Invitation to Connect
with Hearts On Fire (FUMSDRL)
December 2018
How are we preparing our hearts in this season?
Pause to Reflect

Star-Child, by Shirley Erena Murray

Star-Child, earth-Child,
go-between of God,
love Child, Christ Child,
heaven’s lightning rod,

This year, this year,
let the day arrive
when Christmas comes for everyone,
everyone alive!

Street child, beat child,
no place left to go,
hurt child, used child
no one wants to know,


Hope-for-peace Child,
God’s stupendous sign,
down-to-earth Child,
Star of stars that shine,

(This is No. 2095 in The Faith We Sing.)
Click here for the full text - all 5 verses.

Click here to listen to the song (2 minutes).
How to Be a Spiritual Companion to LGBT People
by Karen R. Keen

Whether in church or politics, LGBT people are the subject of intense discussion. In February 2019, the United Methodist Church will convene a special General Conference to vote concerning the ordination of clergy in same-sex relationships. Recently, the Trump administration has pushed to roll back federal protections for transgender people. But missing in the heated debates is attention to the spiritual needs of LGBT people. How do we walk alongside those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?

According to one study, 86% of LGBT people grow up in a faith community, but by the age of 18 more than half of them leave it. (1) This exodus is often fueled by painful experiences of rejection. However, among those who leave, 76% express an openness to returning. LGBT people have not abandoned their spiritual life as much as they can’t always find faith communities that accept them. This is where companioning with LGBT people can make a significant positive difference. Here are four practical suggestions:

1. Be aware of your biases and how they can squelch the Spirit. Everyone seems to have an opinion about same-sex relationships or transgender rights. Those who seek spiritual care sense this. Sarah (2) was in her 30s when she sought out a spiritual director to process her sexuality. Having come from a conservative Christian tradition, she was living celibate in congruence with her beliefs that same-sex relationships are wrong. Yet, she deeply longed for companionship and family. Sarah hoped spiritual direction would help her determine if God might allow her to pursue a relationship with a woman.
At one of the first spiritual direction sessions, the director gently asked, “How are you going to move forward if you don’t accept yourself?” The question was meant to be compassionate and supportive, but Sarah heard it as judgment. She felt pressured to adopt the director’s theological views affirming same-sex relationships. Sarah soon stopped seeing that director and chose a different, more conservative one. But, this created its own problems. Now she found herself worrying that the new director would judge her if she did decide to date women. Sarah was caught in the middle, longing for neutral space to just breathe and listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice.

2. Be aware that certain spiritual practices may be triggering. Many LGBT people have had painful experiences in the church. This pain can become entwined with certain religious practices. For example, Scripture may have been used against them in a punitive and harsh manner. In this case, spiritual poems or writings rather than Scripture might be more helpful, at least initially. On the other hand, the directee might want guidance to restore a love of Scripture. Take your cues from the directee. 

3. Channel God’s unconditional love . Suicidal ideation and attempts are higher among LGBT people from religious backgrounds than LGBT folk who are not. (3) This includes those who are not sure how to identify, but are questioning their sexuality. Normally, church involvement is correlated with higher rates of wellness. But that effect is not necessarily true for LGBT people. The fear of God’s rejection adds to the anguish. Family members with conservative views may also be more likely to reject their LGBT relatives, causing increased distress. Overall, suicide rates for LGBT people are about five times higher than for heterosexual people. Spiritual directors can play a crucial healing role by providing a non-judgmental presence.

4. Educate yourself on LGBT concerns. Listen to LGBT voices. Read books. Watch documentaries. Visit local LGBT Christian groups. This is especially true if you haven’t had many close relationships with LGBT people. A few recommended resources include:
  • Books: B.T. Harman, Blue Babies Pink; Justin Lee, Torn; Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting; Karen Keen, Scripture, Ethics, and the Possibility of Same-Sex Relationships.
  • Documentaries: Believer (about the Mormon community, but very relatable to a Protestant or Catholic audience); Trembling Before G-d (orthodox Jewish community)
  • Organizations: The Reformation Project; CenterPeace; Revoice; Q Christian Fellowship; The Trevor Project.

