Attempting to be 'Faithful Meg'

Contemplation on life, faith, ministry, and motherhood; Knowing I don't always get it right

So… About That 4th Commandment March 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 10:40 pm
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I’ll admit that while I really felt this was an important post to write, I  avoided it because in all honesty, it’s a challenge that I am still struggling to figure out in my own life.  I come to this post with a disclaimer:  This is more about conversation and questions about Sabbath than it is about prescribed answers.  This is about my struggles with the Sabbath more than it is about my success with it.  I also want to point to an inspirational post shared with me about Sabbath by Adam McLane of Youth Cartel.  http://adammclane.com/2010/11/09/sabbath-breakers/

 
There have been a lot of things in my life that have led me to this current series on Soul Care.  I recently took a course over January term called “Vocation, Work, & Faith”  One section of the course was focused on Sabbath.  We spent a Friday talking with an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, we talked about various texts on the practice of holding a very traditional Sabbath Day, shared our own conversations about soul care as people heading into ministry, and concluded the day attending a Shabot service at a Reformed Jewish Congregation.  The day is one that was highly thought-provoking, inspiring, and one that brought with it many questions.  I had let much of those thoughts pass away from my attention, and then they were refreshed after spending time at the home of some Jewish friends over the Sabbath this past weekend.

 

I’ve received some powerful challenges and insights from Jewish brothers and sisters on this matter which have been  challenging my faith that God can do mighty things if we trust God enough to give a day to rest and celebrate.  The counter cultural example it sets for those around us can be mightily powerful.  By a fairly literal observance of the Sabbath, it sets an example of what it means to live a life set apart for giving God glory.  My friend shared with me the way that observing the Sabbath by Rabbinic law of the 39 categories of work that are to be rested from forces them to put the day into God’s hands, where they have to trust in God’s work, and not their own.  They are also brought closer to their faith community.  For most Orthodox Jews, driving is a “no-no” on the Sabbath, which means they must live within walking distance from the Synagogue.  This means they are living close to other community members.   Through reading and conversations, I was struck by the way that an entire week revolves around the Sabbath day, taking time in the days ahead to have everything completed and prepared before it arrives, and also taking time after the Sabbath passes to reflect on it.  Now a question that arises for Jewish Rabbis and Christian Ministers alike is this:  How do you observe the Sabbath if you are leading worship and teaching?  The most common response is that any worship leading and teaching is so well prepared for ahead of time, that what takes place on the Sabbath is celebration and fellowship, not work.  I was also struck by the moment of the Shabot service where the congregation turns around and the doors are kicked open to welcome the Sabbath as it enters into our lives as a bride enters a wedding.  The joy and eager expectancy that is brought by the beginning of the Sabbath is brought to life in this powerful imagery.

 

Like I said, all of these experiences and conversations have challenged me to think about my own life and practices.  There’s not a lot of the 4th Commandment going on in my house.  There.  I said it.  There’s more than there used to be, as I’ve moved and started a new ministry position at a new church, the rhythm of life has changed from where I was.  I have a lot of questions about what it means to be a Christian and what living out the Sabbath looks like.  I’m certain that there is no clear-cut formula, and that for each person this will look differently.  I am very convicted by the idea of working in such a way during the week that we don’t feel that we have to do work on the Sabbath so I can welcome it as a time of joy and expectancy rather than getting through it with worry about the work that didn’t get done.  I know that Sabbath keeping needs to play a bigger, more distinct role in my own life.

 

What do YOU think?  Pick a question and leave a comment!  Share some Sabbath practices that have been meaningful in your home!

Yes, Jesus did transform how we understand the Sabbath, but does that give us the excuse to be vague with how we live out the 4th Commandment?

What is non-negotiable in  Sabbath Keeping?  What areas might there be flexibility?  

As Christians, is the Sabbath still on Saturday, Sunday? Does it matter?  Why or Why not?  

What does keeping the Sabbath look like for ministry leaders? What would our Sunday ministries look like if we took a more literal approach?

 In an economy where living expenses are so great, yet wages for most remain so low, is it fair to push this law upon those who have to work seven days a week just to get by? 

What does it mean TO YOU to keep a day set apart as HOLY?

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. ~Exodus 20:8-11 

Here’s this week’s Lenten Photo Collage to help reflect on the strange ways and places we can find the Holy in our Lives!

