Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Yes, I know, it's time for Leadership #4. Tomorrow.

I have more I want to say about the lectionary first.

This is from Luke 12:13-21:
But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." Verse 20, 21

I think we read that passage, and we think of all of the material possessions that we hold on to -- that we clutch in our tight hands.

I was thinking of this passage this morning, though, as I drove to work. I think we also hold many other "treasures" ahead of God. What are the items which we make more important in our lives than God?

  • Our pride -- Do we fail to serve God because we fail to humble ourselves to his will?
  • Our time -- Do we sometimes hoard it as if spending time might give us less of it?
  • Our traditions -- Do we ever place "the way we've always done it" above "the way God wants us to do it?"
  • Our fear -- Do we fail to risk because of our fear of failure?
  • Our church buildings -- Have you ever noticed how we sometimes place higher priority on our physical buildings than we do on the ministry that happens within them?
  • Our sanctuaries -- Has your sanctuary become the last safe place for your own wants and needs in the church building? Sometimes in our church, when everything else is changing, what happens in the sanctuary "must not be touched."

What other things would you add?

God offers us 'every good thing,' and yet we stand here, with inconsequential "treasures" clutched tightly in our hands. Until we open our hands, and let go of what we value, we can not receive those things beyond value from God.

I stopped writing this post in the middle and went up to the high school to pick G up from band practice. While I was waiting, this song came on XM radio (TobyMac):

I was made to love you
I was made just for you
Made to adore you
I was made to love
And be loved by you
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And you said you'd keep me
Never would you leave me
I was made to love
and be loved by you

Anything I would give up for you
Everything, I'd give it all away

Image: Called "Repentance" from http://www.creative-international.com

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Logos -- Colossians 1:1-4

Taking a break from the leadership series to turn to Logos -- Monday's look at a lectionary reading

I mentioned in an ealier post that I was delivering the sermon yesterday. I hope it went pretty well, but there are two things that I'm certain of -- first, that God was involved in the day and second, that I felt the joy of His presence.

Take a look at this passage from Colossians 3:1-4 (The Message):

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
I also like the phrase from the NRSV, "for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (verse 3).

God was all throughout the service yesterday. He started working on it before I even knew that it was going to be a sermon -- before the idea ever came to us. I've seen him in so many different ways. I thank God for it. I have felt that I was "hidden in Christ." It feels like sinking ino a down pillow.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Leadership: Availability

This is the third in a series of six posts about leadership. After introducing the series, I wrote about the first two characteristics that Gilbert and Zoller discuss: loyalty and energy.

The third characteristic that is discussed in the Leadership chapter is Availability.

Leaders say "yes" to God. I think that is what the characteristic of availability boils down to. There are times when God calls us to do something for which we do not feel equipped or which we would rather not do, and yet we turn in obedience to God and say, "I'll do it because you want me to." That's availability.

I also think an available leader is open for ministries of interruption -- unplanned, unanticipated opportunities for service to God. It is difficult to do -- to set aside our own priorities and open ourselves up to hear the call of God in an interruption, and yet that is what we are to do.

I want to tell you about Jim. Jim is an older member of our congregation, but he is involved in almost every aspect of ministry in our church. His gift is one of service, and I've never seen anyone who is better at it. He rarely runs meetings, and when he participates in them, he is often quiet. He moderates his Sunday school class, but more than that, he cares for them. He cares for our entire church. Jim does any number of tasks -- silent work that one may not notice unless it is not done.

He serves in our church, he serves in our community as a volunteer. His days are devoted to living for Christ, and he is always available to do his will.

Jim is a role model in our church for Christ-like living, and I thank God for Jim.

Image: Sunset coming home one day on the interstate.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Leadership: Energy

This is the second in a series of six posts about Leadership. We talked about loyalty yesterday. Today we consider the next characteristic of leadership that Zoller and Gilbert discuss, which is energy.

I like their definition of energy so much that I'm going to quote it. "We mean a fortitude to focus on the task at hand, employing all ofthe leaders' innovative gifts and graces."

My son G demonstrates one kind of energy -- that bouncing off the ceiling, talking too fast, running around kind of high octane energy that I sometimes believe that only young people possess.

Energy in leadership is a different thing. Leadership energy is that characteristic which enables a person to surrender all of his or her gifts to the work of God. It is the characteristic which enables leaders to adapt and overcome problems. I think leaders with this gift are involved in many aspects of the church, as they demonstrate the energy necessary to share all of their gifts with the church.

I want to tell you about Mary and Jeff. Mary and Jeff are good friends of ours, but they are also high-energy leaders. They give to the church of all of the gifts that God has given to them, and we as a church are blessed beyond measure because of their energy.

God has blessed Jeff and Mary with countless gifts -- the ability to teach, proclaim, organize, and affirm. They give us all of their gifts and they give of that precious gift called time.

At various points in just the last couple of years, both of them have worked in vacation Bible school, served in the nursery and in children's church. They write for our devotional ministry. Mary teaches children; Jeff teachs adults. Jeff preaches. Mary facilitates our reunion group. They are both youth leaders. Jeff cooks for our church, often. They organize, they serve, they gift unceasingly of their gifts. And all of that is just the beginning of the list of ways in which they serve the church.

Why to they do it? I've never asked them that particular question, but I imagine they do it because God has called them to do it. They do it because they care. They do it because they cannot not do it.

They are the hands, feet, voice and face of Christ in our church. They are both examples to me, to our church, to our youth and to our children of servant leadership, and we are blessed beyond measure because of them.

I thank God for Jeff and Mary.

Images: Hummingbirds outside this morning.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Leadership: Loyalty

This is the first of a series of posts about leadership. For the introduction (so you won't wonder what I'm doing) see this introductory post.

The L in leadership, according to Gilbert and Zoller, is for loyalty.

Have you ever been working in a church, and just gotten so frustrated that you have wanted to throw up your hands and say, "I quit!" Then, you pick yourself up, and you keep on working -- you keep on leading. If you have, then you have demonstrated the leadership characteristic of loyalty.

