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Pastor Cath Mode
be not afraid of power part 1
2016.07.15 00:32:03

Be Not Afraid of Power part 1

be not afraid; Facing Fear with Faith by Samuel Wells

 

Read Matthew 21:23ff


You’re not the boss of me!

I arrived early to pick up Andrea from day care. She hadn’t seen me yet and I could watch her playing with her friends. She had many and I never tired of watching her interact with them on the playground. A simple world but still they were learning how share and be kind and also to negotiate conflict and differences. I liked the school’s policy of generally letting the children work things out on their own.

 

When I arrived, she was in a group sitting on a blanket playing with blocks and dolls. Moments later she and two others broke away from the group and headed for the teeter-totter. Two spots…three kids. An argument ensued that quickly escalated. One yelled, “You’re not the boss of me.” Another yelled “And you’re not the boss of me.” Andrea, the pastor’s daughter, yelled, “You aren’t the boss of me either…(thinking, thinking, thinking…maybe she had seen me…) Yeah, ‘cause God’s the boss.” That seemed to settle the argument, at least for that afternoon.

 

In chapter 11 Wells asserts that one of the unexpected consequences of the Reformation is a shift in our understanding of power and authority. Prior to the Reformation ultimate authority rested (in theory) with God. The Reformation, by placing the bible in the hands of the people shifted this authority. Furthermore,

the Enlightenment said authority lay not in ancient documents, venerable institutions, or inspired leaders but in the heart of each individual. So the American and French Revolutions invested authority not in God, in the church, or in the Bible but in the people. They introduced a new religion, which said that the voice of the people was the voice of God.”

 

This chapter really got me thinking about how much power we allow God. Yes, I believe God is the ultimate authority but do I live as if I believe that. How often do I presume God’s grace and take it for granted. Yes I am loved and forgiven, but does that shape how I live day to day. Yes I am a pastor and spend hours and hours in scripture and prayer and worship every week, but still, I am a human, a sinner, living in a fallen world. I know that there are times I resonate with the kids on the playground, “You’re not the boss of me.” I hope I can remember it’s because God is boss!

Wells asks some great questions on p. 75:

What authority do you have? Are you admired, perhaps even feared, because you are powerful?

Are you respected, perhaps even imitated, because you are effective and get the job done? Or do you have another kind of authority, which …restson a confidence God is fundamentally in charge…in Jesus. (Authority of truth)



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Pastor Cath Mode
Be not afraid of weakness part 2
2016.07.14 22:34:59

Be not Afraid of Weakness #2 (be not afraid; facing fear with faith by Samuel Wells)

 

The Lost Sheep, the lost coin, and the hound of heaven.


Years ago, our congregation read Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. I have always thought that his most profound insight was stated in the first sentence of the book: “It’s not about you.” Warren’s point is that we are born by and for God’s purpose. Wells writes, “But the truth is the Bible is not fundamentally about us. The Bible is fundamentally about God.” (p. 43)   When we try to make the Bible into a guide for living, we usually miss the point.

 

In the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, the shepherd and the widow go to extremes seeking out what is lost. I lose things all of the time: my keys, my sweater, my hat, my purse, my sermon. Well, actually I don’t lose them, I misplace them but like the good shepherd and the widow I search diligently (often with the help of husband and staff!) until I find them. I internalized early the persistence and good stewardship of keeping track of all possessions.

That is how many of us think about these two parables.

Wells says, “We are not the shepherd; we are the lost sheep. We are not the woman; we are the lost coin.” of course wants to remind us that this is ultimately about how we are to live but how God is the persistent one who will make every effort to not let one of his children’s lives be lost. It is about God who searches for us. “…and the way to become part of the story is “to stop running away, to stop hiding from the one who yearns and searches for you.” (p. 45)

Over a hundred years ago, Francis Thompson wrote a poem describing God’s relentless pursuit of him and named it “The Hound of Heaven.” “God is the love that will not let go.” (p. 46) In my life there have been a number of times that I have been distracted or have slipped away from God, only to discover that God had been nipping at my heals all along.

Share a quote from this section on weakness and tell why it speaks to you.

Why is it dangerous to think about the Bible as an instruction guide for your life?

In what ways have you pushed God to the edges of your life, so that you can be “in the center?”

When have you felt God’s love nipping at your heals?

 

 

 

 

 



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Pastor Cath Mode
be not afraid; facing fear with faith; part 2 Be not Afraid of Weakness
2016.06.26 22:36:59

Wells writes that there are 2 dimensions of discipleship. "One is the learning of habits and the forming of character....But the other...is the acknowledgment of weakness, the asking for help, the naming of failure, the request for forgiveness, the desire for reconciliation, and the longing for restoration..." p.35 

So, GOD IS MADE KNOWN IN WEAKNESS MORE THAN IN STRENGTH.

 

I have been in ordained parish ministry for over 30 years now. This month I got my medicare card in the mail. It is just a natural time to be reflecting back on success and failure in my ministry. I was one of the early women clergy. At seminary I was in the minority. Some of my classmates didn't approve of my being there. It drove me to be "an excellent student" to prove them wrong, and to perhaps bolster my own confidence in my call. I was one of the first two women to be called as a pastor developer, to start a new congregation. Many colleagues doubted I could do it alone (So did I, to be honest) It was not unusual to hear from people I met "A woman pastor? Oh I have never met one before." So I worked extra hard to prove my competence. 

 

I probably am a work-aholic, over-achiever, perfectionist. Recovering now because I no longer have the energy to keep it up nor do I desire to keep at it. There is freedom in letting go of unrealistic expectations. Now, as I look back, it was not my strength that moved anything ahead in that first parish, it was my "weakness." In those days I weighed 110 lbs and appeared to be about 20. I didn't look the part of a "strong pastor."

 

Actually, I think that worked to the advantage of the congregation. I suspect members would look at me and think to themselves, "That woman needs help." I couldn't sing and many joined the choir. They didn't think I should be out knocking on doors alone so they joined me meeting people in the neighborhoods. I had only small children so the young moms figured I needed help in planning Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I knew nothing about construction so many stepped up to be on the building committee. I knew nothing about art and so local sail makers designed and made our banners. And so it went. 

 

That woman did need help! And it brought out the best in my congregation. I give thanks for those supporters in that first parish and my current partners in ministry. We need each other.

 

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. 

Little ones to him belong, I am weak but He is strong!

 

What do you need help doing? Has someone helped you accomplish what you could not do on your own. How are you stepping in where there is need? Where have you experience God blessing your weakness?

 

 

 



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Pastor Cath Mode
be not afraid; facing fear with faith: part 1 continued the 4 great fears
2016.06.26 03:24:08

Samuel Wells names 4 great fears: death, pain, guilt, and isolation. A friend of mine asked her father, who suffered from Alzheimer's, what it felt like to have Alzheimers. I thought it was a gutsy question in the first place. People often pretend the disease isn't there but here there was truth telling and it was a first step in facing the disease faithfully, for the father and for the daughter. Though often confused this former preacher now only had fleeting moments of clarity but this was one of them. He said, "it is like a black hole. I know there is light out there but I am slipping down further into the darkness." 

That's what real fear feels like: fear of death, of pain, of guilt and of isolation. That is what it feels like to yearn for a word of hope to encourage and sustain us. 

I asked my friend what did you say to that? Her response was simply to take his hand and say, I love you Dad. We (family) are right here.

 

Wells compares it to Israel's experience of the EXILE. For a prophet like Isaiah Exile was the end of the world and it is from Exile that Isaiah writes about hope. See Isa 43:1-7.

 

"The promise is not, 'you won't face death, pain, guilt, isolation, You won't face flaming fire and flooding water.' the promise is, 'when you face these things, they won't destry you, they won't drown you, they won't overwhelm you, they won't fundamentally separate you from me" p. 31

 

For me, this is a truthful promise, one that squares with my experience of the world and of God. I don't get out of living in a broken world but God has held me together and given me strength to face what comes. 

 

What do you think. Is this enough for you? Have you experienced god's hope differently?

Please share Smile 

 



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Pastor Cath Mode
be not afraid; facing fear with faith; part 1 continued Be not afraid of death
2016.06.17 04:30:00

p. 9 ..there are two kinds of healing in the church. ..."Loud Healing" and "Quiet Healing."


Back in my Youth Ministry days, I had a youth group that wanted to study healing. Several had seen late-night evangelists slaying the bad spirits and healing whole crowds of people from all sorts of ailments. some stood up out of wheel chairs; others had hearing restored. This would be "loud healing. " They were intrigued and a little disappointed that nothing like this had ever happened in our quiet healing services on the fifth weekend of each month. So we looked at several of the healing stories and at the healing service in our hymnbook and we chewed on the subject for weeks, like only teens can do. Then one night, one of the youth had an epiphany. "You know, I think I have been healed." Now he had our attention! "When my father committed suicide I was really angry at him for doing it and for leaving us. But over the years, I have forgiven him and now can remember the good times."

 

Yes that is a healing. It is a healing that gives life as surely does one cured from cancer. It is what Samuel Wells calls a quiet healing.

 

p.11 Forgiveness takes away the guilt, blame, enmity, and shame, but it doesn't immediately take away the pain, loss, hurt, and damage. something else is required....Healing is the third part of salvation, the part sandwiched between forgiveness and eternal life. Salvation means there's forgiveness. there's eternal life, and in between, filling up any space that may linger between forgiveness and everlasting life, there's healing.

 

Have you or someone you know experienced healing? Was it the loud kind or quiet kind? Have you participated in one of our healing service? How did you experience that time at the altar, the prayer, the opportunity to light a candle?

 

Wells' definition of healing may be broader that you originally understood healing to be. Basically he says after forgiveness, there still may be a mess to clean up. Healing is for that mess. Do you like this definition? Why?



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Pastor Cath Mode
be not afraid; facing fear with faith: part 1 Be not afraid of death
2016.06.14 03:51:50

p. 1 If faith in God can address the subject of death, then it can be set free to speak to every other aspect of life.

AND

p. 2 To speak of faith in the face of death means to name our worst fears and gently but purposefully bring them into conversation with our deepest convictions.

 

I think I was in about 5th grade when I first figured out that I was going to die. Really die.

I woke up in the middle of the night with a sick stomache, pain in my side and a very high fever. I was in bed and  somewhere between dreaming and hallucinating. I saw a heavy navy blue, wool blanket floating above my bed. It hovered over my toes then my ankles, then my core, creeping slowly toward my head. I was thinking that if that blanket covered my head I would be dead. so I screamed out "MOM, DAD I AM GOING TO DIE!" That woke them up! 

 

My parents quickly recognized appendicitis, rushed me to the ER and before I knew it I was waking up from surgery. "I AM GOING TO LIVE," I thought, but I had a new world view: I could have died. It could have been the end. There is an end to everything. However, now is not the end. Someday but not now"

 

I started thinking of life as "extra life" i.e. life after what could have been death and so everything was sort of an extra gift. But I also felt a sadness. I understand it now as anticipatory grief. There will be an end...someday. 

 

When did you first understand that you were going to die? Did knowing so change you in anyway? 




