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Healing.

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Public impeachment hearings have begun.  Whatever your position, you can bet they’ll generate vitriolic rhetoric and opportunities for deeper divisions.  I’m weary of the divisions.  You?  But an experience this week has shifted my focus.  It’s renewed my energy to work for healing other divisions among a people who need healing desperately: The Church.

A dear friend, child of God, and leader in the Catholic church here in Albuquerque is dying.  She has given her life to serving people of all ages around the world.  I had the privilege and blessing to spend a couple of hours with her, and three times she was brought to tears.  At first, I thought it was caused by the painful, growing tumors she bravely endures.  Not so.  What has pained her most these last days, is the division she knows and has experienced in the Body of Christ.  She exclaimed: “I don’t know who said it, Rachael.  But some wise person said, ‘There’s no Catholic way to love or Lutheran way to love or Methodist way to love.  It’s just love!  And it all comes from God!’”

Of course, she’s right.  But while the divisions in our nation cause me daily frustration, how often do I think about the deep divisions among children of God?  Rarely.  And how many people from different faith traditions have fed my faith?  Many.

So, a challenge:  Consider who inspires you in your faith.  If they’re still living, will you contact them and affirm them for the love of Christ they have shown you?  I’ll be contacting Catholics, Quakers, Mennonites, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Pentecostals and probably some others.  Maybe if we can begin to see the light of Christ in one another, we can participate in healing divisions that existed long before impeachment hearings.

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,

Pr. Rachael 

The spaces in between.

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I can’t stand flossing my teeth.  I do it, begrudgingly.  At my recent dental visit, I was reminded of how vital flossing is for my overall health.  Who knew gum disease might contribute to heart disease?!  As it turns out, it’s just as important to care for the spaces between my teeth as it is to care for my pearly whites.  I feel a metaphor coming on…

The meetings I schedule each day are a big deal to me.  I’ve made a commitment to set aside time to connect with individuals or groups of people, and I greatly respect that time.  I prepare, make sure I have adequate travel time, take the appropriate materials with me, etc.  But what about the spaces in between?  Truth be told, I haven’t had a fraction of the intentionality for the in-between times than I’ve had for the meetings. 

I’ve been back from sabbatical about a month now, and one Holy Spirit-learning for which I am incredibly grateful is this: The spaces in between mean everything.  Reading from a beautiful Jewish prayer book takes just a few minutes.  Sending a “checking-in” email to a friend who’s struggling can be done in no time.  A stroll through the peaceful courtyard at St. Tim’s is just a 15 seconds’ walk down the hall.  Most Chopin Nocturnes on YouTube are seven minutes long or less.  God is in the planned commitments each day AND all those spaces in between.

What about your in-between spaces?  Are you intentional with them?  Where might God want to meet you in them?  Where is God seeking you out through prayer, friends, music, movement or anything else that brings you joy?

Oh, and I guess you could floss, too.  Just sayin’.

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,

Pr. Rachael

I just got schooled.

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It was early when I opened the door for a group of high school students from the Media Arts School down the street.  They were coming to St. Tim’s for, what I feel is, a rather unpleasant undertaking – spending the whole morning taking the PSAT (one of those awful, standardized tests).  It wasn’t quite 8:30 a.m. when about 50 students arrived.

Because it was so early, and their reason for being here so difficult, I assumed the students’ moods would be rather glum.  At least, that’s the way I would have felt.  I decided to offer a smile and a somewhat reserved, “Good Morning,” as I held the door.  But what happened next was astonishing:  Almost every student who walked past me smiled and thanked me for holding the door!  They were alert, incredibly kind, and offered their gratitude without hesitation or prompting.  A couple of students even commented about the weather!  Seriously?!  Wow.

Upon reflection, this event revealed two facts:

  1. My assumptions about people need to go.  Why did I assume the students would be grumpy?  Just because I’m difficult to be around when I’m doing something I don’t want to do doesn’t mean anyone else will be!  Without a second to pause I made a decision about people I’d never met.
  2. Whoever out there is still down on the “next generation” needs to actually spend time with them.  I’m constantly amazed at the kindness I am given and respect I am shown by my 11-year-old’s friends.  God’s got me, you, AND the young people of this world.  Period.

Thanks be to God for the gift of these student-neighbors and all they gave me today.  Who might surprise you with some grace-filled kindness today?

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,

Pr. Rachael

What a blessed mess.

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No one would accuse me of being a neat freak.  My car is filled with old gas station receipts, a random assortment of books, and melted crayons.  My office isn’t much better.  I try to keep things relatively under control at home out of respect for my husband.  But he’d tell you, I’m infamous for my stacks of who-knows-what on the dining room table.  I could make the excuse that I’m “just too busy” to keep up with it all.  But the truth is, there are so many other things I’d rather do than get organized, I’m OK with the mess.  In fact, I thrive in messy conditions.  I wonder if that’s why I love the Psalms so much.

The Psalm-writers aren’t nervous about being messy.  They seem to honor the messiness in human life.  They name their fears, anger, desire for revenge, despair, loneliness and confusion.  They blame God.  They call God out when they feel God has not lived up to God’s promises.

