Conversations

Trust

Trust

~ A Conversation with Laura Myers ~

 I grew up in a loving family, the oldest of eight children. I had five brothers and two sisters. At times, we were loud, rowdy and quarrelsome. In those moments, my father, tired from a long day at work, would encourage us to settle the arguments. He would listen to the complaints and consider both sides of the issues, but eventually, if unsuccessful, with a weary sigh he would declare,

“Just BE.”

Every time I read the Bible verse from Psalm 46:10a, I chuckle, wondering if my father had been entreating us to stop, quiet ourselves and just listen. It has become one of my most favorite verses and I have often used this verse to meditate, simply resting in the presence of God, letting go of trying to figure anything out and listening in the silence to God’s bidding for my life.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

Can I trust that God will speak to me if I just be? Can I be receptive and open to what God may reveal? In Lectio Divina, a prayerful reading and reflection of scripture, we read and listen with our hearts, meditate, pray and then let go, trusting that God will hold us in the palm of his hand. Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 3:5-6, from The Message). Let us trust in the cleansing and renewing power of God’s amazing grace for Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church.

My Father’s Child

My Father’s Child

~ A Conversation with Pam Reeve ~ 

My Father’s Child on the Fourth of July

I was an Army brat. Grew up on military bases, went to post schools much of my life.  I adored my dad; my mom always said I was his “first born son” (I took that as a compliment at the time, might react a little differently today).  Dad was a quiet and unassuming man, a fair example of the “Greatest Generation”. High school educated, he was one of the smartest people I have ever known.  He was a POW in World War II and also served in Korea, before continuing to serve stateside for another 20 years.  Most of my deeply held beliefs

I probably got from him. As a frail and flawed human, I am still working on them:

  • Forgiveness: Dad spent seven months in internment in Germany, with the bullet in his body he ultimately took to his grave.  He was interrogated, received meager nourishment and got no medical care.  Yet he told me years later that he held no ill-will toward his captors.  He said resentment is a cancer that can eat away at your heart; that forgiveness is the best medicine, (even if it is a little bitter going down!)  Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
  •  Open-mindedness: Dad always said there are at least three sides to any story:  your side, my side and the right side.  He was always willing to explore the possibilities of a different interpretation of events that happened or comments people made. As introverted as he was in many ways, I think his influence was one of the reasons I got into debate. To this day I enjoy looking at things from all angles, exploring the “what ifs” (sometimes to the distress of my loved ones and colleagues!)    John Wesley: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”
  • Unconditional love: Dad always assumed good will on my part, even during those times I could rightfully be accused of something less. Our biggest argument and the only time I think I really hurt him, was about the Viet Nam war.  He had always encouraged me to be independent, and when that independence reared its head in positive or not so positive ways, his love was steadfast.  I never doubted it.   1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
  • Principles: Dad really believed in the ideals of the US, even as he was clear-eyed about the work to be done to realize them. He believed in equality of opportunity, dignity, justice and community. He was a strong (strong!) believer in moving forward. He would broach no disrespect to others of different color or economic status, nor a wallowing in the past or previous failings. He believed a loving community could overcome all odds. His gifts of hopefulness, hospitality and generosity were shared with all his whole life, including long into his “retirement”.    Romans 2:11 “For God does not show favoritism.”  Jeremiah 29:22 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”    Hebrews 10:24-25 “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” 

So–during this difficult week, in a difficult month, in a difficult year, as we approach a celebration of the birth of our country, I am turning my thoughts to Lt. Col. I. C. Andersen: Thank you, Dad.

Breathe

Breathe

In the heat of the day and the times, take a moment.  Stop.  Breathe.  Take two minutes for yourself.  Take two minutes with God.

Silence is a friend who claims us, cools the heat and slows the pace,
God it is who speaks and names us, knows our being touches base,
Making space within our thinking, lifting shades to show the sun,
Raising courage when we are shrinking, finding scope for faith begun.

– From Come and Find the Quiet Center by Shirley Erena Murray

Thank you, Barb, for the reminder,

Breathing with you,
Hope

Reopening Thoughts

Reopening Thoughts

Hello Crawford Family and Friends:

A few weeks ago, ten people met to begin working on re-entry and regathering in the Crawford building.  With guidelines from the Annual Conference, we talked about initial steps for beginning the process and decided that we want to hear from you.  At present, we are working on survey that will help us understand your needs and desires even as we work on the initial steps in the process of reopening.

Engaging in these ways and moving intentionally means that we will move cautiously.  We  do not anticipate worship in the building through the summer.  Keeping you up to date on our work and where we are in the processes of returning to the Crawford building is a primary goal.

With all that is happening in our lives and in our world, know your health and safety remain at the forefront of our prayers.

With faith,
Hope

Interdependent, Interconnected

Interdependent, Interconnected

Crawford community at the kitchen island baking, laughing, caring and finding Jesus in our midst.

This week a friend said, “I’m a Mary surrounded by Marthas. And it feels kinda crappy.”

In the last umpteen weeks of sheltering in place and homeschooling, one would think that there would be all the time in the world to slow down but really they have just been layered on — more work, more demands, more busyness without the luxury of space to attend to it all.  For me, this time has upped by Martha-ness but in my soul I wish I could be more like Mary.

