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Posts Tagged ‘community’

 

“After all, our only support, our only strength is God.” Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

“Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us” Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

“But our hope is in the providence of God, which has protected us until the present and which will provide, somehow, for our future needs…” Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

“We had but one dollar remaining…and we did not know where to get a cent for the want of the house. Still, how could I mistrust Divine Providence?” Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

 

 

After eight years of serving the Sisters in the food service department at the Sisters of Providence, I will be leaving. I am moving from Indiana to Georgia in the middle of May. I have written about my frustration at being “stuck” in food service and not being able to realize my dream of working with single moms. God has answered my prayers and I am moving to Georgia to work with a non-profit that serves single moms and their children. I will move in May and am so excited to see what God has in store for me. The move is bitter-sweet. I am leaving behind a community of women that I have grown to love and respect. These women have been my strength when I struggled in my job and personal life. They will never know how much they have taught me about serving God and life. They have taught me many lessons that I will carry with me as I leave the nest:

  1. Community – The Sisters are a community of over 300 women religious. They have been an example of what living in a christian community should look like. They have different personalities and different perspectives, but they respect each other. They listen to each other and they find that common ground that brings them together. They celebrate the good, they mourn the losses, they pray, they worship, they serve…TOGETHER. These women pray for each other, they encourage each other and they support each other through good and bad. No matter where they are serving, they still do life TOGETHER.
  2. Prayer – The Sisters pray continually. They pray through the nightly news. They take turns praying the hour in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, praying for justice in a world of injustice. They meet together to pray, knowing that where two or three are gathered together, God is there in the midst of them. I will forever treasure the memory of seeing two Sisters, who are biological sisters, praying the rosary together in a quiet corner of the convent. Prayer is an integral part of their lives and they model this effortlessly.
  3. Service – Every Sister has a ministry outside of her religious life. Many of the Sisters are now retired educators. They have been teachers, principals, and administrators in all levels of education. There are Sisters that serve in the medical field, in different roles in the Catholic church, empowering the powerless through justice organizations and they serve in other ministries in housing, food distribution, advocating for the poor. They take on whatever ministry God calls them too. They never shrink from a challenge, but embrace the opportunities to minister to all.
  4. Providence – Providence is the foreseeing protective care and the guidance of God. I have learned to trust in a Provident God. I have learned to have faith in a God that has ALL things under control and has access to ALL resources. I am used to hearing the Sisters comment on the providence of God when things come together in supernatural ways. I have learned to open my heart to those instances when circumstances are aligned in ways that only God could have aligned them. I take with me the faith that a Provident God will continue to provide and protect me in miraculous ways as I serve Him and others.
  5. Courage – Saint Mother Theodore Guerin was the epitome of courage. In 1840, she led a group of nuns from France to establish an academy for women in the wilderness of Indiana. She was often ill, but still founded what is now Saint Mary of the Woods College, the oldest Catholic College in Indiana. She is also the founder of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana. The Sisters of Providence are an order of women religious who have welcomed over 5,000 women as Sisters in the 179 years since their founding. Following the lead of their courageous leader, the Sisters have opened schools, health clinics, food pantries, reunification programs for children in foster care, and a myriad of other programs that address the needs of the poor. I have watched as Sisters courageously battle cancer and other illnesses. I have watched as they have courageously tackled financial struggles and I have watched as they continue to fearlessly face the future.
  6. Love – The Sisters LOVE ALL that walk through their doors. I have felt that love for 8 years, as I have been prayed for, encouraged, shown appreciation for my work, and blessed in so many different ways. The Sisters are an example of God’s love in this world. They truly love those they serve. It isn’t just lip service. When the Sisters say they care, they really do. They welcome strangers into their midst, hoping that the love and peace found at the Woods will be carried in the hearts of those who wander in. No one who encounters a Sister walks away without knowing that they are deeply loved. They don’t care about imperfections and sins of the past. They love simply because God loves. Love is part of their DNA. It is a part of who they are and I have been a blessed recipient of that love.

 

As I face this next chapter of my life, I will remain in community with the Sisters as a Providence Associate. I will continue to join with them in praying for justice where injustice reigns and I know that I carry their prayers with me wherever I go. I will serve where God calls and in Georgia that means that I will be doing what I have dreamed of for thirteen years, serving single moms with a faith based non-profit organization. I will continue to place myself gently in the hands of providence, trusting in a Provident God, who will continue to provide for me as I find resources to provide for other single moms. I will face my future with courage. There are unknowns and obstacles, but I serve a God who is in control of ALL circumstances and I will fearlessly walk forward in faith. I will welcome those around me with the same love that I was welcomed. I will love others despite imperfections and past transgressions. No one is perfect and God loves us ALL.  The Sisters will remain forever in my heart and I will miss their kind words, their laughter and jokes, their good natured teasing of each other and me, and I will miss their patience when I am flustered and stressed. They each go with me as I journey forth. I will never forget the Women of the Woods.

 

To know more about the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana visit their website at www.spsmw.org

 

 

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community

 

 

 

Acts 2:44-46

All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

In the last few years, there have been many intentional communities springing up all over the United States. Neighborhoods, where residents form a community to support and encourage the residents in that community. When I first heard of these communities, I thought it was a strange idea. As I researched some of these communities around the U.S. I realized that these Christians are living a modern day version of the Church of Acts. These contemporary communities are simply newer versions of monasticism and religious orders that have been around for many many centuries.

I have been blessed to work in the Mother house of the Sisters of Providence and in the 3 1/2 years I have worked there, I have learned much from these women about community. They are united by their charism of love, mercy and justice. They work and live together to better the communities in which they live. Do they always get along? No. Sometimes they disagree, but they accept that they each have their own opinions and personalities and love each other anyway.

Jesus and His disciples formed a community. The Israelites formed a community as they wandered the desert. The early Christians formed a community. The early religious formed communities, as they formed monasteries and convents. Saint Francis formed a community and there are still many Franciscan communities alive today in honor of him. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin left her home in France, made a new home in Indiana and started a community of women who live and work to better the communities in which they live.

For most of us, building community starts with the church. This can be difficult in some churches, where everyone comes together for a couple of hours of Sunday and forget each other the rest of the week. Many churches are trying to build community by starting small groups of like minded individuals. These groups meet once a week and usually stay connected enough to bond and help support and encourage each other. Catholic churches are known for having daily masses so that Christians can meet together daily in the Temple courts as the early Christians did.

Another way to build community is in the neighborhood that you live in. Start a neighborhood Bible study and invite your neighbors. I have written a blog post on community transformation. To read that post, click here.

We see community all throughout the Bible. It is so important for us to have those people in our lives that share life with us. We need people that will go through the ups and downs of life with us. God never intended for us to go through life alone. He made us to desire that contact with one another.

I know sometimes it is hard to push ourselves out there and let our guard down long enough to build relationships. What if we get hurt? I get that. Believe me, I get that. I’m the one with an avoidant personality. Even I know that God made us to do life together and as hard as it is for me to push myself out there, I have to, because God did not mean for us to do life alone. If He had, He never would have made Eve as a companion for Adam. He wouldn’t have had to. Adam would have been fine on his own.

My challenge to you:

Go out, get involved and build a community. Don’t let fear keep you from connecting with other people. Trust God and start building relationships that may last you the rest of your life. You’ll be glad you did!

 

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the-church-has-left-the-building-logo

Mr. Good Intentions, so much I wanna do
My mouth just keeps on running, but I never follow through
I heard that true religion, is love with hands and feet
I wanna find my own way to reach a world in need
Yeah, I’ve been captured by the unimportant
Locked in, and now it’s time to break free

Chorus
There’s more to life
Open my eyes
Someone is needing You
So I gotta make a move
What good are words
When this world hurts
Real faith will come through
When I make a move

We don’t need permission, to go outside of these doors
And dream some crazy dream no one else has dreamed before
To show love and compassion
Whatever way it may be
To put faith into action, do more than just believe
We are hope to those who have been broken
We were made to make a difference

These are some of the Lyrics of “Make A Move” sung by Royal Tailor. This song is so much more than the catchy tune that makes you want to dance. God has used the message in this song to convict me. Am I acting as the hands and feet of Jesus? Am I putting faith into action? Am I making a difference?

Honestly, I don’t know if I am. I would like to think I am, but am I really? Am I any better than those “Sunday Christians” that show up to church on Sunday, making their weekly appearance and forgets God the rest of the week. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be so passionate about living my life for Jesus, that everything I do points to Jesus. I want to really SEE those who have been broken. Are my eyes open to those who have been hurt? Are my eyes open to those who are lost and need Jesus? Am I to busy trying to check off items on my to-do list to really be aware of those around me? Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and “Make A Move”?

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

As a member of the Church body, I have become concerned that we are not living up to our part of the Great Commission. Jesus said to, “go and make disciples of all nations” not “hide behind your church walls and wait for the broken and lost to come to you.” Jesus gave us a command to “go.”

According to http://www.thefreedictionary.com: Go means to move, travel or proceed. It is a verb, an action word. When Jesus tells us to “go,” it is a command that He expects us to obey.

We think it is good enough to sit behind our church walls and send a few missionaries out into the world. Don’t get me wrong, sending out missionaries is a good thing, but it can’t be all that we do. We are ALL to be missionaries in our own sphere’s of influence. We are ALL to GO and make disciples in our own communities, reaching the lost in our own families, neighborhoods, work places, and cities.

Some of us want so much to be missionaries, not realizing that we ARE missionaries. Every one of us that claims to be a follower of Christ is a missionary. It is our job to make disciples. Step out of your fear. Step out of your apathy. Step out of your busyness. Step out of your comfort zone. If we love Jesus, we will obey His command.

I don’t want to be locked in anymore. I want to break free!

Dearest Jesus,

Give me a heart for the broken. Give me a passion to reach the lost. I don’t want to be a “Sunday Christian.” I want to be able to step out of my comfort zone. I want to be a missionary in my own community. Give me that heart, that passion. Give me a heart that follows through. Give me a heart that only wants to obey the great commission. I love you, Jesus. I only want to do your will.

Amen

GO outside of the church walls and make disciples. Don’t hide. Follow Jesus. He never hid behind walls. He went out and He expects us to do the same.

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