Memorial Day

 

Eleanor was the first shut-in I ever called on some 20 years ago as I began my ministry. She had recently become widowed and was facing a number of health issues as well. Like many in her situation in our culture today the children and grandchildren had moved away, were busy with their own lives, and barely called or wrote. Now that I have worked in the hospital setting five years I see it all the time. Many families abandon their older parents and grandparents.

As I talked with Eleanor about the love of God, as I read Scripture about the presence of Jesus with us always, she said something that always stuck with me. She said, “I forget to remember.” It has happened often to me and probably for you as well. We often “forget to remember” to pray, to be in God’s Word, to attend our church of choice and to love and serve one another. It’s easy, so much clutter occupies our minds and thoughts these days, it’s so hard and yet so easy to forget.

I believe that God also “forgets to remember.” Oh, God remembers us as persons, as souls, individuals to love, but God forgets to remember our sins. That is what forgiveness and grace are all about. Forgiveness is ours; I wonder why we remember so easily our mistakes, sins and decisions we wish we would not have made? When the God we love and serve, who gave us Jesus to die and rise again for those sins, has forgotten/forgiven. “I forgive their sins and remember them no more…” (Hebrews 8:12).

This weekend, Memorial Day will be filled with lots of activities for many of us. Over the course of a three-day weekend (for many) remember those who served our country and have paid the ultimate price. And then, as you remember to pray, bring to mind all those men and women who currently serve around the world. They need us to remember them, always.

Peace be with you, blessed Memorial Day week,

Pastor Doug

**DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER TO REGISTER TO COME TO THE NATIONAL GATHERING IN OHIO THIS JULY 21-24! VISIT WWW.VIADECRISTO.ORG FOR ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED!

Pr. Doug Givan, MDiv

Board Certified Staff Chaplain

St. Vincent Health, Clay/Indpls

 

dgivan@stvincent.org

“New York Minute”

Have you ever heard the term “in a New York minute?” I heard it from a colleague over lunch this weekend as he referenced how quickly he would do something. I’ve heard the term before but have never given it much thought. I mean I generally understand things go “faster” in New York and I know the city itself never sleeps, etc.

So a visit to Wikipedia sheds light on this term “a New York minute.” It has been used for years and there are stories, a short film, and even a song by that title. But the upshot of the definition of the term is “the time between when a light turns green and the driver behind you honks!” That’s a New York minute…..it seems like in New York cars honk at each other much easier than my experience here in Indiana. If you honk at someone here, or get honked at, it seems to be taken personal. People get mad and fly the international sign of disapproval!

Since I commute, I’d say I use my horn a couple times a week. Usually I honk at the driver ahead who has pulled out in front of me, or taken their time to make a very wide and sloppy turn. In Crawfordsville, where I live, we have a very popular stop light that does not have a left turn arrow and for the driver to turn left they have to block the left hand lane altogether. And what makes me mad is that just a block ahead is a light with the arrow to turn left that would make it so much easier for everyone.

What is our hurry in life? Speaking from my own experience, I find myself often “rushing” to slow down. A consistent mantra I say often to myself is to slow down. Saturday I visited a person in a nursing home and near the parking lot they have a lovely little pond occupied by a geese family: mother, father and 4 goslings! I loved stopping to watch the baby geese fall in line with mother out on the water, while the Dad geese (goose?) stayed near the edge watching me. It was a God-given “Doug minute!” I gave myself some minutes to slow down and notice the beauty around me.

We all rush, we all put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to rush and hurry and the reality is we have all the time in the world. I thank God that God always has time for us and is never in a hurry. God will always listen, always available and sometimes God speaks to us in the middle of the night because that’s when God can finally get us to slow down and listen.

So consider how fast you are going. Try saying to yourself over and over today “slow down, God has this” or something similar. Take your time, we only have so many minutes in our lives to live! I think this week I’ll honk less and give the driver ahead of me some space. I’m never in the hurry I think I am. Take time for some “______” (insert your name) minutes to slow down and enjoy! Trust me, it’s more enjoyable to listen to the geese honk than the car behind me!

Peace be with you!

Pr. Doug,

NLS Spiritual Director

*P.S. I would, however, appreciate your registering for National Gathering in Ohio this July…..wait for it…..”in a New York Minute!” Visit the web site at www.viadecristo.org

 

Remembering your original weekend.

I want to go back and visit Epworth Forest camp in North Webster, Indiana. It’s the camp where I made my weekend, and where I have served a number of teams. The memories are countless, the images still very moving, the experience the most incredible in my life. I hope you can also remember your original weekend, and the sight, sounds, and smells of the Spirit of our Lord.

