Corona Sabbath 32 COMPASSION Reflection Text

Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

This post focuses on compassion and our motivations for considering the interests of others. There is a scripture reading, a reflection, and music from Hilton Jones.

We listen to 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8. The writer lays out his understanding of his relationship with the faith community at Thessalonica. And sees no self interest involved.

And you yourselves know, sisters and brothers, that our coming among you was not without effect. We had, as you know, been given rough treatment at Philippi, and it was our God who gave us the courage to proclaim the Good News to you in the face of stiff opposition. We don’t preach because of impure motives or deceit or any sort of trickery; rather, it was God who decided that we are fit to be entrusted with the Good News, and when we are speaking, we’re trying to please not mortals, but God, who can read our inmost thoughts.

You know very well – and can swear it before God – that never at any time has our speech been simple flattery or a cover for trying to get money; nor have we ever looked for any special honor from you or from anyone else – even though we could have imposed ourselves on you as apostles of Christ. On the contrary, while we were with you we were as gentle as any nursing mother caring for her little ones. So well disposed were we toward you, in fact, that we were willing to share with you not only the Good News, but our very lives as well – you had become that dear to us.

Reflection from Kim

I nursed all three of our children. The first two for a year each and the third child for the then recommended 2 years. Day, night, 24/7, I was their source of food.

I remember when we had our first child we lived in Manhattan. When he wanted to eat in the middle of the night, I would feed him in our one darkened bedroom where baby and parents all slept. I would look out the window of our apartment to the other apartment buildings near by and see lights on in some of the windows, and I would think, Well, I’m not the only one who is awake. I felt the solidarity and camaraderie of those strangers with their lights on in the middle of the night. They helped to get me through those lonely, dark feedings. And they will never know that!

Nursing is a miraculous system designed to meet the needs of the child. It is the perfect system to insure the care and growth of the infant. It is literally life giving. This is my body given for you. . . And the writer of Thessalonians mentions nursing.

In the beautiful passage we heard, there is that wonderful verse:

“while we were with you we were as gentle as any nursing mother caring for her little ones. So well disposed were we toward you, in fact, that we were willing to share with you not only the Good News, but our very lives as well – you had become that dear to us.”

While we were with you we were as gentle as any nursing mother caring for her little ones. The apostle and his cohorts offered the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of Thessalonica as a mother offers milk to a child – out of concern for their wellbeing, out of a desire to see them grow and thrive.

But the original readers don’t seem to understand this. They seem to think that the writer and his associates had other motives. Motives of self interest. Maybe of material gain. The writer has to mention, we did not share the Gospel with you out of impure motives, deceit, trickery, flattery, or as a cover for trying to get money or special honors. They are spreading the gospel, giving this gift to the Thessalonians, for the wellbeing of the Thessalonians. No self interest or personal gain involved. This is not a transactional relationship – we gave the gospel to you so that you would give us something to us in return. No. They have brought the gospel, like a nursing mother, for the well being of others.

Sadly, faith is often seen as offered in a self serving way. A gift with a catch. Europeans took the gospel around the world, but they insisted on imposing western culture along with the gospel thus denigrating other peoples and cultures and exploiting their resources – human and natural. I think Desmond Tutu says something about after the European missionaries came to Africa, the Africans had the Bible and the Europeans had the land. That kind of imperialism under the guise of sharing the gospel was thought of in western culture as benevolent. We now know better.

And we still regularly see examples of religious leaders who extort their congregations – taking money and living lavish life styles. Religion can be a lucrative gig. Getting people to invest in their afterlife abode with a monetary deposit in the coffers of the church in this world. Buying that bit of heaven. It’s a message ripe for manipulation and corruption.

It’s no wonder people are suspect – the Thessalonians as well as many people today.

And it is no wonder that we may be reticent to share with others the life giving power and strength that we find in our faith. It is no wonder we are hesitant to tell of the life sustaining power of the way of Jesus. It is not surprising that we feel awkward advocating for love and forgiveness. Religion is so ripe for deception and extortion.

Yet, today, so many people today are spiritually undernourished. They are starving. They are hungry. They want to grow and thrive, but don’t know how. Don’t know where to find true, nourishing sustenance. This is evident in rising rates of addiction, depression, and anxiety. This is evident in blatant expressions of racism and bigotry. We see it in the rise of fundamentalism in many religions and political movements. We see it in the greed and growing economic disparities in our country. We see the ravages of this hunger all around us. In people we know. In public figures. This gaping hunger for the way of love, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, and service. The way of Jesus. The desire for the mother’s milk of the gospel. But people don’t know what it is or where to find it.

The explanation in Thessalonians gives us a way to approach this. Like a nursing mother. Not heavy handed imposition. Not a guilt trip. Not some kind of extortion or manipulation. No patronizing disrespect. No paternalistic demeaning. Just simple succor. Gently sharing our lives. Sharing how we find grounding, solace, and sustenance in the way of Jesus. An on ramp to a way of love and joy, getting off the path of greed, material consumption, getting even, winning and losing.