This Sunday, we’ll experience one of the quintessentially messy Psalms – Psalm 69.  Bible scholars call this a Psalm of lament or a cry for deliverance.  I’d say it’s a Psalm of real life.  If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed, abandoned, humiliated, targeted, disappointed in God, or at the end of your rope, the child of God who wrote Psalm 69 understands you perfectly.  It’s messy.  It’s real.  It’s faithful.  This messy Psalm reminds us that God is big enough to take whatever mess we create, suffer from, or endure.  And, even more, God is with us in it.

Worship this Sunday will be a bit messy.  If you’re a blessed mess, come on in!  God will be here, too, just as God has promised. 

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,

Pr. Rachael

Can you feel it?

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The giving of the Spirit at Pentecost never fails to blow my mind.  How could the same Spirit that was alive in Jesus be poured out on EVERYONE?  It’s tough to grasp.  But some days, the Spirit that “amazed and astonished” all who were present at Pentecost, saturates my life to the extent that I can actually feel it.  This Tuesday, it happened.

At 9:20 Ed arrived to pack lunches for asylum-seekers.  He realized he was early (start time was 10:30), so he headed to the store to buy apples to add to the lunches.  I might’ve waited, checking headlines on my phone.  Not Ed.  Around 10 Michele arrived, our fearless organizer.  Then Sherri, Bert and Barbara, Vivian and James, Mary Beth and Don, Sebastian, Ron.  The kitchen was at capacity.  85 lunches were assembled.  We prayed for God’s blessing.  The Spirit energy was palpable.

Around 11:00, music floated down the hall.  Beth, an LFS ESL teacher, was responsible.  She was leading newly-arrived refugees in a rousing rendition of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  The Spirit energy grew.

At 11:30 Clara came to gather volunteers to help address the wonderful problem of inadequate seating for the choir members from St. Paul and St. Luke who would be joining us this Sunday.  I was reaching Spirit saturation.

Around 1:00, I put up a display of the prayers for healing and gratitude that the Sunday school families had made at camp the weekend before.  I was full up.

Then I saw all the water bottles given for Pride festivities and the sign-up sheets for Family Promise, as I headed to the sacristy to get supplies for the baptism this Sunday.  I was about to EXPLODE!!!

The Spirit is alive!  Can you feel it?!

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,

Pr. Rachael

In it together.

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It can get lonely in the church.  I’m not talking about feeling alone in the crowd on Sunday morning, although that certainly happens.  I’m talking about feeling alone as a people called to be about God’s purposes for life in the world.  With the mess we often see outside our doors it’s easy to feel as if we’re all alone in trying to fill the hungry with good things (Luke 1:53).  I admit, sometimes I feel that weight and begin asking irrational questions like, “How can we possibly serve everyone?” and “How can we provide all that our neighbors need?”  Two recent events expanded my vision in oh so necessary ways:

First, I attended our annual “synod assembly” where some 450 people from New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Texas gathered to pray that God would show us how to love God and our neighbors.  While already in awe of God’s presence in that place, a friend and colleague, Pastor Joene from Christ Lutheran in Santa Fe, sat down next to me.  She said, “I heard your congregation is serving folks who are being released from the border.  We really want to help.  How can we partner with you?”  Yeah, the Holy Spirit has a knack for showing up at just the right time.  Thanks, all you amazing people at Christ Lutheran, for revealing God to me that day!

Second, this Sunday we’ll begin hearing Paul’s letter to the Romans.  Paul’s never been to Rome, but the faithfulness of God’s people, hundreds of miles away, is cause for his celebration:

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. (1:8)

God’s will for life is EVERYWHERE!  Where have you seen God lately?

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,

Pr. Rachael

Not sorry for the interruption.

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We can take the Bible too seriously.  Don’t get me wrong, scripture holds THE revelation of God as the One who is steadfast in love and faithfulness to all of God’s creation, and the One who takes the initiative to save, redeem, and make all things new!  AND… we can take it too seriously.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will experience together two FANTASTIC passages from the book of Acts: 10:1-17, 34-48; and 13:1-3, 14:8-18.  The Holy Spirit has been let loose in creation and God’s love is taking the world by storm.  Humanity has A LOT to learn about this inclusive, barrier-destroying, radical love of God – especially the disciples.  Following Jesus, alive with the Holy Spirit, the disciples are placed in all sorts of uncomfortable situations.  Opportunities for humor abound.  Ever imagined God belly-laughing?  You might after hearing these passages!

I have to share one gem from Acts 10.  Peter finds himself needing to reevaluate all he has known about Gentiles.  He’s thrown off his game.  He is invited to preach, which he does with gusto, but there’s a problem.  In his nervousness, he’s a little long-winded.  After listening for quite a while, God decides enough is enough.  The Holy Spirit breaks in: “While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44).  I wish I could have seen Peter’s face!  He probably wasn’t used to being interrupted.  But the Spirit had heard enough, and God was done waiting.  I wonder how many times the other disciples gave Peter a hard time about that.  “Hey, Peter, even God thinks you talk too much!”

So, come and worship!  God knows we could all use a little laughter… Amen?!

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,

Pr. Rachael