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Pastor Leigh Ann’s Monthly Blog

When REST is counter-cultural

“When REST is Counter-Cultural”
Pastor’s Ponderings – Oct. 1, 2018
 
Where do you find the strength and energy to keep going when your to-do list is so long and everyone needs something from you? What is the Spark that keeps you lit up? When do you say, “Stop! I need to rest now.”? Is your body calling you to sit down, or stand up and do something else?
 
One of my favorite poets and philosophers, David Whyte, says the “antidote to exhaustion is not rest, but wholeheartedness.” What is wholeheartedness? How does a person in today’s world live wholeheartedly? The answer is courage. The root word of “courage” comes from the old French “corage,” which means “heart” or “innermost feeling.” Courage is wholehearted! Facing the exhaustion of living takes wholeheartedness, which is courageous!
 
Sabbath time, or rest, or meditation, or prayer with God, IS an act of resistance and rebellion against the status quo. Taking a “time out” to care for your spirit goes against the machinery of the world. It takes courage to leave a blank space on your calendar and not get defensive about it. When we run out of money or run short of money, it is obvious. There clearly isn’t enough to buy the new phone or the extra item or even pay off the necessary items. But running short of time gets treated like a personal failure, or a lack of personal planning. Many friends and colleagues of mine sacrifice Sabbath rest for the sake of time management, being on time, or getting the project finished, and finished adequately. But, Sabbath IS God’s priority for us to have a good life.
 
Rest, which includes vacation, napping and Sabbath, is judged as laziness, when in truth, rest is a direction from our God and of our faith. Sabbath is for re-orienting our spirit, our life and our bodies toward God, good health, and sound thinking. Taking Sabbath rest, to breathe, should not make you feel guilty or cause you to feel shame. Having time to eat dinner without shoving it down your throat is a reasonable choice and good for your health. It is even faithful. Taking time for you and your family takes courage, and is living a whole-hearted life!
 
Maybe finding restoration requires you to nap, but maybe it also calls you to change something to which you are committed. Maybe Sabbath time calls you to evaluate if you are living by the heart or by the calendar. The World challenges us to stick with the calendar and others expectations, but God calls us to living by heart, because living by heart, means living with the courage of faith and Sabbath. It is an entirely different focus of life. So, now is a good time to confess my fatigue. Life feels pretty hazy with moving and family commitments and church ministry. Sometimes it is going to be this way. But it shouldn’t be this way as a lifestyle. It shouldn’t be this way out of obligation to any person. It shouldn’t be this way out of a need to please others. Our fatigue shouldn’t be treated as a trophy or a martyr-ish brag. Our fatigue is a sign that things are out of balance and that is a call to reconnect with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, bring your healing breath to all who read this and are exhausted.
 
Please take care of yourself. Take time for wholehearted living and a nap. Find the restoration you need away from your calendar. Don’t give in to the shame or guilt that can come from saying “no.” Be fierce in faith and vigilant in hope! There is much on the horizon filled with joy!
 
God bless you today and everyday!
Pastor Leigh Ann

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Food and Faith

“Food and Faith”
Pastor’s Ponderings – Sept. 1, 2018
 
“They said to him, ‘Sit, give us this bread always.” –John 6:34
 
The story of our family is told in food. The food that is put out on the dining room table in dishes and
bowls. The food that is brought home from the store or at a roadside stand. The food that perfumes the air in the morning and the evening inspires memories of the past and for the future.
 
The disciples said to Jesus, ‘give us this bread always.’ They were talking about nourishment that offers
eternal life. It could have been stale or fresh bread. We don’t know. Truthfully, the flavor and texture of the bread is only a curiosity. The most important thing is sitting with Jesus and sitting with each other and taking time as community and family to be with one another and remember. Remember who made our life and sustains us now.
 
Food literally gives us life, in addition to telling the story of our family. I was back in Texas for my Aunt’s
funeral and when in Texas, there is a lot of meat and not a lot of veggies. My Aunt was famous in our family for saying she didn’t want any salad on her hamburger. She made it to 94 and never ate what some consider healthy food. When my cousins cleaned out my Aunt’s room at the skilled nursing facility, there were 4 soda pops left in the mini-fridge. At the end of the day of celebrating and remembering her life, we shared a ‘coke’ toast in honor of Aunt Barbara. Food and family sitting around a table are signs of love and life and remembrance.
 