We have found our hunger and thirst for well being, for wholeness, satisfied by the gospel. We have been nurtured and sustained by our faith. We know our need and what has been given to us in the good news of Jesus Christ – to help us learn and grow and become more aware. To make us stronger, to help us develop into more mature human beings whose purpose is to love fully and freely.

We are needed to simply share what we have been given, what sustains us. And we can do this, like a nursing mother, because we have been nursed – we have been given what we need by our faith tradition, through family, through the church, through the scriptures, to grow and thrive. We are needed to gently offer ourselves, our stories, our lives to a malnourished, hungry world. Amen.

(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)

Corona Sabbath 32 COMPASSION

These weeks when we cannot gather in person for Sunday worship, Lakewood United Church of Christ is providing brief weekly sabbath programs for you to listen to on your own or with others in your social isolation group. They will be posted on Friday so that you can schedule your sabbath time to suit your schedule and your spiritual inclinations. We hope these programs are of spiritual support to you in these difficult times.

The post this week focuses on compassion and service. What are our motivations? This post includes a scripture reading and a reflection from Rev. Kim Wells plus a musical offering from Hilton Jones. We hope this post helps to feed your spirit in these difficult times.

You are invited to find a quiet space, inside or outside. Light a candle. Take a look around you. Breathe. Life-giving breath. Be present.

You may begin with this reading:

O Lord, whatever share of this world
You could give to me,
Give it to your enemies:
Whatever share of the next world
You want to give to me –
Give it to your friends.
You are enough for me.

O God, my whole concern and desire in this world,
Is that I should always remember you
Above all the things of this world,
And that in the next
I should meet with you alone.
That is why I always pray:”Your will be done.”

O my Lord,
if I worship you
from fear of hell, burn me in hell.
If I worship you
from hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates.

But if I worship you
for yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.

–Rābiʿah al-Baṣrī, 713/17-801, Sufi saint

When you are ready, start the video/audio below.

(For written text of the above video click HERE.)

As you listen to the music video which follows, you are invited to notice the thoughts and feelings that arise for you.

After viewing the music video, you are invited to offer the following closing –

Loving as He loves,
Helping as He helps,
Giving as He gives,
Serving as He serves,
Rescuing as He rescues,
Being with Him twenty-four hours,
Touching Him in his distressing disguise.

–Mother Teresa of Calcutta 1910-1997

Breathe. Breathe again. Be filled. With compassion. Extinguish your candle and engage whatever may come with a sense of peace and a desire to serve.


LAKEWOOD UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal, is to:

  • Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives and in our world;
  • Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people;
  • Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.

USEFUL LAKEWOOD LINKS DURING THE CORONA CRISIS:


 

Weekly Update 10/21

In Person Services and Gatherings Ahead! 

In the next two months, the church is going to experiment with a ‘soft’ re-opening.   There will be in person gatherings and services outside, with masks, and physical distancing.  There will be no singing.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own chairs.  Some will also be available at the church.  

Here’s what’s coming:

All Saints Prayer Vigil featuring Covid Remembrance           Sunday Nov. 1 at 10:30 a.m. at the Memorial Garden

Election Prayer Vigil        Monday Nov. 2 at 6:00 p.m.

Election Labyrinth Walk        Tuesday Nov. 3 at 7:00 p.m. as the polls close

Thanksgiving Service                      Sunday Nov. 22 at 10:30 a.m.

Advent Services               Sundays Dec. 6, 13, and 20 at 10:30 a.m.

Winter Solstice Celebration         Monday Dec. 21 at 7:00 p.m. 

Christmas Eve Service          Thursday Dec. 24 at 7:00 p.m. Music begins at 6:30 p.m.

New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day  A vigil for letting go and moving on – time to be determined

In addition, the weekly guided labyrinth walks will continue on Wednesday mornings at 9:00 a.m. and weekly anti racism demonstrations will continue on Sunday evenings at 6:00 p.m.  All are welcome.  

For those who want to remain engaged with the church ‘remotely’, the church will continue to post a weekly Corona Sabbath with a scripture reading, reflection from Rev. Wells, and music from Hilton Jones.  Paper copies of the Corona Sabbath and the Update will continue to be sent to those who do not use the internet.  

After this period of experimentation, there will be discussion about how to proceed into the New Year.


Church Office to Re-Open!

Beginning in November, the Church Office will be open again on a regular basis.  Office administrator, Gabi Paxton, will be at church Tuesday – Friday mornings from 9:30-noon.  Please feel free to stop by with donations for Maximo or Operation Attack or to take care of other things at church.


