Thursday, February 28, 2008

If you like to laugh at white folks...

I'm not sure how I first came upon this blog, but it makes me laugh. Not all of it. Some of it is offensive and most of it is over-generalized, but there are parts that are SO true they just crack me up. If you're white and are willing to laugh at our idiosyncrasies, I recommend it, if you're not white and like to laugh at our idiosyncrasies, I highly recommend it. =)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wall hanging project

I'm thinking of setting a quota on how many UFOs (unfinished objects) I am allowed to take from one house to the next. From Atlanta to CA I think I only brought one. Currently I am making baby blankets out the wazoo since everyone decided October was a good month for baby making, as well as a comforter for my bed, and a couple of wall hangings. With part of my Lenten commitment being no TV, I seem to have a lot of free time on my hands. So I've dug out the projects and started working. Yesterday I did some work on one of the wall hangings. There a few areas that are particularly "bojanggedy", but it's coming along fairly well. I'm no Molly, but I do what I can. It's still a work on progress, but here's how far I've gotten (it's supposed to be the city scape in Jerusalem...)

Prayer: Individual vs. communal

I lead a prayer group every Thursday night. Normally we are a small group of 5, though we recently added a new member. The regular folks often express their desire for more people to attend and they are convinced that more people praying there with us would change the state of affairs for the church. Now, I am whole-heartedly convinced about the power of prayer, so it's not that I don't think more prayer wouldn't help. But I do know we have many faithful folks who pray at home. So then the question becomes--does it matter if we pray in community? Does God hear us differently if we pray the same thing as a group or as separate individuals? Why should people come to communal prayer? Will it make a difference? (either for them or for the prayers being offered)? In large part, I think the benefit of praying together is sharing with the community and having people who care and who are invested. I think intercession (praying on behalf of another) is also a benefit, but both of those things seem to be more about us than about God.

So I'm looking for input/feedback/opinions--does communal prayer make a difference? if so, how?

Morning Prayer

Merciful One, Bind this day in love. Cleanse my spirit as I wash my body. Rid me heart of all impurities. Take from me all residue of anger, hurt, and unforgiveness. Give me courage to fully accept what you offer from the cross rather than linger in ideas of vengeance, pity, or woundedness. Give me courage to be made whole. Fill my spirit with your joy, your light, your compassion. Open my eyes that I may see the world as you see it--help me see hope and promise where there is despair, healing where there is brokenness, justice where there is injustice, and beauty where there is darkness. To the great I AM--the one who was and is and is to come, help me to see with the fullness of you. Shine on me. Shine through me that I may be a reflection of your light always and everywhere. Amen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Women in power...

Along similar lines as this post, is this secular version...well, at least sort of related. You get the idea. Thanks Chai!

What happens with the men?

While I was at the youth event over the holiday weekend I noticed the cool Christian guy band, as well as their attire of blue jeans, t-shirts, and a button down shirt or sweatshirt thrown over the top. I noticed some of the other (older) cool guys in similar attire and wondered about the discrepancy between age and attire. I also noted the difference between the image of the guy band and the image of the ladies' duo--casual/everyday vs. stylish with cleaner lines. I don't want this to sound like a critique, because it's not, but the differences made me think about transitioning with age, and the general lack of men in church, versus the presence of the feminine counterpart. I had to ask myself: 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?

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?

Praise God for the small things!

All season I have been lamenting how EARLY Easter is this year. It's coming way too fast. Today I received the following good news:

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.
Here are a couple of things you might be interested in!
  • 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.

Déjalo pasar.


Si Dios quiere, pasara

Dáselo a Dios

Dios lo cuidara

Y lo guiara

Tranquila mujer

Se tu misma

Tanto como eres

Y déjalo pasar como debe.

Prayers of the people--Hurricane Katrina

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.

Opening Prayer

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.

The good shepherd

I post my sermons here, since they're generally long and involved. This week's sermon is on the good shepherd, if you're looking for a sermon read.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Prayer for future ministry

Dear God,

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.

This woman's a rock star...

This is how cool my friends are.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Is this it God?

(written years ago....though the sentiments have returned from time to time...)

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

Our way

Our way

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

No vamos.

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

Like a deer in headlights...

This week I am in charge of the English service. We are doing a southern style worship service followed by a soul food meal to help raise funds for our Katrina Mission trip. As such, we have some new and different songs to sing. One we've done a number of times before and the choir is fairly familiar with it. It does require a step clap, but really, they can handle it, who cares if they're a bunch of old white folks?!?! But we have another new one that I learned at Candler. I learned it from one of the most marvelous voices I have ever heard and it's call and response and she used to do the call and we did the response. Not being the vocalist she is, I am not about to be the soul vocalist singing out for my congregation, so I split the choir into two groups and had them do the 2 parts. To say they looked tentative and anxious through most of the rehearsal would be an understatement. After we sang it a number of times the choir director figured that was enough and let me leave rehearsal, but before I left I asked, "are you sure it's okay?" He said yes and assured me it was fine. I said, "They look so scared." "Of course they do! But they'll get it!" Okay. I know I do some new and different things, and step clap is WAY outside our box, but really, it's not too much of a stretch, I mean, it's even all in English! But seeing how scared they look does make me wonder if the rest of the congregation will feel much the same way...eeeekkkkk!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Prayer of confession

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.

Prayer from Psalm 130

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

One Christ

Bridging the gap

One Christ

Providing the love

That can win out over all the trouble

The devil can stir.

One heart beating stronger

With your pulse and mine

To reconcile

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

Oracion por vision

Dios de la promesa

Tráenos esperanza

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.


Sled of life

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

Prayer for a marriage in trouble

Dear God,
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.

Prayer for direction

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.

Prayer for pregnancy

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.

Prayer for an interview

Dear God,
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.

Prayer of uplift

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 perdi en ti

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

tocarte, acariciarte

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

How's this for gorgeous!

Clergy women's fashion

Talking about clergy women's fashions seems to be all the rage these days. Whether it's suitable fashion, appropriate hair care, the lack of even remotely flattering clergy vestments or otherwise, I seem to be reading about how I should (or shouldn't) be compelled to look as a clergy woman. While reading, it's nice to know that other women think of these things too, but mostly I just keep reading and then move on. But this weekend I was forced to rethink things (again). I was at a major conference youth event and had gone out in the early morning for coffee for me and bagels for my girls. As I walked down the street a man hollered something indecipherable from his window as he drove past. I'm not sure what he said, or if it was even directed at me, but it definitely hit my man-I-hate-cat-calls button. I was prompted to roll my eyes and sigh. And then I plunged into the issues of clergy women, their clothes, and their overall appearances.

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

Is this just me?

Maybe I'm too old school or antiquated but I have yet to wrap my head around the modern phenomenon where youth (junior high generally) will walk up and ask me, a complete stranger, for money so they can buy soda, chips, or candy. Really, it baffles me. They have seemingly no qualms in making such a request. I generally pause a minute, looking bewildered, sometimes ask what the money is for, and generally say no. I'm often the giving type, but I don't think it's my role to feed the junk food diets of today's youth...does this happen to anyone else?

All aflutter

I have a confession. I've fallen in love. I'm giddy and I sing a lot and occasionally break out and dance. I've fallen head over heels in love.

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, 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 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

Meme...thanks Dave!

  • I know...that there is a God and I am not her!

· I God the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth...

· I fought...

· I am injustice and oppression

· I 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 travel

· I laugh

· I feel…pretty, oh so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and gay...

· I!

· 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 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 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

Amen Brother

Bishop Will Willimon of the Northern Alabama Conference blogs regularly and I appreciate what he shares. He's one of those bloggers who both challenges me and ministers to me through his writing. Currently he's featuring guest bloggers and today's message is worth the read. Some of the things that stick out to me are:

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.

Superbowl Commercial favs

I'm not a super bowl kinda gal. I LOVE college ball and even a good high school game, but pro ball really isn't my thing. Considering it was the super bowl, I might have turned it on as background noise, but my TV is on the fritz, so no nice. But this morning AOL was kind enough to provide me with the real meat of the game--the commercials. This one might just be my favorite:

But these are some good runners up!

and because i'm a sucker for coming together:

Friday, February 1, 2008

Vote NO on more gambling in CA

Ever since props 94, 95, 96, and 97 became the center of voting ads in California I have debated blogging about them. But other voices gave me the push to put this in writing. I think expanding gaming is a bad idea. I know that there are many proponents of gaming on the reservation because "it allows the tribe(s) to be more self-sufficient", but self-sufficient or not, I don't think gambling is the way to go. While there are folks who make a fortune, or at least enough to believe it's worth it, more folks lose money than gain it. What the proof? Try the fact that casinos would even have millions, or billions of dollars to give to the state. That money's coming from somewhere, and it isn't growing on trees!

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).