Vocation and volunteering, what do they have in common? Children have one vocation in life and that is to play. Through play they learn. Adults have the opportunity to join in that same vocation and if COVID has taken one thing from us, it has been the ability to play. How do we restore that vocation as life changes the way that we interact with each other? Through the joy of volunteering! This is the time of year when we look at what we do in the church through the role of volunteering for our councils, committees, and activities. The big question before us now is, how do we do that and remain safe?
Through the wonders of technology, we are able to continue in a forward motion of play. We have the ability to Zoom, Facebook and meet on-line. We are looking at ways to safely join together with protocols in place to do our very best to reduce our risk and learn to live with what we have learned about a virus that took us by surprise. If there is one thing that we have learned from children in this time it is how to play and learn together. We cannot live in seclusion to wait this thing out, we must come together and take advantage of our technology, applying our desire to play with our call to a vocation of volunteering.
While spending the last 2 weeks with my granddaughter I have been reminded that we turn our tools into toys. Kora has reminded me of how the natural tools provided by our Creator turned into toys. Smelling flowers, pulling seeds out of hollyhocks, chasing chipmunks and counting berries are just some of the ways that Kora has turned these tools of nature into toys. How can we do the same? Look around you. You have computers and cell phones at hand. You have books, pencils and paper within reach. Combine those tools and look at what you can do. If there is one thing that Red Lodge has to offer the world it is a resource-rich community of volunteerism that is vocation-centered. Vocation involves a “strong feeling…particularly worthy…requiring great dedication.”
Kora’s determination to learn “Itsy Bitsy Spider” reminded me of the great dedication that it takes to make a commitment to master a skill. The same can be said of our learning curve for applying technology to our new way of life. It means logging on to Zoom or Facebook over and over until we have figured out how to make it work. It means writing and re-writing articles for the Shalom, Weekly Wrangler and the Carbon County News until we’ve captured the message that we want the public to see. It means putting times and dates on our calendars so that we won’t forget to show up and have our voices heard. The challenge for volunteerism in Red Lodge is in re-engaging your vocation that had been the career that you retired from. What part of that vocation will you now apply to the life of your church? What part of that vocation did you always want to develop, and you did not have the time? This is the time to take the opportunity set before you and play with it!
In March of 2020, our church was on a path to putting herself on the map. We need to get back to that map. Our ONA status in the UCC needs to be completed. Our doors being open to the public as a family rest station need to be re-opened. Our commitment to re-creating our children’s Sunday school and the creation of a youth group needs to begin now. Dedication to working with the Northern Cheyenne people needs to find a different way of support. These are just 4 of the things that were on our map in March. They all take time and effort, and can be done in small group gatherings and on-line.
What is your “strong feeling” toward these efforts? Which one do you feel is “particularly worthy” of your time? And to which one are you willing to put forth “great dedication”? Ask yourself these questions and when the nominating committee comes calling in the next few weeks you will have the answer to their questions, “Are you willing to serve in the vocation of a particular committee? And which committee will that be?”
In love in action,
Did you miss the outdoor worship service and baptism at Kaleva on July 5? Or, maybe you were there and enjoyed it so much you'd like to see it again? Well, you can watch the entire service and baptism right here! Enjoy! (Please note: The services are in chronological order, so scroll down past last Sunday's service to see the Kaleva service.)
Did you miss the outdoor worship service at Kaleva last Sunday? If you did and you'd like to watch it, you can view the video of the service on our website. Just click the link and scroll down to the video. Yes! It DID rain!! :) But, it was all wonderful!!
Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains-- where does my help come from?”
“It is DONE!” The three favorite words of any student looking at a looming assignment. For me it was my Environmental Ethics paper… all 5000 words of it. It is such a good feeling of accomplishment when we can say, “It is DONE!” For many of us we have taken on tasks while being sequestered at home during this pandemic. Things like cleaning out closets, washing windows and cleaning up our yards. After each task is completed, we stand back and say, “It is DONE!”
That is how I felt this afternoon when my “word counter” hit 5085. DONE. SEND. RELAX…and then…repeat. The next two papers are not as long or detailed, but I know that after each one I will say, “It is DONE.”
We are all looking forward to the day when we can look COVID19 in the face and say, “YOU ARE DONE.” But what we also must realize is that we are going to continue with those next steps…relax…repeat. What?? Repeat?! Yes, we now realize the ease and extent of how a pandemic works. The scientists and theologians both agree…we will be repeating this someday. This is just the beginning of a new way of the world. No longer is it just the flu that we must be aware of.
How do we relax then? I know that once my doctorate is finished it will be another item on my long list of lifelong goals checked off, not unlike cleaning out my closets, so I can relax. But knowing that somewhere out there on the horizon is another pandemic looming? I look to the Word for my instruction on how to relax. And I lift up my eyes to the mountains, knowing that God will move them for us…again. This morning as I shared my thoughts on Good Morning, Red Lodge I realized that I said that the mountain had moved out of the mist. And I did not correct myself. God can and will move the mountains for us.
We just have to relax…and stand still long enough to see them move.
May God’s peace surround you as you relax…and stand still long enough in trust that God will move that next mountain just like God has all of the others before this one.
1 Thessalonians 2:17 (NRSV) “As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face.”
Oh how we long to see one another…and we wait for that day when we can once again join TOGETHER in worship, meal and celebration!
Knowing that our community needed to “keep our spirits up” until that time, Bill (the Mayor) and I (the Minister) came up with the idea for a “positivity” campaign. With the help of Junction7 we have been able to plaster our “Together we can do this!” signs all over Red Lodge and those signs are now finding their way across the country. (Please note that this was a personal endeavor and we are funding it through our own donations and those from the community, not the city or the church.)
While this campaign came out of a sense of relationship and community, I can’t help but see the spiritual connections that are celebrated as well. First, we followed a nudge to talk about this as a possibility (ok, so we talk for hours on end every day…so that’s not a stretch), but when this idea “clicked” it was at the very same moment. The nudge had done her work yet again.
We are all longing for a return to our “place” of worship and celebration. We are yearning to be reunited with friends and family, a “yearn to return,” if you will, to what we once knew. “Longing with great eagerness” as Paul put it, to see each other face to face. In the meantime, we are blessed with the technology of Facebook, FaceTime and other social media platforms to “see” each other as best we can.
Some of the conveniences of those technologies will continue long after the “Stay at Home” orders are lifted. Some of the discoveries about quiet reflection time, long walks and home cooked meals will become our new normal. Some of the delightful things that we’ve discovered under the guise of being sequestered for long afternoons we will then yearn for when our doors are once again open to the public.
Separation creates a yearning of the heart that brings us together in a way that is challenging, especially when we do not have an end date. So as we continue this time apart, we know that “Together we can do this!” Together in thought, prayer and technology. Together in our yearning and in our new discoveries. Together in our hearts, minds and souls.
Together with you in every way,
From the Psalms…”Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, In the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great King.”
I often wonder how “city folk” understand eco-spirituality when their lives are filled with constant noise and movement, concrete and metal, haze and light? How do they see the moon amongst the streetlights, the stars amongst the glow of the city? How do they smell spring with the smog and hear the birds amongst the din of traffic?
I’ve lived in two cities, Philadelphia and Hartford, and I remember how it felt to get a glimpse of a sunset or to hear a robin chirp. My heartbeat would quicken, and I would stop whatever I was doing to take it in. And I would wonder, “How do people live their whole lives in cities?” The Old Testament Scriptures speaks of cities as being “fortified” and a place of being “established.” In the beginning God might have created the Garden of Eden, but it didn’t take long for humankind to put up a gate and lay claim to the property rights. Zion is referred to as the “City of God.” One of my favorite hymns is “Marching to Zion,” where all the righteous march to the City of God. I’d rather be sitting in a field watching the moon rise through the trees or sitting along the creek bank listening to the rushing water and taking in the wonder of the mountains.
I realize that my opinion sounds like judgement against the city folks, but it is more of a curiosity about how we managed to get from a garden of perfection to a world of crisis. How much of that has to do with humankind’s need for fortification and establishment? And at what cost? This semester I am enrolled in “Environmental Ethics” and part of the requirement for that class is to sit and observe my neighborhood. I am thankful that my neighborhood is fortified with trees, deer, turkey and moose. I am thankful that my establishment allows for the free movement of friends, family and visitors. And while I sit and observe what I have around me, I cannot help but wonder, is this not the original intention for the City of God?
Red Lodge Community Church - A place where Spirit and so much more happens!
308 S. Broadway
Red Lodge, Montana