A favorite memory is the chapel where we held worship, and the times I’ve kneeled at the Altar rail. The great food in the dining room surrounded by a warm fire and the fellowship of many. The view of the lake and having Sunday morning worship lake side all great memories. I remember commandeering the golf cart and chasing the geese only to get in “trouble” by the Rector…

On the Friday morning of my weekend I asked one of the Pastor’s to come and pray with me. The two of us, in the chapel, birds chirping, the smell of wine and candle wax from the just-held worship service, and prayer. Tears, pain, struggle all left at the feet of Jesus. A part of our Fourth day our Service Sheets invite us to have an Altar visit from time to time. Some evening after a meeting or service go back into your sanctuary and go the altar area. Just pause. Just quiet your mind. Listen to God.

The Altar visit always alters our way of thinking and it happens every time we partake in Holy Communion and/or prayer.  As you reflect back on your weekend with me there is something hard we must do. We have to let that wonderful, inspiring memory go. We have to thank God for all the experiences, for all the prayers, for all the memories, and then go and make new ones.

Plan to come in July to our National Gathering in northern Ohio and make new memories. Come and participate in “new” worship, prayer, and visiting the altar. Come, the table is being prepared and all our invited and welcomed!

May our God of the Day of Pentecost (this Sunday) move us to make new memories, new friends, and to serve in new ways in our local and national Via de Cristo. I’ll leave the golf cart alone if you’ll come with me to the altar…..

GLYASDI,

Pr. Doug Givan

NLS Spiritual Director

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8th! We’ve been honoring Mom’s officially as the second Sunday in May since 1914. I think May is a wonderful time of year as the weather turns, and the flowers bloom we honor our mothers. My own mom passed in 2014 and for the last two years this holiday has made me realize what a gift I had in a loving, caring mother. I know that’s not the case for some.

I try not to feel guilty over time lost in her later years, especially the last year of her life. As she became ill and it was hard for her to get around I would always find her by the aviary of the nursing home where she lived. She loved to watch the birds and would rock on a rocking chair and partially sleep some of the day away. In her last year or so of living, whenever I greeted her with “I love you” she would say back to me “I loved you first!” I treasure those words still today!

It’s true, our mothers loved us first, but before that our God loved. Our God knew us and loved us “before we were created in our mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:5). And that love of God exists still today. All that we are- mind, body, soul was created, known and loved by God before we were born. Mother’s Day is the second Sunday of the month of May, not the second Tuesday, or Thursday. Why is that?

When we gather for worship we honor the God we love. Can’t we say that God’s love is like a mother’s love? Unconditional, unending, and unyielding, it is a life-giving love and the two can be celebrated together. And so now we get to love God back, because each day we are alive we celebrate as “God’s day!”

God bless all mom’s everywhere,

Peace,
Pr. Doug
NLS Spiritual Director

Spring Cleaning Outside

Spring cleaning outside was how I spent this past gorgeous Sunday afternoon! I hope you and yours were able to get out and enjoy the weekend. I love this time of year as the weather turns, the trees and flowers are getting in bloom, the birds sing and all seems right with the world. It was time to fire up the lawn mower, get out the garden hose, reset up the bird feeders and bird bath, and fly my colorful “Welcome” flag out front. In addition, I got one of those hanging flower baskets for the porch and enjoyed an afternoon of outdoor work.

I am not really a fan of mowing the yard. My house is near a big intersection in town and the traffic seems to never stop. I picture people at the stop sign with nothing better to do than watch me haul that mower around the yard! I’m sure the neighbors do as well. In my weird mind I sense a couple at the picture window having pulled up chairs to watch their neighbor struggle to get his yard mowed!

I fill the lawn mower with gas, check the oil and proceed to get it started. It did not want to start. So there’s that lovely scene, me tugging, pulling, the starter and nothing happening. I guess no neighbor or anyone else was watching as the blue smoke began to pour out of the mower! No one came to my rescue, one neighbor I have said it was burning up unused oil! (This has happened before…)

Spring clean your faith this day, this week! Throw out the problems and mistakes of the past and embrace the new. God is our God of active, life giving love and grace. As the old saying goes “there is nothing you or I can do to cause God to love us any more or any less!” This morning I heard a worship song entitled “We belong to God”. I thought of the verse in Revelation about Jesus “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end..” (21:6). The Alpha is the first word of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last. God is the beginning of our lives, the end of our lives and everything in between! We belong to God and that’s a reason to know that any problems or difficulties we have God is with us. Every time we suffer, every time there are issues in the family, or the finances, or at work we have a God who is with us, and we belong to God!