Many of us were exposed to harsh caricatures and stereotypes of LGBT people in our churches. Educating ourselves helps us move past these ghost stories to see LGBT people as the precious images of God that they are.
About the Author: Karen R. Keen is a spiritual director, biblical scholar, and author residing in Durham, North Carolina. Her new book Scripture, Ethics, and the Possibility of Same-Sex Relationships (Eerdmans) released in October 2018. Keen is founder of The Redwood Center for Spiritual Care and Education (

(1) Andrew Marin, Us Versus Us: The Untold Story of Religion and the LGBT Community (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2016.
(2) Name has been changed.
(3) Anne Harding, "Religious Faith Linked to Suicidal Behavior in LGBT Adults," Reuters, April 18, 2018,
Recipe for A Meaningful Advent

What is your "recipe" for a meaningful Advent season? Join the conversation on our Facebook Page .

This is also a great place to share your upcoming events, ask questions, share resources.
Book Review
A Little Rule for Beginners: Insights into Benedictine Spirituality by Joan Chittister

This book is described elsewhere as "tweetable" - because the content is so distilled and concise. An email from Chittister's ministry indicated it's appropriate for older children. It's perfect for God's children of all ages! Brief and to the point, with lovely drawings sprinkled throughout, it's a great introduction to Benedictine spirituality - or reinforcement for long practitioners.

From the Introduction:
I entered the Benedictine Sisters of Erie at the age of 16 and every day since then I have had the Rule of Saint Benedict read aloud to me. The text is divided into dated reading segments to allow for the complete Rule to be read aloud, at prayer, three times a year. This is a practice in our community that dates from the earliest days of Benedictine life. For this book I chose one phrase or line from each Chapter of the Rule that revealed a new understanding or raised a new question about God in my life. I recorded my brief reflection and invite you to do the same.

Most of all I invite you, as Benedict did, not to be content with simply reading and studying this “little Rule for beginners,” but to keeping it—its values, its concepts, its insights. It is not what we read, Benedict tells us, it is what we become that counts. And we become that by every day making a new beginning. —Joan Chittister
Little Rule book
Online Learning Opportunities

These courses are offered in cooperation with the Rueben P. Job Institute for Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.
Click on the course name to go to full information and online registration.

January 21 - February 28, 2019
Rev. Dr. David MacDonald, University Chaplain, Ohio Northern University

March 6 - April 27, 2019
Rev. Dr. Brenda Buckwell, Director of Living Streams Flowing Water Spiritual Formation Ministry

April 29 - June 6, 2019
Dr. Amy Oden, Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University
Hearts On Fire National Gathering & Retreat ~ 2020

Amy G. Oden will lead us
& we'll be in Arizona!

More information will be forthcoming soon!

Become a Member of Hearts On Fire

Many who receive this email are not members of Hearts On Fire. 

All are welcome to join Hearts on Fire! There are a number of benefits to membership: 
  • Join with others in magnifying the work of the Holy Spirit within the United Methodist Church. 
  • Inclusion in our online searchable directory. 
  • A listing of your ministry’s website on our Links page. 
  • Our e-newsletter every other month that features the ministries and gifts of Hearts on Fire members. 
  • The opportunity to write for the national newsletter. 
  • Access to our downloadable “Exploring Spiritual Direction and Formational Retreats” brochure to help you promote your ministry. 
  • Registration discounts at regional and national Hearts on Fire events. 
  • Connecting with other spiritual directors and retreat leaders. 

Click here  to go to our new website where you may easily join and pay online and complete your profile. If you prefer to mail your information and fee, send your $50.00 membership check to:  Rev. Linda Holbrook 312 Mildred Avenue San Jose, California 95125 
Mark the check clearly “FUMSDRL Membership".

Be sure to check out our new website -  click here .
Words of Wisdom
A Psalm for Midwives, by Miriam Therese Winter

You will know when it is time to bring to birth the new creation.
The signs will be all around you, urging, insisting: now is the time.
You have to know just when to bear down and concentrate on one thing only. It takes labor, hard, hard labor to bring forth something new.
Be Midwife to our dreams, Shaddai. Make midwives of us all.

You have to know how hard to push when something new is about to happen.
If you push too hard, you may be too exhausted or too discouraged to continue on,
... click here to continue reading .