Tag Archives: discernment

2012 According to Sarah Beth

In spite of what I’ve seen on TV, I am sure the world is NOT ending tomorrow.

In the spirit of the upcoming New Year, let me offer my reflections on ” 2012 According to Sarah Beth” .

This has been a pretty good year. Best Dude & I are healthy & very happy. Our lives are not fancy, but we are content.

In February, I traveled down to the Tampa/ St Petersburg area to meet his family{ Siblings, daughter & grandchildren} His family is wonderful & on our way home we took the ” scenic route”. He took me to Cedar Key, a tiny little island off the coast of Levy County, Florida.

This year we adopted a dog. The first part of our dog-seeking journey occurred in April when we tried to adopt a two-year old female Springer Spaniel. The poor little girl had been rescued from a puppy mill & was NOT socialized. when she bit Best Dude we had to surrender her back to Springer rescue.

In October one of my friends in the neighboring county posted photos of a very uniquely colored male Springer . Best Dude & I met the dog & immediately ” took to” him{ he ” took to ” us as well. We named our dog Seamus { after the classmate of Harry’s in _Harry Potter_}

So, in 2012 we added a canine to our family.

My fitness quest is coming along well. My fitness partner & I meet on Monday,Wednesday & Friday to either swim in the pool { said pool is heated & covered in the cooler months} or strength-training in the gym. Although I’ve decided that I am not quite muscle-bound enough to enter the 2013 Panhandle Showdown, I am continuing to work on building lean muscle.

This past summer I spent two weeks up North. Most of the time there was spent with my godparents at their lake. It was wonderful….I hiked, kayaked & even attempted to water-ski. { That attempt could have gone better} I also went to a County Fair wit my godsister & her husband….something I had not done since childhood. I also attnded worship at th smll Presbyterian Church where I had been baptzed { at thetender age of 20}.

It has been a great year.

Day 8: Praying and waiting

As I sit here on a rainy Tuesday afternoon I am very much aware that there is a vote happening at General Convention 77 that , to some people, is of utmost importance. { you all know which vote , I do not need to elaborate }

At the figurative and literal end of the day, the Church will go on the way she has been for 2000 years. It is by the grace of God & through the work of the Holy Spirit that Christianity survives. I must remind myself that ALL Christians, regardless their stances on social issues, are truly about following Jesus Our Lord and Savior.

What is imperative to me is if a person truly believes what we say in our Creeds{ Nicaean an Apostles’ Creeds}
In my mind, the heart of Christianity cannot be defined by one social worldview and/or political party { sorry, Republican sisters & brothers— the GOP did not exist in 1st century Judea. Logic says that Jesus could not have been a Republican}

We are all trying hard to follow Jesus, but oftentimes our egos & sense of self-righteousness inhibits our progress on our walk with God.

Remember, God works through ALL of us. God does not care of we are liberal or conservative, God only asks that we love God and{here is the tricky part…drumroll please} Love our neighbors as ourselves. Nowhere does God say that we must agree with our brothers & sisters in Christ. We are to LOVE them as God loves us.

Those who have been charged with serving as deputies to General Convention 77 are all faithful Christians. We’ve elected them o do this task at this time & in that place{ Indianapolis}Pray fr them this night.

God Bless y’all.

Amen.

Living In Tension:Part 1

I see on Facebook that some of the deputies { both lay & clerical} are already traveling to Indianapolis for General Convention.

Part of me wishes I could represent my Diocese this year as a lay deputy but most of me is very glad tat I will not be held responsible here for anything that occurs at this General Convention. In 2011 I served as a lay delegate to th Convention here when we voted for the deputation that will represent the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast this summer. Althugh I am not 100 percent satisfied with *all* of the deputes voted in 2011, I trust te enough to know that they will discern how to vote on the upcoming resolutions.

Inasmuch as living in this sort of sociopolitical tension that surrounds the upcoming General Convention, let me go on record as saying I am proud to be an Episcopalian. I love this Church & will continue to be ” Uapologeticlly Episcopalian” regardless of what transpires during General Convention 2012.

