Just for today: Mark 6:30-34, 53- 56
After 21 years of searching, my son finally found his quiet place.
He had been gone only 3 days. Things around us changed so much in those days. We were drained, uncomfortable and short with one another. There was nothing left in us to give. We were literally breaking under the weight of being burnt out. Although my son was beginning to show signs of “staying clean” could we trust that this might be the time? He was getting anxious, excited and nervous all in one. He was riding an emotional roller coaster. He was on his last day of work, and the time had come. We had our talk, our crying and our busyness placed before us..
He had been gone only 3 days:
I received a phone call today!. “Mom, I never knew how peaceful life could be”. “I have never been this peaceful, ever!” “Thank you . Mom, for helping me find my way.”
This week, in our study, Jesus is telling us that we need to come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile. It does not matter how long you rest, whether it be an hour or a day… heck take as long as you need. In our deserted place, it will change our perspectives on life, just as it has for my son. So, for a while, come away, see that His yolk is easy and His burden is light. He is the refreshment in the presence of God. Take some amazing time alone in your quiet place. No wifi, no email, and yes forget about the voicemails. No twitter, or facebook or Nooks. Recharge your batteries and have a spiritual renewal.
Last word of advice: Leave your phone behind so you will not forget it when you go to the ocean and forget it is in your pocket.....
What is your quiet place, for a while?
I recently watched the Disney animated movie Beauty and the Beast with my young granddaughter. As we watched the film, she was full of questions about what was happening in the movie. I know that for any of us who have had children or grandchildren, we come to expect them to talk through a movie.
This time however, her questions made me think more about the movie. She asked why the man became a beast? Why did the young girl like him? Why was his castle so weird? And perhaps the cutest of them all, who was the candle guy?
After we watched the movie, I could not help myself to find meaning in what is otherwise a fairy tale from a time long ago. We all know the story I am sure.
The prince who became the beast, was a young arrogant man. He thought only of himself, showed no compassion or humility. When an old woman offered him, a single red rose in exchange for shelter. The prince refused the gift and shunned the old woman into the night.
How many times have we allowed our arrogance to rule us, or use arrogance to dictate our paths in life? How many times have we rejected a gift freely given to us?
In the story we find Belle, a young woman filled with dreams of adventure, whose appetite for adventure, is fueled in the books that she reads. As the story unfolds, she shows her compassion, love and bravery as she cares for her father, and offers to take his place as the prisoner of the beast in order to free her father. In Belle we see something, someone who is willing to lose her freedom for another, she takes on the weight of imprisonment because of love.
As the story unfolds, Belle sees the good in the beast, and he in turn, finds his heart filling with love for this young woman.
Unlike this story, life does not always have a happily ever after ending, I do believe that we can learn something because of this. We must not allow our arrogance to define who we are and how we act. We must all be willing to accept a gift that is given to us, with humility and understanding, as that gift could change our lives in the most profound way.
We should show the courage to accept change, to face difficult times with grace and determination. We must be willing to allow our love to guide us, rather than allowing hate to define us.
Let us remember the gift given to us, without condition, we received someone who came to us in love, who taught us to turn from arrogance and hate. We were given one who would take on our burdens with courage and humility that we would never again know the pain of imprisonment, for our sins.
Though the story of the Beauty and the Beast if only a fairy tale, perhaps we could all learn to change our hearts, show our courage and place our arrogance and differences aside. So that we may honor the gift of love that was given to us so long ago.
When we started our ministry, we considered all the things we could do. We thought about all the ministries we could offer, children’s Sunday school, outreach programs and small group bible studies and the list went on and on. We considered finding a permanent church building where people could come to visit us, worship with us and have fellowship with us. We looked to become a destination that anyone who was looking Christ could find him.
Our plans were large, however, our ability to follow those plans were not. One could understand the disappointment that we felt when we realized that what we wanted to do and what we could do were vastly different.
We took time to reflect and pray about our ministry. We spent time talking and thinking about how we could be a church, a ministry a place in which we could follow the call God presented us with. It did not take long for us to understand that we attempted to take God’s call and make it fit into what our desires were, rather than what he desired us to do.
We considered the ministry of Paul, how his ministry was one that traveled. It was one that was not contained in a place or a destination, rather, it was one in which he took the news of Jesus Christ, and the salvation He won for us on the cross. It became clear to us that we needed to go where we are called rather than being a destination for people to look for. It was frightening at first, placing ourselves outside the walls of a church building.
As we started this walk with Christ, as God had called us to do, we quickly understood the reason we need to have no walls, the reason that we needed to become a traveling ministry. God’s children are not always those who come to a church building. They are on the streets, they are in homes that they cannot leave. They can be found nearly in every location we could travel to. We learned that once you take away the responsibility of maintaining a building, we could spend more time following the path we had been called to.
We also learned that without walls that may separate us, we could take the message of the gospels to those who may need it the most. This being said, I know that many of us find our comfort in the church proper. I know for many of us, there is a connection to God and His Son in a place of worship where they can gather as a community of the faithful. My prayer for you is, may God’s house always provide you with all that you need when you are in His presence.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I also.”. Our ministry seeks to bring those two or three together to experience the news of the Gospels, to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, and know the comfort we have in having a relationship with our Lord Jesus.
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40
Seems like an ambiguous question, but it is one that I believe should be asked. What is your reason for going to church for example. We have many reasons for that of course, I am sure anyone of us can give quite a list of reasons. My question, however, is what is your reason for leaving the church? Obvious reasons would be, you have moved, and that church is to far away, or you are attending a church that you find better suited to your needs in your walk with Christ. These and any number of other reasons exist I am sure.
What I am asking though, is what is the reason that you have stopped going to church? To be clear in this question, I am not asking for a direct answer to this, rather, my question is more to make you think about what made you leave the church.
Before I had become the pastor of my ministry I had left the church I had been apart of for my entire life and had not looked back at my decision to not be a part of a church. I did feel that something was missing in my life, and I did feel that at some point, I would find a place that I could consider my home church. This has not been an easy task however.
The difficulty I had in finding a new church to be a part of was related to my experiences that lead me to leave the church in the first place. I knew in my heart that I needed to be at a place where my faith could grow, and I could continue to experience my walk with Christ as part of a community of the faithful. Yet I could not get past my reasons for leaving, I asked myself would I be accepted? Would I be allowed to be a part of the community, rather than someone on the outside looking in? Could I express myself and my ideas and beliefs without being told I was wrong or being ignored because I was not a member of the “in” crowd. Would the pastor understand and aid me in my journey with Christ? Or would they be to busy to acknowledge me? The greatest fear I had was being hurt again, being marginalized and ignored because I did not fit into the idea of what a parishioner should be.
I know that I am not the only person who has felt this way, I also know that I am will not be the last person to leave the church, and not look back. What is your reason for leaving the church?
Once you have found an answer, ask yourself, do I feel I need to be part of a church? Perhaps you will find an answer to these questions, or you may not, there is no right or wrong answer to these questions. I offer them as a talking point for you, in the hopes that someday you may find a church (if you feel the need to be nourished with the gospels). Or maybe being part of a church is not where you need to be, maybe you can find someone who will pray with you, listen to you and assist you individually in your walk with Christ.
We all have reasons as to what we do and what we do not do, they are as individual as we are. However, if you are in need to someone to pray with you, who has experienced similar reasons to yours for leaving the church, I would be happy to be there for you.
May the peace of the risen Christ be with you always.
Pastor Lisa Chachula