Blessed are…who? (Mt. 5:1-12)

Almost an entire week ago, we gathered around the table. It’s a good tradition isn’t it, to either begin (or end) a week gathering with friends (who prayerfully feel like family), praying, listening, sharing life, and trying to hear, understand & follow God together? It is beautiful I think & a blessing. Last Sunday we gathered, we sat, we opened in prayer.

Then we began checking in, reminding ourselves the homework had been to figure out what Jesus meant & was saying when he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (people).”; to consider if we (you) are effective fishers of people; and to discuss what it means to be a fisher of people? What was a beautiful theme that emerged in the sharing was something that in some ways is too simple…to be a(n effective) fisher of people was to live a good life; an exemplary life; a life that is marked by grace — one where we are kind, generous, involved in our community. Scripture was referenced, reminding and inviting us to live in such a way as to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

We didn’t leave the conversation (check-in) fully satisfied. We wrestled a little with what being effective (or what we often want “success(ful)”) means & who really gets to determine & define that (God). We held for consideration who’s job it is to “save souls” & convict hearts (the Holy Spirit). And so in different words, and from various voices — we sat in that space of being an effective fisher of people (a disciple dare I say) is to follow Christ and to live a life that is marked by the desire to follow Christ well…that is how we become (effective) fishers of people — to follow Christ.

But we turned as we do to scripture & this time to Matt. 5:1-12, the section of scripture known as the Sermon on the Mount (sermon by Jesus) & the Beatitudes. This sermon that Jesus offered to his disciples and the crowds, maybe was his best or his worst sermon, you decide. But these beatitudes are a list of couplets, blessed are (you — insert identity here) — because you get (insert thing/reality here); but they are seemingly on first read nonsensical. Perhaps actually Jesus was even introducing the first opposite day — you know when you say literally the opposite of what you mean…but that is not how we have received this teaching of Jesus, the beatitudes can be a very challenging to understand or appreciate, and yet we still yearn to know what Jesus meant & why it was important to teach us these beatitudes. And this is how we came to the homework for the week….everyone was invited to draw from the bag…and they chose 1 of these beatitudes to live with for the week & to discern:

  • What does this beatitude really mean?
  • What does this beatitude look like today?
    • Who is blessed?
    • How are they blessed? (the 2nd half of the beatitude….)
    • Ex: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. — Who are the “poor” today? How do they have “the kingdom of heaven” today? (*or what is the “kingdom of heaven” today?)

Looking forward to learning from all y’all tomorrow. And there’s still time to discern even if this got a bit forgotten….

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater

Follow & fish for people? (Matt. 4:12-22)

Last week we gathered round the table. We greeted each other with smiles and we opened in prayer. After saying “Amen” — the homework assignment was remembered — seeing how encouraging at least one person the week prior had gone.

People checked in with different experiences. One found that the encouragement (the homework assignment) seemed to open up opportunities for them to encourage many throughout the week. While another found that the only person (in person) they seemed able to encourage was their spouse. Another person shared a story that may or may not have been encouraging in the sense of the homework assignment (mixed reviews there, and full of smiles!). The theme I’d invite us to remember though was how we also discovered that there are many different ways that we can encourage others — it might be with our words, or perhaps a wordless smile, a welcome hug, a note sent along — it might be something shared in-person and it might be something sent along (like a card, a voice mail, a text, an email). We were reminded that encouragement looks different & at least to me, that’s encouraging too!

Then we turned to scripture, looking to Matthew 4:12-22:

12 Now when Jesus[a] heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
    on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people who sat in darkness
    have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
    light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”[b]
18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

New Revised Standard Version

We listened twice with silence between — trying to discern where God was directing us right then to look more closely. And then we shared. Someone was drawn to considering, what exactly does it mean to sit in darkness (as compared to walking through it)? Many considered the father in the boat. We wondered how that father felt, was he encouraging of his sons; was he discouraged; did he know Jesus? Some asked questions about how quickly is “immediately” exactly? Which led to pondering if we would do the same, immediately follow Jesus if he called. Some thought yes, others no, still others thought when younger — of course to drop what you’re doing – leave the family business – and follow this Jesus. And while in some ways we don’t (& can’t) know how we would have responded, others named moments in their lives where a decision had to be made and when that moment presented itself indeed they left all to follow/to be obedient/to submit. Life is full of choices & decisions, and God continues to speak with & guide us (Amen?) — and so we do get invited to follow Christ again & again & again in our lives…if the model of those original disciples reveals anything to us it is there is grace to stumble & fall (away) & still by God’s grace be counted as one of God’s own! (Be encouraged! I know I am!)