It is quite possible that I will not agee with how the bishops & deputies vote , but I am not going anywhere. The Episcopal Church IS my spiritual home & I CAN ” live in tension” that seems to be the requirement of we postmodern Christ-followers. It is true that he Church is not the Church of our ancestors & I consider myself progressive. But if it is God’s will that we slow down to rethnk some initiatives put forth this year so be it.

It bothers me how some Christians { of all denominations} figuratively run awy from a church just because they don’t agree with some of the decisions made by denominational governing bodies. Christ calls us to work TOGETHER to further His kingdom on Earth….and he didn’t say that we had to agree 100 percent of the time on all Church matters. As a matr of fact,I am pretty sure that the fist apostles bickered amongst themeselves.

Above all, I am praying for UNITY. While living in tension is hard, schism & its after-effects has historically proven as counterproductive.

Amen.

My friend’s Ordination to The Sacred Order of the Priesthood

On Saturday I attended the Ordination to The Sacred Order of the Priesthood of a friend of mine. She served as ” lay rector” of my Cursillio weekend back in April , 2009 & quickly became one of the mot Spirit-filled women I know. Although contact between S & I has been somewhat sporadic while she attended General Seminary in New York City, I’ve always prayed for her { as I do for ALL those seeking ordination} & we exchanged some e-mails during her time at the seminary.

My Cursillio weekend played a huge part in my identity as an Anglican Christian, so it was especially poignant for me to attend my former lay rector’s ordination. several friends from ” my” Cursillio weekend were also there *and* the preacher was none other than the priest who was my rector when I first came to Small Parish. :O) Although she & her husband { who is also an Episcopal priest} have moved to a different Diocese, I am still in contact with them & it was totally a bonus to see them at the ordination.

Although I’ve attended an ordination to the Vocational Diaconate before { Convention, 2011} this was my first experience at any sort of ordination into the priesthood.

I was baptized into the Presbyterian church & during all my years in that denomination I never had an opportunity to attend one of their ordinations. Of course, Calvinist-based denominations hold an entirely different liturgical & theological approach to Holy Orders, but it still would have been inspiring to attend anyhow if I’d had a chance to do so.

The Mass was VERY high-Church {And I LOVED it! In my opinion, the more ” smells, bells & fire” used in a Mass, the more awe-inspiring.} Our Bishop presided & when my friend knelt at the altar in front of the Bishop & he said the Words of Consecration, I actually shed a tear{ and trust me, I am not prone to tears during Mass at all.}

The church is a set of historic lakefront buildings nestled in the centre of a small Southern town in Northwest Florida. According to literature provided by the church, this building was consecrated as a church in 1896 & has undergone several renovations through the years. It is a small-in-numbers parish, with only 67 souls listed on their register. But I know that, God-willing, my friend will be a good & faithful shepherd to these people t this place & at this point in time.

Alleluia. Amen.

Advent with++KJS Day 9 ” Shalom Around The World”

Bishop Katharine started out her adult life as an oceanographer. According to her, this was a vocation that she dearly loved. But when the government’s funding for the research program on which she worked ran out, she found herself without an income & ” at loose ends”. In her book she said that the subject of ordination did arise even then, but ” I wasn’t ready to hear it.” God’s Plan for her included another leg of her walks with Our Lord.

Sometimes our life’s work, what will fulfill you & me the most changes. But, according to Bishop Katharine, the very act of our baptism represents willingness to stand” naked” & vulnerable before God & to let God tell us what metaphorical garment to put on next. Sometimes God acts quickly, but most of the time, we must wait & see or the opportunity that God will put in our lives to show us what is next.

I admit it: I am NOT a patient person!

In the early Church, baptism was an act that was much closer to the baptism that Jesus experienced in the Jordan River than the usual Anglican method of sprinkling water on the baptismal candidate’s forehead. But the theology is the same, when a person is baptized , she or he ” dies” to the old life & is “reborn {so to speak} as Christ’s own.

I’m waiting to see where my journey with God will lead me next. In the world where I find myself here in Northwest Florida, there is much work to be done to spread Shalom.

Amen.

Advent with ++KJS Day 7 ” City of God”

++ Katharine & Me , May 2009.

This week is Advent 3, 2011 in the Church Year.

During yesterday morning’s homily my priest talked about how the third Sunday in Advent has been known as ” Rose Sunday. Contrary to popular belief, this nickname has nothing to do with the Blessed Virgin Mary–rather it marks the ” halfway” part of Advent. This was pertinent in the Early Church because Advent had been more of a penitential season{ more like Lent than Christmastide or Pentecost}.

On the Third Sunday of Advent, we who use the Rite One form of the do not recite The Prayer of Humble Access & we do not say a corporate Confession. The pink { or rose-colored, if you must} candle on the Advent Wrath was lit yesterday during Mass. Some clergy own colors of a pinkish hue which are worn on this particular Sunday in Advent.

I read yesterday’s lesson from my Advent study with Bishop Katharine’s first book this morning. Appropriately for this season of hope, she talks about the origin of the word ” Shalom”.

Generally we think of SHALOM as meaning merely ” peace be with you”. Bishop Katharine reminds us that the meaning of the root word describes a peace that is describes in some parts of Scripture as “a city of God”. Shalom isn’t a place which can ben found using a Global Positioning System.

This City Of God that our Presiding Bishop discusses is a place where all who hunger are fed, all have adequate clothing & shelter & no one is without needed medical care. This City is a place where there is no racism, sexism, heterosexism, ect. It is a place where humans see interact with each other based on the quality of character & NOT on any extrinsic differences.

As baptized Christians, part of our responsibility is working with each other to further this image of Shalom. If we are truly acting out our baptismal covenant, we should focus more on feeding the poor, ect. No matter what our economic situation, there is always something we can do for or give to someone else in need. We can educate ourselves about other races or religions as part of working towards total Shalom.

No one is useless .. { My Pap always said that ‘ God don’t make no junk.’}but many Christians do not see themselves as possessing any gifts that the Church could { and would use to work to further Shalom. I spent many years thinking that my physical differences excluded me from serving God in the best way I can. It is only through prayer, work, reading that spiritual maturity is worked towards. When we dedicate ourselves to serving God through serving others, we are both furthering Shalom & becoming more mature in our personal yet metaphorical walks with Our Lord.

Shalom, y’all. Amen.

Advent with ++KJS Day 4 ” Total Ministry”

Once again, the Holy Spirit tells me what I NEED to know, not what I want to hear!

Today’s meditation by our Presiding Bishop deals with the ” Total Ministry” of the baptized. By virtue of our baptism, all Christians are ministers. Look in our Prayer Book in the Catechism, and note that the ministry of laypeople is listed FIRST…before that of deacons, priests & bishops. That should show us where our “place” is in the Body of Christ both at the parish level and in our Dioceses. The Church IS the folks in the pews & those same folks who try hard to be Christ’s Body in this world.

Every singe baptized Christian has a ministry…an ACTIVE ministry. I’ve known this since attending Sunday School as a teen in the Presbyterian church in Ohio. But what I’ve discovered during my adult walk with God is that emptying oneself to the will of God will involve changes in one’s ministry…often several changes.

I. Hate. Change. Any sort of change scares me. But when it comes to total ministry, I’ve realized during these past few days that “letting go of the reins” of one ministry makes way for me to listen to what God wants me to do next.

Bishop Katharine says:

“The last time I checked, the Church already had a head, & its not you or me or the rector down the street. Nor do we need passive consumers of ministry who refuse to be adults in this Body. Being a child of God does not mean being childish. We need people who know how to give themselves & their ministries away. ”

Ouch. That last sentence really convicted me. But, after much prayer I am ready for whatever ministry God calls me to, next. Priests can’t & don’t stay at the same parish for their entire active ministry & laypeople shouldn’t stay in the same ministry throughout their lives ,either.

