Friday, July 30, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Love the One You're With Edition

This Friday Five will post while I'm at the beach which for me is more than a vacation destination, it is a trip home. I have found it quite easy to wax nostalgic about the places I used to live (well, except for one) and have begun to wonder what it is I like about the place I'm living now? For instance I sure do love the beach, but this picture was taken about 30 minutes away from my house - not too shabby!

And so I ask you to please name five things you like about where you are living now... and as your bonus - 1 thing you don't like.

1) I have established a good support system with great friends, colleagues and my Mom living here.
2) Good school system with most of the amenities.
3) 4 seasons - after 10 years in Florida, I SO appreciate that.
4) You can see the sky. That is something you might not appreciate until you don't have it.
5) With relative ease you can make your way to other places, which is a weird thing to say in a post that is supposed to be about what I like about where I am.

Bonus: Too. Far. From. Ocean.

Friday, July 23, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Making Decisions Edition

Since I've been in the midst of a discernment process, I've done a lot of reflecting on how we make decisions. But don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to reveal a dark story about a poor decision, or a self-flagellating story about an embarrassing one. Let's keep it simple and go with five word pairs. Tell us which word in the pair appeals to you most, and after you've done all five, give us the reason why for one of them.

Here they are:

1) Cake or Pie - Cake
2) Train or Airplane - Train
3) Mac or PC - Mac
4) Univocal or Equivocal - Equivocal
5) Peter or Paul - Peter

I could yammer on about all five of those (I am a preacher after all) but the one that made me chuckle was train/airplane. When going long distances I take airplanes, not trains. But as air travel has gotten more harried, the few times I have taken a train I have enjoyed being able to sit and quietly get my work done. I do NOT enjoy how excruciatingly long they can take and do not think they are transportation you can count on.

Odd that I would choose it, but I also think I was adding a romantic quality to it that in reality, just doesn't come through.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I give thanks for a community found online that has provided me friendship, love, challenge and a place to just BE.
To our founders: Great job and THANK YOU!
Happy Birthday!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Favorite Part from Today's Sermon

An excerpt from today's sermon:

Every three years this lectionary text from Luke comes around and I have to wonder just how many sermons – including those previously done by me – have been crafted around the contemplativeness of Mary vs. the busyness of Martha.

Stories and parables are used in an overall narrative to make a particular point, they are not the full picture. Judging Martha in this context alone would be like going to the Louvre Museum and focusing intently on only the lower right hand corner of the Mona Lisa.

I received an email from one of the 'Martha's' in our church that thanked me for giving a hug, instead of point the finger. That was cool.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Small Step

There are those who said last Sunday's sermon was courageous.
I am not one of them.

Ever since Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 hit the fan our staff has been praying about what to say and when to say it. As I told the congregation yesterday, I don't mind preaching on controversial topics but I try not to do it in the heat of the moment as I am libel to be swayed just as much as anyone else. When I looked ahead at the lectionary texts for the summer and saw the Good Samaritan, and then the weekly Bible Study group said that the text made them think of immigration I took it as a clear sign from the Holy Spirit that it was time to get off the pot.

When I walked in on Sunday morning I felt like I had let that same Holy Spirit down. I didn't think the sermon said enough. In the Old Testament we are reminded that we were once strangers in a strange land ourselves and in the New Testament we are reminded that everyone is our neighbor and that by showing hospitality to strangers we are opening ourselves up to angels unawares (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34, Hebrews 13:2).

Quite frankly, compared to other political/controversial issues, immigration reform is a Biblical no-brainer.

And that is where I left it.
I did not challenge the unspoken prejudices we all cannot help but carry.
I did not lift up the statistics that challenge the myth that an increase in crime is directly correlated to an increase in the people who are fleeing across our borders.
I did not name the greed and capitalism that has caused a gut reaction of fear as our own economy took a plunge and we look to find who we can blame. (Do we blame the immigrant or the large corporation who breaks the rules by hiring them for cheap labor?)
I did not challenge our government (current or previous administrations) on how immigration and border patrols and involvement with other countries' politics has been handled (or not) creating the dire situation our border states are in.

I wanted to say all of that and more, but as I was working on it the Holy Spirit clearly said 'cut it'. In order to move a congregation forward, they must trust their leader and that kind of trust takes time. So for now I will accept that although it felt like a little step, yesterday's sermon was still a good step. All I said was that the Bible claims that everyone is our neighbor and that we are to show them mercy, just as mercy has been shown to us.

I guess that is enough... for now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mercy - My Favorite Part of Today's Sermon

There are many ways immigration in the United States of America is a very complex issue. American laws, both the spoken legal kind and the understood cultural kind, make arguments and discussions about this issue multifaceted and complicated.

