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Thursday, July 11, 2013


God Moments: Just for Humans?

This summer I have been leading a five week Adult Study on Creation.  We've talked about the different aspects of creation, why God created, and what our role is in the creation.  One of the interesting topics that keeps coming up is whether animals experience the presence of God.  Some come down against this idea, while others think animals do have an awareness of God.  We challenge each other and respectfully hold different opinions, which is one of the joys of Adult Studies.

Personally, I think animals have some awareness of God's presence.  One of the ways I experience God is through my relationships with animals.  I believe God created us with the capacity to feel love for each other as well as all aspects of creation.  If that is the case, why would God not create animals with the capacity to feel that love as well?  Perhaps animals even experience God Moments! 

I recently read a story about a farmer who struggled with drought.  She prayed for her fields and lamented the high cost of hay.  At the same time she prayed for the deer who were also struggling in the drought.  She wrote, "God answered my prayer in an unexpected and unwelcome way.  The deer began to eat our very expensive hay...Earlier I had prayed for God to give them something to eat; now I was asking God to do so in a way that would be of no cost or consequence for me."  The farmer used this experience to learn about giving to help the needs of others ~ even animals.  I wonder if the deer experienced finding the hay as a God Moment!

There is no way to know for sure if animals have an awareness of God.  They can't answer our questions or attend our Adult Studies.  Yet, the prophet Isaiah speaks the Word of God saying:

"The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen

    the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise."

~ Isaiah 43:20-21 

What do you think?  Do animals experience God moments? 

Thursday, May 9, 2013


God Moments in North Carolina

Recently six of us arrived home after a week-long Mission Trip to North Carolina!  Not surprisingly, there were many God Moments during the week.  Our days of work began with devotions and ended with a time to share where we had seen God that day.  We saw God in each other, in the clients we worked with, and in ourselves as we learned new skills and did things we never imagined we would be able to do! 

During our trip we met a homeowner named Hazel.  Hazel had been flooded out of her home 18 months ago.  When we met her the repairs on her home were almost complete.  Joe did some electrical work for her and our church was able to purchase a her a sump-pump, which Joe installed. (Hazel referred to Joe as 'her electrician!') When we presented the sump-pump to her she spoke of the frustration she experienced while waiting so long to return to her home.  Yet she celebrated God's timing, because the wait ultimately brought us together ~ a church group from Vermont and a homeowner in North Caolina.  What an amazing faith witness!  Meeting Hazel was a God Moment for me and I will never forget her! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013


God Moments: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent.  Services for Ash Wednesday tend to be small, intimate gatherings in the United Methodist tradition.  Many of us didn't grow up with the tradition of receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday.   Yet, there is power in reclaiming this spiritual practice. 

The ashes imposed on our foreheads (or the back of our hands) remind us of our frailty and dependence on God.  They remind us that we are mortal, that we are not God.  All of us will die.  All of us will return to the dust. 

While this is a rather stark reality, it is the truth.  But it is not the whole truth.  Our physical bodies will decay, but our spiritual selves will live on through God's forgiveness and grace.  God loves us, dust and all.  Because of this, the ashes represent the end of our physical lives and the continuation of our eternal lives. 

As pastor, I get to 'impose' the ashes on the foreheads of the people who come to the altar rail on Ash Wednesday.   Looking into their eyes and saying "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return" is a powerful experience.  In the past I have had the experience of putting ashes on the forehead of a baby and on the forehead of an elderly friend whose funeral I officiated just weeks later.  These are moments that stick with me.  Yet the God Moment for me in Ash Wednesday is knowing that while our physical bodies may limit us and separate us, we will not be separated for long.  God's grace is more powerful than death.  Thanks be to God.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


God Moments: Legislative Forum

On Monday I attended the Legislative Forum for the Chittenden County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force and KidSafe Collaborative.  This was an opportunity for our local legislators to hear concerns about issues of child, individual, and family safety.  Last year I spoke as a survivor from my experience of assault and sexual violence.  This year I attended as a supporter and helped with the set-up and clean-up duties for the event.  I wore my 'clergy collar' as a witness to the faith community's interest in these issues.

