Tuesday, December 18, 2012
So Joseph got up and, taking his child and his mother with him in the middle of the night, set off for Egypt, where he remained until Herod's death. This again is a fulfillment of the Lord's word spoken through the prophet -- Out of Egypt did I call my son.
When Herod saw that he had been fooled by the wise men, he was furiously angry. He issued orders, and killed all the male children of two years and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding district - basing his calculation on his careful questioning of the wise men. Then Jeremiah's prophet was fulfilled:
A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
And she would not be comforted, because they are not.
It saddens me to say that what happened on Friday, December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut is almost identical to what happened not long after Jesus was born. There was a man filled with jealousy and a need for control and power. As a King he took it upon himself to annihilate any and all threats to his throne of power. Innocent lives were lost at the hand of King Herod just as innocent lives where lost in Connecticut at the hands of a man who was filled with rage.
This passage from Matthew shows us that evil exits. It will exist until Christ returns. So what do we do? How do we find comfort in the midst of such pain, grief and despair? The day after the massacre I made my first tandem jump. After Friday I was ready for it. All last week the excitement and anticipation was so overwhelming and when Friday came it completely disappeared. I needed Saturday. I needed something to distract me, f only for a moment, from the chaos. Well, as God always does, he met my need in and through that jump.
Before I tell you how allow me to back track. In my first sermon, "Terrible Nights", I talk about how God can deliver us in the same way he delivered Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Today I want to talk about how God can comfort us during our terrible nights.
After the 60 second free fall the parachute opens and I and my jumping partner float for 6 - 7 minutes to the ground. It is actually a lot of time to view the world. Though jumping keeps you in the "real world" you are removed from the reality on the ground. I noticed how the horizon went on for days. I saw the curvature of the earth that we take for granted when our feet are firmly planted on the ground. I saw different types of soil, grass, waterways and ponds. I saw creation in a bigger and fuller way. What I saw was beautiful. In God's creation there is beauty and through that beauty I was comforted. In the midst of my deep pain and unrelenting darkness God's creation became my comfort.
My prayer for all of you is that God will reveal to the beauty of creation and in that beauty you will find comfort in the midst of great tragedy and darkness. For the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not extinguish the light. - John 1: 5
My prayer: Come Lord Jesus, Come quickly!
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
For more Advent and Christmas thoughts visit a fellow blogger here.
Monday, December 17, 2012
The jump was @ Triangle Skydiving Center in Louisburg, NC.
(WARNING: This is not for the faint of heart)
You will notice that the audio did not work so I can't hear what I sad when talking to the videographer. The main thing is that I plan to do this again. It was so much fun.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Sometimes I put responsibility on myself just because I am a minister and this is one of those times. I should say something to bring comfort to a nation that is grieving right now. But I can't. My grief is so raw it is all I can do to not sob uncontrollably in this Starbucks cafe.With that I leave you with this post I found on a friends Facebook wall.
"Some days dark tremors sweep across our lives. Troubling events accost us. We have grown accustomed to such things, and often we have fenced off our natural sympathies with the thought: this belongs to somebody else.
But now a crisis of life brushes close to us, touches us, befalls us and those we love. We want, now, to know: how, and what, and why? We want an explanation, though we know that all our explanations put together do not finally explain. They but fend off worry, anger, and grief. The mysteries of evil and innocence remain. The darkness of being at a loss remains, and in this abyss of the heart we can but pray for light.
This is when I pray, and this is my prayer.
Let me be patient of all these feelings that drive me hither and yon. May I be at peace, more patient with myself. Let me live within the questions that promise no answers but only signal the mystery that gave them birth. Let me turn from every pettiness of the heart, willing to see and accept that the world does not revolve around me. Let the grief, the pain, and the nameless trouble that overcomes me also open me to feel what others have felt.
Giver of being and freedom, unbind my compassion for all beings about me, and again set free the child of grace within me. Amen." -George Kimmich Beach
Thursday, December 13, 2012
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn't want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. 20 As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled: 23Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, And they will call him, Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means "God with us.") 24 When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he didn't have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus.
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We've seen his star in the east, and we've come to honor him." 3 When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. 4 He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They said, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote: 6You, Bethlehem, land of Judah, by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah, because from you will come one who governs, who will shepherd my people Israel." 7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search carefully for the child. When you've found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him." 9 When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route. 13 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him."