Biblically however, there is only one faithful response: mercy.

Which of these three was like a neighbor?
It was the one who treated him kindly, the one who showed mercy.

The greek word used is eleos and it means more than just doing good. It “suggests blessing and unwarranted compassion as well as leniency. It is about pardon, kindness, strength and even rescue and generosity.”1

Mercy is looking at someone and knowing they don't deserve your kindness for whatever reason, their own actions, or the actions of their group/race/nation… and then being kind anyway because their status as a beloved child of God has a value above their classification.

I do not stand before you proclaiming this is easy.
I do not even stand before you proclaiming where to begin.

I do stand before you proclaiming that because mercy has been shown to us through God’s faithfulness and steadfast love, it is indeed our Call and command to show that mercy to our brothers and sisters of this world.

“Standing alongside family and friends and strangers petitioning God and calling down God’s mercy, we begin to see ourselves linked as the mercy-needing ones. All of us with our hard lives. All of us with sins and regrets. All of us in need of strength and blessing and rescue. All of us at the hand of robbers, and as the robbers… All of us made neighbors in Jesus Christ.”2

Mercy is the story of our faith…
Mercy is the commandment of our Call…
Mercy is the great commission of our lives…

Which of these three was like a neighbor?
It was the one who treated him kindly,the one who showed mercy.

Go. And do likewise.

1 Jennifer L. Lord. “Reflections on the Lectionary: Sunday, July 11, Luke 10:25-37” The Christian Century. June 29, 2010, p. 19.
2 Ibid.

Friday, July 9, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Forgetful Jones Edition

As posted by Songbird:

a) What's the last thing you forgot?
Ummmmm.... the answer to this question.

e) How do you keep track of appointments?
Calendar, calendar, calendar - and I keep track of them on a big one supplied by my denomination that shows the whole month. I tried to do one on my phone and it is just too small. I like to look at a month at a time.

i) Do you keep a running grocery list?
Yes. And the rule in our household is of 3 - meaning if you are standing there about to get to the store and you hit 3 items needed, it's time to write them down.

o) When forced to improvise by circumstances, do you enjoy it or panic?
Somewhere in between. I like a good plan, but I have confidence in my abilities to improvise.

u) What's a memory you hope you will never forget?
The joyful tears when my son arrived in the delivery room, sleeping overnight the first time in our new house, fireworks.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cloud of Witnesses

We attended a family reunion this past weekend that brought together three generations of family. I realize that is actually not a lot of generations. We only recently lost the last ones from my grandparents' generation.

It was the first time this group had gathered and my mother's generation was the oldest one there. My aunts and uncles commented on this kind of rolling their eyes as now the 40 year olds are the ones they remember holding when they came home from the hospital.

The family gathered all extends from four brothers, my generations' grandfathers. We have seen each other sporadically throughout the years so although at first re-introductions needed to be made it was easy to remember after that. Well, mostly easy except for the kids. There were a lot of kids.

At one point I looked up as my cousin's son walked past. He looked SO MUCH like his father at the same age that I almost fell into a time warp, reminding myself that I was not 10 so that could not be my cousin. My other cousin has a son who had me repeat a similar pattern. My own son with his dimples and mannerisms does the same for my aunts and uncles as they are instantly reminded of me.

The time warp moved the other direction too as my sister's son looks a lot like my father. And as one of my Mom's cousins walked in and saw her sitting across the pool she caught her breath thinking it was my grandmother.

That generation might not have physically been there, but they were. They were there in the amount of photos being taken, just like they would. They were there in the images of young faces. They were there in that an effort was made to come together and see each other again at all.

They were there and at some points in our time together it was palpable.

I had to be talked into going to this reunion. I am glad my Mom pushed a little bit and I am glad my sister and cousin decided to go, thereby convincing me to go if for no other reason than so I could see them. It was good to see everyone and I hope we don't wait as long to do it again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Duet

... all yelling...

The 5 year Old: Mommy! Where are you?
Me: In the bathroom!
The 5 year old: When are we leaving?
Me: In 10 minutes
The 5 year old: Why not now?
Me: I have things to do.
The 5 year old: What do you have to do?
Me: First I have to go to the bathroom, then I have to put on my shoes, and then walk the dog.
The 5 year old: Then we can go?
Me: Yes.

----30 seconds of silence---

The 5 year old: Mommy! Where are you?


101 degrees at 7pm at night?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In the Moment

"Be sure to enjoy the moment."

That is the main piece of advice I give to the bride and groom during premarital counseling. I repeat it often; sprinkled in between the conversations about running finances, how they/their families argue, future plans and ceremony planning.

