Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the signs are everywhere

Our scripture passages are telling it to us, loud and clear: it's time to get ready. The signs are all around us, that it's just about time.

Trick is, the signs that the scripture are talking about don't have much to do with making sure our presents are all purchased (wrapped, and, if necessary, mailed...) They're actually not at all like the signs that invite us to buy more, for cheaper.

Instead, these are signs of the inbreaking of God's spirit--which is getting ready to come into the world as a little bitty baby.

Jeremiah and Jesus, in Luke both tell us to get ready, to be on guard, and to notice the signs around us.

Which brings me to the question Karen and I want to pose for us all, this year, during Advent:
where do you see signs of God's light, of the (subtle?) inbreaking of God's world, this year?

Monday, November 20, 2006

get in on the action

Since I'm not preaching at Water's Edge this week, I thought I'd use a post to shamelessly recruit for our church's "big mission project." (Shameless because I share it with the joy of the Lord...)

We've been talking a long time about doing a "big" project, to be in ministry with people living in poverty in San Diego.

Now, we have some basic values, some priorities that come of our a bunch of interviews our church folk did with folks in Mid-City San Diego, and some next steps.

You can take those next steps.

We're looking for people who will volunteer during the rest of this school year for 3 things (but, especially, the first):
1--volunteer in a school in Mid-City, helping with an existing program. This could be as easy as reading with a 3rd grade student who is behind in reading level. There are volunteer options for a variety of interests and skill levels.
2--help us shape longer-term plans and do research and planning

If you're willing to jump on-board, or just want to know more, visit the church website for the project. (And you can see a stunning quicktime movie about the project, starring some of our Water's Edge own!

Monday, November 13, 2006

giving birth to something new?

My first reaction, as I turned to this week's scripture was: "Oh geez. Another good story--but why do all these stories end with women giving birth, as if that's the end-all, be-all?"

Last week, it was Naomi (through Ruth's childbearing) being restored to motherhood.

This week, it's Hannah, finally bearing a child, after all those years of suffering in childlessness, comparing herself to the other wife: the fertile but less-loved Peninnah. Despite her husband's assurances that she's loved abundantly, she prays so fervently for a child that the PRIEST thinks she's drunk or crazy. God hears her prayer, and "opens her womb."

And Samuel is born.

I admire her faithfulness, and her determination. Her willingness to look like a fool, for the sake of seeking after God's blessing.

I just wonder why God's blessing so often is portrayed in the shape of a child. I've known plenty of women (and men, for that matter) who have lived faithful and inspirational lives, without ever having given birth...

Then, I turned to the Gospel lesson. And her, the birthing is metaphorical. And big-time. In Mark, we experience birth pangs--not from the birth of a little child, but from the birth of God's new creation.

Oddly, this is reassuring to me: perhaps all this talk of giving birth is about much, much more than little babies. Perhaps this talk is again reminding us that we are all suitable for the work of bringing God's creation into the world.

Just last week, I was chatting with a father before Water's Edge. We were talking about one of his kids. And delighting in her personality, intelligence, and thoughtful concern. "I've never though of my kids as 'my' kids," he said. He said it's more like they are these strange creatures of God who he's given responsbility to take care of, for a time. And it's incredible to watch them.

Perhaps our scripture records so many stories of God working to fulfill us, in stories of women giving birth, because they help us know something about the wonder of God's work: it begins in our care, but grows and far beyond our reach.

Monday, November 06, 2006

figuring out who to learn from

As we watched "Invisible Children" at our movie night on Saturday, I was moved by the gratitude of children living in the midst of human atrocity in northern Uganda. At night, when these children walk into the city to sleep in crowded, makeshift shelter so they won't be abducted by the LRA rebel army, they often sing praises.

Sing praises?

I think about our own singing. Sometimes we catch the spirit, but it doesn't much compare to the joy of the songs and dances I saw children in Uganda share in, in this film.

Maybe we need to learn something from their joy and gratitude.

Then, I read this week's scriptures.

In the end of Ruth's story Ruth's story, we see how Ruth, a widow who chooses to become a foreigner to remain in community with her mother-in-law, makes possible Naomi's restoration. (We're not going to read all those verses in worship, so you'll want to see what's all in there so it makes sense when we skip some...)

Then, in Mark's gospel, we get the story of a widow who showed-up the scribes in her faithful giving. Though she had just "two small copper coins, which are worth a penny," she puts in everything she has. She gives her whole self.

Just like Ruth, I think--two widows who give their whole selves for the sake of faithful living.

I wonder what it would look like for us to give our "whole selves"?


And, while you're meditating on that, I want to remind you that we're looking for folks who want to help with worship during Advent. On these four Sundays in December, we get ready for Christ's birth. If you have gifts or passions for decorating and designing spaces, for creating videos, for writing prayers, please let Karen or me know--we would love to have you be a part of our worship planning.