Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Way of Living with Good News: rule 1

During the 3 weeks after Christmas, we're going to spend some time thinking about what Christmas means, after the parties are over: at Christmas we celebrate God coming into the world as a human.  Incarnation.

Which is a pretty good thing to celebrate.

But, after that good news has sunk in, we might ask ourselves: so what?

And the answer, I think, is pretty big: a whole new way of living.

At the beginning of the movement that would become the Methodist Church, John Wesley and some of his colleagues wrote some basic rules the would live by.  They centered around 3 simple-enough fundamentals.  

That said that, having received God's gracious love, we're changed.  And, as a result, we live differently.  We should seek to:
do no harm
do good
and stay in love with God.

We'll look at each of those rules during the next 3 weeks of worship.  You can read more about them--and some reflections by our church members--here.

On the 28th, Rev. Elbert will preach, challenging and inviting us to live in ways that do no harm.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

giving birth

"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

give pause

It's a busy world, and this time of year can get worse than usual.

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


Since this Sunday is Christ the King Sunday, I've been turning to my annual contemplation of kings. This year, that certainly includes King Corn. A documentary about our food economy, the film is both amusing and sobering, as we learn more about how entrenched we are in an agricultural economy that is far from the just, life-giving system we might hope for. Our economy has been shaped and trained to maintain the current structure. Too often, it means profit for the most powerful (King Corn), at the expense of many others.
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

wide open space

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

making choices

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.

"As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD," he says, in an inspiring call to a better way of living.

My challenge is that, even having proudly cast my ballot in our elections this week, I know that I'm called to something more difficult: casting my life in with God's work in the world.

Joshua dares to make it clear, telling the people exactly what they're going to have to give up. I wonder, if he were to speak to me today, what he would ask me to surrender. I suspect it would be a challenge.

Talitha Arnold, writing in Christian Century nailed me when she wrote: "Had Joshua presided at my ordination, I doubt he would have let me get by with a simple vow to study, pray, teach and preach. He probably would have demanded, 'Will you give up your personal gods of procrastination, perfectionism and the pursuit of trivia?'"

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.


As we continue to celebrate the season of creation, Joshua's words seem to have new implications. "As for me and my household," he says. As members of the household of God, we're called to be a part of making choices as a society that reflect Jesus' values. Choices that turn away from sin, injustice and oppression and turn us toward one another and God.

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

deeply rooted

This photo from National Geographic caught my imagination today, as I pondered this week's scripture and themes. There's a lot going on:

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

images of God

The gospel story this week is yet another reminder of how God's ways are not our ways: met again with an attempt at cornering him into answers that would get him into trouble, Jesus busts the argument wide open.

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

giving up

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

whose world? whose vineyard?

If you're not wanting church to have political implications, this is not the season for following our lectionary's Gospel texts! Jesus just keeps telling these stories that are loaded with politics and economics.

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

water, greed, word

Here's a bit of what has caught my attention this week:

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

through deep water

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

reconciliation, remembrance, repeating

I like good wordplay, which begins to explain why I'm caught on all these "re-" words this week.

First, I was struck by the clear instructions--almost like the kind of ground rules you might make in covenant on the first day of church camp--Jesus gives to those who seek to follow him.  Clearly, he knows that we're going to have trouble with each other.  He gives us a way to work toward reconciliation with each other.  A high road, which opens a way for conflict to be transformed into right relationship.  Reconciliation in the best sense, as those involved come to a place where they can become part of the same team again.

 Then, I pondered how the story of the first Passover, as its woven into the plagues that God (through Moses) would unleash on Pharaoh and the Egyptians, from the very beginning is known as a way that the people of God will remember what God has done.  The last verses of the passage clarify how it will be repeated and shared through the generations to come.

Reconciliation, remembrance and repetition.  All these "re-" words make me think that time is at least as circular as it is linear; what we do in the present connects us back to what has been before.  

Which is, I suppose, one of the things I treasure about worship.  We're not gathering to create something new, but to authentically and meaningfully claim a story of salvation that's way older than any of us.  I love the challenge of imagining new ways to share the story.  (And I admit to pondering how we might use text messaging to share prayer concerns.)  What we don't have to invent, though, is the stuff that matters most.  It's already there.  As are the signs of God's ongoing presence--those reminders are all around us and all through our history.

Hmmm.  Reminders.  As if we're coming back to mindfulness.  Perhaps worship is a trick to help us turn our attention to the hope that's already been deep within each one of us.

join us this fall

Through this fall, we'll be reading a piece of the story of Moses and the people of Israel each week.  As we follow them on their journey through the wilderness, we just might find hope in the midst of our own times.  Please join us.

