Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
"Annunciation" by Henry O Tanner, 19th Century African-American painter
I have been contemplating young, unmarried Mary's reaction to the news that she would give birth to the Son of God.
I love that Mary believes this crazy news is possible. She questions the possibility at first--but not because she doesn't think herself worthy, or thought such crazy/good news impossible. Without cynicism, self-protecting irony or low self-esteem, she accepts the good news that God could be borne in her. And, even more, she knows that it means wild and world-changing things for everyone else, too.
She busts out in song, the news is so good, in a passage later in the chapter: the powerful have been knocked off their thrones, and the humble poor have stood tall. Words of promise, conviction and hope that would have been as wild in Mary's day as they are in these days when CEO's ask for government bail-outs.
All of this makes me wonder how I might get myself ready to have the same, hope-filled reaction to God's good news today. This Christmas, am I ready to help give birth to a new way of living in the world?
As all this has been rattling around in my head, I stumbled into these beginning words of Brian McLaren's Finding Our Way Again: the return of the ancient practices:
"You can't take an epidural shot to ease the pain of giving birth to character. In a sense, every day of your life is labor: the rhythmic agony of producing the person who will wake up in your body tomorrow, creating your reputation, continuing your legacy, and influencing your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and countless strangers, for better or worse."
Perhaps this Christmas work, this work of bearing Christ's light into a world of so much darkness and despair, is going to be harder than the shiny bows and tinsel suggest. But, then, perhaps it's also going to be wild and world-changing.
This season has so many good songs. And they're thick with possibility. I offer you this final verse from O Little Town of Bethlehem, full-up with a prayer for us to bear Christ into this world. To accept that we're the ones God chose to be with, and that it's gonna be good.
(You can sing along at home.)
O holy Child of Bethlehem Descend to us, we pray Cast out our sin and enter in Be born to us today We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell O come to us, abide with us Our Lord Emmanuel
Monday, December 01, 2008
So, this year we're asking you to do something crazy: slow down.
Give pause this Christmas.
To help, we've made a daily devotional to use in your prayer life. It includes a particular prayer practice for each week of Advent--each week between now and Christmas.
Some of you helped write the online devotional, so that gives you extra reason to check it out.
I trust it can be transformative.
Find it here, updated daily. Or, use the link in the right-hand sidebar.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
What a good image to hold in mind as we celebrate Christ the King.
This year, as always, we need reminders that, as followers of Jesus, we need to be vigilant in making sure nothing else--no other person or power--is "king" in our lives.
Instead, we celebrate the unlikely King Jesus, whose reign was secured with self-sacrifice. Crazy, and beautiful.
This King, Christ the King, is all about justice, and life-giving grace.
So, as we gather to worship God this week, we'll celebrate this unconventional reign. We'll read stories of God's promised river of life, from Revelation 22. There, we're given an image of God's grace, which comes like a river in the very midst of the city. It brings life and healing to the city.
All of which is good cause for Thanksgiving, I'd say. And a good reason to again ask for God's vision to be our vision. Imagine what would be possible if it were to guide our everyday living.
I hope to see you there!
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Psalm for this week opens up a space between the dangerous and life-giving qualities of nature. Disaster and storm shake our world up. Somehow, in the midst of all that, God brings us out to a broad place, a hopeful place.
In a similar way, Matthew's gospel moves Jesus very quickly--from the glorious affirmation of God at his baptism to a time of deep testing the wilderness.
In both of these lessons, danger and grace are held together, smashed up against each other, and make us feel a little motion sick on account of the quick switch-up.
But isn't that how it happens in our lives, too? Tremendous uncertainty and anxiety come to us alongside moments of absolute confidence. A child is born as we grieve the death of a loved one. I celebrate my husband's return from war even as I grieve that someone else's spouse is sent to replace him. Inexcusable suffering somehow makes way for unimaginable grace as a victim of violence chooses a path of forgiveness and reconciliation.
These things are all tangled together. And, often, I find myself most able to find the beautiful bits when I give myself a little space. Sometimes I need to just take a moment, breathe, and ponder.
