Tag Archives: spiritual direction

Advent with ++KJS Day 13 ” Share the Wealth’

Being generous also means sharing our gifts & abilities . Not all of us are blessed by God with the same gifts & talents, but all are blessed.

In the days of Jesus, a ” talent” was a coin that represented a lot of Roman currency.

Each of the gifts that God betsowed upon you & me is very valuable. Bu, ++Katharine asks us what weplan to do with out talents. Will we be like the slave who, for fear of losing our talent” bury it” by not allowing its use to glorify God?

Do we use our talents to glorify God or to glorify the Self?

Its important to keep our mninds & hearts on Our Lord while we do God’s work.

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.

Homework from Bob+

I am blessed with the most amazing spiritual director ever! Today he assigned me ” homework” . Yep, homework.

Bob+ asked me to pray Psalm 121 daily & ask God to help me put my TOTAL trust in God. he said that some of the spiritual /emotional issues I’ve been experiencing is really bringing to the surface my unwillingness or inability to completely surrender my future to God. I admit it: I am a bit obsessive-compulsive & tend to be rigid. {part of my autism} Bob said that when I pray the Psalm he assigned me, to ask God to help me trust in the One Who is eternal.

“My help comes from the LORD
the maker of heaven & earth” Ps 121:2

” The LORD himself watches over you;
the LORD is you shade at your right hand” Ps 121:5

Yep, that is a pretty direct statement. The Psalmist doesn’t waste words & sticks to the thesis of the poem.
God keeps God’s promise to remain steadfast.

This Lent, I am making it a discipline to remember that it is God, not Sarah Beth, who is in control & that God will take care of all my needs.

Father Bob says :O)

No kidding: I have the best doggone spiritual director ever! :O)

Fr Bob is a retired priest in my Diocese. We met approximately one year ago at the suggestion of a mutual clergy friend of ours. At this time last year there was a lot of uncertainty in my life & it was thought to be the right time for me to begin a spiritual direction journey with a priest who is not at my parish. In retrospect I can honestly say that God’s bringing Fr Bob into my life at that time is one of the best blessings I’m celebrating this Advent.

Fr Bob & I talk about once per month via phone{ due in part to the issues I have with transportation to & from Pensacola} But our phone visits yield much good ” fruit” & last week’s discussion was no exception.

We talked about how easy it is for those of us in the ministry of the lay and ordained…its all ministry} to put ourselves at the center of our ministry. When we do, according to my wise spiritual director, & someone criticizes us, we take such criticism personally. Fr Bob advised me to remember to always put Our Lord Jesus Christ at the center of everything I do…and when criticism of my ministry comes{ as we all know it will, people being people n’at} to listen to the person criticizing me with an open mind & heart. He says that when we put ourselves at the center we tend to become defensive & metaphorically close our ears to what the Holy Spirit might be potentially saying. Fr Bob reminded me that God uses all persons as potential agents for God’s Will & that by our { very human} way of playing defense, we might block out what we need to hear.

Ouch. But ya know, the more I prayed about Fr Bob’s advice the more I see the wisdom in his words . Our Lord Jesus Christ is the whole reason why we are a Church. This is something that should be remembered ALWAYS, but during the season of Advent in particular. We are CHRISTians & Christ needs to stay at the center of our individual & corporate lives.

O LORD, Bless Father Bob & his ministry of spiritual direction. Thank you for his dedication to helping further the spiritual growth of both lay & ordained leaders in our Diocese Help all of us to keep Your Son at the center of every aspect of our lives. In the name of the father, Son & Holy Spirit, Amen.

ee cummings & spiritual direction

‎”It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~e.e. cummings

Amen.

I love e.e. cummings’ poetry. This quote , in particular, really * speaks* to my soul. As I’ve said before, I’ve spent much of my life trying to be that ” square peg in a round hole” & finally I am comfortable with who God made me to become.

I’m much more comfortable stating what I believe & why I believe it now . I attribute part of this growth to the fact that many of my friends come from different places in life than me. Diversity is good & the more diversity one experiences , the richer life becomes.

