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Archive for Sunday, June 3, 2012

Faith Forum: What are your favorite religious activities to do over the summer?

June 3, 2012

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The Rev. Paul Gray, senior pastor, New Life in Christ, 619 Vt.:

I’m thrilled to say that I have no favorite “religious activities” any time of year!

Religion, as I understand it, is any effort to gain or maintain favor with God by my efforts. I hope I never participate in another “religious activity!”

The good news of Jesus Christ is that he has already done everything necessary for me to be right with God — now and forever! He wants me to rest in that knowledge, relax and enjoy life with him. Jesus Christ lives in me. So everywhere we go and everything we do, we do together!

I enjoy Jesus when I’m having a cup of coffee and talking to him as the sun comes up on my front porch, mowing the yard, driving my car, watching TV or reading a book. I seem to especially enjoy Jesus when we’re with other people: playing catch with my son and grandson; having a meal with my wife, daughter and friends; playing music with friends; going to a Royals game with family and friends; hanging out with people in any and every situation! That’s what Jesus did when he was on the earth in his own human body — he just hung out with people and did life with them.

Most of them were not yet Christians and he didn’t spend much time at “church.” He had no use for religion or people who thought religion was the way to please his father. By God’s grace, Jesus chooses to live in us and through us. My favorite activity is to do life with Jesus 24/7, 365. That’s his favorite activity, too — not just with me, but with you too! Enjoy him!

— Send email to Paul Gray at paul@newlifelawrence.com.

The Rev. Peter A. Luckey, senior pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.:

A summer walk through the Flint Hills brought me to a still place.

I slipped off my backpack and sat down on a rock. Except for a hummingbird’s motoring little wings, suspending her in mid air as she drank nectar from some red trumpet vines, all else was quiet. The words of the Psalmist came to me:

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Making time for solitude is a spiritual activity I treasure all year around, but especially so in the summer when God’s creation begs us to be out in it. The spiritual practices of the world’s great religious traditions have known for centuries about the life-giving restorative power that can come from such quiet moments. In ancient times, Christian monastics retreated to the desert to find God. Zen Buddhists meditate in the beauty of a Zen garden in their quest to attain enlightenment.

Religions that stand the test of time know that the secret of life is finding a balance between community and solitude. We are social beings. We need connection, engagement with others, to feel part of a greater whole.

And yet, the truth is that we can sabotage the very community we long for, if we go after it without first finding a center in ourselves. Said in another way, it’s only by having some distance on the world that we can see it whole; it’s only by stepping briefly away from those we love that we have something useful to bring to them.

Take time this summer to be “still.” Unplug. Disconnect. Hear the Psalmist whisper to you, “Know that I am God.”

— Send email to Peter Luckey at peterluckey@sunflower.com.

Comments

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

Reverend Paul and Reverend Peter...

Serendipity at its loveliest this bright and shining June morning!! To read Faith Forum and discover TWO kindred spirits...because of Jesus...BEAUTIFUL!!!

Thank you for your comments...which put THE biggest smile on my face as I related so fully to both of your commentaries. I'll be taking a walk through the path in the woods later as the sun starts to leave us...the rolling, seemingly endless, mountains all around are standing as friendly blue/green sentinals while the sunlight plays upon their many glorious hues...an extraordinary way to complete this gorgeous day!

samsingleton 2 years, 6 months ago

It is disheartening to know that, when it comes to talking about belief in God, Brother Sam can never be half as funny as these guys.

Patricia Davis 2 years, 6 months ago

Light a bonfire (ok, in my case, candles in my garden) to celebrate the summer solstice.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 6 months ago

Nailed a retread to my feet and pray for better weather. Half step, Mississippi Uptown, ...

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 6 months ago

I suppose that my favorite religious activity in the summer is something that most people wouldn't consider to be religious. Unfortunately, it does not happen nearly as often as I would like.

My favorite "religious" thing to do in the summer is to relax in the sun and think to myself:

"I can't think of anywhere else that I'd rather be than right here right now." & "This is amazing. How did this all come to be? Reality is amazing, and here we are."

This verse is totally out of context, but I like it anyway:: Genesis Chapter.28, verse 17:

",,, How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

Hi Ron...

I understand your need to get away and think. No distractions. And as for your verse "totally out of context"...well, you should "like it anyway"...it's a marvelous way to describe your aforementioned relaxation in the sun!

I learned a long time ago that it doesn't matter at all what most people consider to be "religious". My Lord knows my heart and knows I live every day of my life for Him. I'm not perfect (who IS??), but when I've said or done hurtful words or acts toward another, I try to recognize that and apologize. And then I turn to my Lord, who holds me close to His heart and tells me I am His own. It doesn't matter if I am in a grand cathedral...or at my favorite spot on the white sand of the Gulf...or in my mountain hide-away...He is there. Psalm 139:7-10..."Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." (NIV 1984)

He knows if I'm going to say something I shouldn't even before the words come out of my mouth. And He forgives...He's so faithful in forgiving this weak and scarred vessel. He's mended me so many times, yet those scars remind me evermore of His great love and compassion for me. Wow...that's what really blows me away...His mercy and His grace.

When I'm back home in Florida, there's an area on the Gulf Coast that certainly is my outdoor catherdral...and as you mention, I cannot think of anywhere else I'd rather be than right there at that exact moment! Yes, Ron, that truly is amazing and it is, indeed "none other than the house of God" to me. I know of which you speak...I understand so very well.

When I'm here in the breath-taking North Georgia mountains, or in the Tennessee or North Carolina mountains, I have the same thoughts and feel exactly the same way as I do on the Gulf Coast! The beauty is awesome and none other than the house of God to me. Very sacred...very life-renewing.

I'm so glad you shared your "totally out of context verse"...which, as it turned out, is absolutely perfect!! (I received your PM...thanks for thinking of me...God knew I needed this most lovely "boost" right about now...and here you are with it)...I am blessed!!! Thank you, Ron.

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

Hi tange...so good to see you again. :~)

I've been wondering how Ophi is doing these days. Tell him I said, "Hello", and that I find myself missing him from time to time. (Think I've told you that before...)

I hope you have a wonderful week, tange.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 6 months ago

Sob, okay, rub it in that you can go all those places that I will never see again. I guess I should just be happy I saw them once, or twice. I miss them!!! I am glad that you can go, seriously.

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

Hi frankie8...I was rather startled to see your post there with tange's at the exact same time. Guess they both came in while I was responding to his post below at 9:40. That's rather strange...that they would both come in at the exact same time...wow, wonder how often that happens on LJW??!

I don't think we've met...perhaps you're new to LJW. If so, welcome! And thank you for your last sentence above. That's very sweet of you to say. Have a great night!!

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

tange...I would really enjoy hearing about your way of life...we all fall from time to time...I told (above) what a patched-up vessel I am.

Oops...I forgot I'm boycotting the * and " because of Alyosha!! ('nother story...)

It's an hour later here...I have suitcases to pack tomorrow, so it's snooze time for me. I'll be in Ohio for about three weeks (not my favorite state by any stretch of the imagination) BUT my daughter, son-in-law, and THE most wonderful granddaughter in this whole world are there for now...so, it's all worthwhile, to say the least. Allison is already planning to teach me how to play the recorder aka fipple flute aka flute-a-phone (that may be flute-a-fone!! ha!). We should sound like a hoot...literally!! I think my daughter and son-in-law will run for the hills...and I don't blame them.

Good night, tange...I hope all is well...

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

I never realized you had a sister...and certainly not two decades younger...I LOVE nieces and nephews...you must have been tired when you got home... :~) Children can be very wearing...but worth the exhaustion!!

I'm glad all is quite well, tange. Yes, I will travel safely. Thank you!

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

I've noticed that the time printed out on my posts are an hour earlier than the time on my computer...will have to figure that out at some point. I wish I DID have that extra hour!

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

Did you notice what I just typed? Oh, I can't believe anyone would ever trust me with editing again...ever.

......"the time printed out on my posts ARE an hour earlier"....

Is there ANY way at all to make that ok?? HA!!!! I'm so tired, I'm loopy...Ok, this is for real...Good night...

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 6 months ago

I promise to do these things daily:

I will accomplish something. Even if it's no more than baking a pie or putting two rows on the afghan, I will work toward creating something that didn't exist before and wouldn't without me.

I will learn something. There is no such thing as useless trivia. It is only in knowledge that I can truly appreciate the wonders of the universe and in that appreciation lies happiness.

I will feed my soul. I will smell a flower, marvel at the sunset on the mountain, feel the softness of the cat's fur and the rumble of her purr under my hand, savor the sweetness of a fresh fruit and hear the beauty of a bird song.

I will be kind to someone. Because in the process I will be kind to myself.

(This is not a "copy and paste". This is what I wrote in my diary this morning.)

FloridaSunshine 2 years, 6 months ago

Hi cait...

This is simply beautiful...and an inspiration to me, personally. I especially appreciate, "I will work toward creating something that didn't exist before and wouldn't without me." Actually, every line is exquisitely written...thank you for feeding my soul. I'm having a hectic day and I needed this moment of calm in the midst of it all.

I would never have thought for a moment this to be a "copy and paste". I have been journaling since I was 15 years old...I admire the fact that you are able to write at 6:17 a.m.!! :~)

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