Think of that spiritual good news as a sunny, spring day with the sun shining, the breeze blowing, the birds singing in the trees. They all belong to God as well,

Peace,

Pr. Doug

NLS Spiritual Director

 

Good News

Stephen Ministry has been around in congregations, hospitals and other places for over 40 years. The message is simply about equipping God’s people to care for another person. The leadership training I attended last week promoted the idea that people will always need someone to care for them whether they realize it or not. Visit www.stephensministry.org to learn more. I will be having a class in Stephen Ministry at the hospital coming up in May and if you are interested please let me know. No qualifications another than a desire to care for others and willingness to invest some time to learn and grow in that ability.

While I deeply respect the program and all it means, couldn’t we say we are all called to care for one another? Today on the news it was horrible: the tragic earthquake in Ecuador, murders in Indianapolis including a body found in the White River. There is news like this available every day, just turn on your TV! But what about “good news?” Where is the Good News of life?

Good News is what the word “Gospel” means and is the story of Jesus Christ and the lifesaving ministry of our Lord. The four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all give us their versions of the stories of Jesus in Scripture. Good news is not found anywhere but the Bible. Jesus lived. Jesus died. Jesus rose. He defeated death and now lives in us to encourage us to love and serve one another! Couldn’t we all be like a Stephen Minister and whether or now we take the training, couldn’t we all care for each other? Isn’t there someone in your life who needs you? Now, today, right now…make a call, send an email, or write someone you know needs some love and reach out and care! You will make a difference,

Peace,

Pr. Doug

NLS Spiritual Director

 

Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C

This year, the 4th Sunday of Easter is April 17th.  But “Year C”, what’s that all about?  Have you ever talked about Sunday’s sermon with a friend from another denomination, or even Catholic, and he or she heard the same Scripture and a similar sermon?  Here’s why.

The church year is broken up into Seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and the Season after Pentecost.  The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) is a three-year cycle of weekly lections used to varying degrees by the vast majority of mainline Protestant churches in Canada and the United States.  The RCL is built around the seasons of the Church Year, and includes four lections for each Sunday, as well as additional readings for major feast days.  During most of the year, the lections are a reading from the Hebrew Bible, a Psalm, a reading from the Epistles, and a Gospel reading.  During the season of Easter, the Hebrew Bible lection is usually replaced with one from the Acts of the Apostles.  The lections from the Hebrew Bible are sometimes chosen from the Apocrypha.

For example, this coming Sunday’s readings will be Acts 9:36-43Psalm 23Revelation 7:9-17 and John 10:22-30.  Look for some or all of these scripture readings on Sunday.  Some congregations make “Christ in Our Home” (Augsburg Fortress ISSN 0412-2968) available to members; individual subscriptions are also available.  This devotional booklet follows the Lectionary.

The gospel readings for each year come from one of the synoptic gospels according to the following pattern:

  • Year A – Matthew
  • Year B – Mark
  • Year C – Luke

Readings from the Gospel of John can be found throughout the RCL.

Jesus prays for all believers in John 17:20-21 (NIV): “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, [emphasis added] Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

The things that divide us into denominations are of man and not of God.  There is so much more that we have in common than things that divide us.  The RCL was produced by The Consultation on Common Texts (CCT).  Current members if the CCT are American Baptist Churches/USA, The Anglican Church of Canada, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Reformed Church in North America, Church of the Brethren, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Free Methodist Church in Canada, Liturgy and Life: American Baptist Fellowship of Liturgical Renewal, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Mennonite Church, National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, North American Lutheran Church, Polish National Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Church in Canada, Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

 

For more information about the Lectionary, see the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

 

In His service together with you,
Dave Lambert

NLS Database Coordinator

 

p.s. Chaplain Doug Givan is still away at a training conference so I have again brought you today’s message in his stead.

Courtroom Scene

Chaplain Doug Givan has been away at a training conference for two weeks so I will will bring you today’s message in his stead.

It’s been over 2 weeks since the time change to Daylight Saving Time and I just got around to changing the old analog clock on my fireplace mantle. Everything is so easy these days, even your cell phone knows how to adjust for Daylight Saving Time! But did you “spring forward” in your walk with God or are you still in “fall back” mode?

In March, I attended the Rainbow VdC Ultreya where the guest speaker talked about their walk with God. She said she was energized by the 3-day retreat weekend she attended and has been more in tune with God ever since. She felt compelled to volunteer to give a talk about that at the gathering. She said to picture a courtroom scene where you are on trial for being a Christian and you are not allowed to testify on your own behalf.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matt 28:16-17 NIV) Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24-25 NIV)

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17 NKJV)
Therefore you must first believe and your good works to glorify God will follow.

Are there enough witnesses that can be called to the courtroom to testify on your behalf to convict you of being a follower of Jesus?

In His service together with you,
Dave Lambert
NLS Database Coordinator

David Robert (Dave) Lambert
Wesley Theological Seminary
Equipping Lay Ministry Certificate, Class of 2006
https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrobertlambert

Chronic pain

Chronic pain is no fun! I see it all the time in caring for patients but it is one thing altogether to deal with chronic pain myself. For about a year now I have had bulging discs in my neck, along with some arthritis. This is causing a real to life “pain in the neck” and in the Levator Scapulae going down from the neck to the shoulder blade. I have written about this before! I have learned that when we have some pain, other muscles begin to compensate and shield the pain area and away we go. When one is in pain, life takes a different look. You can’t or don’t want to do some basic things or basic things hurt and cause pain.

I’ve have some medicine which is another set of challenges in and of itself. The pain medicine and muscle relaxer make me tired/sleepy and so naps come easily (when I’m home, not on the road). I am receiving physical therapy and working now to get stronger. Much of my particular pain is caused by long time poor posture.

Do you ever think about your posture? I mean we who work at computers and drive a lot tend to slump forward. That pulls on various muscles and tendons and causes some of the things I am experiencing. I am doing certain specific exercise and making changes in lifestyle and positioning at work so that I can pull back the shoulders and stretch everything out.

Of course nothing you and I will ever deal with compares with the pain our Lord went through. The gruesome way Jesus died this past Good Friday led to the beautiful, and perfect way Jesus came from the tomb on Easter morning. Now what do we do with this Easter Good News? Will in change our lives, will it influence how we act toward one another? Easter needs to make a difference in our lives. Perhaps a change in lifestyle, posture (standing up tall in Christ, for example), being more positive, caring and compassionate are all ways this news can change our lives.

In my Easter sermon I offered three words to help build and deepen relationships. When someone is telling you a story, or talking to you about anything say “Then what happened?” I use these three words in my patient care as a way to draw them out and get them talking about their lives. You can try it today with someone…..as they tell you a story say “Then what happened?” and watch how much further your conversation goes.

Three more words for us “He is Risen!” Jesus defeated death! Easter is Good News! Chronic pain will come and go. Life will come and go. Our problems and challenges will come and go. But God stays forever. And the Risen Lord is Good News! Then what happened???

Pr. Doug Givan, MDiv

It’s a lovely time of year!

t’s a lovely time of year! Today is the first day of Spring and new life is all around us! The weather is turning for most of us and warmer temperatures are here. I have noticed the robins singing in the morning and bobbing along my yard looking for worms. The other day on a walk I saw the most gorgeous flowers newly blooming and the trees are getting their leaves. In some communities this is spring break week and many are gone on vacation

This is also a significant week of another kind. We are in Holy Week, the week before Easter. Many churches have services over thiscoming ThursdaySaturday prior to Easter Sunday. Maundy Thursday (meaning “commandment”) is a service where on the night Jesus was betrayed, the night before He was to die, He washed the feet of the disciples in a striking example of servanthood. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor and serve others.

Good Friday is really anything but good! Oh, it will be a lovely day off for many of us but this day used to be called “God’s Friday” because it marked the day Jesus died. Sometime during that busy day take a few moments to remember what has been done for you.Saturday many churches will host an Easter Vigil, a service later in the evening after dark with Bible readings and prayers moving us toward Easter.

The seasons of the church calendar help us to live through the life of Jesus while all along knowing the end of the story! Saturdayevening I had a wedding to perform and was not able to watch the IU playoff  basketball game! I graduated from IU and have always been a big fan of the basketball program. I listened to the game on the way home as they won against Kentucky. I had recorded the game on TV and watching back through it, all the while knowing the ending, was wonderful! I wasn’t nearly as anxious or worried knowing they won the game.

Isn’t this the Christian life? We know the end of the story! Jesus has defeated death, and we are made new! Easter is perfectly timed to be around spring time. Jesus raised from the dead gives us new hope and joy, the old is gone, the Lord makes everything new! As God renews the earth, know also that God longs to renew you and me! Our old “stuff” has been forgiven! We are free from the past, and made new. Let go, let God. Rise to newness in your own life….”spring” into action where action is needed, and move through this week with the hope and joy of what is to come at Easter! New Life!!!

We will also defeat death one day, God is in control so  just maybe we can be less anxious and worried?? After all, it is a lovely life, isn’t it?

 

A blessed Holy Week and Easter for you and yours,

Pr. Doug