e mërkurë, 17 shtator 2008

Road to Emmaus Today

A renowned theologian, Karl Barth once said something like this, “Preaching should be done with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.” Which to me, means that we should never focus so close minded and completely on the Bible alone that we fail to realize what's going on in the world around us, and we should never become so consumed by and engrossed in the world around us that we forget the Bible.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this sort of thing lately. And- I was re-reading the story of the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-24).

From the Message, the first half of the passage reads like this: "That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was. He asked, 'What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?' They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend."

So they walked ---the worn path talking with one another about all the traumatic events that had just happened. They lost their friend, their leader. They were not sure what their future held, their place in life was just not clear anymore. They had heard of the resurrection but knew things were never going to be the same. They could not go back to the way things were. They were totally over taken by their own fears and their own emotions that they did not know with whom they were walking.

I know this has happened to me, this story has become my story. Periodically, I take a trip down the road to Emmaus. Maybe it’s your story too. But right now, I’m thinking of the symbolism this could have with the church – caught between a past that no longer exists and a future that is not yet here. In the struggle, has the church failed to recognize Jesus is walking in our midst – Yes right here, on a new road-today's paved roads- the Highway and overpasses- Jesus is walking with us- keeping with us in today’s time?

My local church has embraced Jesus on this journey. The church could no longer be what it once was. It could no longer be made up of the same people. The culture and community changed. The worship may sound different some Sundays but some of the best traditions have also been held onto.

Many rural or small churches in my denomination have simply been abandoned or faded away. There are people in the denomination that talk about a divide – a split in the church because of what I’ll call "today’s issues." Instead of recognizing and embracing Jesus walking in their midst- some people want to make a church within a church.

Other folks from outside of my denomination have built up new churches—Mega churches-contemporary churches.

When not able to attend my own church, I visited one of these new churches where all tradition seemed to have been tossed to the side-and thrown away. The congregation was dominated by a younger generation- baby boomers and younger- There were no wise old men or old women. Everything that resembled the traditional institution of church sometimes gets thrown out in these new churches. The coat and tie, dresses and heels are gone (which is a good thing)…but these new churches also seem too often to focus on being a safe place and they form their own little sense of community and in this--they forget the reason the church is here – they forget what the church is called to be.

The traditional churches on the other hand, seem to cling to the old mindset---- gender roles, attire, music…. The old churches hold onto the past without considering the present times.

I’m sure you get the picture.

I have struggled with the need for corporate church and worship- I've spent too much energy on my wants and failed to care meaningfully for the wants and needs of others. There is no room for finger pointing or blame—I’ve come to realize church is about all of us stepping forward together and individually.

Ultimately, I know worship is Not about me, it is about God. And ultimately being a part of a family of faith is going to require me to invest in each of my fellow church member’s spiritual journey either by praying for them or listening or talking – whatever happens and we all have to be willing to give each other room to claim the faith expressions that are meaningful in our individual quest to draw closer to God.

Sometimes, we may not recognize Jesus in our midst as a church and sometimes we fail to recognize Jesus in another person because we are simply too caught up in our own pain, emotions or drama- just as the individuals on the road to Emmaus were distracted by their own quagmire of despair.

I long for an authentic sense of community in which everyone has the same goal---to know God better and to walk in God's ways.

It is past time for me to acknowledge my grief over my past that has somehow given me comfort and identity and it’s time for me to release it into God’s arms.

It is time for me to trust God with the days that lie before me. Some of you may need to do the same. It’s tough sometimes to be in the place that I’ve heard called the “No longer and the not yet.” But it’s always nice when we suddenly realize God is walking with us. There is truth, in the saying that the “present is a gift.”

I belong to a church that recognizes Jesus on the road today- right now. At least, I think I still belong- I am away so much, I sometimes don’t know if they still know me- but I thought about it tonight- I know them, I know the church- It reminds me of the story of Emmaus- a story where the human race is re-made. There is a new world, a new beginning, a new creation, a new joy, a new hope. Calvary is an amazing church family – a new creation in churches – bringing me and others, new joy, new hope and new beginnings. It is a church that serves our community with heart and passions.

This church is an amazing church family that goes into the world in the name of God. We need not be distracted by the insignificant, but must choose to focus on the things of eternal significance. I love you and encourage you to love each other and always recognize Jesus on the road Today.

e martë, 29 prill 2008

UMC General Conference

Let me start but just filling you in a bit about General Conference. General Conference is the Top policy-making group for The United Methodist Church. This group meets once every four years. The Conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years. If I remember correctly- the UMC spent over 6 million dollars to put this thing on- I hope it's worth it.

I know the title this year is something to do with hope- Hope for a future?

One of the hot topics for policy discussion of course will be sexuality/sexual orientation and the church. I read my pastors' blog, It's on the MFSA's website. The blog gave me hope-I guess that name for the conference this year might be right on, after all- Hope for a future? I have still a little hope left- I have hope that I can stick it out- hope that the church won't split, hope that people can reconcile their differences and focus- FOCUS- Focus On Christ --not us--

It’s odd – when I was young, I always thought the UMC to be “the middle”- the middle of those touchy issues – the grey matter of the faith---Yes, that is it, it is now what I will call it. I have coined a new name for it- The grey matter of the Faith.

