November 4, 2014

Shepherding 101 by Loretta Goddard

I offer a humble tutorial to those who pastor us, who shepherd us:

By daily example and with each sermon, 
help us to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength 
and love our neighbor 
as ourselves.



Remind us of our first love, undiluted, or introduce us for the first time to Jesus our Savior, Friend, and Lover.  Use your staff and rod—a safe and loving presence and correction-- to lead us to green pastures and to quiet waters.  Set a Eucharistic table for us and fill our cups to overflowing—pointing us to the head of the table, the one Good Shepherd.  

Truly love God and truly love us.   



Let it be emotional—touch us in a 
way that stirs our joy, peace, or excitement—our happy hours. Address our sadness, fear, and confusion—our dark nights.  Allow for reciprocity of empathy from you to us and us to you.  Take out the burrs from our wool and thorns from our feet—groom us.  Know us.  Help us to navigate the valley of the shadows, the liminal wilderness, and to appreciate the mountain ascent.  

Intercede for us.


Study every week in God’s word and in resources you’ve never studied before to bring our minds something true and helpful.  Introduce several things each sermon that you may have never known or said before and that better lead us to understand the times and places, the anthropology, philology, biology, sociology, archeology, epistemology, cosmology, and psychology—all integrated to our heart, soul, strength, and love for God.  

Teach us.



Apply it to our daily experience.  Help us know how to use our muscles to assimilate what you have taught us.   Tell us what this looks like in practice—in our homes and workplaces, grocery stores and barber shops, around a campfire and in front of our computer screens and TVs, at movie theaters, funerals, and parties.  

Challenge us.


Help us to know and remember who our neighbor is.  Provide illustrations that demonstrate what it is to love someone as much as we love ourselves.  Convince us of the importance of this.  Give us practical opportunities to be a loving spouse, parent, friend, and neighbor in our parish and in our world.   

Show us.


Help us to tend to ourselves—to be self-aware.  Guide us in knowing that God does not want us to annihilate who he has made each of us to be—but rather it is expected that we will care for ourselves, our bodies, souls, and spirits. It is in receiving and possessing our new-creation identity, our true self, from the one true God who is Love, and the example of the dance of the Trinity, that our self-giving love has an origin.  

Attend to your family and yourself.

I dedicate this post to my husband, Hule Goddard, who is my pastor and has been an example of this kind of shepherding to me and so many others for the past 36 years!

October 25, 2012

My new painting...

Last week, thanks to The Estate Sale Guys of South Carolina, I acquired this picture for my home.  I recognized it as the 6th station of the Stations of the Cross.

Just a few years ago I became aware of the Stations of the Cross as a visual medium for contemplation, to remember the walk Jesus took up Calvary to die for the sins of the world.  Our church, Church of the Apostles in downtown Columbia, SC, had decided to present its own version of the stations with artwork created by our congregants. I wrote a reflection on the stations that was used during the participants’ walk from station to station.  The following is a section of that writing focusing on the 6th station. I had been especially interested in this station as it had been assigned to my daughter, Sarah, to paint:


The Stations of the Cross put us in the fray as observers on Christ’s path of affliction that day.  They lead us up with him to behold this act of ultimate sacrifice.  Several of the stations remind us that, while most of his male disciples deserted Jesus (though John, the beloved, is said to have been near the foot of the cross), many of the women did not abandon him.  The ‘weeping daughters of Jerusalem’ are present.  The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs did not all desert him.  Some of those named to be present include Mary Magdalene (“from whom 7 demons had come out”), Mary, the mother of James and Joses, Salome, Mary the mother of Jesus and his mother’s sister.   (John 19:25, Mark 15:40-41)  The Bible says there were also “many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem” who were present along the way of the cross.  (Mark 15:41)

   Think of some of the unnamed women Jesus touched in his ministry who could have been present:
  • The “sinful” woman who wept at his feet and offered her perfume to him. 
    (Luke 7:36-50)
  • The widow whose only son Jesus raised from the dead. 
    (Luke 7:12-15)  
    (Mary’s Son, Jesus himself, would indeed similarly be resurrected, but unlike this widow, he will not be given back to his mother.)
  • The Canaanite woman who begged for her daughter’s deliverance from demon-possession (Matthew 15:21-28) and the daughter who was delivered.
  •  Jairus’ 12 year old daughter who was brought back to life (Mark 5:37-43) and her mother whose child was given back to her.
  • The “bent over” woman who straightened up after 18 long years and was set free by Jesus. 
    (Luke 13:10-16)
  • The “husbandless” Samaritan woman who was given a private audience with the Messiah.
    (John 4:4-42)

And finally consider the woman who was subject to bleeding for 12 years.  (Matthew 9:10-22, Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:43-48)  This woman was not named in the Bible, but Apocryphal and historical writings gave her the Latin name of Veronica (Greek:  Berenice).  It is just this woman who is conjectured to have met Jesus along the way at Station 6 of the cross.  Tradition holds that she wiped the face of Jesus with a cloth.  While I would not suppose or desire to elevate this story to biblical status, the speculation that this woman might have been at the cross is certainly valid.  She was a woman who had previously approached Jesus anonymously in a “large crowd” that “followed and pressed around him” and crowded “against him”.  She had been willing to reach out to Jesus and trust a cloth, the hem of his garment, to be the conduit of her help and healing.  If this woman were present and she saw Jesus’ face dripping in sweat and spit (Matthew 27:30) and possibly tears and blood from his “crown” of thorns, wouldn’t she want, once again, to reach out to him, to wipe his face; but this time to allow the cloth to be a channel of mercy and presence for Jesus and to help redirect, but not stop, his issue of blood that had to be shed on her behalf, on our behalf?

In considering this we can remember the pain and sorrow of Jesus as he walked to Calvary, and in prayer we can reach out and touch him and know that his sacrifice of blood and body will heal us and free us from our sin and suffering. 
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed

Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

And so now, as I pass by this new picture that hangs on the walls of my home, I can use it to remind me of His wounding and receive anew this healing that brought the hope, and reality, of peace with God.

August 18, 2012

My Thoughts on Music by Loretta Goddard


By Loretta Goddard

Spoken words
Illumine light
With added verse
Speech takes flight
Melody flings wide
a door--
Entwine them all
And souls will soar
        Music is a spectrum.  When we hear 2 or 3 notes from an instrument we can say, “Listen, I hear music.”  But we use the same word to describe what we experience with an orchestra of varying instruments and an accompanying choir of hundreds.
        Music is a mystery.  It is in those categories of love, hope, beauty, peace, consolation, imagination, as well as desolation, discord, dissonance, hatred and violence.
        In its basic forms it is practiced by animals—whales, birds, wolves.  But the more complex forms are human in origin, indeed “music remains fundamental and central in every culture.” (Sacks 2007, 2008, xi)
        If we look at our earthly lives and then peer into the eternal kingdom, we see that much of our experiences on earth will pass away when we enter heaven.  Not so with music, it is front and center in our past (Psalms), in God’s call to us today (Col. 3:16), and in eternity (Rev. 5:8, 9). God allows and encourages his praises to be embedded in music, both instrumental and vocal.
        “…there is no single ‘music center’ in the human brain, but the involvement of a dozen scattered networks throughout the brain.” (Sacks 2007, 2008, xi)  It is an integrated experience involving emotional, verbal, auditory, muscular, respiratory…multi-sensorial areas in the brain.  It calms, soothes and heals.  It excites and incites.  It evokes a response.  It is a gift and a power. 
        The experience of music seems to have tiers, beginning with hearing a distorted recording on a scratchy vinyl record or a radio station partly static-filled.  The experience climbs with high-end surround sound speakers.  But another tier is reached when we are present to the true, naked tones of the instruments’ vibration and vocal folds’ opening and closing, and the faces and hands of those producing the music for us.  Perhaps it is similar to the differences between looking at a black and white photo of a painting of beautiful mountains, then seeing the real, large, colorful painting of mountains in a museum, and finally actually sitting atop the very mountain itself that is depicted in the painting—breathing in the mountain air, hearing the sounds, seeing the surrounding horizon.  Indeed researchers have studied the differences between listening to recorded music and a live performance and demonstrated that “a substantial body of literature reflects and promotes the advantages of live music.” (Segall 2007)
        So when we take the time to enjoy a live musical performance, we allow ourselves to be affected, touched, and reached, in a deeper way.  It is not always necessarily a positive effect, as reported by one study: “Songs with violent lyrics increase aggression related thoughts and emotions…Repeated exposure to violent lyrics may contribute to the development of an aggressive personality and could indirectly create a more hostile social environment.” (Science Daily 2003)  But pleasurable music has been found to lead to a release of “dopamine, the same chemical in the brain that is associated with the intense pleasure people get from more tangible rewards such as food or addictive drugs.” (Brown 2011)  Hence, like Saul calling upon David’s harp, today many curative institutions rely on music therapy to soothe and bring healing.
        Our Creator has fearfully and wonderfully knit us together.  He has given us the gift of music.  It can build us up or, used improperly, can tear us down.  May we be discerning and receptive to that which builds up and nourishes our bodies, souls and spirits, and seek out musical venues that comfort, soothe, inspire, renew and nurture us in the sounds and rhythms of this ineffable gift of God.

Works Cited

Brown, Eryn. "Music really is like a drug, researchers say." Los Angeles Times. January 9, 2011.
Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. New York: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., 2007, 2008.
Science Daily. "Violent Music Lyrics Increase Aggressive Thoughts and Feelings, According to New Study; Even Humorous Violent Songs Increase Hostile Feelings." Science Daily. May 5, 2003.
Segall, Lorna E. "The Effect of Patient Preferred Live Verses Recorded Music on Non-Responsive Patients in the Hospice Setting as Evidenced by Physiological and Behavioral States". 2007.

February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day thoughts... by Loretta Goddard

On this day when we celebrate love, I thought I'd share the following.

A while ago my husband of 33 years, Hule, went out of town for more than a week.  I usually look forward to being on my own, doing whatever I want, but with each day that passes solitude turns to loneliness and I begin to notice all the ways I miss him.  I wrote about this progression and left it on his pillow when he returned home.  James Taylor sings reminding us to, "Shower the people you love with love, tell them the way that you feel...." I think this is a good rule to live by and strive to do so.

Here I share it with all others in love to remind us to appreciate what we have and who we have, while we have it, while we have them, and while they can hear us, to say it....

Without You
Without you
I sleep in the middle of the bed on the bump that has formed between each of our dips.
I spread out my arms and legs just because I can,
And I hog all the covers.

Without you
I have full control of the remote.
“To flip or not to flip,” that is now my question.
I rent chick flicks with no consultation or concession.
I turn off the TV in the middle of the show if I want, and head straight to bed—no protests—when I feel tired.

Without you
I keep my stack of books and papers out next to my favorite chair;
but your space stays as neat as a pen—
no piles of papers or tower of books to put away
or sigh over.
Even all the pillows remain perched in their proper place on the couch, neatly arranged.

Without you
Every night I can do exactly what I want to…

 But, not really;
Because what I really want is:

…To have you lying next to me in bed—
each of us in our trough.

…To cook the meals that only you like
and hear your contented praises.

…To watch you cackle out in laughter
as you watch Frasier reruns
and then flip over to “Chopped” or “shoot-‘em-up” movies during commercials.

…To look through your stacks of books
to see what you’re reading
and even to moan as I put them away
and straighten your pillows.

…To feel your warm embrace,
Smell your man smell,
Taste your tender kisses,
See the wrinkles that form around your eyes in conversation,
Hear you say my name and…

Tell you that I am not me—

Without you.

