Monday, August 31, 2009

All things new

She sits in her chair
and listens to what is said.
She's seen it all,
heard it all,
done it all.
She knows best,
and the new ideas are just
drops of rain,
falling from the sky,
memories of previous rainfall,
Water, evaporated, soaked into the cloud
and released again.
Quenching no thirst.

What has been
is what will be.
What has been done
is what will be done.
There is nothing new
under the sun. *

He attends the meetings
Hoping for the days gone by,
when he knew what was what.
When gloves and hats were commonplace,
and when everyone knew her place.
His place.
He longs for the way it used to be,
and doesn't understand why it isn't that way
If we just did what we used to do,
then he would be safe,
and the church would be well.

"Would that we had died in the land of Egypt.
Or would that we had died in this wilderness.
would it not be better for us
to go back to Egypt?" **

We sat in a committee meeting
and complained about last year's meeting
What was its purpose;
what was its benefit?
And then the time came
to plan for the next year's meeting,
so we pulled out the schedule from before,
and just changed the titles.
Why would we complain about the past,
and then repeat it?

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth,
do you now perceive it? ***

Our past gets longer each year,
and stretches behind us,
tempting us with its security
and even with its failures,
to believe that we have seen it all
done it all.
To fall into the trap of saying,
"There is nothing new under the sun."

But the son defies that logic.
The son says, "Today is a new beginning.
Everything is forgiven.
Start again, with a day full of promise."
And it is our choice.
Do we believe him,
take the risk
take the chance
take the step of faith
to say, "I believe that God is here.
And that he brings forth a new thing."?

See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them
they will be his peoples
and God himself will be with them.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.

"See, I am making all things new." +

Choose. Believe.
Write it down, for he is trustworthy and true.
And he means what he says.

Inspired by a writing by Henri Nouwen in Here and Now
Scripture used:
* Ecclesiasties 1:9-10
** Numbers 14:1-4
*** Isaiah 43:19a
+ Revelation 21:2-5 (various verses)

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Clear Vison

One more post (maybe) rooted in James.

Lueking wrote in Disciplines this week:

Faithful doing of the word comes from seeing, really seeing, in others with needs of every kind none other than Jesus himself...Doing because of seeing is blessed beyond words.
A friend of mine consistently asked for prayer to clear vision. It seems simple, but it is a dangerous prayer. It is a risking thing to ask for yourself or for someone else. Clear vision.
  • To see what God wants for your life
  • To see one's own sin
  • To see Jesus himself in the needs of someone else
  • To see God's will as more important than your own.
  • To see God's will AS your own.
Clear vision. It's a dangerous, risking prayer that can lead -- probably will lead -- to action. According to the quote above, it is the source of faithful doing of the word.

Perhaps James is implying that clear vision leads to "religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father."

And we can take joy and comfort in the rest of Lueking's quote: doing because of seeing is blessed beyond words.

And I could greatly paraphrase is to say, "Seeing because of our blessings from God results in doing beyond words."

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Fruit of Belief

Still thinking about James....

There always seems to be a conflicting thought in my mind when it comes to James. James seems to be so centered to doing that the case could be made that one must do in order to earn grace.

For a person who believe that grace is an unearned gift, this presents a challenge.

Every once and a while, God gives me a reminder -- a gift -- that untangles my thoughts where this is concerned. Read this verse from James 1:

Verse 22: But be doers of the word, not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
And then in Disciple again this week (R. Dean Lueking's writing really spoke to me), I found this:
Hearing but not doing the truth is unthinkable in the new creation Christ Jesus has brought.
To say that one believes in Christ, believes in God, has devoted oneself to following God, and then to do nothing is evidence of self-deception. How can one believe, and then not respond? It's not the response that earns the grace, it's the response that confirms the belief in the grace, in the Christ, in the God.

Don't deceive yourself; instead, believe, and your belief can't help but yield fruit.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Amazing Risk

Continuing from yesterday's post about James, the Discipline author, whose name I forgot to mention yesterday (F. Dean Lueking), says this:
God takes an amazing risk. God entrusts the word to the lips of God's people to speak the truth in love, to upbuild one another's faith, to speak good news when there is none.
Consider first, how successful are we, as a group, in being God-like in our words and actions? Sometimes, not very successful at all. Our words can be hurtful, dishonest, destructive. They can lack compassion, understanding or grace of any kind. And yet, God trusts us to speak his word, to speak of his word, and to convince others of his grace, through what we say and do. It is amazing, and it might be one of the very most amazing things about grace.

