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Blessed, bless-ed, blessing

“This will change your mind.”

How often is that true? Not very.

Changing a mind is difficult work. It won’t happen with a standard intervention, and it probably requires enrollment on the part of the person you’re engaging with as well.
(Seth Godin, Jan 30, 2020)

 

This gospel Lectionary text for this Sunday, Feb 2, is one of those that I think is a primer for understanding the person of Jesus and what following Jesus means.

 

The Regional Youth Council centered on the theme, “We are the Church” for 2020.  The Beatitudes are a guide to what that can look like. It is a guide to what your youth group or congregation could be doing to be a blessing. We all, at some point during life, could add our name to the “blessed are” list.  Does one resonate with you most?

And then, there is that old phrase, “blessed out or bless out.” This means to be scolded or sternly rebuked.  Growing up, my grandmothers were known to bless out their grandchildren, yes me, from time to time.  We never think of the beatitudes as being scolded, told off, or Jesus on a rant.  A change in tone alters the blessing.  Like the subtle southern way of insulting someone, “bless your heart . . . ”

So, be a blessing Disciples?  Yes, be a blessing.

2020-02-03T11:59:43-06:00Feb 3, 2020|Michael Davison Blog|0 Comments

Epiphany Humility

Last year at this time I was in final prep mode counting down to the beginning of the first sabbatical of my vocation in ministry.  Those days just before moved as methodically as the ball descending on New Year’s Eve in Times Square.  One of the last things I did was attend staff meeting in January.  During the devotion, Pam asked us to pull a piece of paper from a bowl and keep it with us during the year.  EPIPHANY!  I pulled the one pictured here.

I’ve kept that star on my desk and carried it in my backpack when on the road.  It has been a reminder.  I’m not sure how I’ve done with it, though, humbled I was this year with the gift of sabbatical time, with the well wishes, with the gift of a painting and guitar by campers this summer, and by those that did my work while I rested, read, and wrote.  Humbled by my privilege and aware how few are gifted sabbatical or even time off.  It is one of the things we don’t do well in our culture.

Humility (def): freedom from pride or arrogance.(1)

The Regional Youth Council was asked, “What should the Church be doing?” Their answers heavily require togetherness, covenant, and community. We are the Church when we nurture, listen, provide safe-space for hard conversation or stories, comfort, celebrate the Spirit of God and our rituals point to God instead of ourselves or our idols.  We are the Church when we follow Jesus and his way of living.  His way of meeting people.  We are the Church when our outreach provides in tragedy or for life’s necessities, and our outreach also changes the systems that make charitable outreach necessary.

O, for a world where . . .

O, for a world when . . .

We are the Church/church.  The kindom (empire) of God is already present, and not quite yet here or complete.  How will you incarnate that kinship in 2020 as you follow Jesus?

Epiphany.

2020-01-06T15:16:47-06:00Jan 6, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Northeast Area Sponsors Clergy Retreat

Revive Us Again
Drink Again from God’s Living Waters
Clergy Retreat – Feb 9-11

Join your colleagues from the Northeast Area and around the Region for time away, continuing education, and connections to others that share the vocation of ministry.  The NEACCO Council has planned a short clergy retreat for those serving in active ministry in congregations or other settings.

The retreat is at Postoak Lodge just outside of Tulsa.  It will feature sessions led by Robert C. Saler, Director of Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program, and Elise Barrett, author and consultant for Center for Congregations on the topics of sabbaticals and spirituality.  There will be time for conversation, rest, and worship.  If you have questions, please contact Rev. Kevin Howe at Harvard Avenue Christian Church in Tulsa or Rev. Michael Davison at the Regional Office.

This retreat is underwritten by the NEACCO Council through the generous gifts of Northeast Area congregations and NEACCO endowments to keep the cost affordable.

Fee
$100 [2 nights lodging, all meals, snacks, & program]
$75 [Monday only includes program, lunch, & dinner]

Space for 22 overnight participants (single room) and shared room for clergy couples.  Register by Jan 9 to ensure overnight lodging.

Click here to register.