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Pastor Cath Mode
be not afraid; facing fear with faith
2016.06.04 04:01:26

Introduction p. xiii-xix

Everyone has fears. I know a woman, okay it was my mom, who had a terrible fear of traffic and we had lots of friends and family, who lived in big cities and so that meant we drove in lots of city traffic as a family. Mom would be in the front seat, gasping, clutching her arm rest, telling Dad to " watch out." Sometimes she buried her head in a pillow. Dad was patient but it was hard to listen to. So she decided to get help. She went to a class on facing her fears. We were all excited that finally she (and we) would get some relief. After several weeks, she graduated. I asked her about the experience. Almost gleefully she said, "Oh we all learned that our fears were reasonable. When you think about it, any sane person would be afraid of city traffic." 

 

Of course that is not what I had hoped for. After all of those sessions, she had basically been given permission to carry on as before, afraid of traffic. However, in the end, it didn't work out that way. There was something about being given permission to be afraid that eased her anxiety.


So we all have fears. Any reasonable person would. What is it that people or we, ourselves, fear the most?

p. xv Wells writes, "Fear isn't itself good or bad. It's an emotion that identifies what we love. The quickest way to discover what or whom someone loves is to find out what they are afraid of.


Would you agree?



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Pastor Cath Mode
Getting started
2016.06.03 03:50:07

Whenever we took our kids out to eat, in the car, before we went in, we reviewed expected manners. They already new the expectations but it was still helpful to remind them. 

So, with that in mind here are a few operating expectations:

  • When you post something, we ask that your username contain your last name so that what we write here is "owned" by the author. Many folks use their first initial and last name with no space after the initial.
  • Everyone's thoughts are to be respected. There will be different perspectives. I always assume that we all see in part and together we will have a bigger picture of what God is doing in this world.
  • It is okay to have doubts, questions, or to be skeptical. That is often how we grow in faith and understanding.
  • Negative Nancys and Antagonistics Arnolds will not be tolerated. 
  • As the manager of the blog, I reserve the right to remove offensive comments or irrelevant posts by spammers.


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Pastor Cath Mode
Book Study starting this week.
2016.05.31 23:51:49

BeNotAfraidI am really excited to get started on this book study with you. The title is Be Not Afraid by Samuel Wells. If you still need to get the book there are copies at Barnes and Nobel, Amazon and even an e-book version for your Kindle. 

 

I will be introducing and commenting on a chapter or two a week. I look forward to your questions and comments. If you have time, read the introduction to the book for discussion later this week. 



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Cheryl Davis
The Best Partnership Ever -- Posted July 15, 2015
2015.07.16 03:37:24

I retired on May 3rd. It had been a long run: for 33 years I taught piano and music. For 33 years my life was divided into time slots that accommodated both private and group lessons. Students came to my studio early in the morning and late into the evening. Some were very young; others had recently retired. They brought their lives with them to their lessons, their learning styles, their inner motivation (or lack of), and their hearts. Together we created music while we learned to work together as a team. Sometimes a solid partnership formed and sometimes, well, not so much!

 

When I was a young teacher, I believed that I could make everyone want to learn. Every single student would excel if I just said the right things, smiled enough, provided the right incentives, and gave enough praise. Somewhere along the line I realized that there were students who had no desire to learn, and there was nothing I could do to change that. I couldn’t force them. I couldn’t rearrange their lives at home to make room for practice. I couldn’t fulfill their end of our partnership. I could offer, but they were the ones who had to receive.

 

Of course, most students wanted to learn, and it was an absolute joy to see their musical growth. I’d provide the music, the instruction and the incentive. They’d go home and do the hard work, finding their own inner motivation and discovering that hard work brings success. They’d learn to express their hearts through music, and then they’d touch others’ hearts with beauty. It was a wonderful adventure to share with them.

 

I wonder what this can teach us about our partnership with the Lord. Are we students who’d rather not be there? Or are we on an adventure to learn and grow with the best Teacher ever? It’s a question worth asking ourselves periodically—not as a way to navel gaze but rather as a way to deepen our commitment to the One who has so much to teach us and longs for us to learn.

