Greetings From Grace: “Now is the moment for which a lifetime of faith has prepared you. All of those years of prayer and study, all of the worship services, all of the time devoted to a community of faith: it all comes down to this, this sorrowful moment when life seems chaotic and the anarchy of fears haunts the thin borders of reason. Your faith has prepared you for this. It has given you the tools you need to respond: to proclaim justice while standing for peace. Long ago the Spirit called you to commit your life to faith. Now you know why. You are a source of strength for those who have lost hope. You are a voice of calm in the midst of chaos. You are a steady light in days of darkness. The time has come to be what you believe.” - Bishop Steven Charleston, Episcopal
My whole life people have told me that I need to “put some meat on my bones”! I am aware that this comment comes from a place of love and concern, but I am always shocked that people feel comfortable commenting about my weight. I have never walked up to someone and suggested that they shed some of the weight off their bones! How we care for our physical bodies can inform how we care for our souls, however. Just like how we care for our church building is a reflection of how we care for our community. And how we give to the church reflects our spiritual maturity.
I think what I find interesting about people telling me to put on weight, is that they don’t care about how. I agree I would like to be stacked with abs and great calves, but weight for the sake of weight isn’t helpful. No one has ever come up and asked me to go to the gym with them to build muscle mass, no one has offered to be a walking partner, and honestly, the people who comment the most haven’t even brought food to our house to “fatten us up”. I can hear the wisdom in their voices but seldom do I find a hand reaching out to help me grow into a healthier version of myself. My fear is that sometimes the church can sometimes feel like this. Thank you for pointing out my obvious flaws but where is the liferaft I am looking for? Where is the real guidance and assistance I need to get back on this “path” everyone is talking about? I’m looking for “community” and everyone keeps telling me to “take care of myself”.
The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) is filled with stories of people who saw problems all around themselves and didn’t know how to courageously lead their fellow believers to a renewed relationship with God. When things got so bad, it is believed that God raised up prophets to speak truth to ears often reluctant to listen. I believe that God continues to raise up prophetic voices among us and that there is great wisdom in looking at the prophets of the past for guidance in our personal and communal spiritual development.
Starting this Sunday, we will begin a 12-week journey through the Minor Prophets (Hosea - Malachi). My hope is that in a world where the problems seem endless, we will find thoughtful and faithful responses to the forces of wickedness that threaten the dignity and self-worth of our siblings. I also pray this journey will call us to examine the ways we offer assistance to one another. Spiritual community is about modeling the ways we should care for one another and not just speaking truth to power. I am not looking to come home to a porch filled with casseroles, but I am hoping for that one person in the congregation who is also struggling to maintain their ideal weight and wants to do something about it, TOGETHER! I hope your excited about the numerous opportunities this Fall to spend quality time getting to know people who you can share your struggles with and know they are cared for not just spoken to.
In this season at Grace UMC, we are putting weight back on these dry bones. And I ask you to prayerfully consider the question: “What can God do through me to make this ministry happen?” Because the reality is, that putting meat back on the bones is difficult work. Our bodies change and they require different things as we age and our muscles don’t build as quick and fast as they did when we were young. But God is doing something new here. And like the prophet Ezekiel, we can stand above the graveyard of dry bones and see them dancing with new life when the Spirit of the Lord descends upon them! Let’s dream together!
Grace & Peace in the Name of Jesus:
Rev. Samuel Beaves-Fisher
firstname.lastname@example.org | Office: (406) 259-8711