And so perhaps the homework assignment should have been — would you follow? Immediately? Or are you following right now? But that was not the assignment, our work for this week is answering 3 questions:

  1. What does “Follow me, & I will make you fishers of men/people.” mean? *another way to do this would be to put it in your own words*
  2. Are we (you) effective fishers of people?
  3. What does it mean to be a fisher of people?

While the questions are seemingly direct, that doesn’t mean they are easy to answer. I know I’m looking forward to seeing what y’all are thinking come Sunday. Until then, happy wresting (with God).

In Christ ~

Rev. Sabrina Slater

Offering Encouragement (Psalm 40:6-11)

Last Sunday a good number of us gathered around the table as is our practice. Smiles were shared and an appreciation of the sun shining outside before we opened in prayer.

Of course following prayer, we reminded ourselves as to the prior weeks homework: to consider the storms of life we have experience & see if we might notice any patterns, as well as see if there might be a bit of encouragement God gave in remembering the past storms and how exactly God has been faithful.

While the sharing was slow-ish to begin, we heard how some can look back and see and remember and know that God is faithful and has always provided, but still find it hard to trust, to be patient (to even be still!) while a new storm is all around. We also heard how some might not consider what they go through to be (all that big of) storms, though it was interesting to hear that others in their life could remember times when God had covered & protected them & their family in challenging situations. Another shared a “how to” get through a storm — or avoid one in the first place — which included always including God, asking for help/wisdom/direction, and also waiting on God. Someone else named how none of us are promised a life without storms, in fact that we would have trials and tribulations — to which I posed the question as to whether or not people enjoy the storms of life? (A question that I still invite people to answer for themselves…do you enjoy the storms of life? Do they have value? If you might not say you “enjoy” the storms, what do you think of them? Do you appreciate them, despise them, something else? An extra life-work question!)

Not all answered, which is always fine — we are invited always to be discerning in when and how we share — and I also wonder, sometimes the storms that God has faithfully kept us in & through (and keeps us in & through) are too tender, too devastating, too expansive for everyone to hold — God is faithful and sometimes the encouragement is just for us in remembering, and sometimes the encouragement is meant to be shared one-on-one as the Holy Spirit guides and invites. Prayerfully, in the remembering of past storms & how God has been active in them we each were encouraged…

Then we pivoted to scripture, Psalm 40:6-11.

After listening & holding silence we named where the Holy Spirit invited us to notice. Considering the emphasis on speaking, holding that God is not asking us just to follow all the rules (“in sacrifice and offering you have not delighted”), wanting God’s mercy and steadfast love to keep us. And even noticing that in just the next verse there is this reality that God’s steadfast love and faithfulness are to preserve us — because we have been encompassed in evil and our hearts fail us!

There is much in these verses, inviting us to love God with all that we have, to desire to be in an active and intimate and vibrant relationship — one that we enjoy sharing about! Thus, it seemed only fitting to have a homework assignment for the week that invites us to speak about God’s faithfulness, God’s saving help, God’s love in our own lives! And that is the assignment, to encourage at least one person during the week in sharing how God has shown up in your own life & in your own storms. Y’all, it might be a bit vulnerable, and yet I invite us all to trust the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to share as we are directed with someone in need of the encouragement. (And y’all….how many of us know that we need encouragement, even when all looks ok — perhaps especially when all looks ok?).

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater

After the storm (Mark 4:35-41)

Last Sunday we gathered round the table. There were smiles and laughter and the coffee was hot. We opened in prayer.

Before immediately beginning to check in, there was a reminder of what the homework/lifework had been: in creating a short prayer that could be prayed daily (somewhat like a breath prayer), and then seeing what happened. We also took a moment to remind ourselves that we had been in Galatians 5:22-26 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 — chuckling a little in the recall of how much folks liked considering the possibility of praying for patience! As the homework/lifework had spanned three weeks, the invitation was to share whatever the Holy Spirit might prompt.