To speak the truth in love.... Think of the challenge it is to know the truth -- to discern it in the first place. And then to speak of it, even when it might be uncomfortable or unpopular. And to do it in love -- with Godly purpose and with grace. Amazing that he has the extraordinary faith to believe we can do that.

Then, to upbuild one another's faith... Do your words, do my words, build faith in others, in myself, in yourself? Do we convince others that God is alive, that he is at work in the world, and that he loves even that person you cross the room to avoid? Do I build up that person's faith? Do I build up my own when I gossip and complain? Or do I damage my faith and the faith of others? And yet God has the faith in us to believe we can build up each other's faith.

To speak good news when there is none.... There are those situations, in death, in loss, in grief, when it is so difficult to know what to say and what to do. How can there be good news? If there is, how can we begin to speak of it in the face of pain? It is such a challenge to me to know how to be grace, how to spread grace, how to encourage grace, when loss is so big. And yet God has the amazing faith in us to believe that we can speak good news in those situations.

It is an incredible risk that God takes with his truth, entrusting it into our hands.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Listen, Speak, Respond

One of the Discipline readings this week was based on James 1:17-22. In that passage is advice to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. I must say that is excellent, grace-filled advice.

To listen well, and to listen, even when interrupted, is to say through your actions, to the person in front of you, that that person is important -- that his/her words matter. It is an important and sometimes overlooked form of agape. To set aside one's own priority of the moment and to truly listen is a gift -- a spiritual gift from God to the hearer and a gift of grace to the one "speaking" (for sometimes listening goes beyond words). Haven't been in a conversation when you know that the person in front of you is not listening? Have you noticed how defeating that realization can be? So, be quick to listen.

Being slow to speak is sometimes a challenge. Pausing before speaking implies that the one who was listening has actually heard the message, and that it has had impact. It gives value to both members of the conversation. Beyond that, don't we all need to take a moment to before speaking in order to judge the wisdom of our words, prior to them being said? It is advice I should heed more often. Be slow to speak (and maybe, sometimes, just don't speak at all).

Thirdly, I think being slow to anger could be understood to mean more than that -- avoid reaction and instead respond. I heard that countless times in college and just beyond, when I was an advisor to a sorority. I didn't understand it then, but I do now. Don't react. Breathe. Think. Consider. Listen for God. Then respond. Be slow to anger, slow to accusations, slow to judgment. It doesn't say avoid anger at all costs. There is time for anger, but be certain it is wise, warranted anger. Respond, if necessary, with anger that will create positive change, rather than anger for it's own sake. Be slow to anger.

"And welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls." Doesn't it all have to do with living a life that listens for God? Jack asked our congregation last week, "How beautiful is God's dwelling place?" If the word is implanted in us, do we leave it room to grow within us? Or do we crowd it out with our own agendas and self-grown "wisdom?"


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sense of Humor

A couple of months ago, I was a guest preacher for one Sunday. The lectionary reading of Isaiah 6:1-8 was part of the sermon. If you don't know by looking (I might not), that is the Isaiah passage that begins with "In the year that King Uziah died..." Isaiah ends by saying, "Here am I, send me."

The pastor of the church read the Old Testament reading, but he opened the Bible to the wrong book. He read Song of Solomon 6:1-8.

Here's part of it:
So where has this love of yours gone, fair one? Where on earth can he be? Can we help you look for him? Never mind. My lover is already on his way to his garden, to browse among the flowers, touching the colors and forms. I am my lover's and my lover is mine. He caresses the sweet-smelling flowers.
Way, way different passages.

I don't have any real point, except to share a funny story from the road. I would remind all of us of the folowing
  • We never know what's going to happen.
  • It pays to be prepared (I had he correct passage in my notes, and was able to read it during the sermon, since the sermon referred to it.).
  • It also is important to pay attention -- I was listening to him read, and knew pretty soon into the passage that he was in the WRONG place.
  • Expect the unexpected, and find the JOY in it, rather than the pain.
  • Lighten up. Laugh. Enjoy. Remember that you are created in the image of God and that God HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR. I mean, Song of Solomon?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I was reading SpinBeat this evening -- Laura Allen's blog. She was writing about the music of Ben Sollee. In discussing his lyrics, she made this comment:

By the end of the song, you get the idea: God is tired and needs our help to figure things out. It’s ironic and somehow comforting to think that humanity, the very thing God created, can confuse him/her.
I imagine that there are those who would baulk at the idea that God is ever confused. And I admit that it might be a stretch.

