Sunday, July 28, 2013

FORGIVENESS by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Patti Lusher)

We are The Village Church… We know that we are imperfect people who make mistakes ….In this community we practice patience, compassion, and forgiveness.
Today, our scripture reading invites us to focus on the gift of forgiveness. Forgiveness is crucial for people who are imperfect. This is why, every Sunday, when we gather together, we remind one another that we are not perfect, and that forgiveness is something we need to practice.
I have been a pastor for 23 years and for those 23 years I have been officiating at wedding ceremonies. Unless there are special circumstances, I meet with the couple at least 3 times to prepare for the wedding. You could call this pastoral counseling, as I am their pastor. I am not a therapist. I don’t try to assess whether or not a couple should get married. I have never tried to talk a couple out of getting married. By the time they are in my office, they are already way down that road. There is little chance I will convince them to reconsider. What I can do is try to give them some clues as to where they may have some challenges in their life together. You see, all couples will have challenges when we decide to spend the rest of our lives together. If you think it’s going to be all lovey dovey forever then you are naïve. It’s okay. It happens to the best of us. But eventually the reality of day-to- day life and all its stress kicks in.
Often in my conversations I have a chance to say something like this, especially if it is a younger couple or a couple that is still very much in the romantic love stage of their relationship. Romantic love is wonderful. It’s fun. I am a romantic. And we all hope there will always be some level of passion and romance in our relationship. But that high we get when we first fall in love rarely lasts forever. For a committed relationship to last, you have to want to stay together. It is a choice. At the end of the day, love is not a feeling, it is a decision. And mature love involves understanding that your partner is not the idealized person that you fell in love with. Your partner is an imperfect child of God, who will make mistakes.
Now, when she or he makes those mistakes, it is good to remember that they are that person you fell so in love with so long ago. They are still that person too. But they are not perfect. And guess what? You are not perfect either.
(By the way, for those of you who are not married or not in a relationship, and may not want to be, I apologize if you just felt left out by what I said. I have been there. I was single for 33 years. Hang in there with me. Much of what I say can translate to any relationship that matters to you.)
You see, in any relationship with someone we care about, we will have moments, at least once a week, possibly once a day, when we are disappointed or hurt. Hopefully, we can tell the person, and they will understand, and ask for forgiveness. Then the responsibility comes to us: will we forgive? Will we truly forgive and let it go, and not hold a grudge?
Now there are two sides to this. Both hold some responsibility. Because we have all been there when someone says: “I’m sorry.” And then they do the same thing again. The next day. It does not make me feel like they are really sorry. When behavior changes, then I trust that the person was really sorry.
But we have also been there, when someone says, “I’m sorry,” and we just hurt so bad, we don’t believe them. Or we just don’t want to forgive them. What they did was really bad. It was despicable. And they just should not be able to say, “I’m sorry” and think everything will be okay, because it is not okay. I HURT.  You shouldn’t be able to make it all o.k. just with an I’m sorry.
It’s complicated to forgive, isn’t it?
Well, into this world of really complicated relationships, God sent Jesus. You see, God was sitting far away watching this creation of God’s. God saw that we were not “getting it” about how to live in peace, how to build strong relationships, how to forgive, and how to live with compassion. Even the Jews, God’s chosen people and some of their leaders like the Pharisees were just not getting the job done. They were getting all caught up in the minutiae of the law but they were failing to love.
So God sent Jesus. And he came into their homes and just tried to show them what to do. It was as if Jesus walked into every new town and said what we say every Sunday morning: “We know that we are imperfect people who make mistakes ….In this community we practice patience, compassion, and forgiveness.” And then he would pick someone, and he would say, “Can I come to your house for dinner and let’s talk about how it’s going?”
On this day, Jesus went to the home of Simon, who was a Pharisee, a certain type of Jew who focused on the law, and often spent their energy pointing out the sins of other people. As the story goes:
He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”
Simon was judging Jesus because he did not scold the woman.
So Jesus told a story. He loved to teach people by telling stories.
41-42 “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”
43-47 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”
Then he really lets Simon have it because he says that Simon did not show him any of the customary hospitality when Jesus entered the house. Jesus says this woman was a better hostess than Simon who owns the house.  Love is spilling out of her for me:
You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”
48 Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”
49 That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”
50 He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
There are several wonderful messages in this story for us.
First, No matter how imperfect and broken we are, we are forgiven. In fact, the more we need forgiveness the more of God’s grace and love we get. It almost makes me want to do some bad stuff so I can receive more of God’s love. Not quite, but almost.
But just look, for a moment, at the actions of this woman. She is audacious! She walks in, and basically interrupts a private dinner. And she does this very intimate act of washing his feet with her tears and her hair. Now remember that washing feet was a common act for a household servant to do, because people walked and the roads were dusty. But this was an amazing thing she did. She was not the servant. She did not live there. She was known to be a sinner. But she wanted to be close to Jesus. Some think that perhaps he had already forgiven her earlier in the day and she was coming here as a way of thanking him. His words saying: “You are forgiven,” were simply restatements of what he had already said.
You see, for the woman, ”Forgiveness is sheer blessing, something so beautiful and so important it breaks her heart and all she can do is express her gratitude. Why? Because she knows she needs it.”  (David Lose
But the second character in the story gives us an even more interesting message to ponder. The other character, “Simon, is pretty sure he doesn’t need forgiveness. He is righteous. Obeys the law. Does what he should. And so not only does he not need forgiveness but the very mention of it is threatening, offensive” (ibid). 

