'Pleasant Cove - Woolwich, Maine'
We all go through emotional ups and downs. No spiritual path can promise us we will never feel down in a drab mood. We cheer ourselves up. That is part of being an adult, picking ourselves up from the doldrums. There is no reason to wallow in the bog of despond. And self-pity is antithetical to spiritual life. I, at times, have to remind myself to cheer myself up. I recall the day I became aware I could choose happiness. Yet, it sure is a blessing to have someone around to brighten us up when we forget to do it for ourselves.
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Christian Scriptures . . . I Thessalonians 5.11 -
So, keep encouraging and strengthening one another, as you are already doing.
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A little over a decade ago, I came upon two cards from churches I had served. I had kept such gifts to refer to when discouraged or uncertain about my divine calling to pastoral ministry.
A few years before, some United Methodist congregation members tried to have me removed from pastoral service in The United Methodist Church. These members were saying I was liberal and, so, unworthy to serve. To get me out of the very stressful situation, the Bishop of the Conference sent me to lead two churches in Madison County, Florida. One was in Pinetta, and one nearby in the county.
I was leaving a frying pan and entering another frying pan. I was leaving a troubled church, one that had been a "preacher killer" church for decades. I was going north in Florida. The Bishop appointed me to serve two churches that just had their pastor fired. He had been arrested for domestic abuse and, additionally, was subject to accusations of sexual misconduct, accusations that appeared valid.
I enjoyed the role of healer in the two congregations. I could not keep everyone together - some left due to their allegiance to the prior pastor. Yet, the experience of eight months there proved to be one of my most enjoyable times of pastoral service.
The card I refer to above was from a dear woman named Ruth. She was the official and unofficial leader of one of the churches - a small one of about fifteen persons, the one in Pinetta. Ruth and I connected well on a spiritual level. I recall her fondly; she was a strong leader and sensitive to Spirit. Ruth was a sagacious person in her 70s and who respected my role as her pastor while providing wisdom for a much-younger companion of the Way.
Here is the card message Ruth sent upon my departure from the Pinetta church. I will share it and make some following comments applicable to us all.
GOD BLESS YOU,
INSIDE FRONT COVER
"May you be blessed
by the Lord, the Maker
of heaven and earth."
PSALM 115.15 NIV
INSIDE BACK COVER
May you be encouraged
to know that His love,
His life, and His truth
are flowing through you
to change the lives of others.
Last, Ruth, in her own handwriting, penned the following message:
Thanks for answering
His call, following His
heart and modeling His love.
May the Lord Bless you
abundantly - Love, Ruth
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Our call to bless others happens within an ecology of supportive, caring relationships. This need applies to us, also, who live lives of solitude. We all need others' affirmation of our gifts to serve and worthiness to do so. When we doubt ourselves or our work or face opposition, these fellow-pilgrims reassure and cheer us. At times, they might hold us accountable when we slouch in the sacred calling given to us. If they do, these kind-hearted beings will do so in compassion. Their holding us accountable will be encourging.
From your past, who encouraged you, providing confirmation of yourself and giftedness to bless others with your presence and work, and whose inspiration still remains to encourage you? In what ways do you inspire others trying to make a positive difference in others' lives?
Peace to All!
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book is a collection of poems based on mystical traditions, especially Christian and Sufi, with extensive notes on the teachings and imagery in the poetry.