May 26, 2017

Nourishment for Body and Spirit

Nourishment for Body and Spirit
Peggy Mohl

Meals_on_Wheels_food_prepWhen I retired in 2010, I knew I wanted to “give back” in some way in gratitude for the many blessings I have received in my life.

When I mentioned to a friend that I was looking into various volunteer opportunities, she immediately recommended “Meals on Wheels.” The Meals on Wheels Program began in the United Kingdom in 1943. In 1954, the United States launched the program for seniors over 60 years of age who live in their home but are unable to shop or cook for themselves. Volunteers deliver fresh hot lunches to approximately 8 million US seniors Monday through Friday. 

I had never worked with seniors before but decided to make an appointment with the local Meals on Wheels Coordinator. When I met with Maria, she spoke lovingly about the seniors who receive daily hot lunches and how appreciative they are to be able to stay in their home and have a hot lunch each day. She explained that in most cases, the Meals on Wheels delivery person is the only human contact most of the seniors will have each day. I was intrigued and asked if I could accompany her on a delivery route. One morning route with Maria was all it took to convince me that this was something I needed to be part of.

For five years, I have delivered hot lunches every Thursday to approximately 15 seniors, ranging in age from age 70+ to 102. Thursday is my favorite day of the week!  My “seniors” are sweet, wise, grateful and an inspiration to me! Despite many obvious reasons why they could complain, they seldom do. Most are in walkers, have numerous health limitations and live alone. I have gotten to know each one of them. I hear about their children, their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and sometimes even get to see a picture of a new baby that is a great-great grandchild! They speak lovingly about their departed spouses and share happy memories. Their skin is wrinkly, but they still have a twinkle in their eye when they open the door. We could all learn something from these folks who truly understand what it means to live one day at a time and appreciate what you have.

An important benefit of the Meals on Wheels Program is just checking on these folks everyday and making sure they are okay. I have heard of several instances when the Meals on Wheels volunteer discovered that the senior had fallen and was unable to get up and ask for help. The volunteer called 911 and got help. In these cases, the senior got the help they needed and was then able to return to their home. If the senior does not open the door or answer the phone, we immediately call our program director who contacts the family and asks that they check on their loved one.

Perhaps the most surprising part of my experience is that I feel I get more back than I give. These folks have taught me so much about what’s really important in life and appreciating what you have. If being a Meals on Wheels delivery person is something you might consider, I know they are in serious need of more volunteers. Please call Maria Brown, at the west county office of the Mideast Area Agency on Aging, at 636- 227-3882, to see if you can be part of this worthwhile program that has served so many seniors for over 60 years! Like me, you might just discover that this is the best two hours of your week!

Nourishment Beyond Food

Nourishment Beyond Food
Marilyn McDougall

We thank thee God for happy hearts
For rain and sunny weather
We thank you for the food we eat
And that we are together

So goes the prayer my granddaughter, Vivienne says at our family gatherings. While the food is important we are so grateful to God that we are together.

Years ago I volunteered for Meals on Wheels. St. Joseph Hospital in Kirkwood provided the meals and my 4 year old daughter, Amanda and I would deliver meals to the home bound. They were happy to receive the nourishment of a well balanced meal but the smiles on their faces came from our visit together.  It is easy to forget with our busy lives that the soul needs to be nourished as well as the body. Today working through Membership Care there is a small group of people who lovingly prepare and deliver meals to those needing help, whether it is a new baby or recuperating from an illness.

When Ben and I joined the church 35+ years ago new members were served a meal. As we sat together with a few of the leaders of the church we realized these were kind and generous people….we loved “that we were together.”  We had found a home.
Soon I was helping to give Parkway’s pot luck lunches. This has always been a time to gather, share delicious meals and feel grateful to be together. Close relationships have been formed over the years as we have shared one another’s happiness and successes, sometimes our losses and sadness,

Serving on Membership Care for years, I have organized the Friendship Dinners. These dinners will be given again this fall. What an amazing way to get to know one another and learn more about our church family.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than to walk through Fellowship Hall during a luncheon, hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles. This is nourishment for my soul.  To plan and see an event through and working with others is a joy.