This would be her second child but this delivery would be very different from the first delivery. The second child was coming so fast there was no time for an epidural, something this mother had for the first delivery. When I got to the hospital she said, "Dell, I thought I was losing my mind!" I thought to myself, "How Terrible!" Here a woman is bringing life into this world and she thought she was losing her mind. It makes me think of another woman who's first delivery was probably terrible too. That woman would be Mary, the mother of Jesus. We know the story well, Mary and Joseph were on their way to be counted for the census and Mary was great with child but there was no room for them in the Inn. All they had for shelter was a stable. This stable had livestock in it and you know it smelled. Even cute sheep smell. This is where Mary would give birth to Jesus, in a stable with livestock, strong smells and hay that pokes you in your skin and scratches you. That is how our Savior came into the world and this was Mary's "delivery room". That was terrible. But lets backtrack 9 months when Mary first learned from the angel that she was with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit. It is concluded that according to Jewish customs and law that Mary was around the age of 13 when she received this message from the angel. That is not the kind of news I would have wanted to hear when I was 13 and I imagined no other woman would want that either. As favored as Mary was in the eyes of God I imagine in her native language she had a few choice words upon hearing this news. See, in 2nd century Palestine it was not unheard of for a woman who was pregnant outside the bonds of marriage to me stoned to death. Our passage from Matthew eludes to this indirectly by telling us of Joseph's compassion by him deciding to send Mary, "quietly" away so as not to shame her.
Once Jesus was born the Wise men came to see Jesus and upon their leaving God order Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt, for Herod wanted Jesus dead. Why do I tell you these terrible things during a wonderful holiday season? Context! See, blessings and thanksgivings have no meaning without the context of the struggles and obstacles we have overcome or are currently in. If we are to begin to understand the MAGNITUDE of God's love for us then it helps to understand the circumstances Joseph and Mary find themselves in within their culture and community. Just as women can deliver children into this world, God who gives that gift of delivery, can also deliver us from whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. Through this one family, Mary, Joseph and Jesus we see to what lengths God will go to deliver those that he loves. God literally delivered both Mary and Jesus from immanent death. Jesus himself was born with a death threat on his head, but God saw to it that Mary would carry Jesus to term and that Jesus would not succumb to an early death. God also delivered Joseph. He delivered Joseph from the law of his day. Make no mistake, even the laws of our day can be oppressive or unlawful and God delivered Joseph from the oppression of Jewish law by giving Joseph permission to take Mary as his wife, though she was with child outside the bonds of marriage.
If God can deliver Mary and Jesus from certain death and Joseph from oppression under the law will he not deliver you? God can deliver you from death, whether it is an early physical death due to health problems or emotion and spiritual death. God can also deliver you from any oppression you experience from the laws of our day. GOD CAN DELIVER YOU! Will you let him?
Monday, December 10, 2012
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the World that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
Most Christians I know say that the gospel is summed up in this verse, but I would like to add something else. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This too, for me, is gospel also.
So then, if loving our neighbor is also good news, what then does it mean to "Love our Neighbor?"
Jesus taught that loving our neighbor included not loving just those we like but also people who we did not like, or even those who hated us. It is very tempting to stop here but I want to explore this further. Jesus said a lot of things but he was also an example for how we are to live as Christians. If we only look to what Jesus said and repeat it, I am afraid we have fallen short of what we are called to do when sharing the Gospel. Based on the 4 gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we read of Jesus' interactions with people. More specifically we read about his relationships with those he encountered and those he lived with. The commandment, along with Jesus' example on how to live lead me to believe that loving our neighbor includes interaction that leads to the building of relationships. To tell the Gospel is to interact with people, have conversation and build relationships. I believe so strongly in this that it is the basis on which I do ministry. It is also why I was so thoroughly offended by the actions of a few this past weekend.
This past Friday I went to a Christmas Parade to see an entry in the parade. Just prior to the start of the parade I had been talking to a couple when a young lady came by and gave each of us what looked like money. Upon further reading there was the figure of $1,000,000 and Santa Claus on the bill. On the opposite side, in small print, was a list of sins that could send you to Hell should you commit them. (It really said that) Then in one sentence said how you could avoid Hell; confess your sins before the Lord, ask for forgiveness and declare the Lord as your Savior. Now I imagine you are all wondering how I would be offended by this by the fact that I am a minister and this is in the Bible. That is for another post except to say it was not the content on the paper that offended me.
