A Fat Slice of Humble Pie

A Fat Slice of Humble Pie

A few times a year, I happily accept the invitation to preach at the church I attend.  Sunday morning a few weeks back, as I put the final touches on my sermon, thrilled with the ease at which it came together and ever so proud of the message, I said a little prayer that God might humble me.

Sermons, after all, shouldn’t be about the messenger.  Being in the pulpit isn’t about showcasing one’s speaking skills, or theological genius, or brilliant word-smithing. Preaching is about fading into the background while bringing to the forefront God’s word for God’s people.

Yet, there I was bubbling with pride as I saved my sermon and prepared to send it, reformatted for easy reading, from my laptop to the home computer for printing.  When the file couldn’t be opened, I figured it was a PC to Apple miscommunication.  When I attempted to open it again on my laptop, however, this is what I got:

corrupt file

Crap. I had just 30 minutes before worship, and here was Microsoft Word apologizing because it found a “problem” with the contents of my sermon.  And more than that, the file was “corrupt.”  I wasn’t expecting prayers to be answered like this!

Funny…very funny, God.  I get it.  Perhaps it was not the file, but my heart, that was problematic? Is that what you’re saying?

Uncertain if I should laugh or cry (I’m pretty sure I did both), I anxiously printed the original file, madly highlighted phrases and circled key words to aid my eyes in tracking, and raced to church with literally a minute to spare.  Thankfully with the overload of adrenaline, there was no room in my heart for self-glorification during worship. Until the end of the service, that is.  I found pride starting to resurface as I walked down the isle during the postlude. Maybe it was the smiles on people’s faces, or the woman who rose from her pew as I passed by, or the gentleman who reached out to shake my hand, but there was pride, taking my heart over again. I was beaming. And as I awaited at the back of the church, ready to receive my endless stream of fans, the unlikely happened.  The fire alarm went off.

Seriously?! The fire alarm? Oh…that’s a good one, God.  Aren’t You clever!  No accolades for me, I see.

It still makes me giggle to recall the sensation of pride rapidly deflating.

Right. This is not about me. Not my message, but Yours, God.  Not my words, but that of the Holy Spirit touching hearts and impressing minds.

With word that all was clear, I made my way down to our fellowship hall for coffee, grateful for the few compliments I did receive.  No sooner did I fill my cup did a favorite parishioner of mine gleefully approach me. “I could listen to you all day long, Rebecca!” Her words, so kind…and heartfelt…and just enough tinder to spark the flame of pride again.

Right in that moment, I kid you not, right then…the fire alarm went off a second time.

Oh, for the love of God! 

Would you just give me a fat slice of that humble pie already? I’m sure it would go great with this cup of coffee!

Friends, when doing God’s work it is never, ever about us.

I feel blessed that in the weeks that followed, similar messages surfaced. We are to do things for God’s glory, not our own.  We are God’s messengers. God’s servants. God’s light in the world.

It’s not about us.

Ironically, my sermon topic that day was about clothing ourselves in the garments God has chosen bu us, God’s “holy and dearly loved” people. “…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…And over all these virtues put on love.” (Colossians 3:12,14).

Eating my fat slice of pie, and drinking coffee, the irony did not escape me.

 

 

 

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Breaking Forth

Breaking Forth

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No Fear

No Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” – 1 John 4:18

635897229513164483-866846937_heartI am not afraid.

I will not let the media frenzy lure me into the cesspool of fear mongering.

Neither will I let my own fears rule my heart and mind in this tumultuous time.

I REFUSE TO BE AFRAID.

Instead, I choose to be bound by my faith to reach out and build bridges, not erect physical walls and emotional barriers against the Muslim, the Migrant, the Refugee, the Opposing Political Party, the Other.

As a Christian, I am called to love…even my enemies. Even the politicians who condone division and stir up strife, however difficult, I am called to pray for and to love them.  For those with dramatically different views of the world as me, I must, as a Christian, pray for and love them, too. For those who carry out hate crimes or acts of terror…yes…I will lift even them up in prayer and love them. (Luke 6:27-28)

Today and every day, I will step further into my call as a Christian to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8). I will work even harder to forgive others (Colossians 3:13); I will recall that when I show kindness to “the least of these brothers and sisters,” I do so to Christ as well (Matthew 25:31-40). I will strive more and more to rejoice, pray, and be grateful in all times (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  I will put bitterness, anger, and slander aside making “Kindness-Compassion-Forgiveness” my mantra as I make my way through each day, with each soul that comes my way. (Ephesians 4:32)

I will withhold from judgment and remember that it is not mine to carry out. I must consider my own actions or inactions instead (Matthew 7:1-5).  I will trust that no matter how crazy the world appears, assurance rests in my trust in God (Psalm 27:1).

I am a Child of the Most High called to do my part to bring peace, kindness, and civility back into fashion; to show others the profound powers of love and forgiveness to mend the endless divides between individuals, groups, and nations, bringing much needed healing to our fragmented world.

I am a follower of Christ, a believer in the Way, and I am NOT afraid.

 

(I originally published this March 20. After the recent shooting in Orlando, I felt the need to revisit, revise, and publish it again…)

 

 

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Running on Fear

Running on Fear
no feeding the fearI’ve been running on fear all week.

 

It is not the best emotional fuel, but it was propelling me never the less further into panic when the summer temperatures starting rising.

With high 90s looming, I told several folks on Friday I’d probably be curled up in the fetal position in my air conditioned bedroom for the duration of the weekend….Truth be told, that was the fear speaking.

You see, I have Multiple Sclerosis, and heat is NOT my friend.

I got caught off guard this time last year when we had a heat wave, and didn’t get my AC into my bedroom soon enough for the necessary cool, restful nights. Add to that the untimely death of the air-conditioning in my car (which I use throughout each day in my work as a hospice chaplain) and it was the perfect storm for an exacerbation—which is exactly what happened.

And unfortunately my flare up invited all my symptoms to the party: extreme fatigue, balance issues, vertigo, weakness in my legs, speech issues, brain fog, as well as muscle and eye pain. I had to cut my work hours way back for a few weeks and only returned to “normal” a few months later. I’ll be honest…It sucked!

Flash forward a year and Fear is in the driver’s seat. It is so scary to experience a break down of the body at so many levels. I’d been on the verge of tears several times this week frightened of another attack.

But here’s the deal.  I know my thoughts can directly impact my body. And that’s just as bad, if not worse, for me as the heat. I needed to get my head in the game and fast.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.”   Isaiah 43:1

 

I began ruminating on these words from scripture and “Fear not” quickly became my mantra.

It became my response to all the questions Fear had to ask of me: What if the heat really does restrict you to your bedroom leaving you non-productive all weekend? What if you have another exacerbation? What if you loose more time at work? What if another flare up leaves you worse off?

Fear not. Fear Not. FEAR NOT.

 

It is Saturday evening as I finish this post.  The temperature did not go as high today as expected for which I am grateful.  I got important stuff done and even spent time outside. Tonight I give thanks to the One who teaches me every day to breathe and trust and surrender.

Today I refused to allow Fear to run my life. I realize now that my faith is bigger than that.  My connection to the Holy is stronger than that. I have come through too much in the past to put Fear in control of my future.

I have been called by name, and I am NOT afraid!

 

 

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