All Hallows Eve

Mon., Oct. 31, 2016

Philippians 1:27: Most important, live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel. Do this, whether I come and see you or I’m absent and hear about you. Do this so that you stand firm, united in one spirit and mind as you struggle together to remain faithful to the gospel.

As I turned off the outside lights tonight, I reflected upon the many Power Rangers, Princesses and Ninja Turtles that graced our porch in the last couple of hours. Some of the spoken responses I overheard replayed in my head:

“Look at the whole bag of goodies!”

“We got more than one treat!”

Grandma talking with parents, “This is where that Methodist pastor lives … (I didn’t hear the rest).”

It’s Halloween or All Hallows Eve. I’m not going to debate whether Christians should celebrate Halloween. I’m not going to gauge what is appropriate and not appropriate. More important to me is how we live in such a manner that reflects the spirit of the gospel in our daily lives. What I know is there are many simple ways we can model ways to live the gospel with our actions.

Last Wednesday night at our Wednesday Night Church School (WNCS), we had a Family Fun Night. Part of the evening’s activities included the kids making cards to send to shut-in’s, some more mature folks and those who just might enjoy a handmade card. After everyone had left and the church quieted down after 90 minutes of noisy activity, I looked through each card the kids lovingly made. Look closely at the photo of the card I’m including. It says: “You rock. Don’t get to scared. ♥ Jesus.” Talk about taking the opportunity to witness the gospel in a Halloween card! And from a young kid who knows Jesus ♥’s them.

On Sunday, we had one of the more popular worship services of the year: Trunk of Treat. Because the sanctuary at one of the church’s I serve is currently under major remodeling, we held worship at the local elementary school gym. It was unconventional and not like worshiping at the church. Yet, I think Christ was just fine with it. Lots of kids came in their costumes. The local costume expert, who happens to be a part of the church, made sure I also had a costume.

After worship, we closed down the street in front of the school for a while so kids could go from vehicle to vehicle and get treats. How fun it was! How many trick-or-treaters get to take candy out of a KFC bucket from a man who looks more like Colonel Sanders than the one on the commercials? I thank the family who had a display of cool jars with eyeballs, preserved items and colored liquids in them. Creative adults handed out mini flashlights, string cheese, Rice Krispy treats, juice bags and other fun treats. It made my heart full to watch the kids … and the adults … share in an experience which shares the love of Christ through action. The many “thank you’s,” laughter and smiles assured me this is a way we can bring love into people’s lives.

Sometimes, we spend a lot of energy focusing on things which separate us rather than finding creative ways in which we can share Jesus’ ♥ with others. We can do this every day, as well as All Hallows Eve day. I pray we can stand firm, united in one spirit as we try to remain faithful to the gospel.

Lord God – may we see opportunities this day to live out the gospel in some small way. Please encourage us to stand firm in your spirit this day. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Too Many Distractions

Sun., Oct. 9, 2016

Luke 24:15-16: While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

The little girl in the front row of worship this morning proudly wore her pink bicycle helmet. Does it get any better than this? You bet!

The past few months, I have allowed myself to be overcommitted, over extended and overweight. Let’s just say most everything in life has been more than less. My body and soul are tired. I’m not focusing. I’ve been distracted. I know I’m just barely getting by and not doing my best work.

Today, our worship focus was centered around nature. At one church I serve, we took this further and incorporated going into nature as part of worship. Because this church’s sanctuary is in a real mess, we met in the newly added on/renovated back area of the church. After a brief time together, we put on our coats and headed outside. Today, the weather in Wisconsin is absolutely beautiful. The sun is shining after too many days of rain and gloom. The wind is soft. The temperature is a perfect fall day.

Rick and I lead the bike ride. Gordon took another group of folks on a historical walking tour of Poynette and incorporated many early Methodist features. How cool that one family brought their dog along! My advice was this: we’re not on a time schedule today. Take as long as you need. Simply enjoy nature and look for God. Please, really look for God. In Luke 24, two men are walking seven miles from Jerusalem to their village of Emmaus. They are completely distracted by the events revolving around Jesus’ arrest, trial, beatings and finally his death. Now, the women say he is alive. Completely distracted, they barely realize a man has joined them on their journey. It is only hours later when the man breaks a piece of bread, they realize this IS JESUS! Why didn’t they realize this earlier? Because they were completely distracted! So, let’s not be distracted by look for God in our tour today.

The girl with the pink bike helmet? Her name is Emmerson. Her mom and grandmother were not sure she should go on the bike. It would probably be too far. But her big tears and insistence “she could keep up” convinced the adults to let her start out. As we pulled away from the church little Emmerson’s legs pedaled fast enough for her to be in the lead. We were off!

I really tried not to look at my watch as our little group made our bike ride. Little Emmerson kept up until we were embarked on a hill. Mom and grandma were following in a vehicle behind. They grabbed Emmerson and her bike and allowed us to continue on our way. At the half-way mark, we stopped for a break. People shared what they’d seen in nature. Quarter horses; pheasants; lots of leaves; wooly caterpillars on the road; the sun; the natural break in traffic so we could easily scoot across the normally busy highway with our bikes. So many beautiful things on this gorgeous fall day.

Amazingly, the walking group arrived back at church just a couple minutes after our bike group. We piled downstairs to a wonderful lunch of soup, sandwiches and a few good sweets. The laughter, the fellowship, the exchange of “How was our experience?” warmed this pastor’s soul. For just a while, we stepped away from life’s busyness, felt the warmth of the sun on our shoulders and knew God was journeying with us along our trail this day. My heart was warm and full.

There are many times in life, I don’t get it right. Today was one of those times when I wanted the minutes to slow and for us to relish this great opportunity to simply be with God. My prayer is that you would step outside today and enjoy a similar experience.

Lord God – too often we are like the men walking to Emmaus. We’re too distracted to see you with us. Thank you for a great opportunity to be with you on this beautiful fall day. I pray many will know you ARE with them today.  Amen.

 Blessings –

Dianne

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