While not all shared the specific brief prayer they had prayed, the ones who did share thematically engaged love, the desire for our actions & behaviors to be loving, the hope that God’s love would shine through us. And this created space for quite a bit of conversation; discussion including our individual agency & personhood in being active participants in sharing (God’s) love, questions on the practical how-to & what love (in action) looks like, the realization that on our own we don’t (often, or ever?) love well — that any love we are able to give is only because of God’s love & the grace that it might come through. The conversation was rich, and it also made clear that we (as a group, a community, and even the larger Church) do not have a shared understanding of what love is (and yes, there was also mention of some different types of love specifically naming ‘agape’ love — the divine God love). AND this, this not really knowing perhaps what or how to love is something that I do believe we will engage further because we had a lot of energy around the topic, a lot of unanswered questions, as well as a lot of curiosity — AND, if we are to be known and recognized by our love (see John 13:35) then it would serve us & the Kingdom of God well to be as aware & well-equipped as possible so that we might be able to love well and to grow our loving capacity! Perhaps a quick prayer for us all might be, God please help us love well! (AMEN!).

Then we turned to scripture, Mark 4:35-41:

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

New International Version

The story known as “Jesus calms the storm.” (a story found in not only in Mark 4:35-41, but also in Matthew 8:23-27 and Luke 8:22-25) The conversation we found ourselves in after hearing these verses included deep questions like, who caused the storm? This question is a big question in thinking not only stormy weather in the natural sense, but in all the storms of life; who or what causes them? And how do we understand that? Is the challenging life situation you might find yourself in of your own creating; is it from God; is it evil; is it of the devil? Is the situation a consequence of decisions outside of yourself or within yourself; a function of your (or your family) sin(ning) or of our living in a sinful world? These are not easy questions, and they are questions that we wrestle with both in how to understand our own lives, and the lives of others we see…consider for example how we often find it easier to help or offer love & compassion when we believe the struggles (or the storm) that someone is experiencing is because of decisions or circumstances outside of that person’s own agency – instead of being a fault (or sin) of their own…

And, as is often the case, time ran short while conversation was still to be had! But alas, it came time to hear the homework before praying out (& the prayer for the day was a beautiful poem shared that really spoke of storms & Jesus calming them!). And the homework for this week is a reflective one:

  • Think over your life & the storms you have faced & come through. See if there are any patterns that you notice…

As we have begun a new year, it seems it might be a rather encouraging task to remind ourselves of the storms we have faced in life — to bring to mind how often God has told the chaos in our life “Quiet, be still!” Perhaps we might even find ourselves in a storm right now and the remembrance will encourage us!

Looking forward to hearing about the power of God to bring peace in our lives y’all!

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater

Patience…again (Galatians 5:22-26 & 1st Corinthians 13:4-7)

Just last Sunday (yes, day before last) we gathered round the table as we do. And after greeting each other, after sharing smiles, after likely making mention of the sun shining outside & streaming in through the stained glass windows we opened in prayer, asking that God be present — in our reading of scripture, in our sharing of life (in all life really).

And then, (DELIGHTFULLY) it was time to check in. Time to answer if we consider ourselves to be patient and then to share what scripture has to say about patience (and to share if anyone had steps to grow their patience muscles). Some fun things happened y’all…there were some eye rolls (I LOVE the honesty) — those who shared they certainly do not want to ask for patience because they know how God works! Most folks named that they are not too patient, or if they are patient — they are patient situationally — additionally, which I SO appreciated that this was named — was the ability to identify that at times we might be patient with others and less so with ourselves. A fun point that was discovered here too was how we might assess ourselves as compared with how we might assess others — someone shared their challenge with patience — & another was shocked, saying they find them to be incredibly patient (hilarious was the response that they must have never been driving with them….though they promise they don’t have road rage!).

The conversation was rich and included considering whether patience is a gift from God or a skill (that really can be developed) to which I answered “yes.” As folks also named the scriptures that they had found — many noticed the patience of God being named and others wondered just how patient God really is….and we also engaged the scripture “love is patient” which was ideal because that was one of the scriptures we took some time with….

  • Galatians 5:22-26:
    • 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
    • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

So we held these two texts and we continued the conversation….and that conversation & consideration will continue for the next 2 weeks (the next time we’ll gather round the table officially will be Jan. 12th) — but of course we have life work in the interim (and maybe folks want to gather round the table to check-in and to pray with each other….just a thought……

And the homework is this: create a daily prayer (simple — 1 sentence)….maybe something like this:

Dear God help me to love (or: be patient; be kind; be generous; be faithful; be gentle; have self-control; experience joy; have peace).