Not long after that lady came by, about 5 minutes till the parade started a man on the street corner yelled very loudly in an attempt to get peoples attention. I assumed he was associated with the parade as I think most people did, as the crowd drew quiet and began to listen to the man. Very quickly, it became apparent he was not but was what I used to call, a Street Preacher. Very quickly people went back to the conversation including the couple and I that I had been conversing with.
I want to say very clearly that while I do not know these two people I encountered on Friday night, I do not hold any ill feelings towards them but their actions were hurtful to me and I will now explain why. Keep in mind that I believe that when we tell the Gospel relationship is a part of it.
The woman who, as quick as she gave the paper bill to me, left without having a conversation neither did the man. He stood on a street corner with an audience that was not going to leave because they were there to see the parade that would start in less than 5 minutes. He took advantage of the situation and talked at/to us and never had a conversation with us. What offends me about this is that neither of these people, in their attempt to tell the Gospel, learned anything about me. They don't know that at the age of 6 I heard the voice of God calling me to salvation. That at the age of 7 I followed Jesus' example and was baptized. They don't know that I heard the call to full time Christian Ministry and that I followed it to Ordination to the gospel ministry. And because they don't know any of these things about me, I don't know anything about them either. When it comes to sharing the Gospel that makes me sad as a minister. All the blessings that have come from God have come through the relatiosnhips that I have with people in which we share our lives with one another. If we are to truly bless the world we live in with the Good News of Jesus Christ we must be intentional about building relationships. Anything less and we all lose out. They missed out on getting to know me and I missed out on getting to know them as well.
One last note:
In the greek the word euangelion means "good news". How is it good news to tell people everything that will cause them to perish rather than what has been done for them so that they can know the grace, love and salvation of Jesus?
Friday, November 30, 2012
Take time to read and enjoy her post on her Thanksgiving holiday.
Less was More
Thursday, November 29, 2012
This post today is a review of the movie as well as thoughts on what we as a nation can learn from President Lincoln and his role in the passing of the 13th Amendment.
In terms of the characters I have to commend Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field in their portrayals of the President and First Lady. The movie really showed how they related to each other as a couple and how that influenced Lincoln's drive to get the amendment past. Which leads me to one of the memorable quotes in the movie. Prior to January 31, 1865, Mary Todd Lincoln says to her husband, "You better make sure this amendment passes or you will have me to deal with." Made me think of that common phrase, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" Of the quotes in the movie, the following struck me the most. In parenthesis is the character that said the statement.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the House of Representatives. This is your house."
- William Seward (Republican House Leader) Spoken on January 31, 1865 to
the gallery that was predominantly African Americans.
"I don't know what the future holds for me and my people."
- First lady's assistant's response after Lincoln asked her what would she and
her family do after the13th Amendment is passed and they are a free people.
"It begins with Liberty."
- President Lincoln talking to two operators. This is Lincoln's conclusion on
how humanity should live derived from a geometry principle. Lincoln, in his
monologue quotes Euclid, "If two things are equal to the same thing, they are
equal to each other."
As I watched the movie I was struck by a lot of irony between 1865 and 2012 as well as the dramatic changes in the political parties from then until now. In 1865 the end to slavery was being fought for on the battle fields and in Congress, today people are fighting for equality under the law. The only difference is, and a good one I might add, is the fight for equality is in state government, federal government and the Supreme Court rather than on a battle field. It is important to remember that the battle field was the US and more specifically in Virginia and NC.
It is without doubt that the passage of the 13th Amendment dramatically changed the course of this country. What I admire about Lincoln was his willingness to stand for an unpopular cause even among his own party because, "It begins with Liberty".
As we approach a new year and new and returning representatives and senators come to Washington, we as a people of these United States should focus on Liberty. Liberty for all.
A final quote:
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. Colossians 1:24
The greatest period of suffering in my life began in December of 2006. For 12 years if have struggled with and suffered from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I learned in a rude and sudden interruption that PTSD can change an extrovert, according to the Myers Brigg personality test, to an introvert who avoids social interaction and refuses to build relationships beyond those that only function on the surface. How have I suffered from PTSD:
I wouldn't share my struggles with my closest family and friends
I would have daily flashbacks and fight to stay present in reality, so as not to get lost in the past
I would lose all ability to trust anyone, including God (Though only briefly)
And I would lose my love for teaching young children
During these past 12 years I would struggle with Paul's words that I should rejoice in my suffering. That's insane, right?