I do believe that we are created in the image of God -- that everything good about us is from him. I believe that our joy, our laughter, our tears of mourning, our righteous anger, the way we love, the way we support each other -- all of it is in the image of God.

I believe that sometimes it is good to be confused. It know it's rarely a pleasurable state, but it implies that we are dealing with the complicated, with the things of the world that stretch our ability and cause us to grow. I believe that sometimes confusion results when we work hard at our relationships, with trying to understand the people we love.

If confusion can be good, and if all good things come from God, and if the good in us is created in the image of God, could it be that God could at times be confused? Is it confusing to be in relationship with those he has created? I just image that there are times when he walks with us as he shakes his head, wondering why we make the choices we do, why we ignore his love for us, why we are self-destructive and hateful.

I think we would be confusing, even to the one who created us.


Monday, August 24, 2009


I've been trying to think of something to post, but tonight, I find that the only reflection I have to offer is this one, of a bird.

There are times when I just don't have the mind to write.

Grace to all.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Greatest Commandment

In Sunday school today, we talked about Deuteronomy 6.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Verse 5
Compare that to what Jesus said:

He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus was a Jew, and I imagine he was reminding the Pharisee of what he already should have known -- as he reminds us.

As I was listening to Jenny teach today, I was thinking that both Testaments of the Bible have a strong statement of our purpose -- the Greatest Commandment. Love. It seems to me that we have been instructed to look at everything through that commandment.

Compassion ... love ... comes first. It should overshadow everything else, and we should be looking at the rest of the Bible knowing that our God is a God of love. We should interpret everything knowing that.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009



Unity and Compassion

Yesterday, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted that it is in "Full Communion" with the United Methodist Church. The UMC passed a similar vote at General Conference last year, so the ELCA vote sealed the deal.

This means, according to the United Methodist Reporter, that "each church acknowledges the other as a partner in the Christian faith, recognized the authenticity of each other's baptism and Eucharist, observes the validity of their respective ministries and is committed to working together toward greater unity."

Wonderful, and a great thing to celebrate. Unity.

In the same news story, it was noted that the ELCA voted to adopt, "Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships." It was not passed without controversy, and there were threats that if the vote didn't go their way, some groups would leave.

Today I was told that the when a minister was asked what the Bible says about homosexuality, and he/she responded that "Jesus doesn't discuss it, and we should be compassionate," he/she was giving a response that was woefully inadequate.

Compassion -- love your neighbor as yourself: that might be the first time I've ever heard it called "woefully (or maybe it was completely) inadequate."

Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we get it wrong.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Open or Closed

This is a not-very-attractive-image of the organ pipes for the organ at Wesley Chapel, West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Note the two wooden boxes behind the screen. I'm not sure what those are called, but notice the one on the left (your left, I think) is open and the one of the right is closed. When the louvers are closed, the sound coming from the organ is dampened, and when they are open, the sound is louder.

I took this image because one is open and the other one is closed. I thought that might be unusual. I also thought it would make a blog post.

We, as a church, and as individual members of it, are called to tell the story. To witness. Do you (do I) close the louvers and dampen the story's volume, or do we say it loudly and clearly, with our words and our actions?


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Have I written about the original happy? I can't remember.

The story goes like this... When my mother-in-law and father-in-law were living in Europe (with their boys), George bought a gift for Judy. It was in a jewelry box, and he sat it on the dashboard of their car. Judy, impatient, was finally able to open the gift a little bit later. She found a garnet necklace. George told her it was a "happy."

From that point on, Judy gave people "happy-s" -- gifts for no reason. I would call them grace -- a gift, given but undeserved, received with joy. A happy. She was always giving people a happy.

It occurred to me today as I thought about visitation last night and the funeral today, that church is a happy. A gift given to us, that we don't deserve, but which we receive with joy -- that kind of joy that signals that we are close to God.

Thank God for the "happy" called church.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009



Monday, August 17, 2009


Judy sang
over the people she loved,
over the people she met.
She shared loved
in a way
that made everyone
feel special.
To her, we all were.

