“The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be´- Jesus
Jesus, on the hillside with hundreds, and even thousands of people, described the different types of treasures someone can gather. Part of the message describes things that can be eaten by moths, corroded by rust, or stolen. ADT, car alarms, or locks, can only do so much if the things we treasure can become outdated, break down, or disappear.
Money, jewelry, cars, and houses, are part of everyday American life. So what is a treasure? Jesus considers treasure something larger than items to be consumed, worn, or stored. Today, I look around and take an inventory of the beautiful things, whether in nature, memories of events, people, and relationships that remind me I am alive. Like Jesus said, “It is obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” During these 40 Days of Giving, enjoy the valuables all around, but when it comes to treasure, make sure you gather and share something that will last much longer.
(Scripture references from The Message interpretation of Matthew 6:19-21)
“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving” – Robert Louis Stevenson
These words from another century from writer Robert Louis Stevenson have been re-spoken, reprinted, and re-organized, yet the message is very similar – giving without love is common. We receive receipts without love from merchants. Yet when we love, giving takes on an entirely different meaning. Pop music is a type of social barometer especially when it comes to ideas about love. Songs tell the stories of giving and taking, loving and marrying, cheating, and leaving, though usually not in that order or all in one song. Yet if this all we hear about love, focused solely on intimate relationships, then it is difficult to consider the love needed to give without pairing with another person. Love is broader than an object of affection to receive gifts. Love is related to giving because one’s passions are connected. What kind of passions do you have? Equal rights, animal rescue, ending poverty, assisting addicts in recovery, youth, ending ignorance, addressing gun violence, or other issues? We know that as individuals these issues are overwhelming. Yet, our ability to participate and give relies upon our ability to express love. Today, identify your passions. Name them. Choose one and offer a gift of yourself out of love.
“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving” – Mother Teresa
In our modern days, giving typically occurs during seasons or for a “special” occasion or purpose such as a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or other big events. Magazines and bloggers offer giving guides, advice, and suggestions and maybe even a Pintrest board! The moment of deciding “if” I should give is followed by “what” and “how much”. Mother Teresa offers another option asking “how much love” enters the equation.
May our hearts be shaped not by what, or how much we give, rather may we pour love into each action, and let our giving reflect the depth of our loving. Amen.
Some hear the teaching of Jesus in Luke as a formula to get rich, or a strategy to receive extra blessings. If you can imagine for a minute what Jesus’ life was like: a person without a permanent home, traveling from place to place, and surrounded by friends who all worked together to support each other. Jesus was not sporting the finest of what could be purchased. He was not hanging out with powerful leaders. Usually the powerful leaders were trying to hunt him down, and not for a nice meal and conversation! Jesus gave, but also was open to receiving gifts from others.
The principle of giving is the first part of a lesson that teaches us how to receive gifts. Sometimes we are great at giving things and volunteering time. Yet, in our time of need we want to be self-sufficient and not ask for help, then feel disappointed when others do not notice our need for help.
Learning to give, in a spirit of generosity, opens each of us to a life of reciprocity. This means, we are in relationship with other people, real relationship, not just giving to get. We are open to accept gifts from others. Those gifts, when they arrive, come as the teaching of Jesus continues to describe, as gifts that “will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38
When the motive is to be generous, then we can accept the gifts which come our way with a new openness.
It is time to pull the plug on the myths strangling Spirituality! Everytime an article, blog, news report, or new book says they are “Spiritual but not Religious” the cord of religion is wrapping even more tightly. Is there a difference between Spirituality and Religion? Absolutely! Thousands of years of tradtion trail behind the word religion.
If you are ready to unplug, this is the right time. The cord still strangling the entire conversation is a logic which relies upon either/or thinking. Afterall the main problem with religious tradition is the right/wrong, inside/outside, formulas which when applied to real people and real lives fails every time. Just like “religion” the word “spirituality” is gasping for fresh air. Often when people begin to speak about Spirituality the next portion begins a series of practices or formulas which qualify as Spiritual.
The new definition is a lack of definition. Deep thinkers are beginning to realize the question, “How?” is replaced with “Why?” This actually makes real sense. By asking “How?” the temptation is to establish a new set of boundaries within which regulations dominate in the place of liberation so many long to experience and express. Beginning with “Why?” addresses the more significant issues of being human.
One of the values which guide aChurch4Me MCC is Spiritual Growth, described as setting aside assumptions and dogma we seek to use our gifts and experiences. Yes, we can be spiritual while we think, love, search, reform, transition, identify, and challenge titles or labels. Begin with questions, explore, and grow in Spirituality unpluged and breathing in the both/and of human experience which flows and flourishes in the midst of change.
Hear each week’s reflection on Spirituality Unplugged:
Spirituality Unplugged: Hope
Spirituality Unpluged: Included
Spirituality Unpluged: Love
Build upon what matters to you the most!
Creating a Life that Matters is all about relationships:
intentional, authentic, relationships –
with the Sacred,
and our Passions.
CLM is a series of workshops which transforms lives and inspires people to more directed, clear, passionate involvement in our lives and in the life of the planet, through the support of others.
CLM integrates art, scripture, music, film, journaling, and diverse spiritual resources to augment our exploration of the Christian path.
Each person who has experienced Creating a Life that Matters Discovers a challenge to broaden an understanding of all that is Sacred; integrate self-awareness into being authentic, aware leaders; and live passion intentionally through life and work. This is an LGBTQ created and led program.
Everyone who experiences CLM calls it a revolutionary transformation of their connection with self and spirituality.
The first workshop is 6 weeks. NEW DATES: Workshop #1 begins Wednesday Sept 5, at 7pm. Each session will be on Wednesday night at 7 pm through October 10, in Overdier Hall Parlor at 1545 W. Morse Ave, Chicago (Rogers Park).
Materials provided. Donation of $25 accepted for materials, but not required in the case of hardship.
All interested are asked to commit to attend all six sessions since one builds upon the other to begin the journey into Creating a Life that Matters! Space is limited, click here to RSVP
Please consider trying CLM as a gift to YOURSELF!
Rev. Rachelle Brown, Provisional Pastor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For further information about this release, please contact Kevin O’Brien, Clerk of The Board of
Servants, achurch4me? MCC
Tel: (773) 885-9353
ACHURCH4ME?MCC CALLS NEW PROVISIONAL PASTOR
Chicago—a aChurch4Me? MCC is pleased to announce that it has called a new Provisional Pastor, Rev. Rachelle Brown to lead its growing, and vibrantly diverse congregation. Rev. Brown was recently appointed by the denomination’s Rev. Elder Lillie Brock and The Board of Elders to fill the vacancy left by the church’s founding Pastor, Rev. Kevin L. Downer. The much beloved “Pastor Kevin”, as he was known throughout Chicago’s LGBT community, departed in July to lead another MCC church in Minneapolis. Rev. Brown’s appointment as Provisional Pastor is for a six month period, and at the end of which time the congregation will vote as to whether they would like her to become the Permanent Pastor of aChurch4Me? MCC. Continue reading