Scholar David Lose writes: “In this scene, then, Jesus claims to forgive sin.
This was not his role in the Jewish scheme of things.  He asserts the authority to set people free from their sin. People who know that they are slaves rejoice to hear this news. But people who live under the illusion that they are already free, are offended when Jesus claims to release them from sin. Who does he think he is? 

“Over time that offense will turn to anger and that anger to violence. Forgiveness, it turns out, is one powerful word” (ibid).

You see, once our sin has been shown to us, and we are granted forgiveness, then we have a choice: rejoice or resent. We can, (David Lose writes) “Embrace our identity as sinners and as those beloved by God and forgiven all things, or reject our failings and with it God’s tender embrace. Which will it be?”

Jesus comes to forgive sin and that’s only good news to those who recognize their need and want it.

This is the good news for us. Jesus comes to forgive our sins. And once we realize this, then we are also challenged as people who follow Jesus – to be those who forgive.
Let’s go back to my example at the beginning of this message – for those who are married or in a committed relationship think of your partner. For those who are not, think of another significant relationship in your life perhaps with a parent, a child, a good friend, or even a co-worker.  When you know you have messed up, or better yet, when that person says you have hurt them and you do not think you have messed up, but you can see that they are hurt, can you say, “I am sorry that my actions hurt you.” And then stop talking. You see, I think we often try to explain our actions rather than just seeing that we have hurt someone, and saying, “I am sorry I hurt you.” 

Just think what a blessing it was to that woman when Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” He did not make her list them. She did not try to justify them.
When someone has hurt you, do you want them to try to justify why they hurt you, or do you just want them to say: “I am sorry that my actions hurt you.”
As the band comes forward to sing, I want to invite you to think about what makes it hard to ask for forgiveness.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sacred Time And Space by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

If you visit the Holy Land, or talk to someone who has, you will find they built a church on top of all the places that are deemed some of the most Holy places of the life of Jesus. There is one big church, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built in two parts, one over Golgotha where Jesus was crucified and one over the location believed to be his tomb. If you go to Bethlehem looking for the stable, you will of course find a big church built on top of the location of said stable. 

We Christians like our big churches, can I get an Amen? In fact, every time we build a church, we have a worship service where we “consecrate” the space. This is when we dedicate it to God; we make it holy or we claim it as God’s Holy space.

Now, if you have been paying attention to our Sabbath series over the past couple of months you might say: hmmm. Why would we have to consecrate any space? Isn’t God everywhere, at every minute, in every space? Do we not simply have to stop, take a breath – breath in peace and breathe out chaos, and attend to the presence of God?  In our awareness, the time and space becomes holy, does it not? Why would we consecrate some spaces as holy? That implies that God is not in some other spaces.

It is a good question. To be honest, I don’t have a good answer. The truth is, we meet in a in a movie theater and call it our worship space.  I could just as easily call it a sanctuary.   I would say we consecrate it every Sunday as we put out the flowers on the table, as the band gets ready to play music, even playing hacky sack in the parking lot. We prepare food, because we know that when Christians gather around a table for food and conversation, we also share our lives together and care for one another. We get ready to meet God together.

