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My heart beats for love. I want to be different. I want to be who I am called to be. WORTHY and LOVED!

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Friday, August 28, 2015

You are Welcome Here

 I have found myself listening to Klove more and more. One of the songs they play pretty regularly is "Holy Spirit, You are Welcome Here." The first time I heard this particular song was in a church service: "Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come fill this place and fill the atmosphere." I didn't like it. I felt that it was theologically uncomfortable to ask the Holy Spirit to be present, when we are told that the Holy Spirit is present among us whenever we gather together as believers.

And yet.

And yet the song is growing on me. I have found myself thinking of all of the times that we have not acted like the Holy Spirit is welcome among us as believers. When we judge. When we exclude. When we are gluttonous at the expense of our brothers and sisters. When we act as gate keepers for God. When we forget about the Kingdom of God and our mission. When we more readily speak about hell then about God's grace, love, and mercy. When we act as if our ways are always God's ways.

We really do need to ask the Spirit to break open our hearts by declaring that the Holy Spirit is welcome in and among us. Asking the Holy Spirit to move.

Then doing the hard work of listening and being attentive to the movement of the Spirit.

So Holy Spirit, you are welcome in me. Help me to breathe in and out your life to others in all that I do and say. Fill me and fill the spaces I enter. Not for my glory, but for yours. Amen.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Oh GPS


   I was driving home from vacation with two GPSs going - a wired one and one on my phone. I had two going because they were telling me two different things. The funny part was that both were actually wrong. I saw signs several times that I knew I should have followed, and yet I went with the electronic boxes talking to me.
 
  It made me wonder if we have lost our ability to follow our gut. To listen to the internal directions leading inside of us. We become so dependent upon outside circumstances and voices, that we leave behind the knowledge we have of ourselves.

  In the words of one of the groups I am part of, we trust that each of us knows what we need.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

An Open Letter

Dear Director of Ministry Placement, 

It struck me today that I should tell you how I am doing. I am now in my fifth year of full time ministry and sixth year of serving churches. I have been thinking a lot lately how you said I would never pass the three year mark. That I wasn't cut out to be a pastor. That I was too much of a wanderer. 

You may not know it, but I considered dropping out of seminary because of your words. It took two deans who were also your bosses to talk me out of it. And I am so glad that I didn't let your words become truth in my life or poison me. 

I love my job more and more each day. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I see my gifts and graces being put to amazing use by God. 

I guess what I am writing to say is please watch your words. I know you didn't want that position. I know that it was only temporary. But your anger almost drove me not to follow my calling. Watch what you say so that your perception of truth doesn't block out God's Truth for the people around you. 

Many blessings on your ministerial journey.

A fellow Elder. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

No Longer Apologizing

As I have gown older I nor longer apologize for...
     My thick curly hair that has a mind of its own
        It just means I don't have to worry about trying to make it tame since it does its own thing
     Being outspoken
        It just makes me thankful my parents raised me to haves strong, thoughtful voice
     My short legs
        It just makes me humble enough to ask for help
     Being a vegetarian
         It just made me fall in love with the kitchen
     My story, all of it,
          Because it helps me relate to others with empathy, joy, loyalty, and compassion
     Being me
          Because I am wonderfully, beautifully, perfectly, created


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Monday, August 24, 2015

Torture vs New Life

    I had some time the other day and was just walking though a mall. And shat did my eyes see? A t-shirt comparing the torture practice of water-boarding to baptism. I started to text some of my theologically minded friends the slogan along with "thoughts?", because I was so taken aback that my mind couldn't put what I was thinking into words.
   Now I by no means think water-boarding and baptism should ever be talked about together, but at least the fact that I was given pause, taken aback from words, made me sit down in order to reflect on what I truly believe about baptism.
   I believe that baptism is s gift from God, an outward and public sign that you are a child under the claim of God's goodness and grace.
   I believe that baptism cannot be forced on anyone. I am in a denomination that does practice infant baptism as a sign of adoption into a local body of Christ who promise to take care of you and seek your blessing in congregational life until such time you make a commitment to Christ yourself. But that is not the same as using baptism as a bargaining chip: such as be baptized or be banished or be baptized or be damned.
    I believe that baptism cannot be earned.
    I believe that it doesn't matter at what age or how much water is used, it's about the heart.
    What do you believe?


- by Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, August 23, 2015

“The Sneetches” Galatians 3:28 James 2:1-4

We have now reached our last Sunday in our sermon series about finding the gospel message in the stories of Dr. Seuss. This week we are going to focus on one of the stories that isn’t as well known by the good doctor, The Sneetches, which my computer tried to change to “snitches” each and every time I typed it. 
The Sneetches tells the tale of a community where two different type of inhabitants live - the Sneetches with stars on their belly and those without - aptly called star bellied and plain bellied. One would think that society would be fine with these two different types of Sneetches living in community but that was not the case. The Sneetches with stars on their bellies considered themselves to be superior to those with plain bellies. They walked past them without acknowledging their presence. They wouldn’t share picnics together or let their children play together. 
Brothers and sisters, is this sounding a bit familiar? We, too, live in a divided society today -though we think if we don’t talk about it then it must not be so. But I’m reminded of the division in society every time I eat at a restaurant with my best friend, who is bi-racial, and the waiter or waitress, regardless of their race will always ask me to order first. Divisions are deep and real in this country still today. But what makes the entire situation sadder, for both the Sneetches and for us, is that those plain bellied Sneetches bought into the lie. They believed they were not worthy, were not of value, and instead of embracing who they are, they wanted to become like the star-bellied Sneetches - those who looked down upon them and despised them. 
If any people should be proclaiming that all people matter to God, it should be the Church. The apostle Paul writes to the church in Galatians that there are no distinctions in the body of Christ, no one is better than anyone else, and I can guarantee that made just about everyone angry. The Jews thought that they were better then the gentiles, as God’s chosen people - yet there is no Jew nor Greek. Those that were free look down upon those who were slaves, both indentured and those by birth - yet there was no slave nor free. Men thought they owned women as property, and all of the religious teachings and political laws of the time were set up to agree with them - yet there is no male nor female. For there is no distinction outside of the most important one that we all bear “child of God.”
Spiritual author Henri Nouwen rocked my world in college with his short piece Life of the Beloved. To date it is the spiritual writing that I have gifted and handed out the most. The pages are tattered, highlighted, and filled with ink. The book is Nouwen response to his friend Fred, who asked him to explain in simple terms why life mattered and Nouwen’s answer has changed lives for generations “You are the beloved.” That is what matters - we are loved by God. We are loved by God with such a radical love that all of the other distinctions and labels people try to put upon us don’t matter. That is the message the church should be proclaiming.
I’ve have been deeply grieved over this past year with the violence that has been seen - church shootings, churches being burned, hatred spewed out on the news, random acts of violence, the list goes on and on. And what has been the response of the church, chiefly the mainline protestant church, to ignore it all. To try to sweep in under the rug or justify it. We are no better then the Star-bellied Sneetches when we do so - and we certainly aren’t proclaiming the message that all are God’s beloved. 
What resounds with me with the word “beloved” is the image of a groom eagerly waiting at the alter for his bride. Waiting to honor and protect her. Waiting to commit to actively love her each day of their lives together - no matter what the circumstances. And as powerful as an image as that is for me - God loves each of us even more than that. 
Brothers and Sisters, when we sit by when violence rocks the world around us, when we sit by in silent apathy or agreement, when we fail to proclaim the message that we are loved by God despite all that humans have created to separate us from one another, we are sinning. We have unknowingly bought into the belief that has come from the fall that some people are better than others, that some people bear the sin of the world and others get a free pass, and that God favors races, genders, or nations. When we see people differently then God sees them - whether we knowingly act upon those beliefs or not, we sin. When we turn away from people in need - we sin. When we think ourselves better than other people - we sin. Because the truth is that we are family, united by Christ, our head.
Sadly, the Sneetches’ story goes from bad to worse. Sylvester McMonkey McBean rolls into town with a solution for their problem. If the plain bellied Sneetches pay him a fee they could have stars on their bellies. And they did. In droves. All of the plain bellied Sneetches now bore stars on their bellies and went to their star-bellied siblings and proclaimed that they were now just like them! But the former star bellied Sneetches couldn’t have that. They liked thinking that they were better then the formerly plain bellied Sneetches - so they went to Sylvester McMonkey McBean and for a fee had their stars removed. And the cycle went on like this - stars on and stars off until all of the Sneetches were out of money. 
Less we think this is just a silly story, I read an article in a book recently about a young woman who grew up in the 1960s and went to summer camp. One day during that week away her counselors decided to play a game. They had all of the blue eye children get together and identify themselves as being superior to those with any other colored eyes. All day they got the best things, were able to eat in line first, and were encouraged to only play with one another, while looking down on the other-colored-eyed children. Everyone knew that it was just a game, yet it began to deeply effect the non-blue-eyed children, to the point where even half way through the day they were starting to wish that they too had blue eyes. The girl recalling this story spoke of how deeply troubled she was by the whole thing - so she went off into the woods to pray to God, where she decided, by the prompting of the Holy Spirit to break the rules of the game. She, a blue-eyed girl, started to invite brown and hazel eyed children to join her at the front of the line. She shared what she had and treated everyone as equal. And you know what happened - the other blue eyed children got mad at her! They wanted to keep the rules of the game going so they got more perks, even if it meant their fellow campers were ostracized and made to feel less valuable. 
The book this story was found in, God in My Life: Faith Stories and How We Share Them, was published in 2008, almost 50 years since this camp experience, yet it shaped the memory of that young girl and who she became. It shaped how she treated people outside of the camp after that day - where she actively tried to live into accepting others as God accepts them.
The Church of Jesus Christ has a unique opportunity to model unity. To buck the actions and attitudes of favoritism discussed in James, who says that we cannot both show favoritism and believe in Christ. Hard words to swallow. Especially for folks who have come to privileges at the expense of others, privileges that are so engrained in us that we don’t even realize them any more. When we choose to learn from each others differences instead of judging each other by them - we are the Church. We are proclaiming with our lips and our lives that what matters most is that we are God’s beloved, and all people under the banner of Christ deserved to be treated the same way, with love, honor, and respect. 

Thankfully, the story of the Sneetches ends in a powerful way - they all realize that star or plain-bellied isn’t what matters. They forgot about the stars and started to treat each other as community, as family. What would we need to risk to pave the way for unity, Church? What are we willing to set aside or give up, for the sake of the family of God? Amen. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Story of Summer

My skin tells the story of summer
    Darker near the neck, from being burned at heritage days
    Farmers tan from time at camp
    A different hue on the left arm, from long summer drives
    Flip flop lines from tending to the garden out in the sun
    Tan line from my ring that needed to come off from the swelling of hands in the humidity
    The faint trace of my fit bit
    Pink edges from where my sunscreen didn't reach.

What are your stories of summer