Parkway’s AugustFest will happen on our 5th Sunday, August 30. Please try to attend, youwill see exactly what I have referred to. It will be a room full of church people, receiving not only nourishment for their bodies but also their souls.

SHOW SOME RESPECT, PLEASE

SHOW SOME RESPECT, PLEASE
Evelyn Buretta, from July 2015 Intersections

cell phones in 4th grade
smart phones in high school
teachers more vigilant
confiscating phones instead
of preparing future minds,
losing entitlement of respect
already earned by their titles
TV baby conking mother on head
for not sharing her Activia
sitcoms wallowing in canned laughter
while teens bad-mouth their parents
driving-while-texting not illegal
but disrespectful of one’s
own life and those of others
horns blasted at people who
may have made the best decision
they could at that moment
flags purporting to promote heritage
rubbed in the nose of historical pain
police losing good hearts in the face
of constant societal challenges
politicians filling their coffers
and enjoying the best health care
while letting the poor, the sick
languish in bottomless pits
good people who do nothing when
there’s enough respect to pass around

all have a stake in nurturing respect
for the good of the community

RESPECT

RESPECT
Joan Brannigan, from July 2015 Intersections

Revere
Earned
Stature
Polite
Esteem
Consideration
Tolerate

Respect is something that is disappearing. It is not growing. On a world scene we have less respect for other countries ideas and cultures. International aid workers are no longer in privileged positions. We also have less respect for elected officials. Cartoons and slights towards officials is a common thing. Nasty words flow freely.

Does the government have respect for privacy? Do we respect others need for privacy? We all need quite time and privacy. Some police don’t have respect for blacks and many people are losing respect for police.

This needs to change.

At home we have less respect for our elders. Grandparents are ignored. Do we treat our family members with respect? Do we treat them the same as we would treat our best friends?

Manners are disappearing. We seem to have more respect for war making than for peace making. Students and parents don’t respect teachers. A quick email thanking a teacher is easy. When is the last time you offered a seat to an older adult? Do you respect other peoples’ time by being punctual? Respect for nature is disappearing. When is the last time you respected someone enough to say you were wrong or you are sorry? Is the value for life disappearing?

The most important respect is respect for yourself. Pat yourself on your back and tell yourself you did a good job. Let’s get the graph showing how much we measure respect turn to an upward trajectory instead of downward one.

There is No Other

There is No Other
Kevin Cameron, from July 2015 Intersections
Think of someone that treats you with respect.

What is it about that interaction that makes it respectful?

When I think of respect, I think of people treating one another well—using eye contact, a listening heart and speaking with a calm voice. I think of people giving one another space, not trying to change the other but honoring the other’s experiences, gifts and needs.

Respect is alive and well when people treat one another as equals because we are all human beings and we are all in this together. I think about each one of us caring about every other person in an authentic way—with our words and actions.

The Book of Galatians is one of the many letters in the New Testament. These letters were written to encourage the early Christians in their faithful living and community building.

Some in Galatia were trying to draw lines in the sand to say who should be in and who should be out of the community. The author of the letter reached out to them to remind them that there is no “other”—that we are all one, all included, embraced by the Holy…we all belong to one another. There is no distinction. There are no differences that are more powerful than our unity. If we are equals then we must treat one another as so. We must treat one another with respect.
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” -Galatians 3:28

Do you believe these words? What would happen if we lived these words? What would our families and our church and our world look like if we didn’t look at one another as “other” but instead with deep respect and honor?

Focus your energies and spirit on treating others with respect. Are there individuals that you tend to disrespect or approach with less respect than others? What changes do you need to make? Pray to be more respectful. Work to be more respectful.