Which brings me to a Wendell Berry poem that's been on my mind for the past week:
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Election day seems like as good a day as any to consider this week's Old Testament lesson: Joshua (who, in last week's scripture, assumed leadership in the generation after Moses) delivers his farewell address. In it, he sets a clear choice before the people: follow God (the God who brought them out of slavery in Egypt) or serve other would-be gods.
I'm guessing we still have a lot to give up. Greed, selfish individualism, hatred, fear, self-doubt, the belief that we can secure our own futures by accumulating things or building fences, and more.
We know that this also requires us to make changes in the ways our habits and systems treat creation. Besides the reality that we are harming God's creation, we're also aware that our pollution and destruction of resources harms others in our household. Environmental damage hurts those who have least in our world first--the developing world suffers before we in San Diego suffer.
I wonder what it will mean for us to, again and anew, turn from the gods that have tempted us to destruction, and toward the God who is salvation. What new, big household habits will we need?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
We celebrate All Saints' Sunday, as we remember and honor those who have gone before us, and who surround us as a cloud of witnesses. We stand on their shoulders, as is they were a part of the root system on which we bear fruit and grow today.
We begin our celebration of a Season of Creation, a time to honor and remember our belonging in a household of God that counts this earth as its home. Belonging in creation requires humility, repentance and attentiveness to God's grace. This week, we honor the land in our observance.
And, we finish this crazy journey we've been on for many weeks, moving with the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, to the promised land. Last week, we read of Moses' death, and this week, Joshua shows that God is continuing to lead the people, now through him. As they step foot into the Jordan River, on their final crossing into the promised land, they know they're a part of something much bigger than themselves.
We're on a journey much bigger than any of us can see, too.
As we remember that first step into the river, as the waters of the Jordan River became dry ground, I'm feeling called to ponder my own steps as I try to walk in God's ways.
Rivers aren't the boundary I feel most called to cross these days, but I have been feeling the pull of God as I ponder how to live more responsibly in this world.
As our world economic systems' collapse reveals that they are not the source of our truest security, I wonder if I'm called to rethink where I most put my trust. And, as we ponder the gift of the land, on this precious sphere we call earth, perhaps we need better ways of sharing its blessing with all God's children.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Asking a question about whether it's "lawful" to pay taxes, some Pharisees want to trap Jesus in a polarized political battle of their time. They know that this is not a campaign rally, where most people present want to hear the same thing, but a debate in which people who were eager to hear opposing answers were all present.
Jesus refuses their answer. Asking whose image is on the coin they'd use to pay taxes, he offers that it's fine to give it to that person. Caesar's image is on the coin, so go ahead and give it to Caesar.
But then it gets crazy: he says to give to God what is God's. And we know that each of us is made in the image of God. Suddenly, argument over some coins seems trivial. We're called to give our whole selves.
I love that this call comes because God's image is all over us. It's a beautiful reminder to remember that all that we are and all that we have is, really, God's. We are blessed, known, named and marked by God's love.
Which, really, is what Moses was worried about in this week's Exodus passage. Negotiating with God for evidence that God would continue to be with the people of Israel, Moses's story reminds us that God is, even when we disobey, still with us. God's image is all over us and deep within us.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Lately, I've been occupied with the sense that we ought to spend more time talking about what the church is not. Or, better, what being a Christian means you ought to give up.
In this week's scripture passages, folks have a hard time giving up old ways of being. While Moses is up on Mount Sinai hanging out with God, Aaron and the rest of the folks get restless and anxious and decide to make a god on their own--not God's preferred activity, to say the least. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus tells a story about some folks who go to a wedding party the King is throwing, but don't bother to put on their party clothes; it's clear that they should have.
Maybe it's a bit of a stretch, but it seems to me both are stories of people unwilling to give up their old ways of being. In the first, their anxiety prompts them to try to find their own gods. In the second, not even a wedding invitation from the King is enough to make people change their clothes.
