GOD’S LOVE GIFT

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Tonight I want to focus on Hope and Love which give birth to faith.  Faithful is the attribute ascribed to people who put their trust in God.  How does one find hope; How does one understand love; How does one act on faith if they have not experienced any of these?  I have come to realize love must be experienced to be understood before one can have hope. I believe Love and hope are necessary for one to act on faith.

Now hope is something we all know how to do.   It is not uncommon to hear: “I hope I get ________for Christmas!”;  I hope I get that job… ;I hope my child will get well….; I hope my car will last me another year;  I hope I can pay my bills;   I hope I will find the right person and settle down;  You get my point.  We hope for what we do not already have. (Romans 8:24)   In hope we imagine what it would be like to experience our hopes realized.

Faith is a little different.  Faith is the evidence of things not seen the substance of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1)   It is by faith we believe that there is evidence for what we hope will come to pass.

Hope can be a prospect, a vision, something to put out there as a possibility.  But faith sees more than a prospect or a possibility or a vision.  Faith takes those things and goes one step further.  Faith believes that what is hoped for will be fulfilled.      When we have faith in an idea, we must also have the assurance that it will indeed become reality.   For instance: a child hopes for a bicycle for their birthday.  They will imagine themselves getting the bike and riding the bike and dream about going on long trips They might imagine all  their friend going on a bike ride and having a picnic.   In all their  daydreaming they wonder how they can get that bike. Ultimately they will let it be known that they want a bike.  Now the one who “hears” the desire for a bike tells the child you will get that bike for your birthday.   The moment the child hears these words, if they trust the person, hope   becomes much more.  The dream for a bike now  has achieved substance because there is the assurance that a bike will be in their future.  So you can see that hope gives birth to faith when Love and assurance are involved.

For centuries before Jesus entered time from eternity. The People of Israel had been waiting for a Messiah. The one who would deliver them from oppression, the one who would set the world aright?  Where did they get this idea?

God spoke to the Beloved Children through the prophets.  What is a prophet?  A prophet is a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God.  The following are the prophets of the old Testament: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and twelve others.   When we think of the prophets we have to realize that many were not contemporaries.  Combined they delivered Prophecies over a 500 years period. (931-400 B.C).  Then there was 400 years of silence until the birth of Jesus.

Over time many had forgotten but there were many who believed and their faith caused them to remain awake and aware for the coming of Messiah.  When Jesus was born prophecies came to pass in the following: Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  Those who were expecting the Messiah those who were awake and aware of his coming, indeed recognized him.   Simeon and Anna are the two who did. (Luke 2:22-40)

Jesus was born and was recognized as the Son of God, Immanuel.  This is just the beginning of His story among humanity.   People who hoped in the coming Messiah recognize him because of their faith.  Today we also hope as we look back and believe the words of the prophecies fulfilled. Our faith is exercised when we recognize Jesus truly is the son of God.

We are encouraged by Jesus who said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” John 20:29.   Many in our world today are not awake or aware of God’s presence among us.  They go through the motions at Christmas time. Caught up in the preparations  unaware that we are the reason Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again.  My prayer is that you  will pause tonight and put your hope in God’s love Gift and allow yourself to witness the evidence that Jesus is indeed Immanuel so that your faith can arise to the wonderful possibilities of your belovedness.    Only then will you truly have a Very Merry Christmas.

I am a Christian…BUTT

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Jenny said, “I am tired of being a Christian Butt,”…”What do you mean by that” [he] asked. “I mean,” She replied without hesitation, “I’m tired of having to always qualify the word Christian when I tell people I’m going to Church.  I might as well say I’m radioactive. They get a surprised look on their face and say, “Not you, Jenny. You don’t seem like the Christian type.”   So I find myself throwing in more and more “BUTS” all the time: I’m a Christian But…but…but…Why should I have to explain to people, I’m a Christian, BUT I don’t believe Homosexuals are evil…I’m a Christian BUT I believe women are equal to men…BUT I am concerned about poverty…BUT I care about the earth…BUT I don’t think people who believe differently from me will fry in hell for eternity…” Why is it that the word Christian, which should stand for people of extravagant grace and generosity who are abundantly loving, who are associated with acts of courage, justice, and compassion, has become synonymous with Butthead?”[i]

This excerpt is from the introduction to The Phoenix Affirmations written by Eric Elnes. Over the coming weeks we will be in conversation centered on the 12 Phoenix Affirmations. What may surprise most is that Jesus was not a Christian.  The word Christian means, to be a follower of Christ and it was the Romans who first called His followers by that name.  Jesus said,to love the Lord your God with all your heart all your soul and all your strength and your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22: 37-39) He side if you follow these you will not sin.  Over the coming weeks we will be discussing what it means to Love God, to love self and to love neighbor.  All questions, doubts and concerns are welcome.