Every Sunday, we'll be in the Cove, on the first floor of the United Methodist Center at 9:30 a.m. for about and hour of worship together.  

Bring your friends and enemies.

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:

Let 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

picturing jesus, ourselves

As I read this week's gospel passage, from Matthew, a Ben Harper song found its way into my head. See, Jesus asks the disciples about who they see when they look at him. Simon Peter answers well: that he is the Messiah, the Son of God. Through God's help, he's able to see Jesus as he is. He gets a picture of what this guy he's been following really means.

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

liking this text

This week's gospel passages are favorites of mine. (And, the passage from Romans is pretty darn fabulous, too, but that's for another time...)

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

guiding light

This summer, our worship is becoming a bit of a workshop, as we look at the "stuff" of our worship and put our hands to making it, together. This week, we're looking at scripture.

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

a day off

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.  

So, I'm drawn to the last verses in this week's reading from Matthew

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I'm struck by how oxymoronic (is that a proper word?) this sounds: take my yoke and find rest.  Pick up my work and be refreshed.

I think it's not by chance that Jesus uses the language of hard, physical labor in his invitation.  This is not a message for the elite, but for the laborers in our midst.  (Or, at least, its an invitation for all of us to become laborers.)

An invitation to take up a new way of living and working and naming what's important to us--a way that is, somehow, life giving even as it requires we give our whole selves.

What an incredible sort of work to be involved in: one that gives life. 

Perhaps that's one reason we gather in church--to help each other keep our lives focused on that work.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

holy hospitality

The scripture passages we've been reading for the past few weeks, in Matthew, are intense. This week seems to be, well, like a tall drink of water. (Pun intended.) The disciples have just heard from Jesus about how they're to be sent out like lambs among wolves, to set families against themselves, to persecution and rejection and more. Then, he reminds them of his deep and knowing care for each one of them (really, for each of the hairs on each of their heads). Finally, he clarifies that the welcome others give to them will be welcome given to Jesus the Christ.

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

b team

It's a big Sunday this week: we're celebrating everyone who's graduated this year, giving thanks for volunteers in our church's tutoring programs, and honoring fathers day.

Plus, we'll celebrate resurrection grace (as always).

And, we get this fabulous scripture passage to share, from Matthew, about Jesus sending the disciples out in ministry.  Like a yearbook photo, he gives the list of names.  And one bit I love is that some of them get extra comments--about who their father is, or what they used to do, or what they're going to do.  Crazy thing is, the extra notes don't exactly give great honors to them.  In fact, they bring out the precariousness of the whole thing, reminding us that Matthew was a tax collector (and tax collectors then were a bad scene), and that Judas is going to betray Jesus. 

I'm always heartened to know that Jesus chose and empowered folks besides the shining stars.  He picks the B Team.

All of which is helping me remember and know that God doesn't send some other, got-it-all-together group of people to do the work of the church.  He sends us.

The church is just us. 

And, then, we have the power (through the Holy Spirit, of course) to make change in the church.  

If we're called to be the church, and we've got the ability to help "church" preach what matters most, what would you most want us to say in our words and actions?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

drawing lines

As I re-read our Gospel text for this week, from Matthew, I started to feel some sympathy for the Pharisees. I know, I know. They're always the ones getting it most wrong. But, like them, I feel responsibility for drawing the lines about what Christian behavior should look like.

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

measurable objectives

I should confess that my blog entry today is at least in part my rebellion against "strategic plans;" my colleagues here in the church office will not be shocked that I'd rebel against them. It's just that, so often, the most important stuff in life and in ministry is not measurable.

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

worries, troubles and thoughts

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 complicated...

I apologize for my lack of recent posts. It's been a heck of a month--intense experiences at our General Conference gathering, a week of relaxation and reconnection back home in Nebraska and more. All that's from my perspective, though: in the meantime, you've been busy, too. Celebrating Pentecost, Confirmation, Mother's Day and the like. And, of course, dealing with the stuff of life: new births, illnesses, worries, hopes.

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.

Good stuff.

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

looking up

This week's passage from Acts is a challenge to fit into my way of seeing the world; it tells of Jesus' ascension after his post-resurrection days on earth. Having continued to show people the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit and of Resurrection, he leaves our reality to be with God. Acts describes this as happening by his ascending into heaven.

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. 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


Hey, friends,

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

abundant life

I didn't get around to posting last week--I apologize.  Things just got away from me.  

But, I'm gonna try to make it up to you by blogging AFTER I preach.  I figure: what the heck.  Maybe you're still thinking about these things.

I got caught this last week on the images from John's gospel, John 10:1-10.  Our passage ends with a line I treasure deeply: I come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.  This idea resonates so well with my experience of God's life--it is life-giving abundance, not just for me but for the world.

I struggle, though, with fitting this generous spirit together with Jesus' earlier descriptions of himself in the passage: he is the gatekeeper, and no one gets in but through him.  My experience has not been that God calls us to be a select few, secluded away.  Plus, I'm troubled by descriptions of salvation that flatten it into simply what happens in the afterlife--salvation is all the stuff of the abundant life that we get to experience now and forever.  So what's Jesus saying?

My contention (and you are welcome to help me out here) is that Jesus meant that he's the gatekeeper in the sense that, if we're going to be a part of his salvation, we're really going to have to be like him.  That Jesus being the gate--Jesus who is our Christ who makes us all a part of his body--means that we have to do the things he did in order to be a part of this new reality.  Which is both seclusion (on occasion) and a sending into the world (Jesus says he'll be with us for going out as for entering in).

So, then, Jesus is inviting us to an abundance that comes when we live like him--when we become little Christs in the world.  (Which, as I understand it, is just what "Christian" means.)

I shared a poem, too, and thought I'd give you a link in case you want to read it more carefully...  It's by Wendell Berry, and you can find it at the bottom of this speech.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

broken things

I had a lot of fun making this mosaic with you on Easter Sunday--it felt good to break the old plates, breaking open and apart our old ways of seeing the world.  Then, to begin to put together this image of the cross...well, that was pretty cool.

I wondered how it would all come together--if the design would be clear.  And, really feel good about it: I especially like how the cross is all broken apart.  As if the power of the cross--an instrument of torture and death--is shattered in resurrection.  A bit like swords becoming plowshares.

This week, we get another story about breaking. This time, Jesus appears to two disciples in his resurrection. They don't get that it's him, though--at least, not until he breaks bread with them. In that moment--in the breaking of bread, they know it's him. And as soon as he's recognized, he vanishes.

I wonder how we know Jesus' presence in our own community. And, even more, how we share it. Are we revealing ourselves as Christ's body in ways that make it as unavoidably clear as it was in that moment for the disciples? And, what would it take for us to do so?

It wasn't eloquence or carefully reasoned explanations that gave away Jesus identity--those disciples didn't see it was him through all of that.  But in breaking bread, it was clear.

There's something really powerful about sharing food together, and about holy communion.

I hope you might think about who you could invite to share in this sacrament that is a taste of God's living presence in our worship.  And that, together, we might dream about what it would look like to break bread with others, out in the world.

See you Sunday...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

free spirit

Easter is now past, and we have to figure out what it means for us. (See, on Easter, there's plenty to do: stories to tell, eggs to search for, lilies to smell, feasting, singing, joy. It's the days after Easter that it begins to sink in. Resurrection.)

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


It's a rich week in the life of the church. We remember and mark Jesus' death, and, on Sunday, celebrate his resurrection.

I hope you'll come worship with our congregation. There are lots of times to gather in worship this week. I'm especially excited about the Easter Eve Prayer Pilgrimage on Saturday, starting between 7:30 and 9 p.m.

The story of the first Easter tells of startled friends. They came to Jesus' tomb, expecting him dead, but were met with something entirely outside their frame of reference: a risen savior. Jesus' resurrection is something entirely different--it's not just like when Lazarus was raised from the dead. Jesus was resurrected to a new kind of life, which never dies.

I think it's so wild that Mary mistook Jesus for a gardener. There were glowing angels, too, but something about Jesus' appearance remained sufficiently humble that he could look like the gardener. What grace--transendence and humility. God, doing more that we ever could have expected or understood, and yet seeming so much like us.

Perhaps this Easter season calls us to contemplate the ways were are able to share in God's resurrection--ways that we might over look or mistake for something as ordinary as a gardener. And yet, we find in our very midst a sign of God's love which overcomes all boundaries and fears.

Come celebrate that with us this Sunday! Bring friends, or even enemies.

(Bring your flowers, too--we'll build a resurrection garden from the flowers everyone brings. Bring potted flowers, ones cut from your garden--whatever you have.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Big Week

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).

The stories of this week are SO rich.  I treasure them.  When I was in middle school, my brother and I discovered Jesus Christ, Superstar; forever, now, I hear these stories sung in rock opera style.  They are full of rich symbolism, dramatic and complicated characters, all of whom could be played in wonderfully diverse ways.  (Yet another exciting aspect of our scriptural tradition is that it gives lots of room for interpretation--for voicing these same words in very different tones.)

Many of you were with us on Ash Wednesday, when Mark Price took on the character of Judas, imagining the words he might choose to help us understand his own choices and actions in these stories.

And, I confess, I'm always tempted to spend lots of time and energy on these things--it's fascinating to me to imagine staging these scenes.  

This year, though, I feel called to resist some of this temptation--and not to spend time pondering how I might put on the costumes of these stories, but to spend time pondering how I might put on the identity I find in taking up my own baptismal vows.  Putting on the water of baptism.

I hope you might consider this, too--how are we called to live differently, in the light of Holy Week?

I also hope you will come worship with us.  Palm Sunday at the Water's Edge will be grand.  Then, during the week, come to worship at Vespers at 5:30 p.m. in the sanctuary on Wednesday, Holy Thursday worship at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary on Thursday, Good Friday worship at 12:10 p.m. in the sanctuary on Friday.  And, I really hope you might come to our Easter Vigil Prayer Pilgrimage on Saturday, beginning between 7:30 and 9 in Trotter Chapel.

Certainly, come join us for Easter worship celebration at the Water's Edge on the 23rd!  Bring friends.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

being real, and letting it set you free

I'm sorry for my absence these past two weeks; I got consumed by other things, mostly the departure of my husband whose service in the Army Reserves requires a second deployment to Iraq.  My priorities have been turned on savoring time with him, and I let the blog go.

I think Jesus would have felt my pain.  This week's scripture, the story of Lazarus being raised from death, gives us a glimpse of his own grief in the midst of loving human relationship.  "Jesus wept," or so one translation of this famous-for-its-brevity verse goes.

This year, I'm especially touched by this reminder of Jesus' humanity--he felt the pain we experience in the finite nature of human life.  

And yet, he dares us to see beyond.

The story we'll read this week ends with one of my favorite images: having just (loudly) called Lazarus back to life and out of his tomb, Jesus then commands others to "unbind him, and let him go."  

What a bizarre scene--so filled with the details of the experience of human life and death.  Martha, always the practical one of Lazarus's sisters, warns Jesus about how much dying stinks.  Literally.  And yet, even out of the stench and the tears of death, Jesus calls us into life, and invites us to be unbound.

It is as if Jesus is preparing us for what's to come through his own death and resurrection.  This week's story is an odd foreshadowing, but really will be nothing like Jesus' resurrection.  After all, Lazarus is simply called back to human life as a delay of the death of his body.  Jesus resurrection doesn't postpone his own death--it transforms it completely.

But we can only begin to be ready for that transformation if we start to loosen ourselves up--and allow ourselves to be startled out of the troubles and grief we find ourselves enmeshed in.  We need to be ready for something completely beyond what we expected.  

Jesus is showing us that he's a part of something mind-blowing.

AND YET, he's human.  Weeping along with the others.  Feeling the pain of the frailty of life.  And, even as he grieves, points us elsewhere, toward amazing possibilities.  (It would be so much easier to just retreat into a self-protecting mode, wouldn't it?)

Jesus calls us to unbind Lazarus, and let him go.  I pray that we will all have the daring hope--even in the face of human pain--to let the Holy Spirit go, and bring mind-blowing grace into our midst.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

daring hope

This week, we get to share the story of Nicodemus, a religious leader who comes to Jesus (daringly) under the cover of night, to ask questions.

The things Jesus is saying don't make sense, and he wants to know more.  We don't know what motivated him, but we do know he chose a beautiful response: seeking more information.

Of course, Jesus gives him answers that only continue the confusion.  To see the kingdom of God, one most be born anew, of water and the spirit.  Though the idea of being "born again" isn't startling to us, it hadn't acquired the baggage we've heaped on it yet when Jesus said it to Nicodemus.  And it's a crazy idea: finding a new identity, nurtured and blessed as if we had been in the life-giving power of God's own womb.  

Last week, we went with Jesus to the wilderness, and began to thirst with him.  This week, we receive assurance that we are surrounded by the life-giving waters of God.  Though they just might make us new people.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

40 days

Lent began today, with Ash Wednesday.  During this season of 40 days, we're invited to be intentional about turning our hearts to God, opening them to empty out the things that have been keeping us separate from God, and to fill up on God's love.

I hope you're finding a way to be especially attentive to God.  Any of the practices from our Portable Church might be good ones to take up regularly, if you're looking for somewhere to start.

We also hope you might play along on our little project of pointing out things that remind us of God's presence in the world--things that are holy.  We're asking you to point orange arrows at them, and then share a pic or story of what you pointed out.  The details are here.

This Sunday, as we gather in worship, we'll share the story of Jesus' time in the wilderness.  Jesus goes out there for 40 days and 40 nights, and fasts the whole time.  He also faces temptations--all of which seem like good ideas, but are corrupted version of what would be truly good.  He resists.  And invites us to face the challenges of the world, knowing that there is a way through that means life for us and all creation.

I look forward to sharing with you on this journey.

Monday, January 28, 2008

that changes a few things...

This Sunday, we celebrate the transfiguration of Jesus.  That is, the story of how Jesus went up a mountain with some of the disciples, and was wonderfully, mystically transfigured with light, revealing his glory.  Set in the midst of the ordinary life he'd been sharing with these disciples, suddenly his divine power was obvious.  

It changed a few things.

After a revelation as bold and brilliant as this transfiguration, they wanted to respond.  Their idea: build a monument.  Jesus wanted more.


I treasure the many ways artists have imagined this scene.  What a challenge: showing transfiguration, using the tools of the "regular" world.

In early 14th Century Italy, Duccio painted the scene on the wall of a little chapel in Padua.  While the others in the story are shown with regularly-colored clothes, Jesus is clothed in gold.  Shiny, metallic gold.  Holier, even, that Moses and Elijah, who appear at his sides.  The disciples, blinded by the light, crouch down to mark and honor this mystery.

A contemporary artist, Alex Gray, creates an image of transfiguration that feels cosmic--rising above the earth, glowing and marked by a geometric pattern that feels full, complete and universal, this transfiguration is beyond anything of the world, alone.
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.

I prefer to wonder about what it means for us.

It's clear that both the disciples and Jesus were interested in response: how are we changed by this transfiguration?  How do we honor this revelation?  What does it change for us?

I've been intrigued by a project I found online: the yellow arrow.  It's a global, community art project--people are invited to put yellow stickers around their communities, pointing to "things that matter."  Then, using text messaging and the internet, they can add bits of information that can be similarly accessed by anyone who finds the arrow.  

The arrows mark the world as "art."  Or as things worth noticing.

I wonder what it would look like if we started better marking the presence of holiness in the world around us?  Now just up high on mountain tops, but all around us?

I think that's what the transfiguration was about--it was a mystical moment of revelation, where Jesus' holiness was suddenly, strikingly clear.  But he wasn't holy just in that moment.  The task is to find signs of transfiguration all around us.

What would you mark?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

follow me

Our scripture reading from Matthew tells of how Jesus calls his first disciples.  "Follow me," he says.  And they do.

I've been pondering my own challenges in living up to what it might mean to "follow" Jesus.  To do the things he did, both marvelous and difficult.  

Part of what I treasure about this story is how it shows us Jesus insisting that some fishermen have what it takes to be his followers--even though we are not told anything about how Jesus checked these guys out, he invites them along for his journey.  I find both the whole-heartedness of the invitation and the thoroughness of their response as wondrous.

If Jesus believes that those guys could do it, maybe he really things we can, too.

I once heard or read that Gandhi was asked about the differences between himself and Christians.  And that he said there wasn't much difference between himself and most Christians, except that he believed Jesus meant those things he said.

When I look at Gandhi's live of non-violent resistance and social change, I am inspired to use my life differently, better.  As if I might really be someone Jesus could invite to follow along to do the things he did.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

a taste of good things

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.  
Especially since, as the Union-Tribune reports today, people are willing to buy really good, tasty things, even in a time of economic decline.  This idea intrigues me today, and not just because I also like to eat well...
It seems to me that our Christian vocation requires our choosing a path that is sometimes more sacrifice, but that is richer and more wonderful.  Like really good food, grown and prepared well.
And, the really fabulous part is that the invitation to that rich life comes beautifully--like free samples at a food show, but better.  
In John's gospel reading for this week, people begin to testify about how Jesus is.  (Much like some of us are willing to testify to the greatness of a restaurant we've just tried...only here they're talking about a savior.)  And Jesus invites others along.
"Come and see," he says.
I wish we'd hear this in the church more often.  He doesn't say, "First, get your life in order.  Then, learn to dress and act like we do, sign our statement of belief, conform your life to our ways of doing things and make vows.  Then, maybe after you die, you can experience this life I talk about."
"Come and see," he says.
Much like a chocolatier might offer a tasty morsel, he invites others to try a new, beautiful way of living.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Remember your baptism

And Be Thankful!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Precious Gifts

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?