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by Rev. Tom Lichner, D.Min.

I was raised in a household with my parents, my grandfather, and five siblings…the definition of a “full house”. I thought my grandfather (Pappy) was especially generous, because each September, after peddling his home-made clam chowder around my small home town, he allowed me to reach into the cigar-box-till to grab a hand-full of change as payment for my work. Those coins filled my pocket and I felt rich.
Generous is defined as: full, complete; not holding back in giving of oneself for good. One of the core teachings of the world religions is to practice generosity. We can share what we have, even if we have little. “Just give a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, and you will surely be rewarded”, says Jesus in Matthew 10:42.
The spiritual practice of generosity involves us in giving something of ourselves with “no strings attached” and without expectations of being repaid. In Galatians 5:22 (NRSV), St. Paul names generosity as a fruit of the spirit. He is saying that practicing generosity is a sure sign of the presence of God in us.
Explore and reflect upon some scriptural wisdom about generosity:

Proverbs 14: 31; 19:17 2 Corinthians 9:7
Matthew 5:42; 20:1-16 1 Peter 3:9
Luke 6:27-38; 14:12-14; 15:11-32

Close your eyes and relax with some deep breathing. Prayerfully imagine what generosity looks like. What image(s) would describe generosity to you. How would you practice it and describe it to others. Then thank God for your generosity in tending to your spirit.

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Power in Patience

submitted by the Rev. James Henderschedt

A number of years ago Bishop Fulton J. Sheen delivered a very interesting take on “patience.” “Patience,” he said “is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”
As I read the Gospels and how Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell the story of Jesus I am often in awe at the patience exhibited by Jesus during his ministry. And it was all a matter of timing….waiting for the right time. Consider, for example, his patient love for his disciples. Slowly and carefully he led them to an understanding of what “Kingdom” life was like. Often they just didn’t get it. But, without exasperation, Jesus was willing go back, remind, lead, nudge his beloved toward a clear understanding of compassion and grace. And while he patiently taught he continued to reach out to those in need.
Since I retired some years ago I decided that I would like to pursue something that I always wanted to do…learn how to draw and paint. I found a good teacher who was willing to help me explore this desire. It was not long before I realized that when I found a subject I wanted to see quick results. I had to learn to wait…to be patient….to realize that the “awkward stage” of the painting when it looks like it really won’t amount to much is a part of the process. The completed project takes time…..and as that time unfolds the artist continues to draw or paint. Slowly the project takes shape until one comes to the moment when they can say, “Finished!” and sign the painting. It is all an exercise in patience.
So is ones’ spiritual quest. Like the disciples who took two steps forward and then three back, we are always in the process of discovery and mystery….a blending of the two. Our lives are lived in a patient process of spiritual growth and spiritual emptiness…but always striving forward. “Patience,” advised Bishop Sheen, “is timing” not to be rushed or approached by way of a short-cut, but steadily, and perseverance and patience.

Activity: Think about your spiritual quest. When did you feel you were making head-way? When did you feel as though you slipped back? Where and how has patience been your faithful companion on your pilgrimage.

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submitted by the Rev. James Henderschedt

There are, in the Younger Testament (which we erroneously call the “New” Testament), two Greek words that are translated in our more modern Bibles as “patience.” In both cases the words translated as patience is related to the concept of patient endurance. In older editions of the Bible the word “patience” is replaced with “long suffering” which is closer to patient endurance.
The first Greek word (humpomonee) is closely related to “patient endurance.” The second (makrothumia) literally means “long temper”….as opposed to short temper (short fused). It is in this understanding that the lack of patience is exhibited as impatience, being temperamental, loss of temper, blowing one’s stack, etc.
Both of the words are operable and correct in understanding the appropriation of the Spiritual Gift of patience.
Early in my ministry I made the mistake that young and inexperienced pastors make by expecting everyone to have the same time-table for getting church work done that I had. In this instance my “short temper” overpowered my long suffering, and I let the offender know of my disappointment (a.k.a. impatience) with that person. The end result was losing a good and faithful member and realizing, in hind-sight, the spiritual and emotional pain I inflicted on that person….something I have regretted for many years. My lesson in this is that patience taught me that it is not about me. It is about us and the Spirit, and the faithfulness of God.

This week, and the end of each day, reflect on your patience/impatience and journal what you have learned about appropriating God’s Spiritual Gift of Patience.

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submitted by the Rev. James Henderschedt

I was helping my son in law try to change a tire on my daughter’s car. The lug nuts were on so tight that they would not budge no matter how much we tried. I was kneeling, staring at the tire, lost in thought when my daughter said something to me. I was so lost in thought that I didn’t hear her and therefore did not respond either. Fearing something happened….that I became ill or had a stroke, she shouted, “Daddy…Are you okay?” Her voice jarred me out of my reverie. I assure her I was fine and we decided to call road service,
When things don’t happen when or how we expect a response akin to panic is common and can often be expected. We can even internalize it and believe that the delay or seeming lack of response is due to our own weakness, faithlessness, or failure. We can even feel abandoned in the midst of our need…..even by God.
The Spiritual Gift of Patience allows us to recognize that when delay happens is not a sign of being left out in the cold but that something else, perhaps something more creative is taking place and that the results will eventually be known and realized.

Read John 14:18
What does this verse say to you and when have you been reminded of it.

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submitted by the Rev. Jams Henderschedt

Abraham was a patient man. All the way up to his old age he was still waiting for God to fulfill the promise that he, Abraham, would have a son and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Abraham was an impatient man, never shying away when he had the opportunity to remind God that he, Abraham, still didn’t have the promised son, and that he and his wife, Sarah, were getting very old, and time was running out for the possibility of the promise to be fulfilled.
Like Abraham, we too are an interesting combination of what we might call “impatient patience.” We are willing to wait while at the same time anxious for it to happen. Sometime I wonder if our real prayer really is, “Lord, grant us patience and grant it right now.”
The Spiritual Gift of Patience teaches us to trust God and that what is to happen, will happen, when it is supposed to happen. It is best now to plant seeds, and when they sprout, go to the field every night, pull out a plant and measure its growth. To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.

Read: Psalm 13:1-6
What have you or are you waiting for now that leads you to ask “How long, O Lord?”

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Patience

submitted by the Rev. James Henderschedt

“Be Patient,” we have been advised from childhood to the grave. Seldom are we reminded that it is a Spiritual Gift; and if a gift it is to be appropriated and used.
When my family was “going though” my Dad’s things after he died, we found, on the top shelf, in the corner of his closet, a stack of brand new white shirts he had received as gifts but never worn. I can remember our sad realization that these gifts were never used in the way they were intended….just stowed away, out of sight.
So, what does it mean to be gifted with patience? Is it merely idly bidding our time without complaints? Or is it something more….something that is active and alive?
Patience, as a Spiritual Gift, and as I see and understand it, is an awareness of a time-table other than our own and that, like a flower in the throes of blooming, unfolds in its own time. It means being able to surrender the need to control and allowing God to work in God’s own time and that while it is in the process we are discerning how we are part of the process. In other words, how we are used by God to accomplish God’s will in God’s own time.

Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
How can these verses aid you in appropriating the Spiritual Gift of Patience.

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submitted by the Rev. F. Thomas Lichner

Once on a thirty-day, silent, prayer retreat I pondered and prayed for deeper joy. I imagined standing at the foot of the cross, looking up at a suffering Jesus, and asking him what real joy was. After looking at Jesus for a while, he slid down from the cross, knelt at my feet, removed one of my shoes, and massaged by foot. Jesus said to me, “Serving you is real joy. I find joy in you; in caring for you like a shepherd caring for his sheep.” Jesus lovely looked into my eyes and said, “Tom, do the will of God and you will have more joy than you can handle.”
I read recently that scientists have discovered that helping others brings feelings of elation and joy into our bodies. I believe this, but I also believe that joy is deeper than a feeling; it’s a disposition. Dr. Martha E. Stortz (Professor at Pacific Lutheran Seminary) says, that a disposition is more rooted, settled, and focused than a feeling that is attached to our desires. The disposition of joy firmly rests in someone; in Jesus, in God.
Joy is anchored in the graceful promise of God’s claim upon us to always be God’s children. We open and enjoy that precious gift of God’s joy each time we choose to love, obey, serve, and praise the Lord. Like Jesus told me, “…do the will of God and you will have more joy than you can handle.”
During this next week try some of these spiritual practices, suggested by Frederick and Mary Ann Brussat:
• Rejoice in the good fortune of someone else.
• Visit someone in a hospital, day-care center, or nursing home.
• Greet people with a smile and tell them you are collecting smiles.
During several silent moments this week, ask God to deepen your desire for joy in your life. Ask for God’s help in letting go of whatever gets in the way of the joy that God wants for you. Trust that God wants your joy to be full.

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