 

Sharing the adventure with you,

 

Cheryl Davis



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Cheryl Davis
Precious Jewels
2015.07.16 02:45:42

We finally hit it off. I’m not sure why it didn’t happen sooner, except, perhaps, that Horace bonded with her first. She chose him early on and would run right past me to be swooped up in his arms. They’d play games and drink tea together. She even wore a T-shirt that read, “Grandpa’s girl.” If I showed up without him, she’d want to know why and then walk away in disappointment. However, during my last stay with my son’s family, Thea and I finally became friends.

 

It happened like this. I leaned over to kiss her goodnight. As I brushed the hair out of her eyes, I said, “You’re a jewel.”

 

“What’s a jewel?”

 

“It’s something beautiful. It’s a treasure. It sparkles. It’s usually worth a lot like the diamonds in wedding rings. If you’re a jewel, you’re precious.”

 

“What’s precious?”

 

“Precious is something very dear. Something that’s loved a lot. Something that we hold close. If I tell you you’re precious, it means that I love you. It means you’re important to me, and you always will be.” I paused and then said, “You’re a jewel, Thea, and you’re precious.”

 

She smiled and was quiet for a few seconds. Then she said, “Guess what, Grandma? You’re a jewel. That means you’re precious.” I was surprised and warmed by her response. We grinned at each other and bonded for life.

 

It feels great to know you’re precious to someone. My conversation with Thea reminded me of God’s words to God’s people through the prophet Isaiah:

 

“For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you (Isaiah 43:3-4).


The Hebrew word that is translated as “precious” also means, “to be valued, rare, esteemed, honored.” Wow! Can you get your mind around that? Can you believe that God is saying it to you? It’s true! Allow it to permeate all the nooks and crannies of your heart. Maybe you’ll find yourself responding to God as Thea responded to me. When you do, you’ll realize that you are lovingly bonded to the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…..forever.

 

Savoring this truth,

 

Vicar Cheryl



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Cheryl Davis
The Mark of a Christian in a Broken World -- Posted July 15, 2015
2015.07.16 02:38:08

The Trestle Trail shootings have brought me back to one of the most important reasons I’m a Christian. It’s expressed clearly by Elton Trueblood: “For the Christian, there’s something deeper than the tears.” That “something deeper” holds us steady when all of life is spinning out of control. It gives us hope when we have every reason to despair. It keeps its promise when every human promise has been broken. It lifts our head when we have no strength to lift it on our own. It looks tragedy and broken dreams in the face and says to them, “You are not the winner. Just wait. God will bring something good out of this yet.” (Romans 8:28)


Today is Pentecost Sunday. Today we remember that the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son to the believers in Jerusalem who could not imagine what would happen next. Jesus had recently returned to his Father. He’d said that they would not be orphans; he would send them another Counselor to be with them forever.


The Spirit-Counselor would go deeply into their beings and live with them there. It would light a fire in their hearts. It would hold them steady when life was not steady. It would give them hope when they could not hope on their own. The Spirit would give them direction, comfort them in grief, and give them holy joy in the darkest nights.


And so they waited…for something deeper than their sense of loss at Jesus’ departure, for something deeper than their fear and uncertainty. And the Spirit came—in a rush of wind and fire--and made them new. It gave them the power to live out Jesus’ commands and to spread his gospel to the ends of the earth. It gave them the power to live in unity with one another. It gave them power to remain strong in the faith.


That same Spirit empowers us today, no matter the circumstance, no matter the pain of life in a broken world. Even when our pain goes all the way to the depths of our being, the Holy Spirit goes deeper. The Spirit enables us to hope in God’s faithfulness even when the world expects us to despair.


This is the mark of a Christian in our world today. Thanks be to God.


Vicar Cheryl



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Cheryl Davis
The Crow Revisited -- Posted July 15, 2015
2015.07.16 02:36:13

In order for this blog to make sense, read the blog right below it.  It was written first and this blog is the second in a series.


