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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, November 11, 2005

Oh, those talents...... one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Matt.25:14-14

Oh, those talents. They were a denomination of currency. I always twist that around more than a little because.... well, in my mind - a talent is a talent!

If your congregation is anything like mine, you have finished or just about finished your stewardship campaign. You have heard, for the um-teenth repetition about the 3 T's: time, treasure and talent. While others have a gift to make the dollars and cents pitch (if you're still putting in $5 each week, think about how much that five bucks bought for you 8 years ago[when you started pledging this amount] and what it buys now....) there are times when the time and talent aspects get short shrift.

I am here and now putting a plug in for talent. Raw talent, refined talent.... the talent to teach another language or to bake bread, the talent to sing or play the accordian, the talent to write poetry or publicity blurbs, the talent to listen, the talent (and I do think it comes naturally to some people) to be thoughtful.

Our parishes are made up of mini talent factories, yet often those talents are never acknowledged or given the moment to shine.

If you have five talents, invest them - in usage, in study, in practise. If you have two talents, invest them - impart the wisdom associated with your talent to someone else or discern the same talent in someone else and mentor them. If you have one talent, use it. Don't hide it. If generousity and service teaches us anything it is that the process of giving and sharing engenders plenty - in us and in others.

Got talent? USE IT (and thank God for it in the first place)!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

...first take the log out of your own eye........

"You just don't like her".
Oh, I wouldn't say that... her enthusiasm is sometimes over the top.
"No, it's really much more than that. You two just don't get along".
Sure we do. I get along with just about everybody.. and even when I don't I make an effort to be pleasant with them! We had a disagreement,we talked it out. It' all OK.
"But this happens again and again. The two of you get in the same room and you butt heads and it just goes downhill from there. It's sad and its scary because I love you both."

Yes, this is an interaction I had with a friend recently. It left me somewhat in shock and in tears. She wasn't accusing me of being mean - intentionally. She admits I've always been kind to her and to others - with this one exception. Because this exception happens to be her daughter, she is in a real bind. She wants to have faith that things will improve between the two of us, but has her serious doubts and is now fearful she has lost me as a friend.

Have you ever thought - or been under the impression - that you know yourself well? Perhaps thought that you knew yourself significantly better than anyone else did? If you, like me, have done some significant work in therapy and spiritual direction and the school of hard knocks... it can be very discouraging and/or disorienting for someone to point out an "issue" or situation that you are seemingly oblivious to... or, more likely, thought you had taken care of 'once and for all'.

Pride pulls itsself together within us and has quite a hissy-fit with a whole string of emotional illogic that can sound something like this: What do you mean I don't get along with someone. How can you possibly know how hard I have worked on this issue???? I am acutely aware of my behavior...I am in control of my reactions and tone of voice.! Haaarrruummmppppphhhhhhh!

This is the point at which it is imperative to have a conversation with God. You have been given information that either is inaccurate... or you need an attitude adjustment. In either case, I need to turn to God for a reality check. Sweet Lord I know you will help me see the truth in this situation - help me to acknowledge that truth and take the necessary actions.

In this particular case I had to sift through my emotions and reactions to get to the kernel reality. In hindsight, yes... I was intolerant of displays of emotion, unwilling to cut her any slack, painfully inconvenienced by enthusiasm that was overwhelming, and often gave a disapproving look or comment to what I judged were attempts to gain attention and acceptance. Not very Christian of me and extremely poor clerical form.

After a couple of hours God's showed me the kernel of my discontent: D's daughter bears an uncanny resemblence to myself at an earlier age. And the displeasure (or embarassment) I still harbor of my (then) self influenced my current interaction with a sensitive, eager young woman who is all too willing to put herself down. Truth be told, people often are vociferously intolerant (in others) of those traits they dislike in themselves. Bottom line:I have the option, then, of making this all about ME: i.e. having a pity party for myself, wallowing in the funk of having - yet again - to back up and tend to old business, OR turning this around to thank God and my friend for some insight that could make me a more effective instrument of God's peace.

Hard as it is, I'm grateful my friend showed me what I had blinded myself to. Christ has a way of sending messengers to us - showing us what we need to see.

Whether it involves members of a congregation, or friends, or siblings have you had a rupture of relationship because of a misunderstanding or difference of opinion or hurt feelings?????

It bears remembering that truth telling is very tricky business and it takes a great deal of faith to get up the courage to say what must be said. Listening to that truth with an open mind and making a sincere examination of conscience takes courage as well. The recognition of one's human shortcomings - and the necessity of turning to God for assistance - will be our salvation. From there we can move to admitting our wrongdoing and changing our ways.

My examination took me to the passage in Matthew 7:3-5. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in our own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take speck out of your neighbor's eye.

Good Lord, give us the strength and courage to see ourselves as others see us. Amen and Amen.

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