THIS WEEK:

Loving God

Affirmation 1: Walking fully in the path of Jesus, without denying the legitimacy of other paths God may provide humanity;  Matthew 11:28-29; John 8:12; John 10:16; Mark 9:40

As Christians, we find spiritual awakening, challenge, growth, and fulfillment in Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. While we have accepted the Path of Jesus as our Path, we do not deny the legitimacy of other paths God may provide humanity. Where possible, we seek lively dialog with those of other faiths for mutual benefit and fellowship.

We affirm that the Path of Jesus is found wherever love of God, neighbor, and self are practiced together. Whether or not the path bears the name of Jesus, such paths bear the identity of Christ.

We confess that we have stepped away from Christ’s Path whenever we have failed to practice love of God, neighbor, and self, or have claimed Christianity is the only way, even as we claim it to be our way.

Join us for the Conversation: Phoenix Rising UCC Wellspring Gathering Wednesday nights 7:00 pm at Dunkin Donuts 15 S. Main Street Haverhill Ma.

  1. Eric Elnes, The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity, Jossey-Bass,  ©2006 introduction

Freedom from: “WHY ME” & “IF ONLY”

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Once I heard a story of how Elephants are trained not to run away.  While they are babies they put a giant chain around their ankle. When the elephant is grown only a rope is needed.  The animal is trained into thinking that when they pull away from the rope, it is the old chain from youth.   If they really knew the truth they could just walk away.    All of us go through adversity in various degrees.   Our response to adversity also varies.  Nevertheless, I believe there are two words, two phrases “Why me” and “If only”, that act like the rope used with the elephant.   When adversity comes, most of us respond as though we are unable to overcome it.

I was disabled, unable to walk for over 10 consecutive years of my life.  In the beginning, I could only cry out “why me”.  I felt oppressed, forgotten, trapped and I longed for simple things like, walking again.   I would say “If only”…I could walk, I would go to school.  If only I had people to help me, if only I had money, if only I could drive then I would (fill in the blank).   I lived shackled by these words until I began to accept this state of affairs.   Words are powerful and can shift ones thinking. That is where my faith came in and the Bible.  Jeremiah 29:11Revised Standard Version (RSV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Those words rang loudly in my heart. So much so, I memorized  them and decided to live into this idea.   Not long after, I realized I had stopped saying “why me” and began looking at all I could do, and no longer focused on what I could not.  When I stopped saying “why me” It wasn’t long after that, I was no longer fixated on the “if only”.

Adversity still happened. How I face it made all the difference.  I decided to go back to school and I was going to go and not let anything stop me.   Two years into school I was diagnosed with uterine cancer went through major surgery and rehab.  Ugh!  I again found myself saying “why me” again with the addition of another two word phrase, WHY GOD?  God, if you have a plan and a future for me this is cruel.  I concluded that if I was at the end of my life, I was determined to finish having made a difference.  That determination snuffed out the “Why me”, “Why God” and “If Only”.   Convinced, I didn’t have time to fixate on any of that, I set my sights on finishing. I received my Associate degree in 1999. Not only did I survive, I was commencement speaker and had indeed made a difference.  I had been accepted to Bradford College to finish my Bachelor’s degree and began attending that fall.   Physically I was doing fine. So much so, I decided to go to Italy to study Renaissance art through the school.  It was life changing. Mind you I was still in a wheelchair.  As we prepared to go to Italy, it was announced that Bradford College would close.  UGH! “WHY???…” I finished there a junior. I was accepted to Regis College with my 4.0 I received a presidential scholarship and graduated 2011.   The next few years, I worked hard to walk again went to seminary and began the process to become a minister.

Today, I am the New Pastor of Phoenix Rising UCC.  Not one of us is exempt from Adversity.  Many people believe God exists but there are many that struggle to believe in the Goodness of God because of Adversity.  My experiences and growing edges inform ne that “Trials Are Tool For Which God Fashions Us For Greater Things”. And we have the ability to use adversity as a “stepping stone or stumbling blocks”.    I recall another phrase that empowered me to understand adversity as a stepping stone.   “Fear Freezes life, Faith Thaws it out!” For me, believing I have a future and a hope truly disabled fear in me.   It broke the ropes that held me captive “Why me” and “If only”.  And like a phoenix I have risen above adversity over and over again.   In what ways have “Why me” and “if only: held you captive?   God is a Good God.  We have to make a choice either, let fear keep us frozen in place or arise like the phoenix and let the peace of God rule in your heart.

Encouragement: Why do we need it?

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I was recently asked to think of one or two things that encourage me.   I thought about it. At first I thought, “Does this mean how people encourage me or the world around me or when I do a good job?    I thought about what it is like to be   encouraged. How it uplifts in positive ways, whether it is a person who affirms me, or when I am out and see an eagle fly over my head or when I am successful with a finished project.  I was determined to find the fullest meaning possible. This meant asking questions.  Why do we need it?  What is it like when we don’t experience it?  Why do we sometimes reject encouragement? Then I thought what does encouragement actually mean? So I looked it up.

Encouragement: “the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.”  I sat with this and as I looked closely at the word itself I realized the word :courage” is nestled in between En-&- ment. So I looked up the word Courage: “the ability to do something that frightens one and or to find strength in the face of pain or grief.” This led me to  think about dis-courage which mean: “to cause (someone) to lose confidence or enthusiasm.”

I thought about this for several days.  Another interesting thing that emerged is that encouragement and Discouragement are verbs. The word courage is actually a noun.  I started to imagine courage as  a container. That can be filled and emptied.

My nephew is a junior in college and I recently visited him there.  We went to supper.  A few weeks before at my Ordination he was a most gracious host.  Later, several people let me know what a wonderful kind Gentleman he had become. As I was driving up to see him I looked forward to sharing this.  At the Restaurant, I told him what a friend or two had told me and how proud I was of him.  He had to overcome many challenges and obstacles yet managed to use them as stepping stones not stumbling blocks.  As I spoke these words to him he began to sit up straighter in his chair and listen intently.  I could see in his eyes that something good was happening to his soul.   A little later, he began to share that he had slept in that morning and missed two classes which caused him to really be down on himself.  He said it happens around this time every semester. I smiled and said yes it is the infamous midterm slump.  I encouraged him saying every semester is like a marathon and you’re at heartbreak hill. You can make it!!!!! Then I     So I shared my thoughts on encouragement and courage being a vessel that can be filled or poured out.   I said encouragement is like thirst quenching water while discouragement takes it all away.   He was astonished as he had never heard anything like that and in that moment it made sense to him.  He realized he had been discouraging himself and that is why he felt so awful and wanted to quit. He got that encouragement fortifies courage and discouragement takes it away.   Encouragement had  quenched a thirst, giving him assurance and affirmation.  This in turn renewed his confidence allowing him to rise up and out of discouragement renewing his purpose and intent and stay the course.

There is a verse in the Holy Bible that says:  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another to good works.”  Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

So if you feel discouraged, I would encourage you to think of someone who has blessed you, supported you, helped you and write to them or call and let them know what they mean to you. The gift of encouragement that you give them may be just what they needed to quench their thirst and fill their vessel of courage.   And in turn you will also experience its wonderful thirst quenching properties.   Imagine how  relationships could  be transformed simply by words of encouragement.

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Why Do we Fear Change?

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Why are people so afraid of change?  It is a natural occurrence in our lives yet when it is happening we often try and resist it. What kind of time and energy do we spend trying to avoid it when we never do stop CHANGE from happening?  I think of aging as a perfect example.  In our society we do everything we can to avoid the aging cycle. “Think facelifts.” We have seen how people become obsessed and we may even become obsessed in trying to avoid the natural progression of aging.   Michael Singer, author of “The Untethered Soul,” believes that this avoidance causes you to lose track of your life’s purpose.

I have to agree when I think of Phoenix Rising UCC.  It came into being because First Congregational Church, Haverhill stopped resisting the CHANGE going on around them.  When they stopped avoiding the inevitable, they found the new path CHANGE had created and rediscovered the purpose of being Church.

Today, I had an interview with Ben Leubsdorf an economics reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Washington, D.C.  Ben is working on a story about the process behind the decisions that some churches have made to create sacred space away from a traditional sanctuary building. How did the congregation reach those decisions – was it a financial issue or an outreach issue? What type of process was involved? These are the questions I addressed in the interview.

Phoenix Rising UCC was born out of the convergent changes in our world today.  American churches have been in the throes of two recessions:  A spiritual recession which seems to have begun in earnest in 2002 and the Great Recession which began sometime in 2007 when the Mortgage bubble burst.   Another major contributing factor has be the telecommunications boom which exploded onto the scene in 1995.    All of these factors have created a sea of CHANGE that has been unavoidable.

Individuals and institutions have tried to avoid these changes and have lost track of their vision and purpose.  My friend and colleague Reverend Ian Lynch preached at my Ordination on October 5th.  He started his sermon by saying, THE CHURCH IS DEAD” he went on to say if it isn’t dead it should be”  His whole point was that the Church is meant to bring Good News and the good news is, When death comes Resurrection follows.    Phoenix Rising is a story of death and resurrection.  It was born out of the chaos and convulsion of change.    The great worshiping oak is where the story of Phoenix Rising began with a few people who gathered under its branches in 1642 to worship. This great Oak has weathered much CHANGE in the city of Haverhill’s storied history. When you walk around the area one can’t help wondering how many of the oak trees that stand nearby are its offspring.  Each of these trees began as a fallen acorn.  Each had to die in order to release its DNA into the soil rising up and out, becoming the very thing it was intended to be.  It is the natural progress of life.

Michael Singer also says, “Life is a natural unfolding of reality. You’re supposed to harmonize and work with it.”  When we resist the very CHANGE our souls are begging for, we suffer disharmony and unrest, distress and fear. This becomes the lens by which we view our circumstances.    When you are feeling pulled towards that new thing do not resist! When you step over the threshold you will begin to experience the wonderful transformation CHANGE can bring.

God of the Whale

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GOD OF THE WHALE

There is a wonderful hymn I love called God of the Sparrow God of the Whale.

This is the first verse lyrics

“God of the sparrow
God of the whale
God of the swirling stars
How does the creature say Awe
How does the creature say Praise”

The other day I saw a video (see below) of a snorkeler who went into the water from his boat in the middle of the bay because there was a humpback whale that kept coming along side. It seemed in distress and would not leave. This whale was twice the length of the boat and weighed several tons. When the snorkeler got under the water he realized the whale was entangled in a fishing net.  The man   went to the surface and got a knife and he and the others began cutting away the net.   After a long while they were able free the great whale.  What was striking to me was that the whale could at any time taken a dive but it did not.  Had it, these men could have been put in great danger. This whale was focused on being free, rather than the fear.   These men were more focused on the rescue rather than the danger.   Amazingly, they were able to free the whale from the net.  Freed from certain death, the whale went away leaping and jumping out of the water in what seemed to be a show of gratitude and thanksgiving.

Many of us may have found ourselves strangling from entanglements of our own making or from outside sources.    But unlike the whale we just live with it hoping it will go away.  We are unable to live up to our greatest potential and are unable to live life to the fullest.   Maybe the whale had been entangled for months.  Maybe the whale at first tried to just live with it but when it realized his very nature to jump out of the water was now compromised he had to find a way to get free.    Like the whale we may need help that can only come from beyond our world, beyond our ability to remove the very thing that is harming us.   Like the whale, we have to put ourselves in a place where we can receive help.  These men did what no other whale could do. They had the means to remove the entanglement.    And when the whale was free it responded in the only way it could.

God knows how to untangle us but we have to get to the place where our need to be free is greater than our fears, greater than compromise.  Our desire to be all we are created to be is greater than thinking I deserve to live with this entanglement because after all it is my fault I am entangled.   God loves you so much and is so willing to help you get free but like the whale you will have to trust.   I can testify that I know what it is like to get untangled and set free to leap and joy and live without entanglements that held me back. God love you and has an abundance of compassion the same compassion those men on the boat had for the whale.  But we must be like the whale and go to the place where God can help.

2 Peter 3:9The Message (MSG)Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.

God is waiting to help you.     If you resonate with this story, email me.  I would like to walk with you and show you the way to freedom.  pastordonnaprucc@gmail.com

Whale rescue video click here

In Or Out?

This past week  we had the New Church Start Boot Camp.  It was a very full day with lots of ideas posted on walls as we began to flesh out next steps. I posted a picture and a little overview and put it up on Face Book.  Since June, we have gone from 112 to 404 people who are following the PRUCC FB Page.   In the past couple of days the numbers that people see show a gain of two more people.    What is interesting, is that is not the case.  Since this post, for the second time in three months we have had people  unlike us.  Yesterday there were 5 people who unliked us and 7 people who liked us.   The unlikes were in response to the Boot camp post.  I wondered what I might have posted that would get people to unlike us. It didn’t take long to realize that I mentioned that I have a wife.  That was the case the day others unliked us.   In or Out is an interesting concept.  Phoenix Rising UCC will be a place where no one will be unliked.

“Jesus said I am the good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. I know my sheep and they know me…I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.”( John 10:11-16) Jesus was prophesying that Jews and Gentiles would both come together in one sheepfold, live in peace, and follow.  We saw Jesus model this truth, with the women at the well. (John 4: 6-29). She was a samaritian woman who was a rejected member of her community because she had been married several times and was now living with someone. Samaritians where also considered half breeds. half Jewish and half gentile. The did not belong in the Jewish community or the gentile community because of this.  What made this story so important was  Jesus did not reject her, He spoke to her, let her know that she was In with God not out!

The Good Shepherd say’s come, you belong to me and the sheep who hear come!  The sad part of the Christian story is that throughout history followers have excluded many who heard the voice, putting up barriers, even killing others  because they refused to accept that they” belonged

Nevertheless the Good Shepherd continues to call the sheep of every race, religion and sexual persuasion and they continue to come.  Desmond Tutu said, “God is not upset that Gandhi was not a Christian, because God is not a Christian! All of God’s children and their different faiths help us to realize the immensity of God.” Love’s ultimate proof is manifest in those who love God, self and others!  We recognize the sheep because they listen to the shepherd.

Because Jesus never turned anyone way  you can trust that God will never unlike you!  Does it bother me that people have unliked Phoenix Rising UCC?  Yes and no.  Yes, because on both days PRUCC unlikes took place in response to  articles where I mentioned my sexual orientation and same gender loving self.  It is sad to me, because it left me with the assumption that those who took the time to unlike us, did so because they could not imagine themselves in a church were there was a gay minister or gay people.   Are you out or are you in really isn’t the issue.  What needs to be lifted up is Jesus has “other sheep” and they will be welcome with open arms!!!!

It is my hope that if this article provokes you to unlike our FB Page you might message me so that we can have a conversation.  All Sheep are welcome in!!!

 

 

 

Flying Stand By

downloadI attended the National Leadership Institute Conference in Atlanta a week and a half ago sponsored by Center for Progressive Renewal.1 A friend let me use their buddy pass which means flying stand-by. There is a saying “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Which means, no matter how well you plan circumstances may change. I was bumped twice before I got on a flight and I was frustrated. However, before the day was over my attitude had been transformed. What if some circumstances are meant to change? What if some intentional course corrections are influenced by God?
I was bumped two more times before a seat opened up. I got to sit next to two lovely, young college students, cousins who were going to Florida for vacation. They asked me where I was heading and I told them. As we conversed one of them shared that she was a sophomore at Regis College. I responded, “Wow what a coincidence, I am Regis College Alumna!” They were both raised in a Seventh Day Adventist church in Malden. When they told me the address, I was taken aback. I had been a member of the church that sold the building to their parents, both ministers in the early 90’s. When I shared about Phoenix Rising UCC, they opened their tablets and explored the website, soon asking many questions. We parted with hugs and good wishes. Clearly, this was not a coincidence.
The conference was filled with wonderful fellowship and insightful information. It felt like being hit with a fire hose filled with grace. A highlight for me was the opportunity to share the Phoenix Rising UCC story with author Brian McLaren who was the key note speaker. His writings have had a profound effect on my ministry so meeting him was as much a stand-by moment as my fight.
On the way home I sat next to a pastor of an interdenominational church of thousand from Alexandria VA. What are the odds that I would sit next to yet another who shares my love for Jesus. When he opened his laptop There was a line highlighted: Jehoshaphat said: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” I leaned over and said I love the story of Jehoshaphat. He smiled, “Are you Christian?” “Yes I am” I replied. Our conversation was very interesting; me a liberal progressive God is Still Speaking Christian and he a spirit focused Pentecostal Christian. It was a delightful harmonious conversation. I got to share Brian McLaren’s influence and Phoenix Rising UCC. He gave me his card and asked if we could chat again sometime.
Brian McLaren wrote: “…Faith was never intended to be a destination, a status, a holding tank or warehouse. Instead, it was to be a road, a path a way out of old destructive patterns into new and creative ones. As a road or way, it is always being extended into the future…To be a living tradition, a living way it must forever open itself forward and forever remain unfinished- even as it forever cherishes and learns from the growing treasury of its past.”2
My experience has opened my eyes to the profound reality that we are flying standby every day. I think it is reasonable to conclude that flying stand-by is truly living by faith. If you could grasp this concept what would change for you? I am convinced that crossing paths with the folks during my trip was not a coincidence. I can’t help wondering how many opportunities we miss when we get upset and angry when plans and expectations go awry. How could living by faith modified discouragement and frustration? Would we be less likely to see ourselves victimized by circumstances? What would be the likelihood of being more purposeful? Imagine how your life could change if you began walking by faith as though you were flying stand-by! If we are awake and aware and let ourselves seize the day intentionally what amazing experiences will we encounter or even become a part of?

 

[1] Center for Progressive Renewal: http://progressiverenewal.org/

[2] McLaren, Brian D., We Make the Road by Walking: A Year Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation and Aticvation, Jerico Books, pg xii,© 2014

Being Awake and Aware

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This week I was a chaperone for a youth group who went to The Forks in Maine Whitewater Rafting.  I had never gone whitewater rafting until three years ago. Over the years, seeing the video and pictures it seemed too extreme for me.  It was then that  I decided if these kids can do it, I can too!  It was life changing.   The first step is orientation. During this time, we get fitted with a helmet and life jacket and given a paddle. Then we are instructed how to hold the paddle and  how you will use it. In the midst of all the instructions you are also told of the dangers.  Somewhere during this time there is a moment when fear and anxiety almost changes  your mind. Nevertheless, despite the fears you get on the bus and go. 

Once you are in the boat with nine other people: each a novice with a paddle, each ready to take on this adventure like experts.  You shove off.  The guide shows us a few commands as we enter the first of five rapids.  Picking up speed we race fast and furious; twisting and turning over boulders and rocks, through gorges surrounded by sheer cliffs five stories high.  The whitewater crashes over every angle of the raft and people fall out. There is no time to be scared you have to bring them back on board.  It isn’t long before you   become acutely aware of the danger and the reality that the river is in charge not you.   However, you can also rest assure that it is okay because the guide knows every nuance, every ebb and flow of this watercourse.   What you have gained in this adventure is the wonderful experience of being fully aware that you are alive! 

 

The second and third night we went on a Moose Safari. The first outing we did not see a moose until we were on the way back to camp in the dark and a moose ran out onto the road in front of us.  Suddenly we all were awake and aware that at any time a moose might cross our path and it would not be good if we were not watching.  The second night we got to see four Moose.  We got a few great pictures of a Moose eating in a bog.  Two on the side of the road and one who we saw in the distance giving us time to slow to a stop. As we came up on this beautifully awkward creature it just stood there in front of the car without a care in the world. After a while we even beeped the horn and it just went to the side and began to graze.  

 

Each of these experiences, whitewater rafting and searching for moose made me think about what it really means to be awake and aware in our daily life.  How often do you really take the time to stop thinking of all the things you need to do and just let ourselves be present in your day? The truth is most of our us experience life  filtered through TV or Smart Phones, tablets or computers  Faith is the evidence of things not seen and the substance of things hoped for.  Being awake and aware is evidence of faith!  I can say from experience that God is my guide when life feels like the rapids and turbulence surrounds me.  A moose only has to cross your path once for you to become extra alert to the possibility of another encounter.

 

I am compelled to believe God is trying to alert you!  God is crossing our paths all the time showing us love and acceptance but we are not aware that it comes from the one who is LOVE itself.  I believe God has called me to Haverhill to bring together people who are searching for a place where second chances are a reality; where you are accepted as you are; where the message of Jesus is not just words and speech but deeds and truth!