Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Holy Spirit and Coffee

I am a coffee lover.  I started drinking coffee as a child, when my mother would put coffee in my milk to entice me to drink the milk.  As I got older, the less milk was in my coffee.  Long ago, I weened myself from any additives that would take away from the rich flavor of the coffee. No sugar, no creamer, no froth, nothing.  Just pure, rich, dark coffee.  The older I got and my tastes matured, the darker the coffee roast I preferred.  As soon as I awake in the morning, I make my way in the dark through the house to the kitchen where, without turning on a light, I reach into the cabinet for my cup and the rack where we keep the K-Cups holding my preferred blend.  I lift the arm of the machine, insert the cup, lower it and select the largest brew size possible.  Making sure my cup is placed on the drip tray in just the right spot, I wait the minute for my fresh steaming cup of coffee.  I then will make my way to the chair I sit in to have my morning time of prayer, email, journaling, and meditation (not always in any particular order).  I sit the cup on the coaster on the table beside my chair, sit down and situate myself, and then pick up my cup, holding it close just smelling the wonderful aroma and watching the steam rise.  Then…I take my first sip of the day.  It is the best thing ever.  The rest of the cup is wonderful as well, but it isn’t nearly as celebrated as that first sip.  Then I continue with my day. 

This morning as I was performing this ritual, and as I was meditating on blessings and things I am thankful for, and people to whom I am grateful, I thought, “hey, the Holy Spirit is like coffee!”  Let me explain. 

I love God.  I love all the natures of God, and the Holy Spirit, in my thinking, is the most important nature of God.  The Holy Spirit represents that presence of God with us, not just in the cosmos.  We are all unique and important to God, and God is the God of all nature.  Not either/or, but both/and.  This is all a part of our understanding of the Holy Spirit.  The divine presence of God is made possible in the Spirit of God.  The guidance, comfort, wisdom, and inspiration from God comes from the Holy Spirit at work in our lives and in our world. 

Long ago, I was introduced to the knowledge of the Holy Spirit in diluted ways.  Stories in Sunday school and VBS, snippets of sermons a few times a year, other little ways the Holy Spirit was referenced.  I was not brought up in a Pentecostal or charismatic church so the Holy Spirit was referenced in less imminent ways.  Gifts of the Spirit, baptism of the Spirit, all of these doctrines were foreign to me.  As I got older, I began to develop my own understanding, my own experience of and with the Holy Spirit.  The less diluted my experience, the more significance I found in the working of the Holy Spirit in all our lives. 

Now, as I have matured in faith, I feel that the Spirit of God is with me and that I can find my way through the dark of the world to where I can sit and experience the presence of Spirit that is always present.  The more I removed anything that would dilute my experience of the presence of the Spirit, the richer my experience became.  I savor the presence of the Spirit in my life, and every morning, that first “good morning God” is always the best.  I prepare myself and my surroundings to be able to clear my mind, engage my spirit, and to observe the Spirit at work in the world.  The Spirit is present with me throughout the day, but occasionally, I will re-enact that first good morning sip of the Spirit at other times of the day when I especially need to feel that presence of God with me. 

See, God is made known in many ways through the work of the Spirit, even in observing my own patterns and deep love of coffee.  Do you have any rituals that you can relate to the presence of the Spirit?  Perhaps your preferred beverage of choice is a soda or a cup of tea? 

Good morning and may your day be filled with the experience of the Holy Spirit in your life. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016


As I was logging on to begin today, I see that my last post was December 2015.  I really should do better, but every time I say I will, I don't.  However, I am trying something new.  I have it written into my calendar that "blog" pops up periodically on my things to do list.  I'm sure I have never put off anything that is on my to do list!  *chuckle*

(Blogged while listening to Changes by David Bowie)

I have recently moved to a new appointment.  (Ch-ch-ch-changes) Many changes are taking place.  Change of address, work, community.  Change of people, routine, and staff.  I love some changes and hate others.  I like the change of season from scorching hot to cooler fall.  I hate software updates that do not ask my opinion on whether or not I want it.  Moving to a new community has its challenges and blessings.  There is no Pizza Hut here for delivery, but I love my new house and feel very comfortable here.  

Time may change me...
Of course, this is the oldest I have been to move into a new appointment (duh).  I find that perhaps I am not adjusting as well as I have in the past.  Perhaps it is because this time I am taking time to figure out how to ease in, rather than rushing in.  I find I am much more comfortable with coming in and making changes.  Churches even expect it.  New pastor, new ideas.  Maybe this time we can grow!  But then they become trained to do what the pastor wants, rather than to come up with something lasting that is truly the congregation's identity.  I want to hold out for the quality that comes with patience.   

Perhaps this is why I have been reflective about change in general.  During a recent morning meditation, I had the thought:
If you don't believe anything will change, you will not do what you are doing for very long.
Meaning if you are doing something, putting time and energy into something, that you hope will bring about something better--a better world, a better community, a better church, or even a better you--you must believe that the change can and will happen.  I find we often think we want change, but our own actions defeat the very change we want to make because we really do not believe it is possible.  We want to be ecologically friendly, but do not think any actions we put into place will make any real difference.  So we continue on as before.  

This brings to mind the prayer of Mother Teresa now Saint Teresa of Calcutta:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

-this version is credited to Mother Teresa
Another thought I had that morning was:
If you do believe things will change as a result of your work, you must be open to change.  
That may seem to make sense, if you work toward change things will change.  I do not know how many congregations that want change (more funds, more members, more outreach, more impact), but do not really want things to change.  It seems they want to bring in more money and new people, but want these new people to do exactly the same things that have always been done.  Another example, I want to lose weight, begin an exercise program, and overall become a healthier me.  However, I find that as much as I want this change, I also want cookies, pie, candy, ice cream, and all the other goodies I can find.  

(Cue Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie)

What I have noticed in life is that change happens whether you want it or not (software updates, etc.), and you have a choice in how you handle it.  You can work actively to bring about change that is positive, helpful, and makes things better.  You can actively work against change which will bring about change that is negative, detrimental, and makes things worse.  You can passively accept whatever the wind and life blow your way.  The choice is yours.  When we work toward positive change, it is life-giving and life-bringing.  When we work against change, that will happen anyway, it brings death.  

What changes are you facing in your life?  Even good changes like a new baby or new job bring stress.  Other changes such as a divorce or death, being fired or an illness, bring even more.  How can you actively work to bring about change that is good and positive, knowing that we can never stop change from happening.  

Grace and peace.