Happy belated Father's Day to all those father's out there. I had a great time with my boys however I reflected more than usual on the short amount of years I had with my father. I remember we decided not to attend church the first Father's Day after he died as it was just too hard. However as years passed my family did start attending church on Father's Day again. I remember distinctly crying my eyes out when the hymn "This is My Father's World" was played. It written as a poem by Maltbie Davenport Babcock and was set to music by Franklin L. Sheppard in 1915. Here is a great video of it if you haven't heard it by Fountainview Academy.
For me I had a loving, generous, hardworking, and caring father. It was easy for me to think of God as a father because of the relationship I had experienced. However many have not had the same experience and relating God to a father may be difficult and put strain in their spiritual relationship with the divine. As a follower of Christ I must acknowledge words mean a lot and can cause much pain to people when they are used in the wrong context or cause past memories to surface. I believe churches have an obligation to try to bring wholeness to as many people as possible which means language plays an instrumental role. It is through our language where we hear who God is in our lives. It is through language in which we creatively understand our experiences with the divine. Often times we get stuck on tradition including our language instead of moving with the spirit of love and peace.
In Community of Christ Sings the lyrics for "This is My Father's World" were changed to be more inclusive and sensitive to those who do not experience the divine as a father. It is now "This is God's Wondrous World". Though I will always relate this song to my father I am extremely proud of the the change that has occurred because it shows an awareness to the use of language in our lives. When we are sensitive to the needs of others and take action toward those sensitivities, than we are walking in the Saviors stead.
There will be some who disagree with this and only see God as a man. Changing the words is not a challenge to your own perception rather an acknowledgment that it can cause deep pain in others. Continue to view God in your way, but know your perception is not the only one. If we as disciples can create healing relationships and acknowledge others perspectives different than our own than we are following Jesus.
What relationship do you equate with the divine?
Is there language you use that may cause deep pain in others?
How can you bring wholeness to others through your words?
I appreciate everyone who continues to spread hope and love in this world during this year where life has been turned upside down.
This week reflect on how you use language and take measures to make it more inclusive.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
- Micah 6:8
What else is there to say! This bible verse identifies what we are to do and be about in this world. Lets explore each of these briefly.
We are to be about God's justice. But what is God's justice? There are various viewpoints all claiming to justly act in God's name. However with historical events like the Crusades we all know that not every action is just. I think if we really break down the word we find the answers.
Justice is a concept of moral rightness. It examines fairness and equitable rights. Its taking action to treat people and creation fairly. Throughout the Bible just is also referred to as taking care of the most vulnerable in our society. The poor, needy, abused, brokenhearted, homeless, etc. We can all trick ourselves in believing we are just individuals. But God calls us to really examine ourselves to determine if we are truly looking out for the rights of others, seeking the best for creation, and taking care of the most vulnerable in our world. Talk about a challenging endeavor. This challenge is what God is continually leading us to. To stand for the equal rights of others, affirm inestimable worth of all individuals, uphold the sacredness of creation, create and restore relationships, and support those on the fringes of society. What else is more worth our time? This is acting justly!
The Hebrew word hesed can be translated into the word "mercy", "grace", "loyal love" or "loving kindness". It takes on the idea of faithful love in action. We can attribute loving kindness as an attribute of God which is revealed in Jesus. To understand hesed is to understand the heart of God. Its an entire embodiment of kindness. In essence God is saying loving kindness is an internal transformation of our hearts. We change who we are, our thoughts, our actions, our priorities, our feelings. Kindness is allowed to flow through our entire mind, body, and soul. This transformation propels us to act kindly in all aspects of our life.
However truly being kind in everything we do is a challenge. I know I struggle with this because this goal is hard to reach. I find its not about reaching this goal but continuing to work in molding who I am around kindness. This internal work is never completed. Hence love is an action, an ongoing endeavor toward loving kindness. Strive to live loving kindness!
Walk Humbly With Our God
Walking humbly is about our attitude toward God. Its about acknowledging there is something greater than ourselves that is at work in the world. Its not about me, but about the God who is reflected in everything I do. God is asking you to walk with the divine and trust in the direction you are going.
We have been graced with gifts, talents, skills, positions, wealth, etc. but all of those things can be wiped away in an instant. Taking on this gratefulness and knowing there is a God whom is walking with us through the circumstances we find ourselves in is everything. We must set aside our pride and give thanks for the Lord who is in all things. For when we humble ourselves we are lifted up by the one who loves all things.