As Bishop Katharine stated, the Head of the Church is Christ, our Lord & Savior. Like the early apostles, sometimes following Him means leaving behind other “jobs” in our Christian communities & picking up what else needs to be done to spread the Gospel.

Total ministry means that we, the People of the Book, are in this life & Christian community together.

Glory be to the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

SEM

Moses stuttered. I can’t drive a car.

It’s that time of year again….soon I must present my spiritual autobiography to my EfM seminar group. Thankfully I still have two more weeks to polish this years’ version of my spiritual autobiography, but its gonna be very different from the past two years’ autobiographies.

I’ve grown a lot since last summer & a lot of growth occurred because Best Dude is also the senior warden at our small parish. I am for sure not the most patient person ever born, so this year has been a year of me attaining some decorum. :O)

That being said, I am still rather unwilling to follow my vocation. I’m probably making up excuses, but I am just not quite sure why God wants me to do what God seems to be asking me to do. My main concerns are my physical limitations. While there is NOTHING wrong ith my intellect, I am mildly autistic & also have a spine supported permanently by two titanium rodes *and* a neurological problem that alters my eyesight so much that I possess almost no depth perception. I’ve overcome many of these challenges , but right now God hasn’t opened a metaphorical ” door” for me to fully overcome my physical conditions that keep me from safely operating an automobile. Part of my spiritual growth that I’ve prayerfully worked on over these past five years is coming to peaceful terms with the fact that I will never operate any sort of motorized vehicle.

It has been in the past two years that God has opened up opportunities for me to serve the Church in a wider way in spite of my challenges. After all, Moses stuttered & he led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt.

It takes a ” Village”

” It takes a village to raise a child.”~ Hillary Clinton.

On Sunday evening my little parish hosted our first Episcopal Youth Connection{ EYC} meeting in the parish hall. The program was ” Popcorn Theology” , so we watched a Harry Potter movie & had a discussion with our young people but the theological symbolism & implications found in the Harry Potter books & movies.

Anyhow, It was GREAT! I am especially grateful for the adult volunteers that made this first EYC evening a success. While I am very content with my ministry as Director of Christian Education at my small parish, it takes more than just one person to create & implement a Christian Education ministry. the help I had Sunday evening from the other adult volunteers was phenomenal! Yinz rock!

Ministry is a team effort, & I am blessed to have such a great team working with me to minister to & with the next generation of Christ-followers.

I am anticipating with joy the next EYC event scheduled in October. :O)

Psalm 143:10

This morning as I was rustling around some stuff in my bedroom searching for things that I need to bring to the church for Sunday School 2011, I came across a poster with the Scripture quote from Psalm 143. It goes something like this:

“You are my God. Show me what you want me to do.” Psalm 143:10.

All summer I’ve been prayerfully discerning what God wants from me this small verse from the Psalms REALLY impacted me this morning. I literally had to stop & text my Facebook status update to reflect this quote from Psalm 143. ( usually I frown upon proof-texed quotations from Holy Scripture as FB statuses]

Sometimes God speaks by leading us into fulfilling a need in a particular faith community. This has been the case with me & my Christian Education ministry: I felt strongly called to take the Christian Education position at my parish in part because it was needed. During the course of this past school year I’ve discovered that I totally enjoy serving God in this capacity.

The same is true with my new ministry as acolyte during the early Sunday Mass at church. Willing & able acolytes were needed, especially for the early Mass & I , on a leap of faith, took the training. As I assisted our priest that first Sunday, I realized that I felt an overwhelming sense of peace & joy while assisting at the altar.{ and yes, even though I’m not by far a ” seasoned” acolyte yet, I am more comfortable already while serving in this role}

This means that I cannot serve in a longterm ministry with which I’ve been involved with since I was 6 years old: th choir. There simply isn’t enough “Sarah Beth” to go around on a Sunday morning. Plus, I’ve discovered the unexpected joy of serving as an acolyte …and also feel I need to attend mainly the early Mass with Best Dude. While I will miss singing in the parish choir, I am confident that I am doing what God wants me to do, at least for now.