You just might have heard schools are closed, march madness was cancelled, and the NBA season is suspended. As a response some of you might have already started taking notes on The Walking Dead, I am Legend, or Planet of the Apes in preparation for the coming days. While many of you may be wondering when will all this hogwash will be done and over with. No matter what camp you are in its important to follow the guidelines of the CDC, WHO, and your local health department so that we can maintain the greatest amount of safety for all people.
One recommendation is social distancing. This refers to actions taken by the public to slow or stop the spread of a contagious disease. This can be cancelling events, avoiding mass gatherings, maintaining distance from others, and closing businesses, etc. These measures may seem extensive however taking extra safety measures counters the unknown of a contagious disease such as Covid-19.
Community of Christ has suspended all church gatherings for 3 weeks as part of this preventative measure to ensure safety of all people. However we do offer online worship groups if you are interested. Please visit Community of Christ Online Ministries.
12 Ways to Connect During Social Distancing
It’s important we maintain connection and community during social distancing. So how do that when we are isolating in our homes. Here are some community building ideas to maintain connection with others in these trying times. Remember there are people that live by themselves that will need connection now more than ever.
1. Video Interface/ Phone calls - Technology rocks! We have ample ways to stay connected to others through Skype, FaceTime, Facebook live, Zoom, etc. Schedule bedtime stories with grandparents, coffee time, kids play dates, or just time to chat with friends.
2. Text Messaging - Though it does not have the same effect it does keep us in communication. Text often! Check in on people. Those close to you and those you haven’t talked with in years. Think about those by themselves and reach out.
3. Social Media - When used appropriately, aka not arguing, pushing political agendas, or sharing inaccurate information, social media can be a way to stay connected. The key is to be personal with others responding to posts or just checking in on people you haven’t seen for awhile.
4. Spiritual Practices - Times like this can deepen our spiritual journey if we focus on it. Take time daily to engage in a spiritual practice. Allow yourself to find God as we need to make that connection. Unsure what to do? Check out all the spiritual practices we have blogged about.
5. Write a letter/ card - Everyone loves getting something personal in the mail or through email. In a time like this we need to share our thoughts and feelings with others. There are tons of websites to help with virtual cards and anyone can send an email or direct message through Twitter, Facebook, Snap Chat or other social media form.
6. Video Games - Gaming actually provides a network for people to do something in common together online. It can be a great device to stay entertained and make some fun moments while conquering a planet or overcoming a legendary boss.
7. Car Coffee - Brew your own coffee and then drive to meet your friend at a location. Each can remain in there car with the windows down if not comfortable getting out at a place in nature.
8. Virtual Book Club/ Film Study - Create a virtual book club or film review group to meet regularly to talk and socialize. It gives you a good reason to finish that book or movie you have been wanting to watch.
9. Cook and Share - This is great time to cook those chocolate blueberry muffins you have been wanting to bake. Make sure you are using good hygiene practices when cooking to ensure cleanliness. This means wash your hands and fight off the temptation to stick your finger in the batter to sample it. If you can be clean in the cooking and packaging process share them with your neighbor or a friend who is on their own. Place it on their porch and leave a little note.
10. Sing with Others - You May have seen videos from Italy and others where people began singing together on their balconies. Music can unite us and bring joy to our souls. If you find yourself in a similar situation maybe your singing or music will start the connection with others.
11. Be in Nature - This is great opportunity to become connected to the sacredness of creation. Go walk, hike, climb, or run. Open your eyes and observe the beauty. Listen to the cacophony of sounds. Identify yourself as just a piece of the larger creation. Connect to creation.
12. Donate - There are many great causes out there needing to push through during this time. Find one important cause to you and give money.
Remember we are in this together! I hope these suggestions may help you and others you know stay connected during this social distancing.
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This week reach out to someone and let them know you are thinking about them.
In March or April if you drive along the Kansas Turnpike you will most likely see the Flint Hills on fire. Thousands of acres are often lit creating a smoke filled landscape during the day and an eerie red light at night. At nighttime it almost feels like you are driving through the depths of hell. The blazing fires are controlled burns to improve the health of fields and prevent unwanted growth. The ashes provide extra nitrate to the soil. When the fire dissipates everything is dead creating a sullen, black landscape.
Amazingly within a few weeks the same area transforms into a beautiful living, breathing sanctuary of green fields. The new brightness of the plants covering the landscape speaks to the spirit of God that is in all creation. A spirit that boldly, says the divine is present and here with us. A spirit asking us to be cocreators in this world ensuring that nature is taken care of. The act is also a reminder of how through death new life is waiting to vivaciously spring forth.
Sometimes it this through the fires of our life where we find new life. It hurts. It's painful. It changes us. But the new creation that emerges is bold and beautiful living with a new understanding of the preciousness of life.
What fires have you been through and how did it impact your faith? Are there obstacles we are avoiding because we fear what we do not know? Our faith is a part of us and is affected by what we encounter and live through. So what role does faith have during these life experiences? Let's explore this further.
Trials and tribulations are scary. We often fear certain events and avoid moving forward. Unexpected situations devastate us, and can tear us a part. However when we walk through the adverse situations of life somehow we emerge stronger, better, and more capable then we ever have been before. Adversity make us grow as people and makes us seek something greater outside of ourselves. It is through these acts that hope emerges. Faith develops and goes deeper as we seek and find understanding for the events that transpired. It is in faith and understanding where we develop hope for the future. Hope for ourselves, hope for others, and hope for life in general.
The video below is Nick Vujicic who was born without arms and legs speaking at Telford State Prison about his life and the hope we can have through the difficulties of life. Nick travels around the world speaking and inspiring individuals. This video is quite long but if you have time to watch some of it I am sure you will be amazed and find the message of hope emerging through him.
Refining Ourselves Through Adversity
Refining usually refers to separating the impurities out and purifying the substance. But something has to be placed or go willingly through the fires to be refined. Adversity also refines us. However often when adversity strikes it is hard to stay positive. Staying hopeful in the midst of adversity is a skill. You can check out the article "How to Stay Hopeful and Resilient Through Adversity" by Joe Wilner for some ideas. The article "Refine Your Life" talks about the life cycle and how growth and development are cyclical. It gives some great ideas on how to figure out where you are in the cycle. One important aspect I want to draw attention to is reframing obstacles. The article indicates we need to ask these questions.
1. What can I learn from this?
2. Where else in my life is the same obstacle showing up, and how has it served me?
3. What can I do to address it?
4. Where is my opportunity to stretch?
5. Am I ready to let this obstacle go?
Asking these questions changes your perspective to be focused on development and life balance. Too often we feel powerless with adversity but we actually have a lot of choice in how we respond. Faithfully responding to adversity by choosing to seek positive growth is powerful. This does not mean we cannot feel dejected, hurt, etc. These are important feelings that should be acknowledged and felt. They are part of the process but at some point we must choose to reframe our thinking. We must choose to overcome our adversity.
Whatever you are walking through know there is hope. New life is waiting to vivaciously spring forward in you its just a matter of time. Go through the process at your own pace, reframe your perspective, ask the questions that matter to you and move forward. Allow the divine to guide you and may you find faith in the process.
Thank you for all those that follow along each week! We appreciate all the positive feedback and support.
This week ask the questions above about a situation you are facing?
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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