I must admit that this year I found the event much more relaxing than last year.  Last year I was pleased to share my story, but very nervous.  It was the first time I shared my story with a room full of strangers.  It ended up being a healing experience, but one filled with trepidation.

This year I was able to sit back and take it all in with a feeling of gratitude.   While sitting in the audience, I prayed for those presenting.  I felt blessed to be in a room filled with people who care about issues of violence in our community.  In the wake of tragedies such as Sandy Hook, it is easy to get discouraged and think that violence will have the last word.   On Monday morning I was reminded that hope abounds, that light always overcomes darkness.   This was a God Moment for me!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


God Moments: Out of the Cold

Brrr.... This is the coldest week in my recent memory!  The temperature on our three-season porch was -11 this morning.  Wow!  This week my thoughts have turned to those who don't have adequate heat or shelter and those living on the streets.  I thank God that our community has resources in place to bring people in off of the streets during these cold winter nights.  Cold days like these bring the issues of homelessness and housing security to the forefront of our minds. 

It seems to me that God Moments can come from anywhere and be inspired by anything.  This morning our local ABC 22 news interviewed a homeless man in Burlington.  He lives in a tent in the woods and prefers to be homeless.  He said he likes the flexibility.  While I don't understand his preference, I can accept his feelings. 

Homeless living can be dangerous when extreme weather hits.  When asked if he had lost any friends to the cold he nodded and shared a couple of names.  This week, though, outreach workers found him a place to stay in a local hotel.  He is safe, at least for this cold stretch.  Even though I am a stranger to him, I can thank God for that. 

Seeing this on the news was a God Moment for me because it inspired me to want to learn more about the homelessness issues in our community.  The Burlington Area Ministers Association has been in communication with the community about expanding the shelter programs.  Seeing this interview put a face on the issue for me. 

What God Moments have you experienced this week?  How have God Moments inspired you to learn more or get involved in issues or concerns? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013


God Moments: Everywhere!

Our Natural Church Development Team has been encouraging us to notice the God Moments in our lives.  A God Moment can happen anywhere, anytime.  It is simply an experience of feeling close, connected or thankful to God.  This week God Moments have been springing up everywhere!

1.  Sunday in Worship I experienced a God Moment as we blessed Tricia for her trip to Nashville for the 2013 Quadrennial Training.  In that moment I knew in my heart that God had chosen Tricia for this ministry and we, as a congregation, are blessed through her.  Amen!

2.  Later on Sunday our Confirmation Class gathered for the first time.  I admit that I was nervous!  I was worried about connecting with the youth, but it was the youth who set me at ease.  They shared themselves, their God Moments and their humor in our hour and a half together.  God was definitely with us!

3.  On Monday I had lunch with several clergy women in Montpelier.  We came with our struggles, our joys, our griefs, our celebrations, and our challenges.  We also came with brown-bag lunches and lots of laughter.  I believe we lived out St. Francis' prayer, "Where there is hatred, let me sow love.  Where there is injury, pardon.  Where there is doubt, faith.  Where there is despair, hope.  Where there is darkness, light.  And where there is sadness, joy." 

There have been several other God Moments in my life this week.  Some I am not at liberty to share.  Others are of the mundane stuff of life ~ shared meals, good sleep.  For all of these God Moments I give thanks.  What God Moments have you experienced this week?  When have you felt close, connected and thankful to God? 

Thursday, January 3, 2013


God Moments: Time Set Apart

Happy New Year!  Gary and I enjoyed some wonderful days of vacation between Christmas and New Year's Day.  We traveled to Maine where we visited with family and just relaxed with nothing on our to-do lists.

The day after we arrived the snow began to fall.  It fell all day long accumulating to about a foot before the next morning.  Since we didn't have anywhere to go the snow felt like a wonderful blessing.  It reminded me of the diversity of God's creation ~ white snow covering brown grass ~ and how God calls us to moments of stillness and rest.  I slept 12 full hours that night! 

During our vacation days I experienced many God moments. The change of pace reminded me that God doesn't value me for how much I get done or what I accomplish.  God values all of us because God created us.  God created us for love and joy and worship.  It was great to have a week when those three things were my top-priorities! 


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