The Person We Were Created to Be

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A few weeks ago, I married a fantastic fellow. As most of you know, one big joy at weddings is that for a brief moment in time all of the people that you care for deeply are gathered together. After the craziness died down, we began sharing with each other the importance of the folks who joined us for this event, and who had formed us spiritually. Turns out our spiritual mentors are extroverted, introverted, gentle, blunt, intellectual, emotional, men, women, rich, poor, serious, silly, liberal and conservative. The main character trait all of these people had in common was that they are really authentic people. They are confident in the person God created them to be, and they seem to understand who they are in Christ—quirks and all.

In The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen pegs authenticity as an key foundation for sharing God’s love. He explains: “When the imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived his, then there are many ways and forms in which a man can be a Christian” (99). Being ourselves, it seems, greatly enhances our ability to carry out God’s commission to love God and others.

I believe Paul’s identity in Christ allowed him to share the good news of Jesus Christ in a way that resonated with many who did not yet believe. He wrote that when a person comes to know Christ, that person is a new creation with a call to be “Christ’s ambassador.” Take a look:

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-20)

So, here are my challenges to you this week:
-Take time alone, in silence to think and pray about the person God has truly created you to be. Make a list of some of your main character traits. This is no easy task. (I believe it takes a lifetime to fully discover, but now is a great time to start.)
-Ask yourself: “How can being myself in interactions help me be a more faithful ‘ambassador of Christ’? How might it allow others to listen to the good news of Christ I have to share?”
-Share your faith with one person in the way that feels most authentic to the person you are.

-Rev. Katherine Ebling-Frazier, Pastor of Prayer

Surround Yourself With God’s Love

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I’m often challenged by what I hear people saying to themselves. Whether it’s my own negative self talk or those around me, I’m reminded that God might have other ideas about how we should treat God’s people—including ourselves! The Bible reminds us of God’s love when it says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,” (John 3:16) or “God’s faithful love lasts forever!” (Psalm 136:16).

God tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves—which means we have to love ourselves first. Sometimes I find myself in need of a tangible sense of God’s love for encouragement in the journey. I need prompting to move from negative speech to positive expressions of love not only for others, but for myself too. I have found a prayer shawl to be an effective means of focusing my attention on the love God has for me when I might be struggling to feel it myself.

I first learned about prayer shawls when I read Paths to Prayer by Patricia D. Brown. She has directions on how to make a traditional prayer shawl, as well as possible prayers to go along with it. You can make a shawl by choosing its components carefully, as Brown suggests, or choose something you already have that you love. When you wrap yourself in your shawl, feel God’s arms surrounding you like a hug filled with the love of a parent, sibling or friend. Maybe you cover your head like Susannah Wesley did, in order to have a moment of respite from the busyness of life, a moment of quiet between yourself and God. Perhaps wear it during times of worship, celebration or lament as a reminder that you are not alone; God’s presence is always with you. Take the opportunity to speak kind and gentle words to yourself about God’s love for you, words of forgiveness and encouragement, whatever is happening in your journey. Try praying something like this prayer I found online: “O Loving One, renew me this day in your love. Grant me life as a gift of your faithfulness; Grant me hope to sustain me. May this shawl be for me a sign of your loving, healing presence. May it warm me when I am weary; may it surround me with encouragement when I am discouraged. May it assure me of your care and comfort, when my loved ones and I are in pain. May it remind me that You love me and that I am surrounded by the prayers of others.” (http://www.vinjechurch.com/cms-uploads/help%20others_21_663393903.pdf)

You can find information about the Prayer Shawl Ministry at The Church of the Resurrection at http://www.cor.org/fileadmin/users/prayer/Knitting_devotions1.pdf. This includes patterns for knitting your own prayer shawl as well as prayers to use with prayer shawls.

–Kelly Hansen, Resurrection Prayer Ministry


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