The pictures
The cards
Her laugh
Her caring heart
Were all notes in her melody
Sounds of her love.
Reaching, touching
Grace from Judy
To know her,
Even from a distance,
Was to know
Her special song of love.

When the disease came,
Slowly, creeping like a shadow,
Blocking out the lights of her memory,
It seemed as if she had been silenced.

There is a song in every silence
And Judy's song echoed
Through those she loved,
Through those she touched.
Even in the silence
She sang.

Now the disease is vanquished.
Now she is healed.
Alzheimer's stretches death
But is does not win.
In her death, a resurrection,
At the last, a victory.
And her song, never silenced
Dances among us,
Over us.
Within us.

Inspiration: Hymn of Promise


Sunday, August 16, 2009


My mother-in-law, Judy, died early this morning from Alzheimer's disease.

So far I have learned, or have been reminded that:
  • God is at work, even when we don't know it. In God's good time, Steve, his brother and I all ended up in Judy's room for a visit, even though it hadn't been planned. At the time, it felt like a goodbye. I suppose it was. My sister-in-law, Jenny, saw her yesterday: another visit inspired by God.
  • The process of death from Alzheimer's lasts a very long time. It feels like she has been gone for a very long time. At the same time, she just left.
  • When grace is offered, take it because you want to. Don't avoid it because you don't need it. It's OK to accept it just becuase you want to.
  • Funeral home clothes are awful.
God must hold the memories of Alzheimer's patients in trust and returns them as part of perfect healing.

Judy, we'll miss you.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fifth Avenue United Methodist

Fifth Avenue United Methodist Church, Wilmington, North Carolina. Established 1847.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Comfortable and Bored

I was at the mall today, and I wandered through the purse section. I love to shop for purses. I really like leather bags. I think I've inherited that gene from my mom -- her fetish is shoes; mine comes out in purses.

For the past couple of years I have gravitated to Stone Mountain brand bags. I love the leather, the design -- all of it comes together to appeal to me both aesthetically and practically. In fact, I noticed today that I probably buy the SAME Stone Mountain bag each time -- maybe a little bit different, but essentially the same. I'm comfortable with them, and maybe I'm just a little bit bored.

Hang with me; I have a point.

I think we do the same things in our churches. We go with what we know; with what we like. It feels right, and at some point, it was useful and practical. Maybe now we are a little bit bored with it, but we don't want to change it, because we are comfortable in it.

I read somewhere once that if we are bored with what we are doing to be closer to God, then God is probably bored, too. The more comfortable and the same everything is, the more bored we are with it. We are less likely to change it, because the best times we can remember with God were when our routine was new and useful. It worked then; shouldn't it work now?

So, this week I told a church committee I was meeting with that if something which was done last year didn't work, then we really shouldn't do it this year. And I didn't buy a Stone Mountain purse.

I didn't buy any purse; I have my eyes on a Fossil bag, and I'm waiting for it to go on sale. That's two genes I've inherited from Mom.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


What are you afraid of? I wonder if there is anyone who walks through life without some kind of fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of pain, fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of crowds, fear of ... you name it. Whatever it is, it fits in the blank.

What does fear do to our relationship with God? I think it can set up roadblocks. It can stop us from taking steps of faith and following God's lead.

But then yesterday, I found this quote on Facebook (and as a lectionary reading for the week):
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom Psalm 111:10a
How can fear be the beginning of wisdom when it blocks our relationship to God.

I think "fear of the Lord" is a different thing -- a different meaning of the word. I read somewhere that fear of the Lord means "reverence." Reverence of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

OK. That I can believe.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reverse Thinking

I read on the UM Reporter blog that a Titusville, Florida did a reverse offering. Each family unit in the church -- 221 of them -- was given a $50 bill and told to: "Use your talents, imaginations and entrepreneurial skills to multiply that investment."

A few months later, the reverse offering amount of $10,600 had become $24,500.

I think this project can teach us a few things.