Do you remember the story of Mary and Martha?  In the Gospel of Luke, after Jesus shared the story of the Good Samaritan, he goes to the home of Mary and Martha where Mary sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him, and Martha works like mad in the kitchen to get things prepared for their guests.  Martha resents her sister for not working with her; Mary doesn’t care. She knows this is an opportunity that she may not have again. After Martha tells Jesus to make Mary help her in the kitchen, Jesus, in his gentle way, reminds Martha, “One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

What about you?  Do you identify more with Mary or with Martha?  Do you ever feel drawn to be the other?  Do you ever feel called to sit and listen for God in the midst of all the tasks, all the chores that need to be done?  John Wesley, the founder of our denomination, taught us that prayer should lead to action and action should lead us back to prayer; that we should not act without praying nor should we pray without acting.  These two, prayer and action, are interconnected, interdependent.  Or in other words, Martha needs Mary and Mary needs Martha; they too are interconnected, interdependent.

As my friend and I continued our Mary and Martha conversation, another friend chimed in and said, “In my image of the story all three (Mary, Martha and Jesus) have moved to the kitchen island and are chopping carrots and listening and laughing together, even Jesus who is also juggling a baby on his lap.” She went on, “Don’t let anyone make you feel less than you. You bring to the kitchen island exactly what God designed you to bring—all of your beauty and wonder, compassion and passion. The time for shaming and dividing is done.”

Today I hear God in these very simple, very wise, and very direct words.  We all bring to the kitchen island exactly what God designed each of us to bring. It is not the same but it is all needed. Especially in this day and time when nothing is normal, with all that demands our time and our attention, let’s  make a commitment to be who we are (not who others want us to be or demand us to be) and notice Jesus with us listening, laughing, chopping carrots, juggling the baby, and loving us as we are.

See you for worship,
Hope

Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle

Considering all that is happening around us and in us these days, my colleague, Steve Garnaas-Holmes from St. Matthew’s UMC in Acton offers this reflection.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. —2 Corinthians 13.5 

How do you live through the siege? Whether it is climate change, police brutality, a viral pandemic or 400 years of white supremacy, how do you live faithfully when there is sickness and evil around you?

First, examine yourself. Keep paying attention. Before you judge others test yourself. The only person you can control is you, so do so. What are your basic values? Do you apply them to yourself and others equally? See that they are foundational values, not just self-benefiting wishes. (Here’s the test: Will you—do you—sacrifice to confer the benefits of your values on others?) What is the world you hope to live in? Live in it. Follow its rules. Demonstrate its value. Be light.

Serve each other. Let every action be for the sake of the wholeness of all, not merely your own advantage. Let compassion guide you. Love.

Bear witness. Be transparent. Do not hide your sorrow or your rage. They are part of your power to care. Don’t silence yourself if you are grieving while others are happy, or joyful when others despair. Honor your heart. Don’t whine; don’t spend energy wishing for what is not; don’t blame or judge. But give your broken heart freedom to speak its truth, to sing its song. Start the conversation: not the bitch session, but the dialogue about where to go next, what we can do. We can.

Protect the vulnerable. As the Bible says, “care for the widows and orphans:” for those most at risk, marginalized, or disenfranchised. We are all part of one whole; you are not whole unless your neighbor is. Check yourself when you want to defend your own comfort at another’s expense. Tend to one another. Belong to the whole.

Disrupt. Interrupt your own participation systems that perpetuate harm or injustice. Whether you would transmit racism, plastic waste or a coronavirus, seek ways to stop the spread. Break the cycle. Practice a new way of living. Do justice.

Hope. Hope is not wishful thinking but trust in what is unseen. God’s grace is at work in ways we can’t know. Notice the signs, small and great. Stay in touch with others who care and keep each other’s vision alive. Shield your joy. Practice gratitude. Seek healing. Set the burden of your dread or despair or guilt in the hands of the Gentle One who heals, who radiates blessing, who even now is creating life. We do not know the end; but we know the journey of life is full of grace. Walk it.

You can’t save the world, but you can bless it. Do justice; love mercy; walk humbly with God. Trust God, and work like hell. You are not alone.

See you,
Hope

Sharing our stories

Sharing our stories

In this time of physical distance and sheltering in place, one of the things I miss most is sharing our lives and our stories.

Last week, when I spoke with Peter Hobson about the amazing connections and the much-needed gift of masks his daughter Deborah is sharing with the Navajo Nation, his pride was palpable.  I wanted to share this joy with him.  When Joyce Cummings shared one morning at prayer about transforming her garage into a space that maintains a safe distance with others in order to enjoy tea with friends and brunch with family, I wanted to join with her in celebrating the creative way she is keeping connections.  When Brian Rogers planted heart-shaped flowers in one of the Church garden beds, I want to be digging in the dirt right alongside him while listening to his plans to care for those who continue to struggle with being housed.