Thank you to everyone who is faithfully serving God and making this a better world.
This week do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.
I have found God often speaks into our lives in a variety of ways trying to get our attention, we just have to be open to seeing, listening, and feeling that divine presence. They are often small nuggets of insight leading us to greater discovery of ourselves, others, and the mission of God.
One night many years ago I went to a parent teacher conference to assist a teacher in meeting with some parents about their kids behavioral needs. I pulled into the parking lot and headed into the school as I had done so many times before. As I turned down the hallway I noticed a table set up right in the middle, so no one could miss it. There were heaps of colorful, children's clothes stacked on top of the table. Taped to the front of the table was a little sign reading, "Help the lost find their home."
I was taken back immediately by this message. Of course I knew the sign was intended for parents to gather their kids missing clothes but it held so much more weight and meaning. Reading this made me think about the story of the lost sheep and in general people who do not have a spiritual home. The message was a reminder to me about the many people who have not found their spiritual home. Now I am not fond of the word "lost" in describing people. Despite this word nuisance I understood the challenge and call God has for us to nurture and guide others on their journey to finding a place where they feel welcomed, supported, and loved.
Let's explore the word home, how it is used in regards to faith journeys, and what insights this might provide for us in helping others.
Everyone's understanding and perspective of what home is comes from their experiences. Some people believe home is a secure, safe environment where people feel loved, understood, and cared for. Others may only see it as a location and physical place where they lay their heads. And for some home is something they run from because it has been unwelcoming, hurtful, demeaning, and traumatic. Its the place where the people who are supposed to care most about them do not and only create further anger and hurt. As much as I do not want to acknowledge this, I must because it is the reality that some people live. It is never right when someone is abused, demeaned or violated. If this has happened to you know that it is not your fault. I believe God is with you and has never left you not even for a minute. You have never been alone.
Whatever your experience was growing up or you are currently in I want to let you know home can be what you make it. It can be the place where you can be yourself. It can be the place you have always wanted it to be. It can be a place where love and compassion reign.
Spiritual homes are places where we can gather in community with others to experience the divine. Its a place to further our spiritual journey by deepening our faith and building relationships with others. The people and environment comfort us to be able to share and dive into deep questions about our faith and what we believe. This may mean challenging doctrine and long held beliefs to determine current views. There are also specific practices taking place focused on helping us connect spiritually. For the science behind spirituality check out this awesome blog article "The Science of Spirituality" by Catarina Lino.
Spiritual homes are essential for us to grow. However finding a spiritual home that fits our personality and needs can be difficult. What should we look for in finding a spiritual home? Here are some suggestions:
1. Welcoming Atmosphere - The environment and people need to be a place full of welcoming. A lot goes into welcoming others but essentially its about the atmosphere that we perceive and feel when are in this environment. This includes the unspoken climate right from when you walk in the door to when you leave.
2. Fits Your Needs and What You Seek - Before we search for spiritual homes an assessment of your personal needs should be done. What is the purpose behind finding a spiritual home? What in particular will help you grow deeper with the divine? How are you wanting to be challenged? Are you just wanting a community be a part of? Answer the questions about why you are seeking and you will have a better understanding of what you are looking for.
3. Diversity Not Uniformity - Spiritual homes need to be diverse places with a variety of thought. Churches are often comprised of people with similar beliefs and tend to not want to ask questions but seek uniformity. Spirituality is our individual connection with the divine and diverse community allows us to seek out ways to deepen that connection.
4. Spiritual Practices - Many times spiritual practices are things we do on our own but they can also be done as a community. Spiritual homes should have various ways you can practice your spirituality. This may be service to others in volunteering in your local community or meditation groups that focus on your inward journey. I believe the understanding that spirituality is a journey with others comes out of this collective group effort to deepen our faith. Check out our blog articles about spiritual practices if you are interested.
I hope that along your faith journey you can find someplace to call your spiritual home. A place that is welcoming, diverse, fits your needs, and helps you develop your spirituality.
I am grateful for those who follow this blog and want to invite anyone thats near by to join us for our monthly small group.
This week begin to assess yourself to get an understanding of what type of spiritual home you are searching for.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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