Why am I here? Why now? How long? When will I get on with life?” I know that I am needed here. But why do I need to be here?

I have taught on numerous occasions from the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes that God wastes nothing. So my head knows and believes that even this time when I am not where I want to be, doing what I want to do, will not be wasted by God.

Only I can choose to waste this time.

Can I just tell you that awareness sucks? I haven’t been living joyfully, prayerfully, or thankfully. Maybe on the surface…but not deep within. Not where it counts.

So…I have a couple of choices. Now that I know what God’s will, intention for my life, is: I can go away sad and unchanged because it’s too much to ask; or I can determine to live more fully and actively into God’s expectation and will for me and trust that the opportunities to live out my calling will present themselves—perhaps in ways I never imagined or even knew could be for me.

I think I’ll choose the latter. Because I’ve walked the route of the former and it is an unfulfilling, lonely, and futile path…and I was made for more than that.

And so were you.

Let’s get our rejoicing on, our prayerlife going, and our gratitude overflowing. Perfect season to be thinking, moving and growing this way.

Cooking and Writing

(I wrote this several years ago, but find the truth still applies…at least for me.)

Recently, a friend of mine warned me not to sit on my gift.  Just prior to that, she had asked me if I had written anything lately.  I hadn’t.  I haven’t felt inspired to write.  It was like I had nothing to say.

Last week I was going through emails and I came across one that was advertising next year’s Writers’ Market.  I remembered back to January of this year.  I had begged Nelson for an updated copy.  I told him that if he would buy it for me I would send out at least ten pieces to publishers.  He did and I didn’t.

In the past few months, I have begun to enjoy cooking.  Not long ago, Nelson posited that I was cooking to avoid writing.  Seemed ridiculous to me.  He had cooked most of our married life—mostly because he was very good at it, but also because I worked non-stop.  Now, Nelson is working long days and it just makes sense for me to pick up that responsibility.  I dove into the task by hunting for potential recipes and then began experimenting with combinations that I knew we liked.  I went quickly from having three recipes that my family enjoyed to a couple dozen.  It felt good.

This morning as I was washing the pot that I had made a really good soup in yesterday, I had an epiphany.  It was about cooking and writing. When Nelson and I got married I was afraid to cook.  I was such a novice that my mother-in-law bought me an illustrated cookbook.  My repertoire included macaroni made in a hot pot and peanut butter sandwiches.  To avoid embarrassment, I acquiesced to Nelson’s expertise and over the years discovered three recipes that I did well and stuck with those.  I was afraid to do any more than that because if I couldn’t do it perfectly I wouldn’t do it all.

What I realized as I stood at my sink scrubbing dishes was that Nelson was right in part.  I needed to cook so that I could write.  I hadn’t contacted any publishers with my writing because, though I knew I could write, I didn’t consider myself a writer.  Throwing myself into my cooking showed me that.  For years I had avoided cooking because I didn’t see myself as a cook and therefore I couldn’t.  It wasn’t enough to say that I could cook, I had to be the best cook.  I knew I was far from that so I didn’t, and wouldn’t cook.  This was reinforced by the ridicule I took when I tried to cook.  I was the brunt of many a family joke.  Why should I continue to prove them right and give them something new to laugh at?

My recent successes at cooking have forced me to rethink this.  I may not be a “James Beard Chef”, but I can cook.  Nelson has really enjoyed my newly found and developing love for being creative in the kitchen.  He raves about the meals and shows them off at work.  I’m not going to be Top Chef anywhere, not even in my kitchen.  That honor will always be Nelson’s.  But it’s not going to keep me from cooking and experimenting.

I still have a few months left in this year.  I will probably never win an award for my writing, but why should that keep me from developing my craft and sharing my thoughts?  The obvious answer is that it shouldn’t—and based on what I learned from cooking recently: it won’t!

Oh, and while I’m at it, I realized something else about my writing that makes it more imperative that I push past my reluctance to face rejection.  Recently while I was preparing for a retreat I led on spirituality and personality, I read that most devotionals are written by “N” types (think MBTI).  I mulled that over for a while and realized that is one of the reasons I feel so compelled to create a devotional series, one that is more appealing and appropriate for “S” types.  Not everyone relates to the intuitive style and needs to engage their senses more completely to engage them spiritually.  Maybe I’ve found my niche!

In Rembrance…In Unity

Today is Worldwide Communion Sunday. I love this Sunday. I loved it when I was a pastor. I observed it in all the denominations I worked with. The thought and feeling of partaking of the Lord’s Supper along with believers all over the world moves me, encourages me, humbles me. Today was no exception.

Today I worshipped outdoors with a group of people I have only met with twice before. The weather was perfect. The message clear and inspiring. Two of the pastor’s points stuck out to me.

First, he described a study that was done in which people were asked what their favorite phrase in the English language were. The number one response was, “I love you.” Understandable. Don’t we all love to hear that? Also high on the list, and pertinent to the message, “Dinner’s ready!”

Time to eat. Come and get it. Come and dine. Come to the table. Do you remember how you were called to dinner as a child? I don’t have particularly fond memories of dinnertime as a child–but oh how precious those shared meals became when shared them with friends in college, and later with community in the church.

The pastor’s text was Jesus invitation to the crowd as recorded in John 6. Everybody was invited. Everyone was included. Y’all come.

Who doesn’t want to hear that? We may need a bigger table.

The second thing that hooked my heart was the concept of remembrance. Living with Mom I’m daily dealing with issues of memory: odd rememberances, distorted memories, lost memories. Hers and mine!

As I sat in the gathering on Sunday morning, one question percolated to the top: What do you want me to remember today God? It seemed like a simple question, but it brought on a whole slew of recollections. They came in waves: communion services from across the years; faces of clergy mentors and friends; different places; and different times.

Sitting alone, in a gathering where I knew no one, I drew comfort in the sense not only of God being present, but with me–speaking my name. Just as the bubbling memories spoke to the how there had been people all along in this journey of faith, the Spirit gave clear assurance that even now when I felt so incredibly alone…I was not, and would never be.

Remembering this, hearing this, feeling this prods me to wonder if you, dear reader might be feeling alone. Jesus calls you to the table. There is clearly not just space, but a space for you. As you take your seat, please remember the times and places where God has brought you into the company of others as a means of assuring you of your place in the family, and God’s great grace and provision for us all.

yes magazine.org

Y’all, come.

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