Onaway United Methodist
Thursday, November 23, 2017
A church with Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Pastor's Letter

I have a friend, a former nun, who introduced this reasoning to me when I asked her about the vow of poverty that she took. She said, "We live simply so others may simply live." Wow! I am so sorry she told me that. I look around at the parsonage, my closet, my office, and the van and I realize...there is nothing simple here. The parsonage is full of stuff, clutter to be honest. My closet....I really do not need this many clothes. My office is overflowing with things and paper. And, my van and I are in a constant state of battle to declutter it. The result is....my time and energy are pulled on by the things of the world. I live simply? Ha!
I spent some time this year learning about St. Francis. St. Francis was a monk who took a vow of poverty and when he sent his followers out it was with 1 cloak. No money, no luggage, no books, no potted plants, and NO cell phones. They trusted God to provide for them, understanding that the more stuff that they had the more their attention was turned to taking care of those things instead of being focused on God and the work that was given to them. This led to radical changes in not only how they dressed but in how they lived. At Christianitytoday.com an article on St. Francis says, "No matter what rags St. Francis might be wearing, should he meet upon a beggar dressed even worse, Francis would immediately remove his own clothing and give it to the beggar. "I think the great Almsgiver would account it a theft in me," he said, "did I not give what I wear unto one needing it more."
OK, so what does this mean for me today and my life? If I ask my husband it means a yard sale - one that he is in control of (I tend to shop my own garage sales to rescue my treasures). If I ask my friends it means quit bringing things into the house. If I ask my niece it means to give it to her. But, what if I ask Jesus? I am afraid I know the answer as it isn't a secret. It is the same one he gave to the rich young ruler in Mathew 19:21 - "Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then, come, and follow me." The question is - will I be brave enough to obey.
I was able to visit with my friend recently, and, once again, we turned to this topic. I love watching her smile as I confess my struggle with 'stuff' because in her smile I see...I've been there, keep wrestling. And, in my wrestling here is where I have arrived - what are my priorities? Why am I accumulating things - to be used for the Lord or to be able to say, "Look at what I have"? Are things in my life more important to me then God and ministering to His people?
I really am trying to live Deuteronomy 10:12-13, "So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being." I want nothing more to love Him with all that I am - and all that I have. What do you love?
May your JOY be outrageous,

Pastor Carmen Cook