I don’t know….but a simple prayer, prayed daily…and let’s see what God does.

In Christ — the One who we celebrate his birth because in it — God came near to be with us!

~ Rev. Sabrina Slater

Are you patient? (James 5:7-10)

Last Sunday we gathered around the table as we do, there was laughter & while some were missing we welcomed someone new to the table — even introducing ourselves following the opening prayer.

And after all this we checked in…offering our own interpretations of Matt. 24:1-14 and/or talking about how we prepare for the breaking in of God (in the unexpected) during this season of Advent.

We heard summaries in our own words, comments about how all the things have come to pass, some recognition that even today we expect God to come to us & the world in a certain way — even though the birth of Christ uncomfortably reminds us that the picture of saving grace came into the world as a vulnerable child who lived the ordinary & ridiculous that we each experience as well. The conversation named more questions and more spaces for where God can bring deeper understanding & revelation — like if heaven is the same as paradise. We even (if memory serves) mentioned again context, translation, and interpretation — the understanding that scripture was written in context (by God’s grace) & had meaning & significance then — and still does now, although our context & our understanding & our language is different than when the Word of God was first penned.

And then we turned to listen to scripture — we opened up to James 5:7-10 (though we heard verse 11 as well):

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

New International Version

And there was nearly immediate (after the silence of course) responses. Groanings — a bit of a visceral reaction to the invitation to “Be patient.” There was an immediate naming of how farmers aren’t really all that patient, always wanting their crop to come up. Yet there was push-back too, that while the farmer might be anxious they have an understanding of the seasons & how the growth does have to happen in it’s time — perhaps a recognition that there is work for the farmer & work for the crop — but the crop cannot do the farmer’s work no more than the farmer can do the crop’s work.

IT WAS GREAT! (Yes, perhaps because I imagined not all would like the passage) — but more because the fact that we reacted as we did also means we are listening, means we are understanding & wresting with scripture, means that we are not just on “autopilot,” means that we take seriously that God speaks to us through scripture, that God still speaks today, and that our faith is something that we live out — is something that requires (something) of us (not, to be mistaken with the idea that we earn our new life in Christ — because we don’t, life in Christ is a gift that we are invited through grace to receive & live!) — but as we lived as a people claimed by God — it means that we also are actively growing as disciples of Christ. All good things, and easy to say/write, but harder to live — this we all understand I think.

Thus, we arrived at a delightful and self-reflective home/lifework assignment for the week:

  • 1st: Answer, “Are you (a) patient (person)? Why or why not?”
  • 2nd: Find what scripture says about patience (anywhere).
  • 3rd: IF you feel led/convicted by the Holy Spirit as you learn & listen to what scripture has to say about patience — what is something (an action step) you can do to develop your patience “muscle”? (Or to grow into greater Christ-like-ness?)

Looking forward to gathering round the table next y’all & hearing what was discovered.

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater

Gathering back together!!! (Matt 24:1-14)

It has been awhile (since a blog post) & since meeting…well sort of. We gathered last Sunday — and we were in a difference space, we swapped locations with the kids so that they could decorate the Christmas tree! So we gathered in the lower level of the church. It was fun to have many gathered round the 2 tables — and it was festive feeling because it had been 2 Sundays off! First, the Sunday when worshiping with other churches with our Thanksgiving worship & then due to weather and church getting cancelled! So we, found our way back…we gathered round the table (sans coffee — don’t worry, all did survive)…we smiled & laughed & we prayed in.

And then we checked in a bit, the on-going home/lifework was to take the 2.5 minutes of stillness — and so the check-in opened space for folks to share what they had noticed/experienced, or if they preferred a different check-in people could also answer what “Advent” is.