Well, in the past week I have discovered something new. As suddenly as my world came crashing down in December of 2006 God would come in boldly on Saturday, November 17 and I could say, "I give thanks for the sufferings of 2011, they make the blessings of 2012 all the more special. Today, I can add to that and say, "I thank God for the past 12 years of suffering, for God has been glorified through it." God is glorified when:
A youth thanks God for Ms. Adele coming to teach the Bible
A youth thanks God for Ms. Adele showing her the truth
A youth comes to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and commits their life to Christ.
An adult tells me how I understand them and how my kindness helps them feel loved and special.
I discover a rewarding and encouraging friendship with a fellow sister in Christ.
And through my suffering I understand the suffering of others who struggle with the evils of humanity.
God has been glorified through my suffering and through my weakness God has made me strong.
In 2002, prior to graduating from Campbell University Divinity School, I had to complete my Senior Synthesis. Part of that paper had to include a one page document that was a summary of my call and goals. I wrote that for my future, "My desire is that every person I encounter, that when they see me, who they see is Jesus Christ." I believe and know that this desire of mine is being fulfilled daily through my suffering.
If God is glorified then my suffering is worth it. Can you give thanks to God for your suffering? If you can't I understand. Take courage that God is working within you and that in your weakness he is making you strong.
“Thanks be to Thee, Jesus Christ,
For the many gifts Thou has bestowed on me,
Each day and night, each sea and land,
Each weather fair, each calm, each wild.
I am giving Thee worship with my whole life,
I am giving Thee assent with my whole power,
I am giving Thee praise with my whole tongue,
I am giving Thee honour with my whole utterance.
I am giving Thee reverence with my whole understanding,
I am giving Thee offering with my whole thought,
I am giving Thee praise with my whole fervour,
I am giving Thee humility in the blood of the Lamb.
I am giving Thee love with my whole devotion,
I am giving Thee kneeling with my whole desire,
I am giving Thee love with my whole heart,
I am giving Thee affection with my whole sense;
I am giving Thee existence with my whole mind,
I am giving Thee my soul, O God of all gods.”
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Back in September, Labor Day weekend I went on vacation to Martha's Vineyard and North Kingstown, Rhode Island. While in Rhode Island I took a day trip to the community of Narragansett. A beautiful ocean side community in South Kingstown Rhode Island. Here are some of the pictures I tool while there.
On October 30 Hurricane Sandy decided to leave its mark on New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Narragansett was left with great destruction. See the photos of the aftermath.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Human Trafficking is one of the largest criminal activities in the world. It only falls behind drug dealing and is tied with illegal arms dealing. Here are some more statistics that you should be aware of in regards to Human Trafficking:
In a recent post by Grace, as a guest post on someones blog she raises awareness of the atrocities committed against young girls who are caught up in the sex slave industry through poetry. The poem is written out of real stories of girls who are slaves around the world. This post is not for the faint of heart. It is disturbing, appalling and will make you uncomfortable. But I believe sometimes we must be made to be uncomfortable so that God can move us to participate in his work of redemption and rescue. In the Old Testament we see God as a redeemer when he freed the Israelites from Egypt where they were slaves. Jesus died on the cross to free us from the enslavement of our own sins. Though the bible is complete God's work is not. He is still in the business of redemption and we are the ones he chooses to use to free those who find themselves enslaved and oppressed. I ask you to take a few moments to read this poem and I pray that it will stir in you the desire to help end slavery in our world. Click on this link to read the poem. Below are additional links of organizations that exist solely to the work to end slavery. Check them out and see how you can help with their cause. With all of us working together I believe we can and will see the end of slavery.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Eternal God, Who has sought Your people across the generations, we open ourselves to Your presence in this moment of newness for our country. We pray for peace and prosperity in our land. We are grateful for the freedom in which we have been able to choose a leader. We are glad to praise You on this day that stirs hope for some, which brings disappointment for some, but which is a time for acknowledging Your goodness by all.
For our country — Lord, hear our prayer.