I say this because believe me it is grey matter – the major component of the central nervous system, consisting of nerve cell bodies – no doubt- yes the grey matter of the body of Christ. It touches the nerves of every single member.

But, reality did eventually slap me in the face. And, I now know the UMC is not the middle after all. Why would I want the middle? Well, I guess some folks may say I’m a moderate in liberal skin. But, I'm not sure - is it conservatives or is it liberals that just feel like it should be a "non-issue" I don't know I suppose that is why I just say I'm moderate- I'm not going to wave flags and instead of all this Hoop La and pulpits being overcome with “all about us” coming out sermons-not that there is not a place and time for this-there is- but it shouldn't be all about this- or this issue- it should simply and complexly be about our walk with Christ.

e shtunë, 8 mars 2008

The wonder we call and fail to call God

I just absolutely loved this and had to post it here for you all. Read it twice- take it in.


How sweet the taste of wax when it’s blessed with honey. Though we seldom mistake it for God, we speculate. A hive might figure the intricate divine. This you can chew,and abstraction, too. The exhausting world up there, beyond our petty spaces that buzz with pleasure. High over a cache of nimbus clouds, a spritz of cosmos, we find blanks to fill in.

The grass gets called god. The weather gets named as well, or credited to the faithful who prayed a potluck into sunlight. A well-baked pie can be heavenly (not heaven), divine (not divinity, another sweet).

Once inside the sacred body of another, or having let a lover in, we might say amen. We mean this, too, though not believing our unions last forever, selah. Such undulating gods lapse.

Revive us again from suggestion, a myriad wonders we call and fail to call God. Better work: to laugh or worry, the worry that wears a threadbare spot on the pocket of loved jeans, over time. See now? Worn denim becomes the means to smooth a god into our conversation (true as any considered hive). Laugh and fret at our many-honeyed, blank skies, our pockets falling off, bleached bland and emptied of risk."

By, David Wright
Professor of Writing and Literature at Wheaton College, IL, and the author of A Liturgy for Stones (2003) and Lines from the Provinces. Found in Princeton Theological Review ( This Spring's edition) See link to the Princeton Theological Review in one of my previous blogs.

e hënë, 31 dhjetor 2007

Short term Missions and my personal calling

This blog has been a long time coming. I know several of you have asked me to write about my short term mission experience. I have not been able to----because honestly, I have been so busy, with work, family illness, moving and the holidays-- But also if I am really honest it is because the trip was a pressure cooker for my own personal growth and it has taken me this long to process or rather even begin to understand what the trip really meant to me.

I know that I know I have a call on my life and it has been and still is incredibly difficult for me to answer. The costs are high for me and I'm not sure I'm ready or willing to pay the costs. As I write this, I realize accountability-it may sound bad but at least it is honest. Even as I write, I can’t fight back the tears. It is a call that requires more of me than I can give... That’s honest…. But, God has given me more than I deserve…so, I continue to pray for God’s Grace.

So, my friend, D, called and asked me to join her (and her church's team) on a short term mission trip. I knew before she asked me, that the call was her asking me this and I knew I was supposed to go and I wanted to go. It was to do habitat work on a remote island. What I didn’t know was why I was to supposed to go? Was I suppose to connect with these church members? With this church? Was I supposed to go to touch the heart of someone I met there? Was I going to realize that I was mistaken many years ago and perhaps I should have actually joined the international missions team I had considered as a vocation? I know now- that was not it- not at all. In fact, I know now, I was “supposed” to go to "know that I know"-- I am not called to international missions of this type. The mission trip just once again solidified my personal call and I am extremely thankful for this opportunity despite having to come home early for family illness.

While on the trip, we worked hard but did manage to rush into a couple of church services. In the short visits to this church, I saw a group of people who prayed with thankful hearts for us, the under-skilled roofers of an old poor woman’s home. I saw in them—God. I longed to be closer to them, but there was no time for that. I thought frequently of the church and wished I could be connecting with the people.

But instead we did manual labor, a roofing job that was apparently, just in time, because one day after the team's return, a hurricane passed directly over the island. I wonder if this old woman's house endured the storm and I have faith that it did.

Bare with me, I know I will ramble because I am still working this out in my head.

Sometimes, I relate to Paul--- sometimes, to Thomas. Before leaving for this trip, I questioned many things- including my call. I think I began to question my calling again because I "wanted" to question it.

Sometimes, God calls us to do those things that are not “easy” for us. International missions, in ways, would have been easier, for “me”…harder for many others. Please don’t misunderstand, I am deeply committed to the words of Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And I believe we are the hands of Christ…no doubt.