I have a feeling that when God works through His spirit to give us with the gift of patience (it's one of the fruits of the spirit, remember?), he is striving to enable us to show loyalty. I have a feeling that patience and loyalty walk hand in hand. It could be that self-control is the glue that holds loyalty and patience together.

In order to demonstrate loyalty, I believe that we must have a real sense of hope -- a belief that even when we doubt it, even when we feel like we are shoving against an immovable object, even when no one else could believe it to be possible, we believe that what we are doing is making a difference. Sometimes God doesn't give us the gift of seeing the difference that the work we are doing is making, but every once and a while, we see a glimpse. That small view of the kingdom of God -- the effects of God's touch upon his children through us -- makes all the difference, and gives us hope.

I want to tell you about Linda. Linda is our youth Sunday school teacher. I don't know how long Linda has been teaching the youth -- I don't know, because I have lost count of the years. I believe that Linda is a living example of the leadership quality of loyalty. I have no idea if she has ever wanted to throw up her hands and say, "I quit," but I do know that she has impacted the lives of countless young members of our church. I know she loves them. I know in them she sees the body of Christ, and I know that they realize it.

Consider for a moment what it is like to be young and to know, within your heart, that you are seen as a member of the body of Christ? It can be transforming.

I've heard people tell her that she should think more of herself, and pass the teacher's "baton" onto someone else -- that she has "done her time." I heard that years ago, and yet Linda keeps on teaching. I've never asked her why she does it, but, knowing Linda, she does it because she loves them. She loves the youth that God has placed in her care. She believes in them, she hopes in them, and she loves them.

She leads them toward Christ, and she is a living example to me, to them, and to our church of loyalty.

I thank God for Linda.



I mentioned yesterday that I completed the training to become a certified lay speaker. The "text book" for the basic lay speaking class is an overview of the many ways that a lay speaker can serve in the church, including preaching, teaching, leading -- bunches of "-ing" paths of ministry. In my basic course, we concentrated on preaching, but I decided to read through the book, as a way to complete the course, in my mind.

I doing it rather slowly (it's not a very thick book), and I just finished the chapter on leadership. The authors (John P. Gilbert and Nancy C. Zoller) built the leadership chapter around the acrostic for LEADER -- one characteristic for each letter. I thought it was kind of a silly way to do it, but I really liked the characteristics they use to define a leader. I like them so much, in fact, that I thought they would make a good series of blog posts.

Each letter in their chapter is the first letter of a leadership characteristic. They then give biblical examples of that characteristic as well as explain what it is and why it is important. Each day in this blog series on leadership I will take one of those characteristics, talk a little bit about it and perhaps give living examples of leaders I have seen in the "wild."

So here we go. Next post --> Loyalty.

Image: Fog on the hills near the VA.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nearer Presence

Preach -- Function: verb Etymology: Middle English prechen, from Anglo-French precher, from Late Latin praedicare, from Latin, to proclaim, make known, from prae- pre- + dicare to proclaim. Date: 13th century (from http://www.m-w.com/)

Notice in that etymology that there is nothing in the meaning of the word which implies arrogance, or special knowledge, or a high and mighty tone. It just means to proclaim. Preaching is proclamation. I have no problem with anyone using it as a verb to describe what he or she is doing on a Sunday morning (or any other day of the week).

Unless it is me, and I am the one saying it about myself. “I am pre….” See – it gets stuck in my throat, like a tennis ball – big, yellow and fuzzy. I am delivering the sermon at church this Sunday, and for me to call it preaching would feel like I was elevating myself “above my station.” Above my calling.

All that said, I have worked on planning the worship service this Sunday and on delivering the message to our congregation. It is Visioning Sunday, and the sermon is called “Of Wind and Wings.” It’s purpose it to try to convince our congregation to seek God’s will for our church and to implement it.

I pre…um…I delivered the sermon a year ago last October on Laity Sunday. I’ve talked before on the blog about how that experience convinced me that God will walk with us – with me – through a process such as sermon preparation. That he will in fact walk with me through any process in which he has led me. This one is no exception.

So, on Sunday, I will deliver the sermon, and I hope, somewhere in there, I will proclaim God’s word. I know that he has been involved in the preparation for that delivery. The problem is that God has me as a liability, and yet he uses me anyway. I can’t predict what the outcome will be, but I do know that the walk has been one in which I have experienced the nearer presence of God.

So, as the song below says, this is a very great place to be.

Finding myself in the midst of you
Beyond the music
Beyond the noise
All that I need
Is to be with you
And in the quiet
To hear your voice

Word of God speak
Would you pour down like rain?
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That you’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In your holiness.
Word of God speak.

(Mercy Me: Word of God Speak)

By the way, this is the first sermon I've delivered since completing the training for Certified Lay Speaker. Why does that seem to add additional pressure?


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Don't Give Up

Do you have a teenager? Have you ever been subjected to the "Bargainer?" The "Bargainer" is the child who asks to/for something, and then, in response to "no" from the parent, begins to argue, to discuss, to wrestle and to bargain with the parent. Come to think of it, it is not just my teenager that does this; my 10 year old does it, too. Bargainers, both of them.

Take a look at two of the lectionary readings for this week:

  • Genesis 18:20-32 -- This is the passage where Abraham bargains with God concerning the destruction of Sodom. I've always really liked this passage because it shows a relationship between God and Abraham. Abraham, even though he knows he is speaking with God, feels brave enough with God to try to change His mind about the destruction of the city.
  • Luke 11:1-13 -- In this passage, Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer. He reminds them to be persistent in prayer. He tells them to seek, to ask, to knock, and that God will provide the answers.
I was thinking about these two passage together this evening, and about what a comparison between the two might tell us. I was reminded of Yancey's Prayer book. He reminded us that "Abraham quit asking before God quit granting." Have you ever thought of that?

God, for some reason that we do not always understand, wants us to struggle with him. He wants us to not give up; he desires our persistence.

Perhaps it is because, as we westle with God, as Abraham does, that even though we do it with our own goal in mind, God has a different goal. We cannot walk away from true relationship with God without being changed. We come to God, asking him to make changes in the world around us, and we often walk away with God having made changes in the world within us. Perhaps he struggles with us because transformation isn't easy, but he knows that if he allows us to constantly bump against him, we will be reshaped.

From Yancey's book:
We are all children of Israel, implied Paul, all of us God-wrestles who cling to God in the dark, who chase God from room to room, who declare, "I will not let you go."
Images: Pine needles up close and daisy up close at the VA today.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Yes, I know you can't see it. I know that it looks like a blur next to the hummingbird feeder. What it actually is, though, is a hummingbird.

We've had the feeder since the end of May. Today is the first time I've seen a bird near it. We've waited a very long time to see one of these lovely creatures.

OK, I admit, we put nectar in it in May, and then forgot about it -- we've traveled a lot lately, and haven't been home to pay attention to the hummingbird feeder. We finally put some nectar in it on Sunday.

One of the speakers at SPLAT challenged us to pray for the one who is bothering us. To pray for 21 days straight. We encounter a problem, and say we have prayed for it to be solved, and then get frustrated with no response. Jesus says to be persistent in prayer. I am anything but persistent in prayer. I say a prayer, abandon the effort, and then get frustrated that there is no transformation.

Like hummingbirds, prayer requires more than passing attention. A relationship with God needs more nurturing than just a 5 second prayer. We need to invest ourselves in it.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Logos -- Psalm 85

In His Care

Psalm 85

Lord, our God,
Heavenly Father,
You look upon us,
And you smile.
You continually return us
To your arms,
To be greeted as your child.

You forgive our wrongs,
All of them,
Every one of them,
Each of them.
Praise God.

Although anger was your right,
You refused to let it control your actions.
Love is your motivation,
It is who you are.
Forgive us again, Father
Do not leave us,
Do not abandon us
In our sin.

Could you do any differently?
Is it within you to remain angry,
To turn your backs on us?
To forget the names of our children?

Will you revive us again, Lord
And set us to singing?
Remind of us your love
The love you have for us
That never ends.
Sometimes we forget.
Sometimes we don't even recognize it.
There are times when salvation
Seems like a fraud.
Remind us of our rescue,
Help us to remember.

I'm listening, God,
I'm trying to hear you.
Empty my ears of distractions
And let me hear your voice.

You will speak of peace
You will speak of faithfulness
You will remind us of loyalty.

I cannot even imagine a world
In which your salvation were not present.
It would be dark,
It would be darkness unending.
Instead, you shine your light,
And glory dwells among us.

Your unending love will meet
Your rightousness and peace
in a holy kiss.

Faithfulness will be so common
that it will spring up from the ground
Like summer grass.
Nourished by righteousness,
shining down from the sky.

All blessings will come from God
And we will know gifts unspeakable.
Holiness will walk before God
clearing a path in our world.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007


The sermon today at church was about the story of Mary and Martha, as well as the Amos 8 passage in the lectionary reading.

Our pastor talked about the idea of listening to God. Mary sat at the feet of the Son of God and listened; Martha did not. The people of the Northern Kingdom were to meet a fate at the hands of another country because they had not listened to God.

Do we listen to God? Do we pray, and listen to God? Are we in relationship with God? As our church enters a visioning process, it is important, vitally, that we listen to and for God as he walks among us.

As I listened today, it occurred to me that it is also important that we listen to each other. Wesley called it Christian Conferencing, and described it as a means of grace. Another reason I am blessed to be a Methodist. Sometimes, when God speaks to us, he does it most clearly through someone else. Sometimes, listening for God means listening to the people around you. Sometimes, God's grace is heard, not through prayer, but through attention to other people.

That is the reason, I think, that the first step in our visioning process is to pray, and the second one is to meet one day soon as a church and to share our throughts with each other. God will speak among us.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

One Body, One Church

I'm working on a Sunday school lesson for tomorrow the theme of which is a report on our Annual Conference. As a lay member to annual conference, I'm trying to find ways to communicate to our church what happened during those few days.

More than that, though, I want to give them a feeling that they are members of more than our local church. I want to impress on them that they are part of a larger church -- a larger body of Christ than our corner of the world.

I'm starting the lesson with scripture -- part of 1 Corinthians 12. I had in mind something else -- something more in line with One God, One Spirit, One Church, but in my rush this afternoon to pick a scripture, I couldn't put my finger on that passage in particular.

I hope to demonstrate to the class (and to another class I'm scheduled to teach in a couple of weeks) that because they are part of the a connectional church, that their reach is longer and they can walk a longer distance in service to God. I'll tell them about resolutions and petitions, but I will also tell them about mission projects, Nothing but Net, and Kairos. I'll tell them who was elected to General Conference from WV, but I also hope to show them who we are as a connection -- what we value and what seems to be important in this larger body of Christ.

We'll see how it goes.

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Friday, July 20, 2007


And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19)

We went to a workshop at SPLAT last week taught by Ray Buckley. He is a native American, who works in the United Methodist church to help maintain the spiritual influence of the Indian culture and it's role in spirituality.

He taught us the meaning of the world "remember" in his native language. It is more than just recall. It is more than I know your name. It's s statement of relationship.

He defined remembering someone as expressing that the person has changed you down to the marrow of your bones -- a deep transformation. Remember me.

I have many names in life. I am Kim, and that has a certain meaning. When people use my name, it is a statement of knowledge. They know me -- they know me well enough to use my name. It says that that person is speaking to me, if that makes any sense.

I have other names. I am Mom. Only two people in the world can call me Mom, and it is a statement that they "remember" me -- when they call me Mom, they are saying that I have an impact on them, to the "marrow of their bones." The same can be send when I am called "wife" by the only person in the world who can say, "She is my wife." Sometimes I call him "husband," just to make that same point to him.

