I fear that I have succumbed to a nasty habit. I learned over my Christmas break while listening to many hours of public radio that I have participated in the dumbing down of the English language! Lake Superior State College has published it list of Banished Words for the last 41 years. Topping the 2015 list is one of my personal favorites: “so.” You can check out the rest of their list here – http://www.lssu.edu/banished/ but I want to get on with the week’s blog…
So, (oh, I’ve done it again) how are those New Year’s resolutions coming? It seems appropriate that I, as chair of the Resolution Review Committee, should consider New Year’s resolutions, too! I must admit, the closest I came this year to making resolutions was in sharing a helpful reminder of kindness on my Facebook page:
When I was a kid, my Mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!
All my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing…never made a face nor uttered a word about it!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said, “Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then.”
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Mom put in a hard day at work today and she’s real tired. And besides–a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!”
As I’ve grown older, I’ve thought about that many times. Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. But what I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
And that’s my prayer for you today…that you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He’s the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn’t a deal-breaker!
I think that if I can remember this each time I’m tempted to judge someone for their words or actions or their choices, I’ll be doing a whole lot better. For me, a resolution is not about perfection; it’s about growth – so I have plenty of work to do!
I also observed that the New Year brought many articles about our Church: Ten Things I Wish Everyone Knew about the Episcopal Church – http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2015/08/12/10-things-episcopal-church/37558 , and in response: Ten Things I Wish Every Episcopal Priest Knew about the Episcopal Church – http://inwardlydigest.org/2015/08/15/10-things-i-wish-every-episcopal-priest-knew-about-the-episcopal-church/ . Finally, my personal favorite: 11 Things I Love about the Episcopal Church – http://benirwin.me/2015/01/22/11-things-about-the-episcopal-church/?utm_content=bufferdf66c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer .
Quite honestly, I think each of these are worth the read. It’s so easy for us to be comfortable in our pews that we might forget to invite our neighbors and friends to join us. Maybe we’ve lost the vision for why we still come. Is it merely because it’s what we’ve always done on Sunday morning? A good and acceptable habit? Well, if we need some reminding, I think we might find it in these articles.
Which brings me to my next point. It’s the season of Epiphany, the season in which we celebrate the revelation of Christ, first to the Magi and then to the world. But the season is also all about the recognition of Christ in our lives as God’s image that dwells in all people. A few years ago at St Peter’s in Hillsdale, we asked members of the congregation to share how Christ was revealed to them – their “God story” – each Sunday during this season and we were blessed to hear how God truly knows each of us so very personally. What’s your “God story?”
A very small part of my story has to do with why I attend an Episcopal Church. I’ve known God and God’s revelation in Jesus since I was quite young and, over the years, I have worshipped in other denominations where I was spiritually fed and grew in my faith so my coming to our Household was not specifically about that. The part of my story that is relevant for this blog is about the opportunity our Church gives us to live out God’s mission intentionally through our Baptismal Covenant and the 5 Marks of Mission. As Episcopalians, we recognize that it’s not by works that we are saved but by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8 – 9) but we balance that knowing that we are called by God to love our neighbors which we demonstrate through works that arise from our living faith (James 2:14 – 26). For me, writing this blog each week is part of my longing to see God’s mission fulfilled in our Church and in our world.
If you’ve been following along with the blog each week, you’ll know of my passion for refugee resettlement. Whenever I see the faces of mothers holding their children as they struggle to find a place of safety, I am forced to question why I have it so easy in comparison. Speaking out in support of opening our neighborhoods and welcoming these, our brothers and sisters, becomes easy when I see the face of Jesus in each refugee. Believe me, I am not advocating merely opening our borders and saying “come on in” without the appropriate vetting process. I know that it’s important we act in wisdom but it’s not okay to act in fear. Our nation has a good, strong vetting process in place. And our own Rev. Chris Yaw of St David’s, Southfield, is offering a course through ChruchNext called “Responding to Refugees with Allison Duvall” – https://www.churchnext.tv/school/catalog/course/responding-to-refugees-with-allison-duvall/ “Learn about refugees, resettlement, and how Christians might consider, and relieve, their plight. Allison Duvall, from Episcopal Migration Ministries invites us to understand and come alongside those whom the Bible asks us to care for.” If you are unsure of how you feel about the refugee situation, let me ask you to consider subscribing to this class. The cost is minimal – $10.00 – and the value is, shall I say it, priceless.
In this New Year and for the season of Epiphany, let our resolution be to look for Jesus to be revealed in our midst and in our lives. Let us each find our “God story” so that we might each be able to proclaim the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15).
Let us pray –
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
~ The Rev’d Deacon Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee