Monday, August 20, 2012

Just stop it!

I am acknowledging my age. One of my favorite TV shows from days gone by was The Bob Newhart Show (for those of you too young to remember the show you can go to YouTube for a five-minute episode clip).

Bob, as you may know, is a psychologist in the show. In the scene, a woman comes for her first visit. Bob begins by explaining how he bills—five dollars for the first five minutes, and then nothing after that. The woman is thrilled. Bob assures her the session won't go over five minutes.

He asks her to start. She explains that she fears being buried alive in a box. He asks her to say more. The fear, she tells him, extends to other things—being in tunnels, elevators, houses, cars, "anything boxy."

"So basically you're saying you're claustrophobic," Bob states. 

"Yes, that's what I'm saying," she confirms. 

This exchange takes about two minutes. Bob takes another ten seconds or so to empathize with her—how awful it must be to live with this fear.

"It's horrible," the woman says.

"All right," Bob says.  "I'm going to give you two words that I think will clear up everything. Just take these two words and integrate them into your daily life, and you should be fine."

The woman is excited. She asks if she should write them down.

"Oh, you can if you like," Bob says. "But most people have no trouble remembering them."

"Okay," she says, leaning forward.

He asks, "Are you ready?"

"Yes," she says.

"Okay, here are the two words." Bob leans across his desk to put his face close to hers, and then screams, "Stop it!"

There are times in our faith journey that God leans into our heart and simply says, “Stop it!” Yes, to stop fearing so much of this life around us and to start trusting in God’s promise through Jesus Christ that “low I am with you always.” In such trust we can enjoy this gift of life.

As we return to our parishes or to new parishes to have a year of new beginnings, remember you can trust God to be faithful because God is already there in the midst of our ministry.  God will neither leave us nor forsake us. It is a simple matter of “Starting It!” Starting to believe what we preach, teach and share as children of God.

Start trusting today.

--Dana Everhart, superintendent, Atlanta Emory District

God Is Still In Control!!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thank God for our extended family

Recently our daughter, Jennifer, her fiance, David and his parents flew into Atlanta from California for a whirlwind visit. The purpose of this visit was to introduce David and his parents to our many relatives in south Alabama and a few long-standing friends here in Atlanta.

After a short rest Thursday night, we awoke to a southern breakfast of biscuits, gravy, grits, bacon and eggs. Then we loaded our stuffed selves into the minivan and headed for Orange Beach on the Gulf of Mexico. On Saturday about seventy five or so of Jennifer’s aunts, uncles and cousins gathered to celebrate her engagement, check out David, and enjoy a delicious gulf coast lunch (David won them over with a strategically placed Roll Tide yell).

There was a lot of southern style fellowship. Jennifer’s future mother-in-law said she had never witnessed so much hugging. The hugging is my favorite part. One consistent thing in my huge extended dysfunctional family has been the supportive hugs. As a clergy family in North Georgia, we have lived away from relatives for over forty years. I have missed a lot of family hug fests.

In the beginning, being away from relatives was difficult, especially on special occasions and holidays. We wanted our children to experience the Sunday lunch gatherings and the large Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas get-togethers. The problem was how to do this when we lived hundreds of miles away and needed to be at the churches Jamie was called to serve.

We decided if we could not be with the ones we love, we would love the ones we were with. We started by inviting families over for lunch after church on Sundays. Hard work but well worth it. Most of these people also lived away from relatives and floundered on holidays and special occasions. This helped develop friendships that have been as close as relatives and a loving supportive network for our children. While loading the dishwasher this past Easter one friend asked me how many holidays we had spent together. My answer was well over thirty--a lot more than we have been able to spend with the relatives in Mobile, Alabama. 

This attitude of loving the ones you are with has made life much more enjoyable. We love our children and grandchildren very much. It would be wonderful if they all lived close enough to hug every day but they don’t. Some of them live far away. We see and talk with them weekly via Skype and have long visits with the grandchildren during the summer and at Christmas. It’s not perfect, but it works.