As August concludes and September begins, I wonder if you are ready to finish out the rest of the year. Do you have the energy to make it from now through Christmas? Do you have the patience to love your neighbor as you love yourself? It has been a very busy first half of the year and I confess I’m still pretty tired and my calendar for the rest of the year looks full already. I’m sure yours is also!
 
I read today that Starbucks is going to bring out their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes a week early this year. It
makes my heart happy that Fall is almost here. That means time for sitting with family for special meals is also almost here. But, why wait for the end of the year to reconnect for a special gathering. Why wait until there is a special moment to tell the story of how much your family belongs to each other. With everything crowded on the calendar, let’s not forget making time for a meal or just a cup of your favorite beverage with the people you call family. Make memorials and tell stories with each other. Let’s not lose what is most precious to us in this world.
 
Grace,
Pastor Leigh Ann

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Time, Talent, and Treasures

Time, Talents, and Treasures – Pastor’s Ponderings Aug. 14, 2018

Time, Talents and Treasures.  When you become a member of a congregation, a church family, you commit to support that congregation with your time, your talent and your treasures.  It is a commit you make with a group of people who are also committed to serving God and loving neighbor. In response, the church commits to continue leading you to God, and doing the work of God in the world.  Together, we invest in God’s love for the world, now and into the future.

Time represents the time you commit to being present in worship, offering prayer for people, situations and God’s creation.  Time is an allocation of hours to attend committees and teams that do God’s work. Time is the minutes you give to serve food to the hungry, teach a class or make a phone call.  Time is the tick-tock that you use to review grant requests and vote to give money to great organizations.

Talents represent the skills and experience you bring to the work we do for God.  Talents include your ability to create a website, count money on Monday mornings, call the phone company and straighten out the church phone bill, teach children the Gospel love of Jesus.  Talent is the particular training you have that others may not have. Your talent is creativity, imagination, artful, in front of others and behind the scenes.

Treasures represent your financial or monetary resources.  Treasures are what pays for class resources, staff hours for music, and counseling, the building upkeep and cleaning carpeting, the air conditioning, the lights, the paper we print the order of worship on.  Treasures pay for childcare on Sunday mornings. Treasures are green, plastic, and paper inscriptions from your bank account and stock accounts. Treasures are also the materials and snacks and supplies you bring to our work.

Time, Talents and Treasures are essential in a productive, faithful church doing the work of God with one another and in the world.  The church is alive to be God’s hands and feet in the world. Anyone asking what the church offers them and their life, doesn’t understand the purpose of the church of God.  If you are going to the church to get what you can get, you don’t understand the work of a church.

The purpose and mission of a church are about following in the steps of Jesus who fed the hungry, cared for the poor, reached out to the widows.  The work of Jesus was not centered on keeping the friends of Jesus safe and comfortable. Sometimes, some churches, become more focused on themselves, and keeping things going then reaching out into the world to be Jesus.  Our church’s mission is to build relationship of justice, faith and hospitality to bring God’s love to all people. It can only happen when you use your time, talents and treasures to support this work.

I attended a church membership class when I was a teenager.  The pastor told us, ‘you will get out of church life what you put into church life.’  In friendship and marriage, we bring our time, talents and treasures out of love for each other and experience the blessings for that commitment.  It is the same with your church family. Thank you for all you do to share our common vision of faithful living for making this world a better place.  And thank you for your generous commitment to this congregation with your time, talents and treasures!

Pastor Leigh Ann


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The congregation of UMC Vista has an opportunity to demonstrate what work/application they have a passion for!
Get involved: Commit to becoming a shepherd and working directly with individuals and organizations in our community!
Shepherds are responsible for diving deeper into the applying organization as well as the specifics of the application and putting forth a recommendation to the Church Council for funding. For more information, please see Beth Brainard Hallock.
 
Free Community event, games at 6:30 p.m. and movies begin at sunset. Bring blankets or chairs. See Beckie Henselmeier for more details. 
 
 
Save the Date for Camp ROAR –  Register by 6/16 for the Early Bird cost is $30 per student. $35 per student until 7/14 or “bring a friend” and both get to attend for $50. (Registrations must be turned in together.) This year, featuring After-Care, Available by pre-registration only. Care from 12 until 5:30 p.m. (or until needed) for $15/day per student.