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Posts Tagged ‘Presbyterian’

gardening

As long as I can garden, I will garden.

When I garden I remember that I first I wanted to be THE flower.  Above ground.  Beautiful. Ever blooming….forced blooming….so hard to force the blooming.

Even gardening does grow.  When one no longer wants to be THE flower one BECOMES a gardener.

When one becomes a gardener, one longs to garden.

As long as I can garden, I will garden.

Helicoptering over roses diminishes thorny and unnecessary intrusions into my teenager’s lives.

As long as I can garden, I will garden.

The dreaded and cathartic act of pruning may satisfy anxiety that volunteers to aggression.

A matrix of relationships then managed not by sharpened shears but by honed, trellis-like communication.

As long as I can garden, I will garden.

Planting fresh plants, spreading insulating mulch brings thoughts of my wedding day.

Each season welcomes the gentle turning of the soul’s soil to begin something new. Gentle watering more powerful than the deluge. Weeding….weeding….weeding without apology or blame.

As long as I can garden, I will garden.

Compost takes time… a combination of nitrogen and carbon, moisture and heat.  Twirling the compost…..whirling the essence of my efforts.  The promise becomes salient…. A blessed breakdown for other gardens.

As long as I can garden, I will garden….and dream of being turned and tilled into the soil of your soul.

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Weight Watchers tells me, “Count your points.”

Points are a way to anticipate how the consumption of food finds body mass and becomes weight.   The goal is that the body weigh less but not nothing.

Points are a hassle.  The counting of points requires attention if not mindfulness.  The counting of points can consume a day.   So after three weeks of refusing, (and I do have regular times when I refuse to count) I will start counting points midweek when it seems too late to do so.   Not only for my body but also for my soul.

I will count the points because I am not a good judge of the weight I throw around.

The points counted provide me a better sense of the weight of myself.  Of course, I do not just consume food.  There is an invitation to consume life and its experiences.   Those, too, need counting.  For some experiences “cost more” to consume than others.  Again, I am not good a good judge of the weight I throw around unless I am mindful of what I am taking in.

So in my forties, after consuming a lot of junk, I have grown weary of it.  I simply don’t consume the fast or process foods  as much as I used to.   This habit was a long time in coming.  Synchronizing the body and mind is years of work.  Funny, I thought my mind was ahead of my body.  When in reality, my body was the laboratory for my mind to learn the method that would also have a terrific spiritual benefit.

In my forties, I can also say that I have consumed a lot of spiritual junk as well.   Again, an expensive way to consume resulting in a weighted experience that I am tempted to throw around as I relate to others.  I used to take in and digest experiences that are the spiritual equivalent to junk food.  This I do not do anymore.  Rather, I savor what is fresh, life-giving and full of possibility.  This is not always comforting ingestion.  Painful experiences can be full of possibility.  This is not always self-focused ingestion.  How I treasure feasting with others as they celebrate their power and their empowerment of others.   Gorging no longer works.  The ingestion of what gives life and is robust with possibility requires the homage of careful breakdown upon the palate of life.  These are my best prayers….the digesting ones that never find adequate words.    Such a spiritual diet leaves me ready to “weigh in” confidently.

What is life-giving, fresh and full of possibility  is not expensive to consume.  The expense is in their breakdown, digestion and assimilation into my life…..as fiber to my soul.   Take, eat, this is my body….freshly broken,  full of possibility and life-giving.     You will not throw your weight my child, you will use it to carry my yoke.  

Jesus and weight watchers?  Well, for me anyway.  After all, he loved to eat.

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God of all savory truths and digestion, we have gathered this morning to cleanse our palates.  For we have partaken of things too sweet and ravaged what was excessively sour.  We have indulged in the bland and gorged ourselves.  We have avoided the more complex and nourishing diet because we have been in a hurry.  We give you thanks for bread and cup that will remind us of adequate portions.  May what sustains us be a balance between appropriate satisfaction and appropriate hunger so that we may strive as your servant people.  Hear our prayer as we consider the brain of Jesus who enjoyed fellowship and the mind of Christ‘s communion. Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Leslie King for March 6th, 2011 worship at the First Presbyterian Church of Osawatomie, Kansas

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Sometimes, people say to me “You are charismatic” to which I reply…”Thank you!” or “You are too kind!”.  But after some recent reading, a better reply might be, “Thanks for the warning…I will be careful with you and with all who are around me!”

Have you ever considered the charismatic people in your lives or in the lives of your children or parents?  Perhaps they are people who you adore and follow easily.  Perhaps they are people who persuade you even when you are prepared that you do not want to be persuaded. There is charisma on our children’s playgrounds and at their parties. Perhaps you yourself are charismatic?  Whatever the case, charisma has quite a bit of power and has at least several manifestations.  Charisma can be destructive, i.e. Jim Jones, Adolph Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeini, And Rev. Sun Moon.  Charisma can be ego driven, i.e. Lee Iacocca, Steve Jobs, Edwin Land, Michael Eisner and Donald Burr.  Or charisma can be altruistic, i.e. Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. (42)

The question for the discerning individual is, When is charisma used well and when is it a misuse of power?   After all charisma can affect our faith.  Appropriately, the Bible spends some time considering charisma and its persuasive or coercive effects upon the faith.

In the Fall 2010 edition of Journal of Religious Leadership, there are two articles that are particularly helpful on the issue of charisma.  The first article “Charismatic Leadership in the Church:  What the Apostle Paul Has to Say to Max Weber” by Rob Muthiah, highlights Weber and Paul as individuals who have both invested heavily in considering charisma while defining the word very differently.

Paul’s Charisma – The Apostle is the first to use the word extensively and Muthiah notes that Paul uses the word 16 times as a “gift of grace from God”.   The word is found only 3 times in more obscure texts and so the New Testament Paul is a primary source.  From Paul, Muthiah identifies seven characteristics of charismata (charismata is the transliterated plural of charisma)

  1. universal – the Spirit universally distributes charismata to all believers
  2. diverse – charisma is diverse and yields a church with people of different functions
  3. united – charisma is united (Paul uses a body image)
  4. communal – charisma does not produce a club but a community of gifted men and women who will be of service to each other and the world.
  5. equal value – various charismata are of equal value – therefore no “particular charisma” may be understood to supersede any others in importance.
  6. eschatological – the outpouring the Spirit and the resulting charismata evidences the coming of the kingdom.
  7. bounded by love – Charisma is characterized by love…agape…not eros or philo necessarily.

Now we put this New Testament/Pauline version of love up against Max Weber’s definition.  “Central to Weber’s understanding of charisma is that it is a form of authority.” (21)  Additionally, charisma is something that only a few have so that some are set apart from others.  It is their duty, in Weber’s opinion, to use charisma, but he does not say how.

This journal issue is helpful because it provides detail that will allow pastoral leaders to think reflectively on their own leadership style and use of charisma.  The temptation to understand charisma as Weber defined it.  This is surely a real temptation for the western mind-set and for the leader that wants to effect change quickly and arrive at goals.   Paul’s understanding of charisma would require that  leaders set themselves at the pace of community which is often evolutionary rather than revolutionary work and can feel very slow.

The next article “Charismatic Leaders as Team Leaders”  by Douglas Tilstra attempts to address this very dilemma.   Citing Weber’s influence and the work of Bernard Bass, Jay Conger and Rabindra Kanungo as leading researchers in charismatic leadership, the article  notes the following challenges for charismatic leaders that would also like to be team leaders:

  1. flawed, self-serving vision vs. clear, common vision (36) – i.e. charisma can lead one to pursue a singular personal interest rather than listening to the community
  2. overestimation of their ability vs. accurate estimation of the limits of their ability and resources (37) –
  3. difficulty  v.s mindful management of subordinates – i.e. they give little attention to organizational details and struggle to manage performance
  4. dysfunctional relationships vs. building relationships – their ego can cause them to manipulate relationships
  5. inappropriate power retention vs. empowering others –
  6. destabilizing tendencies vs. creation of a collaborative climate – this is primarily because constructive criticism  and poor listening skills are associated with charismatic leaders

Quite a list against charisma here but when charisma is good…the effect upon team building can be profound.  The ultimate contrast is between egotistic charismatic leaders and altruistic charismatic leaders.   So, it is important to return to Paul’s understanding of charisma….grounding ourselves in its seven characteristics as listed above.

I have noticed that no one that really works with me calls me charismatic…a church team knows charisma lives in everyone.   Its my prayer that First Presbyterian of  Osawatomie is a charismatic environment for our Creator.

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