A Lot Can Happen in 40 Days

BTP best 2

+Mark 1:13-14 Christ was in the wilderness forty days…  [then] Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God…

+++

We are going to have a baby. Our little boy is due around August 4th, 2015.

I have been absent from this blog for three months- and there’s a reason. I battled morning sickness most days-all day long, and when I wasn’t working at my church, I slept. But today is the first Sunday in Lent- and I decided to write again.

Lent is a holy season. We are all asked to invite God to work in our lives. To change us. To shape us.

Lent is a powerful time.

Over the years, I have given up meat or sometimes chocolate. One year I gave up sleeping in.

But what if we can do more in 40 days? What if God can work through us in profound, life altering ways?

Before Jesus began his public ministry, he went into the wilderness to pray. He took 40 days in silence. In this time, he was shaped by God and equipped for his ministry.

We observe 40 days of Lent so that we too, may be shaped by God.

As we begin this journey of Lent, I invite each of you to ask the question: what can God do in my life in 40 days?

The past 40 days of my life have taught me so much about what God can do.

It was a little over 40 days ago, on Epiphany, that Andrew saw our baby for the first time.

We went into this dark little room for an ultrasound, and the nurse showed us an image of the screen I will never forget: there was a gummy bear looking creature… the size of a grape.

Little buds where arms would form. Small lumps where legs would grow.

And then, in that dark room, we listened to our baby’s heartbeat- and it sounded like thunder- strong and bold and life changing.

This was the beginning of our new reality. We caught a glimpse of a tiny gummy bear sized promise. We heard the sound of a hope as bold as rolling thunder.

I study the development of our child diligently each night before bed. In the past 40 days- amazing things have happened.

In the 40 days: he’s formed tiny tooth buds, he’s gained the ability to curl his toes, to clench eye muscles, and to open and close fingers. He’s developed a unique set of fingerprints.

He’s learned how to squint, to grimace, to frown, and to smile- he even started sucking his little thumb. Our son’s tiny joints began bending.

He transformed from the size of a gummy bear, to fig, to lemon, to apple and just this week- to the size of an avocado- 5 inches long. He now has tiny toenails on his toes. Taste buds have formed on his tongue, and by next week, he will have sweat glands in place.

So much took place for our little gummy bear in 40 days.

On Friday night, a small group from our church went to see the movie Selma. We watched painful scenes of young black men and women being beaten in the streets of Alabama because they longed for equality. And there are still many struggles for equality and justice around the world today.

I wonder, what kind of world will our son live in? What do I want him to learn about the human experience, and about how we treat our neighbors? This Lenten season, instead of giving up chocolate, how can I begin the good work of advocating for change, and striving for justice so that my son will never see kids beaten in the streets or gunned down in their neighborhoods?

Christ spent 40 days in the wilderness and when he returned, he was ready to change the world through his radical compassion, his prophetic words, and his courageous community building.

In 40 days, our son formed toenails and finger prints and began to swallow.

In January 1965, the Selma Voting Rights Campaign began. Almost exactly 40 days later, a group of activists marched out of Selma on Highway 80 toward Montgomery to protest. They were attacked with tear gas and beaten with nightsticks. The attack was televised and received national attention. The broadcast helped the movement gain momentum in Selma- and things started to change.

A lot can happen in 40 days.

What could this mean for you? How will you allow God to change you?

In this Lenten season, may we all invite God to inspire us, to move through us, to motivate us and to change us in ways we cannot even imagine. This is my prayer for all of you. May it be so. Amen.

Advertisements

Goodbye Y’all (a final sermon for Lindenwood)

lindenwood

This is it- my last Sunday at Lindenwood- and how could I possibly begin to say goodbye?

 How do you say goodbye well?

  It’s only been 3.5 years, but for me, it’s been my entire life in ministry. My first call, the place where I was ordained, the place where I took risks, where I grew, where I made mistakes, where I learned, where you all gave me the space to explore ministry.

 This is our 170th Sunday together. For 170 Sundays, I have been your pastor, and you have been my congregation.

 I saw this time as a gift, a privilege, a true calling from the holy spirit. I owe you so much of my heart, so much gratitude, so much appreciation.

 And Y’all have taught me so much, and I realize that now as I’m fixing to leave. I came as a Yankee, but you taught me that I might could become a southern belle with a little effort.