Our new neighbors have a ten year old son. Darren comes over to visit us occasionally. Recently he asked if I would play a game with him. He chose Monopoly. I hate Monopoly, but I agreed. While we were playing, I thought how much I would love to be playing this game with our grandchildren, nine year-old Jamie or 6 year-old Felicia. Another thought came just as quickly, “If you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you are with.”  I made a deliberate decision to enjoy this game with Darren. We played on for two hours of fun.

We can choose to focus on what we have or what we don’t have. We can emphasize our losses or our gains. Thank God for all our many blessings and especially for our “extended family.”

Lena Jenkins, North GA Ann Conf

God Is Still in Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Easter People

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Bishop Linda Lee1 John 5: 1-5, The Message
Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten. If we love the One who conceives the child, we'll surely love the child who was conceived. The reality test on whether or not we love God's children is this: Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome. Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world's ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.

During the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, many Christians celebrate the season of Eastertide. Fifty days of worship and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The hymn Easter People Raise Your Voices reminds us in the 3rd verse:

Every day to us is Easter
With its resurrection song
To our God who rights the wrong.

The power of God transcends all
Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we no longer have the need to fear death – nor be hindered by the challenges and crises of the human condition. Jesus revealed, time after time, the power of God's love which transcends the lack of material resources like food and shelter…it transcends disease. The power of God's love is greater than social marginalization, discrimination and isolation. The power of God's love is even greater than death. In our world today, it is good to have reason to celebrate. Lack of civility, other forms of violence, overextending ourselves, fear and economic challenges can make it difficult to recognize the incredible power of God's love and the great gift of receiving that love. Every day the resurrection power of God is available to us. This means that human beings have the potential to transcend the multitude of virtual realities that cause us to become confused about who we are.

Our humanness helps us to evolve spiritually
We are children--offspring of God. We are spiritual beings, as they say, having a human experience. My granddaughter told me about a book that was part of the discussion in her Sunday school class. The book was about a little boy who had died and came back to life. His testimony is that heaven is real! Her question to me was: “So why are we here? Why didn’t God just make it so we could skip this human experience part and just stay with God?” I told her, “We don’t know for sure but I believe it has something to do with the evolution of the human soul.” There is something about the spiritual growth that comes from learning to live with and love other human beings that we would miss if we skipped this part. As Martin Luther King, Jr. and others have said, none of us is free until we are all free.
As Easter people, we celebrate our freedom through Jesus Christ. That freedom allows us to meet life and death with assurance, joy and peace. We are indeed Easter people every day of our lives.
Because he lives, we face tomorrow,
Because he lives, all fear is gone!
Life is worth living, celebrating and sharing with others!

What do you celebrate about Jesus' resurrection today?

--Bishop Linda Lee, WI Ann Conf

God is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Gift of Touch: A Love that Keeps on Growing

We seldom think about the importance of human touch. If we get enough of it, we tend to take it for granted. If we've never had enough, we don't know what we're lacking. Jesus included touch as a part of His ministry to folks.

"Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man (a leper)" (Matthew 8:3). "He touched her hand," (Peter's mother-in-law in Matthew 8:15). "He touched their eyes (two blind men) and said, 'According to your faith will it be done to you'" (Matthew 9:29). "Jesus came and touched them (Peter, James and John)." (Matthew 17:7) "Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man (an untouchable leper)" (Mark 1:41). "People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them" (Mark 10:13). "He touched the man's ear and healed him (The man whose ear Peter cut off)." (Luke 22:51).  

It's wondrous what a hug can do;
A hug can cheer you when you're blue.
A hug can say, "I love you so,"
or "Oh, I hate to see you go."
A hug is, "Welcome back again!"
And "Great to see you!"
Or "Where have you been?"
A hug can soothe a small child's pain
And bring a rainbow after rain.
The hug! There's just no doubt about it,
We scarcely could survive without it.
A hug delights and warms and charms.
It must be why God gave us arms.
Hugs are great for fathers and mothers,
Sweet for sisters, swell for brothers,
And chances are some favorite aunts
Love them more than potted plants.
Kittens crave them. Puppies love them.
Heads of state are not above them.
A hug can break the language barrier,
And make the dullest day seem merrier.
No need to fret about the store of 'em,
The more you give, the more there are of 'em.
So stretch those arms without delay,
And give someone a hug today.  

---Author Unknown

--excerpt from an email article by Beverly Caruso

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer