January 22, 2019
Find tips and resources for self-care, material to assist you in providing pastoral care, and general information to help you in your practice of ministry. Information will be updated every two weeks concurrent with the East Ohio E-news. Archives Here ...
A Way Forward
“For all its inspiration, for all the lives it has changed, the Bible is undeniably problematic. Put in the hands of egocentric, unloving, or power-hungry people or those who have never learned how to read spiritually inspired literature, it is almost always a disaster. History has demonstrated this, century after century, so this is not an unwarranted, disrespectful, or biased conclusion. The burning of heretics, the Crusades, slavery, apartheid, homophobia, and the genocide and oppression of native peoples were all justified through the selective use of Scripture quotes.”
Unity in the Church: Sacred or Scandalous
by Jean Hawxhurst
Many sermons spoken, speeches shared, and articles written over the last several months by United Methodists have included the little, five-letter word: “unity.” Sometimes unity is upheld as the very key to our future as a denomination. Sometimes it is claimed to be an obstacle to holiness or morality. We have heard “this plan” or “that plan” for our way forward will lead us to whatever true unity is, even though the plans seem very different from each other. Unity seems sometimes to be based on a uniformity of “our church moral standards,” sometimes on “covenantal agreement,” and sometimes on “denominational label.” Listening and reading all these words must leave many United Methodists confused about unity, what that little word means, and how we should be considering it as we look toward our future. Will unity lead us to be a more sacred church or into certain scandal? What IS unity for The United Methodist Church?
We may need to stop and think about what the word actually means. And, in particular, maybe we need to stop and think about what it means for The United Methodist Church as we head toward General Conference 2019. For the vast center of our denomination, who may be struggling with what the right thing to do in February will be, maybe we need to take a step back and think about what “unity” is, or is not, calling us to do. I would like to offer some foundational principles upon which all sides in our denominational debate likely agree, and to which all discussions would do well to uphold. . . .
So, as we listen to all the sermons, and statements, and as we read all the articles being offered within our faith family these days, I invite you to remember what Scripture, our founder, and our Disciplinary theology teaches us about unity. Any dichotomy between unity and right relationship with God is a false dichotomy. They are not opposed to each other; in fact, unity is core to having right relationships. Being in unity IS being in right relationship. Unity is not scandalous; it is sacred.
The bottom line is living out the gift of unity we have been given is what United Methodists do in order to honor our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is core to our mission and our theology. United Methodists do not equate unity with behavior. We equate it with grace, and love, and our sacred calling. May it be so as we move together toward General Conference 2019.
by Larry Larson
Each of you has concerns, things you are worried about. They may have to do with your health or your diet, your finances, your relationships, or any of a myriad of possibilities. But they all have a common point of origin and that is in the limited ego-mind. Your corporeal mind, deeper mind, greater mind on the other hand, seldom generates anything like a concern or worry. It may respond immediately, decisively, but that inner core consciousness of you doesn’t fret over things.
When you relax into your center of connection with Source and allow the flow of radiant well-being into your body/mind, that transforms everything. You are being bathed daily in the sunshine of spirit and it is your opening to this flow of freely given blessing and light energy that unleashes the transformation. You can hold on to your concerns as long as you want to, but it is the blessing transformation of spirit that will undo them for you.
Spirit does not solve problems; that’s an ego perspective. Spirit undoes them. Spirit causes them to release their grip on your energy gateway. Spirit is all about releasing problems and ego is all about solving them. And while the intention is all well and good, in order to solve the problem the ego must first hold on to the problem. How can ego solve a problem without first examining it, touching it, embracing it?
Almost Everything: Notes on Hope
by Anne Lamott
"I am stockpiling antibiotics for the Apocalypse, even as I await the blossoming of paperwhites on the windowsill in the kitchen," Anne Lamott admits at the beginning of Almost Everything. Despair and uncertainty surround us: in the news, in our families, and in ourselves. But even when life is at its bleakest--when we are, as she puts it, "doomed, stunned, exhausted, and over-caffeinated"--the seeds of rejuvenation are at hand. "All truth is paradox," Lamott writes, "and this turns out to be a reason for hope. If you arrive at a place in life that is miserable, it will change." That is the time when we must pledge not to give up but "to do what Wendell Berry wrote: 'Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.'"
In this profound and funny book, Lamott calls for each of us to rediscover the nuggets of hope and wisdom that are buried within us that can make life sweeter than we ever imagined. Divided into short chapters that explore life's essential truths, Almost Everything pinpoints these moments of insight as it shines an encouraging light forward.
Candid and caring, insightful and sometimes hilarious, Almost Everything is the book we need and that only Anne Lamott can write.
Parker Palmer via Richard Rohr
Turning around, Jesus saw John the Baptist’s disciples following him and asked, “What do you want?” —John 1:38
Jesus stopped and called to the blind men: “What do you want me to do for you?” —Matthew 20:32
What do you want? What do you most deeply desire? Jesus was a master at helping people connect with their authentic longings. Sometimes that meant meeting a very practical or physical need, like hunger or pain. Sometimes that meant connection and acceptance. Our needs and dreams change over time. Every once in a while, it’s good to take stock and check if our day-to-day choices align with our values and goals.
Quaker author and elder Parker Palmer writes about his evolving perspective and priorities as he grows older:
Most older folks I know fret about unloading material goods they’ve collected over the years, stuff that was once useful to them but now prevents them from moving freely about their homes. There are precincts in our basement where a small child could get lost for hours.
But the junk I really need to jettison in my old age is psychological junk—such as longtime convictions about what gives my life meaning that no longer serve me well. For example, who will I be when I can no longer do the work that has been a primary source of identity for me for the past half century?
I won’t know the answer until I get there. But on my way to that day, I’ve found a question that’s already brought me a new sense of meaning. I no longer ask, “What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to hang on to?” Instead I ask, “What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to give myself to?”
The desire to “hang on” comes from a sense of scarcity and fear. The desire to “give myself” comes from a sense of abundance and generosity. That’s the kind of truth I want to wither into.
What do you want to let go of in the coming year?
What do you want to give yourself to?
What is keeping you from giving yourself fully?
Parker Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old (Berrett-Koehler Publishers: 2018), 26-27.
Focus of the Year: “Being Peace"
Considering the conflict and lack of civility in our world and communities, our churches and families, and within ourselves, the focus for the year is: “Being Peace.” Following Jesus’ practice of going into a quiet place to spend time alone with Abba, we will seek to find our center and listen for what God is calling us to, so that we may emerge as agents of transformation in the world.
Ashland—2nd Wednesdays, 1:00-2:30
Canton—3rd Thursdays, 1:30-3:00
Solon—2nd Thursday, 1:00-2:30
Vermilion—3rd Friday, 11:00-12:30
Please indicate your interest, including location preference, by email: email@example.com, or call the Office of Pastoral Care: 330-456-0486.
The Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling encourages the spiritual formation of our pastors believing a strong spiritual base is the greatest resource a church leader can possess. It helps us weather the many storms of ministry and deepens the incredible joys ministry provides. Following is a list of Spiritual Directors in our area. We encourage you to take advantage of this rich resource. This listing will appear in each edition of our bi-monthly webpage updates and new names and contact information will be provided as we learn of them and have permission to include them. If you are a director or know of a director that is not included here please let us know.
Debbie Baker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Batchler-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Joyce Gordon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth - email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazel Partington – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Ringler - email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Laura Tradowsky -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Tucker - email@example.com
Morning Altars: A 7-Step Practice to Nurture Your Spirit through Nature, Art and Ritual
by Day Schildkret
Return to the earth with beautiful photographs and inspirational text.
“Morning altars” are colorful mandalas that combine nature, art, and meditation. Incorporating the natural world into the everyday encourages positive well- being, even with the simplest of the earth’s gifts, such as leaves, flowers, berries, feathers, and stones. These stunning pieces of art are a peaceful and creative avenue to express gratitude for nature, to practice mindfulness, and to add meaning to daily life. In this book, Day Schildkret guides readers through the creation of morning altars, a seven- step process that includes wondering and wandering, place meditation, clearing space, creating, gifting, walking away, and sharing his art with others.
Since his first morning altar, Schildkret has built hundreds more. His work has been warmly received on social media and he teaches workshops on altar building, all with the intention of sharing the positivity and beauty they have brought to his life.
The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self-Care
by Emma Loewe and Lindsay Kellner
Our modern world continuously works to divert our attention to the superficial and trite, often inhibiting our attention to sacred and spiritual moments. However, tuning into ourselves by practicing spiritual rituals is a vital component of health and wellness. The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self-Care by Emma Loewe and Lindsay Kellner inspires such sacred moments, detailing rituals that encourage creativity, introspection, and serenity to deepen our relationship with ourselves and the universe.
Both editors at the health and wellness site mindbodygreen.com, Kellner and Loewe use their insight regarding spirituality and ritual to manifest an almanac that incorporates practices ranging from the familiar to the transcendent. Designed around the seasons and specific calendar events, the rituals align us with the natural forces at work in our lives. Seamlessly incorporating ancient customs and beliefs, the practices involve meditation, yoga, journaling, astrology, tarot, breath work, and beyond. The rituals utilize tangible elements, such as essential oils, candles, crystals, and herbs to awaken and deepen each sacred moment. While the practices are specifically aligned with the history of each calendar event, they also conclude with recommendations from experts on how to incorporate them into our daily routine, from small, simple inclusions to more serious commitments.
Adorned with exquisite illustrations by Charlotte Edey that beautifully capture the book’s motifs, The Spirit Almanac is an ideal gift for the holiday season. Readers interested in deepening their spiritual practices, increasing their self-awareness, and enhancing their communion with others would be moved by such a thoughtful, unique present: a gift that will truly nurture their spirits throughout every season.
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or would like to get email alerts when new resources have been posted please contact Howard Humphress at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our quick contact form.
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