 Y’all taught me that even a few drops of cold rain is plenty a reason to close church, the pharmacy, sell out of bread and milk- and spend the whole day at home catching up on Netflix. Thank you.

 Y’all taught me important phrases like y’all, fixing to, might could, bless your heart, getting my picture made, kiss my grits, madder than a wet hen…

 But more than those “Southernisms”, you have taught me to baptize, to keep vigil at the bedside of someone on hospice or at the hospital, you have taught me to pray out loud, you have taught me how to design worship, how to preach, how to climb up onto the roof of a Habitat for Humanity house, how to bless a baby, how to marry a loving couple, how to say farewell to someone in a funeral, how to grieve with a family, and how to love a room full of 400 people more than I thought I ever could…

 This has been a journey of teaching, of loving, of learning, of growing, and most of all- bringing glory to Christ in all that we do. So how do you say goodbye well?

 I’m sorry. I forgive you. I love you.

 That’s how we did it, anyway.

 I’m sorry. I forgive you. I love you.

 I remember my first adult goodbye so well. It was a cold spring. My family gathered around the hospital bed keeping vigil, telling stories, sharing memories, listening to music. The food tasted like rubber, the neon lights offered little warmth, but none of that mattered. My family spent the afternoon in the Cheyanne Wyoming Memorial hospital with my grandfather. We were creating a safe, sacred space for him to let go.

 I’m sorry. I forgive you. I love you.

 We all made sure to whisper these words to him that afternoon.

 For some of us, we had no idea what we had to apologize for…

 Well, I had one little thing… I remembered a moment from 10 years before this, when I was an angst-y 8th grader- writing angst-y things in my little journal. I would criticize classmates and critique teachers. And one Thanksgiving, my grandfather accidently picked up this journal and peeked in by mistake.

 I was mortified. I didn’t want him to see me like that. I didn’t want him to see my harsh words written down.

 10 years later, gathered around his hospital bed- we had shared so many more memories and inspiring conversations and family Thanksgivings- I doubt he ever remembered my 13-year-old girl journal- but it didn’t matter- I whispered: I’m sorry.

 Many of us in the family didn’t know what we meant exactly with those words “I forgive you.” But just like ‘I’m sorry,’ they needed to be said. Maybe my grandfather experienced his own private angst for not showing up for some odd ballet performance, or not writing the perfect Christmas card, or….

 Whatever could have been troubling him, we wanted to release it- so we all whispered “I forgive you.”

 And finally, we all said “I love you.” Over and over again, we said “I love you.”

 We did this because it was time to say goodbye, it was time to make sure that our adoration and respect was understood, and believed, and communicated.

 In those final hours, we listened to sacred music. Alleluias and Praise to the Lord’s rang out. I remember when one of my favorite songs began to play in that hospital room as we all gathered. It was an arrangement of a beautiful sacred spiritual by Moses Hogan:

Lord I want to be more Holy, in my heart, in my heart,

Lord I want to be more Holy in my heart.

In my heart, in my heart,

Lord I want to be more Holy in my heart.

I sang along as the song played. It was like the anthem for all of us. I remember singing that song so clearly because that afternoon, as we said goodbye to my grandfather, it was a holy moment, a sacred, peaceful, holy goodbye.

And then I look out at all of you here today, and it almost feels the same.

When I think back to that song: Lord I want to be more holy, in my heart, in my heart, Lord I want to be more holy in my heart…

It reminds me that this was our biggest task together at Lindenwood. We all had the privilege and the honor of seeking holiness together, of trying to be more faithful, more loving, more compassionate and gospel-oriented together.

In the same way that we gathered that afternoon in the hospital room, we are all here today to say a goodbye.

I chose Paul’s letter to the Philippians for this morning, partly because it is a scripture for the 2nd week of Advent (well, last year anyway), but mostly because I couldn’t have composed a better letter myself. Our brother Paul wrote this letter generations ago, but I wanted to borrow his words and recite them to all of you today:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

 Theologians agree Paul’s letter to the Philippians was a friendship letter- it expresses the deep love and connection between Paul and this community. This letter is sustained and rooted in their shared memories- Paul recalls with joy all that they have shared together and endured together.

