Holding each other’s pain #nccumc #umc




In the end, the thing that redeems us is how we hold each other’s pain. On the surface, it looks simple. It doesn’t require physical stamina or an extensive and expensive education. It looks like simply sitting, no busy hustling and bustling. The hustling and bustling is an avoidance mechanism. We scurry around making casseroles and cups of tea when what is required is stillness and serenity. Facing pain authentically means looking at it unflinchingly, unswervingly. Pain and grief demand that we go through. No matter how much we want to medicate it, or self-medicate, we can only go through the pain, not around it.

I thought for a while that it was only pastors who have to acquire this skill. I thought we were the only ones that had to stand at bedsides and grave sites. We balance awkwardly or delicately along the fine line between being present and being pompous. Delving more deeply, I realized that this is what relationships are made of: the uneasy task of trust and holding each other’s pain.

We are all broken and wounded. We live in the reality of Dante’s Divine Comedy – we sit at the table feeding one another with long handled spoons because we are unable to feed ourselves. We desperately need each other. We choose our friendships and partnerships based on the gut reaction of who we think will respect and nurture what is best in us and what is worst.

The why is obvious. Human beings were created for relationship. Even the most introverted introvert or wounded warrior finds a measure of healing and hope with someone other than themselves. The American icon of the cowboy riding alone into the sunset may be romantic but it glorifies a dangerous lie. Being independent and self-sufficient doesn’t mean strict solitude; it means you want control over the relationships you cultivate. The American War of Independence wasn’t fought so the people over here on this side of the Atlantic Ocean could be alone. It was fought so we could control their own destiny. Perhaps to our forefathers government could function as a set of thoughtfully balanced relationships and partnerships. Perhaps that is how democracy is supposed to work. From the halls of power to the pulpit to the dinner table-it seems we have lost our way.

The pain seems too great. None of us wants to face it and make the hard decisions and corrections that must occur for freedom to survive and thrive. Being distracted by bread and circuses simply delays the inevitable. Children may laugh and giggle at the mocking of death and false bravado of Halloween but the reality comes to each of us all too soon. Will we choose to live facing both the pain and the joy? Or will we sweep tragedy and terror under the rug and pretend they don’t exist?

We must return to Holy Love. Holy Love created us for relationship. Not for judicial or punitive reasons did Jesus Christ die on the cross. In some mystery we don’t completely understand, Jesus Christ died holding our pain. He walked out of the empty tomb scarred but alive, resurrected in a kind of life that for now isn’t completely ours.

We can taste it and live it, as we walk and work together. What is prayer but carrying our hopes and fears to the place of Holy Love, the kingdom of heaven, so our burdens are shared and lightened? The image that comes to me is of cupped hands. Two hands carrying water from the stream to pour into the arid places. A lot of the water dribbles away or is sloshed out in the carrying. Some of the water makes it to its destination-a dry, cracked place in the heart of another.

It is all I can do to offer this living water, carrying it to the broken places that are pointed out to me. Someone else will carry water and let it rain in my tired soul. Holy Love-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-is the Source of the water. The Samaritan woman asked Jesus “You would ask me for water? The well is the and you have no bucket.” (John, chapter 4) It was Jesus who poured living water into her life that day. The living water soothes as our pain, bathes our wounds, and revives our souls. Sometimes, we drink straight from the well. At other times we rely on the cupped hands of others when we are too broken, too tired or too crippled to get it ourselves. “Wounded healers”, Henri Nouwen called us, knowing our broken and healed places are the scars through which Holy Love flows into the world.

Holding each other’s pain is a gift, and an art, a blessing and a suffering. We would much rather rejoice that weep. Yet it is an honor and a burden to live with both. And living with both means we are truly alive.

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GO #nccumc



…from SoundBites email GOING TO ALL THE WORLD

“Then Jesus told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.’” (Mark 16:15 NLT)

The church can no longer fling open the doors and expect the crowds to rush in. We are no longer a “come here” organization as is evidenced by the large number of people who will not or no longer “come here.” But what is the alternative? The answer to fulfilling our call to reach the world is to go to the world. Jesus didn’t instruct the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the world to come to them; he instructed them to go to the world. Though our going will look different from that of those first disciples, the command still stands.

— Bryan Collier in The Go-To Church: Post MegaChurch Growth (Abingdon Press, 2013)

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Holy Conferencing #nccumc #weare3dm

Another good blog post from this week.


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Hildegard of Bingen #nccumc


…..the peacemakers shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9)


Today is the Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen, a truly remarkable women. You can pray the Daily Office and learn more about her at the link below.


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Inspiration September 12, 2014 #nccumc #weare3dm

“Where your life and God’s will intersect for maximum Kingdom impact” Jeff Greenway

“The problem with talking about theology is that you have to say everything all at once.” Tom Wright

“Beware of F.A.E” Toddy Holeman

F.A.E. – fundamental attribution error. That basically means you think you know what the other person is thinking or feeling and you proceed with flawed understanding and, usually dire, consequences.

For example, for at least 900 years there has been one set of voices interpreting what Jesus was really saying and what that meant for the rest of us.  Don’t get me wrong, I am as much committed to Biblical authority as the next person.  But often, we twist the words of Jesus so they will say what we want them to. And when we try to see God usually we just see whatever it is that appears when we look into the bathroom mirror. God of Creation, the burning bush, the Exodus, the Babylonian exile, the birth, like, death, resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit has become, to us, just like us.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a God that’s just like me. I am limited, broken, usually confused or distracted and have just a few moments of Holy Love and clarity strung along the trajectory of my life. I want to live in Holy Love that is bigger, stronger, more compassionate, more wise and courageous than I am. Ever since my beloved son went into the US Air Force, I have held on to the fact that God (or Holy Love) loves him even more than I do and can take care of him a whole lot better than I can.

We worry so much about what other people think, or what they really mean or why they did what they did. When we can’t or don’t get answer, we’ll just make one up for ourselves, thank you very much. As a result,  mis-understandings abound. We have wars and rumors of war between people, between nations, between hemispheres.

So here, at the end of this post, I’m not going to leave you hanging. Sometimes we feel like Wayfaring Strangers (you can hear that song on the music page of this site) As corny, cheesy and thin as “Christian” music can sound, I believe we are all expressing the same kinds of things. We are loved by a love so Holy we cannot fully comprehend it. That same Holy Love meets us exactly where we are but loves us to much to leave us there. That’s the good news. Easy to understand, impossible to live out all by yourself.

Come as you are to a community of folk who will do their best to love you in that Holy way and leave changed so the world around you will be changed and the planet itself will have the chance to be transformed and set free. Free from the fear of dying, free from the fear of a meaningless life. In partnership with Holy Love and each other, the borders of heaven, where Holy Love rules) will expand to encompass all the earth.

God bless us every one, Kelli+

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