Lent collage 3

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Soul Care Is More Than a Solo Act March 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 3:52 am
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The concepts of self-care and personal soul care are making a huge splash in the world of ministry blogs recently, and I think it’s an important movement that can make a huge difference in so many ways.   In a role as a ministry leader, seeking the time we need to nourish our own hearts is expected by the boards of churches that hire us… often until they realize that means there are times in our schedules and that we might not be available to the church, that we won’t be there every second of every event at the church.  Sometimes these unspoken expectations are very real and made evident in comments in performance reviews.  Other times, we assume these expectations and fear being seen as selfish if we take the time and space we need to feed our souls.  This dangerous cycle leads into burned out ministry leaders who aren’t able to pour into the lives of others, or deal with challenges they face in healthy ways as they might if they took this time to be fed.  However, too many times there is an implicit message that we have to go at this journey on our own,  that our self-care is our own undertaking and some hidden quiet process that’s ordered, neat and tidy.  In reality, soul care is messy, and it should never be a solo act.

We often set a pace which leads others to expect our availability all the time, creating boundaries so that we can have space for the personal, private, “just you and God” parts of our soul care means that we might need to have honest conversations with people around us, and the people we are serving in ministry about creating healthier boundaries, and also asking for support from close confidants to encourage us and hold us accountable for keeping these boundaries in our personal walk with God.

Beyond our personal spiritual growth in the area of soul care, we need to take time to consider the role of relationships and community in tending to our hearts.  In ministry, it’s important to build relationships with people inside and outside of your church community.  Introvert or extrovert, we are all created for community.  A significant part of self-care is having people in our lives we can be ourselves with.  Last month at the Open Boston event hosted by Youth Cartel, I had a really meaningful experience.  There were a lot of great ministry ideas shared, and I was especially blessed by things shared in the two “Soul Care Track” workshops I went to.  What I took away was not just the ideas shared about community in those workshops, but the actual relationship building that went on throughout the course of that day.  I was reunited with old colleagues and classmates, I was able to turn some acquaintances from social media into face to face friendships, and I met new people and formed brand new friendships.  It really helped me realize how nourishing it is to have people in my life who I can trust with tough stuff when I need to.  Having moved to a new community, and starting at a new church, it’s easy to say I’m “too busy” for getting out and making new friends, but when I’ve taken time to do so, it makes such a difference.  Our souls are not just fed in silent retreats or prayer closets.  Our souls are also fed physically and spiritually at the dinner table, on a walk through the streets of Boston, or on a sports field.  We can be fed by our stories, seeing how God is working in others can have an impact on ourselves.  This idea also pertains to the world of social media.  I’ve really been re-thinking how and why I am using social media.  Can this idea of relational soul care even translate into our world of social media?

Here are are some sources for youth workers that I think can be a huge help and I share these out of personal experience!

We Love Our Youth Worker– a movement encouraging faith communities to pursue creating a spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy working environment for youth workers and other staff members in faith organizations.  http://weloveouryouthworker.us/

National Network of Youth Ministries– Discover ways to connect with others in student ministries in your area, or those with similar interests.  I’ll admit that membership comes with some other perks and discounts as well, but the connections formed are the biggest and most important benefit to being a part of this great ministry! http://www.youthworkers.net/

Simply Youth Ministry Soul Care Advocates–  Need someone to pray for you, or even walk you through some challenging times?  There are a lot of great people ready to serve you through Simply Youth Ministry Soul Care!  http://conference.youthministry.com/for-your-soul/soul-care/

All this being said, I’ve had lots of personal ups and downs in my own soul care journey, and have developed a heart to want to be a listening ear and advocate for those in ministry struggling to find the support they need as they try to nourish their own souls.  You can find me on twitter @faithfulmeg3, send me a direct message if you want to talk more!  May we all seek out relationships where we can be honest about how things are really going, where we can be ourselves, and where mutual learning and encouragement can take place!

 

Fresh Veggies, The Moon & The Rearview Mirror March 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — faithfulmeg @ 2:10 am

This week’s peek at my Lenten photo Journey!  Each photo has a special story to me, (this week more than the first) but I want to let anyone who sees them relate to these images with their own story without being tainted by mine.   I’d encourage you to click on the image to get a better look at the full size to catch some of the detail in the individual photos!  

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Stay tuned for a post about relational self care in the days ahead!