I remember what it was like as a young, excited bride to get to the other side of a long, very planned out day and hardly remember any of it. We had done so much of it ourselves that once one thing was going without a hitch my mind was moving on to the next thing. As more and more young brides and grooms come to me with their self-made checklists, I remind them that on the 'day of' all that matters is the moment they are in, everything else that's really important will fall into place.

As my friend once said about advice she was giving ("Here. Take it. I'm not using it,") living in the moment is advice I am free to give because I'm not using it.
Although, I am getting better at it.

I have one child and I know that time has and will continue to fly by. And so even if I am looking forward to something in the future I try not to rush the days I am in away. We are heading to the beach at the end of July. As you can tell from a previous post that is a very good thing for me - but there is no countdown on my calendar. There will be no status update from me saying "...cannot wait to go to the beach." I can wait. It will get here soon enough and with that time gone by towards our beach trip will also be 20 less days of my son being 5.

Where I've struggled with 'living in the moment' is when I am in the moment and I don't want it to end.

Once while playing with my childhood BFF we decided that our play time always went too quickly. We had heard that 'time flies when you're having fun' so why not when we were together just not have fun, then our time together would seem longer. Who knows how long we lasted with one of us coloring on one side of the basement while the other one did something on the other, before we both realized that was a silly game and it was better to be together and just have fun.

Enjoy the moment.

Recently guests came to stay in our home and it was fun and lovely and hilarious and good. I like having people here. I tend to compartmentalize my life, and I admittedly allow work to be a HUGE compartment. I don't communicate well with friends and family when they are away from me. But when they are in this space, those boundaries are forced open and for those moments home and happiness is all wrapped into one.

Occasionally in those moments I begin to think ahead to when it will be time to say, "see you later." The effect is something like the moment when Christopher Reeve looks at the penny in Somewhere in Time. In the movie he manages to travel back in time to 1912 to be with the woman he loves. When he reaches his hand into his pocket and pulls out a penny from 1980 it immediately catapults him away from her and back to contemporary time. I think I saw the movie the first time when I was in my mid-teens and even at my cynical, tom-boyish best I knew that was heartbreaking.

How silly to be with people and already begin the process of missing them.

During this most recent visit of friends and family I was more conscious of when I was doing that and tried to keep myself in the moment. Part of that is forcibly stopping the mind from wandering. A more important part of that is trusting the future that God has in store for them and for me and abiding in the Spirit's presence in this moment and now this one and this one...
confident that in God's place and in God's time everything will fall into place.

Friday, July 2, 2010

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Hopeful Church Edition

Sally posted this week's Friday Five that included a beautiful statement made by Eunice Attwood, Vice President of the British Methodist Conference, that I will include at the end of this post. Sally's question to us is:

What kind of church do you want to be a part of in the 21st century?

It is the kind of open-minded, dreamer question that makes us preacher-types drool. It is also incredibly timely as so many denominations - mine included - are either gathering or have recently gathered in large bodies to debate Big, Serious Topics. The PCUSA has gathered to worship and debate (among other topics) a Middle East report, Civil Unions, Forms of Government and the Belhar Confession. And yet we wonder why so few ages 50 and younger care about being a part of this?

The danger is I could get pretty deep into cynicism here, but instead I am just going to list the five that come off the top of my head.

I want to be a part of a church that....
1) Puts more focus on worship than debate...
2) Errs on the side of grace....
3) Fights against the sinful, arrogant desire to protect God...
4) Chooses to remember that buildings are buildings, people are the church...
5) Loves...

Here is all of that said better:
I want to be part of a church that is prayer-filled -
A church that is resourced and sustained by the Bible,
A church that can offer hope even in a credit crunch,
A church that can live well with difference and diversity.

I want to be part of a church that welcomes the wealthy, those who have power and influence -
A church that knows how to party and celebrate life,
A church that acknowledges death and speaks boldly of resurrection,
A church that doesn’t pretend to have all the answers but encourages all the questions.

I want to be part of a church that throws parties for prostitutes -
A church that welcomes those who seek asylum,
A church that longs and yearns for justice,
A church that listens to those no-one else wants to listen to.

I want to be part of a church that believes in transformation not preservation -
A church where all who are lost can be found,
A church where people can discover friendship,
A church where every person takes responsibility in sharing the good news.

I want to be part of a church whose hope is placed securely and confidently in the transforming love of God -
A church that engages faith in its communities,
A church that makes and nurtures disciples of Jesus.

A church where the story of God’s love is at the centre.
I want to be part of a church that offers outrageous grace, reckless generosity, transforming love and engaging faith.
This is God’s story Transforming Love: Engaging Faith.

My prayer is that by the power of the Spirit of God at work amongst us, it will increasingly be our story.