  • It couldn't have been done without the realization that the $50 was a blessing. Any family unit that looked at $50 and thought, "this isn't enough to do anything" would have done just that -- nothing. Scarcity creates defeatism.
  • When we realize that what we have is not our own, then we have the potential to become better stewards
  • Perhaps as a church, we need to have more faith in the talents of our members
Image: Myrtle Beach at Sunset

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Never giving up

Think about an artist, creating a work of art. He works constantly, putting all of his effort into his creation, struggling with the artistic process. Would he stop his work in the middle, before he is near completion, in frustration because the half finished work isn't what he imagined it would become, even though he knows he still has work to do?

No, he wouldn't, because that doesn't make any sense.

Think about a parent. She devotes years to the raising of a child, dreaming for that child, loving that child. Sure, there are frustrations and set backs, but can you imagine that she would throw up her hands when the child is 10 years old, giving up, because he is not yet an adult?

No, of course not.

You were here before me, you were waiting on me
And you said you keep me, never would you leave me
I was made to love, and be loved by you.
I've heard people talk about ignoring what God wants them to do, or saying "no" to a call. Once we finally say "yes," are we surprised that God has hung around, and kept asking? I think sometimes we are, but maybe we shouldn't be.

God knows who we are, better than we do. He knows where we are on our journey, much better than we do. He's transforming us, changing us, making us better, making us more like him. Would he give up on that, just because he hasn't finished yet?

I don't think so.

God has chased us with grace, caught up with us, and is walking with us, walking in front of us, leading us and surrounding us with grace. We're moving to where he wants us to be. Would he give up? No.

I was made to love you, I was made to find you
I was made to find you, made to adore you
I was made to love, and be loved by you.
Lyrics by Toby Mac
Image: Sunset at Myrtle Beach


Monday, August 10, 2009

Grace is Sufficient

Take a look at this verse from 2 Corinthians 12 (verse 9)
but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
I think that there are many things that this verse might say to us -- many messages that God could send to us through these words. I think that on the surface, it reminds us that in our weakness, we can allow God's strength to fill us, to move us, to surround us. In our weakness, we find God.

This evening, another layer of understanding was added to the idea of grace for me.

I was listening to a member of our church, who is pursuing ordained minister, discuss his call. He talked about how small he felt next to the task. He felt so small that he felt, as we would say, unequal to the task. In fact, his sense of "smallness" was stopping him.

Until he realized that he didn't have to be "big enough" to follow his call. God was big enough, and he could trust in that.

As I think about it, God's grace is sufficient to fill in the gap between who we are and what we are called to do. The gentleman this evening said that this realization was freeing. If you don't have to be big enough on your own, if grace is sufficient, if God is sufficient, then you can do things you wouldn't try on your own.

God's grace is sufficient for us to step out in faith, unequal to the task, but confident in God.

Image: Myrtle Beach with a stormy and yet oddly lighted sky.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Back to Egypt

The Sunday school lesson today was based on Numbers 14:1-12. As I was listening to this scripture, I was reminded on a phrase Steve likes to use -- the "back to Egypt Committee." Churches have many back to Egypt committees, and I think they can be compared to the scripture in several ways.

  • The Israelites were surrounded -- surrounded! -- by the way God was caring for them in the dessert. They were supplied with food, water, direction, leadership, and the presence of God. None of this mattered -- they wanted to go back to Egypt. I think that they ignored all of these blessings. I also think that we ignore the many blessings around us -- or that sometimes we do.
  • All they could see in their future was fear. They didn't imagine that the future might be better than the past, even though the past was slavery. Do we in churches sometimes see the past with such rose-colored glasses that we can't imagine a better future?
  • They couldn't trust God enough to take them into the Promised Land. I think trust is necessary for us to move forward and to follow God.
  • They weren't able to let go of control. Can we give control of our churches to God?

Their trust of God was so small that they were willing to give up any relationship with God in order to go back to slavery. Does that even make sense? And yet I think we are sometimes like the Israelites.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

He's got an itch


Friday, August 07, 2009

Passion or Hobby?

The Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals:

  1. Is there a sport/ hobby that is more of a passion than a past-time for you? My hobbies rise and fall in their passion rating. I would have to say that it's rare for any hobby to rate as a passion. There have been times when knitting has been a passion. When I look at those time, it has been when knitting has been for ministry.
  2. Outdoors or indoors? Oh, indoors, most definitely!
  3. Where do you find peace and quiet? Carrying my camera around, walking in the park, walking on the beach.
  4. A competitive spirit; good or bad, discuss... Well, both. It can be motivational, helping us to achieve growth and an increase in skills. The danger, though, is that a competitive spirit can move priorities out of line, making the things which are less important seem all important.
  5. Is there a song a picture or a poem that sums up your passion? Taking pictures can become a passion, so many of the photographs of the blog "sums up that passion."


Thursday, August 06, 2009


My church does a weekly devotional ministry, and I am blessed to coordinate it. Maybe I mentioned it before?

Anyway, this week's devotional came arrived in my email for me to "dress up and send out." We email it to over 200 people each week. I also post it on a blog, so go and read it (that's a link). They are all good, but this one touched me.

I send out cards. Not as regularly as I should, and not as often as I should, but I try to send them out when God is hinting that I do so. I buy cards for no reason, and then find, maybe even months later, that I have the perfect card for whoever God has hinted that I send one to. Think he's involved in that?

Anyway, after reading Jeff's devotional, which is about (you should really go read it) following the example of the saints who come before us, I realized one of the reasons that I send cards. I send cards because my mother-in-law always did.

If you met Judy, and if she could find out your birthday, she would send you a card. Year after year. She even sent out Halloween cards. One year, our dog got a Halloween card from her dog. She bought cards. Tons of cards. In fact, when Steve's dad sends us a card, it's probably from Judy's stash.

Judy has Alzheimers disease, which is progressing to the point of death. We don't know how long we'll have her with us, but we think not much longer.

I send cards because God prompts me to. I send cards because I know what it is to receive love through the mail, because of Judy. I'm grateful to know that, and to have that bit of Judy to carry around with me.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pew Sitting

Birds sitting on poles. A pelican comes by and forces the seagull of his poll. He flies to the next on and dislodges the resident seagull, who flies to the next poll and does the same thing.

Don't sit in my pew!


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Prevenient Bread

The lectionary reading from John this week contains the phrase:
No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent meJohn 6:44
My original plan for the Children's moment last week involved baking bread in the small kitchen outside of the sanctuary so that the wonderful aroma of baking bread would be a part of worship.

Maybe that's one of the other ways that bread is like church.

Think about the aroma of baking bread. Think how it draws you in, how it makes your mouth water for fresh baked bread.

Grace is like the smell of baking bread. We can sense it from far away, and it creates in us (preveniently) a yearning for the bread of life. In communion, we take and eat, remembering Christ, and hopefully, others around us can receive the aroma from grace from us, from our lives, so that they yearn for God.

None can come to the father unless he draws them in -- preveniently.


Monday, August 03, 2009


I was part of a meeting last week that was brainstorming for ways to raise funds for our midweek worship service/meal. The main attendees at this service are homeless or marginally homeless people. We feed between 125 to 150 people a week -- free of charge.

We are trying to design a fundraiser that will raise enough money to support the project for a year. We would like to involve the community in the effort since the meal is providing a service to the community and is helping to fight hunger.

Big fundraisers require a lot of work. That seemed to be an issue. Don't get me wrong -- we need to consider the amount of work, and the types of gifts which are necessary to "pull off" an event such as this. We need to have our eyes open.

I wonder, though, if someone had said the same thing when we started this program itself. "That will require a lot of work and many volunteers." It does. What it provides to those volunteers, though, is a niche. A place. An outlet for their gifts and skills. Does the "milk lady" think it's a lot of work? Probably - but she also knows she is doing the will of God, and it's hugely meaningful for her.

Should we not do a project God is calling us to do because it is going to be work? Or is it time to realize that we are a church, and many of our members are searching for ways to "at work for God." They (we) want those opportunities to be at service. Why would we not do a project because it could provide that side benefit?


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Church and Bread

The basis of the Children's Moment I did today in worship: Why I think bread and church are alike:

  • Bread is made up of several ingredients, each of which serves a particular function. Each of us has been given gifts from God, and each of us has a role in church.
  • No one ingredient can be bread on its own. No one person can be church on his/her own.
  • The baker brings the ingredients together and bakes the bread, forming it into something that it wasn't before. God brings us all together and makes church -- transforming us into something we weren't before.
  • Bread isn't useful until we cut it and give it away, and when someone bakes bread, and gives it away, it can be a way to demonstrate love and friendship. Church is like that. I'm waiting for a pastor to finish communion by saying, "Get out." When we go forth into the world and demonstrate the love of God, we are sharing the "so that" of church.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Sun on the Water