Archive for September 2014

Beauty in Service

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   There is a beauty in caring for the elderly. It's a frustrating and difficult task, and I am amazed at people who do it on a daily basis, but there is somehow a beauty to it as well. My lack of posts these past several days, have been because I have been busy learning that.
   I cared for Mac's grandmother for a few days in order to give my mother in law a bit of a respite. I felt somewhat powerless to help in the ways I wanted to. There were small things I could help with, but it's hard to help with grief, feelings of helplessness, and overwhelming stress.
   What I did do, was look after someone I love deeply, and who spent many hours looking after people who I now call family. In the large scheme of things, it was the very least I could do.
    The days were trying though, and I found myself coming home exhausted. Arguing over eating something, or taking a drink of water, or sitting up for a little exercise, became a common occurrence. I imagine it was frustrating for grandma as well, needing help to do simple things like sitting up in bed. Things that she was fully capable of doing on her own for so many years.
     There was this frailty in those moments; moments that reflected in many ways a new baby, needing care and help. This frailty of humanity, that life is fragile and precious.

    Though we are months away from Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season, I found myself reflecting on the words we say then "From dust you came, to dust you shall return". The idea that we are mortal is so profound when staring at it.
     As I helped grandma she kept saying "Lord have mercy". Maybe it was just a complaint, or reflex, but I kept thinking "He does have mercy. He is extending mercy, even now." That's where I saw the beauty.
     Where the concept of death, dust, mortality met with the beauty of life, hope, and resurrection. This reality that while their is death, Christ has conquered the grave.
      There was another place I saw beauty to, in the mundane tasks of caring for someone. It wasn't glamorous. I doubt I'll make the front page of papers, or be invited on to day time talk shows for helping my husband's grandmother use the bathroom, but there's a humbling to the whole thing. No doubt for both grandma and I. She has to allow herself to be helped, and I have to be humble enough to do so.
    I remember my mom telling me that after my own grandmother had passed away, she went and bathed her body to prepare for the funeral. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that it was the last act of service she could do for her mother.

     Service gets overlooked in our society a lot, but being a servant is no small task. It's humbling, and it's hard, but there is such a beauty in it that can't be explained. It's not because you feel good about it, sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. I really believe it's because serving others is the closest thing on this earth to being with the ultimate servant of all, Jesus. In those moments his presence is palpable, because he served in the most profound ways possible, and continues to do so out of his great love for us.
    If Jesus has served me so well, how could I do any less for those around me?

Being Invited Into the Life of Others

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      This Saturday we had a large garage sale. When we inherited the building, we inherited rooms of stuff, and decided the best thing to do would be to sell it. We had a great set of helpers from the district, and some delicious refreshments.
    We made some money, which is always good, but the most exciting part of our time was seeing the church filled with so many people, and getting to meet so many of our neighbors we hadn't met yet. 
    Lot's of questions were asked about our church, we passed out stickers to the children, we handed out free cookies and lemonade. Our district helpers walked blocks and met people, passing out flyers about our sale, and answering questions about our church. 
    It was such an uplifting day. With all the road blocks that we've faced, things like broken windows, broken a/c, and flooding basements, this day was so worth it. Things really do seem to be moving in a great direction.
     We still have a lot of stuff left, and will be having another sale soon, and putting some stuff on Craigslist, but that's just another opportunity to meet and engage with people. 
this is how much stuff we have left... after the sale
     To keep up with the momentum, we had our first bible study on Sunday evening. There were 3 people their. Our friends and their baby, who is also our god daughter. It may be a slow start, but we're ok with that. We knew things wouldn't happen over night, and we know that we want things to grow organically. Plus hanging out with our god daughter is always a good time. 

     A neighbor also approached us this week about holding Al-Anon meetings in the church, as well as asked to use the building for a birthday party. This is tremendously exciting, because as we've been saying, a building is just a building unless it's being used. 
      In my experience, the Church tends to think those uses must be by "members only" or for a worship service. A lot of times, even when there is a weekly worship service, a building sits empty the rest of the time. I've always questioned this. How is an empty building serving the kingdom? How is paying utilities for a whole month, only to be used a few hours a week, good stewardship?
    Church buildings used to serve multiple purposes. They were the school house during the week, and held community meetings at other times. They were a meeting place for neighborhoods. I'm not advocating that we make our calendar more busy, that we come up with more programing that is costly, or that we guilt people in to coming to everything we offer, but I am asking if we need to be more available. It we need to be open to birthday celebrations, weddings, and funerals of people who aren't church members, but who are looking to the church with these life events. 
     That seems to be part of what the Church is supposed to be. A light in the darkness. A place for all people to come. A people who embrace others, who rejoice when they rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn. 
    Being invited into our neighbors lives is so much greater to us, than inviting them to a church service. It shows us that the prevenient grace of the Holy Spirit is calling to them, is moving in them, and we get the honor of being asked to be a part of that.