Building a Home–Biblically

Building a Home–Biblically
Kevin Cameron, from June 2015 Intersections
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. –Psalm 23:6

There is no place that we can go that is outside of God. We can be ourselves and settle in. How has God made you feel at home?

Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. –Psalm 126:6
God does not send us away empty handed or broken hearted. God provides. Think of a time when God wiped away your tears and brought you into joy.

And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” –Luke 15:6

When we are lost, God searches and searches for us and brings us home–celebrating! Who is lost and needing you to help find them?
Mary and Martha invite Jesus to their home. One spends the whole time in the kitchen while the other sits with him receptively, and soaks up his words and ways. ~Luke 10:38-42

God encourages us to strike a balance between giving and receiving–even at home. What do you do when you notice you are off balance?
The Prodigal Son story shines a light on the challenges of being a part of a family and the call to leave and return home. –Luke 15:11-32

God guides our going out and our coming in–if we would just notice and trust.

After the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she was pregnant, she went to her cousin Elizabeth’s home for a few months. –Luke 1:39-45

God is always preparing places for us to find comfort, strength and reassurance… and places for us to offer these same gifts. Reach out and thank someone who has provided sanctuary for you in the past.

The wise one built her house upon rock. The foolish one built his house upon sand. The same rains, flood and winds came and beat on both houses. The one built on rock survived; the one on sand did not. –Matthew 7:24-27
God invites us to engage in experiences, relationships, groups that help us to be steady and sturdy. Where might you be noticing a leak? What will you do about it today?
Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” -Luke 10:5

God wants us to be so centered in peace that it spills out of us into people’s hearts and homes. What are your peace practices? Do you need to go back to some from yesteryear or explore some new possibilities?

My Parkway Heritage

My Parkway Heritage
Naomi Runtz, Historian
From May 2015 Intersections
Amelia & Otto Hoch EasterAs church historian, I’ve remained in contact with my Parkway forebears. I remember the first time I did genealogy research in Parkway’s old record books. All my ancestors’ names kept popping up. I couldn’t even write it all down as there was so much information.

I was concerned about handling the old books and promised myself that some day I would make copies of the books that could be safely handled. Eventually I did begin to copy these precious records and with the help of my husband, Joe who set up the spreadsheets, I entered the records onto the computer. So far we’ve done the Burials and Marriages.

My name is in the books─baptism, confirmation, marriage. My parents, Oscar and Frieda Hoch, grand-parents Otto and Amelia Hoch, great-grandparents Henry and Eva Hoch, great-great grandparents Johann Henry Hoch, who married Catherine Preiss, daughter of our church founder, George Heinrich Preiss. Baptismal records also include our daughters Louise and Julie.

I remember my parents and grandparents being very active in church activities. My Mother was a famous “greeter” and volunteer church secretary. She and Grandpa Hoch were both Sunday School teachers for many years. And Grandpa was church president for many, many years. He did love his Bible; it was very precious to him.

Good DEEDS Beget Good Deeds

Good DEEDS Beget Good Deeds
Evelyn Buretta, from May 2015 Intersections

HalinaIn the early spring of 1950 when I was eight years old, my parents woke my sisters and me one midnight and said, “This is Halina. She will be living with us now and will sleep in your room.” This lady was about 20 years old and spoke in accented English.

My parents, bilingual in Polish and English, had arranged to host a Polish lady, categorized as DP, a displaced person from WWII, through the local Catholic Diocese. Hosts were obligated to provide room and board, a salary of about $15 a week, and pay transportation costs from Poland if the hosted person remained in the household for at least one year.

Hosting a DP was an especially generous deed from my frugal dad, struggling with farm bills, to help my mom, who had five children and another one on the way.

Halina lost all members of her immediate and probably her extended family and had spent a long time in a concentration camp during the war. The term Holocaust survivor was not common at that time. When the Nazis invaded Poland, it was likely that Halina and her family were imprisoned just for being Polish.

Halina did not stay with us the required one year. She was anxious to join a boyfriend in Chicago and left earlier.

