I have been learning lessons this past summer - lessons that shape the way I have been approaching each day at the Parish House. One of the reasons I have been prompted to learn certain lessons has come about by something that I am involved in. Every other week or so, the chairperson of the Division on Missions of the WV Annual Conference emails a question to all of the Mission Project directors and we respond so that all of us know what is going on in each project. The questions are designed to share information, but also to share support and to help us discover how to pray for one another.
One item that is shared time after time is how difficult this economy is on the people that we work with. People are having a difficult time meeting their financial obligations and more and more programs that offer help have been cut. Grocery prices have increased over the year so that it is more difficult to feed families on limited resources. Project directors get discouraged. I have been discouraged. It helps to know that others are experiencing the same things - low stock on food pantry shelves and not enough money to meet all the needs - but we all know that the need is still there. And sometimes we get discouraged.
Last week I began a study based on St. Ignatius' Daily Examen. I like the Daily Examen; I have written about it before. This particular study is a prayer study on the scriptures that speak about money and resources. I think I began the study as a way of praying about this issues in relation to what we do at Crosslines Inc./Parish House. I wanted to know how to pray deeply about this issue. I wanted to know what direction the scriptures might give me concerning the needs.
What I didn't realize is how much this study would help me focus on what God is already doing among us. What I have learned from this study so far (I still have some days to go) is to follow Paul's advice to the Philippians: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Phil. 4:4-6) So I am trying to rejoice! And I am trying to present my requests to God with thanksgiving!
As I have tried to rejoice in my prayer time, in the midst of presenting my requests for food and money to keep helping folks, I have found many things to rejoice about. Here are a few of our rejoicings this week.
I have been reminded that no matter how difficult things become, each day we are able to open. That is definitely something to rejoice about! The Clothes Closet, with the direction of Pat Suttle and the tireless efforts of many volunteers, is also something to rejoice about! Many needs are met through their efforts. The Hall House is doing great things in our community and we rejoice for all of the volunteers there. Thanks JK McAtee. Nancy Harpold has been working hard in our community garden. What a blessing that project has been!
This week we had produce delivered to us from a local farm. Fresh tomatoes and corn to give out in our food pantry! Rejoice! We also had a donation of local meat. Rejoice! Every week we receive a gift of loaves and loaves of bread. Rejoice! Many others have brought by canned goods and donations for Crosslines. Again, rejoice! Even though these items have already been distributed, we rejoice for the blessings that these gifts have already brought to our neighbors.
This past Friday, we rejoiced greatly as we celebrated a wedding at the Parish House. Thurman Shaver and Dorothy McClure exchanged their vows. We turned the "Gathering Room" into sacred space with a beautiful altar. Around 55 guests were there to share in the joy of the day. Red roses were placed throughout the Parish House. Afterward we celebrated with a community meal of turkey and all the trimmings. A beautiful wedding cake decorated with red roses and surrounded by mounds of cupcakes was also a part of the celebration. Rejoice!
This occasion could not have happened with the beauty that it did without the help of many, many people - so many people that I cannot name them all. There were people who helped who didn't even know Thurman and Dorothy, but they did help because we asked and because they love God. There were those who helped scrub and clean the Parish House. Some people brought and arranged flowers. Some people cooked and served. Some people did hair and make-up for the special day. Some people decorated. Some people were photographers. And so many other countless tasks were performed with great rejoicing! It was a blessed day!
This week we will begin with the same issues that we always begin with. The shelves are not fully stocked. We will receive more requests for help. And we will rejoice in the Lord for what the Lord does for us each day!
To God be the Glory!
On the parish calendar:
CROP Walk Recruiters will meet at the Parish House at 7 p.m. today to plan the CROP Walk on Oct. 2.
United Methodist Men's Annual Retreat at Jackson's Mill, Friday through Sunda. Circuit Rider Golf Scramble, 9 a.m. Friday at Deerfield Country Club, Weston, $50 each person. Proceeds benefit scouting. Call Darroll Courtney at 304-366-2709. Friday dinner is at 5 p.m. and worship begins at 7 p.m. Spiritual events all day Saturday and dinner with scouts at 5 p.m.; half day Sunday includes communion service with scouts led by Bp. Lyght. Retreat concludes with lunch at 12:15 p.m. Prices vary with meals, length of stay (commuters are welcome), and type of room. A brochure with full information and registration form can be found at www.wvumc.org/UMM or is available from the District Office. Call Steve Prince at 304-366-4147 or 304-906-7560 for further information.
Sunday School Convention at 6 p.m. Sunday, Rocky Ford United Methodist Church.
Full Flame study series, 6:308 p.m., Sunday, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church sanctuary. Starting a series of eight films designed by world-renowned evangelist Reinhard Bonnke to empower participants to become witnesses. Come explore and be set on fire to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Find out more at www.bonnke.net/fullflame/en
Habitat Dinner, 47 p.m., Sept. 16, First United Methodist Church. Adults $10; those younger than 12, free-will donation. Meal furnished by Jaws! BBQ. Proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity.
Youth Rally, 6:30 p.m., Sept. 18, St. Matthew United Methodist Church, Weston. A time of music, inspiration and fellowship lead by District Supt. Ken Ramsey.
Spaghetti Dinner, 5-7 p.m., Sept. 23, First United Methodist Church. Adults $7; younger than 12, $3; age 2 and younger, free. Proceeds benefit Crosslines.
Hunger of the Heart, 4-8 p.m., Sept. 25, First United Methodist Church. Lecture-discussion on ways to make your relationship with God more satisfying, with break for dinner provided by Market Bistro. Cost, $10, and scholarships are available. Contact Linda Wellings at email@example.com or church office at 304-472-9494 for further information.