Last week I wrote to you about the crow that had taken over our backyard. I likened it to evil because it had scared away the wildlife that brought goodness and joy into our lives. If you remember, I told you that Horace had smacked a couple boards together and scared the crow away. At the time of my writing, the crow had not come back and our yard was once again teeming with songbirds, squirrels, and a rabbit or two.

 

Well, the crow came back. But since we’d evicted it once, we were determined to keep it away forever. So now, every time we see it floating over our yard or resting on the neighbor’s fence, we rush into the yard with boards and start beating them against each other. It flies away for a couple more days. We’ve realized that we have to be vigilant. Perhaps if we’re consistent, the crow will get the message and never come back.

 

This has been a powerful illustration to me of the Bible verse from 1 Peter 5:8: “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” How might victory over this kind of evil play out in our everyday lives?

 

Well, let’s say that you’ve got a habit that really brings you or others down. For instance, you judge others and want them to live up to your expectations. You decide to evict this “crow” from your life, and so you ask the Holy Spirit to give you the power to do so. You have a day of freedom….and then, you find yourself face to face with your own personal “crow” again. This is not the time to give up or give in. It’s time to call on the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to choose different behavior as often as is necessary.

 

Be disciplined. Be alert. Beat the boards together. They will sound the triumph to evil: “Jesus died and rose again so that we can be free from sin and death. Jesus gives us the freedom to be free. We live in step with the Spirit and not with evil. Hallelujah and Amen!”

 

Fighting the “crows” with you,

 

Vicar Cheryl Davis



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Cheryl Davis
We Can Cling to This Truth -- Posted July 15, 2015
2015.07.16 02:33:28

This column was written a few days after the Trestle Trail shootings in our area in which three people plus the killer died and another was seriously wounded.


The crow is gone. It wasn’t as hard to get rid of it as we’d thought it would be. Following the advice of a stranger, Horace took two cutting boards from the kitchen into the backyard. He smacked them together good and loud. The crow flew away and hasn’t come back.


But wait, let me explain. This spring a glistening crow decided to take over our yard. Each morning we’d look out the window to see the big, black bird dominating our lovely space that had been teeming with life before. Now, all of the songbirds and animals had disappeared—except for the squirrels. They remained, but only navigated along the fences so that they could make quick escapes. The crow’s presence had taken out what was good, leaving fear in its place.


The crow reminds me of evil. Evil never promotes life or wellbeing. It replaces joy and trust with fear. Habits and addictions form that are almost impossible to overcome. Misunderstandings occur and fester. Relationships fracture. Violence explodes. Hope slips away. Isolation results.


This week in the Fox Valley we have seen evil up close. We have experienced it in “full bloom,” and we are shocked and in grief. How could this have happened here in our beautiful backyard? More importantly, how will we—as believers in Christ—continue to live as people of the resurrection when evil threatens to extinguish our hope?


First of all, we will stand firm in the knowledge that the crow does not have the last word, and neither does sin. Jesus triumphs. His death and resurrection pronounce the resounding clap of thunder against the devastation of evil.


In the midst of all that is wrong, Jesus gives us the power to hold to all that is right. In the midst of his crucifixion, Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them!” And in the quiet of Easter morning, Jesus spoke with love to the heartbroken Mary Magdalene. He was making everything new then, and he still is. He will make all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28). Life will flourish again. We can cling to this truth.


Vicar Cheryl



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Cheryl Davis
Faith Stepping - Posted July 15, 2015
2015.07.16 02:28:48

Sometimes we have a pretty good idea where we’ll be a year from now, but sometimes, we have no idea at all. Right now, my husband and I are at the “no idea at all” place. We hope that I will have received and accepted a call to a parish, but we simply don’t know if that will happen and if it does, where it will be and how it will play out.


So the poem I wrote over a year ago is helpful to us now, and perhaps it can be helpful to you, too—as individuals and as a church body. As Christians, we are anchored in the trustworthy character of the One-who-Promises. We are on a sure path—even when uncertainty is all around us.

