Monthly Archives: March 2014

Week 4: Where do you see God in your work life?

Our question this fourth week in Lent is “Where is God in our work lives?”

Rather than we who work inside the church writing, we asked you, Broadstreeters working outside the walls of the church building, to respond.

The following reflections come from three hardworking folks you see on Sundays, singing in the choir, sitting with God’s Treasures or at 8:45 worship.

From Marilou:

My days as a clinical social worker on a crisis-oriented inpatient psychiatric unit are intense, immediate outcome-focused, team based, and never having a break kind of day after day. But I rejoice in this opportunity to be a conduit for God’s healing, love, and strength. While I am driving the 30 miles there, I can reflect on breathing in God’s spirit for the day ahead.  “In with Thee, out with me” with each deep breath, to remind me of the purpose of my being. Then, when caught up in the midst of the day’s crises, it must be auto-God-pilot at work that permits me to end most days with thankfulness. Sometimes when our treatment team is sitting privately with a psychotic patient, I will be reminded of Jesus commanding out the demons, or of His compassion for the grieving and depressed. Sometimes I concentrate my will on that person with the silent prayer of “may the Christ in me reach the Christ in you”. Each of us of faith has this capacity to tap into God’s spirit and be open to His light that envelopes those we meet along our way. Some days it comes to us simply, and other days we pass it by. God is always forgiving and loves us anyway.

From Kate:

I have always had roots- deep ones. Grounded, never rash. I was a serious kid, a worrier and a planner. I always sought safety and security, quiet and dependability. I like things orderly and predictable. I like to control what I can, make lists. I fix things when they go wrong. Make them “normal.”

I am good at work. Always steady, competent. I’m on time. I don’t do sick days. I can be relied upon. I am never lazy. I don’t look for the easy way out. In many ways, work is my ballast. A constant that I count on as much as it counts on me, regardless of the state of my life in any other category. Ironically, it is not very steady sort of job. There is no controlling it. My opponents, and my clients for that matter, can be completely unpredictable, creative, and often erratic. Most of my days are triage, putting out fires and fixing things. I help. I put things back together. I do thank God for this, my work- it grounds me. I don’t thank him as often as I should. But most days, I feel like my work is his work too. There is pride in that- both the good kind and the bad kind.

Then something goes wrong. Or maybe it doesn’t go wrong, but my perception of what is happening or has happened makes it seem that the end of the world is near- either by my hand or somebody else’s. There are days that I completely doubt my ability to do anything right. I doubt my competency or my understanding of the situation. I can’t see the way out or how to put the pieces back together again. I don’t believe that I can help anyone. My clients, lots of hardworking men and women, trust that I know the right thing. They trust that I will do the right thing. And sometimes, I feel I am an absolute fake. That I have let them down. I am not good enough and they will suffer the consequences.

And then I recognize it again. This belief that I hold the fate of all these other people, and even my own fate in my hands alone. That it is only my decisions and only my abilities that could possibly affect the outcome of the lives of these workers or my own life. It is not some selfless, unrealistic burden that I place on myself. It is pride. Because in the moments that I believe I am utterly and totally alone, this pride swells up in my chest and suffocates me. I believe that I am it. But then I remember (even though it may take me a very long time) that I am never alone.

Sometimes, I will not know what the right thing is and there will be times that I make mistakes. But all I can do is prepare and fight my hardest. Then, I have to give it to God. Then, it is His. So I say a little prayer before each hearing that God will help me know the right thing. I pray for my workers that God will know the right path for them. When my workers ask me to, we even pray together. Because we are both His, regardless of what happens next.

From Sally: 

What helps me operate through the day and week at work is the guidance provided by the benediction—

“Go out into the world in peace; have courage;  Hold on to what is good; Return to no one evil for evil; Strengthen the fainthearted; Support the weak, and help the suffering; Honor all people; Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

It is easy to remember and helps me make what sometimes feel like counterculture decisions about

Thanks to these three Broadstreeters for sharing how they experience God in their work lives, and for stirring up our awareness of how we do as well.how to navigate through life at work.

Questions for discussion:
Where is God in your work life?
When do you struggle to find or sustain a connection with God in your work life?

Here is a humorous take of how to see God in our everyday work life.


Week 3: Where is God when terrible things happen in the world?

Auschwitz. Bosnia. The World Trade Center on 9/11. Hurricane Katrina. Superstorm Sandy.  Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Cancer. A sudden death. The list does not end there.  Whether natural or man made, tragedy strikes our world.  We do not have to experience a significant global event directly to feel the impact on our lives and wonder Where is God?  

    

When we are hurt by life, by death, by illness or injury, by rejection or disappointment is there any comfort to be found? Where do we see God when terrible things happen in the world?

