Friday, April 27, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I think this was all hiding latent. A couple of months ago, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed and I put all that on hold because no one seemed to hear it the way I needed them too, so I stopped mentioning it. Even my spiritual director didn't get it. So, I focused on what needed to get done (Lent studies, Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday). Then I got excited about what was happening with the laity in my church. They were inspired, they were creative, they were thinking and dreaming, imagining and hoping, and that all felt good after so many months of dredging through the mire of hopelessness. I am excited about what they are doing. But what I was forced to see today was that I am not excited about what I am doing. I always feel spread too thin and pulled on from all sides and that no one really gets the *best* of me. Don't get me wrong, I am doing all that I feel is possible (without killing myself or sending myself into the hospital), but it's because there is always something else to do or get done, or, or, or....and my waves of inspiration feel fewer and farther between.
One way or the other, the fact is: SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. I cannot persist in a job where I am struggling to find my niche, constantly trying to justify and explain why I cannot be all things to all people, how I really am working despite the fact that you never see me (in large part because you don't go to youth group, young adults, Hispanic worship, committee meetings, all church gatherings, and the like).
In addition to reigniting my creative and leader fire, I think I need some nourishment for my soul. I water my soul, making sure I don't get parched or too tired, but really that extra good special soul food....let's just say it's been awhile. and that leaves me feeling like I am becoming one of those pastors for whom I hurt so desperately who were so caught up in caring for others that they neglected their own spiritual health, which in turn made it impossible for them to nurture others. And I really do not want to become one of them. Ya know?
Monday, April 23, 2007
As some of you already know, I was at the Mexican youth retreat (North western conference) last weekend. When I was there, I had an idea, which I shared with the Mexican Bishop Vasquez; then when I got home, I had another idea. I’m writing this to see what others think of it. The first idea was that when our youth groups go to
The other idea was to bring groups from
I think with my limited blogging as of late I have failed to mention that I got a dog. She is a cavalier and she is a spoiled brat. (*For the record, I was not the one who spoiled her, I have only had her a month and she is 8 years old). She has some abandoment issues, and as such thinks anytime I leave her, it will be forever. There are lots of good things about her, she is sweet, mellow, house trained, and very amicable in making new acquaintances. She is actually a perfect church dog, even with my youth, she is great. Part of it is that she is 3/4 deaf, so she doesn't hear everything to be distracted by it. But if I could get her to be a little less clingy, we'd be golden. For instance, this morning I at my brother's house and had his dog with me on the couch and he had my "idget" on the chair with him. Well, she just whinned and whinned and then finally he moved her to make her more comfortable and she made a bee-line across the chair over the arm of the couch so she could snuggle next to me. Yep, she's a bit spoiled. (Oh yeah, and she's overweight...so we also have a diet plan, few treats, and lots of exercise). But she's mine, and she thinks I'm the cats meow...so we fair alright.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
y la segunda fue intentar llevar grupos de Mexico hacer proyectos aqui en los EEUU. se que seria mas dificil con lo que tiene que ver con las visas etc, pero no sabia si podriamos lograr visas religiosas. Se que por aqui (en mi iglesia por lo menos) hay trabajos que se puede hacer (unos los jovenes mios estan haciendo este mes) y que podriamos encontrar otros con gente por aqui. Podrian trabajar juntos los jovenes de aqui y los de mexico, podriamos hacer un baile una noche, un culto (quizas con unos de los grupos que vinieron de San Diego o Tijuana por el campamento), ir a Knott's Soak City un dia, cosas asi....o sea combinar lo de mision, con relacionarse unos con los otros y divertirse. Tambien, podria servir como evangelismo o avivamiento por aqui (invitar a los demas al culto/concierto/baile) y ayudarnos conocerles a la gente aqui que no esta metida en la iglesia todavia. Podriamos poner becas para que solo tendrian que pagar el pasaje de alli aqui, y lo demas hariamos con fundraisers o lo que sea de este lado.
No se que tendriamos que hacer por las visas (conozco a alguien que es abogada de inmigracion por aqui y le puedo preguntar) puede por el verano (si las cosas son faciles) o que lo planeamos por el verano que viene.
Por ahora, solo les propongo las ideas para que las piensen y me platiquen de como lo ven por su parte.
Oh how it took me back! Polyhedraville with Mr. M in 6th grade--late night at SM's house gluing together our mathematically/geometrically correct city, and my mom coming over with broccoli to serve as trees! Another late night for Mr. M doing my planet report, dad and me sitting on his bed looking for facts in the Encyclopedia (a 1980's version, I'm sure, thank God it was still accurate!) And countless projects where I would come to my mom and ask for help or ideas and she would say, "When is your project due?" My answer, almost without fail: "Tomorrow." =) It's a wonder more parents don't strangle their last-minute-project-making-paper-writing children!
Anyway, enough nostalgia and back to the story. So, I asked K if she wanted me to stay and help and she seemed to indicate yes. So I sat and helped dig out facts, work on a timeline with her mom searching for dates, and wrote the bibliography out as it should be (having done MORE than my fair share of those!) Due to my nostalgia, it was fairly comic, and it was nice to be able to help with something. At one point bita said, "Debbie auntie, would you like some water?" It was so sweet, both that she had deemed me "Debbie auntie" (and yes, I do know that is fairly normative in Indian culture, but still, it won me over!) and that she was caring enough to offer me water. We sat for awhile longer working on her project (her protests for sleep were beginning to kick in and she no longer cared about the extra credit portion about Junipero Serra). Her mom asked if I was tired, and I said "a little". She said I should go home and go to bed, and then she notified us that it was already 10:00! They had things under control and all that was left on the project was for K to rewrite the timeline in order and the bibliography (and the extra credit if she wanted to do it). So I decided to go. Grateful for bita and her caring heart, my new auntie title, and the nostalgia for late night school projects.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I have to admit, once I was there and the kids started arriving, my anxiety started to build. Not that I don't preach every week in Spanish, but it is my second language and "my people" (i.e., the people in my congregation) sort of expect botched phrases here and there, but I didn't know how gracious these kids would be and all of my self-consciousness about my linguistic abilities started to kick in. Add to that the fact that the DS had recommended I do "interactive" preaching--right...okay. Not something I do, ever really, so that made me even more nervous, and THEN, to put icing on my cake of nervous jitters and self doubt, the Bishop walks in. Great. Yeah, how about he preaches??!?! So, I took a time out, went to my car, sat in silence, sang, refocused my thoughts and then went in for the Thursday night preaching. It actually went really well. I had easter eggs full of candy that I gave out when they were the first to find a passage, could remember something I had said etc....and that seemed to keep them tuned in and interested.
Aside from my preaching, I had sort of an ambiguous role. I wasn't a counselor (i.e., a group leader) but I was a leader, so I was expected to participate, but almost 45 kids had arrived the second day (after a 24 hour bus ride) and had not heard me preach and so did not know who I was. As such they were not terribly keen on taking advice from me or heeding my instructions to join in and participate with certain activities. But it all worked out alright. I helped out in the kitchen during my "off" times, or participated in the leadership development activities, filled in for group leaders when they had other things to attend to, or cleaned up around camp. Overall it went really well. I had a number of youth tell me they appreciated my preaching and even a couple talk to me about call and how to know if God is calling you to ministry.
I also had a chance to get to know some of the Mexican pastors, some of the youth, and some of the other leadership (even more time with the Bishop). It's always amazing to me how easily I am accepted in my mestizo role. There is always grace afforded me for who I am and how God has called me to bridge the gap. Rarely from the latino side do I encounter resistance, a reality for which I continue to be EXTREMELY grateful.
El otro dia me llamo un hombre del radio y me dejo un mensaje: "Bendecida, pastora, le llamo Miguel....." Asi es verdad. Soy bendecida, gracias a Dios.
This probably isn't the best way to break my blogging silence. Two blogs in a row that are full of cynicism and edge....hopefully the more hopeful areas of my life will shine through shortly.
Friday, April 6, 2007
I just read a note on the bottom of a Sunday morning attendance sign in: "I haven't been here for 11 years--I hope I'm still a member." What?! Something is clearly missing from the membership training/explanation around here when you can NOT be here for 11 years--not a couple of months, not even just 1 year--11 years--count them, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 years you have not been a part of this church community, not worshipping, not doing Bible study, not participating in mission, not calling on people, assumedly not tithing, NOT here for 11 years, and you still consider yourself a member...a member of the Christian family--sure, I'll give you that, member of the body of Christ--you bet, that comes with your baptismal vows...but a member of this church--come on. No wonder we have problems with attendance and participation, you can be GONE for 11 years and still consider yourself a member. In that case, our membership is still probably around 1200 or more--because, of course, though many have left the church, moved, gone else where, simply stopped coming, and though the dead have been GONE, their absence doesn't mean they aren't members--especially since, apparently, membership has nothing to do with active ongoing commitment....
While our inclination is to think the drink is that of juice, here and now, we might do better to think of it as the drink of God’s work—the cup God had given to him to teach, preach, heal, train, exorcise and then give of himself so that all might be saved. The cup which held so many burdens and so much pain—Jesus had drank of that agony, that abandonment, suffering, abuse, insults, and blood—Jesus drank of that cup, the last drop of which was sipped on the cross in those final moments, and now his work is completed. Finished in the sense of made whole—drawn into completion. Jesus’ work on earth was finished. He lived the sin free life, the life that focused wholly on God and God’s call for him. Jesus completed what he was called to do, and in him, the work of redemption could also be finished.
About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I see two main themes in this verse—one, it reminds us of Psalm 22 as Jesus uses the familiar words—My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. For the faithful Jew, those words are not just a reminder of the 1st verse, but they draw you into the rest of the psalm—the psalm that articulates the pain and frustration of suffering, of feeling alone, and yet fully turns to God for hope. The psalm that recounts the insults and injuries borne when others hate us and curse us, the psalm that draws us into death—parched, broken circled by vultures, and the psalm that in the end that knows God will save, not just the psalmist, but the poor, the broken-hearted, those that have been broken and neglected, they too will know the saving grace of God.
Two: Jesus feeling forsaken, left there to endure the insults, the pain, the hurt. The Son, endured the pain, the anguish, the suffering, he, God incarnate, bore the worst pains imaginable. Not exactly the fate one might envision for the all powerful creator God. I’m inclined to think the all powerful would never have to suffer, never have to feel pain, and yet, for our sake, God chose pain, God chose suffering, God chose servant hood, and God chose death so that we might have life. And in his full humanity, Christ bore the pain, he suffered, and much like us in our pain and suffering, he asked after God—where are you God? If you are with me, then how can I feel so bad? Have no doubt, Jesus felt pain, God didn’t just play act suffering and death, God lived it. And in that we celebrate, ironically, often. We celebrate that God chose us, that God is not aloof and indifferent to our pain, our suffering, our reality, God knows it and understands it because God lived it. God lived like us, hurt like us, and died like us so that we might live like God.
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Contrasted with the other criminal, this one comes to faith—he recognizes Jesus’ role, his coming kingdom, and his rightful authority. And in that recognition, he is redeemed. The man’s past is not worthy of paradise, and he has no earthly future in which to live out his faith, perform good deeds., yet he is to still promised a place in paradise4. No where else could Paul’s words ring more true: (Eph 2:8-10) “For by grace you have been saved by faith, and this is not your doing, it is the gift of God—9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 for we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
In this criminal we see the epitome of salvation by faith. It is not the ways we make ourselves “Good enough” for God. We cannot justify ourselves. We do not earn God’s grace. It is gifted to us, as it was gifted to this criminal. And while good works are the fruits of God’s transforming work in our lives, neither do they keep us saved or pay God back for what God has done. God’s justifying work is what saves, purely and completely, regardless of our past and in spite of our future, we come to salvation through our faith in Jesus Christ, through God’s merciful and bountiful gifts.
So then the question stands: saving toward what?—paradise—also known as a garden—THE garden, the garden of Eden, Christ’s word “paradise” has a double intender—it also represents the Garden of Eden—the place of god’s perfected creativity. The our place in the garden needed to be restored, we had been bared, kicked out, and to get back in, only God’s perfection, could open the gates, and so, Christ, the second Adam, the perfected and redeemed human, unlocked the gate, and offers passage to those who believe. And the promise is not for some far off visit. Some destiny lost in time, the promise is Today---“today you shall be with me in paradise. We enter in with Jesus as soon as we believe. We are restored by our words of affirmation. We are granted re-entry through the second Adam—the one without sin.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
heal my friend
take him and make him whole
take his heart and make it yours
purify the air he breathes
take the toxins out of his body
welcome Holy Spirit
Welcome in that place
Welcome Holy Spirit
Make known your saving grace
Heal him Lord.
Heal him Lord.
Heal him Lord.
Give us strength to be by his side
Give us patience with the not knowing
Give us love to share with all
God of grace, heal my friend.
Give me peace as I seek you today
As I touch the depth of my pain—
Fill me with your cleansing water
Fill me up and make me whole.
Help me to push out
The spirit of darkness that lies within
God, draw me under the white warm blanket of your love
Cover me up and make me whole
Draw me to you
Comfort me and hold me
As I hurt and cry today
Thank you for being in my pain
And for taking it away
Anyway, yesterday they had invited two guests--publicity folks for "Left Behind: the PC game". I have to say I started out leery because I had received emails a few months back highlighting the pitfalls of the game. After an hour of presentation I was only mildly less cynical. I will say that you get more points/power whatever for praying regularly--that is a plus, and you can regress if you make a bad decision (like killing people). Those are lessons I can applaud. But I am still concerned about simplifying one's spiritual life. The more people you convert, the more powerful you are....the good people look like Johnny from down the street and the "bad" people have tatoos, goatees, and a shaved head. That's not profiling.... I don't know, maybe I'm too "hard-hearted", but I also was not impressed by the fact that Focus on the Family and Pat Robertson's son endorsed the game. Call me crazy but they aren't exactly the folks I look to for my spiritual compass. They did give me a sample of the game, so I can play it and see for myself, though not being a "gamer" I am likely to lose--a lot. Anyone out there tested it for themselves? Any thoughts?