Monday, November 28, 2011

What rung are you on?

I will be done, pretty much, with grad school in January. How cool is that? I'm starting to see a ton of free time open up ahead of me. I've been fantasizing about doing crafts, reading books that are not about God, taking naps, and just experiencing that state of being where I don't have to be thinking "I should be doing homework right now."
I've also been thinking about doing some volunteer work, finally. I work in a parish, and do what volunteers do for my living. I do ministry, and I do cleanup, and I even sort food for the food pantry collection. But, I do it because it's my job, at least to some degree. I do good things, and I am spiritually fed while I am feeding, but it's... my job. I feel like it would do me good to go and help someone else out.
I believe that we should always be doing something to pull people up the ladder. No matter what rung we're standing on, there are always people hanging on the steps below us. I know you have heard it as many times as I have, on tv and radio shows, people saying "I thought I had it bad, but then I saw..." During this time of high unemployment, I feel like it is a great time for people to go and give their free time, and get some great experience and exposure, and feel like they are doing something important and worthwhile. I've even heard about hospital chaplains who ask their patients, some very very sick themselves, to pray for other patients in the hospital. However low we feel on that ladder, there are always people below us who need us- there is always something we can do.
In January we have our first NODA (No One Dies Alone) meetings at my parish. We'll be working in partnership with the local Hospice to set up a vigiling team, to sit with people who are dying and have no one to call. I'm feeling very much called to this ministry- not just to make it happen in the parish but to serve. The timing is perfect, and I am really looking forward to this.
I cannot wait to end this part of my life and start something new and brave! Who's with me?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Look to your left and to your right...

I lead a lot of groups, and this thing happens at every group I attend or lead, so I think it must be something.
At every group there's one person who is extra challenging, or who is less than socially adept, or who is a conversation hog. There's one person who is extra geeky, who makes comments that are WAY out there. There's one person who makes everyone think, "if that person wasn't here, this group would be PERFECT!"
And since it happens every time, I can't help but think there's a reason for it. So many times in groups we talk in theories- what it means to be Christian, what Jesus is trying to tell us in the Gospels, stuff like that. Then we roll our eyes at the crazy/weird/ annoying thing that person does.
I think God sends that person to every group, because we need her there. We need to be reminded that it is not all just theory. We need to put our money where our mouths are, and treat that person with respect, patience and kindness. As God said in "Evan Almighty:"

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

On top of every other reason to be respectful to that person, we should be respectful because they need us to be. They come to Church stuff because they NEED JESUS. They want to hear God's voice and feel like they're in God's presence. Can we really be satisfied with being the eye-rolling, impatient representative of God's Church for these people who need love? Do we want the Church to be like every other group these people try to belong to?

Here's another thought that I can't get rid of- since that person is in every group, what happens if we find ourselves in a perfect group? Maybe it means that if you can't see him there, then YOU'RE HIM. After all, someone needs to be the least fun in a group, the least smart, the least cool. And when we're HIM, won't we want to be treated well?

That God, He is a good teacher.