In baptism, since the early church, we are asked to take on vows that speak both of what we take on (belonging in the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ) and what we give up (our ties to sin, evil, injustice, the powers of this world, and more). Becoming a part of God's people requires both: we let go of who we were to become someone new.
Some things are hard to let go of. Mostly, though, it feels really good.
The fact that the seemingly all-powerful economic systems of our time are collapsing around me certainly makes it a relief to lay down my own false belief that I could secure my future with good financial investments, anyhow.
How good it is to know that our salvation is to be found in something altogether different, better, and more life-giving.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Again this week, for our third week in a row, Jesus has a story about workers and vineyard. This one's about real estate ownership, though--it features an absent landlord, who leaves slaves in charge of things, and sends back to collect income off his property.
The funny thing about this story, though, is that Jesus is playing with our assumptions about the cast of characters. Like in our own times, the regular people in Jesus' audience were likely resentful of the rich, powerful and greedy folks who seemed to be in charge of things. As the wealthy, absent owner of the vineyard appears, I bet they're already starting to boo and hiss.
But he messes with them--because this vineyard owner also reminds them of God. If God is the vineyard owner, then the people who seem to be in power become the tenants. And suddenly, the playing field they'd imagine shifts: the people who seemed so powerful are really nothing, in comparison to God who is God of everything and everyone. The tenants are punished for their attempts at greed, and the land is to be given into someone else's care.
How quickly perspectives can shift when we remember God! What seemed powerful suddenly looks pretty weak.
This Sunday, we celebrate World Communion Sunday. I pray that our sharing in communion, especially this week, will remind us of the perspective shifts God keeps asking us to make, over and over, as we remember how big God is, and how big God's grace is.
The communion table is one place where we're already working out the arrangement that will come to fullness in God's kingdom: everyone welcome and included as a part of one family and fellowship.
This Sunday afternoon, I'm going to share in communion worship at the US/Mexico border. Along with others in our worldwide Christian family, we'll pass the body of Christ through a fence that keeps our nations separate. And, I suspect, we'll taste a power that cannot be contained or constricted by any kind of border fence.
In invite you to join me--we'll meet in Friendship Park, inside the Border Field State Park at 2:30. All are welcome. (To get there from San Diego, take the 5 south, nearly to the border. Exit at Dairy Mart Road, and go west until you enter Border Field State Park. There is a $5 entrance fee for each car, and you'll need some valid US ID to get out of the park afterwards.)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Our text from Exodus is about the thirst of the people in the wilderness--and, as gracious relief, the goodness of the water God provides out of a rock. I wonder what this story has to say to our present time, as we struggle to figure out how we will distribute, care for, and regulate our water supply. I've been reading about struggles in the developing world, where World Bank policies have encouraged water supplies to be held by private corporations. In South Africa, for example, recent court rulings are seeking to determine the appropriateness of selling water only through pre-paid allotments in a number of poor areas.
Just like last week's passage, which emphasized the greed-proof qualities of un-hoard-able manna, our scriptures seem charged with the energies of our current economic climate.
God's work seems, again and again, to be on the side of making sure everyone has access to daily bread and adequate water.
God also seems to be less interested in creating a global structure than God is passionate about giving life in the places where there is hunger and thirst.
As our nation makes decisions about how to move forward in a time where the economic systems we've relied on are collapsing, I hope we will not forget to feed real people, and meet the thirst of people with refreshing water.
I also give thanks that our biblical stories seem increasingly relevant in times of struggle and change--our faith is not one meant for people who have it all together. Our Bible tells the stories of people trying to hang on through incredibly trying times.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
One of the many reasons I love the stories of the people of Israel who went through the wilderness with Moses is that they're so, well, human. Like me. This week's text talks about the complaints of the people, over and over. Seven times, the text uses the word for complain, complaining, or complaint.
There are things in the world worth complaint. Hunger for one: the people had been walking for a month and half since they left Egypt. I can't blame them for having a few items on their list of things to grumble about. That's a long time to be hungry.
Heck, I can get grouchy from hunger in WAY less time.
So, they complain. And God hears their complaining. And God loves them and provides graciously for them.