December 18, 2011

Tremendous Mystery--2nd Advent writing by Loretta Goddard

Tremendous Mystery

Cradle full of holy Life
Manger filled with the true Light
Mysterium tremendum
Overwhelming Mystery

And the Word became flesh
And dwelt among us
And we have seen his glory
Glory as of the only Son
From the Father
Full of grace
And Truth

Flesh full of holy Life
Son of Man filled with the true Light
Hidden Mystery revealed
Christ in us the hope of glory

     They’ve, we’ve, been expecting Jesus for a long time.  All the hopes and deliverances of the past were intertwined with the hope of a Messiah.  And our future—still clandestinely hidden in descriptions of eyes and horns and seals—our hope, remains in the One who was worthy to break the seals.  He is the hope, the fulfillment and the expectation—and he points to the Father and the Spirit—it is the triune God who created and rescued, redeemed and forgave, who will come and conquer.  It is all Him!  No wonder the bright light shone over his crib and wise men sought him out.
     Now we stand between two comings—two deliverances.  Today’s advent readings in Revelation point to a time ahead when there will be war, famine and death.  There will be an undoing—a reverse creation, and just as in the garden, man’s response will be to hide from God and we will need a deliverer in the judgment.

So…we have…                   WAITED
 That his…                         LOVE
…can conquer, can prevail over all the darkness and despair of judgment and evil that would otherwise surely be our lot.  But do we really NEED a Savior?  Our advent readings remind us, “Yes, indeed!” there is a lake of fire, the wrath of God, eternal punishment, and we must be saved.

Only this Lamb—only this LOVE—can be our Salvation.
This Cradle full of Holy Light,
This tremendous mystery revealed,
 Can be our Salvation!

Scriptures used in this writing: John 1; Colossians 1:26, 27; Zechariah 8, Revelation 6; Matthew 25

December 2, 2011

Advent by Loretta Goddard

     Hule and I have decided to do more this year for Advent.  That’s new for me.  Lent had been new for me the last few years: not the concept of Lent—just the idea that it’s more than the horrific prospect of no chocolate for 40 days!  In a similar way, the concept of Advent is not new to me, it has just mostly been a time for slick purple and pink candles in crunchy Styrofoam wreaths, opening little calendar doors each day, a countdown of shopping days ‘till presents, cookie baking and tree decorating.
     So, being a virtual “nubie” at Advent and an information junkie—I went to the stacks.  (Thank you Richland County Public Library.)  I checked out about a dozen books on Advent and have been reading the Advent Lessons and Carols Scriptures for this year: Genesis 2 & 3, Isaiah 7 & 53, Luke 1 & 2, Hebrews 1 and John 1.
     I’m finding that Advent is a time of waiting for the Messiah—the fruition of all of the Messianic promises.  Wait, Prepare, Rejoice, Love are the 4 “watchwords”.[1]  This week is about waiting.  Ireton informed me that: “In Hebrew, the word for wait is also the word for hope.” (Ireton 2008, 22)  Hope has been one of my special words lately--one I’ve thought about a lot.  Hope=Esperanza in Spanish; the name I would give myself if I could rename me.
     It seems there are two kinds of hope.  One is a hope in people: fallible humans.  This hope is less sure.  This hope has the capability of disappointing.  “I hope he will do what he said.”  “I hope she will make it.”  It implies some sort of trust, some kind of vulnerability, but the open-endedness of not being certain.  Secondly there is hope in God.  If we cannot hope in God, in whom can we hope?  This is a more certain hope—a hope that does not disappoint.  Here, once one believes God is true and good and all-powerful, then hope feels more like waiting, and our hope is in that we heard his promise correctly, discerned rightly, what he meant when he said in Isaiah (about 735 years before Christ came[2]):
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14b
Immanuel means God with us.
God doesn’t mind making us hope a long time—wait for many years.  Just as we wait now for Christ's second coming!
     And so, part of Advent is to put myself back in that time between 735 B.C. and C.   
C=Christ is here!!!  Christmas!!  Wahoo!!! 
      I’ll have to admit that it takes a little pretending to wait—hope—for the Messiah when I know he has already come.  It’s like Good Friday when we mourn for Christ’s death but we really know he will rise again.  I guess it's also like watching a really sad movie the 2nd time around: crying, hoping, fingernail biting is not the same when you know it will end well.
     And so this week, I wait… I hope… for GOD WITH US!!!

Ireton, Kimberlee Conway. The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

[2] Thank you ESV Study Bible footnotes