As people of faith, we affirm that God is the creator of all things and brought forth good to all things on the earth. Yet, in the experiences of our lives when things do not  go the way we would want them to go,  those events cause us to reflect, if not, question, where is God? When we are faced with a terrible diagnosis, or the sudden death of a loved one, or when we are victims of a terrible disaster, we question,  How could a God who loves us allow terrible things to happen?

After a terminal diagnosis of his young son, Rabbi Harold S. Kushner writes in his book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People,

“Is there an answer to the question of why bad things happen to good people?…The response would be…to forgive the world for not being perfect, to forgive God for not making a better world, to reach out to the people around us, and to go on living despite it all…no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it has happened.”

The question is about suffering.  Its stubborn inevitability prompts our deepest doubts about life as well as a profound search for meaning.  Suffering causes people of faith to return to the promises of God and the assurance that God is present even through tragedy.

Even through the most difficult moments of our lives, God’s presence surrounds us and offers comfort. God is the first to shed a tear with us when we cry.  We belong to God.  The words of Paul resound; “nothing in death, nor life….nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 8: 38).

This short videoclip caught our attention this week:

Questions for discussion:
For you, where is God when terrible things happen?
Where have you found comfort?

-Emily Corzine

Week 2: Where is God in that which is every day, routine and ordinary?

I have always found it easy to feel close to God when I am away from home, whether on a mission trip, walking on a beach, or far above the clouds in an airplane.  The trickier part of a life of faith is feeling connected to God in the middle of everyday life.  This is an important part of our life of faith because we spend the vast majority of our lives in the routine of day in day out living.

Cindy Rigby will be our preacher and teacher this weekend.  She is W. C. Brown Professor of Theology at Austin Presbyterian Seminary.  Here are some words of hers on this topic.

I used to look for meaning in extraordinary things. In winning unexpectedly. In overcoming obstacles and odds. In crucifixion and resurrection; death and birth; the triumph of the smallest of good over the worst of evil.

But I’m learning, these days, that meaning is found more in the ordinary things. In the ten-minute conversation I have with my husband over morning coffee, when we laugh at something that bothered us the evening before. In the work my son and I are doing on his fourth-grade school project, molding little clay dwellings to the ripple of his happy sweet voice explaining to me how the Jumano Indians boiled water by dropping in piping hot stones first heated in adobe ovens. In the conversation I have with a quiet student right after class; something has “clicked” for her that may or may not reshape her thinking. Who knows…

It is through love for this world and its gifts that meaning can be found. Love for this world broken and extraordinary, ordinary and beautiful.

Questions for Discussion: Where do you see God in your everyday life?  What mundane moments speak to you of God’s presence and grace?

For another perspective on discovering God in the ordinary, watch this video featuring Chris Heuertz.  Chris is an advocate on behalf of women and children victimized by human trafficking.  This work has taken Chris to more than 70 countries working among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor.

-Amy Miracle, Pastor

Week 1: Where is God in temptation?

Welcome to the Lenten blog!  Our hope is that in the next six weeks this will be a place where we can talk about things that really matter in our lives.  Every week we will look at where God is in different aspects of our lives. This week we focus on “Where is God in temptation?”

In your life, how do you experience temptation?  How do you deal with that enticing urge or impulse toward something unwise or wrong?  What persistently tempts you?

In Lent Jesus is “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted…” (Matthew 4:1).  Jesus faced persistent temptations. Power.  Fulfillment.  The freedom to go it alone.

Franciscan friar Richard Rohr reframes the word temptation into the word ‘distraction’ – as in whatever tempts our eye or hand or heart away from God.  We found that a very helpful reframing.  We started to make a list of everything that tempts us away from God.  We soon developed quite a list:

  • The beeping noise my phone makes when I have a new text message
  • Busy-ness
  • A sense of my own self-importance
  • The idea that I will work on my spiritual life when I have more time and energy to spend on it
  • The relentless onslaught of images and sound
  • Going it alone – to think that we don’t need others to get through life
  • Blaming ourselves
  • Chasing after success that has nothing to do with what we actually value
  • Denial of realities

Where is God in all of these temptations and distractions?   Loving us?  The one to whom we pray?  The one who draws us back and centers us?

Every Sunday, when we say the Lord’s prayer we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.. lead us not into distraction.”  The temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness distracted Jesus, and we face those same temptations and more today. Our hope and prayer is that God lead us not into temptation/distraction!

Questions for discussion:
How do you experience temptation/distraction in your life?
What helps you resist or move past temptations and distractions?  Is it serving others?
Is it spending time with family and friends? Is it spending time in prayer and study?
Is it spending more time in nature?

Let us pray as Jesus taught us to pray: