Friday, May 8, 2015

Clergy Do Christ Walk

I cannot believe a week has come and gone and I have not told you about my amazing two days with the clergy of the West District of the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.  I have new peeps in Texas now, and I am loving those peeps.

We talked exercise, burdens, addictions, habits, change, society, the Bible, solutions, and creating a healthy church.  We talked FOOD.  We talked wine.  We talked fellowship and we talked how Christ is weaved into everything in our lives.  This group of men and women came together in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Many different fitness levels and many, like me, who have illness that challenge their concept of health in light of a disease-ridden body.  Much like any group that comes together, we were all different and all beautiful creatures of God.  We learned how to expand our vision of Christ Walk and make it applicable to our everyday life as well as our churches.  Most importantly, we came together to build the consensus that mind, body, AND spiritual health are necessary for healthy Christian individuals.  The work of the clergy does not stop only at the soul.  These wonderful men and women saw themselves as mentors of physical and mental health and saw how they also had to take care of their own mind, body and spiritual health to be effective role models.

Day one started out with an introduction to Christ Walk.  We discussed change and health and how hard those concepts can be to apply in our busy lives.  We discussed addictions and negative health habits and how easy they are to fall back on when life gets tough.  We discussed the irony that when we need God most in our lives, we tend to turn to physical/human things (food, sugar, alcohol, drugs, stress, anger, etc) to cope, rather than turning to God.  We saw that each step we take physically should be a prayer of thanks and of building this temple of the human body towards God's service.

Later on that evening, we moved on to a theological reflection on the World Health Organizations (1979) definition of health:  "Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."  We all, 100% agreed that this definition was out of date, and lacks the spiritual importance of health.  One can be healthy, if not cured; and one can be cured, but not healthy because of the spiritual damage done by disease.  We discussed what society thinks about health.  And then we discussed what the Bible says about health.  There is a clear divide between what secular society sees as a healthy individual and what the Bible states we need to do to be healthy.  There is a lack of emphasis in the world around us about building strong bodies to do the work of God for others.  Our bodies are not our own.  Our bodies are here to do God's will.  We do not treat our bodies as though we were temples of the Holy Spirit.

The next day, we talked FOOD.  WE ALL LOVE FOOD.  But we all agree that we need to eat more of God's food and less food that's from an industrial plant.  As I love to say, God did not hang meal replacement bars from the trees in the Garden of Eden.  He gave us real food.  We need to enjoy that food and use it to NOURISH our bodies to do the work we are called to do, not FEED our emotions.  We discussed what a meal with Jesus would look like and what we would serve.  I am hungry as I write this.  A meal with Jesus would just be divine (pun intended).

Finally, I challenged the groups to write a prayer for a healthy church and goals to implement when they go back home.  I am going to share with you some of what they came up with in their small groups:

Group 1: 
A prayer for unity of a land and a people. 
Our hearts are heavy with the news not just from Baltimore, but also Ferguson, Watts, and other places.
God we are never separated from you, but we confess there are times we think we are; hear our prayer. 
God, there are times we think we are separated from each other, but we are connected-each to the other and we confess our intentionally created walls. 
God, we confess that too often we see these issues as "us verses them" when it's really "us verses us." 
God, heal our land and our destructive tendencies. 
Give us the courage to let you into our hearts. You who are the great healer, heal our land. 
Group 2: 
 O Lord, our God,
We are fragile,
Held us to be strong
We are frail, help us to lean on you.
We ask you to put us under the waterfall of your grace
And draw us ever closer to you in our suffering.
We seek health over healing as our 1st priority
Help us to feel our worth by becoming strong in mind, body, and spirit.
After all, we are broken and you are the potter.
Make us and mold us and put us back together through your healing power and love.
In Jesus' Name. Amen 
Group 3:
Gracious, loving and all powerful God.  Giver of life and freedom. 
We lean upon your everlasting arms to heal our bodies, spirits, emotions, and our land and world.
Continue to affirm in us that we are wonderfully made and your creation.
Born originals enhanced in your light, enabling us to be the witnesses you have called us to be.
Group 4: 
Father, God, I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your family. 
How awesome it is to be connected with the Savior and Holy Spirit.
It is our prayer that in Jesus name, your blessing will flow freely and richly in our lives 
as we come together in worshiping and serving you as clergy and teachers.
Thank you God for each of us that has a unique gift 
You have allowed them to be woven into who we are: our passions and our talents.
God, you have put it all together for a purpose and you have a very special plan for each to use.
Thank you God that you have put each of us in situations where we have to use these unique gifts.
I pray Father you will strengthen us with your power
 through your Spirit in our inner being so that Christ may dwell in our heart 
through our faith we rooted and established in love 
and to know your love that surpasses knowledge
 that fills us to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Amen. 

Group 5:
 God of grace and glory, we take delight today, in your presence.
We stand in silence before you because you know everything about us: broken mind and soul. 
 Please touch us.
Touch our soul, bodies and mind and heal us so we might serve you to our greatest ability. 
Keep us focused on the task that you would have us complete.
Gracious God heal us, collectively. 
Give us the courage to admit and confess the ways in which we have hurt and offended each other, 
and give us the humility to forgive. 
Make us one with each other and one in Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Group 6:

Oh God of Wholeness, we lift up our pastors in the spirit of wholeness,
 Where the body is broken, bring healing.
Where the mind is stressed, bring healing.
Where the spirit is wounded, bring healing.
And Where relationships are strained and severed, bring healing.
In the name of the Great physician.  Amen!

Group 7:

Lord, I lift my eyes unto the hills, from whence shall my help come?
In our brokeness, we cry out to you.
We confess we have not taken care of the body that you have entrusted to us.
We have given into our desires, in our moments of pain and weakness. 
Strengthen us, by the power of your spirit, to be good stewards of the body you have given us,
 the mind you have entrusted to us, and the spirit you have placed within us.
We are confident in your faithfulness.
My help is in the name of the Lord.  In You we are made whole.

Throughout both days we prayed, we laughed, we shared, we grieved, we cried, but we were healed. 
Through these two days, we Christ Walked together.  It was good.

I cannot wait for the next time.