Monday, July 25, 2016

When a Project Becomes a Ministry

~ from Dorothy Roderick

When Quilt Fellowship started making quilts for Habitat for Humanity, we believed we could make quilts faster than Habitat could build houses and we could provide a quilt to each Habitat family that moved into a house in Lake County.   We had the skill, the “stash” (fabric on hand), and the will to do this.  And that proved to be true to a certain point.  We would do this. 
A quilt consists of three layers:  the top, or decorative part, a center layer that provides the warmth, and the backing, or lining.  These layers are held together by thousands of stitches. Putting in those stitches was traditionally done by hand and it is an entirely different skill than piecing the top, but most important, it is very time consuming. In the twenty-first century, most of the finishing stitches are put in by machine—a very expensive machine. No one in our group has one. We know a lot of people who do have these machines called Long Arms, and they do this work as a business, meaning they get paid to do this work. 

Our plan was hitting a snag.  I would creep around asking friends who have Long Arms if they would please finish our quilts for us.  It was difficult for me to ask for help.  I felt I was begging. I felt that I didn’t have the upper hand.  I thought this diminished me.  
But the results were marvelous. There was great interest in helping Habitat. God gave me a new perspective:  I began to ask the Long Armers if they would help Habitat.  Now I ask then to join us in this ministry.  This is not Dorothy’s group or Dorothy’s project. The Lord showed me that providing encouragement to Habitat families is God’s work, not ours. When I finally saw Quilt Fellowship as a ministry and a calling, I realized God would provide all the help we needed.  The Long Armers were delighted to be invited to share the work.  I am humbled that God has invited me to share this work.

Now we tell people what we are doing and they provide all kinds of help.  We have received quantities of fabric, completed quilts, tops, and participation from people beyond the doors of this church.   We have been able to send quilts to disaster areas because people are generous with money for shipping.  God honors our service with blessing.  We have been changed .

Centering Prayer Ministry

Lori Sundberg Reflects on the Ministry
of Centering Prayer

The experience I wish to share with you today is about hearing and following a call.  What I have felt called to do is to show up here every week for an hour all year long, for 15 years, to make a space for myself and others, within the church, to pray without words.  Some weeks I show up and no one else is there.  It doesn’t matter.  I still do this.

My path began in my 20s when I felt a call to silence.  Meditation at the time seemed exotic and outside religion.  Then I shared an apartment with a friend who is Quaker and I learned about the use of silence in a Christian context.  Continuing my slow path, now in my mid 30s, I found a book that, for me, reconciled my need to recognize meditation as prayer.  I started practicing at home.  I found an organization online and a mentor locally.  I got Ron Miller to come out and talk about meditation as prayer.  Then I asked permission to start a group at the church.

The word “inspiration” has a lot more energy and immediacy in it than what I am describing.  For me, there was a call.  It was quiet but it did not go away.  There was a force like gravity that pulled lightly but insistently.  There was a path that evolved in front of me. 

Centering prayer does not have outcomes you can point to — like feeding the hungry or housing the homeless or evangelizing.  The purpose of my call is still somewhat mysterious to me.  For years, I thought evidence of the truth of my call would be in increasing attendance.  Now, I am somewhat satisfied that existence is value enough.  We have a very active church.  The existence of a centering prayer group, and now a beautiful spirituality room, is a counterweight to our need to always be busy and always prove ourselves worthy through our works or our words. 

If you want to be inspired, sometimes you need to listen with your heart.  Slow down enough to feel the gentle pull that is setting a direction for you.  Walk the path in front of you and trust you are in God’s hands.