Manna, a mysterious, flaky substance, rains down on them each day, providing sustenance for that day. And, on the day before the Sabbath, they can get what they'll need for two days.
I wonder how this gift of nourishment was received. I wonder if they were just glad for the food, or if they were a little ticked off that they had to let go of their complaints? If they quickly shifted their attitudes because of the gift, or if they wanted to hold on to their old ways of doing things?
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
As we continue to follow Moses' journey in leadership this week, we get another dramatic story: he leads the people to the sea, God parts the waters, and the people of God walk across on dry land. Then, Pharaoh's army pursue them into the sea bed, get stuck in the mud, and are drowned by the sea.
Water, in the imagination of those who first told this story, often symbolized danger, chaos and potential destruction. It was the home of sea monsters and all other manner of mysteries of the deep. And here, for just long enough so the people of God could escape slavery, that mysterious deep becomes safe passage toward a future that's being revealed.
Sounds awfully good to me. A clear path forward and some dry ground to stand on, opened up in the very midst of the uncertainly and chaos of the deep--what grace.
And, that the forces of evil that followed--here, Pharaoh's army--were consumed in their pursuit sounds even better. Would that the things that threaten to keep us enslaved today could be so destroyed: our fears, addictions, greed, isolation, arrogance, hatred.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
I just got a new camera, and confess to being totally overwhelmed with its instruction book. Plus, there are so many settings to watch for, little changes in dials and symbols that make a big difference in how it all works, whether my pictures are in focus, or if the timer is on.
Usually, I figure I can navigate electronic devices with good intuition, a spirit of adventure, and a little trial and error. All of this is infinitely preferable, in my world, to sitting to read the instructions.
I like to read good stories, juicy poems, or anything with layers of meaning to sift through. Instruction books seek to dispel any possibility of confusing layers, presenting clear information in a systematic way. And, they are chock full of more information that I could possibly absorb.
All of which makes it feel a little peculiar that I have such fondness for this week's scripture passage from Romans. Of all the lessons we've read lately, this is the most like an instruction book:
101112131415161718Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. ...
Paul lists a set of commands--invitations to a different way of living.
But, I think, they're far better than an instruction book, and here's why:
They're not particularly systematic, they don't need to go in any particular order, you can begin anywhere, and they leave a lot about the specifics up to us, the readers. Paul's list helps us imagine a different reality--one that looks more like God's kingdom--and sets a standard for us to reach towards.
Plus, I love Paul's acknowledgment of our own limitations:
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Now and then, I hear people claim that the Bible is an instruction book for life. I thank God that it's so much more!
Rather than telling us what button to push or which dial to spin to give us the result we want, scripture invites us into a new way of being. A messy, complicated, often confusing and frustrating way of being in a relationship with a loving God, who also happens to be complicated, confusing and far beyond anything that could ever have an easy-reference index.
Not that the Bible doesn't offer help: it's just not as simple as turning the flash on. It's an inspiring process of figuring out what loving God and neighbor (including enemies) looks like when you're moving through the strange circumstance of your life.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I suspect we all have images of who Jesus is, and what he might look like in our own time. I have a long list of things he'd confront, people he'd help heal, and ways he'd share grace. (I even have a few ideas about things he might challenge us religious leaders on, but sometimes that gets a little scary, so I won't say too much...)
As the passage continues, Jesus also gives Simon Peter a new picture of his identity: that he's a rock on which the Jesus' church will be built.
Now, when I read this alongside the lesson from Paul's letter to the Romans, a question came to mind. I'm not sure it'll make sure in anyone's mind but mine, but, just in case you find in provocative, I share it here:
If Peter is the rock on which the church is built and which we are a part of giving form to, how do we keep resisting mere conformity to the world, and push for transformation? Rocks and transformation don't often fit together in my imagination. Either you're rock solid, or your poised for change, but how do you be both?
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I love Jesus' attempts to describe the kingdom of God. He reminds us that it's fresh, new, wild, and hard to explain.
"It's like a mustard seed," he says, reminding us how tenacious, wild and powerful in a grassroots-kinda-way it is. Like beautiful flowers growing up through sidewalk cracks. My friend, Stephanie, took this picture when she came across these daring flowers on a tour of the community gardens she's helped build in Omaha.
But before you get too stuck on this image, he continues:
"It's like some yeast," giving life to everything around it.
"It's like a find so spectacular you'd sell everything you had to buy it."
This week, when we gather at the Water's Edge for worship, it'll be our chance to help name and describe the kingdom. We give thanks for signs of it all around us, and for how what each of us has seen of it can help others understand more.
We also get to celebrate the baptism of two young sisters, which is pretty darn exciting. See you there.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
And, our Psalm is a great introduction.
I like the idea of God's word being a guide for us. Scripture collects stories and poetry and contains God's very word. From it, we're able to get light to see our way.
Trouble is, it's not as simple as a guide that tells us exactly what to do on any day and time (except in general terms, like that we should love God and neighbor in all that we do). It doesn't tell me, for example, whether or not I should be doing something more important than writing this blog entry.
So, read and pray with it on our own, and we get together as a church community to do the same. This week, we'll gather to read some great stories from the Bible. A story from Genesis of our ancestors (who, as it turns out, had as crazy of family stories as we do now), and a story that Jesus tells to try to tell us all something about God.
I take these stories seriously, believing that doing so requires that we do our best to really engage and seek understanding of the complex and mysterious truth they tell.
I hope you'll join me as we enter these texts, and help me uncover the life and meaning they're offering us today, as we continue their story. We do so with great hope.
See you Sunday!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I suppose I'm especially attentive to the idea of "rest" because I'm looking forward to tomorrow's holiday; I'm looking forward to spending the day poolside, with good food and friends.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
This is pretty intense: the disciples become Jesus' presence in the world. They are to be so filled with his Spirit that even a glass of water given to them will be like a glass of water given to Jesus.
They belong together, in their inmost being.
Pretty wild: as we're disciples, we get to be the physical body of Christ in the world.
And, then, we're reminded of how precious hospitality can be. How much we depend on it.
I read this text knowing that there are times when I'm able to feel like one of those disciples. And there are times when I feel like the one doing the welcoming. Or not, as the case may be.
Welcoming everyone who comes is a difficult thing; some people are hard to embrace. Yet, we're called to live into this beautiful and old tradition of providing hospitality to one another.
As we prepare for worship this week, I invite you to imagine who would be the most challenging person to welcome. And, begin praying that you could warmly welcome that person, and that they would be drawn to our church.
May it be so.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Trouble is, as we noticed last week, the most important stuff is impossible to see. And Christ is inviting us into a whole new way of living, full of mercy and emptied of rigid adherence to things that we think make us righteous. That's tricky to do. I mean: the last thing I want to say is that following Christ is easy. It should take sacrifice. There's a lot of stuff in this world that we need to be careful about resisting, and a lot of virtues we're called to in God that are less than convenient.
So, these Pharisees are worried about the kind of people Jesus is hanging out with. Sometimes, I worry about the kind of people I hang out with. There are reasons to surround ourselves with people whose lives seem to be good role models for our own.
I suspect Jesus was noticing that there's also a danger in this: that we'll surround ourselves with people who we think are good role models, as if we're all righteous, and isolate ourselves from others. This is dangerous for a bunch of reasons: it cheapens the power of God's grace when we assume that our religious communities are already for people who've gotten their act together (as if you need to be perfected before you're welcome in the church), and because it makes us blind to the sin we hold. Like thinking that we've got it all together, and that we're so much better than those "sinners" over there. And thinking that we know how to draw the lines of who is a righteous person and who is a sinner. Or what is on the list of sins that would qualify a person to be known by that sin.
So, recognizing that I've got some sympathy for the Pharisees, I wonder who Jesus was talking about when he said, "I came to call not the righteous but the sinners." Maybe all those bits that are like a Pharisee in me are just what he meant.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The temptation to measure is often irresistible. I give in: you may have noticed that I even put a counter on this blog to track how many folks visit it. And, when it gives us a way to hold accountable to the things we value most, measuring can be a really good thing. Sometimes, even while I'm a long way from my goal, looking at how far I've come provides critical encouragement.
The trouble comes when I get too good at measuring myself up against others. I'm tempted to excuse myself for my own short-comings--after all, at least I'm not as bad as SOME people are.
One of the biggest problems with measurable objectives is that, often, the most important stuff can't be measured at all. I think that's what Paul was talking about when he wrote his letter to the church in Rome. In this week's scripture passage, he keeps telling people how it's not how well people do the things we can measure or chart or police that saves us--we are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ, whose grace changes everything.
I get pretty depressed when I think of all the ways we, as a church, give messages (both explicit and implied) that good church people need to measure up to some standards. That they need to be certain ways or do particular things or avoid whatever behavior we name as the biggest sin. Our measuring tools never do an adequate job of making space for God's incredible, abounding, mysterious and scandalous grace.
We are all sinners, Paul says. The point isn't to measure up against each other. The hope is to be changed by a grace that defies the limitations of our little minds. And, then, be "church" together--a community that is the body of Christ in the midst of a world in need.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
This week, our scripture comes from Matthew, and it's a piece of what we've come to call Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. It has two pieces: a warning that we can't serve both God and money, and that we shouldn't worry about trivial things.
My question for today is: are there things we are SUPPOSED to worry about?
Presumably, it's so. After the bit about worries, Jesus talks about "striving" for things. And the kingdom is what we ought to strive for.
I also think it's instructive that Jesus asks us to take a lesson from the lilies. Not from great heroes or monumental things, but lilies. When I'm looking for role models of how to live in the world, I don't tend to look at flowers. But there they are, in the middle of Jesus' sermon. And they're beautiful.
May we be so, too.
This week, we get to celebrate infant baptism, too, which is a joy. We welcome new people into the family of the church. Perhaps they, like the lilies, will help us gain perspective on what mosts deserves our strivings and efforts.
See you Sunday...
p.s. I found fun cartoon commentary on the gospel here.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
It's all quite complicated, the ways our lives get woven together with the movement and celebrations of the church year.
Which, I think, is partly what makes me so glad to be back with you all for Trinity Sunday this week. It reminds me about how complex and wondrously mysterious God is.
I confess that I tend to pray and talk more about God by picking one aspect of God's three-fold nature that I find most useful at any given moment. God our Creator when I need reminder of just how amazingly big God is and how infinitely powerful to give us new possibilities in every moment. Jesus Christ, who redeems us all, when I seek reminders of God's solidarity with us, even in all our weaknesses, pain and failures. Or when I need to remember what God's love can look like in human form, how it compells me to live like Jesus did. (Or try to, anyhow.) And then, sometimes I just treasure reminders of God as Holy Spirit--blowing new perspectives, breathing new life, emboldening with new fire. Uniting me together with all creation, calling me to a new identity.
The trick is to hold all this together: all these ways of knowing and naming God are held in a unity that defies real comprehension. At best, we just get to know God in the unending dance between these ways of naming and knowing.
And, really, the point is not to figure God out. It's to find a new way of living, in partnership with God. In on the dance, ourselves.
Which is why I think it's also pretty cool that this Sunday is designated "Peace with Justice Sunday" in United Methodism. A reminder that we're called to live differently in a complicated world, as a response to our being loved by a complex God.
So, will you come give it a try with us?
See you Sunday!
Monday, April 28, 2008
Now, my picture of the universe complicates this. I have trouble imagining Jesus ascending to God when I know that ascending from earth would mean being transported through light-years worth of ever-expanding space.
Although...as I imagine it, it's kind of exciting to imagine the implications this reminder of how vast our world is, and, then, how much more incredibly big God and God's love must be!
I have a favorite image of the relative size of space, from a film the Ray and Charles Eames made for IBM in the 1950's. Hopefully, you can see it by following this link or below.
God, who is God of the whole universe, is larger than I can wrap my mind around. And, yet, invites us to live in unity--with God and with one another. This is incredible.
John's gospel contains this prayer from Jesus, offered as he drew near to his own earthly death: that we would be one. As members together in the body of Christ, on a little round planet, swirling a smallish star in an arm of a spiraled galaxy in a cosmos beyond our measure.
May it be so.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I just wanted to give you a little update on what's happening in the next few weeks.
I ask for your prayers: I'm gonna be away for 2 weeks, first visiting my husband before he deploys to Iraq, then at our United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth. I'm really thrilled that Rev. Karen and then Rev. Elbert are going to be with you, preaching and leading worship. Some of y'all are helping lead, too. (Thanks!)
It's pretty exciting to get to participate in our General Conference, in worship, prayer, conversation and decision-making that will help shape our United Methodist Church at its worldwide level. I hope you will join in praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance as we gather together. Karen will be there for part of the time, too, as part of a seminary class. They'll observe, join in worship, and work at monitoring our discussions to see how well we do at including people of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds and of both genders. It's pretty intense to imagine how nearly 1,000 people from all over the world could interact in a constructive way to make decisions for the church.
I think it's pretty cool that it's happening against the backdrop of our scripture passages for these next few weeks!
We're continuing to read in Acts, which contains the story of the early church as it began to figure out what it might look like to live as the church--as the body of Christ in the world. Read this week's story to hear one piece of those intense early days.
We're also reading in John's gospel, pieces of the final teaching Jesus offered to his disciples before his death. They are words of comfort, of instruction and of challenge.
I hope you'll come join in worship at Water's Edge, as we imagine what these scriptures have to say to us today, and as we taste again reminders of God's love and salvation for every one of us.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
One of my all-time favorite poems ends with an invitation to "practice resurrection," which I think it s a delightful reminder that this Easter transformation is powerful not because it happened once, 2000 years ago, but because it's happening all around us. Jesus, in rising from the dead, connects us to the reality that we cannot be bound by what seem to be the obvious boundaries of this life. Instead, we're invited to share in his kingdom--a wild, wonderful reality that means joy and peace and wholeness for everyone. And all creation.
The kingdom looks crazy. Which is way, I think, our scripture for this week from the book of Acts begins by defending the actions of those early followers of Christ. They're not drunk, Peter says. They're just filled with the spirit.
God's Spirit is so wild and life-giving--and I really treasure the story in John's Gospel that we'll read this week, too. Jesus appears to the disciples, in the midst of their fears. (They locked themselves in a room because they were afraid of what might happen to them.) Their locks are no barrier for Jesus. He comes on into their room, and breathes onto them. This is important: ghosts don't breathe. Only real people with lungs can breathe. And his breath--his spirit--is a sign and offering of peace.
I'm looking forward to what the Spirit might do in our Water's Edge community this year, and am hopeful that you'll be a part of it. I hope to see you Sunday!
(Our mosiac is looking good, too--come see how our broken pieces fit together into something beautiful!)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
This week begins a big week in the life of the church--Holy Week, we call it. Our annual re-entry into the story of Christ's death and resurrection. And, it all begins with a parade into Jerusalem (see above).
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
It's sometimes tempting, when reading stories like this one, to get caught up in whether it's true--how it would work, what science could describe.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
In honor of the Fancy Food Show which is here at our Convention Center this week, I thought I'd muse a bit on tasting tasty things.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
This Sunday we celebrate Epiphany, the day tradition marks as the day the three wise leaders from afar reached the Christ child, guided by a magnificent star. Matthew tells the story in his gospel.
We have celebrated the gift of grace we know through Jesus at Christmas.
Epiphany helps us consider gifts in other ways.
The wise guys brought Jesus gifts that were precious in their day -- gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What's precious to you? What could you bring to others, to God's kingdom? Sometimes it helps to consider what you consider to be precious gifts. For me, that gift is words. A gift of words. Given and received. What is precious to you? How can you share those gifts in your faith journey?
One thing we seem to hold as precious in common is the gift of fellowship we share at Water's Edge. What are ways that we can share that gift with others in 2008?