And then by our actions in our worship together, we make this place holy. You see, when we pay attention to God in any space, then we can make that space holy (Kurt has felt the presence and spirit of God even in places of unimaginable horror & suffering that have been made holy by the expression of God’s love.  Places like the rubble of Ground Zero in New York, the place where Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, even before the memorials were built, or the memorials in Washington, DC like the Vietnam, WWII & Korean War Memorial, The Abraham Lincoln or the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial). 

Some might disagree with me. Some would say, there are sacred spaced and there are ordinary spaces. A beautiful cathedral with stained glass windows and a ceiling that draws our attention to the heavens is built to fill us with wonder and draw us closer to God. And indeed I have experienced just such wonder in just such a place.

Others say, they experience the wonder, and are, in fact convinced of the reality of God, when they climb to the top of a mountain and observe the beautiful landscape of the valley below, or travel to the ocean and stand ankle deep in the water and watch the waves roll into the shore.  In that moment of seeing and experiencing the vastness and beauty or creation, one cannot help but feel the presence of God. 

These magnificent spaces are indeed holy. But when I light a candle in the morning on a little table in the corner my living room next to my rocking chair I am consecrating a holy space. I am carving out a tiny little time and space where I will breathe in the peace of God and breathe out the chaos and the anxiety in my life. 

When I take time to pull out an old photograph album and think about loved ones who are far away, or those who have died, this can also be a time that is consecrated. Oh sure, you could just say I am being nostalgic. But if I have even the slightest awareness that these people are blessings from God, then suddenly an ordinary experience becomes holy. I have consecrated the time and space. I have invited God into my time of remembering as I ask God to bless the living and give thanks for all who I see the those old photographs and what they have meant to me.

How do you make time and space sacred in your daily life? In the scripture we read (Genesis 28:10-22 for those following along from afar), Jacob was running away from his brother Esau because they had a fight. It was a big fight over the family birthright. He has to leave his home and find a new one. He went to sleep one night using a rock for a pillow. (I know, a rock pillow does not sound comfy to me, but it’s important to the story.) God speaks to him in the dream and says: I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.

Jacob woke from his sleep and said:  “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it! …. How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God.” So he gets up. And as the story goes, he uses that stone (the one he had been using as a pillow) as the starting block to build a pillar for a house of God and he names the place Bethel (the House of God). This becomes his new home. He consecrates this sacred space because God gives him a new home and promises him a new life with land and with generations of offspring. Jacob is blessed by God and so he builds and consecrates a holy space. 

So I ask again: how do you, how do we create space and time for God? What rituals do you have to remind yourself of your connection to God? 

Jenny Gill told me this week of a family ritual she has to remember her mom and to give thanks to God for her life, and I’m retelling it this week with her permission. Her mom loved to collect little angels when she was alive. When Jenny goes home to Clyde to visit her dad, she drives right past the cemetery where her mom is buried and she often stops. One snowy day as she drove past, she decided to get out of the car and she just lay down on the ground and made a snow angel right on top of the grave. It is her own private ritual. She said she is sure the people that drive by must think she is crazy. (People will often think we are crazy when we do things that make us feel alive, by the way!) Now her boys, Trevor & Tanner, get out of the car and do it with her every time they go home and there is snow.  And they remember her and imagine her looking down from Heaven and smiling. What an amazing way to create a sacred space. 

My mom and I both have plans to be cremated and we made a deal years ago. Whichever one of us dies first is to take a trip wherever they want to go and spread the ashes there! Why not take a trip to a beautiful place to spread the ashes. After all, this body is just a shell. We came from the dust of the earth and to the dust we shall return. She and I have never been the type to visit cemeteries much. Some people do that, but we don’t. But whatever place I take her ashes, should she die first, could be a place a revisit as a beautiful place to remember the beauty of my mom. 

And not to digress too much here, let me just say a word here about a practice that seems to be gaining popularity. People are keeping the ashes of a loved one in an urn, or even sharing them among several family members. I even heard recently about companies that are making necklaces with a little bit of grandma’s ashes in them. As your pastor, I would caution you to think carefully about this. It may sound good, until you have several people die, and then you have several urns sitting on your mantel. And then what are your children and grandchildren going to do with all those urns that begin to add up. But more important than that: when someone dies, we need to let go. The body is just a shell. If we trust that their spirit is with God, which I hope we all do, then we need to find a way to let go of the physical. Find a beautiful place to scatter the ashes and then visit that place it you want to have some sacred time and space to remember the one you loved. 

          Getting back to our day to day life, my point is this. Of course we believe, in our heads, most of us, that God is with us every moment of every day and in every location. In reality, we go through most time and space too distracted by things of the world. We lose sight of God. Or we just get caught up in what is ordinary. So we don’t feel God’s presence. We forget God.

So we do need to consecrate sacred time and space. We need to consecrate Sabbath moments, Sabbath hours, or days. We need to set apart time and space and say: I will focus my attention on God now. I will listen to God. I will give thanks to God for blessings. I will pour out my heart to God. Or maybe I will simply breathe and remember that every breath comes from God, it is a gift from God. 

Each one of us has to find our own rhythm for doing this. Sunday morning worship is a good piece of that balance. Daily prayer is another. Creating a corner somewhere in a room in your home that is your space to be with God is also important. Family rituals to mark sacred moments and relationships are another. It all comes together so that we can join our ancestor Jacob each day in saying: “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it! …. How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God.” Amen. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

CARRY ON by Pat Groves (with an assist by Patti Lusher)

I had no idea until we were at annual conference that this sermon I am giving today would be part of Cheri’s Sabbath series.  Those of you doing book study on Sabbath know the book talks about a lot of things.  What it is in its entirety is our relationship with God.

Today I’ll talk about when we’re sinking like a stone, and we know God is there.

Hope that is seen is not hope.  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience.  This is difficult to grasp when we are suffering.  We know all things work together for good.  But we know when the pain gets too deep, it’s easy to lose sight of this fact.

As I was preparing this talk, I immediately thought of the song “Carry On.”  “If you’re lost and alone and you’re sinking like a stone, carry on.”  I’ve heard it a number of times but really didn’t understand what it’s all about.  It ‘s about the end of a relationship.  The singer’s significant other had said they are not right for each other.  He agreed and he was upset and in pain, but realized he needed to move on with his life.  He grieved about the broken relationship and connected with friends and managed to get through and move on.

I have a personal story.  Hillary, our daughter, was pregnant when she was 15.  She did not share this with us for quite some time.  One morning, she asked me to walk with her to school and she gave me a piece of paper that was folded up and told me not to open it until I got home.  I opened it up immediately after she left.   The note said she was pregnant.   I ran home hysterical.  For me, not to be able to fix it was unthinkable.   I couldn’t wrap myself around it.  It was an agonizing time.  We struggled with whether or not to keep this baby.  Hillary was in no way ready to be a parent.   I called Cheri and she spent quite a bit of time with Cindy and me, helping us not to go off the deep end.  She helped us to see that all of us were being graced by God.   Hillary decided to put the baby up for adoption. 

We went to an attorney and with the help of a counselor, Hillary chose a couple from a stack of applicants looking to adopt.   It was two gay men.  We invited them to dinner at our home and we had a great time.  When they left, Hillary said if we were not in this situation and met them, we would want them to be our friends.  They adopted the baby and we have remained close with them.  Now, Hillary’s other daughter loves her sister, who still lives with her dads, and we are all family. 

I love this story – God took broken pieces and made us whole.  Cindy and I had walked the walk of families who are “different.”  Now the baby’s two dads are carrying on with that walk.  We are examples to people of being a “different” family in our society.

However, not all of our stories are so easily seen as beautiful.  Sometimes that remarkable piece is not apparent.  Cindy and I have been together for 38 years and raised a child.  We planned to travel in our retirement, but Cindy’s illness has really put a damper on our plans.  It’s a daily struggle for both of us as we carry on.  We try to figure out what we can do to enjoy the time we have together.  In two weeks, we’re going to visit Hillary and our grandchild, and we’re very excited.  This is the joy, there is nothing more joyous in your life than a grandchild.  We carry on, although it is not always easy.  The scripture today reminds us that God is with us through our suffering and he will never let us go.  We need to remember that in our times of pain, he will lead us beyond that pain into joy.  It’s our responsibility to see it and embrace it.  Sometimes we have to push the pain aside in order to see the joy.

Our culture of courage is all about pain avoidance.  Television tells us again and again, “There is a pill for that.”  We do not want to suffer, we don’t want to be around people who are suffering.  We do not want to be inconvenienced or slowed down.   But, it is important that we embrace each other.  In order to feel the pain, we need to embrace it.