Retreat Schedule
Sunday, February 9
3:00 pm Arrival / Check-in
4:00 Opening Session
5:30 Break
6:00 Dinner
7:30 Evening Worship
9:00 Social Time

Monday, February 10
8:00 am Breakfast
9:00 Session
12:00 Lunch
1:00 pm Free Time (Rest, Read, Write, Hike, Fish, or ?)
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Session
9:00 Social Time

Tuesday, February 11
8:00 Breakfast
9:15 Closing Worship
10:30 Check Out / Safe Travels / Lunch on your own

2020-01-01T07:28:50-06:00Jan 1, 2020|Clergy News|0 Comments

Make a list. Start early.

 

 

The Regional Youth Council invites you to join them on a journey to Bethlehem this Advent season by reading along with the Advent devotion they created.  Click here to visit the Families & Youth webpage to download a copy.

 

 

 

As Thanksgiving gives way to the Advent season and Christmas I imagine that, like me, you have people to whom you want to offer a word of: gratitude, encouragement, grace, or vision.

Make a list.  Start early.  This time of year it seems like time speeds up and the calendar fills quickly.  Set aside a time of day, each day, to do a card, note, video note, FB messenger, Instagram, whatever works best for you and those with whom you want to connect.  And just begin.  That fifteen or thirty minutes each day could be significant as you journey to see what God has made known to you.

I look forward to the ministry that is ours to do and gospel to be in 2020.  May God continue to bless you.

2019-11-30T07:55:48-06:00Nov 30, 2019|Michael Davison Blog|Comments Off on Make a list. Start early.

Finding Your Way – An Advent Devotional

The story says that the shepherds went with haste to see what God had made known to them.  What did they talk about on the way?

What is your favorite Christmas Carol, hymn, or song?  Why is it meaningful for you?

The Regional Youth Council invites you on a journey through Advent as we take time to ponder, wonder, and experience the meaning of Christmas.  This devotional is written by members of the Regional Youth Council and appropriate for all ages.

This year the devotional is in two formats, PDF and ePub.  Yes, you can print it as well so you can use the coloring opportunities as a part of your Advent journey.

This year, slow down during Advent. Say “yes” to opportunities that will bless others and make space for silence so you can hear the echo of the angels and go see what God is making known to you.

 

The links below will take you to a Dropbox file that you can download to your device.

Click here to download the devotional in PDF format.

Click here to download the devotional in ePub format.

2019-11-25T13:07:14-06:00Nov 25, 2019|Youth|Comments Off on Finding Your Way – An Advent Devotional

Complex, Useful, Thoughtful Things

If we only forward the easy, short and funny things we read online, why are we surprised that our inbox is filled with nothing we’ll remember tomorrow?

What would happened if instead, we shared the most complex, useful and thoughtful things we discovered instead?  (Seth Godin, “Short and funny.” Oct 26, 2019)

One of my favorite movie quotes is, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller uttered that philosophical musing in the “pager culture” long before cell phones, the Internet, and smart phones existed.  Having an answering machine at home was a statement about one’s affluence and “fad culture” as much as not wanting to miss a call. Thus began analogue FOMO: fear of missing out.  Some things in our culture and the institutions that have helped us form an identity, worldview, and social relationships have changed, are changing, rapidly, almost without thought or as a reaction to external forces beyond our control (maybe even our understanding).  It can be exciting, necessary, frightening, confusing, and disappointing

The Church universal and your congregation is caught up in, and effected by, all this speedy change.  Some of this change is long overdue as Christianity expands its theology and structures to be more than undergirding the Empire of the day, or doing the charity work that maintains the systems that distress and oppress.  Much of the change as needed.  Some change is reactionary, rightly or wrongly, to the speed of #hashtag culture and the consumerism that is driving participating in congregational life deeper into the “if it feels good do it” chant from the 1960’s.  Just like when you grew up and I grew up, the children and youth in our care are caught up in this web. We had different distractions, rebellions, dangers, safety nets, and role models.  But, when you listen past the noise I don’t think the foundational needs of adolescents, children, and families haven’t changed that much.  Please pardon the generalization, but belonging, love, compassion, shelter, clothing, water, self determination, developing a moral compass, education, and identity remain central to humanity in every context.

What is the good news of God that you or your congregation can be a witness of or bring into existence for the complex lives of families or kids today?

How is the way of Jesus a path less traveled, counter-cultural, and relevant in the religious consumerism of  “if it feels good do it” time such as ours?

One of the best stories I know about the complex, useful, and thoughtful things that I’ve discovered during my time serving in Christian ministry is from Tales of a Magic Monastery (1994).

I had just one desire–to give myself completely to God.  So I headed for the monastery.  An old monk asked me, “What is it you want?”

I said, “I just want to give myself to God.”  I expected him to be gentle, fatherly, but he shouted at me, “NOW!”  I was stunned.  He shouted again, “NOW!” Then he reached for a club and came after me.  I turned and ran. He kept coming after me, brandishing his club and shouting, “Now, Now.”

That was years ago.  He still follows me, wherever I go.  Always that stick and always the “NOW!”

Maybe, the very best we can do right now, if ever, is to continue to plant the “NOW!” memories that somewhere, out there, bloom.

2019-11-02T19:40:50-05:00Nov 2, 2019|Michael Davison Blog|Comments Off on Complex, Useful, Thoughtful Things

Good To Be Still

The CYF Koinonia Campout was a fantastic overnight (Oct 18-19) during fall break. The event, planned and led by the Regional Youth Council, welcomed ten congregations that sent high school youth to Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park.  Yes, it was a campout: tents, meals prepared over the fire, hiking, games, and just slowing down.  For some of the group it was their first tent camping experience and they were treated to thunderstorms during the overnight.

 

Did our phones work?  Yes, but being outdoors made phone life less interesting or necessary.  Several youth and adults commented that is was “good to be still.”

Rev. John Wheeler, FCC Arnett, keynoted the event offering words about the year’s theme, Live in Me, focusing on John 15:4.  Friday night worship included a labyrinth walk.

 

In 2020 the RYC plans to offer weekends focused on spirituality, slowing down, listening, and screen free. The Regional Youth Council will host Qahal/Koinonia Campout during fall break 2020.  Plan now to get a tent and bring your Chi Rho and CYF groups.

Click here to see all the photos.

2019-10-31T14:38:24-05:00Oct 31, 2019|Youth|Comments Off on Good To Be Still

2020 Summer Camp Dates

This is Our Prayer

The Commission for Children, Youth, and Young Adults is EXCITED to announce 2020 Summer Camp Dates and other opportunities during the first half of 2020.

 

Summer Camp

  • June 8-12: Chi Rho Camp @ Oakridge Camp
  • June 15-19: Junior Camp @ Central Oklahoma Camp
  • June 19-21: Discovery Camp @ Central Oklahoma Camp
  • June 22-26: CYF Conference @ Central Oklahoma Camp
  • July 19-25: Mission Camp Road Show: Albuquerque
  • September 5-7: Family Camp @ Camp Christian
  • September 5-12: Intersections (NY & DC) [tentative]

 

 

 

More in 2020 . . .

  • January 14: Camp Promotional Material on Website & Social Media
  • February 1: Summer Camp Registration Opens (discount rates until April 30)
  • February 1-April 1: Regional Youth Council Application Window
  • March 6: OKC Zoo Snooze (grades 5-8) – youth group or and parents
    sponsored and led by Regional Youth Council
  • March 13-21: IAS 2020
  • April 24-25: Regional Assembly & Leadership Training School
    Central Christian Church Enid
2019-10-07T14:37:00-05:00Oct 7, 2019|Congregations, Events, Youth|Comments Off on 2020 Summer Camp Dates

Listening is a skill

The heat index confirms that summer is still with us even though children, youth, teachers, and administrators have returned to school.  Family schedules are adjusting.  My neighborhood’s morning schedule has changed as commuters remind themselves to watch for kids crossing streets and waiting on the bus.

The last season of my sabbatical (July 15-August 16) was filled with travel, family, continuing education, and a bit of rest.  But before that, June and July were a whirlwind of activity focused around the campers and volunteers of our summer camp program.  This year, campers and counselors learned how peace works in their lives and the communities in which they live and move.  The summer season ended with Mission Camp Road Show which visited Texas City, TX to help with ongoing Hurricane Harvey recovery.  Oklahomans uniquely understand the longterm work of recovering from a natural disaster.  Learn more about what the group did and how they represented the “Oklahoma standard” by visiting the Region’s website.

During my last season of sabbatical, I was reminded of the difference between listening to get through a conversation or situation, and listening to hear.  That may seem like an odd description. It is the difference between thinking of your next reply in a conversation versus listening and absorbing what you are hearing from a person.  Listen, thoughtful pause to organize a thought or two, and then respond.  Listening is a skill.

When we begin to act by listening, the rest follows naturally. It’s not so easy, of course—it requires us to give up preconceived ideas, judgments, and desires in order to allow space to hear what is being said. True listening requires a deep respect and a genuine curiosity about situations as well as a willingness just to be there and share stories. Listening opens the space, allows us to hear what needs to be done in that moment. It also allows us to hear when it is better not to act, which is sometimes a hard message to receive.(1)

All the technology that is a part of life these days makes listening harder and sometimes easier.  Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook (just name dropping a few) give users the ability to share emotion and information faster, but does that mean we are listening to one another.  Sometimes we simply use the latest tech megaphone to shout, shout, shout about . . . (fill in the blank).  Complaining or throwing shade is easy via a device.  How often do you compliment via a device?

How is your “FOMO” today? Do you have a fear of missing out?  Is the idea of your favorite social media platform being offline a day or a week a gift or does it induce your favorite unconscious stress activity?  Listen to yourself.  Listen to yourself for a day or a week.  What themes are you hearing in the posts you share or actual words you say out loud?

An experiment.  Don’t post in your social media platforms for a week.  Rather, listen to and through the words of people in the stream of your social media platforms.  Keep a journal of those words, ideas, and feelings.  What thoughtfully challenges your assumptions?  What is intended to play on your emotion?  What affirms your humanity and that of others?  What is marketed to you?

I don’t think to be counter-cultural means “drop out.” We can, like Jesus did, take time away to recalibrate and rediscover how to be “hard on issues and soft, compassionate on people.”(2) . The tough part is to disassociate the issue from the person.

 

Note

1. Mirabai Bush, “When Listening is the Most Radical Act.” gratefulness.org (August 29, 2019) [https://gratefulness.org/resource/why-listening-is-the-most-radical-act/]
2. A phrase used at the Mediation Training that I attended sponsored by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center.  “Hard on issues and soft on people” has been lost in our culture.

 

2019-09-05T07:22:35-05:00Sep 5, 2019|Michael Davison Blog|Comments Off on Listening is a skill

Mission Camp Road Show: Thank You

We were all uncomfortable at some point of the trip.  Mission Camp Road Show returned to Oklahoma July 13, with sore muscles, stories, some skills we didn’t have before the trip, and a different understanding of what it means to care for creation.  We were able to take the Oklahoma standard to Texas City, TX, through the generous support of our financial sponsors without whom this trip would not have been possible.  Thank you!

Charter Bus Seat Sponsors

  • Adult Bible Study Class, Central CC Enid
  • Anonymous Donor (2 seats)
  • FCC Durant
  • Genesis Class, Central CC Enid
  • Rev. John & Sally Wheeler
  • Ken & Phyllis Hambrick (3 seats)
  • Linda & Rev. Pat Sutherlin
  • Lois Tilley
  • Max Johnson
  • Michael Allen
  • Patricia Swann
  • Rev. Dr. Lisa Davison
  • Rev. Geoff Brewster
  • Rev. Paul Ragle
  • Ruth Moore
  • Thom & Laurie Bushman (2 seats)
  • Travis Carlson Family

Trip Sponsors

  • Central Area Ministries
  • Central Christian Church Enid
  • Children, Youth, & Young Adult Commission
  • First Christian Church El Reno
  • First Christian Church Moore (overnight host for groups arriving on Saturday before the entire group left Sunday morning at 7am).
  • Leadership Training School Offering
  • New Covenant Christian Church
  • Northeast Area Ministries
  • Oklahoma Disciples Foundation Grant
  • Oklahoma Disciples Women

MCRS participants discovered neighbors in south Texas.  The gracious smiles, offer of pizza or water, and “thank you” from home owners are imprinted on our group.  We went to serve, and in some instances, received more than we gave.  You probably know that feeling.  Working with Reach Beyond Mission and Disciples Volunteering, ten (10) Oklahoma congregations sent youth and adults  on this first Mission Camp Road Show.  The people our group met and stories they heard were heart breaking and inspiring.  Some of our group were frustrated for home owners who, three years after the Tax Day flood and Hurricane Harvey, are still trying to get their homes and lives rebuilt or restored.  Only a few sites were near the water.  The majority of the homes our group worked on are inland where the days of rain from Hurricane Harvey overwhelmed storm drains, drainage ditches, and people’s lives.

Houses our group worked in, or just passed each day, still had water line markings on the outside.  Some of the sites were homes stripped to the studs and concrete.  In neighborhoods concrete slabs are markers where a home once stood.  One work team spent three days carefully putting down floating flooring that they had to pull up first.  Portable air conditioners worked hard to cool the inside air to 87 degrees not counting the humidity.  When they left Wednesday, bedrooms, bathrooms, the living room, and part of the kitchen were no longer bare concrete.  There is still a long way to go for this home to be a living space.

One group worked for a family living in a home with sheet rock walls ready for paint. Towels or sheets hung in place of inside doors.  Concrete floors are stacked with belongings creating paths to navigate from room to room.  A mom, kids, and pets are doing their best to cope and live.  They embrace the help of unknown neighbors, like our group, who are in and out of their house daily, if they are lucky, putting together a home flooded twice in the same year.  “Hard as it is, you get over being to proud to ask for or accept help.”  On Thursday, the hallway is no longer bare concrete.  It led the way to bedrooms where our work group moved furniture onto new flooring they had laid.  A bit of normalcy.

Some groups worked on several projects during the week.  One worked at First Christian Church in Texas City helping paint two walls in the fellowship hall, and repainted the lines in the parking lot.  That same group laid flooring, baseboards, mowed the lawn, and painted at a woman’s house the rest of the week.

Another group helped repair a fence, added a door to a shed, put up guttering, painted, and many more smaller projects to complete her house and take it off the list.  Another worked at one house all week trying to get it finished, but a plumbing issue created by another well meaning group prevented them from completing that project.  That group did finishing work, put up cabinets in the kitchen, painted and installed baseboards and molding, and mowed the yard.

Two groups visited Seeding Galveston, a community garden in Galveston complete with chickens, turkeys, and goats.  There they helped weed beds, clean pens, and some learned about composting.  Yes, that was a smelly morning.  A few took a turn at milking a goat.  Another group helped at the Regional Food Bank in Texas City, creating bags of food for children, learning about hunger in Galveston County, and then helping clients who receive a selected basket of food each week.

Both of these groups also spent thirty minutes picking up trash at the Texas City Dike.  They went from the recycling and reuse of the community garden to picking up after consumer culture.  In just an hour the two groups picked up an estimated 80 pounds of trash from an area about 30 yards by 300 yards.  The dike is an access point to the Gulf of Mexico where people fish, earn a living, and play.  It protects the oil refineries and Texas City.  It was different from the beach in Galveston on Thursday evening.

We give thanks for the adults on this mission trip.  Without their time, talent, and willingness to accompany their youth this trip would not have happened.  We also give thanks for the Co-Directors of MCRS: Pastor Eula Hledik, Rev. Colton Lott, and Pastor Tara Dew.  These three worked alongside me, Rev. Michael Davison, as their congregations New Covenant CC Oklahoma City and First Christian El Reno, co-sponsored MCRS with the Region.  Click here to see a selection of photos from the week.  More added soon.

Thank you, Christian Church in Oklahoma, for the ways you are a voice of gospel in your communities and through the covenant we call the Region.  Summer Camp happens because you are involved.  Stay centered.

Congregations @ Mission Camp Road Show

  • Southern Hills Christian Church Edmond
  • First Christian Church El Reno
  • Central Christian Church Enid
  • Christian Church of the Covenant Enid
  • New Covenant Christian Church Oklahoma City
  • Western Oaks Christian Church Oklahoma City
  • Putnam City Christian Church
  • First Christian Church Stroud
  • Forest Park Christian Church Tulsa
  • First Christian Church Woodward
2019-08-19T17:10:36-05:00Jul 16, 2019|Regional News, Youth|Comments Off on Mission Camp Road Show: Thank You