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Ministry | The 'CURE' for your Vocation

Category: Ministry


Ethics Professor Reggie Williams led us in worship this week entitled, “Jesus Began to Weep.” The choir offered many powerful hymns, and Scripture was read by guest artist, Peterson Toscano. Peterson went through the story of Lazarus’ resurrection and Jesus’ weeping from the Gospel of John by asking us all to assume the positions of those involved. We attempted to be downcast like Lazarus’ family at his death and hopeful like Mary as she saw Jesus on his way. It was a unique and intimate way to “read” through the familiar Scripture to prepare us for Reggie’s words for the day.

Reggie then discussed the ways Jesus’ radical empathy pervades the “deaths” we see in our daily lives.

We partook of the Eucharist, presided by Rev. Youngil Jin, around a map of the world. Our hearts are heavy here at McCormick as we prayer for the people of Boston. At the same time, we recognize the acts of violence throughout our world everyday. For our ending prayer, we all approached the table and placed a gem on an area of the map where, like Boston, we wanted resurrection from the death of the world. Worship was a healing, reflective, and resurrecting experience.
Community meal followed in the LSTC refectory.

Wednesday Worship Recap: Holy Waste

Dean of Students Christine Vogel led us in a family-style arranged worship this week entitled, “Holy Waste.” Worshipers were arranged by table and at the end of the service, the Eucharist was partaken within our individual tables and presided by Joanne Lindstrom, our Director of Field Studies and Experiential Education.

The Communion Table, Photo courtesy of Sergio Centeno

Christine preached on the story of Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet with the costly nard perfume and a foot-washing for the community followed by members of the Worship Team. Christine challenged us to wastefully love those around us and to radically involve ourselves in the tabooed needs for justice in today’s world.

Rev. Dr. Christine Vogel preaching Wednesday, Photo courtesy of Sergio Centeno

The service ended with our weekly community meal, this time seated at our worship tables with our fellow worshipers.

“The Road Back” – Wednesday Worship Recap

Senior Lora Burge led us in a creative worship this week entitled, “The Road Back.” Filled with songs in both English and Spanish the worship modeled Lora’s creative interpretation of this familiar Lucan text. She broke down the story (popularly known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son) with poetically personal interpretations of the older brother’s, the younger brother’s, the Father’s, and Lora’s individual “roads back.” Lora challenged us to keep going on the road, whether we identify with the runaway younger brother or the immovable older brother. We ended worship by uniting the prayers of our own “struggles on the road to Jerusalem” with ribbons near the communion table.

Senior Lora Burge, Photo courtesy of Sergio Centeno

Greetings friends! After a rejuvenating Thanksgiving break, the CURE is back! This week I wanted to bring you Thanksgiving reflections, and happened to read the blog of one of my great friends here at McCormick, Tyler Orem. He wrote exactly what I was hoping for, and so with his permission, we’re re-blogging his original post.  Tyler is in his second year and is completing a dual MDiv and MSW. He’s also one of McCormick’s great deacons! Enjoy his post!

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Before Thanksgiving I had the usual weekly joy of spending Wednesday evening with the middle schoolers of Knox Presbyterian Church, Naperville. We had recently completed a rather dull study by Tim Keller, so I had the freedom to make a stand-alone Thanksgiving lesson. The challenge was how to move beyond the annual “What are you thankful for?” discussion into something that might actually carry some meaning. Thinking about what should be soul-crushing irony in celebrating the cooperation and mutuality between First Nation peoples and European settlers, I decided to have a discussion about how we as relatively new people on the land have given thanks to those who were here before us.

I had my Charlie Brown clip all set up and was prepared to get up on my soapbox to rail against the systemic evils that resulted in the founding of our country and permeate society to this day. In short, I was ready to use my bully pulpit as the middle school leader to teach 600 years of oppression, destruction, and genocide in 20 minutes to a group of pre-teens excited about getting a short break from school.

Within the first 3 minutes I realized that my method was madness. This is a bright group of kids, and they were getting the intellectual gist of it. But my ambitious lecturing was obviously not having the desired meaningfulness. So, I quickly switched to the Charlie Brown Mayflower clip in which the Pilgrims learn agriculture from horrifyingly caricatured “Indians” and then sit down to feast. My goal was to point out how the characters were portrayed and how the tables for feasting were segregated.

Then one of my students raised a hand and said, “It’s like the Native Americans have to sit at the kids’ table.”

With that single observation, every person in the room got it. The sixth-grader gave infinitely more meaning to the lesson than anything I was going to teach. Kids have been relegated to the lesser table all of their lives and have a keen awareness of what it means to be pushed to the side, ignored, and patronized. The analogy for First Nation peoples is surely incomplete and too mild, but it works perfectly to help middle schoolers feel and understand.

My ongoing prayer is that we ever seek to make the table for feasting open and abundant, that there might be enough room at the mesa for all to sit together and share their lives.

In reflecting on this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my expanding family whose love never ceases to amaze me, for the adventures being lived by my brother and cousins, for friends who regularly join my family, and for middle schoolers who speaker and understand with a profundity beyond me.

Grazie, Naa-ni, Arigatou, and Again I Say, “Thank You.”

I did not plan on being a church planter. And, I don’t mean that in a God-was-calling-me-there-but-I-refused-to-listen-to-God’s-voice kind of way. It was literally not even a blip on my radar. So, when the opportunity came up to be a planting pastor with Urban Village Church, an initiative with the UMC, I really had to think on it.

I began talking with Trey Hall and Christian Coon, the lead pastors of UVC about a year ago. At the same time, they were having conversations with Benjamin Reynolds, a PhD student at Chicago Theological Seminary who had pastored a large African American Baptist congregation in Colorado Springs. I was caught by how they really listened, were responsive, and sought to follow the Spirit’s lead in their own discernment about us as their partners in ministry. I realized that, in a risky endeavor like church planting, it was important for me to know I had passionate, dynamic, and intelligent partners who would not only recognize and value the gifts and experiences that I brought to the table, but also take me seriously as a partner. I didn’t plan on church planting, but once I accepted the call, I became excited. It was the best intersection of my gifts and passions: creative communications, graphic design, organization, seeing the gospel change lives, and having fun.

So, why plant churches in time of mainline decline? The simple answer is that there are people who want to engage questions of spirituality and faith, but they are not finding what they need. Rather than paint with a broad brushstroke, I will speak to the particular context where Benjamin and I are doing our work. In my conversations with folks (most, but not all, of whom were young adults) in the Woodlawn and Hyde Park neighborhoods, I have come across 4 types – People who have:

1)  given up trying to find something in the neighborhood and go somewhere else.

2)  given up trying to find a church and don’t go to church.

3)  settled on a place, but aren’t all that satisfied

4)  been burned or rejected by the church at some point.

Many people are looking for a sense of connection and community; where someone notices when they’ve been away or knows to ask about what’s happening in their lives. They are also looking for a place where their questions are not ignored but taken seriously and engaged; where doubt is not equated with unbelief. Additionally, families are looking for a place where their children can be equipped to think about faith and faithful living that is rooted in the gospel with intelligence and meaning. There is also a unique need that UVC on the south side can address: being a faith community that welcomes and affirms people of color (and their families) across the spectrum of sexual orientation. Finally, our vision for Urban Village as a whole (and particularly on the south side) is to be a multi-racial faith community that does not minimize difference but engage it for the sake of being a fuller expression of God’s kindom.

McCormick was important in equipping me with certain tools in this work:

  • Developing a posture of life-long learning
  • Opportunities for engaging in conversations with people who come from a diversity of backgrounds and life experiences
  • A network of creative colleagues who both support and challenge me
  • Knowledge of ministry in an urban context (particularly Chicago)
  • Public speaking and preaching
  • Supportive faculty and staff
  • Tools for shaping creative liturgy and worship

There are other key tools that McCormick did not (and in some cases, could not) equip me with, so I had to learn or obtain elsewhere:

  • Perseverance
  • Humor
  • Graphic design and marketing
  • Organization/Administration
  • External networks and connections
  • Creative ways to do evangelism/outreach
  • The nuts and bolts of church planting
  • The practice of trying to do church differently
  • Community organizing

Being a church planter is hard work! You have to put yourself out there again and again, initiating conversations with people, risking rejection and judgement on a daily basis. But, I do not regret my decision. There is something very powerful and humbling about the work of planting churches. You get a front row seat in bearing witness to the kind of work that God can do through a broken vessel (moi) to help make the neighborhood just a little bit better and the gospel just a little more present in the world.

This is a brief overview of some aspects of my work as a church planter. If you have questions or are interested in church planting and would like to join Benjamin and myself in this work, feel free to contact me at emcginley@mccormick.edu

In a recent daily meditation for the Center for Action and Contemplation, Father Richard Rohr wrote that “you never think yourself into a new way of living. You invariably live yourself into a new way of thinking.”

That reality has always been relatively clear to me – especially when it comes to faith and the gospels; but it became even more clear several weeks ago when I participated the 2012 Western National Leadership Training in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   Futurist M. Rex Miller, author of The Millenium Matrix, was the keynote speaker for this annual conference and his topic was “Developing Leadership in Changing Times.”

Miller’s starting premise for both his book and presentation was as follows:  In the beginning was the Word….[and] what happens when you change the container of the Word.   In other words, the new ways (aka containers) in which and through which we communicate, are encouraging (even compelling) us to live into new ways of thinking about words and the Word, about institutions and about leadership.

He took us on a brief tour of the cultural containers in which both religion and society have operated (terms and dates coined by Miller):

In the Oral culture  – aka ancient (? BC- 1500), the credibility of the word was that of the person who spoke it.

In the Print culture  – aka Modern (1500-1950),  we began to see the word as idea, more than as relational.

In the Broadcast culture – aka Post Modern (1950-2010), the word became experiential;

and

In the Digital culture – aka Convergent (2010 –), the word both becomes and facilitates conversations.

The implications for society and certainly for faith and religion are downright mind boggling, at least for someone like me, who didn’t become conversant with digital until I was already into adulthood .  The digital age has changed our understanding of what it means to be relational, accessible, and communal.  We are indeed living into new ways of thinking that are happening so quickly that we barely have time to adjust to one adaptation before another has taken its place.

When Miller showed us a brief video from YouTube, I was struck by how much I still have to learn.  I encourage you to open the link and let this speak for itself.  Ask yourself if you could have imagined (if you are not a late Gen-Xer or a Millenial) such a scenario.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meyh9BFe-9Q

The digital age is changing the way we lead, the way we think, and the way in which we see the world.   Miller points out that “the changing technology of communication has also fundamentally altered the character of the church” (p. 140), despite the slowness (and even reluctance) of many to live into this new way of being.  As we become familiar with and integrated into what it means to live in an interactive culture, we will embrace these opportunities for teaching and learning, for worship, leadership  and communication.

The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that we cannot put new wine into old wineskins, lest the wineskins break, the wine be spilled and both wine and wineskins be ruined (9:17).   The digital era – and the emerging convergent church — are the new wine, searching for appropriate spiritual and institutional structures that will flex and expand to embrace “the connected intimacy and simultaneity of the [new] digital culture” (Miller, p. 143).

Are you ready?

McCormick has been preparing women and men for ministry for well over 150 years, and today on the CURE you’ll get an insiders look at what life is like when you leave the classroom and get into the ministry God has called you to! I’ve asked two recent McCormick grads to share  about their lives after seminary and how McCormick helped shape them to live into their calls. Sharing is 2012 M.Div graduate TC Anderson who works as the director of Youth Ministry at at the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights and 2012 MTS Graduate Ryan Wallace, an organizer for the Civic Action network.

Up first is TC Anderson-

Did McCormick prepare me for my ministry? Yee…. Nnnn…. nes! It’s a complicated answer, so allow me to try and flush it out. First, I’m working in youth ministry because that’s where I’m called. I knew that going into seminary and it hasn’t changed. McCormick is very much focused on ministry from the pulpit. This does not mean that there aren’t classes or even professors geared towards other areas of ministry, just that the majority of what I was learning was for ministry from the pulpit. That being said, I think that McCormick did exactly what I needed McCormick to do to prepare me for my ministry going forward. I needed something to deepen my own faith, I needed something to expand my understanding of my religion, I needed something to connect me with other Theologians who both agree and disagree with me so that I could stay in contact with them when I needed to talk about this ministry. McCormick did all these things. Having worked in ministry for 7 years before going to McCormick I didn’t need a class to tell me what to expect in that ministry field. I have found that books and lessons can only take you so far in that respect anyway. Hardly ever does a problem happen exactly like one of your case studies. The only real way to prepare us for the ministry is to strengthen our faith, give us a support net, and increase the amount of knowledge we have about our beliefs, the rest is experiential. So I guess my answer, now that I’ve flushed it out more, is yes. McCormick did exactly what I needed to be done to prepare me for this crazy, unexpected, difficult, fulfilling thing called ministry. Thank you McCormick!

TC's ministry in Action!

And finally, Ryan Wallace –

I began in the MDiv program at McCormick in the fall of 2010, just a couple of months after formally initiating my ordination process in the Chicago Presbytery. I had sensed a call to congregational ministry from a very young age, but I entered McCormick with a genuine uncertainty about my future. I never felt reason to question my call to ministry, per se. It’s just that, as I grew older, the world got bigger and so did my notion of what “ministry” might mean.

And then, McCormick pried open my world more yet. Fellow students, professors, and classes challenged me to think about myself, my ministry, and the Church in new ways. I learned the difference between charity and justice. I reckoned with my identity as a straight white American male from a well-to-do suburb. And I came to the somewhat difficult realization that I don’t need to be Rev. Ryan Wallace to do God’s work in my community.

In February, I reclassified my degree from MDiv to Master of Theological Studies. And though I’m still in prayerful conversation about my ordination, I’m still not sure what, if any, formal leadership position I may one day hold in the Presbyterian Church. Nevertheless, I am quite confident that I am called to the ministry I’m now doing.

Today, I am a congregational organizer with the Civic Action Network at the Community Renewal Society, a 130 year-old Chicago organization that addresses racism and poverty through community organizing. Our network is comprised of some eighty-odd churches across the Chicago metropolitan area. I am the organizer for our member churches in Lake County and suburban Cook County. Ultimately, my goal is to develop leaders in those congregations who can mobilize its members to act as a force for change. Each year, we listen to the people in our churches to understand the issues they face in their communities, and together we build campaigns to create positive change. We fight for jobs for ex-offenders, housing for those without it, adequate funding for all our children’s schools, and gun control in our communities among other issues.

In our modern culture, I believe the Church is becoming irrelevant because we too often deliver a message about eternal salvation to a people who need and long for a message about salvation in the here and now. We, the Church, often declare our vision—full of love—for God’s kingdom on earth. But seldom do we acknowledge our latent power and set out to use it for the fulfillment of that vision. Reinhold Niebuhr said: “Power without love is tyranny, and love without power is sentimentality.” With his words in mind, let’s refuse to be the sentimental Church who dreams only of what could be or might be, and instead become the Church that plays a powerful role in the building of our communities that will be.

Thanks so much to TC and Ryan. I hope you’ve seen a little about the paths McCormick students might take after leaving seminary – but their stories are only two of the many many voices to be heard, so I encourage you to come and visit McCormick, talk to our students and faculty, speak with Alumni and see for yourself what McCormick can do for you and the ministry that God has called you to.

Our Fall Inquiry into Ministry is right around the corner – so take advantage! Register here: Fall IIM Registration

Meet a Professor: Dr. Reggie Williams

Happy Wednesday McReaders!

This week, I’d like to introduce you to  McCormick’s newest professor – Reggie Williams.

Reggie has been with us only a few short weeks, but he has quickly found his place in our community. He was gracious enough to answer a few questions:

Wes: Tell us your name and what you do.
Reggie: My name is Reggie Williams, and I am an assistant professor of Christian Ethics. My wife Stacy and I celebrated 17 years of marriage this summer, on August 26th, and we have two children, Darion (13) and Simone (11). They are both in the 7th grade.

W: How is it you came to McCormick?
R: I was appointed to the faculty of the Religion department at Baylor University in the Spring of 2010. I completed my dissertation that summer, and joined their faculty in the summer of that year. That meant moving my family from Pasadena, California, the place my children will never stop referring to as their real home. We lived in Pasadena for 6 years, which isn’t very long, but it was for them, a significant part of their childhood. Fuller Theological Seminary is there, and that’s were I completed my master’s and Ph.D. degrees. I did not expect to leave Baylor, at least not any time soon. But early in my first semester there, I came across the job description for this position. I had visited Chicago on a number of occasions for scholarly conferences, and already loved the place. I’d heard of McCormick Theological Seminary, and a number of dear friends told me that it would be a great fit. And although Baylor University is a very good school, with a fantastic athletics program (I played basketball in college, and professionally), I really wanted to teach in a seminary. McCormick is a perfect fit. I was thrilled to be offered this position. That’s the extremely abridged version of my journey to McCormick.

W: How has your family adjusted to the big move?
R: My children have had to move to two different towns, and schools to start all over again making friends, twice within one year. That has been very difficult on them. But for now, they seem to be adjusting well. They seem to enjoy their new school. They tell me that they wish they could pick this school up, and plant it in Pasadena, where they could feel at home in a school that they really like. But if they did that, they wouldn’t have the museums that they’ve come to love, or the SkyDeck at the Willis Tower
which my daughter loves, or Navy Pier which we all love, or the lake views with the city skyline, or our house which we’ve recently purchased. I could go on. Stacy and I love it here. She was ready to walk here from Waco, Texas, if we had to. There has been no need to adjustment for us, only a need to reorient ourselves to a different geography. We miss friends in Waco, but we like Chicago, and McCormick, very much.

W: What are your hopes for your first year as a faculty member at McCormick?
R: I hope to learn a lot from students and colleagues here. I am very excited about McCormick’s emphasis on justice and ecumenism. In this first year, I hope to learn how my voice can contribute to the conversation about church and society, going on here. From what I see so far, this institution is one of the most important Christian institutions of higher learning in the country. That can be deceiving because we are so small, but so was Gideon’s army. And in this small, and important institution, I plan to learn at least as much as I teach this year, so that by the end of the year, I have a greater understanding of the expectations of McCormick students, and how my research and teaching corresponds with the call of God on their lives that brings them into my classroom.

W: I had the pleasure in sitting in on a lecture you gave while you were in the interview process and really enjoyed hearing from you. How is it that you became interested in Ethics?
R: I began my studies at a small Christian Liberal Arts school in Santa Barbara California – Westmont College. I was a French major at first. But after my first semester there, I changed my major to theology and church history. I wanted to “see the gospel at work” in society. I led a ministry to the local juvenile hall, in the summers, I lived in a group home for convicted teens who had drug addictions. When I graduated, I married my college sweetheart, and my first job was as a counselor at a juvenile hall. All of this was motivated by my pursuit of living the gospel. Years later, when I was near the end of my masters degree, the only African American professor of religion that I ever had strongly urged me to enter a Ph.D. program “if you don’t, it would be a mistake.” Those words from Pasor J. Alfred Smith of Allen Temple Baptist church in Oakland, Ca. were the push that I needed to go in the direction of a Ph.D., and the desire was still there to “see the gospel at work” rather than accumulating theological knowledge. I saw both endeavors as important, but without the ability to do theology, I didn’t see the value of learning about it.
Near the end of my first year in a Ph.D. program, something brought to mind an encounter that I’d had when I was in the 3rd grade. It’s funny to say, that when I was in the third grade, I was taking my faith very seriously. And that year, I faced violent racism from three classmates. In that encounter, I struggled to know what Jesus wanted me to do in the face of their unmerited anger at me. So, at the end of my first year as a Ph.D.
student, I saw that I’d been on the journey of “how does one live what we believe” for many years.

W: You’re teaching a course on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr. this semester. Why these two individuals? What do they have to offer seminary students?
R: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr. offer us some insight into what it took for them to be prophetic Christians in a social environment, and cultural/historical context that saw Christians taking sides against what they saw as true Christian witness. Hindsight is 20/20, and today we agree with them, that Christians should have agreed with how they described faithfulness to Jesus, in support of the oppressed and marginalized. But many Christians saw themselves as faithfully following Jesus, in opposition to them. Today we call their opponents wrong, and Bonhoeffer and King
are seen as prophetic Christians, even martyrs by some. What are we opposing today? What are we ignoring? What do we advocate? What does our faith give us to guide our advocacy? King and Bonhoeffer can help us faithfully follow Christ today.

W: What else do you hope to bring to McCormick in terms of classes or
anything else?
R: My academic project is to recalibrate what it means to be human, since modernity. That involves the critical analysis of race, and the mingling of race and religion in modernity. One particularly crucial moment when critical analysis of race and religion occurred is called the Harlem Renaissance. I study the Harlem Renaissance, and the critical analysis of race and religion occurring within it by folks like Du Bois, Zora Neil Hurston, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and a whole host of black intellectuals.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett was not in Harlem at that time, but the time period corresponds with her social justice advocacy, and her work is a part of the womanist cannon of theological ethics that I pay attention to, as well. The project of “recalibration” has in its scope, ecological ethics, biological ethics, as well as social ethics, since the modern construction of humanity sees only some folks as human, and domination as the right relationship between the humans and the “others.” With that in mind, one of the
next classes I hope to teach is a study of the literature and theology of the Harlem Renaissance, or perhaps a detailed exploration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s experience in the Harlem Renaissance. Those two are the first courses that come to mind for my immediate new course offerings.

W: We’ve heard about some of your academic background. What about Reggie the person? What is it you like to spend your time doing when you’re not at McCormick?
R: I am still somewhat of a jock. I played college and professional basketball, and being in the gym is somewhat like therapy for me. But I’m an old guy now. So I’m looking for a basketball league here in town to play on, that is ok for old has beens. I also really like fishing, camping, hiking, and gardening; but not in that order. In my family, we are outdoors folks, but we haven’t had the opportunity to get out and explore as much, recently. Hopefully now that we’re settling in to our new home town, we will!

W: Food is a big part of life at McCormick – What’s your favorite food, why?
R: I love seafood and Chinese food. I also love to eat breakfast, any time of the day. Those are my food weaknesses! And, after I eat any meal, I’ve gotta have a dessert. I’ve got a very active sweet tooth.

A big thank you to Reggie for taking the time to introduce himself to all the CURE readers! See you on Friday!

Christine’s Corner: 10 Practices for Daily Balance

Every week the Alban Institute, an organization dedicated to fostering healthy clergy and congregations, sends out an on-line newsletter filled with pithy bits about life, church, ministry and leadership.   This week’s focus on healthy practices features an excerpt from David Edman Gray’s book Practicing Balance:  How Congregations Can Support Harmony in Work and Life. Edman offers 10 practices to follow and they represent a reminder of what each of us – clergy and laity – needs to do if we are to make informed and discerning choices about how to balance the myriad competing demands in our lives.

Rather than trying to restate what Edman has already said so well, I have appended the 10 practices– along with his explanations.   He says that they have made a difference in his ability to  achieve balance in his life and work.

1.  Begin each day with a centering phrase. I have found that saying a centering phrase over and over first thing in the morning helps me begin the day with centeredness and balance. Some mornings I wake up feeling stressed and pressed. Maybe I went to bed the night before feeling anxious, or I was awakened by the children several times during the night, or I had a bad dream. But if I say my phrase over in my mind several times before I get out of bed in the morning, my head feels much clearer, and I feel more positive and less anxious.

2.  Pray daily. When you are frustrated with balance issues, pray. When you are upset at your work situation or boss, pray. When you are frustrated with your kids, pray. Prayer is a critical practice when it comes to work-life balance. It is the original, calming practice that Jesus taught and that connects us to God. Prayer calms, refocuses, and provides the spiritual strength we need to find balance in our days.

3.  Care for your body. God has given you one body for this life. Caring for it allows you to do your work and to care for others. Eating healthfully is important. Especially when we are traveling or working hard, we tend not to eat so well, but our diet contributes greatly to our health. Exercise has great rejuvenating effects. My daily exercise is critical to my well-being. When I am feeling stressed and out of balance, few things can rebalance me like exercise.

4.  Simplify your life. Jesus and his disciples lived simply. Read Mark 6:6-9:

“Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.”     Jesus had access to all the riches of heaven but chose to live simply and called on his disciples to do the same. Figure out what is most important to you in life and hold on to it dearly. Let the rest go.

5. Come to terms with your relationship with money. Our desire to accumulate and spend can spur us to work extreme hours in order to make more money. We must develop a habit of budgeting our money and living within our means. We can easily get caught up in the culture of consumption to the point where we feel we must work as much as possible in order to afford the lifestyle we think we want. If we can appreciate the need for and benefits of money while watching our expenses and not allowing the desire to make money to become our dominant value, then we can more easily make the choice to spend our time on activities other than work.

6.  Designate a quiet space in your home for rest. It is important to have a space in your home to which you can retreat when feeling pressed. This is particularly essential when your family includes young children and the house can become loud. The space doesn’t have to be large, but it does need to be a sanctuary for you.

7.  Invite the Holy Spirit into each activity. We are at our best when we invite God’s Spirit into each activity of our lives. I have a friend who has helped me think of my work and family lives as more integrated with my spiritual life. She has encouraged me to think of parenting as a spiritual time, not as a distraction. That way, each movement of my parenting can be a spiritual experience. Thinking of the routines of life as spiritual practices can make these moments sacred and can allow us to be more fully present with children and spouses, rather than viewing routines like child care as obligations one has to get through.

8.  Go on retreats and vacations. Rest is important enough that we should also set aside significant periods of time dedicated to it. Our bodies, minds, and spirits need to lie fallow, like farmland, in order to be refreshed. Taking a week or two of vacation can help do that. However, 43 percent of Americans do not even take all their vacation days. Those are important opportunities for rest, and we should make the most of them.

9.  Commit to spending regular time with family and friends. Having good times with family and friends can balance our work and caregiving responsibilities. Meals are important times to connect with family. Having dinner with family can be difficult for pastors and other congregational leaders who have evening meetings, so we need to find other times for fun with family and friends. Whenever possible, I try to come home for dinner before returning to church for meetings. I meet monthly with a group of men for fellowship. I participate in a monthly clergy support group. They make a great difference for me. The perspective and support we gain from relationships can make such a difference when we are stressed, overwhelmed, and trying to balance work and life.

10.  Take a break each evening before bed. There is an old saying, “Don’t go to bed angry.” I think we should add, “Don’t go to bed right after doing work.” For many years I worked late into the evening after my family was asleep, sometimes past midnight. However, I got to the point where I knew I needed more sleep. After my twin girls were born, I decided to put a limit on my evening work. My grandfather used to say, “This is enough for today. That’s what the good Lord made tomorrow for.” I have made those words my evening mantra.

I readily admit that I’m far from perfect in following all of these practices with absolute regularity, but I do my best to stick to several without fail.   Erdman quotes author Annie Dillard who said, “How you spend your days is how you spend your life.”

How are you spending the days of your one precious life?

Exciting Beginnings to Another Year

Well Folks,

Another wonderful new year has begun and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Along with the new year, you’ll notice a fresh look to CURE. We’re not quite finished with its redesign, so pardon our dust, we should be finished within the next couple weeks. With the redesign we hope to be more user friendly, and make it easier to share your feedback with us. If you’d like to comment on new posts, you’re welcome to do so. You can also reach us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mccormick.recruit) and twitter (@MTSRecruit). Feel free to share any posts that you like with your friends on Facebook, your followers on twitter, or anyone else via email. Each new post also has buttons on the bottom of the page for easy social media sharing.

With the new year comes a new schedule of posts. We’ll have new and exciting content each week on Wednesday and Friday at noon, so check back often!

The CURE isn’t the only thing undergoing changes here at McCormick! McCormick has a new professor – Dr. Reggie Williams, professor of ethics, whom you’ll all meet in a few short weeks in a blog post. We also have a new class of wonderful students – 35 in all, from all walks of life. Our new class includes great people from Egypt and Korea, Chicago and Texas. From the Presbyterian church to the Catholic church, fresh out of college and those beginning a second or third career. Our new class of students is small, but full of really wonderful people excited to bring their diversity to McCormick.

Last week we oriented the new group of students to life at McCormick. Included this year was service together with Habitat for Humanity. Three groups of students worked at two construction sites and one ReStore in service to the Chicagoland community.

We’re so blessed to be graced by this new class and cannot wait for the future months and years in ministry with them. Check back Friday for a new Neighborhood Spotlight on our very own Hyde Park!

Peace.

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