People shared mostly around the stillness, some really not liking it, others naming that they (their minds at least) don’t really so much still. One person (to the great delight of this Pastor!) noticed how God seemed to be speaking in surround sound to them through various devotionals regarding the idea of stillness/stopping. (Go God for being consistent). Another person shared taking the time, and God speaking in that space, but then life getting busy — naming the desire to live (or be) alone as the ability to be still/quiet becomes much easier to manage. Yet another person mentioned the capacity to sit, for 30 minutes or an hour — and how in that time there would be minutes of that stillness — but how they have learned to let those moments come, that they cannot be forced. There’s a beauty here in that thought and understanding, something to the effect that we position ourselves (in every way possible) to be open to God. So we stop as we are able, we slow down as we can (even when it is hard), we work to practice disciplines/rhythms in our lives that allow God the space to speak. We can’t force God to speak (I mean, we can’t even force our thoughts to take a breather now can we?), but we open ourselves and our lives to see what God is saying to us (right now — today!). Prayerfully, we each will continue working to do just that — making space for God to have access to us, whether it’s in taking time for quiet, being diligent in devotional study, sitting in a chair, taking time for coffee/tea, being sure to go outside, or finding a stump (or a place for hunting) — may we be listening and leaning into the voice of God.

After check-in of course we turned to scripture, specifically Matthew 24:1-14. After hearing the text read twice and allowing for some silence there was an opening comment as to how it sounded a bit harsh. Others noticed that this (these challenges/conflicts) has been happening since the scripture was written down. We also even discussed briefly how scripture was written in context (2000 years ago) — and was speaking to exactly what was being experienced then, and so we are invited both to understand as much as we are able the context and specifics that the author was speaking to (then); while also seeing what scripture has to say to us (now). And that really leads into what the homework is for us this week:

  • First: to offer an interpretation of Matthew 24:1-14 for us right now. (Think about how you interpret this passage, and offer that to us when we next gather!)

But, maybe because it’s been awhile, there’s also a 2nd homework/lifework prompt. And this ties a bit more with what came up during the check-in from quiet time (and making space where God has access/rule):

  • Second: consider how you wait; how do you prepare for God during Advent? (Do you do anything special?)

And as you think about these lifework/homework assignments — it’s worth remembering what also was lifted from these verses last Sunday, the idea of the importance of endurance and the promise to those who endure (and to be sure the only way any endure is the grace of God y’all — it’s not about our ‘strength’) — but even in the encouragement to endure — let us also be prayerful that God — through grace — allows Christ’s love in us & in the world — to not grow cold, but rather to be a warmth that nurtures life!

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater

Shhhh….and “be still…”

Last Sunday we gathered around the table. We opened in prayer. And then it was a little different. As was warned in the blog post last week — the flow for last Sunday was a little different, instead of checking in with our homework/lifework we began with scripture.

First I read Psalm 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God.” And then we heard read all of Psalm 46. And then again we heard, Psalm 46:10a, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

And then there was silence. Extended silence. At least 150 seconds of it (2 & 1/2 mins). *Note: indeed we all survived.* And following the silence, the invitation was to share whatever the Holy Spirit might have highlighted in the Psalm (or you), and/or to share about the “star” word that had received earlier in this year.

Before going further I must share that sharing silence at the table with all there was a gift. There was (at least seemingly) a spirit of peace & calm. Most experienced the silence with eyes closed, and while I don’t know if hearts were beating overly fast, if palms were starting to sweat, if minds were just racing racing racing — there appeared to be a moment at least of peace. AND when folks began sharing, the rush of life that can seemingly creep in seemed to stay at bay, it was like in the silence — the intentional with everyone stopping — we were able to slow the flow of time we shared — it was noticeable and it was a gift.

There was a mix of the sharing. Including one sharing their word of “Acclaim” (a definition of being to praise enthusiastically & publicly) fit perfectly with Psalm 46 — as the Psalm invites & instructs us to notice, to see what God has done & to know that God will be praised — that God will be Acclaimed! Another shared how their word “Participation” seemed both to affirm what they had been doing and then also to invite them to engage even more with new possibilities & they are learning (& we might too) different ways to be a support to families in challenging circumstances & in offering space & volunteers to help facilitate daily visitations with families going through court situations.

And much of the conversation centered a bit on “being still” — and considering what that means, how that looks. There was the naming of not being still well. There was the mention that minds keep on running — even if we look on the outside as though we are still. And then thematically hunting came up more than once, with the hunters among us naming an ability to be present while hunting — that when out of “typical” spaces, when not at home doing all the things — that there was the ability to be still — to be attentive — to be present in a way where there were not the typical distractions. And this is something to hold a bit longer…in scripture Jesus sends folks out (Sending of the 72 — see Luke 10:1-23) with nothing extra; “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals;” (Luke 10:4a)…did Jesus understand how when we accumulate much (really anything more than what we actually need) that each “thing” accumulated makes being able to focus singularly more different? Was Jesus perhaps trying to help with focus, with our easily distracted minds/lives by equipping the 72 (us) for success by expecting us to venture forward without any extra? These are worthwhile questions (insights), invitations to drop that which is not necessary and to see what we then hear (from God).

