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Holiness in our Midst: Session 87

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXVII: ON ‘FILLING YOUR CUP’

Story Circle Prompt: How do you “fill your cup?” That is, how do you replenish your spirit?

My long-time friend Dawn from suburban Chicago visited family and friends over Labor Day weekend. The verbal snapshots of her adventures were in vivid detail, like photographs in an album: combing beaches along the Pacific Coast, staying in a home overlooking Mt. Ranier in Washington and strolling along a stream in the Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado. Along the way, she even met some cousins for the first time. She pronounced her vacation “a precious time.” In summary of the trip, she said her “cup was filled,” a phrase I hadn’t heard before. As she spoke, I immediately thought of the line, “My cup runneth over…,” from the Twenty-third Psalm.

When we hung up, some questions lingered in my mind: How do I fill my cup? How do I find renewal these days? The current answer that bubbled up was retreats. During May and October of this year, I got away from my demanding routine by attending Northern Plains district women’s retreats at the rural Ivester Church of the Brethren. The 50-mile drive itself was a centering time, as I rolled through open countryside during planting and harvest seasons. At both events, we “retreatants” took our time creating colorful quilts for hospice patients (each doing our designated task), eating tasty home-cooked meals, taking walks, pondering the insights of guest speakers and sharing spiritual stories. I came home refreshed from the fellowship and fresh air. 

In September, I also came back revived from attending a three-day Disciples of Christ Upper Midwest Region Women’s Retreat in Paynesville, MN. This was in spite of (or maybe because of) being a passenger for eight hours each way in a four-car caravan. Memories return when I’m feeling stressed: seeing a bald eagle up close; riding for an hour in a pontoon boat; playing the spatulas in a kitchen band; learning about friendship, while experiencing it with friends old and new; coloring late into the night; eating s’mores around a campfire in the rain; and worshipping in a woodsy chapel setting. Recollections from my retreats are right there to refill “my cup” when it gets empty. 

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: What activities (or places or persons) “fill my cup?” 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing 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 – November 2019

District News & Announcements

November 2019

“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 to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

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District News & Announcements – October 2019

District News & Announcements

October 2019

“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.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Trouble viewing pictures and videos?
Click here to view the newsletter in your browser.

In this issue

  1. Tree-o Concert at Camp Pine Lake: Oct. 12
  2. Fall Women’s Retreat: Oct. 18 & 19
  3. Trunk or Treat at Ankeny COB: Oct. 29
  4. Upcoming Continuing Ed. Courses
  5. Message from the Moderator
  6. Holiness in our Midst
  7. Leadership Development Musings
  8. District Seeking New Treasurer
  9. Milestones in Ministry and Congregational Life
  10. SE Iowa Spiritual Renewal Circuit Ride
  11. Gordon Oliver Retires as Libertyville’s Pastor
  12. Save the Date! – Trip to Heifer International headquarters in 2020
  13. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Special guest Michaela Alphonse leads an insight session at The Church on Northland during District Conference in August.  Photo by Hannah Button-Harrison. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 85

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXV: ON (HOLY) GOOSE BUMPS

Story Circle Prompt: When was the last time you got goose bumps from being awe-inspired?

At the Iowa State Fair in August 2019, I got multiple cases of the kind of goose bumps that don’t originate from the cold. (My friend Heather, like many others, calls them “God Bumps”!) I was with my friend Alice. As we viewed exhibits—fabric arts, oil paintings, water colors, preserves and canned goods, and photographs —she asked which entries I liked best in each category. I used the “goose bumps” test to gauge my answers. (My choices didn’t always align with the entries sporting blue ribbons.) When we participated in the hymn sing at the church on the fairgrounds, I got goosebumps when a woman sang descant on “Amazing Grace!”

To me, getting all prickly, is a signal that God is near and guiding me to the idiosyncratic experiences, people and things meant for me. I take notice! 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: What gives me “God Bumps”?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing 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 2019

District News & Announcements

September 2019

“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.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

In this issue

  1. 2019 District Conference Recap
  2. Message from the (new) Moderator
  3. Anniversary Celebrations: Panther Creek, Libertyville, Open Circle
  4. Ministers Retreat (Sept. 19-20) and Ethics Training (Sept. 21)
  5. Marshalltown Disaster Recovery Work Trip Sept. 22-27
  6. SE IA Spiritual Renewal Circuit Ride:  Sept. 22-25
  7. Fall Women’s Retreat: Oct. 18 & 19
  8. Upcoming Continuing Ed. Courses
  9. Holiness in our Midst
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Diane & Ron Mason to Move: District Seeking New Treasurer
  12. Area 5 Cluster Gathering
  13. Iowa River Church Participates in Iowa Strong Field Day
  14. Board Reorganization
  15. Save the Date! – Trip to Heifer International headquarters in 2020
  16. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Pastor David Kerkove stands in the water during an outdoor baptism for the South Waterloo congregation on August 11th.  Photo by Barb Miller. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

District News & Announcements – August 2019

District News & Announcements

August 2019

“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 August 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

In this issue

  1. District Conference is Here!
  2. Witness Service Projects
  3. CPL – Outdoor Movie August 9th, All Ages Camp Aug. 31-Sept. 1
  4. Looking for Stories and Pictures of Camp Pine Lake
  5. 2019 NOAC Scholarship
  6. Ministers Retreat (Sept. 19-20) and Ethics Training (Sept. 21)
  7. Marshalltown Disaster Recovery Work Trip Sept. 22-27
  8. Upcoming Online Brethren Academy Courses
  9. Holiness in our Midst
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Brethren Reaffirm Opposition to Death Penalty
  12. Peace Church Bench and Little Free Library Dedication
  13. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Common Spirit Fellowship gathered to welcome and dedicate Carolyn Fern Kirschenheiter on July 14, 2019.  Photo by Nicole Blissenbach. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 83

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXIII: ON TURNING LEMONS INTO LEMONADE

Story Circle Prompt: Share an example of turning lemons into lemonade.

One afternoon in May of 2003, as I was riding through mountains near the southwestern coast of the Dominican Republic, I heard how a whole community turned lemons into lemonade. I was immersing myself in the work of Jeff and Peggy Boshart, community development staff for the Church of the Brethren; my purpose as coordinator for mission connections for the denomination was to interpret the microloan enterprises they supervised.

We had just left the town of Villa Nizao, where we had visited coffee-growing projects. Peggy pointed out a river that flows down to the Caribbean Sea about 30 miles from a city called Paraíso, Spanish for Paradise). She told us that every year during Holy Week, the villagers dammed this river, using sticks and branches, and created a lake. They were too poor to travel to “Paradise,” so they created their own. They drank coconut milk from the shells; enjoyed plantains and fried fish; and danced and sang into the night. At the end of Easter vacation, they “undammed” the river and went back to their daily lives. “They made their own beach when they couldn’t afford to travel to one,” Peggy marveled. This community’s choice to create their own joy still comes back to me when I am tempted to complain about circumstances.

 (Jeff is currently manager of the Global Food Initiative for the Church of the Brethren.) 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, remember a time when you turned lemons into lemonade. Have you seen a community turn a challenge into triumph?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing 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 – July 2019

District News & Announcements

July 2019

“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 July 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 82

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXII: ON BRIDGE-BUILDERS

Story Circle Prompt: Who do you see being a bridge-builder in action? Between what groups? How is this person inspiring you to action?

One of my current inspirations is the Rev. April G. Johnson, Executive Director of Disciples Ministry of Reconciliation from Indianapolis. Rev. Johnson facilitates the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) process of awareness, analysis and action toward healing the fractures in the body of Christ that are caused by systemic racism. While publicizing an upcoming visit, I have been introduced to her experiences and insights. In my own life, she reignited a personal call to tackle social justice and personal issues, when she said: “God doesn’t ask us to agree to disagree. God asks us to love one another. We know that it is hard, which might be why we avoid the work of relationship with people who are not like us. God keeps calling us into opportunities to birth new relationships and new perspectives.”

Rev. Johnson’s career, building bridges between racial and other differences, is connected to her background. She said, “I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. My parents moved there on my first birthday. Folding under the pressure of tuition of parochial school for my two oldest siblings, they anticipated a better public-school education for their children in the suburbs. Our subdivision was entirely populated by Black residents. Seeing the disparities in my own education as well as the lack of businesses owned by people who looked like me, propelled my nascent passion to right-align opportunities for all people. I was no young version of Angela Davis in my formative years by far, but the differences simply did not make sense to me and kept me exploring new ways to understand and change a system that excluded and withheld opportunity for ‘some’ people.

I am energized by her willingness to work toward social change. How do you keep from being overwhelmed by current political/racial divides? I asked. Her reply to this question moved me. She said, “Our choices today regarding the divisive rhetoric and tribalism in our current national and global dialogue for me are clear. It is our imperative to affirm each other’s humanity. We have made “othering” an art form. Sadly, when we legislate making people ‘other’ while affording a dominant group access to more resources and a better quality of life than those excluded or impacted by such legislation, we justify racism and other oppressions. I simply find no justification for dehumanization. So, I am not overwhelmed by the ministry and work of changing our churchwide and national narrative of division and devaluing people as a standard. Where I do get overwhelmed, or more accurately exasperated, is by the fear that is generated that halts dialogue that keeps ‘good people’ silent and inactive toward promoting inclusion and human dignity for all. As Christians, God reconciled us to all be in God’s beloved “in” group.  We are all “A-listers,” as annoying as that can be.”

Her vision stretches me to think bigger and bolder. She said, “It is my desire that as a communion we embody this work by turning our outrage into action on behalf of those whose lives and stories are dismissed, distorted and diminished by a narrative of exclusion and American exceptionalism. For those of us who are new to being outraged by racism and oppression, I hope that we can support and mutually develop new ways to be in dialogue and relationship with one another that transforms the way we worship and the way we vote. It is my hope that we become leaders in thought and deed that transform our world into one where exclusion is the exception instead of not the norm.”

At this moment, I anticipate the changes I will make in response to this bridge-building leader.

(Note: The General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada will hold its biennial gathering in Des Moines, July 20 – 24, 2019. Ames First Christian Church will be a host site for worship for General Assembly attendees on Sunday, July 21, where Rev. Johnson will speak.) 

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, write about a person you know who models bridge-building between groups or ideologies. How does he/she do this? 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing 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 – June 2019

District News & Announcements

June 2019

“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 June 24th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

In this issue

  1. District Conference Updates
  2. National Older Adult Conference
  3. Upcoming Online Brethren Academy Courses
  4. Holiness in our Midst
  5. Leadership Development Musings
  6. National Young Adult Conference Pictures
  7. Women’s Retreat Recap
  8. Sarah and Levi Mason Family Moving to Kansas
  9. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: At the district board meeting in April, with Samuel and Rebecca Dali, Nigerian Church of the Brethren leaders, who were guests of Fairview Church and District Board that weekend.  Photo provided by Barbara Wise Lewczak. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.