What We Do for Love

The long, loving look at the real.  That’s how theologian Walter Burghardt described contemplation.  And it is more essential than ever that we who call ourselves Christians—and all who call themselves Americans—have the courage to engage in contemplation in a way we’ve not been able or willing to do. It’s time. No, it’s way past time.  It begins with a question. What kind of world do we want to live in?  What do we want our community, our nation and our world to look like and feel like?

White supremacists and neo-Nazi’s are clear—they want a world without ‘assorted genetic refuse’ where ‘that which is degenerate in white countries must be removed.’ The only way to embrace this worldview is to dehumanize anyone who doesn’t fit within your definition of who gets to be included.  Theirs is a zero sum gain where one group’s loss is another’s gain.

At the other end of the spectrum is a world where the incredible diversity evidenced in creation—and visible within the whole human family—is celebrated, honored and respected. Where difference is seen as a gift and a blessing that makes us all more, not less. Where we live into the reality that we are all interconnected and interdependent, indescribably precious to one another and to God.  And where when any one of us is suffering, we move to come alongside and care for the one who suffers, because that’s what love does.

For Christians, the question gets to an even deeper question about what we believe God’s dream is and what is at the very heart of the Gospel.  What does your God look like?  Many of us grew up with some sense of God as ‘a big person—a big white man lording—over little people.’ When we conceive of God as wielding power over us, then it flows that we would think what its all about is having power to wield over others, and the one with the most power wins.

But that is not the God whom Jesus reveals at all.  Jesus let go of all power, even the power to overcome those forces of hate that consorted to crucify him. Jesus wandered the earth looking for people on the outside to welcome them in, including all those pushed to the outside by the powerful.  In fact, what truly brought him to anger was any time he encountered those committed to excluding others, most especially done in the name of God.  It isn’t a zero-sum game with winners and losers; it is a whole new understanding where we finally get that winning only happens for any of us to the degree it happens for all of us.

Personally, I think it is clear what kind of world God desires.  And I want that world too.  God is not a noun but a verb—loving creation into being every moment.   The real question, and where the real work comes in, is what I’m willing to do personally to help foster that world, birthing it into being with all those across the world who share the same dream?  It begins with being honest about the reality of white privilege that supremacist groups espouse and desire to expand. No, thankfully most of us don’t spew vile and hateful things to and about those who look different than we do. Nevertheless we participate in systems great and small that keep our world from reflecting God’s dream.

White privilege is being able to ignore the reality of ‘our unearned access,’ pretending it doesn’t exist and that we ourselves don’t benefit from it.  In the end, the number of white supremacists and neo-Nazis’ is pretty small relative to the whole population. It is the fact that the rest of us good-hearted, ‘nice’ people have the privilege to walk away from the problem; that is the real reason we cannot heal and flourish and live into our true calling to be, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, ‘the rainbow people of God.’

Are we willing to take a long, loving look at the real in our local community, in our country, in our world?  It takes courage, true courage born from great love, to even ask the question—with great humility and openness of heart—and to be willing to listen and learn from our beautiful sisters and brothers about what life in this great country of ours is like, really like, when you are not white and straight.

Let me be clear.  This is not about shaming or blaming. This is about being motivated by love to do what we can to be more conscious and intentional about what is, and how we make room for the ‘other’ even as God, Love, makes room for all of us.  Only then will we truly know joy in our hearts and in this world.  I confess that I am a little scared of what I will find and what it will mean for me.  But love is calling.  Who will join me?

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hope to see you Sunday,

Pastor Elizabeth
08.17.17

Circles

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I practice yoga…well, sort of.  In truth, I move through the various poses I’ve picked up along the way at lightning speed, eager to move on to the next one so as to get on with my day.  I’ve gone to yoga classes before, but not with any regularity.  I went today at the invitation of a friend and realized just how much the way I dabble in yoga completely misses the point.  I was struck by the way the teacher gently coached us, not only in the physical aspects of breathing and positioning, but even more assisted us through practices of mind and spirit—both concrete and healing.  I think churches have a lot to learn from yoga studios about how to nurture and support people to develop practices that move us more fully into what it means to be a human being.
Jesus would have appreciated yoga—it’s all about breathing and being fully present in the moment, not allowing your mind to chase after the myriad ideas that tug at us.  It’s about releasing the stress, fear and tension that build up like so much plaque in our system, both physically and spiritually.  It’s also about letting go of outcomes, of the need to have things look and feel the way we are convinced we need them to be for us to be happy. Jesus taught his disciples in this same way, at times encouraging and at other times challenging them about the very different way to experience the reign of God in our lives, weaving examples found in the world around him.