We are thankful for all those who offered themselves for offices of service and vision, and for all public servants. Give them discernment. Give them wisdom. Give them vision. Grant them the patience of cooperation. We pray for Gov. Romney and his family, that they will mourn the loss with integrity and move confidently forward in whatever work you call them to do.
We pray for President Obama and his family, that they will celebrate their victory with humility and serve in faithful stewardship of this high post. Grant him a sensitive heart, a clear mind, a willing spirit, and an active courage. Help him serve wisely with both caution and risk, and always to Your glory.
For our leaders — Lord, hear our prayer.
God of all the nations, You have called all people to lives of righteousness and justice, peace and wholeness. But we confess that sometimes we have cared more for lofty places than we have for places of service. We confess that sometimes we have worked more for power than we have for purpose. Help us be humble enough to work together with those with whom we disagree for sake of the common good.
Keep ever before us the broken places of our life together, places of despair and disappointment. Set our ears to hear the cry of the poor. Set our eyes to see the needs of the sick. And blend us with all people of good will, both in this place and beyond, to be a light to the world, bringing freedom to the oppressed and hope to all in need.
For our hearts — Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.
Prayer adapted from selections from Just in Time! Pastoral Prayers in Public Places, available in the Ministry Matters Premium Subscription.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
I the past month many people have posted on Facebook positions that they "Fully" support or "Completely" agree with. Some are political, some philosophical and a lot of them are religious. I must admit that when I read or hear someone say. "I completely... or I fully..." when it comes to their pastors or religious leaders, I ask myself, "And have you read the bible and made up your own mind?" See, I am a skeptic and I do not believe that anyone of us can find even one person that we will agree with on every issue in scripture. Even the disciples didn't agree with Jesus and at times argued with him. I think that gives us some room, to disagree with our pastors and religious leaders of today, and maybe even argue with them.
With this in mind I want us to look at what it might mean to, "Love the Lord your God with all of your mind"
What makes me a Baptist is what I call the four fragile freedoms. In a book by the title The Baptist Identity, Walter B. Shurden wrote about these freedoms in 1993. They are:
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Go read the entire post and answer this question,
What kind of Fatih do you want?
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
In high school I lost 2 friends to drunk drivers. Not long after graduating high school in 1991 I lost another classmate to murder. Since 1991 more classmates have died either to illness, crime or accidents and they do not get lost on me. The year I worked in a hospital I will not forget the 39 year old woman who lost her battle to cancer. I also will not forget the 21 year old and the 26 year old who also lost their battle to cancer or the 9 year old girl who died from a car accident. I know that each year I am blessed with is a gift. Each year, month, week, day, hour and each minute is a gift from God.
As I turn 40 today I pray that I have used my life to show love, mercy and grace to others as God has shown to me. And in gratitude to the life God has given me I will commit myself again to proclaiming Christ's death and resurrection to all I encounter.
Thank you Lord for 40 years. May you bless me with 40 more. Amen.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
After a year and a half I think back to that day often but I have come to experience some pitfalls of having "Reverend" in front of your name. I have learned that people, whether they are of a faith group are not like to put you in a box or assume certain things about you. All I know is that on October 23, 1972 I was born into this world as a human being. Being born human God saw fit to make me a girl. Without the fact that I am a human being I could not then be a woman, a christian or a minister. I want to take this time to share a little about myself so that you can see the humanity and uniqueness of a person who just happens to be a minister.
In spite of being an introvert I do enjoy the occasional social outing. Outings where I meet new people, converse with those I already know and enjoy a nice meal with a glass of wine. Now that I am a minister I still like to go out to various social events to meet you new people. What I don't care for is someone wanting to engage in a theological debate on the whether God is real and if God hates us or loves us and what do I make of Jesus Christ, I like to keep my social like somewhat free from inendation of my occupation. But what I do not appreciate is when I get a look or even hear, "you are drinking wine?" I am a minister, but I am most likely not going to fit into everybody's idea of a minister. Just as each person is an individual and has a personality true to only them, ministers are the same way. We are not all the same.
As a minister who works outside the church I view church very different than I did when I was a lay person who volunteered my time @ the church. No longer do I want to immerse myself into every church program. Since my ministry is my occupation church is a place for me to worship my God with other fellow Christians and a place that is my get-away from my ministry. I say getaway because Jesus gave us an example of "Self-care" by going away between his gatherings with the disciples, miracles performed and preaching opportunities.
As a child of the 80's/90's I love Rock and Roll and ordination has not changed that. Just this summer I enjoyed a Kiss and Motley Crew concert with my best friend. Listening to some good 80's rock allows me to escape to a world where I can just get lost in the music.
Also as a child of the 80's and 90's I am a fan of all things Vampires. When your formative years include movies like, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Interview with a Vampire and the Lost boys, I have naturally formed a guilty pleasure of watching The Vampire Diaries.
During my time in high school I attended a modeling school. You know, even I had that dream of becoming a beautiful and famous model. So to indulge in that never forgotten dream I live vicariously through those who do by watching the reality shows, America's Next Top Model and Project Runway. (I know, it is a little vain, but I just love those shows)
But probably the one thing that will come as the biggest or unexpected surprise is my current distrust and cynicism towards the church. The best way to describe it is by borrowing the title of a blog I recently read, "I am not in love with the church". Go read it before continuing on.
SERIOUSLY: READ BEFORE CONTINUING ON! THANK YOU!
I have gone through the pain of a divided church, seen a pastor forced out and left that church disillusioned and wondering where God was in the midst of all of it. I have served in the church and felt the judgment and criticism when what I did was not "good enough" for some church members. As a result of both of these events in my life I walked away from church ministry. Really, I told God that I would go anywhere and serve except a church. People say you should not tell God what you won't do but I did and still feel the same way about it.
I was 38 last May when I was ordained and who I was that day and today has been shaped by numerous life experiences, good and bad and becoming a minister does not change who I was prior to May 15, 2011. My ordination is but one event among thousands of events that have occurred in my life and that shape who I am. That one event in no way negates what happened before and I would not want it any other way. Just as I like who I am now I liked who I was on May 14, 2011 and really don't want to change everything about me. God looked past my gender, my faith and called me to Christian ministry because of who I am, whose I am and what I can offer as a result of my life experiences. So why do I write all of this to you:
At this point in my life, following my ordination, all I want and would give anything for is for people to look past my gender, my faith and my occupation and see me. See a human being created by God and in the image of God. I imagine that every person reading this post wants the same thing too.
So in the spirit of loving our neighbor let us meet people where they are and how they are with out any agenda to change them or label them to fit some box we have created, but only to get to know the person that has been created by God and in the image of God.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The Prayer of Saint Francis
So why bless animals? Why not bless animals? In both accounts of the creation story, Genesis 1 and 2, we read how all the animals came into being. The animals of the sea, earth and air all came from the earth, or dirt we might call it. Something else was created from dirt as well. Adam; mankind, was created from dirt and that life was formed from the breath of God. We as humans are connected to every animal and creature by where we came from, the dirt(earth) Throughout scripture we read story after story of how God blessed his people. If God's people, us, came from the earth and are blessed then why would all the other creatures that came from the earth not be in need of blessing or be deserving of blessing? In the 2nd story of creation God gives Adam, mankind, dominion over all the creatures. As we have dominion over all the creatures of this earth I think it would be of great importance for us to follow God's example. That example would be one of blessing. In response to the blessings God bestows upon us let us in return bless all creatures that we have dominion over. Not just for the love of dogs but for the love of all of creation.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
I am one who will not write to all my thoughts are clear and so I don't betray the word of God that has been laid upon my heart. So in the meantime, enjoy this post. May it inspire you, as it has inspired me to seek out the ordinary.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
A spirituality of work is based on a heightened sense of sacramentality, of the idea that everything that is, is holy and that our hands consecrate it to the service of God. . . when we care for everything we touch and touch it reverently, we become the creators of a new universe. Then we sanctify our work and our work sanctifies us.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
My life has changed dramatically since 2011, from struggling to put food on the table to now having a job that actually affords me to have money at the end of the month. Because the lord has blessed me I want and should bless those who are in need. In Matthew chapter 25 we read of the passage about a King (the Son of man) who says to the people,
"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
As Christians we are called to serve the least of these. To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the imprisoned, we are actually serving our Lord. This seems like a simple and a reasonable thing to do in light of the cross.
I invite all to step outside your homes and your churches and volunteer at your local Rescue Mission, food bank or soup kitchen. For when you do, you will look into the eyes of your brother and sister and acknowledge their humanity. I believe we can use a lot for of this than we can of the marginalization we are currently creating in America.