I have friends who, of course, I call by name. But sometimes, in an email or a note, I will call them 'friend.' Calling them 'friend,' for me, is a way of saying, "I remember you."

I think the verse from Luke is asking us to do the same thing. "Do this in remembrance of me." Jesus is asking us to acknowledge and recognize that God has affected and transformed us -- to the marrow of our bones.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Thanks so much to Jim of WabiSabi for nominating Sandpiper's Thoughts for a Thinking Blogger Award. Go check out Jim's blog. He's a Huntington resident, just like me -- we call the same church home. The MEME started at the blog The Thinking Blog; to read about it, check out this post.

As a recipient of the award, I now have the privilege of nominating five more blogs for this award. Truthfully, not many people read my blog, so I doubt any of these blog writers will ever know they have been mentioned, but perhaps, if you are reading this, you might run over to one of these blogs and take a gander.
Here are the rules of the MEME:
  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
  2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
  3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote
Without further ado, five blogs that make me think:
  1. See-through Faith is written by Lorna, from Finland. It is a blog whose purpose is to provide voice to Lorna's journey. Her faith is very evident in her writing.
  2. Real Live Preacher is written by Gordon Atkinson, a baptist preacher in Texas. His writing is articulate and varies from essays to short stories.
  3. Enter the Rainbow, whose title I love, is the blog of a newly ordained United Methodist Elder named Andy Bryan. Great posts -- here's one of my recent favorites (about Luke 10)
  4. Not written by one particular person, but by a group of women, Revgalblogpal has various regular posts that always make me think. I don't belong to the ring (while I am a gal, I am not now nor do I intend to become a Rev.)
  5. Another compilation blog, the Methoblog is a great resource. Submissions are made often, highlighting different posts across the Methodist blogosphere.

    I read many other blogs, including Wabi Sabi and his wife's blog, Smallest Angel. I wish Linda of Pearl's Wisdom would write more often (hint hint). I especially enjoy the blogs of Cheesehead and St. Casserole, two female ministers (of the RevGalBlogPal list). For a full list of blogs I read, see the sidebar.

    Thanks again, Jim


    Wednesday, July 18, 2007


    Twenty years ago
    I walked down the aisle
    To marry him.
    All of the possible distractions of the day,
    The wrinkled dresses
    The reception hall chairs set up in rows
    Like toy soldiers
    The missing ushers.
    The dress caught in the car door
    The aunt with the purple hair.
    All of the possible problems
    Had no ability to distract.
    Peace was in my soul
    Love was in my heart
    Because he was standing
    At the end of the aisle.

    Life has moved on
    Sometimes galloping
    as our children have been born
    And have grown as if the camera were set
    on time lapse.
    Sometimes creeping
    As we worry about both of them
    And each other.
    Twenty years is the blink of an eye
    And is twice a lifetime.
    But through it all
    Peace has been in my soul
    Love has been in my heart
    Because he has been standing
    In the kitchen
    At the end of the day.

    Twenty years have passed
    Since we both said "I will"
    "I do"
    "I will love this person in front of me
    For the rest of my life."
    All of the possible distractions
    Can't take away from that one promise.
    Not the bills
    Not the broken appliances,
    or the cars which just stop.
    Not the messes the kids create
    or the dirty clothes.
    Not the worries, or the time apart,
    And not the water in the basement.
    All of it fades in importance
    Peace is in my soul.
    Love is in my heart.
    Because he is standing
    By my side.

    Happy 20th Anniversary, Steve. I love you.

    Image: Our wedding, obviously. Very young. In the photo (from left to right)--> Jenny (cousin), Lora, Me, Dr. Wood, Steve, Bob, Greg, David. In the pews, front row, from left to right --> Mom, Dad, George, Judy (all backs of heads).


    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    All are one

    There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,
    for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galations 3:28

    Paul tell us that we are all children of God - that our status, our gender, or our nationality don't matter at all to God.

    One of the many reasons that I am glad -- that I celebrate -- that we were able to take Youth to SPLAT is this verse.

    We talk about being a diverse church. We try to tell our children that everyone has a call from God, and that gender, status, nationality, color, ethnic background -- none of it means that any person is less loved by God. Sometimes I worry, though, that my children look around my church, and they don't see evidence of this part of our faith. They see an almost completely Caucasian congregation. Thankfully, they do see female pastors, but I'm not sure what other kind of diversity they witness.

    The good news in this story is that we are United Methodists. We are part of a connectional church. At SPLAT, the United Methodist youth national event, our kids saw six different people deliver sermons. They were diverse:

    • Kathleen Baskin-Ball -- a white, female pastor from Texas
    • Ray Buckley -- a native American male who is a member of the laity
    • Minerva Carcaño -- a female, Hispanic American bishop
    • Linda Lee -- a female, African American bishop
    • Scott Jones -- a white male bishop
    • Michael Williams -- a white, male pastor from Tennessee.
    Three women, three men; three bishops, two local pastors and a lay person; three white, one hispanic, one African American, and one native American -- diversity.

    Our youth were witness to the fact that the United Methodist Church values diversity and that we live out the idea that there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, and that all are one in Christ Jesus.

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    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Logos -- Luke 10: 38-42

    One of the lectionary readings for this week is Luke 10:38-42. It's the story of Mary and Martha.

    Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me."But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."
    One of the speakers at SPLAT talked about this scripture. His talk gave me a new perspective on this passage. He siad we often don't notice that Martha invited Jesus into "her home." How unusual for her day and time that she owned the house. She also approached Jesus and comlained about what her sister was doing. I would think in that culture that a woman would not approach a man -- a rabbi -- with a complaint such as that. Martha doesn't seem to fit the mold of the women of the day. I always thought that Mary was the one who was bold. I now think that Martha was, too. I also think that this supports the idea that both of them were friends of Jesus.

    Compare this passage to Luke 7:36-50. This is the story of Jesus' visit to Simon's house. The 'sinful woman' pours perfume on his feet, and dries them with her hair. Simon had not bothered to do anything in the way of hospitality to welcome Jesus.

    In the Luke 7 story, Jesus praises the woman for her acts of hospitality, while pointing out that Simon did not provide any welcome into his home. In the Mary/Martha story, it is the almost the opposite. It occurred to me today, as I compared these two stories, that it wasn't what Mary and Martha were doing. It was instead what was in their hearts. Martha was more concerned with pointing out what she perceived to be her sister's flaws, and her mistakes in judgement. Jesus wanted Martha to be transformed, as he knew Mary had been.

    Focus on Jesus -- that is the better way.

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    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    Word Power

    Tired. It's a good tired, but tired is tired, none-the-less. We're home from SPLAT, and it was great. I'm sure it will be the genesis of more posts, but probably not tonight.

    How about something to think about? (thanks to this blog for writing about it). In Nebraska, a man is on trial, charged with first degree sexual assault. The judge decided that certain words around the issue were too "inflammatory," so he banned a few words from the trial: Rape. Sexual Assault. Victim. Attacker. Assailant. Forced. His reasoning was that we couldn't call "rape" a "rape" until the jury decided that it was a "rape." This means that she could not say that the hospital did a "rape kit." The jury could not know that the defendent was charged with sexual assault. And the jury was not told about these instructions.

    Imagine for a moment trying to describe what happened without using those words. It is inevitable that any descriptions sound consensual.

    Think for a moment if the judge applied this "standard" to other crimes. Imagine trying to prove the guilt of someone accused of stealing or murder, without using similar words. Why is "rape" any more inflamatory that "murder?" Why is "sexual assault" any more of a legal term, than "theft?" Ridiculous.

    I read a bumper sticker coming home the other day: Feminism is the radical idea that women are people, too. Amen.

    Image: Sunset on the way home from dinner.



    Thanks to a link from WabiSabi's blog, I submitted by url for rating -- just like a movie. As I expected:

    Free Online Dating

    I received a "G" rating, even though (as the web site told me) I used the word death twice and dead once.

    Interesting, the concept of death is not suitable for all ages. Go here to find out the rating for your blog.


    Saturday, July 14, 2007


    Today in the SPLAT life -- in other words, random thoughts from SPLAT:
    • Words to a song: Take my heart and form it; Take my mind, transform it; Take my will, confirm it to yours, to yours, o Lord.
    • The Storyteller, Rev. Michael Williams, spoke today. He talked about the story of the Good Samaritan. Notice that it appears in Luke 10, right after Luke 9, when the Samaritans reject Jesus -- I've never noticed that before, but I think it is important.
    • My favorite phrase from Rev. Williams -- "It's not a sweet story about someone helping someone else, but a story about the radical nature of God's love."
    • Andy Lambert taught a workshop about Weird Stories in the Bible. Consider the story in Mark 5 about the healing of the man in the cemetery. Jesus sends the demons into a heard of pigs, who jump off a cliff. The nearby villagers are upset about the loss of the pigs, instead of celebrating the man's newly found freedom. It's a matter of priorities. If God works in our lives and fixes what we cannot, then some pigs are gonna die.
    • Notice the altar in the image above. See the ladder in front of it. I've wondered all day about that ladder. I think it must be deliberate. Why would it be there? What does it represent? What is our ladder to the altar?

    Images: Kathleen Baskin-Ball preaching on Saturday evening. Shadow images created by J and H. Middle image is a chain of glow in the dark bracelets.


    Friday, July 13, 2007


    Rev. Michael Williams, a storyteller, told the creation story as the sermon yesterday morning. He spoke about God telling a story, and the world coming into existence.

    "Once upon a time, there was the sun and the moon..."

    God created Adam and Eve and then walked with them, teaching them how to tell the story.

    It occurred me as I listened to Rev. Williams speak, that God is continuing to walk with us and to teach us how to tell the story. We are God's hands and feet, but we are also his storytellers.

    Ray Buckley led a seminar today about names. He spoke about the traditions of his Native American tribe -- how children in the tribe, when they were not called by name, were called "Standing sacred in front of me." It was to remind the child that he or she is sacred -- a child of God. It's just another way to tell the story.

    I was reading the Disciplines devotion today. It was about speaking blessings. A minister told the story of an anonymous letter he received which thanked him for his sermon - how it contained exactly the words he needed to hear. The writer of the letter was speaking blessing over him. What a wonderful image, and what a wonderful goal for us -- to speak blessings over someone's life.

    It's just another way to tell the story.

    We are all called to step out and to be storytellers.

    Image: Flowers near the convention center.


    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Cross Variety

    Can you see the altar in this image? It's the one from SPLAT worship this morning. I don't know how many crosses are on the altar, but there are many of them -- different sizes, different styles.

    I like this image, and to me it is symbolic of many aspects of this experience.

    • We all come to this one place with different life experiences -- different goals -- different backgrounds -- and different crosses to bear. And yet we all place them on the same altar.
    • Those who are attending all have different viewpoints of faith -- conservative, liberal, and everything in between. And yet we are all United Methodists
    • Worship isn't about what is done in front of us; it is about what is accomplished within us. And all bring different expectations, different worship traditions and different burdens to worship, but we all bring them to the same God.
    • Jesus died on a cross for all of us, but it is when we finally realize that he died for each of us that we start to let his death and resurrection transform us. We are unique, and yet his salvation and grace is the same for all.
    • We are all made in the image of God -- none of us more like him that another. What glorious and majestic depth he must have, since all of us are so different, and yet we are all made in his image.

    Here's to glorious variety.


    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Don't tell me

    We're here at SPLAT, as I mentioned on Monday. We arrived today, and have walked through the EXPO and experienced worship in a coliseum.

    There are many things that you can tell me, and I would believe you. You can tell me that tomatoes are a fruit (even though they seem to be vegetables), that sugar and caffeine can make a child act like a wind up toy, and even that if you carry an umbrella, it won't rain, and I will believe you.

    After tonight, though, there are things that you should avoid telling me, because I will know that you are wrong.

    • Don't tell me that the simple movement of hands in light, creating shadows, couldn't possibly be funny, and I will know you are wrong. I have watched Bob Stromberg do it, and I laughed myself silly. How can light and shadows possibly look like a camel?
    • Don't tell me that worship in a coliseum couldn't be authentic, because I have seen and experienced it, and I will know that you are wrong.
    • Don't tell me that God cannot be found in the noise, because I have heard him, and I will know that you are wrong.
    • Don't tell me that teenagers are too young, or too distracted, or too selfish to notice the presence of God, because I have seen their faces during worship, and I will know that you are wrong.
    • Don't tell me that men do not nurture youth or care about faith, because I have seen them walking around with their youth groups and I have heard them singing (praise choruses, no less), and I will know that you are wrong.
    • Don't tell me that youth aren't touched by God, or that they will not speak of Him, because I have seen them and heard them, and I will know that you are wrong.
    • Don't tell me that a youth group can't come together after a long day of travel, and experience God walking among them during a time of devotion, because I have heard Him in their voices, felt His rhythm in their reading, and seen His light shining from their eyes, and I will know that you are wrong.

    God walks among youth. He has taken up residence in Greensboro this week, and so far, it has been joy.

    Image: Youth gathered for worship at SPLAT


    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Rejoice in God's nearness

    I want to go back for an evening and look at one of last week's lectionary readings. The sermon last Sunday was based on Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. It was a great sermon, and it brought to mind several thoughts -- insights that I hadn't had before. I mentioned one in my post on Sunday, but there were others.

    • Suzanne mentioned that there were 70 nations in the world at the time. I like this -- symbolically saying that we should go out to all the world.
    • He sent them in pairs. She explained that it took two witnesses to testify to something in that time. I like that they were sent out in pairs, and not alone. God knows that there are things we need help to do -- that we need someone else to enable us to accomplish his work.
    • I read a post the other day (Enter the Rainbow) which discussed this scripture. The author reminded us that these disciples were not going out to spread the word of a risen savior (as we do today). They were sent out to bring peace, and to say that God is near. That's an important message, even today.
    • At the end, they all come back, amazed at what happened while they were traveling -- at the power God had given them. Don't you get the feeling that they are a little TOO proud of what THEY have done? Aren't we like that sometimes? The Message version of this scripture says, "Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that's the agenda for rejoicing."

    He asks them to tell whoever they come to that "the kingdom of God is near." Isn't that also what he tells them at the end -- so that they will see it, too? Rejoice in what God does for you! The kingdom of God is near to YOU, too.

    Image: Yep. Beach. Again.


    Monday, July 09, 2007

    Logos - Colossians 1:1-14

    This post might be a little bit long, and it might seem as if it is actually two posts, combined, but I have a point, and all will be tied together at the end, I hope.

    This is Logos, which means that I write about one of the lectionary readings -- each Monday in the summer. Today will be centered on Colossians 1:1-14. I'm taking it bit by bit, and there will be a unifying theme to my comments at the end, so just stick with me.

    Verses 1 and 2: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. --> I really like how Paul speaks so often of grace. Plus, do you see the greeting of peace? Remember the lectionary reading from yesterday? The sending of the 70? Jesus tells them to go into people's homes and show them peace. Tell them of the presence of God.

    Verse 3 and 4: In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, --> Pray. Paul is praying for them, and he wants them to know it. It is a blessing to know that someone is lifting you to God in concern and prayer.

    Verses 5 and 6a: because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. --> Learn. Paul is praising them because they have been open to the word of God and have learned of him. It is a task we should never abandon. The more we know of God, in our hearts; the higher our hope will be. "The gospel that has come to you." Gospel = truth. When we learn of the truth, it will change us.

    Verse 6b: Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. Seek --> Listen to that verse again, this time from The Message: From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you've been hungry for more. As we learn the truth -- as the gospel comes to us -- we become seekers. I love the phrase, "hungry for more."

    Verses 7 and 8: This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit. Teach --> Paul is praising the one who brought the Colossians this message -- their teacher. Sometimes we think of teaching as standing in front of a class, teaching, in a formal sense of the word. We all teach, in so many different ways. By our acts, our presence, our love and sometimes even our words. We are all called to teach.

    Verses 9 - 11: For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, Again, Pray --> It must be important for the Colossians to know of Paul's prayers because he's telling them about his prayers, once again. Twice in 9 verses. "We have not ceased praying for you..."

    Verse 10: A repeat from above, it's the "so that" of Paul's prayer: so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. Act --> Paul is praying that they will be so filled with God, that they will act -- they will bear fruit for God in their good work. We've heard that faith without works is dead. It is a sign of death, if we are not fruitful. May we be so filled with God's grace and love that action is something that we cannot not do.

    Verses 12-14: while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Act, again, except this time it is God's action. God's work in the Colossians and in us. And we should be thankful for it.

    One of our associate pastors yesterday preached about the Commissioning of the 70. She told a story, at the end of her sermon, about a man who is retired. Once he retired, he took up woodworking, and he makes crosses out of scrap wood. He transforms scraps, which by definition have no real purpose, into crosses. I like that image. Don't we all feel like scraps sometimes? Useless for God? And yet he transforms us into Christians -- Children of God.

    She gave each of us one of his crosses, pictured here. She told us to:
    Go and do
    Go and serve
    Go and love.

    Go back and take a look at the words I used when I was discussing the Colossians passage, but allow me to reorder them: Seek, Pray, Learn, Act, Teach. SPLAT. On Wednesday, three other youth leaders, and I, plus five youth will be traveling to Greensboro to attend the Methodist quadrennial youth event. This year the theme is SPLAT. As we Go, I'll carry this cross with me. I'll try to report back on the blog what God is teaching us, for I fully expect to find Him there.

    Do you know why? There's a song on a CD that a friend gave my husband and me a couple of weeks ago. The song is Didn't it Rain by the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. It starts out with the spoken phrase, "I didn't come here looking for Jesus; I brought him along with me." God will be at SPLAT, because all of us are bringing him along with us.

    It's gonna rain, rain, rain! SPLAT.

    Images: No, the first one is not mine -- it's from the internet somewere, but now I've forgotten where. The second image is my cross from Suzanne.

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    Sidebar Links

    I meant to highlight this earlier, but I forgot. I've added a couple of items to the sidebar.

    1. Go check out the Nothing but Nets campaign. There are two links in the sidebar. The changing graphic links to the nothingbutnets.net site sponsored by everyone involved in the project. Below that graphic is a link to the United Methodist site (we are only one of the sponsors). This is a great program, with the potential to save many lives. As a sidenote, I'm just tickled that the graphic changes as I watch it. I didn't write that code, but I like it.
    2. I've added a link to a google images site with photos from our beach vacation - just nature scenes. I have pictures of my family, but I probably won't put those in a public album. By the way, love the new camera. Just love it!


    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    On to the Next

    The sermon in worship today was great. It was about the lectionary reading from Luke 10 this week -- the commisioning of the 70.

    One quick comment about it before I close this computer down for the night. Do you remember this verse?

    When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say, 'The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we're giving it back. Did you have any idea that God's kingdom was right on your doorstep?'
    Remember that Jesus sends these new disciples out, carrying nothing? I wonder if this is perhaps another command to carry nothing with them. Perhaps he is telling them that there are times when they will be rejected as they spread the word about God. So often, we use that as an excuse to stay silent. I know I do. But I wonder if in this commissioning Jesus might be telling them (and us) that their possible rejection is not grounds for inaction.

    And if they are (and if we are) rejected, they were to "shake it off." They were not to carry the rejection with them like extra baggage. Move along, because there are others who need to hear the word.

    I have more to say about this passage -- the sermon really highlighted several things for me -- but I'm tired; it's late. Maybe on Tuesday...


    Saturday, July 07, 2007

    Prophet of gloom

    I'm teaching Sunday school tomorrow. The lesson is based on Zephaniah 3:1-5, 8-9. If you read that, you'll see that it is a very gloomy prophecy about the future of Judah. The lesson is entitled "Getting Ready for Judgment."

    I'm not particularly excited about teaching this lesson. Where is the grace in this?

    Therefore wait for me, says the Lord, for the day when I arise as a witness.For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms,to pour out upon them my indignation, all the heat of my anger;for in the fire of my passion all the earth shall be consumed. Verse 8
    Is it wrong of me to prefer to teach about how Amazing is God's Grace, rather than God raining judgment on his people?

    I'm not teaching my own class tomorrow; I'm teaching a class which follows the International Series Lessons faithfully. If I were teaching my class, I would have the freedom to choose something else. In some ways having curriculum that is followed faithfully makes me less creative, and sometimes I think it makes me lazy -- I don't have to hunt for what I want to teach -- I just pick up the books, and work up the lesson.

    On the other hand, if I could choose to not teach these kind of lessons, then I would miss out on parts of the Bible that I would rather not read and rather not teach, so I suppose there is a benefit to this.

    As I sidenote, I was disappointed with the teacher's manual this time. The activities suggested in the lesson are:

    1. Read a hymn called "Sinners Turn: Why will you die" by Charles Wesley. (I did try to work this in)
    2. Bring in several different warning labels and have the class discuss them.
    3. Bring in the speech by Osama bin Laden, warning of the destruction of the US. Ask, "Who are the believable prophets of doom today." The question is OK. I'm not prepared to use their illustration. I don't think it is a very good one.
    Here's hoping that it goes well. I'm not particularly looking forward to it.


    Friday, July 06, 2007


    What does it mean to be free in Christ? I've heard many people, usually who are not Christian, say that following God is not freedom -- that it's giving up freedom because it requires obedience.

    OK, I can see that, but I don't agree with it. Read these verses from 2 Corinthians 3:16-18:

    But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
    So how am I free?

    • Following an equipping God can free me from the worry that I won't have the resources or the gifts to do what he wants me to do. If he calls me to do it, he will equip me to do it.
    • It frees me for joy. When I answer God's call, I am free to experience joy, and it's amazing.
    • I am free to praise, and I can do it without worry that my singing or my dancing will not be pleasing to God (I may not sing or dance in public, but I'll do it for God.
    • I am free from sin. That doesn't mean that I will not sin, but I am free from a state of unforgiveness. I am free to experience grace.
    • I am free to love. I have been and am loved by God, and am free to share that love with others.
    • I am free to experience gratitude. How great is that?

    Freedom -- freedom from slavery to sin, hatred and loneliness. Free to be transformed into God's vision of who I am to be.

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    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    Bear each other's burdens

    One of the lectionary readings for this week is Galatians 6:1-6, 7-16. As I was reading it this morning, I read it in both the NIV version and The Message version. Compare verse 2:

    NIV: Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

    NRSV: Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

    The Message: Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law.

    What do you think of The Message version? Does it seem to say the same thing as the NRSV or NIV version?

    I often like The Message -- at times it really captures the spirit of the what the writer was originally trying to say. In this particular instance, however, I think the bias of the author shows through the translation.

    Don't get me wrong -- I do think that what The Message implies in this verse is right in line with Christ's message, but in this particular case, I think Eugene Peterson has narrowed the scope of the verse -- I think it's meaning is bigger than The Message gives it credit for.

    There is a song by Watermark called More Than You'll Ever Know. This line is from that song:

    You have carried me
    You have taken upon a burden that wasn't your own

    I think that this might be one of the things that Christ meant when he said to love one another. We carry each other's burdens -- gladly and with joy -- because that's what community means. Our burdens are lighter because we have help carrying them. Other people's burdens are lighter than one would expect because God steps in and lifts some of the weight. We find that in blessing other people we are blessed beyond our imagination.

    We don't stoop down, we reach out. We reach out to those who are oppressed, yes, but we also reach out to the person right next to us.

    We do it because we are Christian. We do it because we are part of community. We do it because we can't not love each other.

    It's grace, and it is amazing.

    Image: Moon rising over the ocean. I just love the colors.

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    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    In Celebration of Declaration

    Happy Fourth of July!

    I was reading a blog today in which the author wrote that the USA was 231 years old today, if we counted in a traditional manner.

    First of all, 231 years means that the bicentennial celebration was 31 years ago. I remember the bicentennial, and suddenly I feel very old.

    The phrase "if we count in a traditional manner" struck me. I realize that today is the anniversary of our declaration of independence -- not the actual anniversary of the organized governing of our country. I also know that just because independence was declared doesn't mean that there wasn't a whole lot of work to be done before the declaration could be made reality.

    I like that we celebrate the declaration. There is something special -- important -- tremendously difficult at times -- about the declaration. It's the first step in change. It can be the moment of stepping out in faith. The declaration involves our first exposure to risk. It can be the moment that we say out loud, "I am going to change."

    It's worth a celebration.


    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    Beach images

    We just got back from vacation this evening. Tired, I am. Rather than words, how about some pictures -- four of them ought to be worth at least 4000 words, right?

    The first two are of the sunset last night as I walked along the beach. The second two are of sunrise this morning from the terrace of the hotel.


    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Logos -- 2 Kings 5:1-14

    One of the lectionary readings for this week is the story of the healing of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-14. He was a commander in the ancient army of Syria, and had leprosy. Several thoughts in this passage jump out at me.

    1. Naaman was by definition, an enemy of Israel. He was instrumental in their defeat in battle, and later tradition names him as the one who killed Ahab in 1 Kings 22:34. Even though he was an enemy, the Israelite servant girl told him of Elisha, Elisha healed him, which I think also says that God wished for him to be healed. It says something important about loving one’s enemies, even in the Old Testament.
    2. Naaman hears about this prophet in Samaria from the captured Israelite girl in his household. This is a good example of poor circumstances – she has been taken from her home, and put to work for the enemy – not preventing someone from serving God.
    3. Naaman approaches his king, who sends him with a letter of introduction, to the king of Israel. The Israelite king panics! Who is he to cure a man of leprosy? But Elisha sends word, and Naaman goes to see him. I love the picture painted by the scripture. Naaman arrives at Elisha (I’m assuming very modest) door with his horses and his chariots, and his gold and clothing. I imagine him strutting up to the door, very proud and very desperate. That’s quite a combination. How often to we approach God, proud of our accomplishments, but desperate in our need?
    4. What Elisha asks him to do seems very simple, but in fact, is a very difficult thing for Naaman to do. In order to wash in the Jordon River, he has to lay down his pride. He has to humble himself to obey what Elisha tells him to do. Humility – placing someone else’s judgment above one’s own. At first he won’t do it. How sad if he had gone back to Syria carrying his pride and his leprosy because he hadn’t been able to set aside one to receive healing for the other. Don’t we do that sometimes?
    5. It took a community to heal Naaman. The servant girl, telling him where to receive it. His king, sending him with the letter and permission to go. Elisha, who told him God’s word. Another servant, who convinced him to do as Elisha asked. Sometimes we need other people to help us when we need healing.
    Who are you in this story? Are you Naaman, who needs healing? Are you Elisha, who has been called to deliver the word of God, even when it is not what the other person wants to hear? Are you the Israelite servant, who is asked by God to do his will, even in the worst of circumstances? Are you the King of Aman, who is used by God to send people His way? Are you the other servant, at the end of the story, who has to convince someone else to actually listen to God?

    Where are you standing today, and what can you learn from the story of Naaman?

    Image: Sand and water. Can you see the sky reflecting in it?

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    Sunday, July 01, 2007

    To hug or not to hug

    We were at breakfast the other morning, waiting for a table at the Sea Captain's House. In front of us was a mother and grown daughter -- let's call the daughter "Alice." Later, in came another grown daughter, "Betty" and her boyfriend "Bob." Alice introduced Bob to the mom, Betty hugged mom, and then Alice said of Bob, "He's not a hugger."

    Bob echoed, "That's right. I don't do that."

    This morning, standing at the ocean, I started thinking about that. What is a "hugger?" I think a hugger is a person who is comfortable hugging those who are not a part of his/her family, and does it (hugging, that is) with abandon -- hug hug hug. What is a "non-hugger?" I think that there are those people who are uncomfortable being hugged, like Bob at the Sea Captain's House.

    Are you a hugger? Or or do you not "do that?" Think about your church. Can you think of huggers in your church? I imagine that all churches have them.

    Hang with me; I do have a point.

    I don't think that I am a hugger or a non-hugger. Unlike Bob, I'm perfectly comfortable being hugged. I'm not always comfortable initiating a hug, unless I know that I am dealing with a hugger. I am more comfortable now with the whole "hugging" thing than I ever have been, and I think that I have been changed by the huggers in my church. There are some people I know who can't help it; they must hug. I think it is in their DNA, and I am glad for it.

    And then there are those times when non-huggers break down and hug. Those times are even more special because you know the effort that went into the hug.

    I asked Steve about this on the beach today. I was surprised when he told me he was a hugger. I mean, he hugs me all the time, but I'm surprised he's a hugger. When I think about it though, it's true. I asked him to list the huggers in our church. It surprised me that our lists are different. He listed people I wouldn't consider to be huggers. His list also didn't include the people I thought of being at the top of the hugger list.

    What's the point of all this rambling? I wonder if agape love isn't like hugging. There are people who are comfortable with it -- who show love to other people without even thinking about it. There are those people in a church who just "don't do that." And then there are those opportunities to change people -- to touch them with love and transform them into people who know what love is, and how to do it.

    We learn to hug by being hugged. We learn to love by being loved. When we show love, we are more likely to find it, because we are freeing people to be loving.

    Go hug somebody. Go love somebody. Go be Christ to someone today.

    Images: Purple flower from Tanger Outlet mall (same place as the yellow flowers with bees from the other day). Shoreline at sunset.