Sometimes I think we in the church expect people to know what it means to live an engaged life of faith simply by osmosis at our baptism or, even worse, through a process of saturation by living in a Christian society – never mind that ours is post-Christian and that Jesus was deeply suspicious of and challenging to society’s norms.  I wonder what has helped to form you in your faith life?  Perhaps it’s a family member who most influenced you, or perhaps an author or teacher. Perhaps you’ve not given much thought to the learning side of being a disciple of Jesus—one who learns and is committed to an ongoing learning process so that we might move more and more into that new creation Paul speaks about.

If we look to Jesus to see what it means to be rooted and grounded in being human, we see that he spent time alone, withdrawing to pray by himself.  And he spent time with large groups of people teaching, healing, feeding and celebrating.  Finally, Jesus had small circles of people with whom he shared the journey more intimately—the 12 disciples, but also Mary, Martha and Lazarus, as well the women who were at the foot of the cross in the gospel of John.  It is these smaller groupings that remind me how important it is to have friends with whom to share the journey—not just to have fun with, although that is certainly a valuable and important part—but also with whom you can be real, sharing what matters most.

While we may have small circles of friends in any area of life, many find intentional small groups through church to be a meaningful way to develop and nurture the spiritual journey we are on as we follow Jesus in becoming a new creation.  What does that even mean, we may wonder?  Although we may not know, what is clear is that Jesus invites us into a new life, one that has an entirely different frame and leads to a life-changing shift in the quality of our day-to-day experience. That cannot help but ripple out into the world around us.  If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about this shift and developing supportive practices within a small group circle, please let me know. We’ll host two informational sessions on Wednesday, August 16 at 7pm during Growing Together and also during Making Connections at 9am on Sunday, August 20.  Bring your questions and curiosity, along with your hopes.  No mats—as in yoga mats—are required.

Hope to see you Sunday,

Pastor Elizabeth
08.10.17

Pilgrim Ponderings

Many have asked me to share the spiritual insights that emerged from our recent travels so below you’ll find a few of my pilgrim ponderings on the journey of life.  While I’ve selected a few photos to include here, you’ll find a larger collection—taken by several members of the group—shared in this video. I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Beginnings and Endings

  • We cannot force extraordinary things to happen to us, but we can put ourselves in the places of possibility.
  • Preparation, both internal and external, requires intention and effort, but the payoff is well worth it.
  • Remember to integrate your experiences back into your daily reality so they don’t get lost in the rear view mirror.
  • Guides and companions, both chosen and those that come to us by accident, can and do make all the difference.
  • In the end there is nothing left to do but begin with the first step, over and over again.

 

We make the road by walking

  • Trails can be easy to traverse or they can be rugged and difficult, with each step requiring care and a commitment to trust in the face of fear.
  • Embrace the microcosm at each stage of the journey, remembering there is beauty in each one, however elusive.  Also, whether you like your current journey or not, the one thing you can count on is that it will change and keep changing.
  • Paying attention is tricky—you can walk right past a moose just ten feet away, miss a big horned sheep or forget to turn around to catch the view.  Engage all your senses, including your intuition.
  • Breaks are essential…so is nourishment for body and spirit.
  • Collect best practices along the way to avoid repeating rookie mistakes, like putting up your tent on a tree root.

Importance of perspective

  • Mountains are beauty born of challenge…what beauty is being birthed in your life?
  • Be awake to the powerful forces around and within you—weather, fatigue, community, wonder to name just a few.
  • Equal opportunity:  Tiny animals and flowers are just as breathtaking as tremendous vista.
  • Remember you have the ability to change the lens you’re using to see any situation.
  • Creation trusts the ongoing cycle of birth, death and resurrection—fallen logs become nurseries for new growth—Jesus invites us to do the same in our lives.

I would love to hear the insights you’re gleaning this summer, so please reply to this email with any you’re willing to share.

Hope to see you Sunday,

Pastor Elizabeth
08.03.17

Notice What You Notice

I don’t know how to start this reflection because there is so much to say and at the same time not nearly words enough to say what is real and true.  My dear friend, Barbara, died on Tuesday morning. She died as she lived—peaceful and steeped in love.  Our lives were so entwined; it is hard to fathom this life without her. And yet, rather than feeling burdened by suffering, I am filled with gratitude.  For 23 years, I’ve been blessed by her presence and witnessed first hand how to live life to the fullest—she tapped into the wellspring of joy and generosity that bubbled up from her depths and flowed out to embrace us and countless others.  She never let the cancer she lived with for 27 years define her or prevent her from living with her heart wide open.