In Memoriam

The church expresses gratitude for the precious life of Elinor Ross who entered life eternal on Thursday October 15.  Elinor slept away peacefully at her daughter, Cheryl’s, home.  Prayers and condolences for Elinor’s family and many friends!  


 Offering Up the Election

There is much concern about the upcoming election.  Pastor Kim Wells spoke to someone from the church family recently who indicated that everyone is consumed by the election.  They are not thinking about what is going on at church.  

Seems like what is needed is space to give the election up to God in prayer.  Monday, Nov. 2 at 6:00 p.m. there will be a special outdoor prayer gathering for the election.  This will be a time to release our anxiety and fears and offer them to God.  It will be a time to remember that our ultimate trust is not in human rulers or institutions but in God.  Bring a chair if you can.  

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, the polls close at 7:00 p.m.  Before you watch the results, center your spirit with a labyrinth walk.  This walk at 7:00 p.m. will be specifically oriented toward centering on love, goodness, and peace.  

Four years ago, there was a meeting at church on election night.  After the meeting before heading home, Pastor Kim Wells walked the labyrinth at church.  Then she went home to watch the election results emerge.  She seemed much less distraught than others seemed to be in the ensuing days.  She attributes this to walking the labyrinth.  “I can’t tell you how it works or what happened, but I believe that somehow walking the labyrinth calmed my spirit.”  So, four years later, Kim invites others to join her for a labyrinth walk on election night at 7:00 p.m.  

There will also be the weekly labyrinth walk on Wednesday morning, Nov. 4 at 9:00 a.m.  All are welcome!


All Saints Sunday In-Person Gathering Ahead – Remembering COVID-19      

All Saints Sunday is Nov. 1.  This is a time to remember those we name as saints – living, historical, those who have gone before us.  This year, we also want to remember those who have died in the pandemic.  The church is planning a special gathering outside with physical distancing and masks, to remember all those who have died of Covid-19 along with those we name as saints.  The prayer gathering will be at 10:30 a.m. near the Memorial Garden.  Participants will be invited to share the names of saints as well as those who have died from Covid-19.  This could be someone you know or someone you have heard about or a public figure of importance to you.  If you can, bring a chair.  It will be a sacred time to pause, remember, and give thanks.


Let’s Make Beautiful Music Videos Together!

Music Director Hilton Jones is working on a music video for All Saints Sunday, November 1, and for Thanksgiving Sunday, November 22.  Please submit pictures of people that you consider saints for the All Saints music video.  These people may be alive or historical figures or people who have entered life eternal.  Please email pictures to Hilton by October 25th.  Note the new deadline.

For the Thanksgiving music video, please submit pictures of things that you are thankful for.  The deadline is Sunday, November 8.

 In these days of high anxiety, stress, and fear, we must take every opportunity to celebrate!  The gift of life is amazing and mysterious. We have been given the gift of living in interesting times.  Well, what times are not interesting if you are paying attention?  Let us celebrate with joy!

Please email pictures to hilton.kean.jones@gmail.com


Grateful for Grounds Work

Many thanks to William Owen and helpers for all of the grounds work that has gone on at church recently.  Since the church property will be used to host more outdoor events in the next few months, we are grateful for the beautifying of the church grounds!


VOTEMake A Plan

If you would like any assistance with voting, please contact the church office at 727-867-7961 or email at lakewooducc@gmail.com.  There are people in the congregation eager to help!


Operation Attack Update from Ian

Operation Attack is having a drive-by pick up for the people they’re serving. I know due to covid it might be hard to donate goods but these are a few of OA’s requests:

Buy Cereal, Peanut Butter, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, or canned meat Buy diapers and wipes, sizes Newborn – 6

Donations may be delivered to the church on Wednesday mornings from 9-10 and Sunday evenings from 6-6:30.  Please call the church to make other arrangements if needed.  

Volunteers are needed to pre-bag food before the Drive-Thrus. Volunteer dates are on October 24th and/or December 12th at Operation Attack at Lakeview Presbyterian Church 1310 22nd Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33705.

Thanks, Ian Blair-Catala  iblaircatala@gmail.com


Corona Sabbath

The theme for this week is Compassion.  Compassion is an antidote to selfishness and greed.  It is a core characteristic of Jesus.  How can we venture out of our apathy and numbness and live from compassion without being overwhelmed?  See 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8.

