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Kindle The Fires — Part II

My dear siblings, brothers, and sisters, On February 26th – – the final Sunday before Lent – – I preached about our need to kindle the fires that are within our bones. Each one of us possesses God-given gifts that we are called to share, and so many of us are passionate about a wide variety of social justice causes. Like the prophet Jeremiah, we feel this burning urge to share our gifts and passions. However, we also risk “burning too hot” and burning out! During the sermon, I asked the congregation to take 5 minutes to consider some prompting questions listed on the back of the bulletin, suggesting that our responses could be taken on as a Lenten Devotion of sorts. I think it’s only fair for me to share with you how I responded to these questions!
What gives you a “fire in your bones?” I get easily “fired up” when it comes to issues of violence, oppression, discrimination, equal rights, and inclusion. The faintest hint of racism or prejudice can set my heart to beat faster, and I feel compelled to respond. That is one type of fire. I also get “fired up” when I encounter signs of hope: stories of ordinary and extraordinary kindness, triumph in the face of adversity, communities pulling together to strengthen and deepen relationships.
How will you be “on fire in the Spirit?” As I have said before, it is quite a privilege to have this job as your pastor. I am afforded countless opportunities to share my thoughts and opinions with you, and to receive immediate feedback. Being “on fire in the Spirit” is twofold in this case: I will continue to preach as dynamically as I can, but more importantly I will further nurture in myself a spirit of deep listening and willingness to grow and change – – which I hope to do my whole life long.
I also will fire up my spirit with some commitments to work on my social justice passions, finding the ways in which I can be most helpful to the individuals, organizations, and causes placed on my mind and my heart.
How will you kindle that fire and not burn out? Now this is a tricky one, and the essential one! What is the right amount of fuel to add to my fire? How do I temper it when it grows too hot and risks burning out? I now that I need to rededicate my efforts at self care. I need to put time for exercise on my calendar and honor it as I would any other scheduled obligation. I need to feed my brain and finally finish reading that stack of books that’s been languishing on my nightstand: “Glorify” by Rev. Emily C. Heath; “Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World” by Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III; and “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin. I’ve also recently taken up cross stitching, and I find the repetition of each stitch and the gradual-but-steady emergence of a pattern and image both fulfilling and relaxing.
What are your gifts and passions? Confession: I always feel a bit funny talking about my gifts! I strive to be a good friend, a good partner, a good citizen, a good pastor, and a great parent. All of these things require adaptability, curiosity, humor, thoughtfulness, a willingness to change, a willingness to try and also fail, and the ability to truly be present and listen. I think I possess many of the gifts necessary to meet those criteria.
How will you find others that share these gifts and passions and have other gifts and passions that kindle your fire? Community! I am lucky to be part of a faith community with so many diverse gifts, passions, and resources. The same goes for my circle of friends and my clergy colleagues. I will seek out opportunities to join in and support efforts that call out to me, and if none arise, I will try to create those opportunities!
It looks like it’s going to be a busy, busy Lent both personally and professionally. I’m lucky and I am thankful to be on this Lenten journey with all of you.
Peace & Blessings,
Pastor Chris

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