At work, I might ask a friend to go to lunch, but they tell me they have a toothache and couldn’t possibly chew anything.  I tell them they should go to a dentist and have the problem taken care of.  They say, oh, no, that would hurt too much.  So, they continue to suffer every day with the pain and don’t go out with their friends, because getting the pain fixed would hurt too much.  Often, that is how we deal with our emotional pain.  We carry the pain around and we don’t move on. 

How many of you saw the film Lincoln?  It’s incredible.  There’s a beautiful scene where Tad is sleeping by the fire and Abe lays down on the floor, kisses him, and carries him up to bed.  His love and compassion for his children is unbounded.  Now, Abe and Mary’s other son, Willie, had died.  Abe was able to carry on and continue to give his love to Tad, but Mary could not.   Connecting to Tad reminded her of the loss she had experienced.   She denied herself and her boy the joy of love.  One of the things we all know is that love wins.  If we allow ourselves to love, we will experience joy.  Mary missed all that. 

It’s also through our connections with each other that we get through our pain.  Cheri brought me back to the realization that God is there, that things work for good.

Our idea of comfort in our culture, as in a sign at McDonald’s that says “fluent in indulgence,” has only come about in the last couple of generations.  Before that, comfort was not a state of being; it was a state of doing.  It was about giving comfort and embracing your neighbor and those in pain, helping each other through difficult times.  People’s lives were not comfortable and suffering was much more common.

Suffering is a part of real life.  God put us here as beings to be God for each other, to demonstrate God’s love to each other.  If we are willing to embrace our pain, willing to reach out to those around us, we can carry on.  So I want to leave you with a thought today:  when you’re sinking like a stone, carry on.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

“God Provides” by Cheri Holdridge (with an assist by Kurt Young)

Experts estimate that as many as 2% of the American population suffers from this disorder, or chronic illness. There is usually a lot of shame around this problem so people go to great lengths to keep the situation a secret. In the room today, we have about 50 people so the odds are there is one person who suffers from this disorder; or if not one of us, there is certainly someone in our family that does.

 I’m talking about hoarding. Perhaps you have seen the television show on A & E about hoarders called Hoarders. Yes, we may laugh because of course, they show the worst of the worse situations on that show. But it’s no laughing matter if it is your mother, or daughter your husband or son who has the problem with rotting food, we heard about rotting food in our Bible story this morning, and piles of possessions so high that they block doorways and fill up bathtubs. It is a health hazard. Children of hoarders suffer emotional trauma. I learned in researching this, there are organization specialists who focus their work on helping families who have a hoarder. Because you can’t just go in and clean up the house; it will just happened again. And it does no good to judge; you have to carefully help them learn how to live in a new way. 

An article in the Wall Street Journal said: “To gradually cure compulsive shopping habits, the doctors suggest that the hoarder and a friend practice driving by and eventually going into a shopping mall or yard sale without buying anything, until the allure gradually fades. Some of us would find this difficult to do.
"We also have them generate a list of questions to ask themselves: Do I have enough money for this? Do I have space for it? Will buying it contribute to my problem or to the stress on my family?  Source:

Now on a continuum, with the hoarders, next along the way, there are the pack rats. These are those of us, myself included, who never want to throw anything away, because we think that somehow someday we will find a use for it. So we save the one glove without a mate. We have a drawer full of socks without partners. We have piles and piles, or file cabinets full, of paper that we just can’t part with. College papers, and every paper our kid brings home from school, and an attic full of dioramas. I think I need a support group for this.

There is an A & E TV show for us too: Storage Wars. People rent storage units for the stuff they don’t have room for in their houses. I wish Kurt & I had invested in storage units for our retirement.  Then we abandon them and people go and bid on them sight unseen in the hopes of finding treasure. Seriously?  In the stuff people have cleaned out of their houses and put into storage units, treasure.  Treasure in our abandoned storage units? I don’t think so.

One step along the continuum from the hoarders and the packrats are the compulsive shoppers. Now often the hoarders and compulsive shoppers are one and the same. It just depends upon how much access they have to money and credit cards. 

On an episode of hoarders that I saw, the organizational expert had hauled out all the clothes and said, “You have 2000 items of clothing here.” It takes a lot of shopping to buy 2000 items. There were 30 pairs of boots, and 22 pairs of black shoes. I’m not going to tell you how many black shoes I found of mine when I looked one time at mine.  The consultant on the show said, when you keep acquiring more things you are  “distracting against emotional pain.” (ibid).

