Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cosmic Consciousness

by Ken Brown

One of the toughest things for me to do, but a most rewarding privilege, is to conduct a memorial service for a complete stranger. My aim is to always celebrate the person's life in such a way that those gathered at the service may capture a glimpse of their loved one's glory. Someone once said, "glory is a person fully alive." A person's life, how they lived and how they die always reflects God's glory. Even though a person may be a stranger to me, they are no stranger to God.

About 10 days ago I officiated a memorial service for Sherry Ann Kinnison Kjellberg. She lived in Broomfield from 1967-1977 and returned here for a brief memorial service on her journey to her final resting place. Sherry is a remarkable woman and is well-remembered for her keen inner beauty and her will to live. As a cancer survivor Sherry inspired over 2000 Twitter followers with her "cosmic consciousness quotes.” Two thousand Twitter followers are impressive to me! I'm not even to 200 followers yet!

One of Sherry's followers is the actress Kirstie Alley who followed Sherry because of her many inspiring posts like these:

“Make every moment in your life meaningful; even the challenging times hold lessons of goodness.”

“God walks beside me, but we are in no hurry. He directs my path.”

“Love has no boundaries, no space, no time, nor a place. Love simply is.”

After Sherry triumphed over cancer once, Kirstie made her Twitter following of Sherry even more tangible by shipping her an exquisite porcelain dragon. Sherry and Kirstie's tongue-in-cheek name for cancer was "the dragon," a beastly intruder quite a number of you also slay.

Meeting Sherry on her journey home was a chance acquaintance that makes me grateful for knowing all of you. Your stories inspire me to slow down and take note that God is in no hurry. We are all on a beautiful path home and in the words of late Maya Angelou, "I wouldn't trade nothin' for my journey now."

Check out Sherry's tweets @LShalottCamelot





Ken Brown is the Senior Pastor at Broomfield United Methodist Church. You can contact him at ken.brown@broomfieldumc.org

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Here


Do you ever have trouble speaking to God? Do you ever sit down to pray - to connect with God - only to find that you just don’t have the words? Does your mind wander as you struggle to do more than just recite a list of things you want? Do you finish up with an “in Jesus’ name, amen” and feel like nothing happened?

While we’d all like to answer “no,” I’d bet that most of us have had one or more of those experiences.

Naked Spirituality, A Life With God In 12 Simple Words is the title of a book by Brian McLaren that Ken has been referencing in recent messages. The author describes it as "an overview of the spiritual life in a framework of four stages: simplicity, complexity, perplexity, and harmony.” Within each stage, different practices and spiritual disciplines are introduced and suggested as a way to strip away clutter or baggage and get to the point where we can be the "naked person standing trustfully before the naked God.”

I’m only about halfway through the book, mainly because I am finding that each suggestion or discipline is requiring me to stop and actually practice what is written instead of just reading and filing it away as a good idea. One little prayer in particular has given me a new perspective on my relationship with God, specifically God’s presence in my life. It goes like this:

Here I am, Lord. Here you are, Lord. Here we are together.

That’s it. When I first read it, I admit that the first thing that came to mind was the old Stuart Smalley character from Saturday Night Live. The one who used to look in the mirror and say, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” The simplicity and repetition of the prayer seemed a little trite, like it needed more words to be a real prayer. But, having been surprised by God before, I started to say the prayer at different points in the day. In the morning before getting out of bed. On my morning commute. During lunch. Even during BUMC staff meetings or in the long line to get my car’s emissions checked.

For a while the words just kind of hung there in the air. Nothing really happened. But soon I started to have a deep realization that God actually was with me throughout each part of my day. The idea of “here” became more than just a place. “Here” is not only a description of our physical location, but of our state of mind, of our contentment or lack of it. It’s brutally raw and real. We are always “here.” And I think that’s why it is such an effective prayer. Rather than try and get to a good place before praying, these simple words acknowledge where we are - the only place from which we can have honest communion with God. The prayer soon meant that I was not only inviting God into my car in the emissions line, but also into my frustration at having to wait in line. In fact, I now find the prayer most effective in non-traditional prayer situations and places and, every time, God reminds me that he’s right there in the midst of my activity, my attitude, and my state of faith. From that place of knowing that God is present with me everywhere, I become free to talk - to pray -in ways that don't feel hollow.

So if you’re the person I described in the first paragraph, I encourage trying out this simple prayer. Here I am, Lord. Here you are, Lord. Here we are together. Say it a few times in the morning and just let some silence pass. Say it during the work day, during meetings and conference calls, and do the same. And say it at the end of a long day when drained and feeling empty. Eventually, I imagine God’s constant presence will start to become more real.

I’d love to hear what this prayer does for your connection and spiritual life with God. Email me and let me know.

  Joe Mazza is the Director of Worship Arts at BUMC. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Give, Receive, and Share

by Mindy Davidson

I have been facilitating the act of giving as a fundraiser for the last twelve years. I wish I could say my entire life instead of twelve years. Giving or philanthropy hasn’t always been an active part of my day to day existence. I grew up in what I consider a very giving family, but we didn’t think we had the financial resources to give, so we gave of our time and talents.

What I have learned from my fundraising work is that we all thrive when we serve others and ultimately God. By giving what is needed, we are able to fulfill dreams and desires. By contributing selflessly and abundantly, others reap the benefits of our efforts. Service to others embodies giving, receiving and sharing freely without preconceived expectations. Recently, I witnessed this personally as I volunteer as a fundraiser for a local summer camp for children coping with cancer. I volunteer because it is a great organization making an impact on children’s lives. When I visited camp a couple weeks ago I expected to see children having a great time; what I didn’t expect were the thank yous, high fives, and hugs from children I’d never met for the funds I had helped raise to make camp possible for them.

Recently, I have been called to the idea that we offer support to share the burden of life and its obstacles. While traveling home to Nebraska for Memorial Day (yes I am a major Cornhusker fan), a man came into where we were eating, but he didn’t order anything. He just sat at the table. My family was almost 100% sure he didn’t have any money for food, but we were concerned about finding a way to ask him with dignity if he needed money. We finally got the nerve up to ask him if he had eaten recently- his answer almost brought me to my knees. He hadn’t eaten in two days. When we handed him the money to order food, the smile on his face was amazing. I felt like God placed us in that moment and time to be a relief from hunger for that man. We convey respect by treating others equally and fairly. We provide strength by empowering decisions and beliefs. By giving generously and willingly to those in need we receive comfort and satisfaction.

If we embrace giving and receiving we will share in the progress, hope and faith of our service. Together we will build greater opportunities for everyone. We can instill hope in those without. We can trust in our beliefs and build a stronger future. Sharing is caring about each other and making a difference. Service to others by giving, receiving, and sharing rewards all those involved. There is no difference between service to others and service to one’s self. The Bible verse, “Do unto other as you would have them do onto you” (Luke 6:31), personifies service to others. We give without expecting anything in return. We receive with open arms. We share to begin the cycle again.





Mindy Davidson is the new Director of Business Administration at BUMC. She has been attending the 11:05 service since 2006 and a member since 2009. Mindy joins the church staff with twelve years of experience in fundraising and management.  She is a very proud Nebraska Cornhusker fan, an aunt to three amazing nephews, and holds a degree in Culinary Arts.

Friday, June 6, 2014

No Fishing

by Sue Morin

Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian whose family secretly hid Jews in their home during the Nazi occupation. When the family's work was exposed, the Nazis sent Corrie and her sister, Betsie, to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, where Betsie later died. Corrie spent life after WW II teaching about God and the amazing power of forgiveness. Giving a speech one evening in Germany, she came face to face with the man who had been one of her cruelest prison guards:

Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself... For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then. (excerpt from The Hiding Place by Boom)

When she talked about forgiving oneself, she described a startling picture:

But the joy is that Corrie Ten Boom knew what to do with her sins. When I confessed them to the Father, Jesus Christ washed them in His blood. They are now cast into the deepest sea and a sign is put up that says, NO FISHING ALLOWED. Corrie Ten Boom is lazy, selfish, and filled with ego. But Jesus in Corrie Ten Boom is just the opposite of all these things. (excerpt from Tramp for the Lord by Boom)

When we forgive ourselves, our hearts can be fully open to God because we can see past our own expectations of "goodness." When we see a toddler accidentally spill milk, it's easy to forgive, because we expect toddlers to spill. No mess (for long) blocks our joy in that little child! It's easy for God to forgive, since He knows we will sin. When He looks at us, He doesn't focus on our mess, but on Jesus disguised in us.

Whatever it is, large or small, God has forgiven you, so forgive yourself. When regrets come to mind, I think of Frozen's Elsa (and millions of little girls everywhere) belting out, “Let it go, let it go, and I'll rise like the dawn.”

Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 3:13-14, CEB





Sue Morin has been a part of the BUMC community since moving to Broomfield in 1997. She splits her time between work and keeping up with two teenagers at home who have recently taught her all about "Not So Silent Night" and "Snapchat."