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Holiness in our Midst: Session 57

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LVII: ON BIBLICAL CHARACTERS

What Biblical character do you draw inspiration or courage from? How? Why? As for me, I draw courage from the example of Mary, who sat listening and learning from Jesus, instead of being the perfect hostess like her sister Martha. This is the text:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 New International Version (NIV)

As a modern-day contemplative in a world that values “busyness,” and “getting down to business,” I identify with Mary’s need to work at understanding life rather than work at mastering life’s tasks. Her example, upheld by Jesus Himself, frees me to be my better, deeper self.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: With what Biblical character do you most identify? Why?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write a reflection on your most inspirational Biblical character. What did you learn about yourself?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: 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 – May 2017

District News & Announcements

May 2017

 “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 May 15th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Interim Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Banner photo: Current and former members of Root River Church of the Brethren after the congregation’s closing service on April 22, 2017.  Photo taken by Tim Button-Harrison. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 56

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LVI: ON FAMILY VACATIONS

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Where was your family’s favorite vacation spot? What memories still delight you?

I was five when I was first tucked into a life jacket, helped down into a motor boat, handed a fishing pole with a little red-and-white bobber, and told to be patient. I didn’t have to wait long! A big fish found the minnow on the hook that Dad had shown me how to bait! That year we were at Sunset View Lodge on Leech Lake. I was hooked from the start on family vacations spent at various northern Minnesota resorts. Each June, until I graduated from high school, we spent a week in a rustic cabin fishing, swimming, sun-tanning on the beach, and just plain leaving our work and school routines behind. Truth be told, we also had our vacation routines, but they were of our choosing. We were too busy to bicker, awakening before dawn and grabbing our fishing poles to get a head start out to our secret fishing hole. Floating along an island, we experienced together the sun slowly rising over the lake. Moments of pure quiet were punctuated by cries of “I GOT ONE!” Most suppers, we feasted on Yellow Perch, Northern Pike and Walleye, dipped in cornmeal batter and fried to golden perfection. Some afternoons, we read books or played games at The Lodge and spent our saved-up allowances on snacks of ice cream bars and root beers. On rainy days, we would pile in the car and travel to nearby Bemidji to visit the Paul Bunyan statue. We smiled big as we got our pictures taken with our superhero. Our parents would shop at the famous Bemidji Woolen Mills and purchase red plaid jackets for fall. On other outings, we would drink in the beauty of the pine and birch trees of the Chippewa National Forest or visit Itaska State Park and dip our toes into the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We returned home refreshed, with a freezer chest full of fish to last us until the next year…

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about your family’s favorite vacation spot. Can you still return to the same place?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: 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 – April 2017

District News & Announcements

April 2017

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

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

In this issue

  1. New Camp Pine Lake Director
  2. Fairview Reads Through the Bible in 2017
  3. Root River Closing Service
  4. Stover Music Festival
  5. Youth and Young Adult Conferences
  6. Church Anniversary Celebrations
  7. District Conference Announcements
  8. Message from the Moderator
  9. Leadership Development Musings
  10. Holiness in our Midst
  11. District Executive Coverage during May
  12. District Witness Commission Projects
  13. April Ventures Courses
  14. Panther Creek Handbell Choir & Italian Supper
  15. In Our Prayers: God is Doing a New Thing in Ottumwa
  16. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: A Prayer Center from the Ministers retreat this March. Photo credit Barbara Wise Lewczak. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 55

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LV: ON HOSPITALITY

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Remember a time when you extended or received exceptional hospitality.

Our 12-person Church of the Brethren Faith Expedition was welcomed in unforgettable fashion in southern Sudan (now South Sudan) in February of 2002. Hospitality was refined to an art form by the Sudanese.

They welcomed us with open arms. Ours was the first North American group to visit the Anglican compound of Rokon. Men, women and children, in their finest dress, lined the roadside for miles, straining for the sight of our Land Rover. As we approached, the women trilled a greeting for us, then danced and sang for us. The school children had learned a song in English: “We are so happy to see you.”

They remembered our names. The women formed a receiving line and asked each of us our names. Four days later, without prompting, one woman came to me and said, “Jan-eese, thank you for coming and visiting us in our desperate plight. We knew you would come.” She had remembered my name! Had I done as well? No.

They practiced sacrificial generosity. This compound went without enough food for a week—and gladly!—so that we might be given a banquet. They gave from their substance, not their abundance. It wasn’t the fatted calf they served; it was the skinny goat running around the day before. On that trip, I learned to never refuse food prepared with love. Yes, even goat! In a drought-stricken land, from a people pummeled by war, I understood that I was the one who was spiritually impoverished, in dire need of their true hospitality.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about your extended or received exceptional hospitality.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: 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 – March 2017

March 2017 Banner

District News & Announcements

March 2017

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

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 54

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LIV: ON BUMPER STICKERS

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: How would you answer: I’d rather be_______.

I’ve always been intrigued with bumper stickers that begin with “I’d rather be_____.” Depending on where I was traveling at the time, I’ve seen ones that read hunting, fishing, parasailing, mountain climbing, scuba diving and surfing. My first response on this day, as I prepare to go to work is: I’d rather be writing. The first step in making life changes is to name what makes one happiest. I think: Is there way I can rearrange my days so that I can fit in more writing time? Get up earlier? Go to bed later? Is there a place you would rather be today? How would you fill in the blank? How can you connect this exercise to your dreams?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about your dream job or avocation.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: 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 – February 2017

District News & Announcements

February 2017

 “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 February 22nd for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Interim Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 53

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LIII: ON PICTURING HEAVEN

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: What would Heaven look like to you?

Heaven for me would need to have all the elements of a warm coffee shop on a frigid morning. I know that now. Last week, I experienced good food, good background music, and good company, all at the same time. At Niland’s Café in Colo, IA, I was savoring a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs (with cheese), hash browns (extra crispy), white toast (golden brown), and heavily-caffeinated coffee (with cream). Oldies were playing on the radio; I was humming along. Something Simon and Garfunkel. In walks a group of local coffee shop “regulars.” I have been an ad hoc member of their group for 25 years. Our topic of the day was about Heaven, about our fervent wish that Wherever We Go After We Die, that there should be a place where we could replicate the togetherness and understanding we have known for hundreds of mornings. When we are together, political differences dissolve. We all love stories about funny dogs and life’s daily ironies. We debrief. We sometimes cry. We laugh a lot. We like it that we are aware of each other’s strengths and interests. Mary says to me, “There would have to be pencils and paper for you.” Yes! I often sit and write after I have finished my paper. I add that I would hope for daily newspapers to read, ones I could hold in my hand. We conclude that, until We Know For Sure, we will just keep enjoying our little Heaven on Earth, with a side of biscuits and gravy.  

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about what Heaven would look like to you. Do you have a place that is a slice of “Heaven on Earth?”

FOR GROUP STUDY:

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

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: 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 2017

District News & Announcements

January 2017

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

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.