A friend of mine, Hope, loves to spend her time traveling.  She is a seriously committed traveler and has only a handful of countries to go before literally having traveled the world.  Hope is also a nurse at the West Roxbury Veterans Hospital.  This pandemic has hit her hard; all her plans to finish her “bucket list of travel” have been canceled.  She is finding it hard (really hard to shelter in place).  However, on Monday, Memorial Day, she sent me this note:  Happy Memorial Day! I hope you have a chance to rest today. Having your life on hold is exhausting.  I spent part of my night sitting with a 90 something WWII vet who is married to a holocaust survivor. He was confused and forgetful, but he *didn’t* have COVID because my floor was half way converted back last week. He kept saying: well, I’ll have to get used to this but at least I have Hope! This pandemic has really driven home how important every life and every story is. No matter how old or immunocompromised or immobile my patients have been, I’m grateful for my work, grateful for my patients, who are each a fascinating jewel of individual experience and history.  

Friends, we all have many stories to share — extraordinary stories about where we have been, the insights we have gained, the relationships we have nurtured.  And … we have regular, everyday stories about that time we were all sheltering in place and the world challenged us to live differently.  We all have stories that we long to share and that others in our community want to hear.  In celebration of Pentecost, when a group of people who didn’t speak the same language and didn’t have the same faith, joined together in a single dynamic experience of God’s Spirit and discovered the essence of the church, which is unity not uniformity, diversity not division, let’s reach out to one another and share our stories, share our lives and remember that our God who loves us without condition and without end binds us together in a story bigger and better than anything we could imagine.  Definitely something to share!

“See” you at church on the screen!
Hope

All shall be well

All shall be well

Last Sunday, I mentioned Dame Julian of Norwich who was a 14th century anchorite in England.  This week, the Church celebrated her feast day (May 8 or May 13 depending on your community) and Jessica mentions her in the Time for the Child in All of Us for our worship this week.

What makes Julian so remarkable?

Having lived through the plague and the 100 years war, Julian could probably commiserate with what we are going through.  She understood living in isolation; although hers was a chosen devotion.  She also knew about the struggle to know, to find and to understand God’s love in all times, all places and all conditions.

In seminary, when I first read her Revelations of Divine Love, I was drawn by the way Julian talked about God as Love and how she counseled one and all to forgive self, to not live in guilt but to revel in grace.  T.S. Eliot picked up one of her famous lines about God’s sustaining love and grace in his set of poems called The Four Quartets.  He quotes Julian’s comforting words saying, “All shall be well.  And all shall be well.  And all manner of thing shall be well.”

As week nine of home school draws to a close and I wonder if I will make it another six weeks (or if my children will), I cling to these words.  Remembering that God is with me and that God loves me even when I am more than frustrated by lessons and Zoom sessions and isolation; knowing that all will be well and all manner of thing will be well, keeps me going, keeps me prayerful, but most of all challenges me to be gracious and gentle with myself and the little ones … because all really is well.

By the way, whenever Julian is pictured, she is always shown with a cat!  I find that comforting too.

“See” you on Sunday,
Hope

Neighbors

Neighbors

One of my favorite theologian-practitioners, Mr. Fred Rogers, once said, “All of us, at some time or other, need help.  Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.  That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors — in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”

There is so much truth in these words.  In this season of Easter, the Crawford Community has been both, givers and receivers.  Through connecting with our neighbors in Chelsea at Nueva Vida United Methodist Church, we were both:  we were able to share our abundance and we received the faithfulness and love.

Pam and Laura met with Pastor Mirna Concepcion de Rodriguez via Zoom about this gift.  At the end she offered this prayer.  In this, we are witnesses to the blessing of God both for our Crawford Community and for Nueva Vida UMC.  In this, friends, we are witnesses once more of Easter’s gifts of abundant grace, restored life and generous love.

“See” you on Sunday,
Hope

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

This Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter, is known as Good Shepherd Sunday.  It is the day that we hear the Psalm most of us know by heart, the 23rd Psalm, as well as the text from John’s Gospel in which Jesus reminds us that he is our shepherd and the sheep (that would be us) recognize his voice. He calls his sheep by name.  He leads us and we follow because we know his voice.

In these days of staying at home, I find comfort in knowing that God in Jesus is still calling me to follow God out of the gate and into the world.  Some of the ways I recognize God’s voice is in you.

I hear God in Keiko, despite the circumstances, sharing the gift others need and we can provide of Blessing Bags with people who were once strangers but can now be called acquaintances (if not friends).

I hear God in Jessica’s grief over the loss of one of her friends and professors who died from COVID-19.

I hear God in the celebration of birthdays with friends who drive by to sing “Happy Birthday” and who leave birthday blessing signs in front yards.

I hear God in the reverent prayers of our friends and neighbors for those who are sick and those who care for them.

It seems like the resounding message these days is that God is still with us, right where we are ….in physically distant lines at the grocery, in Zoom calls with family, in tea parties with 6 year-olds who are delighted to host and so sad they cannot be together in person.

As we approach the fourth Sunday of Easter, we are reminded that we are God’s people, the sheep of God’s fold, lambs of God’s flock, the ones of God’s own redeeming, even here, even now.

For this, for God, for you, I am grateful.

“See” you on Sunday,
Hope