Posts by Communications

Holiness in our Midst: Session 137

SESSION CXXXVII: ON ‘RULE OF LIFE’

Story Circle Prompt: Share your “rule of life” or “inspiring vision?”

A “rule of life” is a guiding principle or practice that helps keep you attuned to the Diving along your daily path. I developed mine as part of my spiritual formation studies to become a spiritual director. I chose: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive” by St. Irenaeus. My goal is to keep trying to be fully alive in all aspects of my life: home, physical, work, community, family, financial, and spiritual. 

If you have never contemplated the question of developing a rule of life, I offer the following as a guide. It is an excerpt from a sermon by my pastor, Rev. Mary Jane Button-Harrison, of First Christian Church in Ames, IA. It was given on Sept. 17, 2023, the day after the funeral of Roger Bertelsen, who had been a celebrated professor at Iowa State University:

“Yesterday we celebrated the life of Roger Bertelsen. In his obituary was written, “He always tried to take the moral high road. He wrote on his calendar, ‘Before saying anything about another person, ask: is it kind, is it true, and is it necessary?’ Those words served as an inspiring vision in Roger’s day-to-day life. Another piece of his inspiring vision was the first rule of St. Benedict: ‘Live this life and do whatever is done, in a spirit of Thanksgiving. Abandon attempts to achieve security, they are futile, give up the search for wealth, it is demeaning, quit the search for salvation, it is selfish, and come to comfortable rest in the certainty that those who participate in this life with an attitude of Thanksgiving will receive its full promise.’ Roger memorized those words so they would be with him  Abundant life doesn’t come from power or fame or wealth or quick fixes, or even focusing on our own salvation. It doesn’t come from only staying in our comfort zone.  It comes from knowing and doing first the most important things. And that requires an inspiring vision that propels you forward and gives you the wisdom, passion, and determination to resist temptation. What is your inspiring vision that helps you stay focused on what’s most important; that keeps you on the narrow path to seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness?” (Used by permission of Mary Jane Button-Harrison and the family of Roger Bertelsen.)

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: Who most influenced your “rule of life” or “inspiring vision?”

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1. Read aloud Session CXXXVII. 

Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com

District News & Announcements – January 2024

District News & Announcements

January 2024

 “District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations. 

 Send submissions by: 
January 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter
Send to: Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications
communications@nplains.org

In this issue

Quick info

Banner photo: Peace Church of the Brethren on a snowy day.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 136

SESSION CXXXVI: ON GRATITUDE

Story Circle Prompt: What are you grateful for as the New Year begins?

Having worked as a culinary server in as assisted living community for almost five years, I am grateful beyond words for all who work in facilities that must be staffed 24/7/365. This includes those who give nursing care, plan activities, manage budgets and schedules, prepare and serve meals, fix furnaces, and mend hearts (all of us!).
Satisfying residents in their declining years has its challenges and rewards. I recently wrote five haiku poems that give holy glimpses into daily life where I (gratefully) work:

BIRTHDAY IN ASSISTED LIVING
One red candle flares
Like July Fourth fireworks on
Confetti cupcake.

PET DAY IN ASSISTED LIVING
Therapy dog knows
Better than master, which man
Needs to laugh again.

SHOW AND TELL DAY IN ASSISTED LIVING
Look! Collections!
But techno whiz passes ‘round
Selfie with grandchild.

BINGO DAY IN ASSISTED LIVING
All Earth holds its breath
Today! Candy on prize cart!
Will she call B10?

DEATH DAY IN ASSISTED LIVING
Server at shift’s end:
Logo shirt is baptized with
Prune juice, sweat, and tears!

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the questions: What are you grateful for today? This year? 
  2. As the New Year begins, consider purchasing a Gratitude Journal. Choices of formats abound. Jim Hayes, the executive director of Mind & Spirit Counseling Center in Urbandale, IA, through which I study spiritual direction, suggested these example prompts in an online article on gratitude in the center’s December 2023 Newsletter:
  • I’m grateful for three things I hear:
  • I’m grateful for three things I see:
  • I’m grateful for three things I smell:
  • I’m grateful for three things I touch/feel:
  • I’m grateful for these three things I taste:
  • I’m grateful for these three blue (and colors) things:
  • I’m grateful for these three animals/birds:
  • I’m grateful for these three friends:
  • I’m grateful for these three teachers:
  • I’m grateful for these three family members:
  • I’m grateful for these three things in my home:

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1. Read aloud Session CXXXVI.

Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com

District News & Announcements – December 2023

District News & Announcements

December 2023

 “District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations. 

 Send submissions by: 
December 29th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter
Send to: Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications
communications@nplains.org

In this issue

Quick info

Banner photo: Lewiston Church of the Brethren’s Free Thanksgiving Community Meal served 125 members of the community this year. Photo by Ulrike Schorn-Hoffert.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

District News & Announcements – November 2023

District News & Announcements

November 2023

 “District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations. 

 Send submissions by: 
November 24th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter
December 1st for inclusion in our District Advent Calendar
Send to: Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications
communications@nplains.org

In this issue

Quick info

Banner photo: District youth enjoyed a hayride during the Fall Youth Retreat at Camp Pine Lake last weekend. Photo by Joslynn Miller.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 135

SESSION CXXXV: ON ‘WWJD?’

Story Circle Prompt: Where do you think Jesus would have us begin to heal political, denominational, and family wounds this Advent Season?

WWJD! (WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?) This startlingly simple sequence of letters has been on our bulletin board lately as we enter First Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Ames, IA. No answers yet for me! But the reminder has moved me to think about WWJD this holiday season as we light our Advent candles one by one. How would Jesus have me live out hope, peace, joy, and love in my context as I once again await the coming of the Christ Child? These will be my weekly guidepost questions for December 2023:

  •   Where can I be a beacon of hope along my daily path?
  •   How can I promote peace in my wider community?
  •   Where do I begin to search for joy in a broken world?
  •   How can I be a loving force in my family, community, and workplace?

What will Jesus do through you this Advent?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: How do you think Jesus would have you live out hope, peace, joy, and love in your daily life this Advent Season? What changes might you be prompted to make?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CXXXV.

  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com

Holiness in our Midst: Session 134

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SESSION CXXXIV: ON RENEWAL

Story Circle Prompt: How do you find renewal in times of crisis?

I find renewal in contemplation and silence. I am always reconnected to my gifts and to others when I enter meditative time to draw closer to the Living Christ. I have had the privilege of getting to know my spiritual mentor in this practice, Father Bob Dufford, internationally known Jesuit priest and songwriter. I wrote this poem after spending time with this gentle soul whose songs, such as, “Be Not Afraid,” and other lifework embody oneness with Christ:

God is Not a Spigot

God’s generosity and favor is not a spigot,

To be turned off and on

By whether you are

Saying the right words,

Holding the correct beliefs,

Doing all manner of well-intentioned good deeds,

Or even fulfilling your artistic gifts.

No,

God is a Self, desiring closeness with Your Self,

That you might work through your life plans and challenges,

In intimate relationship with the Being,

Who created the vast Universe,

With You in mind, From the beginning of Time.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: When was the last time you truly went on a vacation? Where did you go? Who were you with?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CXXXIV.

  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com

District News & Announcements – October 2023

District News & Announcements

October 2023

 “District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations. 

 Send submissions by October 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to:
Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications
communications@nplains.org

In this issue

Quick info

Banner photo: A panorama of the sanctuary at Ivester Church of the Brethren during Betsy Kuecker’s installation service. Photo by K.D. Burkett.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 133

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SESSION CXXXIII: ON LIGHT

Story Circle Prompt: Share a reflection/meditation/poem/photograph or piece of art related to the meaning of the word light in your life.

This month’s prompt is a variation of one from Messenger, the Church of the Brethren magazine, issued as an invitation to readers in the summer of 2022. Meditations, poems, and photographs related to light were printed in the January/February 2023 issue. My response was printed in the online version of that issue at:  https://www.brethren.org/messenger/reflections/on-light/  

The meditation follows:

A Morning Meditation: Where the Light Falls

That cloud-enshrouded morning in September, I meditated in the magnificent glass-walled chapel overlooking deep woods at the Creighton University Retreat Center in Griswold, IA. A single leaf suddenly shone brightly. The sun shifted to a cluster of leaves, then to a stand of trees. The thought came softly: What particulars should I focus on in my life today? Next, the light fell on the bronze statue of a woman (the Virgin Mary?) bent double over a child (the Baby Jesus?) called “Maternal Bond” by acclaimed sculptor Timothy Schmalz. A question came to mind:  Where does the light of my devotion fall today? Suddenly, the light filtered directly on me, asking: Where can I be light today? Time came to return to my lovely group of fellow spiritual seekers back at the lodge. The retreat leader instructed us: “Meditate on the light outside the window: what is being illumined in your life today?” In the silence, there appeared in my mind’s eye an image of Jesus with a yellow Highlighter pen studying my schedule for the day. So many thoughts to ponder! I took home the good questions to also shine light on more ordinary days.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: Who/what lights up your life? Why? How?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

  1.  Read aloud Session CXXXIII.
  2.  Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com

District News & Announcements – September 2023

District News & Announcements

September 2023

 “District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations. 

 Send submissions by September 24th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to:
Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications
communications@nplains.org

In this issue

Quick info

Banner photo: On August 19, attendees of Open Circle and Common Spirit came together to begin their joint Jesus in the Neighborhood project: an edible garden of berries, herbs and fruit trees for the neighborhood surrounding Open Circle Church in Burnsville. Because the two congregations applied together for a District Jesus in the Neighborhood grant, they received a total of $1,000 for the project.  Photo by Jess Hoffert.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.