We didn’t answer what stillness is. But we did end with a (most delightful) homework assignment that invites us into (at least) silence (if not also stillness):

  • Daily 2.5 minutes of silence (maybe even some will try 5!) Whenever — but be silent/still and see what comes, see what God might be saying.

That’s all … super easy right? (And there was part of the conversation that invited us to not be cranky-pants — and perhaps being silent/still can help us out a bit with that! 🙂 )

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater

We had a day off! :)

We had a day off. Last Sunday y’all gathered for worship but there wasn’t homework/lifework to check in with each other about and there wasn’t homework for this last week either (except of course to be listening for God, to be kind to each other…you know the regular “lifework” that is living out our faith — that is just something that we strive to do with God’s grace).

So no homework. And Sunday is coming in just a few days. So…what to expect. This coming Sunday (yes, Sunday Nov. 17th) — we will gather. I guess I should say, I’m showing up & prayerfully I bet many of y’all will too. But we’ll gather at our time (10AM). The coffee will most likely be hot, the chairs will be out and we will share laughs I imagine before we open in prayer.

But then what? I’m planning on us hearing scripture that has become familiar this year (be still…) and then for some extended silence together. AND after that extended silence, I would LOVE for us to share what is on our heart — perhaps something the Holy Spirit spoke loudly as we were still — BUT ALSO MAYBE some will feel led to share some on the “star” word that they received this year (on Epiphany Sunday). How has God been speaking to you though that word. Maybe some of y’all forgot the word — but I know (with confidence) — that at least some of y’all have not forgotten it. So how has God been speaking to you this year through the word?

This is the plan for this coming Sunday @ 10AM y’all…cannot wait to join with you around the table — there’s wisdom & love to be found — esp. on our good days — and worthwhile conversation always.

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater

Wrapping up wisdom (clearly…)

So yesterday we gathered round the table. It was a bit cooler (temperatures did drop!) and lighter with the “fall back.” The coffee was brewing and we opened in prayer.

Then we started talking…we checked in one more time with Proverbs. Some liked chapters 30 & 31, noting that these 2 are not necessarily attributed to Solomon. We laughed a bit over whether we liked or disliked these proverbs (in general)…there was comment from a spouse that the person is a bit argumentative — thus not always so much enjoying the tone of proverbs. Another among us names not knowing quite what the author is saying — so seeking understanding (not a matter necessarily of not liking what’s being said).

And we talked about interpretations — wondering aloud what the proverb was aiming to offer with wisdom, curious if we are the fools (but seriously, those with a lack of wisdom when we really are trying though!)? At least one element highlighted with this was an emphasis on the proper order of things (in the world) and when something is out of order it just seems amiss (or as the author states, something that causes the earth to tremble under).

Much was named, verses that spoke to us for various reasons. A mention of Proverbs 31 and the high regard of the woman (wife of noble character) — we didn’t actually spend time here — though it is one worth spending time in and discussing — there was mention of how starkly contrasting she seems to be with the feminine personification of folly throughout the book…there also was an appreciation of how the author states essentially (he’s) too stupid to be a man (person). Caused some chuckles definitely! And we took most of our time talking about the wisdom of Proverbs 31:4-7; discussing the use of alcohol and realities of life. This is an important conversation, one with different thoughts, opinions and realities. We touched briefly alcoholism, trauma (often unaddressed) and how we have seen alcohol (as well as opioids) used to cope and numb the feeling of pain…this led too into a conversation centering around pain and it’s necessity. We did not exhaust the conversation, we did not go to the depths that we could have…and likely this will be an important conversation to visit again. And yet, it was beautiful to hear someone observe how often the conversation around this is often judgmental — and our call is one of love — there is more so much more that can be said here but we will leave it for now.

Y’all — we made it through Proverbs in October for the 2nd year in a row…and it was a blessing (I think at least — I know I was blessed). Next weekend — as a reminder — there will be no Adult Study on Sunday! If you gather — chat, pray — enjoy each other’s company….but there’s no homework to guide you in the week. (You know other than listening and looking for God & loving each other!)

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater