Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
So I'm looking for input/feedback/opinions--does communal prayer make a difference? if so, how?
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I noted, at least in my experience, that women fill similar roles across the age lines--singing, dancing, teaching, and more and more, preaching. Whereas men, especially of the contemporary music variety, are in the band, and I guess some are teaching, though I see more women at that, and then of course preaching, but then what about when they aren't cool anymore? What about when they are supposed to be "grown up"?
In seminary I talked with male friends a number of times about image--about how they didn't want to "fit in" necessarily with regular Christian men because of the connotations of being pansy, whimpy, unmasculine, too nice, etc. And I wonder if the lack of men in our churches couldn't be attributed to that idea in some way--that men aren't attracted to the church because of the image factor--like that of my seminary friends, or that when they start to get older they leave because they can no longer feel cool and hip as a member of the band (as they get displaced by younger members).
So, back to the question(s): What happens when the cool, hip worship guys start to age and lose their appeal? How do they find a new identity/role within the church? How do we, the church, help them make the transition?
Easter this year is: Sunday March 23, 2008
- As you may know, Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20).
- This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.
- Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is pretty rare.
- This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier! Here are the facts:
- The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you're 95 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!).
- The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Anxious hope for that which could be
Fantasy, imagination, and creation
If it’s supposed to be, it will be
God this one’s all yours
Be who you are in all moments
Just love naturally
Is it meant to be?
Just let it happen.
Si Dios quiere, pasara
Dáselo a Dios
Dios lo cuidara
Y lo guiara
Se tu misma
Tanto como eres
Y déjalo pasar como debe.
This day as we celebrate the southern churches, and look ahead to our mission work on the Gulf Coast, we have many prayers on our hearts. Hear now, O God, these, our petitions: we pray for those who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina, that we may be of help and that we may show the love of God by doing the work we can. We pray for safe travel and good sleep for the missioners, for community building and no injuries. We pray for those who lost their jobs, and those who continue to be without work. We pray for misplaced families and disjointed communities. We pray for children who missed schooling. We pray for those still living in FEMA trailers, that they would not lose hope, that they would have patience in the crowded spaces, and there would soon be an end to the cramped living. We pray for the mental health providers that they would have a compassionate and understanding ear. We pray for those who lost loved ones, that they would be comforted in their grief and washed in peace. We pray for the lawmakers, for the city planners, for the governors, the city council members, and the mayors—may they be wise, just, and discerning in their decision making. We pray for those without insurance, that help would be provided by government and church agencies, that they would not be forgotten or abandoned. We pray for the earth, for the lands and the oceans, the rivers and the hills that were polluted by gasoline, oil, Freon, bleach, and so many other chemicals—we pray for its decontamination and its restoration that the gulf coast would return to being one of the most serene and beautiful refuges for birds and animals alike. We pray for the churches that provide relief that they would not be worn thin, that resources would continue to come in despite the years gone by. We pray for the working of God’s hand through donors, volunteer workers, residents, contractors, and big business that these cities and communities would be rebuilt and that it would be a reflection of the glory of God. We pray all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
God of wonders we give you thanks for the opportunity to come and celebrate the traditions of our brothers and sisters in other cities and other states. We give you thanks for their faithfulness, for their discipleship, and their community. God of connection, though we may be miles apart, unite our spirits this day that we may truly be drawn into the communion of saints. Come into this place Holy Spirit, fill us with your peace and your joy, overwhelm us with your power, and receive this, our service of praise and thanksgiving, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Please prepare me for the ministry. Help me to always keep one ear turned toward the community and one toward you. Help me to have “burning patience” that allows me to stay calm and not be short tempered. Don’t allow me to settle or get too comfortable. Help the congregations of the churches where I am appointed to be open to new possibilities, to trust me and to inspire me. Help us to be a place of new growth and resurrection. These things I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Is this it God?
Is this what you called me to?
You want me to work with your people
As an imperfect vessel being patient with them in their intransigence?
Are you for real?
Are you sure my call was to church work?
Not like I expect them to be much different in another line of work
But at least in the secular they don’t attribute everything to you or the devil
There’s some appropriation of responsibility
God, I can hardly imagine a more frustrating line of work
I would like to see the benefits
Of serving your people right now!
I am having a hard time
Please God give me patience, compassion, and understanding
Both for your people and for myself.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Todo lo que queremos
Queremos hecho como mandamos
Pero danos todo
Aunque sea limosna
Debe ser justo así
Perfecto como decimos
Queremos ser la voluntad de Dios,
No la nuestra
Pero si la voluntad parece diferente de lo que esperábamos
Dios trabaja en maneras misteriosas
Si son tan misteriosas, por que no busquemos el “por que”
¿Por qué dejamos las cosas a caer donde sea sin cuestionar la manera en lo que tiramos?
Queremos crecer—vamos a orar
En el pasado nosotros….
Hicimos la feria el año pasado
Oramos por ellos
Pero no hemos invitado a nadie en 6 meses
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Lord God, We come to you to confess our transgressions and to give of ourselves. We have not loved you with our whole heart, we have chosen TV over meditation, road rage and worry over prayer, sleep over worship. God of community, we have failed to love our neighbors. We have isolated ourselves. We have ignored and balked at those who asked for change. We have spoken ill of your children. Lord God, forgive us. God of new life, renew us today. Give us new strength, new energy, new hope. Amen.
Let us pray
God we call to you
From the depths
From our pain
From our frustration
And from our sins
God, let your grace fall upon us.
Let us rest in your assurance
Let our patience persevere
Until we reach the promise
Keep us on the path
That we might arrive at the sanctuary of you
How do we reconcile that which we fail to confront?
How can we make peace with others if we have not made peace with ourselves?
Strife, fear, and ignorance erupt the Sierras between us.
Hate, anger, desperation
Dig the crevasse between us
What shall be our bridge?
Who shall set the first plank?
Alone we only fall victim
To the power and depth
Of the pain of our history
Together we have a chance
With your hand in mine,
We can reach a little farther
With my heart open to your story,
you can fill the gaps in my own.
Together we can
Together we are one body
Oen Christ bearing our cross
Our cross of pride, ignorance, and hate
Bridging the gap
Providing the love
That can win out over all the trouble
The devil can stir.
One heart beating stronger
With your pulse and mine
We must first recognize the damage
That has been wrought
To reconcile we must identify
The pieces we have to work with
Let us name our sorrow
And places of pain
For if not, I cannot care for you in your wholeness
Nor you for me in mine
Let us bridge the gap together
In full openness and honesty
Of what has gone before us
And let us hope together
For a future that honors you
And honors me
That honors your ancestors and mine
Dios de la promesa
Tráenos la visión
Muéstranos donde vamos
Y los pasos para llegar
Dios, a veces nos olvidamos de ti
No te vemos
Y nos frustramos que no te encontramos
Llévanos a ti
Muéstrate y danos paciencia
Sabemos que has venido
Y que todavía esperamos el camino de Sion
Y también sabemos
Que estas aquí trabajando
Ayúdanos a trabajar
Por ti también
Ayúdanos atraer agua al desierto
A levantarle al cojo
Y a gritar por gozo por lo que has hecho aquí
En este momento
Dios de la promesa
Te damos gracias por lo que has cumplido ya
Por las bendiciones que nos has dado
Y te pedimos que nos guíes a Sion
Que nos ayudes cumplir
Los hechos del reino aquí
Danos tu visión
Y borra la nuestra
Que todos nuestros hechos sean los tuyos
En el nombre de Jesucristo
Que cumplió la promesa y que la va a cumplir.
Oramos los creyentes.
Let’s go sledding!
The sound of it is so appealing—fun, laughter…
Ince you get there, there’s the big white hill so you grab your sled and up you climb.
Trudge through the snow
Slip and fall down
Get back up and keep on going
Top pf the hill
Find a path
Take your sled and head on down
There are bumps and turns
And sometimes you get flipped around
And yet you always slow and come to a stop.
Sometimes you are covered in powder at the end of your journey
Sometimes you hit a bump and land with a thump
Sometimes you flip over and roll
You can choose your sled
You can pick your path
You can even try and steer your course
But in the end you just have to sit back
And enjoy the ride
Laugh at yourself
At your face plant in the snow
Rest when you are weary
And then get up and go
Please be with __________ & ____________ as they struggle with their marriage. Continue to give __________ strength and sustenance that she may not lose faith in you and continues to know that she is the victory. Be with ______________, Lord. Open his heart to you. Open his heart to her. God I know there are others that struggle in their marriages and you have helped them hang on and grow strong--help __________ & _________ to do the same. Help ________ feel loved by __________ and help him to love her in the language she understands. God, I can't predict their future, and neither can they, but they can affect it. God, show them your way--your will, your love, your dedication, and help them bring that back into their marriage. These things I pray in Christ's name. Amen.
God of all things,
Help me to find vision and purpose for my life. Help me to see your will for my future. Show me the road it should take to get there. God guide me. Help me to find a path. Give me purpose that isn’t just short term. God help me to hear you in my daily walk and to list and follow! God, I apologize for ignoring your message and your coaching so I could seek pleasures of the flesh. God help me to know that those things are fleeting—that I need you in all that I do and that only that which comes from you endures. God give me courage to face each day as a true Christian, one humbled by my flaws and empowered by your love. In your holy name I pray. Amen.
God of new life,
Please be with _________ and her baby. Give __________ health Lord, give her endurance and stamina during her pregnancy. Help create this new baby. God, you know better than anyone how delicate her pregnancy is—give her body strength and health that this baby is healthy and will be born healthy to two loving parents. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Please be with ________ today during his/her interview. Give _________ assurance as he/she answers questions. Give him/her fluidity with his/her words. Open the hearts and minds of the interview team that they might be open to his/her work and not discriminate based on nationality, language skills, gender, or age. Open them to the ways _________ might diversify the team and enrich the community. Wash ________ in your peace in this time--remind him/her to take a deep breath, to know he/she is your child, and that he/she is equipped for this job. These things I pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Spring to life you weak and heavy laden
Rejoice at the goodness of the Lord
Seek the Lord to ease your worries
Seek respite in the divine peacemaker
Quiet your soul with prayerful rest
Rejoice with the peace of thanksgiving
Rest in the assurance of the Lord.
yo me perdí en ti
perdí la duda, la ansiedad, el miedo
me perdí en tus brazos
me perdí en tus besos
me traían cosquillas
y un soplo de agua tibia por mi corazón
me trajiste mi propia belleza
me retrajiste los sentimientos de sensualidad que yo había dejado con el dolor del pasado
yo me perdí en ti
perdí el pasado y el futuro
solo había el momento
el momento para besarte
el momento para recibir
tu lengua de miel
me perdí en la magia
de un abrazo tuyo
Deje todo lo malo
y nadé en el mar de agua tibia de tus toques
Months ago I was talking with a male clergy friend and he was commenting on how *all* the clergy women seem to be so frumpy (my immediate thought was: "and the men look better?!?!"). He was ____________ (who knows if frustrated or irritated or bothered is the right word?) that they didn't take better care of themselves, stay in better shape (eh hem, do I sense a gender bias here?), or attempt to look better (which I think was meant to mean "more attractive").
I've gotta say here that as ridiculous as fashion may seem, as superficial and unimportant a conversation in the real scheme of things, it really does seem to make a significant difference.
One day I was set to be mainly in the office. I wore nice black dress slacks and a t-shirt that has a picture of ET on it and says, "Made in the 80s". I looked decent. Not exactly clergy like, but not like I hadn't bothered to get dressed for the day. Later in the day I ended up needing to do a hospital visit. I walked in and stopped at the volunteer desk and asked for the clergy sign in sheet and name tag. The woman looked at me with disdain and said, "you're a lay visitor?" I said kindly, "No, I'm the pastor." "The associate pastor?" "Yes, ma'am, the associate pastor." I was a bit frustrated. Granted I didn't look "typical", but as the youngest pastor in the conference, often by a good 10 years from the "average" but more often 20 or 30 years younger, I rarely look "typical". As I walked to the hospital room I wondered if it should even matter what I wear. I mean really. If I look presentable, do I need to "look the part"?
I took a prayer weekend this month and when we talked with one friend who does campus ministry, someone asked her, "what do you wear to preach?" She responded, "This." (indicating her jeans and sweatshirt). She went on to explain that if she wears vestments or even a nice suit to college worship, the students don't hear her, they don't receive her well. So she blends in with a sweatshirt and jeans and hopes to bring the good word.
Going back to the cat-call, and general issues with unwanted advances, sometimes I think women clergy, or at least I am, are pushed to looking "more frumpy" in an effort to ward off the unwanted advances. Sometimes it feels like the long skirt or loose pants will take the focus off my womanhood and hopefully redirect it toward God. I also think the de-feminization of clergy women's clothes has another side. I wonder if subliminally it doesn't make us more credible. I'm sure most of us are familiar with the objections to women in clergy, and I heard a new one this weekend: "Women are weak preachers." Grrrrrreeeeaaaat. If I look and act and sound less like a woman will that take the sting out of the objections? Can I diminish the naysayers if I preach like a man? or don't "distract" with my appearance? If I look less feminine, cute, or made-up, will you be less likely to focus on my gender and more likely to focus on my ministry and my call?
This post talks about some of the issues women in the ministry face--the comments, the propositions, but also the larger issue--how women clergy highlight the feminine divine, screwy issues with sexuality, among other things.
I'd really like to say I don't care and move on with my life. But I know that would be a lie. I do care. I do care that I'm taken seriously as a minister of the word. I do care that my clothes do not make me a good or bad minister. I do care that I respect the office and empower others to do the same (recognizing that there's often a generation gap here--older generations will respect the office if I look more "dignified, dressed up, or official", whereas younger generations seem to respect the office more if it is more accessible to them (meaning casual, natural, everyday)--yet another catch 22). I care about looking good and feeling good. I care about not aiding unwanted advances. I care about women's empowerment. And I care that the Word is the most important thing. So with all of those things at stake and all of those things being important, what is the answer? What does looking the part mean? What does it mean to live into the image as well as break down harmful stereotypes? Just as having tattoos, piercings, and a leather jacket doesn't mean you can't be a good Christian, I don't believe that wearing an above the knee (though not scandalous) skirt with some nice boots means you can't be a good pastor.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I was talking to a friend awhile back and she was asking about my love life. Single at the time, she asked what characteristics I wanted in a partner. I said I wanted someone who was: honest, compassionate, caring, pro-active, creative, a good listener, intelligent, faithful, a Christian, genuine, full of integrity, dedicated...oh yeah, and it wouldn't hurt if he were funny too!
We sort of giggled at the length of my list and the tall order of all my requests. We sat a moment and then she said, "You need Jesus!"
We both fell over laughing. Quite certainly Jesus fits the bill for the man of my dreams--humble, kind, compassionate, dedicated, concerned with issues of justice, articulate, genuine, and...in fact he can walk on water! Yep, I think I'm looking for Jesus. Who wants an ordinary man when you can have Jesus?! I mean really. I love his body (the body of Christ that is...), he meets my needs, he goes with me to family affairs, he helps me keep a steady head, he draws me into being a better person, he challenges me with regard to my flaws but yet loves me in the most dynamic and full way possible. He joins me in sorrow and in joy, he's not afraid to deal with my emotions, and doesn't believe I'm "too intense". He'll even come with me to church, talk about faith issues, and even pray with me. What more could I ask for?
For now I'm enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling of being in love. It's quite nice, really. You might even want to try it. And while ordinarily I'm inclined to rail against "sharing" your special someone...in this case, I think I can make an exception...okay, so maybe a couple billion exceptions...minor really in the scheme of things. 'Cause this man is so incredible that he can fully love me and you at the same time. Shocking I know. But it's true and he's so great, I'm willing to share. So go get swept off your feet by this amazing and indescribable person!
Monday, February 18, 2008
- I know...that there is a God and I am not her!
· I believe...in God the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth...
· I fought...
· I am angered...by injustice and oppression
· I love...my niece and nephew
· I need...lots of hugs
· I take...sabbath every week
· I hear…a lot of people's stories
· I drink...a lot of water
· I hate...unloading the dishwasher
· I use...too much hot water
· I want...to travel
· I like...to laugh
· I feel…pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and gay...
· I wear...boots!
· I left...a lot of things unsaid this weekend
· I do...what needs to be done
· I hope...I can truly live into my calling
· I dream...of having a family
· I drive...a Nissan versa
· I listen…a lot
· I type...quickly
· I think…too much
· I need...to finish the laundry
· I wish...we could really be honest with folks, even on the tough stuff
· I am…a woman, a daughter, a pastor, a sister, a learner, a friend, an auntie, a traveler, a poet, an artist, a hiker, a do-er...the list goes on!
· I regret...not being a better friend
· I care...about making a difference in the world
· I should...get a lot more done than I do
· I am...planning to learn another language
· I said...do a diddy did a dum diddy do
· I wonder...if I'll see the world become a better place
· I changed...A LOT during college
· I cry...often and freely--for joy, for fear, for sadness, for anger, for frustration...
· I lose...patience too often
· I leave...clean laundry in piles...
Monday, February 4, 2008
1) the ordinariness of who we are as United Methodists.
2) The way our titles, accolades, and reputations can impede the true work of the gospel because we become so obsessed with maintaining our reputation and status that we fail to allow God to work.
Sometimes it seems like church culture is a regression to high school drama. We worry about who's the most popular, who's the smartest, most technological, most theatrical, most well-known. We obsess over who has the most friends (read: members) and then consume ourselves with how we can compete, how we can be more attractive, noticed, popular whatever.
As I look toward taking a new appointment, the words said at my introduction meeting keep ringing in my head, "well, we're older, and we're not Harvest Church up the street." My internal reaction is, "Okay, and?!?!" So what if we're older? My grandma's older and I love her to pieces! And who cares is we're not Harvest church? Being the church, and being faithful to the gospel is not about being Big-name church up the street. It's about being authentic, it's about being real, it's about being who you/we are as believers/Christians/community/disciples and being okay with that. I'm not Angelina Jolie (neither for looks, nor wealth, nor even for dollars spent helping the poor), but I don't have a complex about it. I'm not Angelina--sure she's better looking, wealthier, and more in shape, but her abilities, her accomplishments don't make me any less me, nor my own qualities and characteristics any less valuable. So why would it be any different between churches. Harvest's qualities are what make them Harvest. Cool. And Wesley's qualities are what makes them Wesley. Also cool.
What's important to remember is that we are who we are for a reason, and we should be okay with that, and if for some reason we have a major character flaw, then we'll work on that, but if otherwise we're generally good looking, relatively intelligent, and intentionally compassionate, then we can build self-confidence in that and go with it. For me it boils down to confidence. Just like the prom queen or the quarter back, Big-name churches seem to emanate confidence, making all of the rest of us stand in awe and strive to be more like them. But just like the prom queen and the quarter back, they too have struggles, self-doubt, and internal issues. So instead of trying to become them, we need to be us. And be us with as much gusto, earnestness, and confidence as we can muster.
But these are some good runners up!
and because i'm a sucker for coming together:
Friday, February 1, 2008
One of the more inflammatory ads I saw, or at least the one that got my goat, was the one that claimed that the expansions were good because it would give so much back to California "AT NO COST TO ANYONE". What a bunch of hooey. Seriously. This may not be a tax increase, but for lots of folks, those who lose, they might even lose/give more to the state by their gambling losses than they would with an additional tax. So if you're a gambler, you are in essence paying for these "donations" to the state and it comes at a cost to you!
And while the UMC may sit on the fence on a large variety of issues, gambling isn't one of them. Paragraph 163 of the Book of Discipline says this:
Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice. Where gambling has become addictive, the Church will encourage such individuals to receive therapeutic assistance so that the individual’s energies may be redirected into positive and constructive ends. The Church should promote standards and personal lifestyles that would make unnecessary and undesirable the resort to commercial gambling-including public lotteries-as a recreation, as an escape, or as a means of producing public revenue or funds for support of charities or government.
I think part of my anger about this issue is that there seems to be a fear conspiracy happening at the same time. This legislation was proposed back with the fall elections and I'm not sure what exactly happened, whether it passed and a petition was signed that withdrew it to send to the public or how all that worked (I do know there was a petition), but there wasn't much said about it, only that it would produce $9billion for the state of California. But then, all of the sudden we're $14billion in the hole and we're going to have to do a 10% cut across the board, including $300 per child from education, and releasing 25,000 non-violent inmates. So now there's an epidemic of fear--about the "criminals on the loose", the children without education, lack of firefighters and law enforcement, and all the rest, and then wait....Here comes the knight in shining armor--the Indian gaming propositions--they will save the day!
It's all too coincidental for my tastes. And VERY short-sighted. There's little to no discussion about the long term ramifications for increased gaming, or the quick cuts across the board, or the fact that we can't fix a $14billion deficit in a day (I mean, can you really tell me it's a surprise? Gray Davis was kicked out office because of the major deficit and then Arnie came in and had things seemingly set right right away, and then a few years down the line, we're back to the shortfall....were we really so naive as to think that money just appeared and paid our debts and fixed our problems?!?)
I know this is all a bit ranty, but really, GAMING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. VOTE NO! Force our politicians to develop a real plan. Save people from major debt and loss. (I think one of the more devastating images for me was when we went to a buffet at a local casino. To get to the restaurant you have to pass all the slots, of course, and people have these money cards now...which you insert into the machine instead of coins. But the thing of it is, they are on a bungee cord type thing so people don't lose the card or walk away without it, but the image is that people are literally chained to the machines. To me that is the ultimate metaphor for gambling--people become chained to the machine, like a drone, just washing money down the drain one lever or button at a time).