After the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, many Vietnamese refugees arrived in San Jose, California, where I was living at that time. I did some volunteer work with that new community. In 1986 when I was 43 years old, a series of events led me to becoming a foster parent to several Vietnamese children. My whole family thought I was ill-suited because I had never had any children. I told my parents that they had set an example by sponsoring Halina.

I don’t know how successful I was as a foster parent. Children who have experienced trauma from their birth parents are not always happy children. But I hope I have helped by giving them the best foundation I could for the time they were with me.

I am still the mother figure to three of them.

Singing in the Cemetery

Singing in the Cemetery
Kevin Cameron, from May 2015 Intersections

From time to time I walk around the cemetery behind the Historic Sanctuary. It’s one of the ways that I stay connected to the past. In that space it is easy to offer gratitude for the people who have gone before us. As I wander among the stones, monuments and markers, I see the names of people I have known and loved. (Yes, if you were to witness my walk you would hear me talking to them—and even singing!) I also see the family names of current PUCCers and am reminded of the families I have heard stories about over the years. In addition, I see names that I have never heard before—and some I would have a hard time pronouncing.

I believe that one of the greatest gifts of the Spirit is the ability to remember. The mystery of being transported to another time and place in your mind, heart and spirit is priceless. You might want to do that right now. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, let go and allow yourself to be transported. What a blessing to be in the company of ancestors and old friends. How wonderful to go back to places rich with meaning.

After you come back to the present you may want to write some things down. You may want to call someone and reminisce. You may want to send someone a thank you note—resist the temptation to send a text or an email…write a letter that can be savored and kept—and found again and again later—maybe even by the next generation.

You may even want to visit a cemetery. If your cemetery of choice is not nearby, feel free to come to our cemetery behind the Historic Cemetery and/or visit our older cemetery in the Windmoor subdivision. Not sure where that is? Just ask. I could even take you there if you’d like. I promise I won’t sing.

What will be our legacy to the next generation of Christians?

What will be our legacy to the next generation of Christians?
Carol Cobb, From May 2015 Intersections

I have treasured the daily Lenten devotionals that Kevin has sent us throughout the forty days. One particularly spoke to me about our work for God. The author wrote about the falling attendance in churches generally and the secular events that pull us away on Sunday morning especially ballgames and children events, even birthday parties. I have been reflecting on this trend as we have seen it at Parkway UCC during the past year. We are not alone in this, as other churches have been seeing the decline also!

What will be our legacy to the next generation of Christians?

Christian Education Commission members have brainstormed for ways to encourage church school attendance with an excellent curriculum. It uses multiple intelligences throughout the activities tapping into different ways children learn.

All classes hear the weekly scripture and discuss it through activities. Barb Kuhlmann teaches great music and teaches dance moves to provide lots of energy and stimuli.

One of the strengths of our program is that many of our children and youth come from different schools, public and private in the area. The discussions of sharing events in their lives is very revealing and comforting to all as we share. All teachers make efforts to be fun and inspiring. We feel activities should be challenging and thought provoking!

In the upper elementary school class (3rd, 4th, and 5th) we love to share the scripture from several different Bible versions. It is fascinating to hear children discuss the differences. Often we have activities that explain the scriptures in a clear manner; such as looking at the world with different lenses — a magnifying glass, a microscope, and binoculars. That helps us to understand the lesson of Jesus leading others to see the truth. We discussed analogies and similes during that lesson. Many of our teachers will spent an hour or more preparing a great lesson only to find out there are no children to teach.

In the Christian Education Commission, as parents ourselves, we truly understand the stress, work, and family life in today’s society and wish no guilt on their shoulders for not making time for church school. Is there an answer to this current problem? Some area churches have gone to a Wednesday night program utilizing social occasions and lessons to teach the children about Jesus and God. What are the alternatives? Does anyone have the answers?

Please contact Carol Cobb, convener, Christian Education, Barb Kuhlmann, Christian Education Director, or Ingrid Scharf, commission member.