Paul has 4 main points throughout the letter to the Philippians:

1)      he expresses gratitude that they have shared the gospel together;

2)      he expresses his love for this community;

3)      he tells them he hopes their love will overflow;

4)      and finally, he tells them he hopes they will discern what is truly valuable and good. 

This letter holds the longest expression of thanksgiving and love to any community that Paul writes to. There is a special intimacy and love reflected in this letter that goes beyond any of his other writings. The church in Philippi was one of the first churches in Europe, and Paul has a particular connection and respect for this church, because it’s where he felt he did some of his best work.

He writes to them knowing that he will not be with the church in Philippi for the duration of their good ministry, instead, he says, he will pray for the church until the day of Christ arrives.

Today, I can relate Paul’s situation and sentiment in this letter. I want to share a message of friendship with each of you because of our deep love and connection that is sustained and rooted in shared memories and joy. I want to express the same message Paul writes:

1)      my gratitude that we have shared the gospel together;

2)      my love for this community;

3)      my hope that your love will overflow;

4)      and finally, my hope that you will discern what is truly valuable and good. 

And, just like the church in Philippi was one of the first churches in Europe for Paul, you, Lindenwood, are my first church. Because of this, there is a special intimacy and love from me, for you.

Finally, Paul writes knowing that he will not be with the church in Philippi for the duration of their ministry- and I will not be with you all as you do your best ministry ahead.

So how can we say goodbye?

Let me say to you the goodbye I learned at the bedside of someone I loved: I’m sorry, I forgive you, I love you.

I am sure there are those here who I offended, or hurt, or disappointed, or worse. But today, as we go our separate ways, it feels vitally important and appropriate for me to say: whatever has been said or left unsaid that caused upset: I am sorry.

And, I forgive you. Just like ‘I’m sorry,’ these words need to be said.  I leave with no grudges or unresolved relationships. I am sure there are those here who think we might have had a past concern, or issue, or conflict. Whatever could be troubling you, I want to release it- so believe me when I say “I forgive you.”

 And finally, the most important message of all: I love you. I do. I love this entire church for all my relationships, my memories, my joy, my laughter, all that we have shared, all that we created, all that we witnessed together.

Lindenwood, on this final Sunday, may this be my lasting word of good news: we can say goodbye well. Even the apostles and prophets before all of us knew how to depart well. And this is an opportunity for us to do the same. I’m sorry. I forgive you. I love you.

  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Amen.

Answering a New Call

Sarah

A Letter To My Lindenwood Family:

Over the past 3+ years, you taught me how to be a minister. You allowed me to lead you in worship, prayer, and small groups. You ordained me in your sanctuary. You offered me the privilege of blessing new babies and marrying committed partners here. You invited me to your bedside for pastoral care. You included me in the intimate moments of grief and loss that you endured.

You gave me space to try, to fail, and to achieve. Thank you.

Every minute of my ministry at Lindenwood Christian Church felt like a gift, a privilege and a true call from the Holy Spirit.

Today, I write to tell you some exciting yet bittersweet news. In prayer and partnership with God, Community Christian Church in North Canton, Ohio has called me to be their next senior minister. I joyfully accepted this call. My last Sunday at Lindenwood will be December 8th.

We will have time to say goodbye well. We will have time to remember, to grieve, to worship, to celebrate and to pray together over the next 8 weeks until my final Sunday.

When I leave, I will take your teachings with me. I will remember the sacred moments of ministry we created together. And most of all, I will carry love and appreciation for each of you with me on my future path.

You are in good hands here at Lindenwood. I know that God embraces this thriving church with compassion, mercy, adoration and grace. You have great leaders, dedicated staff, clear vision and a bright future.

Thank you for carrying me, teaching me, shaping me, and preparing me for this next call. You have been Christ’s heart and Christ’s presence to me.
Much heart,

Reverend Sarah Taylor Peck

3 on 3: A Pet Blessing

Oliver 2

+ I now establish my covenant with you… and with every living creature that was with you: the birds, the livestock and all the animals… every living creature on earth. Genesis 9:9-10

This month marks 3 years on 3 legs for sweet little Oliver. He still purrs and over-eats and follows me around. He runs faster than ever. He plays with toy mice and shoelaces. He still sneaks outside if I leave the door open too long when I come home. Oliver is happy.

He beat the odds for cats with injection-site sarcoma.

On one of my recent hobbles around the neighborhood, I passed the Immaculate Conception ‘Blessing of the Animals’ service. The memories flooded back for me.

Three years ago, I took Oliver to that service. I remember gently lifting him out of his carrier. I felt protective of his half shaved body and the 8-inch wound held together with giant silver staples and black stitches. He lost his leg days before the blessing ceremony.

Father Val gently stroked him and whispered words of love to Oliver. He rubbed anointing oil on Oliver’s head. He gave us a small St. Francis charm to remind us of these holy moments of prayer.

I believe that blessing nudged Oliver down the road of healing- and I know that it helped heal my own aching heart as Oliver recovered.

Oliver has been my witness over the past decade. He’s been my prayer partner (he always seems to snuggle close during my morning devotion). He’s been my most patient listener and the first hearer of my sermons through the years. He’s been a comforter and an encourager to me.

Some might think animal blessings are silly, or excessive, or even inappropriate. But on the anniversary of Oliver’s amputation, I remember the tender blessing that Father Val offered Oliver and I’m grateful.

In my ministry I intend to maintain this [potentially silly and excessive] practice of blessing pets around this time of year–because this ceremony meant so much to me.

On Sunday, October 20th, at 4pm we’re having a pet blessing at Lindenwood Christian Church. We’ll gather in the garden, and all pets are welcome. All witnesses, prayer partners, patient listeners, comforters and encouragers are welcome. I think even sweet little Oliver will show up- I mean, you can never receive too many blessings.

Oliver3<

What if The Church Shut Down?

shutdown

Everybody’s talking about it. The U.S. government shut down this week. My conservative friends are outraged. My liberal friends are outraged. My moderate friends are outraged. Safe to say- we are all outraged by this.

I am decidedly not a political person. I don’t follow politics closely. I probably should. But on days like today, and weeks like this week- I am so glad I invest very little in all of it.

But here’s what I do know: when you work for an organization that is responsible for taking care of the least of these, guiding the masses to a more just and ordered existence, and living in to your call as a leader and a steward of other people’s resources—you cannot shut down.

This could be the government. This could be The Church.

In The Church, there are times when I feel so convicted about actions being taken ‘in the name of The Church’ that I believe we should shut down. When Westboro Baptist pickets funerals, or preachers spew hate from the pulpit, or “Christians” tear down their neighbors because of our differences in: gender, race, sexuality, or abilities- I desperately want to suggest that we close up shop and SHUT DOWN simply based on my principals and beliefs.

And in The Church- there are times when I am so outraged when I see fellow church leaders sabotaging our work for wholeness, holiness, grace, and mercy- that I want to point fingers, I want to blame. I want to protest.

But at the end of the day- before I let myself get lost in the shallow, bitter conflicts of being the Church in a broken world- I try to remember our purpose.

The church is simply a human-made, flawed structure. And even with its flaws and weaknesses, at the heart of the church, we are called to create spaces of grace. The church aims to provide services to all people, food for the hungry, shelter for the needy, justice for the meek, and safety for the least of these.

I believe in the mission of the Church too much to allow my own convictions and personal grievances to shut it down. I am not willing to compromise all the services and lifelines the church offers even when the actions and inactions of the church embarrass me, devastate me and make me want to rise up in protest.

I read a letter written by a little girl who lost the opportunity to go to a National Park on a school field trip this week because of the government shut down. Her letter suggested that congress and the president try to sit down and negotiate a resolution to their conflict the way she and her classmates do in the 3rd grade. 

My prayer is the same.

If I could say one thing to all those in this conflict:

From one leader in a human-made, flawed structure to others:  Please, get back to work.

A Few Prayer Beads

Teal

Recently, I’ve been “running.” No, let me be precise: I have been hobbling down the green-line praying for mercy a few times a week.

I make it about a mile and a half, and I start to walk. Everything hurts. I’m cranky. My feet feel like they are ready to fall off.

But on Saturday morning, I was asked to do the invocation prayer at the Ovarian Cancer awareness 5k. Teams of 100 people or more formed to support women fighting this disease. 50 survivors participated in the race. Crowds were wearing Teal– the Ovarian Cancer awareness color– everywhere you looked. When I arrived, someone handed me a strand of Teal Mardi Gras beads to wear in support.

The organizers of the event told me: Because you’re offering the prayer, we will give you a free registration to run the race!

Great, I thought. Thaaaannnkkks.

After my prayer I reluctantly wandered to the starting line. When the race began, I hobbled. Only this time- I saw women with bald heads cheering and literally running for their lives.

I saw family members running each step: to draw closer to a cure, to raising awareness, to fund research, to increasing compassion for ovarian cancer survivors and fighters.

Suddenly, I realized, as I ran, I was a part of a movement and a mission.

I clung to my Teal Mardi Gras necklace tightly- and it became a strand of prayer beads.

At each water station I took a bite of a power bar and sipped the cool cup of water like it was communion.

After 36 minutes, I finished the race- running and hobbling the whole way.

This is what happens when we commit to a mission: with enough prayer, enough communion, enough strength, enough endurance- we can do things we never imagined. Isn’t the same true in our faith lives and our churches?

We are all participating in a movement. We are hobbling towards our shared goal of being God’s light and compassion in the world. And we have all been given a free registration.

I learned more about the power of conviction and commitment on Saturday as I ran in the sea of Teal. Today, I realize there is just as much ’cause’ to run for every day of my faith life. Civil war in Syria, attacks in Kenya, bullying in school yards…and the list goes on. All signs that I need to continue to put my prayer in motion: breathe in peace and breathe out love. I need to savor bites of communion- whether it’s powerbars, or a meal with friends, or bread and wine at the table- because this is what fuels me for the journey.

I will be on a silent retreat part of this week ahead- and I’m going to be listening closely for the whisper of the Holy Spirit telling me where to hobble next.

Back to Church

Back to Church

+Psalm 91:14-16 As for all people: I will protect them. When they call to me, I will answer them. I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them, with long life I will satisfy them, and show them glory…

Today we open the doors wide at church to welcome everyone. Anyone. We re-commit to God’s call on our hearts: seek the broken, the weary, the lost, the hurting, the struggling… in other words: reach out to your neighbors. We call this “Back to Church” Sunday, but it’s more than this.

Today, we all begin the journey of finding our way back home. We turn back to grace. We commit once again to lives of mercy and compassion. We remember to honor the light and the goodness in everyone we meet.

We will come back to worship today, but more than an hour of singing and studying, today we all need to come back to the basics of following Christ: living for justice, embracing the destitute, loving one another well.

Creator and Sustainer of all, you know this:

Like the prodigal son, we wander.

When the world opens up before us, we chase dreams and ambitions.

In our darkest hours, we draw back and close in.

Like the prodigal son, we wander.

Loving God, you beckon us from far away. You call us. You welcome us home.

On this “Back to Church” Sunday, we come because the doors were opened to us- may we go and do likewise.

We worship today because the Holy Spirit draws us in- may we also let the Holy Spirit send out to serve.

We praise You and honor You, God, because deep within each of us, you planted a spark of divine curiosity and faithfulness. Today, let us remember to honor this spark in our neighbors, our enemies, strangers, those we call ‘others,’ and those we tend to ignore.

This morning, may the spark of the holy in each of us rise up, awaken and shine. And may we all have eyes to see other wanderers who need a place of refuge- help us be that refuge.

Compassionate God, transform us into Your light, Your hope, and Your Good News. Amen.

Millennials and the Church Touch

The Church Touch

I felt so popular in the last few weeks. I am a Millennial. I go to church. I care about the church. I serve the church.

Recently, the internet has exploded with reflections and thoughts about my generation and the church. It all started with an article that Evangelical Writer Rachel Held Evans wrote on the CNN Belief Blog called “Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church”, which you can read here.

202,000 facebook users shared her post. She wrote about what the church should become to attract people in our generation (loosely categorized as the generation after Gen X, folks born in the 80s and 90s). Rachel suggests that the church should focus on being authentic and open, intellectual and holy, but most of all: attentive to the desires and trends of the Millennials.

Brett McCracken wrote a response to Rachel’s essay in the Washington Post On Faith blog, which you can read here.

Thousands of facebook users reposed his article too. He suggests that Millennials do not have it all figured out, and the church should actually stand up to us and our demanding, self-centered ways.

Both articles are well written, thoughtful, and equally worthy of consideration.

And on my little blog, in my own little way, this is what I would add to the conversation of Millennials and The Church: we need each other.

The Church needs young, fast-paced, energetic leaders who can start the church twitter page and preach the good news of acceptance, grace, and open doors. We can bring new eyes to the sanctuaries and grand foyers and parables that just might enliven our faith exploration in The Church.

But as a Millennial, the biggest gift the church has given me came in the form of touch. Real touch. The week my grandmother died, facebook messages and texts came in by the dozens, but I needed that warm, grandmotherly hug from Dot Williams when I showed up at Lindenwood. I needed to hold the hand-written note from Lucy and Ralph Black that shared honest words of encouragement. The Church touched me.

When a man shot crowds of people in Aurora, Colorado last summer, I needed to turn off the constant commentary and catastrophizing on the news and experience the touch of the quiet, holy space of our prayer room in the church. I longed for the timeless sacred walls to wrap around me and give me a place to weep, to pray and to just be. Through the prayer room, the church touched me.

When me and my fellow Millennials engage in friendly, yet fierce digital competitions of showcasing our prestigious jobs, or seemingly superhuman fertility, or picture perfect weddings, or beautiful McMansion homes—one upping each other and comparing ourselves to one another in our Instagram posts and personal blogs… I have needed the church to show me images of the kingdom: people old and young, vulnerable, struggling, humble and collaborative. Inside our doors- the artificial ‘competitions’ fade away and I get to sing “It Is Well” with my fellow seeking, broken, evolving, willing, and raw brothers and sisters in Christ. This is how the church touches me.

Millennials might help the church stay relevant and prophetic and global… but for me- one Millennial seeking wholeness in this fragmented world- I love the Church Touch.

The church helps me step outside of the instant, distant, technologically clogged world of the Millennials. But more than this- at its best- the church reaches in, past my cheerful facebook posts and guarded tweets, past my fast paced façade and ambitious tendencies- and the Church touches my spirit.

Yes, the church needs us Millennials. But I know, deep down, I sure need The Church touch.

Doors Open. Doors Close.

doorway

 

+ Matthew 7:7-9 ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?’

 

Doors open. Doors close. Will we ever fully have peace in this rhythm?

The door opened onto a cobblestone street with mopeds and voluptuous women selling bright textiles, chatty students learning Spanish and rich tourists admiring the brightly painted buildings. Two weeks ago, 25 of us opened this bed-and-breakfast door over and over again in Antigua, Guatemala on our Lindenwood Mission Trip. More than the door to our lodging- this was a doorway to our calling, our work, our service, our ministry.

The door closed between my Nana and this world while I was in Guatemala. That door that once revealed a compassionate, bright, generous, comforting woman closed slowly through years of dementia, constant disorientation and fear. Even though this door crept slowly to a close, when it latched, I cried.

For the first time in their whole lives- a door will open and close, open and close- for four Guatemalan families who received new cinderblock houses on that mission trip. Hanging, torn sheets that they used to call ‘doors’ are now folded inside these humble, quaint homes we built among the piles of trash and treasure in Guatemala. More than a door that locks- these families received the gift of security and the promise of shelter.

Doors open. Doors close. Isn’t this the truth of our lives? Our stories?

On the fourth of July, my family gathered to celebrate a huge, beautiful, bright door opening for my brother and his sweetheart. After plotting, planning and praying- my brother knelt down on one knee to fling open the doors of commitment, faithfulness and partnership with his love. She said yes.

Just as we all gathered to embrace my brother and his beautiful bride-to-be, I received word that a bold, courageous, young, hopeful woman in my congregation slipped away in her sleep. This news felt like a huge, angry door slamming shut and shattering our hearts and our faith and our dreams for this young woman. Tomorrow, we will gather to memorialize her, and even now- I struggle to write sufficient words to comfort her family in the service.

Doors open…  doors close… when we make decisions, when we say goodbyes, when we lean in, when we step out, when life surprises us, when we surprise ourselves…

Tonight- my spirit is full with the weight, the blessing, and the privilege of this life, this ministry, and these doorways I continue to encounter. I’m mumbling my own serenity prayer:

God, grant all of us the serenity to accept the doors that must be closed,
The courage to explore the doors that are waiting to swing open,
And peace in knowing that You hold the ultimate set of keys… Amen.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: