Gratitude Note: For the freedom to be grateful and not writing anything. The day has been varied, productive, surprising, frustrating, fun, long and more. I am grateful and done – really done for the day. I may or may not get through St. Francis’ and Merton’s Prayers tonight, but perhaps my spirit will pray as I sleep. Looking forward tomorrow -- for now sleep and peace. Good Night and peace to all.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Gratitude Note: For James’ Mirror and a fresh spiritual discipline. The image of a mirror in Sunday’s reading from the Book of James intrigued me. We are told in an almost accusatory way that people look in the mirror and then forget who they are (and whose they are) and fail to live the Christian life. With that in mind I am suggesting a spiritual discipline using James’ Mirror – with a positive application. This takes less than a minute at the beginning of each day. When you first get up and are reasonably awake, look in the mirror – don’t be frightened – all will be well. Look into your eyes. Hold out your hands in front of you palms up. Take a deep breath and slowly say…
I am a child of God – made in God’s image.
I am loved by God – now and forever.
I am a partner with God – today and always. (Perhaps add an Alleluia)
This is one of my spiritual disciplines for September and so far I like it. I am grateful for who I am deep within even though that doesn’t always show. Perhaps James’ Mirror will help me remember and live accordingly.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 11:11 PM
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Gratitude Note: For what crosses mean to people – even those that are stolen. Crosses can actually have different meanings to people even though those meanings spring from God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ. The variations are many – from my faithful friend, Sue, to the thief who stole the crucifix from her room at St. John’s. I wrote about this a week or so ago. Lynda and I bought her another cross from the gift shop. When Sue left St. John’s for a rehab place, guess what happened. The hospital staff claimed the cross belonged to St. John’s and would not listen to her story. Sue is again cross-less! Not to worry another is on the way. I am reminded of a time when thieves broke into the church to steal computers, but in the process took some special crosses, gifts to me from friends, that I liked to wear. To wear them was to remember connections important to me – Christ, friends, ministry – the divine dimension of Presence. I remember going to the Chapel to pray – and let them go. There are always more crosses – the meaning never goes away – may evolve – go deeper – even transform – but never goes away. And, that includes past and current thieves for whatever the crosses may mean to them – the Presence is still there. So, another cross is headed for Sue – and Sue and our Lord will give it meaning. Tonight I am confident and grateful in advance.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:54 PM
Monday, August 31, 2015
Gratitude Note: For surviving eighteen hours of training plus four hours of driving on Friday and Saturday. This was followed of course with preaching at both services on Sunday – followed by a one hour afternoon nap! Actually I am grateful for David Wetzler who led the training on Natural Congregational Development – for his passion for the Church, his experience in helping churches of all kinds (literally) and his faith energy that seemed endless – though he likely took a two hour nap this afternoon. At this stage in my ministry, I was happy to survive the marathon and come away with fresh ways of seeing the church and what is possible. With a little more rest I believe the value of the training will become even clearer. My deacon colleague, Mike, went with me and on the two hour drive back from St. Crispin’s, our diocesan conference center, there was no lag in the conversation – I’m glad we are a team on this. For all of the challenges of being a church, I believe being a part of a community of faith (a church) is crucial for our personal spirituality and living a life of grace in our world. So, by morning I will be beyond surviving and back to the mission, vision and ministry called “Church.”
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:31 PM
Gratitude Note: For the vining white flowers among the webworms. I know they are God’s creatures too, but I really don’t like the “webworms!” Two weeks or so ago I commented to Lynda that the webworms seemed to have stopped spreading – wrong! Suddenly in the last week they seem to have doubled or perhaps tripled! Ah, but then on Sunday afternoon we were returning home by way of Bartlesville’s “backroad,” Hillcrest, with all the “nothing special” trees lining both sides of the road – that is when I saw them. Everywhere I looked vines climbing up in the trees were full of little white flowers. Out of nowhere they seemed to be bursting forth with divine white. What gorgeous site! The webworms were still there, but they mattered less in light of these late summer flowers in unexpected places. I don’t know what they are called officially, but as we were driving through the woods I saw something of the glory of God – and there was joy. I still don’t like the webworms, but my heart is grateful nonetheless for the surprise and wonder.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:27 PM
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Gratitude Note: For Ann Bell and Fred Rogers. I just got back from two days of training at St. Crispin’s Conference Center and I am worn out – and while grateful had no plans to write tonight. Then I saw the quote Ann Bell, our Parish Secretary, put on the front of our worship bulletin for St. Luke’s tomorrow (she is really good at find these gems). She found a really good one from Fred Rogers entitled “Do What God Does” – “I believe that appreciation is a holy thing – that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor we’re participating in something sacred.” Now that is worthy – and I am grateful.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:55 PM
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Gratitude Note: For the Twice Blessed Sale at St. Luke’s. Heretofore it has been called the Rummage Sale – but has been upgraded. The big event is Friday and Saturday in our Parish Hall – shopping in air conditioned comfort. I like this event for a number of reasons. It gets a lot of unused “useable” stuff out of the house. The ladies, including some men, seem to have a great time working together all week to set it up and then run the sale – there is a good bit of laughter and simply enjoying each other and process. Most importantly, all the money goes to Outreach ministries in our community – helping people in need. The sale of “useable stuff” also helps some of the same people with things they need at very little cost. Then whatever is left, and there is always a lot, will go to Tuesday House and will again be used to help others. No matter how you look at it this is a “win” from every perspective. I will miss this big event this year, but I am grateful for this annual Twice Blessed Sale – making a difference in many ways. Extra note: This time of the year always reminds me of Elenore who would give things to the “Rummage Sale” every year – what a sweet soul. Her husband, Henry, would shop at the sale and discover some great bargains. And you guessed it, Henry bought “their stuff” and took it home again! They have moved on now, but I am grateful to have known them – and this story.
Posted by Lee Stephens at 10:51 PM