All Saints Day

All Saints Day will be celebrated in many churches Sunday. Falling on the first Sunday in November, it is a day to recognize all the saints that have gone before us. Many churches will light candles in honor of the members of the church who have died in the past year and remember them and their families in prayer.

In our Lutheran tradition we understand ourselves to be both “saint and sinner” at the same time. A simple belief system, really, we are all sinners as the Bible says:  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23. But at the same time we are sinners we are also saints….saved by God’s grace and love for all people. Because of the work of Jesus, and not ourselves, we are saints who now are charged with doing the work of Christ out in the world.  We are now the hands, feet, eyes, and ears of Jesus listening for the cries of those who are without. We look for places where we can help out. We walk to where we are needed and our hands reach out to show care to another.

You can research all you want on-line and find a great deal written about saints from how you become one, the new movie out called “St. Vincent” to the New Orleans Saints! What it means to me is to care about others.  It is just that simple, to care for others. What does that mean for us in the VDC to “care” for one another? I am tempted to list 3 or 4 things like finding our “alumni” those who attended awhile back and we haven’t heard from or seen them on a team.  Maybe we can find ways to more effectively recruit pastors and lay folks to attend our weekend or people to serve.

Yes those are all great ideas…..but maybe we should just pray.  On this All Saints Day week let us pray as the saints God has called us to be, pushing back against the sin before us.

Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful….

Let us pray,

Pr. Doug Givan

Spiritual Director, NLS

The Voice

She doesn’t like me, I’m convinced.  I try to do what she says and follow instructions, but I seem to always mess up.  It could be at the very beginning of our time together or at the very end.  I am not that quick to do what she wants even though I try.  I work it out to make it easy for both of us but she has this uncanny ability to know.  She always seems to need to ask for help which slows me down and makes me mad.  And then other people watch me and shift their stance as they wait.  I’ve seen others work with her flawlessly, so now I’m to the point where I just ask for the help in advance.

I’m talking about the woman (OK, it’s just a voice, but still) at the automated checkout lines!  Every time, every time I go through the attendant has to be notified.  Larger grocery items I put directly in the cart, but if I don’t push the button that says that she rings the attendant.  And, in fact, when I do put the item directly in the cart and push the button in time, the attendant still gets notified.  What I hear most often in the automated checkout lines?   “Attendant has been notified!”  And the voice seems to get angrier the more errors I make!  We move rather quickly from “Welcome valued customer” to the notification “Attendant has been notified”.  Then she comes over to reset the thing. What I hear is “Attendant has been notified” and I think the voice is really saying, “You’re an idiot, please use another line!”
I can’t start over without the attendant’s help.  Whatever the error they have to come over and reset or reset via the machine she has that connects the automated checkout lines.  it happens every time…..so, friends, we enter another week of our lives it’s mid-October already!  The weather is changing, leaves are turning colors, fall break just concluded in my neck of the woods and Christmas is some 68 days away!

Have you made some errors along the way?  Don’t worry, “God has been notified” and has reset your life for you in the Good News of Jesus life, death, and resurrection!  The past is erased and you can continue on doing the best you can.  We hold one another in prayer and I ask that we especially pray for Seton, Lafayette associates as the countdown to closing continues.  From one of our readings today at church “Rejoice, again I say rejoice, the Lord is near.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone, do not worry, but instead by prayer and supplication let all your requests be known to God.  And the peace of God that passes all understanding will be yours.”  (Philippians 4:4-9).

 

A Carrot, An Egg and A Coffee Bean

I had a wonderful weekend attending Men’s #72 Indiana-Kentucky Via De Cristo!  Whenever you pull aside from life and take time away to renew your faith, fellowship with others, eat too much, and worship it is good for the soul!  So while tired today it is “well with my soul.”  In talks and in fellowship time I learned again of the pain we all go through in life.

One man talked of his son committing suicide, one lost a marriage, another guy has current family issues, another would like to go into ministry but there is a long way to go before he could get there, serious health issues affect another.  I could go on but you get the point.  Life is hard but it becomes less so when shared with others and in prayer.  I think that’s what we do in the Via De Cristo, we as a team take on the pain and struggles of those attending and we serve them “washing their feet”.  They experience Jesus first hand and the load is lightened, if not forever in many cases I’ve witnessed, for the weekend.

Right now I am re-reading for the umpteenth time  the “At Home in Mitford” series by Jan Karon.  I highly, highly recommend them by the way.  In the book I’m reading now the town mayor is running for re-election.  Her slogan is “Mitford takes care of its own!” and I think that’s a great idea!  Our slogan “The Via De Cristo takes care of its own” and we do that with palanca (spell check wants to replace this word with “parlance”?), hugs, meals prepared, drinks poured, and the care and compassion of having three days with Jesus!  Through our VDC we see Jesus and through Jesus we learn again that God always takes care of His own!!!

Peace,

Pr. Doug

NLS Spiritual Director

 


 

A Carrot, An Egg and A Coffee Bean

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.

The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. “What’s the point, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

Don’t tell GOD how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your GOD is!

Encouragement

Good Morning Everyone!

Are you stressed today?  Feeling overwhelmed, anxious and worried?  It’s okay to feel these things stress follows us all around.  We’ve all read about the “flight or fight” syndrome our bodies and minds go through when stress comes.  According to www.dictionary.com the word is defined as “a specific response by the body to a stimulus”, or “physical, mental, emotional strain or tension.”  A quick Google search with the word “Stress” yields over 38 million results!  We are stressed sometimes everywhere we look!

At the end of this week I am headed to a spiritual retreat weekend and will bask in the joy of Jesus and I am stressed.  I have a lot to do before I go and certain things I don’t want to forget, so I’ve started a list.  I’m praying and then I look at the list.  It seems odd to me to be stressed out before a spiritual retreat but I believe it’s normal.  We all react differently to different situations and therein lies the key to dealing with stress.  It is in our reaction and the way we see things.  Then on the way home I see a woman sunbather out in front of her home (on highway 39) I thought was odd on a late September day.  Then I thought “what do I do to relax?”  So we went to the movies and I enjoyed “The Equalizer” with Denzel Washington (Not for everybody, pretty graphic).  Movies are my own “time out” and a way to relax.

What do you do to take care of yourself?  How do you relax?  Can you relax?  That’s the deeper question.  And I’m very sure that most if not all of our stress we put on ourselves.  We mentally make the worse situations come real, we beat ourselves up, we put pressure on ourselves and push over and over.  Consistently in my ministry with patients I am offering “permission” to not be where they think they should be or to be doing what they think they should be doing!!  I ask that they be a “patient” patient and rest so that they can mentally and physically help their recovery.  And for you, also, I give you permission to be stressed and just “owning” it deeply reduces it!  What can you let go of?  What can you give away to God?  And maybe the question is why do we heap so much on ourselves?

In Ezekiel 18:32 God encourages Ezekiel by saying “Turn, then, and live”.  Ez is kind of stressed in this chapter and God does what God does best…offering a second chance.  Let’s turn from our stress and live today!  There is much to do-NOT to add to our to do list, NOT to add pressure or stress-these things we “GET” to do we don’t have to do:  time in prayer, helping someone less fortunate, loving one another, donating to help a worthy cause, serving our patients, showing compassion.  And what can we do to help alleviate the stress of someone else?  If we take on some of the stress of someone else we are lightening their load-not adding to ours, subtracting theirs.  To God be the glory, we have an any-time retreat available with the Lord every time and anytime we get stressed!  I went to a pastor’s conference once and on the stage of this auditorium was this huge banner up that said “RELAX, YOU’RE NOT IN CHARGE!”

God bless,

Pr. Doug