George Carlin has a classic comedy routine about the “Stuff” we have in our lives.  And no, I couldn’t show it in worship due to the language in it.  But the routine is dead on. The meaning of life is trying to find a place for your stuff. Your house is place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff. When you travel you have to pack some of your favorite stuff to take with you so that wherever you are you feel at home because just enough of your stuff is there. But then while we are there, wherever we are, we shop and buy more stuff. 

We are a nation of materialism. We know this. There has never been a time or a nation of more excess than the United States of America in the 21st century. The spiritual question for today is: why? Why do we hoard? Why do we over-consume? Why do we shop till we drop? Why do we spend more than we make? Why do we never feel like we have enough? What emptiness are we trying to fill?

What emptiness are we trying to fill? That is the heart of the matter – what emptiness are we trying to fill? Wayne Muller, in his book Sabbath, has a chapter called “The Way of Enough.” This is one of my favorite chapters in the whole book. In fact, if you don’t read any other chapter, I encourage you to read this one. It starts with a quote by Thoreau: “I make myself rich by making my wants few.” 

He begins by telling the story from Exodus (Chapter 16 for those following along from afar) about the manna from God. This is from the forty years that the Hebrew people spent wandering in the Wilderness as God led them to the Promised Land. First Moses led them out of slavery in Egypt. They had to put their trust in Moses, and in God. But the journey, quite quickly, got difficult. 

They got tired, hungry and thirsty and began to complain and say it would be better to go back to slavery in Egypt. So God promised to send food every night. And on the sixth day God would send extra food for the Sabbath. The people were supposed to gather just what they needed. They were not to be greedy – not hoard or over-shop. Just trust God to supply their needs. But of course, some of the people wanted more. They thought there would not be enough. They gathered more than they needed. They hoarded. And you know what happened. That food spoiled. Lesson learned. God provides, God provides enough. Don’t mess around with God. Don’t take more than your share or the whole system will get out of balance. And boy our system is out of balance right now. They spent forty years in the Wilderness learning how to be God’s people. Some say that they had to have a whole generation grow up and learn how to be the people of God before they would be allowed to enter the Promised Land to live as God’s chosen people. 

What if God told us that we could have a deep intimate community with God, but we would have to learn how to do that over the next forty years? Would you do that? Perhaps that is just what God is asking us to do! Day by day, in putting our trust in God, and pausing for our Sabbath rest. To spend some time in the wilderness.  To spend some time knowing we don’t have anything unless we trust in God.  

Well Wayne Muller explains that we have lost the biblical concept of enough. We are searching for abundance. But the search for abundance is “fed by a lingering belief in scarcity. We are afraid there is not enough for us, we will grab for abundance – which is actually more than we need.” We are grabbing for way more than we need.

There is a difference between abundance and sufficiency. Sufficiency is a sense of satisfaction and well-being. It is that moment when we have enough. What is enough?
·         When our craving for food dissolves, but stopping before you are stuffed.
·         After we have arrived at our destination and we no longer need our GPS ot map.
·         After we have taken a drink of water (not the latest and greatest sports drink) from a fountain and we are no longer thirsty after a long walk
·         In prayer it is when we don’t focus on what we want, but we are grateful.
·         We have a sense of quiet satisfaction; a sense of enough. (201-202 of Mueller’s book)
Mueller writes that “when we are trapped in seeking, nothing is enough. In Sabbath time, we bless what is, for being.” (Page 202).  We are not seeking, we are not thinking it’s not enough. 

So, how about you? What does this mean for you? Where are you on the continuum? Are you hungry and thirsty all the time? Are you buried in your stuff, as George Carlin might say? There is no shame here, we are all in good company. We have all been there. We all have an emptiness we are trying to fill. It does not matter how rich or poor you are. I have seen people all across the spectrum caught in the trap of an insatiable hunger for more.   People who always want more, who feel empty.

But what if we could make a shift today? What if, rather than being on a never ending search, we could choose to be satisfied. Let’s just do this. Let’s just stop and say: “God provides and it is enough.”  God provides and it is enough. 

Trying praying this prayer with me: “This moment, this life, my life, right now, is enough.” “I am loved by God.” “I have these blessings – (and name your blessings) .” And let it be enough. Amen.