May 2023

Why does living faithfully seem so complicated sometimes?

When I hear this question, it is usually in the context of other Christian traditions who make faith seem easy – just follow the rules!  There’s only one problem… we are supposed to be under grace, not law.  We teach that Scripture is the Living Word… it moves and breathes and speaks to each moment with God’s power.  A list of rules, however ‘good’ they may be, restrict God’s movement. The standard we are held to is even higher… to align ourselves and live out of God’s love in the world will challenge and transform us.

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How can I become more aware of the Holy Spirit in my life?

Becoming more aware of God’s presence in our lives is a goal Christians have been striving towards since Christians have been a thing! Many monks, ministers, and lay people have found ways to practice being aware of the Holy Spirit through prayer, meditation, journaling, art, music, nature, etc. Those practices are called Spiritual Practices. One of the practices that I do often is Practicing the Presence of God, where I imagine that Jesus is sitting beside me as I go through my daily routine. Spiritual Practices can do more than just help us to be aware of God’s presence, they give us an opportunity to rest and can have mental and physical health benefits too. There are many websites and books (and a group called Women in the Middle at GLC) that can help you to find spiritual practices you enjoy. The book “Just Begin” by Dann E. Winger or the website and book “Praying in Color” by Sybil MacBeth are great places to start. Happy searching! ~ Vicar Sharai Jacob

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 If we die to sin in baptism, why do we still keep making mistakes and sinning?

The word translated as ‘sin’- hamartia- means missing the mark.  We can all agree that we miss the mark daily.  We fail to see all the ways God is at work in our lives, to care for others in need, to navigate tests and temptations.  The proclamation about dying to sin in baptism is about our relationship with our failures and mistakes.  Do we face them honestly and work to reconcile things that are broken or damaged when we miss the mark?  Or do we get defensive and angry?  Wallowing in our failures and shame are other ways that our mistakes can continue to have power in our lives.  It is not about never making a mistake again, it is about how we move forward from our mistakes, trusting that the work of God in the resurrection of Jesus gives us hope and strength to handle it and continue to grow in our faith and trust.

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I want change but not catastrophe…

After spending a week in an area devastated by flooding and the evidence that life can be swept away in a moment, I’ve been thinking about how we resist and invite change.  The folks we served with last week didn’t have a choice.  They are grieving the loss, dealing with trauma, and trying to rebuild.  Which made me think about how to detach from my ideas about what really gives security. Then this came to my devotions this week- I share it with you to provoke your thoughts, too:  “Lord, I confess I want the clarity of catastrophe but not the catastrophe. / Like everyone else, I want a storm I can dance in. / I want an excuse to change my life.” – Franny Choi, “Catastrophe is next to Godliness”  ~ Pastor Trudy Stoffel

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what if I can’t go on a mission trip? 

First, don’t count yourself out. Mission trips come in all shapes and sizes! But if you know with great certainty that you can’t, maybe you can support mission trippers by making a donation to the mission trip fund which can help others go on the trips or to CAP which allows their work to continue. If that’s not an option, hold it all in prayer. We know that poverty exists beyond Eastern Kentucky and natural disasters are persistent (we are doing a lot of post flood work). In that way you are encouraging good work – in Jesus’ name! – Pastor Trudy Stoffel

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