If you missed last week’s Corona Sabbath here’s the link:

https://lakewooducc.org/2020/10/16/corona-sabbath-31-loyalty-and-devotion/


Meeting Needs at Maximo Elementary

LUCC’s EDUCATION MINISTRY TEAM is continuing to gather much needed supplies for the students at Maximo Elementary.  There are three ways you can be a part of this ministry:

1.  Mail a check made out to “LakewoodUCC”
     and marked ‘Maximo Elementary.’
2.  Purchase  items and drop them off at the church on Wednesdays (9-10am)  and           Sundays  (6:00-6:30pm)
3.  Order online and have items shipped to  Emily Bell. Contact the church office for her address at lakewooducc@gmail.com

                        ITEMS NEEDED
SCHOOL UNIFORMS   Girls and Boys
Sizes-5T,6T,8,10,12 (also undies)

Colors:
 Blue(light or dark) Or Khaki for pants, shorts, dresses, skirts
 Blue(light or dark) or white  for shirts, blouses

SUPPLIES:  store bought child masks, hand sanitizers, Lysol spray, disposable gloves, disinfecting wipes


Side Walk Messaging at Sunday Evening Demonstration for Racial Justice 10/25

This week at the anti racism demonstration, participants will be invited to engage in sidewalk chalk messaging about voting.  Help write messages encouraging people to vote on the sidewalk along 54th Ave. S. in front of the church while keeping the community aware of the work that still needs to be done to end racism. Bring chalk if you have it.  Some will also be provided.  There is a lot of foot traffic on the sidewalk of 54th Ave. The messages will be seen!

All are welcome at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday evenings at the church. Bring a sign or use one that is available. In case of rain, the demonstration will not be held that week. Know justice, know peace!

 Click here to see pictures of the most recent witness:

https://lakewooducc.org/2020/10/22/anti-racism-demonstration-10-18/


Weekly Labyrinth Walks Continue

Each Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. a small group gathers at the outdoor labyrinth for a time of devotion, discussion, and meditative walking of the labyrinth.  The theme for the week is taken from the Corona Sabbath of the week before, so it is an opportunity to go deeper in the spiritual exploration of that theme for your life.  This devotional gathering is outside and physical distancing is maintained. All are welcome!

If there is rain on Wednesday morning, the gathering will be held on Thursday morning at 9:00.

https://lakewooducc.org/2020/06/23/labyrinth-has-been-refurbished


Spiritual Direction Offered by LUCC Clergy Member.

In these troubled times, it is important to find ways to tend to our spiritual lives. In the Christian tradition, Spiritual Direction is one of the ways of paying attention to the spirit in our lives. A Spiritual Director is someone to talk with about what is going on in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God however we may conceive of God.

Rev. Sally Purvis, Ph.D., a member of LUCC, is a retired clergy person with training and experience in Spiritual Direction. She is offering her services as a Spiritual Director to the community. The sessions would be held on Zoom and there is no fee to be paid. Church leaders are pleased to have the ministry of the church expand in this way.

Spiritual Direction with Sally is open to anyone, not just the congregation. And it is offered to everyone whatever their spiritual or religious background or affiliation or lack thereof. Sessions are generally held once every three weeks. Spiritual Direction is not a mode of therapy. It is a process for understanding and deepening your relationship with God/Spirit in ways that are authentic and life-giving.

Sally was trained by Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual guide of the 20th century, and did Spiritual Direction as part of her professional ministry before retiring in 2015.

If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction with Sally, please contact her at
sallybpurvis@icloud.com or contact the church (867-7961 or lakewooducc@gmail.com ).

The church is very grateful to Sally for offering this avenue of support to the congregation and the community.


USEFUL LAKEWOOD LINKS DURING THE CORONA CRISIS:

For the above church website links, please note the “Older Posts” button near bottom of each page.


Daily Corona Prayer

https://lakewooducc.org/2020/03/20/lucc-corona-daily-prayer


Assistance Available

If you need help of any kind – something from the store, someone to talk with, support managing during shelter-in-place, parenting concerns – please know that the church is ready and willing to help in any way needed.  This situation is trying for everyone.  You are not alone.  We’ll make it through together.  Please contact the church office (lakewooducc@gmail.com or 867-7961 or Rev. Kim Wells at wells.kim.p@gmail.com).  

Miss someone from church?  Give them a call or send a note.  Personal contact is so important when physical contact is limited.  


Music Ministry

About Hilton’s music. . . If you would enjoy hearing Hilton play more Irish folk songs, you can
listen for free at either https://hiltonjones.bandcamp.com/album/irish-
tunes or https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/irish-tunes .


October Birthdays: Janet Blair 10/19, Rick Carr 10/22, Denise Williams 10/25, Olivia Gibson 10/29, and Victoria Long 10/29. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: Claudia Rodriguez, JoAnn Reid, William Owen, Wilbur Reid, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, Dave Radens, Kim Wells, Family and loved ones of Elinor Ross, teachers, students, and school personnel, Vern McKinney, and all healthcare workers and essential workers. All those suffering from COVID-19.

Please remember Patti Cooksey who is moving into a new condo in her same complex this week.  

Please keep LUCC member, Olivia Gibson, in your prayers. She is a nurse in a COVID-19 unit in a local hospital. We are grateful for her ministry!


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the Church Office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.