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Church Connections & Spiritual Care

SPOT from Tragedy

Mickey McCandless - WEB 2013

On July 6, 2013, my 15 year old granddaughter was on a plane at the San Francisco International Airport when the Asiana Airlines Boeing 787 crashed upon landing. Her flight to China was delayed two days as the airport and airlines dealt with the aftermath of the tragedy.

This event and many more since that time also made me reflect on how I cope with tragedy – personal and global.

The acronym SPOT is my coping mechanism:

  • Sadness. I reflect upon my personal sadness and loss out of the event. I also try to reflect upon the sadness and loss felt by my neighbors near and far.
  • Pray. I pray to God for comfort, healing, presence, awareness, justice, mercy and guidance for me and for all touched by the tragedy.
  • Offer Hope. I remember that God offers me and all people the hope of a better tomorrow in the midst of the darkest of times. God will bring healing, love and abundance into life out of the tragedy that has occurred. God is a God who gives abundant life to all.
  • Tell. God tells God’s story of justice, mercy and a humble walk with God to everyone and invites each of us to engage in that journey that the world might be filled with joy, love and abundant life for each person.

In using the acronym SPOT I am able to be engaged with being comforted and healed in the midst of tragedy and living toward a world that seeks to be engaged with God that tragedy will be no more. I invite you to accompany me on that same journey.

Blessings,
Rev. Mickey McCandless

Giving for Tornado Victims through United Methodist Church

M McCandless Blog HeadshotAs we all have seen the devastation in West, Texas and in Moore, Oklahoma in recent weeks The United Methodist Church becomes part of the recovery process through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR is international in scope, coordinates with other recovery organizations in the affected areas, and maintains a working presence in devastated areas for years until the area affected has sustained full recovery. The efforts of UMCOR staff and volunteers can be viewed through the website www.umc.org.

100% of all monies given to the recovery effort in  Moore, Oklahoma, West, Texas, or other disaster go directly to help the people affected. All administrative costs of UMCOR are paid through apportionments sent by each local congregation in order for the monies given to direct disaster recovery go to assist the people in need.

If you would like to assist with the recovery of the people in Moore, Oklahoma or other disasters past or future through The United Methodist Church, please visit: https://secure3.convio.net/gbgm/site/SPageNavigator/umcor_donate.html?type=1002&;project=901670.

Blessings,
Mickey

Rev. Mickey T McCandless
Director,  Church Connections & Spiritual Care

A Lenton Reflection

Mickey McCandlessIn Lent we commemorate the journey of Jesus from Galilee where he spent the great majority of his time in ministry teaching, healing, and forming disciples to Jerusalem the religious center of Jewish life. The journey was a physical one from a place of fisherman to a cosmopolitan city. The physical journey was from 690 feet below sea level in Galilee to 800 feet below sea level in Jericho near the Dead Sea to about 2600 feet above sea level in Jerusalem. It was a physical journey of 94 miles that places physical challenges on people and is through some rugged, isolating terrain where safety can be in jeopardy.

The journey was a spiritual one from itinerant preacher in a far-off region to a challenger of the religious, social and political life of Israel in the center of Israel’s power structure. Would Jesus be one who transforms the fabric of life in Israel with power and what kind of power?

As Jesus in the period before what became Easter and has become Lent for the Christian community went through spiritual and physical transitions, we are in the midst of transitions:

  • Personal – engagements, weddings, expecting babies, raising children, marital troubles, loneliness in relationships, loss of children, parents, grandparents, friends, economic pressures, unknown before us;
  • Work – personal relationships, new ways of doing things, questions about the future, unknown before us; and
  • Societally – social safety net versus can we afford it; conservative versus liberal; big government versus small government; individual rights versus communal rights; safety versus freedom.

Those are huge transitions and issues to deal with. The journey of Lent grounds us in being able to put some perspective as we live with those issues. It invites us to be involved in a process in 6 weeks through which we can physically change some of our world and spiritually prepare ourselves for the next beginning that God has for us.

One of my core beliefs is that God is not the God of endings but the God of beginnings. There is never an ending that happens in life with God that there is not a beginning for which God is preparing us. Lent is a proclamation of that belief. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday where we start the journey remembering who we are…we are dust and to dust we shall return. Our life in this world, in this way, is transitory. Life is always in transition. However, Lent travels to the cross and the tomb where we await the possibility of a transformed beginning…which happens at Easter!! A new beginning for which we have been prepared by our journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, from Ashes to the Light of Resurrection!

--Pastor Mickey

The 23rd Psalm comes from the ancient tradition of Israel and reminds us that in the midst of a particularly significant journey we need to be in the presence of God. The psalm proclaims that God has promised to accompany us on that journey guiding us and keeping us safe. It is a psalm that I invite you to learn by heart and recite daily during this journey of Lent as you and I go with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, from ending to beginning, through transition to transformation.

Health and John Wesley

submitted by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it M McCandless Blog Headshot
Director, Church Connections and Spiritual Care

John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, had an intense desire to improve the lives of people throughout the land of England and then into the entire world. He believed that religion was important to that improvement as lived out in vital piety and social engagement. One of the areas of social engagement in which he was deeply interested was health. In 1747 he published Primitive Physick anonymously and by 1760 placed his name on it. The purpose of this book was to “bring practical medical advice to workers and others who could not afford private doctors.” Since that time Methodism throughout the world has been engaged with people to provide them with the means of health in body, mind and spirit.

Following are some excerpts from Primitive Physick:

“As to the manner of using the medicines here set down, I should advise, As soon as you know your distemper*, (which is very easy, unless in a complication of disorders, and then you would do well to apply to a physician that fears God): First, use the first of the remedies for that disease which occurs in the ensuing collection; (unless some other of them be easier to be had, and then it may do just as well.) Secondly, After a competent time, if it takes no effect, use the second, the third, and so on. I have purposely set down (in most cases) several remedies for each disorder; not only because all are not equally easy to be procured at all times, and in all places: But likewise the medicine that cures one man, will not always cure another of the same distemper. Nor will it cure the same man at all times. Therefore it was necessary to have a variety. However, I have subjoined the letter (I) to those medicines some think to be infallible. Thirdly, Observe all the time the greatest exactness in your regimen or manner of living. Abstain from all mixed, all high seasoned food. Use plain diet, easy of digestion; and this as sparingly as you can, consistent with ease and strength. Drink only water, if it agrees with our stomach; if not, good, clear small beer. Use as much exercise daily in the open air, as you can without weariness. Sup at six or seven on the lightest food; go to bed early, and rise betimes. To persevere with steadiness in this course, is often more than half the cure. Above all, add to the rest, (for it is not labour lost) that old unfashionable medicine, prayer. And have faith in God who "killeth and maketh alive, who bringeth down to the grace, and bringeth up."

The great rule of eating and drinking is to suit the quality and quantity of food to the strength of the digestion; to take always such a sort and such a measure of food as sits light and easy on the stomach. All pickled, or smoked, or salted food, and all high seasoned, are unwholesome. Nothing conduces more to health than abstinence and plain food, with due labor. For studious persons, about eight ounces of animal food, and twelve of vegetable, in twenty hours, is sufficient. Water is the wholesomest of all drinks; it quickens the appetite and strengthens the digestion most. Strong, and more especially, spirituous liquors, are a certain, though slow poison. A due degree of exercise is indispensably necessary to health and long life. Walking is the best exercise for those who are able to bear it; riding for those who are not. The open air, when the weather is fair, contributes much to the benefit of exercise. We may strengthen any weak part of the body by constant exercise. Thus, the lungs may be strengthened by loud speaking, or walking up an easy ascent; the digestion and the nerves by riding; the arms and hams* by strong rubbing them daily. The studious ought to have stated times for exercise, at least two or three hours a day; the one-half of this before dinner, the other before going to bed. They should frequently shave, and frequently wash their feet. Those who read or write much, should learn to do it standing; otherwise, it will impair their health."

Continue to work toward and pray for good health for yourself and all of your brothers and sisters in the human family.

Blessings,
Mickey

Reflecting on Aurora

M McCandless Blog Headshotsubmitted by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
Director, Church Connections and Spiritual Care

It is Tuesday after the shooting in Aurora, Colorado early Friday morning. I have thought about a variety of biblical stories that can help me, and maybe you, make sense of life in the aftermath of this tragedy. Through prayer, meditation and patience the story of the Gerasene demoniac has surfaced. This is a story in Mark 5.

The story tells of a man who lives among the tombs of the area and is inhabited by demons who give him incredible strength and deep rage. Jesus comes to the area and the demons in the man recognize Jesus who allows the demons to enter a herd of swine. The swine then drive themselves into the Sea of Galilee taking the demons with them. The man is freed and again in his right mind. The people of the town become fearful of the power of Jesus and ask him to leave. He begins to leave and the freed man asks to accompany him. Jesus refuses his request and says to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” Then Jesus departs across the sea.

The two themes that engage me with this story are the power of Jesus to heal and community. Both of these themes are helpful for me and possibly for you to move to a new place in the aftermath of this tragedy. First, Jesus has the power to be in the midst of our lives and heal us in our confusion, in our pain, in our sorry, and in our loss. Jesus allows us to again get into our right mind. Jesus also can be in the midst of the life of James Holmes, his family and friends to give them their right mind. It will take the power of Jesus to heal all of us as individuals and to heal us as a nation so that we can begin to live with one another in life-giving ways. To be healed by Jesus means that we now have the transformed life to tell a story of God’s power through Jesus to give life to us and anyone in new ways. The first step in recovering from this tragedy is to let the healing power of Jesus come into our lives, individually and corporately.

Secondly, the theme of community ends this story. Jesus does not let this now freed man walk away from the place where fear resides but instructs the man to return to his community, friends, family, and neighbors, to tell what God has done to break fear and evil. Jesus points the man back to community where his witness can be powerful, personal and transforming. Jesus was a community builder and challenges us to be faithful in building community not with those we like but with all people. Jesus as the life-giving presence of God demonstrated what it looks like to build community, to be in community, and to expand community. Our nation has lost a sense of community and claimed individuality and affinity groups as the foundational ways to live. Yet, that leads to powerlessness and destruction. The only way we get to life is to let Jesus lead us into community and what it means to live together in community even as fear, rage, evil and transformation are evident among us.

Healing and community, two themes upon which we can reflect and live with the emotions and thoughts stirred up by Aurora. May we let Jesus heal us. May we let Jesus challenge us to live in community and show us the way.