Love swallows up death, we proclaim.  Here and now, if we trust Jesus.  What does it look like to live life free of the fear of death? What does it mean to focus, not on the separation of death, but on the holy union of love we are drawn into that is eternal?  What is the deep joy being made available to us?  Author Anne Lamott describes it this way:

You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.

Barbara modeled how to live and inspired us to do the same.  She immersed us in ‘Barbara’s boot camp for living,’ without our realizing it.  As we came alongside her and one another in these last days, we recalled the many Barbara-isms such as ‘pull yourself together!’ or ‘notice what you notice.’  Barbara not only listened to each of us, she listened to life—she paid attention.  If something caught her eye, she’d wonder about what it might mean—a playful game full of meaning.  The more I notice what I notice, the more I realize Barbara—and all whom I love but see no longer—are right here with us, permeating our lives and inspiring us to dance with the limp.

A few days before her death, I ‘noticed that I noticed’ this particular song, These are the Days by 10,000 Maniacs, that seemed to capture the gift and blessing of Barbara for me:

These are days you’ll remember. 
Never before and never since, I promise, will the
whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true that you are
blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you are touched by something that will
grow and bloom in you.

These are days you’ll remember. 

When May is rushing over you with desire to be part
of the miracles you see in every hour.
You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.
It’s true that you are touched by something that will
grow and bloom in you.

These are days.

These are the days you might fill with laughter until
you break.
These days you might feel a shaft of light make its
way across your face.
And when you do you’ll know how it was meant to be.

See the signs and know their meaning. 
It’s true, you’ll know how it was meant to be.
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking to you, to
you.

Whenever the sun falls on our faces, we’ll remember that we are blessed and lucky.  Walking along the lakefront after she died, four of us played Barbara’s game.  Noticing a single sock, a string of Mardi Gras beads and a huge bungee cord…we noticed and wondered, listening to our life.  I invite you to join in playing her ‘notice what you notice’ game…making meaning as you go and being part of the miracles you see.

Hope to see you Sunday,

Pastor Elizabeth
07.27.17

Wheat and Tares

Prayer in troubled times: wheat and weeds together sown.

Prayer is an important part of my life spiritual and otherwise. I understand prayer as an opening to larger realities. I put my own problems – small or large – into the hands of the Holy One. I put the problems of the world that concern me into the hands of the Holy One. Sometimes I receive an insight, and sometimes just a glimmer of how I might be part of the answer to my prayer concern. Sometimes – most of the time – I get nothing. To be more accurate, I get Holy Space – the “still small voice” as Isaiah called it. I prefer to call that still small voice, “the pregnant silence.” Those Holy Spaces seem to get longer and longer these days. We all have concerns, and they are not all the same. Mine seem intractable: ecological climate change, the tumultuous political climate, sick friends, and death. They pile up.

This coming Sunday, the lectionary gives us Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares – a weed for those trying to grow wheat. Because the wheat and the tares look almost identical as they are growing, it’s difficult to tell the difference. The bottom line is that distinguishing between good and evil is sometimes very challenging. The servants want to go out and pull up the weeds, but the owner tells them to allow them to grow side by side until harvest. Jesus challenges us to refrain from pulling up what we think is evil in case that in doing so, the good may be uprooted as well.

So what do I pray for – the mind of Jesus:

  • Deepening my understanding of the deepest desires of all involved.
  • Refraining from any demonizing even for those with whom I most deeply disagree.
  • Choosing non-violence as the first and last choice in any conflict.
  • Trying to be as non-dualistic as I can be, to see God’s world as one.

How do you pray in times of tumult? I pray you might find peace in the very midst of trying.

Faithfully,

Larry Handwerk
07.20.17

Friendship

It was a hot summer day in Pinecrest, California when I first met Beau Delmore at the summer camp where I worked in college.  A large group of us had been assigned to spread mulch in order to keep the dust down and make the grounds look pretty.  As we worked with pitchforks and shovels to spread the mulch in the hot sun, Beau decided that instead of spreading mulch, it would be a lot better if he went into one of the unoccupied cabin tents for a mid-morning snooze.  It was my very first introduction to Beau, and to be honest, I didn’t like him one bit.  How could he ditch the rest of the staff to go take a nap in the middle of our work!?!  I grumbled to myself and the rest of the staff around me as Beau wandered off to go enjoy his slumber while the rest of us toiled.

I carried my dislike for Beau around with me for a few days before we just happened to find ourselves sitting at the same table in the dining hall one evening.  As I reluctantly made conversation with Beau, I realized we actually had a lot in common.  I even found myself laughing at some of his jokes.  Before I knew it, Beau and I had been sitting together for well over an hour telling stories and quoting lines from our favorite movies.  Did this guy just become my best friend?

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship these last couple of days because Beau is getting married this weekend and I will be traveling to California to be in his wedding.  Despite our rough start (I later found out Beau was sick the morning he decided to take a mid-morning snooze in the middle of mulching), Beau has become one of my best friends.  He is one of the most thoughtful, funny, and caring people I know, and I cherish his friendship.

St. Thomas Aquinas thought that friendship is at the very core of what it means to be a Christian.  It is through our friendships that we live out some of the most basic principles and commandments of the Christian faith.  Think of “Love your neighbor as yourself” or, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”  Our friendships are one of the many avenues that can help connect us to God and teach us what Christian charity is all about.  It is through our friendships that we can practice, live out, and experience the kind of love that God gives freely to all of creation.

Our own friendships and relationships, at their best, help us strive to take on the characteristics of God.  They can also show us what God’s love is like.  It is worthwhile to pause every so often and think about those friends and those relationships that draw us closer to God.  Think about it for a quick second: Who are those people in your life that draw you closer to God?  Who are those people that enable you to experience the gift of God’s grace?  I hope you are able to find some time to give thanks for the “Beaus” in your life.  May they draw you nearer to the heart of God.

Pastor Stephen
07.13.17

PS — We have heard from Pastor Elizabeth and her family. They have completed their backpacking trip through the mountains of Colorado, and they had a wonderful time.

You Can

It was early morning when we met at the trailhead—Jim, Abbott, and I together with our friend, Jeff, who lives here in Estes Park, Colorado. We had chosen to ascend Twin Sisters Peak in part because we could see it from their front porch and in part because at 11,400 feet it would give us a taste of the extended backcountry pack trip that we embark on tomorrow—but then we’ll be sporting 40 pounds on our backs! We started with strong legs, clear lungs and a confidence that didn’t take too long to falter a bit when at a water break Jeff let on that we’d only gone one third of the way up.  Yikes.

It got more and more difficult. And it was hard not to get discouraged, with only a very occasional glimpse of a vista across the valley while we were still under the tree line. I’m not sure what was more challenging—the climb itself or the dawning realization of what we had signed up for in the week ahead and the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, it was more than we could reasonably accomplish. You can do this hard thing, I said aloud at one point, remembering one of my favorite songs by Carrie Newcomer with its powerful refrain: It’s not easy I know, but I believe that it’s so.  You can do this hard thing.   (Carrie’s beautiful four minute music video with lyrics is here.)

And then the stories began, like the time Abbott climbed Little Whiskey Mountain at the age of 6, so she could earn her own Camelback water system that she had seen other hikers using—which prompted her to remind me of the fact that she got a knockoff version, which wasn’t quite the same. Or the time she decided she could, in fact, climb the enormous boulders standing between her and the top of Bomber Falls two years later. Or the time I was terrified to climb a rock face during Outward Bound as a teenager, but managed to do it just the same.

And then we were standing there on what felt like the top of the world, having summited one of the Twin Sisters peaks—Jeff assures us that reaching one gives you the ability to claim the whole. The view was spectacular, including stunning views of the mountain range we’ll be exploring in the coming days. The way down was easier on our lungs, if not our feet and knees, and by the time we got back to the porch the view looked even more impressive, if that’s possible.

You can do this hard thing.  How often, when faced with challenging times not of my own choosing, have I drawn strength from previous ‘hard things’ that I’ve survived and even been strengthened by. You can now, I remind myself. And often when I sit with people struggling in the face of daunting circumstances, I ask them to recall other hard things they’ve gone through that they weren’t sure how they would get through. The Bible is powerful in part because it recounts those hard things the people of God before us have gone through that, when we take them to heart, can be empowering to us in the midst of our current hard thing.

Time will tell how we three fare over the next seven days, but we’ll give it our best and have promised to be encouragers to each other that we can do this hard thing. Acknowledging the difficulty but instilling courage at the same time. I promise to give you the update when we return. By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be off on our adventures.

With love and encouragement,

Pastor Elizabeth
07.06.17

PS:  My hard thing day continued after a little R&R, my friend Kathryn even encouraged me to sew—definitely another hard thing for me…

PPS: I’ve included the lyrics just below the video we took of the panorama at the top.

You Can Do This Hard Thing
By Carrie Newcomer

There at the table
With my head in my hands
A column of numbers
I just could not understand
You said “Add these together
Carry the two
Now you.”

You can do this hard thing
You can do this hard thing
It’s not easy I know
But I believe that it’s so
You can do this hard thing.

At a cold winter station
Breathing into our gloves
This would change me forever
Leaving for God knows what
You carried my bags
You said “I’ll wait
For you.”

You can do this hard thing
You can do this hard thing
It’s not easy I know
But I believe that it’s so
You can do this hard thing

Late at night I called
And you answered the phone
The worst it had happened
And I did not want to be alone
You quietly listened
You said “We’ll see this thru.”

You can do this hard thing.
You can do this hard thing.
It’s not easy I know,
But I believe that it’s so.
You can do this hard thing.

Here we stand breathless
And pressed in hard times
Hearts hung like laundry
On backyard clothes lines
Impossible just takes
A little more time.

From the muddy ground
Comes a green volunteer
In a place we thought barren
New life appears
Morning will come whistling
Some comforting tune
For you.

You can do this hard thing.
You can do this hard thing.
It’s not easy I know,
But I believe that it’s so.
You can do this hard thing.

Pilgrimage

With all the racket of wedding planning and travel filling these summer months–including my trip to New York which will prevent me from joining you in church this Sunday–I can’t help but think back to where I was this time last year: On pilgrimage walking the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, in northwest Spain. I was delighted to share stories and reflections from my experiences walking the Camino with our St. Simon’s community at Walk In Wednesday.

Pilgrimage. I love that word. It’s one of those “religious” words that calls to mind very pious activities like meditating for hours on end or walking barefoot over hot rocks. Thankfully, that’s not really what it is; which is good, because I hate meditating.

Pilgrimage is about our presence, our attention to the deep and meaningful things that lead us on our journey, whether that’s around the corner or around the globe. It’s not ticking off sights on our to-do list, but rather focusing on following the movement of the Spirit and the presence of the Holy. We let it carry us. We savor the sights and smells. We amble. We stay awhile. As pilgrims, we understand that we are connected to the place where we stand, knowing that we walk in the footsteps of a story that includes us.

The Camino de Santiago is an ancient Christian pilgrimage that draws hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year to the sacred Cathedral believed to house the remains of St. James the Apostle. Last summer I journeyed the Way with twelve Episcopalians from Kentucky (and one delightful Methodist) ranging from age 27 to 70. Just as millions have done before us, we walked more than 60 miles through the area where James would have preached the good news “to the ends of the earth” as commanded by Jesus.

Without maps, we follow the path guided by yellow arrows. At first, you feel nervous–What if I miss an arrow and end up lost in the woods? But soon enough you fall into the rhythm of scanning the path, Yep, there it is. I’m going the right way, and onto the next. At some point or another, as in life, you find yourself without a direction forward. Where was the last arrow? Looking, looking . . . still no arrow. How did I get here? How long have I been going in the wrong direction? Panic creeps up the back of your throat. The air in your chest feels heavy. You will yourself into calm, measured breath and then suddenly, there it is. Right under that eucalyptus branch. It was there all along.

At my very best, this is how I walk with God. Cautiously and easily distracted. And occasionally I find myself looking around wondering where I am and how I got there. But then, when I’m ready, I steady my breath and scan the path, longing for the warm safety of God’s presence. And always, always, it appears. In fact, it was there all along.

Holly Milburn
06.29.17

Radiance

I’ve never witnessed so many fireflies in one place, flashing in the dusk as we hiked up the mountain last night, dancing around us with their flickering light. On our way back down, however, we witnessed a gathering so dense that it appeared the milky way was caught in the trees, flashing like tiny paparazzi through the dark night. It was stunning, causing us to linger so we could enjoy creation’s light show.  Although we tried to capture the beauty, it was too elusive.  We’ll have to carry the memory in our hearts.

Some things shine because light is shining on them while others radiate light from within, illuminating the world around them.  Here in Paintsville, Kentucky, seven youth and four adults are experiencing first hand this radiance of creation in the lush beauty around us but even more so in the brilliance of the people we have met.  At the top of the mountain, we shared not only Eucharist but also what drew us to come on the mission trip in the first place and what we might take from here into the rest of our lives.

Over and over people named the incredible light we witnessed in the people around us:

Bev, an EMT who is creating a cozy home out of a chicken coop, is resourceful, with an eye for finding scraps that can be repurposed.  She is intensely passionate about her children and grandchildren, caring for the latter after her daughter’s death.  Wiry and strong, she is invested in making her home livable, working side by side with the team and calling them ‘baby,’ even writing them a lovely note when she couldn’t be there.  Her infectious joy spills over even to those of us who haven’t met her.

Karen, a Wendy’s cashier raising her grandchildren together with Larry her beloved husband of 41 years, is so grateful that her kitchen floor no longer has dangerous soft spots—especially after her young grandchild fell through one.   Larry has had three back surgeries and needs at least one more, but the more urgent issue this week was his heart—he underwent double bypass surgery on Tuesday and, thankfully, is recovering well.  The concern etched in their 19 year old granddaughter’s face, wordlessly conveying the tremendous role these two have in providing a safe haven from absent fathers and a mother’s drug addiction, gave way to relief upon hearing this good news.

And there is Jason, who gave up his ‘dream job’ in Minnesota some ten years ago to live and work alongside the people of Eastern Kentucky.  He founded Good Neighbors, Inc., the group who is making possible our work here, to support the working poor while providing groups like ours an unforgettable experience.  His joy is contagious.

Like the twinkling lights of the fireflies, I cannot adequately describe the radiance we are experiencing first hand, although I’m guessing it will be visible among us Sunday morning when we share more about of our time here.  From an infamous Steak ‘n Shake stop on the drive down to priceless one-liners that crop up through each day to the fun of working hard together and making a real difference in the lives of such beautiful people, we are forging powerful bonds and memories of a lifetime.  We are deeply grateful to and for our parish, who have made this incredible adventure possible.

At our baptism, we are given a candle and invited to shine forth as the light of Christ in the world.  It is beautiful to behold this little group doing just that.  Let your light shine this day and always.

Hope to see you Sunday.

Pastor Elizabeth
06.22.17

God Spotting

I had a conversation with God one night.  A proper back and forth kind of talk. I was questioning why I had survived an illness which two other young girls I knew hadn’t lived through and there was a reply, a voice speaking in my heart as clear as a phone conversation.  One answer, “I have work for you to do”, started me on a course of seeking God’s will at the ripe old age of 14.

Seeking God and a deeper understanding of God is a life’s work.  In one version or another of the prayer book I was struck by a prayer that we would “see the hand of God at work in the world around us” and I was fascinated.  Looking for God at work became a game with me.  I’ve always enjoyed puzzles, word searches and “Where’s Waldo” pictures – I’m a seeker. “Adventures with God” I called the game and it was endlessly entertaining to observe where God was at work in the world around me.

God as creator provides a mind boggling array of examples of God at work. I call myself a gardener, but really I just enjoy working in the garden and looking at the various kinds of plants and the amazing variety of bugs there are.  What kind of God is this that insists on so many different kinds of plants, animals and even different kinds of stones?  One who must delight in a variety of shapes and colors, purposes and even scents.  Awesome God!

Redeemer God, Jesus the Christ, has invited me into an understanding of community as a place of learning, mutual healing and generosity. Through the years Adventures with God has turned up examples of the marginalized being drawn in, sometimes by the least among us, small caliber miracles and a hunt to find the aspect of every person which God loves about them. Loving God!

Holy Spirit, the Sustainer, is a master of the game; forging connections one heart to another, giving the perfect words into the mouths of innocents just to slow you down and make you think, drawing us ever closer to the dance of God.  “Waltz with me, rumba or two-step and at each turn I’ll show you something you’ve never noticed before” she says.  Enlightening God!

So I share my game with you – a summer project to begin with, and maybe a life’s work for you as well.  “God Spotting” is about looking on purpose, intentionally throughout your day for God’s hand at work in the world around you. Pay attention, rack up points if that encourages you, take notes and photos too if that’s appropriate.  We can use our Facebook page to post our sightings and encourage each other in our hunt to know more about our awesome, loving, enlightening God.  Let the game begin!

Jo Gantzer
06.15.17