Stepping into nowhere

My foot over the edge of a cliff

“Do not fear”

“All is well”

“I will never leave you or forsake you”

“I know the future; it is good”

 

Well, then

 

There is no cliff

There is no step into nowhere

There is only

A step of strong assurance

A step into the Promise of God

 

This is good news! This is our assurance as we navigate every day of our lives within the care of our good and loving Father.

 

Faith-stepping with you,

 

Vicar Cheryl Davis



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Cheryl Davis
Lookin' for Love... Posted July 15, 2015
2015.07.16 02:25:40

How long does it take to believe someone loves you?

Well, that depends.

On what?

On what has come before. If you’ve known loving acceptance, promises that were made and kept, respect for your privacy, comfort in your pain and celebration in your joy, you might easily believe that you’re worth loving.

 

But it might be harder to believe if you haven’t known acceptance, understanding, respect, comfort, or mutual joy. You might feel uncertain in relationships. You might have your guard up, misread cues, label things “love” that are destructive, and feel as if you can never get things right in relationships. You might be “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places” as the songwriter penned.

 

A question has plagued me concerning this for a long time, and I invite you to think about it with me. Is it difficult to receive God’s love if you’ve never been loved well or if you’ve been badly betrayed by those who claimed they loved you?

 

I’m not sure. Some inconclusive research has been done on this and no one can say for certain. But this one thing I know for sure: God knows how to open our hearts to God’s love. It starts in Baptism when God claims us as God’s own. The Holy Spirit actively works in us from then on, and with great wisdom, the Spirit leads us (often through the words and love of others) to a place of freedom and joy—that place where we know deep within that we are loved by Almighty God and redeemed by Jesus Christ.

 

This is such good news. This is the Gospel of our Lord. Thanks be to God when we feel lovable and especially when we don’t!

 

In God’s magnificent and all-wise love,

 

Vicar Cheryl Davis



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Cheryl Davis
Beauty from Chaos: The Work of the Spirit
2015.07.16 02:23:27

Twelve years ago my backyard was an ugly, overgrown, weed-filled mess. Thistles were taller than I was. A rock wall was crumbling because of the weeds and varmints living there. Shooters from the neighbors lilac bushes were growing all over the lawn. The old cement patio had caved in and shifted. (In my own defense, I have to say that I kept the lawn mowed, but there were gardens on all sides of the backyard that I did not have time to tend.)

 

This sight was so discouraging to me that I seldom looked out the back windows, and I kept the blinds closed so that no one else would either.   I was ashamed that this mess belonged to me. I finally found the courage and money to call a landscape architect. She stood in dumbfounded silence as her eyes traveled from one side of the yard to the other.

 

“Well,” she said. More silence. “Well,” she continued. “There are certainly a lot of possibilities here.”

 

A week later she had created a new backyard for me on paper. I hired her company to pull out the mess and put in the beds. They worked hard and long for many days, and when they left the last day, my backyard was a work of art. I was awed by the curving lines of the beds and the beautiful ground covers. And then came a terrible, sinking feeling. Now what? The huge beds were empty. What should I do with them? I’m not a gardener!

 

Fortunately, I met Horace that fall. He’s a gardener. The following July he started to work in those gardens, and he’s been creating beauty in the backyard ever since.

 

As I write this, I’m gazing at the backyard through a large bay window. The Holy Spirit reminds me that this is a picture of what he desires to do in the life of each of his children. Bara is the Hebrew word to describe this. It means to create something new from chaos.

 

The Spirit comes to us—weeds and all—and begins the work of creation within us. We may hide entire backyards of shame from everyone’s view, but he sees. He knows. He enables us to open the door to his love, and then he begins his creative work in our hearts. It can be a ton of work for him and for us, but the results are beautiful! If you need a visual, come and check out our backyard. Really. It’s a miracle we love to share.

 

Trusting the Spirit with you—Vicar Cheryl            



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Cheryl Davis
The Simple, Profound Truth July 15, 2015
2015.07.16 02:19:51

I looked up from the keyboard into the face of heavenly joy. The last time I’d seen this kind of joy, it had been on the face of a young and trusting child. But this time I was looking into the face of an elderly woman with dementia. She was smiling broadly. Her eyes were sparkling. It seemed that light was emanating from her face; in fact, she appeared to have a halo. I couldn’t look away from her. She was gazing directly at me, so I returned her smile, and we shared the beautiful moment. I’m not sure, but I think she gave me a glimpse into heaven and the joy we will experience there.


My fingers continued to float over the keys, playing the familiar song. She continued to sing joyfully, and although others were singing, too, this was her song, her moment of immersion in the love of Christ.


This woman and I had run into each other repeatedly during the first days of my summer chaplaincy internship at a long term care facility. I learned her name, and she started to recognize me. We saw each other so often that we laughed whenever it happened—just because it had happened again. And then it stopped happening. I didn’t know it then, but she had been moved from the general population into a specialized home for those with dementia. Of course, I was thrilled to see her again today, and she seemed to recognize me.


The song came to an end, but her glow continued.   “You really love that song, don’t you?” I said to her. She nodded her head vigorously, still smiling, still bathed in warmth and joy. I could tell that the song was the touchstone for her faith. It took her back to a time when she was a young and trusting child who received the love of Jesus with open hands. It had carried her through life, and now it was flowing from an old and trusting heart that had proven the song to be true. It tied her entire life together and pointed her to the magnificent future awaiting her.


The song? Oh, have I neglected to mention that? We were singing “Jesus Loves Me.”


Glad for the simple, profound truth,

Vicar Cheryl Davis



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Cheryl Davis
Restoring the Deleted
2015.05.28 04:22:02

Hi there!

 

If you've happened upon this blog and are hoping for something new...please come back in a few days.  Today the entire blog was completely deleted--accidentally, of course--and now I'm in the process of restoring it for you.  It's been fun to read the old blogs--although a bit tedious to copy and paste them all back into this format.  Thanks for your patience!

 

Cheryl



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Cheryl Davis
Christmas Reflections
2015.05.28 04:18:09

December 24, 2014


It’s just the cat and me moving around here at the Davis house on this early, dark, Christmas Eve morning. The sounds of the house are comforting: clocks ticking; the coffee maker gurgling as it changes water and brown stuff into liquid gold; the furnace kicking in, and the washer swishing my clerical robe in preparation for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. It’s not the same peace the shepherds experienced on the hillside, but it’s peace, and it warms my heart.

 

I’d been warned that Advent and Christmas would be a whirlwind. The warning has proved valid, but I’ve found that it’s a good whirlwind—a time for focus and teamwork. HOW many different bulletins need to be prepared for the week of Christmas? Really? And tell me again why we’re working on them in November? Oh! So that the services get planned and things are ready when they need to be. I get it. Let’s go.

 

There are sermons and more sermons to write, Christmas programs to attend, events to enjoy. There’s a ton of planning, and sometimes I’ve wished it would be over so that I could breathe normally again. But this morning, sitting here in the quiet Davis house, anticipating the wonders of today and tomorrow, I just plain old feel blessed to be your intern this year. I’m learning so much about being a pastor. You have been a consistent encouragement to me as I try my wings and learn to fly. Thank you!

 

You know, sometimes life just feels right, and everything seems to be exactly as it should be for a particular point in time. I know what it feels like when it’s not this way, but today, I know what it feels like when it is. It feels like Christmas. It feels like God is here, that God has come to earth and into our personal lives to dwell with us forever.

 

Nothing could be better. Rejoice! Jesus has come for you, for me…for all of us. We are so blessed to be claimed and redeemed by him.

 

Surrounded with you by God’s blessings this season,

Vicar Cheryl Davis



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