Last week I had the opportunity to volunteer at Vacation Bible School at Immanuel Lutheran church. The theme for the week was St. Francis of Assisi. The children heard stories and watched skits about Francis. They learned about his wealthy family, and about how Francis gave up his lavish, party-going lifestyle to listen more and more closely to God. They heard about his love for God, humanity, nature, and peace. They learned in Sign-Shi-Do (a combination of sign language and Tai Chi) the signs for "In You, O Lord, I have found my peace." The children baked bread over coals for communion, made rope, and one day dressed in simple brown tunics -- tied with their hand-made rope -- in the style of Francis. They made care kits for folks at Uptown Ministries, and finished up the week with a Blessing of the Pets and a picnic. It was a good time for all.
One of the songs in Vacation Bible School was "Lord, Make Us Instruments of Your Peace" based on the Prayer of Saint Francis. This prayer is defnitely not just for kids. If we want to be God's instruments, spiritual disciplines like prayer and meditation can help us find more peace in our lives, and let that peace spill over into the world.
I've been reading Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster. It's a little book, not hard to read, and something of a classic on spiritual disciplines. Well-written and lively, it contains chapters on prayer, meditation, fasting, and study, complete with instructions. Foster mentions "holy leisure," an idea that goes back to the Church Fathers. It refers to a "sense of balance in the life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an abillity to pace ourselves." It challenges our multi-tasking lives that can border on frenzy (at least I know mine can), and a society that judges people by their productivity. Francis of Assisi is someone who understood and embodied holy leisure.
This summer, I wish you time that nourishes your soul and brings you peace. May you enjoy those you love, savor quiet moments at beach, park, or cafe, appreciate the goodness of creation, hang out with God in prayer or meditation, and cherish the "small moments" that are all around us. Read Foster's Celebration of Discipline (and the new Harry Potter). Are there other people who need you? Are there neighbors you can serve? Do as much good as you can for as many as you can. Listen, like Francis, to what God might be saying to you. May these things together help us become ever more sensitive instruments of God's peace.
The Rev. Laura Gottardi-Littell
for The Pastoral Team
The Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler
In the fall our worship time will change to 5:00 p.m. starting September 9th. We hope this change of time in combination with the provision of childcare will make our congregation more welcoming for families with young children.
Shared Worship with Immanuel Lutheran Church -- Sunday morning 10:30 August 5. No worship service at Reconciler that evening. Come worship with us Sunday morning, as we seek to deepen our connection to the Immanuel and St. Elias congregations, on our common "Campus of Discipleship."
We will be at the Glenwood Arts Festival August 25 and 26th. The focus will be on art from our artists in the congregation . Talk with Chrissy and Larry about displaying your art at the festival. Chrissy will be also organizing the staffing of the booth.
'Nidge North (AKA Tripp and Trish's house) Potlucks and Movie nights TBA.
Pastoral Care - The Pastoral Team will be divvying up pastoral care duties. Each pastor will be "on" for a month at a time. Larry is available to handle any and all pastoral care needs at Reconciler for the month of August.