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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, June 01, 2012

Friday Focus: A Mystery Story with a Happy Ending

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28: 16-20

 Who’s older: the Father or the Son? Who’s more powerful: the Father or the Holy Spirit? Who loves us more: the wrathful God of the Flood or Christ on the cross? If we are the Body of Christ, what’s our relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit? And just who’s really in charge in heaven? Who gets to call the shots?

Confused enough already? You’re not alone. The mystery of the Trinity has consumed the brilliance of theologians for centuries. And the arguments have not been confined to polite little dust-ups between scholars. They’ve kicked off schisms, crusades and holy wars, pitting zealot against zealot and sacrilegiously slaughtering untold innocents in the name of God.
And yet here we are on Trinity Sunday, two thousand years later, to celebrate what has been called the central mystery of our faith. What’s all the fuss about? And does it really matter? At times scripture can be ambiguous. Is any given subject being treated metaphorically or literally? But there is nothing ambiguous or metaphorical about the Bible’s references to the Trinity. From Genesis to Revelation, the Trinity is a matter of fact, not speculation. In today’s gospel Jesus matter of factly affirms the Trinity: …in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles Creed, the Nicean Creed, all the earliest attempts to codify Christian belief, begin with an expression of faith in the mystery of the Trinity. I take great comfort in our regular recitation of the Creed as an integral part of the mass. But our spiritual and intellectual limitations are such that even years of prayer and contemplation cannot produce an understanding that transcends an acceptance of the Trinity as anything other than a profound mystery of faith. And that is as it should be.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, my own faith journey has produced a personally “dumbed-down” grasp of the mystery that you might find useful. Start with an acceptance of the basics of the Trinity: We worship one God in three divine persons. Those persons are contemporary and consubstantial. As the Creed tells us, they are: “…one in being.” There is no hierarchy in God. The origin of the word “person” gives us some insight into the mystery of the Trinity. “Person” denotes the role being played or the function fulfilled. In this case, there are three distinct roles that define the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  Then put the three persons in the context of God as love … not love as something that God does, but love as precisely what God is. Augustine tells us: “You see the Trinity if you see love.” We grasp the Trinity more readily with our hearts than we do with our intellects. With that perspective, look at the persons of the Trinity as discrete expressions of God’s love. For example, what we do defines us: as mother, father, student, doctor, lawyer, teacher, mechanic. What God does defines him as: Creator, Redeemer, Paraclete… three aspects of love coalesced in one loving God. It’s still a mystery…but one that we know the divine Author will solve for us in the end. Better yet, it’s a love story that guarantees us a happy ending.

God of delight,
you Wisdom sings your Word
at the crossroads where humanity and divinity meet.
Invite us into your joyful being
where you know and are known
in each beginning,
in all sustenance,
in every redemption,
that we may manifest your unity
in the diverse ministries you entrust to us,
truly reflecting your triune majesty
in the faith that acts,
in the hope that does not disappoint,
and in the love that endures.        Amen

Thursday, May 31, 2012

On Clarity, Challenge and Change

In my meanderings in the blogisphere and Facebook I came across a blog entitled Advanced Life Skills by Jonathan Wells.  Jonathan has compiled methods and strategies on how to change your own attitudes and the way you present yourself to others.  I was taken by a 'hook' sentence he uses on some of his lists: "Hopefully, this list will reiterate some of the simple things that each of us can do to make the world a more pleasant place. (ed: for ourselves and for others!)"  Amen to that, Jonathan.
Reprinted here is his post 10 Simple Ways to Be More Likable.  Remember, when we become more likable, it has the contagious effect of making other people likable - yea, lovable, as well!

1. Say please and thank you. Simple, yet so often overlooked. When you want something, you say please. When someone does something nice for you, you say thank you. This may sound like a minor thing, but when you let people know that you appreciate what they do for you, it helps establish a friendly and respectful rapport. And guess what, they will see you as likable.

2. Be courteous. Usually, this is just a matter of seeing things from another person’s perspective. If you notice something that you can do to make their situation easier, then do it. And yes, it may require that you go a little bit out of your way, but how hard is it to hold the door open for someone or stop your car to let someone cross the street? Kind deeds have a tendency to repay themselves many times over. It may not happen right away, but there is still a sense of satisfaction that comes from doing the right thing.

3. Follow the Golden Rule. Simply stated, treat others the way you would like to be treated. The beautiful thing about this is how straight forward it is. Think how different everything would be if everyone followed this simple principle. There would be no crime, no war, and no murder. Granted, we cannot control the actions of other people, but we can control how we behave. When you treat others with this level of respect, they will naturally view you as likable?

4. Work with others. There are plenty of opportunities to show cooperation and teamwork in all areas of life. Whether you are in a crowded store or heavy traffic, cooperation will make the experience more manageable. If you are driving a bit slower than some, move to the slow lane and allow others to pass. If you are grocery shopping, don’t leave your cart in the middle of the isle. By being aware of those around you and showing consideration you will be more likable.

5. Smile often. Never underestimate the power of a smile. The effect is two-fold. It tends to elevate your mood and it lifts the spirits of those you smile at. If you don’t believe me, try this little experiment. For an entire day, before you say a word to anyone, smile first. If you’re walking past them, smile and say hello. Notice their reaction. Most will smile back and when they do, you will feel even better. When you look at other people, who do you view as more likable? Isn’t it true that a person with a smile on their face wins every time?

6. Say I’m sorry. This is one of the first lessons we learn in life, yet some of us quickly forget it as we get older. The principle is very simple. If you wrong someone, or if you make a mistake, or if you hurt another person (intentionally or unintentionally), apologize for it. Don’t waste your time trying to assign blame. Be the first one to say I’m sorry and you will instantly be more likable.

7. Be honest. Tell the truth, even when it doesn’t seem to be in your best interest to do so. There is a lot to be said for the person who can admit they’re wrong (see above) and come clean with their mistake. It should also be noted that telling a lie doesn’t fix anything. The problem or issue is still there, under the blanket of the lie, and it will stay there until the truth comes out. Honesty is a reflection of one’s self-dignity and integrity. By being honest and tactful, other honest people will find you more likable.

8. Listen. Although it is typically our first instinct to talk first, listening can actually be an advantage. A primary benefit of listening is the amount that can be learned. If we spend most of our time talking then how can we learn anything? One of the best ways to be viewed as more likable is to be a good listener. It’s not always easy, but listening tells others that you are genuinely interested in them as a person, and who doesn’t like that?

9. Be complimentary. Have you ever received an unexpected compliment? How did that make you feel? Everyone likes to be noticed in a good way. In a world that tends to be overly critical, a sincere compliment can be very encouraging. Notice I said a sincere compliment. If our compliments aren’t sincere they could be viewed as patronizing, so when you compliment make sure that you are being truthful. This is guaranteed to make you more likable.

10. Laugh. Everyone likes to laugh. Laughing releases endorphins that make you feel happy and relaxed. Laughing is both therapeutic and contagious. When you laugh, you will also be encouraging laughter from others. When you contribute to the happiness of others, they can’t help liking you. So never underestimate the value in laughter.

It really is simple to be more likable

All of these ideas are simple and universally acknowledged. Sadly, many of them seem to have been forgotten in today’s world. At times, the pressures or stress in our lives may cause us to show less consideration or patience for other people. The truth is that every one of these simple ideas can make a significant contribution to the quality of our life and the lives of others. Along with making us more likable, they actually reduce stress and make life more enjoyable.

For more of Jonathan Wells' insights, visit his blog:

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