One of my reasons for working with a { GREAT!!!} spiritual director is to slowly discern God’s work in my life right now. I don’t mean this in a sugary way, but through the spiritual direction with “Fr Bob” I’m more certain of the direction I’m being led while also becoming much more comfortable with my past.

Spiritual direction is not for sissies: it takes a lot of courage. Nor is it for only those whom may be discerning a vocation to Holy Orders. My spiritual director was recommended to me during a rather transitory period in my walk with Christ & at first my formerly Protestant self was weary of this idea of having heart-to-heart discussions with a priest who isn’t my parish priest. But God has shown me otherwise & I feel that I am changing & growing for the better under the care of a spiritual director.

Any spiritual director worth his or her weight will challenge one & I’ve been blessed with one of the best in my Diocese. Fr Bob & I, for reasons of distance & the fact that I don’t drive: have our spiritual direction discussions via telephone.

Maybe the cummings quote shold read ‘ it takes courage to grow up & become who God intends for you to become’. ?

Carrying Crosses

The Christian life is not easy.

I REALLY do not trust those churches who promise ” warm fuzzies” & a quick fix. Life isn’t all” warm fuzzies” in general & surely a life centered on Christ is not meant to be easy, either.

To use an image from the Holy Friday Stations of the Cross, we are called to ” take up our Crosses” & follow Our Lord. One of the reasons why I love the season of Lent & the liturgy of Holy Week is that by participating in it, we catholic Christians are metaphysically walking with Christ towards His death. Yes we do know that at the end of every Lenten season & Holy Week, there is the glorious Easter. Yet we really can’t fully appreciate the power of Christ’s victory over death & sin unless we , too, remind ourselves to take up our Crosses. We will stumble with our Crosses & this is ok as long as we ” keep on keeping on”.

The true miracle of Easter comes after the pain & sorrow of Holy Friday.

Most of us don’t have to carry around a literal heavy wooden cross, but the metaphorical crosses that we are asked to carry can be just as heavy. I’m in the middle of a Holy Friday point in my spiritual life & I’ve been praying the Sorrowful Mysteries with my Rosary lately. I have told God that I will bear this cross & use whatever wisdom I glean from the sorrow it causes me to further God’s Kingdom in Christ’s name.

In order to be better servants, we have to be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of our faith communities, our families, & even ourselves. The Christian life isn’t about US, it’s about GOD. Too often I am guilty of letting myself get in the way of God’s plan for me & the people whose lives I share but I’ve realized that the selfish id{ which I believe is the most primitive part of the human psyche…correct me of I am wrong} is responsible for a lot of trouble.

But it ” ain’t” easy, y’all.

wishing for what you can’t have

Wishing for, through what is no fault of one’s own, one cannot have totally sucks!  I am not to blame. But I can control my reaction & I confess that I am NOT doing well with envy-control as of late.

I’m trying hard to be philosophical about this situation but am failing miserably. Envy isn’t a good emotion  & it wastes a lot of energy. But I cannot help how that I feel envy. I’m so blessed in many aspects of my life, but  something that I’ve wanted since childhood is now quietly let pertinently closed to me.  Some of my women friends will understand this dilemma but the guys would * never* understand  if they lived forever.  Last summer I received some  excellent advice from an Episcopal priest whom I love & respect but when I am faced with  bouts of envy over what I cannot attain I completely forget the good spiritual direction   given to me last year .

Guys, you just * don’t * understand.

Healing

 I’m Episcopalian & very proud of my high-Church Anglo-Catholic leanings. But today I did something that I was ready to do & should have done months ago. But , as we learned in Cursillio,  the walk of faith occurs in God’s Time, not ours. And today was God’s time for me to openly embrace the soul-healing that needed to truly begin.

I’d grossly mistook most of my sisters & brothers when I thought that I would not be welcome. I was, for the most part, welcomed with ope arms, even with my EPISCOPALIAN pendent  worn proudly around my neck. :O) And I carried my BCP with me , too, if nothing else but to give me solace.

It was * really* weird  not seeing any kneelers, but at the time of the Holy Communion I knelt on the floor of the nave Protestants call it a sanctuary, but it is a nave!!} Kneeling on a concrete floor is very uncomfortable & I know some people behind me gave me funny looks but I don’t care. I’m a high-Church Anglo-Catholic & we kneel at the time of Holy Communion.

The priest at my parish during this morning’s homily gave me strength: God sure used her words to give me a message. The message I got from the homily preached at my Episcopal parish this morning was ” Sarah Beth, be who GOD wants you to be, not who other humans expect you to be”. And I carried those words with me today as I went to celebrate my friends’ child’s baptism in their church. God said to me” Sarah Beth, yo are an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian & that is who your Creator  Created you to be. So, at the other church I worshipped accordingly{ with a few necessary accommodations}

God was waiting for me to meet God there all along. Wow. My Spiritual Director told me that all I needed to do was to ask God to meet God’s self there & I will find the peace I so sought but has somehow eluded me until today, this Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism.

I had to be open to the total healing process by the Great Physician, be willing to be emotionally naked{ Read: vulnerable} & as trusting as a child  who is getting baptized. I had to put all my worries & misgivings at God’s Altar, both at home & during the  8 o’clock Mass at my parish this morning.

Now that I am truly open to God’s Healing, I am able to, as one of my parishioners so adequately & eloquantly described my  situation ” able to DUMP IT” { His words, not mine} This afternoon I have a much lighter heart & feel a bit closer to what ++Katharine Jefferts-Schori calls  the grand vision of shalom.

I am more open to whatever it is that God has in store for me as a member of the Anglican branch of the one true catholic Church.  As one priest whom I love & respect once said in a homily. ” God wants & deserves the best of US”  In order for me to be the best servant-leader I can be in my Church, I need to  heal. While we are all somwhat broken,  circumstances  rendered me  almost totally shattered. But  thanks be to God  & via the love of my parish family & the Episcopal Diiocese of the Central Gulf Coast, I am  ready for whatever God has in store for me  around the next bend in this road known as the Christian life.

Amen.

Feast of Our Lord’s Bapatism 2010.

Who , ME? God, You have * got* to be kidding!

 More than one person has told me  I have a vocation as a Deacon. I am just a layperson, one whose  ministry I am still trying to figure out. But I’ve had more than one person  think I’m a deacon or PRIEST…and these are folks who really do not know  me too well. Wow…is this another personal epiphany. I am quite happy right now being a lay baptized leader in my church. But , as I’ve written in  response to today’s Gospel lasson, one must be open to whatever God asks of us.Bishop Katharine wasn’t sure when she was asked to add her name for consideration for election as Bishop of Nevada. She wasn’t even sure about the idea of going to seminary to  start the process of ordination to the priesthood. But when circumstances  caused her to  leave her beloved career as an oceanographer behind, she started listening  to the good folks in her congregation.  Then when s she was asked if she would put her name in the  pool for election to be the next Bishop of Nevada. Even though she though the idea was ” downright ridiculous”  God wouldn’t let her off the hook that easily{ God never does!!}  Well she submitted her name to the list of candidates  & the rest is history.

In her book_ A Wing & A Prayer_ Bishop Katharine writes { pg 134} ” The spiritual journey is about learning to listen. Even when we’d rather not. Even when we’re terrified, or convinced we know we’re going to do something else.” Hmm, I need to ponder this thought & take this quote with me to my next  appointment for Spiritual Direction.

Am I being called in this special way? I mean, we are all called as baptized Christians , to minister in Christ’s name. But …if this IS a call from God to some sort of ordination, how will I know?

What a wild journet this  Christian  road takes us on! Stay tuned.

 One of my Facebook friends in my Diocese  told a mutual friend that he knows me as a priest in his Diocese! Um no…I am not a priest & I did quickly correct him . Many have asked me if I’d consider the Vocational Deaconate, but never  before have I been mistaken as a priest. Wow…although it is clearly not true { and I am the most un-Priestly person you could ever meet}But maybe God is trying to tell me  that I SHOULD actively discuss this with my Spiritual Director?