Monthly Archives: May 2014

Alternative Health Care

If someone offered you a low-risk, low-cost way to improve your health, would you try it?

Try participating in the life of a congregation.

Jesus heard them and answered,
“Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do.
I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers.
I came to invite sinners.”
— Mark 2:17 (CEV)

Lower your stress

Filling the Baptismal FontEach week we confess our sins publicly and privately, with a unison prayer of confession and silence. Then while we hear assurance God’s forgiveness, I pour water into the Baptismal font reminding us of being cleansed by Christ. For at least a few seconds we learn to release concerns about what we have done and what has been done to us. For at least a few seconds we might escape the hurts of living in the world. For at least a few seconds we might recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in those worshiping alongside us. For at least a few seconds we might hear and receive healing for our spiritual wounds.

If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves,
and the truth isn’t in our hearts.

But if we confess our sins to God,
he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.
1 John 1:8-9 (CEV)

Scientists tell us that disease comes from a variety of sources: genetic traits, microbes, what we eat or neglected to eat, and the distress we experience each day. The ritual of forgiveness lowers our social stress, if only for a few seconds, so our bodies can better fight disease.

Develop your strengths

While your boss might assign you a variety of tasks that you despise, in a congregation you can choose which tasks to try and which to decline. You can develop new skills or develop skills that your career neglects.

Drummer in Brisbane Mall-1=

When our band needed a drummer, I learned to beat a tempo, at least until someone with those gifts who did not use them at work. Another congregation gained an outstanding drummer when she continued taking lessons started for her son.

What skills might you exercise with a congregation? What new opportunities could those skills open in your future?

 There are different ways to serve the same Lord, 
and we can each do different things.

Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.
— 1 Corinthians 12:5-6

Find Meaning for Life

Participating in something bigger than ourselves gives us meaning and purpose to life, a reason to wake up each morning with a smile.

Thriving congregations make meaningful contributions to their communities: feeding the hungry, building homes after a natural disaster, or helping our neighbors find employment.

People with a well-defined sense of meaning, live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

How might participating in the life of a congregation improve your health?

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Meager Offerings

Folded Laundry
(Photo credit: Earnest_One)

“I wish my husband would finish the job when he does the laundry,” a colleague lamented. “He just leaves my clothes on the foot of our bed. It’s like when our cat kills a mouse and leaves it where I will find it. I appreciate what he’s done, but I really don’t need to see it.”

Some times I wonder if our offerings to God are like a mouse a house cat has killed. A meager offering to show our gratitude for food, for life, for shelter, for friends, and for opportunities to contribute to God’s household.

I doubt God needs to see what we have done. I also doubt God needs us to do anything, especially after acknowledging God as creator of the cosmos.  But God encourages us to present our meager offerings so we might acknowledge gifts we have received.

While I doubt my colleague’s cat understood gratitude, I suspect her stay at home husband may have left her clothes folded on the foot of their bed to symbolically say: “See what I’ve done for you this day while you were at work keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table.”

Thus when set our meager offerings in the collection plate that the ushers will place on the communion table we boast before God and before our friends: “See what I have done for you this day while you, O Lord, assure us of eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection.”

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
    I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
    and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.
Psalm 54:6-7 (NRSV)

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What Matters

Some massive relationships might buoy you up or drag you down. Others are so light a breeze might blow them away as if they never existed.

We describe people as being rock solid or flighty as if how they relate to others out weighs their physical substance.

Physical Relationships

Solids differ from liquids or gasses by how molecules or atoms with in substances relate to each other. The more tightly related, the harder the substance feels.

If we could look even more closely at matter we would see electrons relating with the atom’s nucleus as a standing wave. An electrons relationship to protons and neutrons determines its shape.

Electron orbitals
Shapes of electron orbitals for neon.

The Higgs Boson has been dubbed the “God particle” because it explains how particles can have mass due to their relationships with other particles.

Spiritual Relationships

In the Old Testament, the word typically translated as “glory,” as in the glory of God, also means the weighty, as in the heaviness of God, as in the heaviness of gold. Thus:

Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day,
such was the appearance of the splendor all around.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
— Ezekiel 1:28 (NRSV)

So it is that relationships matter and matter is relationships.

What or perhaps, who matters to you?

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Dancing in Worship

Have you ever watched a small child dance during worship?

Little children get caught up with the music and celebration. They prance and twirl in the aisle. And from where I stand during worship, at the front of the sanctuary, I get to watch people smile as they watch this child truly enjoy worship. I get the impression that at least a few people would like to dance with them. I know I would.

Worship (Photo credit: 藍川芥 aikawake)

Alas, children seldom do this beyond a certain age. We have a way of making older children aware of when their behaviors are considered childish and that mature people sit quietly during worship or that we follow certain scripted motions when the liturgist beckons the congregation to respond by: folding hands with bowed head, standing, or raising arms.

What if we had the freedom to express physically how the Spirit moves us absent any social constraints?

David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me in place of your father and all his household, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord, that I have danced before the Lord. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in my own eyes; but by the maids of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” — 2 Samuel 6:21-22 (NRSV)


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