But, I also realize the words to the church of Corinth. We are DIFFERENT parts of one body. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’” God calls us to appreciate the part that each one has in the church. It’s all-important to the overall functioning of Christ’s Body. Of course, I’d be preaching to the choir if I went into a sermon about this. You know what I’m talking about … But, me-

Well---- Let’s go back to Thomas- Sometimes-often times- I feel like, I'm just not in sync with the other "disciples"/the other church folks - and that reminded me of Thomas-

"One of the twelve, Thomas, . . . was Not with the rest when Jesus came. So the disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." He said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails on his hands, unless I put my finger into the place where the nails were, and my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

— John 20: 24-25 (New English Bible)

For some reason, Thomas wasn't with the rest - and-- Thomas HAD to touch the wounds of Christ. They call him Doubting Thomas---not exactly the sort of Disciple I “want to follow” or that I "should" compare myself to- huh? Regardless, I just recently realized Thomas and I may be a little bit alike. Thomas really needed to TOUCH the Wounds to know Christ was ALIVE--To know Christ was real.

What does that have to do with the mission trip, and me?? I just started thinking about this and I started thinking about my heart –

I know too well the way the church has hurt God’s own people. I know too well that everyone is not treated as if they are indeed the body of Christ. I know that the wrongs of the church of Jesus Christ have to be made right – I know that somehow someone has to work for Justice and work to assure the outcast people are reconciled with the body of Christ.

Justice demands that we recognize and respect the dignity and rights of all people. As a Church, our official policy is or should be --to work toward social justice---justice within the systems of government, the economic powers of business, and the structures of social organizations. Unfortunately, many church leaders and members turn a blind eye to injustices that are suffered by the very people who work within the walls and structures of the Church itself.

There are the wounded among us – the wounded body of Christ and there are also the wounded who have been shut out by the very walls of our church itself.

Among my mission team members, I saw God. For those of them that I know feel called to international missions, I admire them- I am grateful God does not call me to be so far from good medical care that if I did have a cardiac issue, I could not get medical attention, I am grateful God does not call me to be in a place where I can not get on a plane immediately to rush home to a brother who may die. Those aspects would be difficult to swallow just as my own calling is hard for me to swallow in different ways for different reasons.

Yes, I saw God in many different forms in each of the team members. But, one thing I wonder - if all things were equal and all things were known, would they see God in me?

I remember a story about a monastery that was dying. No visitors came to the monastery anymore and the old monks were just getting older and dying out. A hermit lived near by and the monks went to the hermit’s house. They asked him what they should do because the monastery was dying. The hermit said, I don’t really know what to tell you but I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that one of you is a great disciple of Christ and will go down in history as such. The old monks thought who could it be? Is it Andrew? Is it Thomas? Soon, all of the monks began to treat each other with great respect and bow to one another with honor. Each of them lived as if they could be an important disciple of Christ and as if their fellow man could be that most important disciple. The monastery grew and thrived…

I know you are reading between my lines and I hope you know I am saying I know how I must live my life. I also know that story has deep profound meaning for all of the body of Christ if they will hear it.

My hands just are not able to do roofing for those abroad…but My hands and my heart –you see, they absolutely HAVE to touch the WOUNDS OF CHRIST, maybe I – Like Thomas need to touch the wounds of Christ to know Christ is real- Christ is alive!

I think I get it the way Thomas got it-- the real Jesus, the Risen Jesus, is the wounded Jesus- He is- after all, my wounded healer.

See, to me, there are so many injustices right here in the USA- right here before us, among us and there are so many outcasts who would not be touched by some other parts of the body of Christ.

There is more than one particular people group who is so wounded by the church today….. and someone-- someone- HAS to touch them…has to be that hand of Christ-just as Christ touched the leper.

Someone has to realize Christ IS the gay neighbor.

Christ IS the homeless schizophrenic.

When will we realize it is the Body of Christ who is gay –

the Body of Christ who is Poor-

The body of Christ has AIDS???

And, when will we ask who is called to go touch the wounds, touch the wounded body of Christ- touch the people and be the very voice that speaks for the voiceless? Someone has to ask these questions - so that these people groups will be reconciled and accepted as equally important parts of the body of Christ.

Who will touch the wounds of Christ and know Christ is Alive-even in them?

Is it I, Lord?

e enjte, 27 dhjetor 2007

Praying for Rain

So, in the midst of the worst drought in my lifetime, I’ve been praying for rain. Today it has come to me, that I need rain in more than one way. I have so much going through my heart and mind and I’m just not able to put it in words completely. Maybe it is because of the enlightenment obtained on my mission trip in October...or maybe it is because my brother almost died at age 45 from a genetic heart condition and it should have, could have and probably will be me next, maybe it is because it drew us close again, or because it brought me close to his kids or maybe it is because my body still has not rested or maybe it is because I have finally discovered there is no turning back for me now. That which has been seen can not be unseen. The question now- is where do I go from here?

I live in the hope of resurrection. I proclaim Christ's death and resurrection, and I proclaim that Christ will come again. Advent has turned my heart and mind to all of the "comings"—God who came to us as a human – a baby, Christ Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph, Christ coming to be baptized by John, Christ coming to heal everyone and anyone and, I believe, Christ coming at the end of time.

I try to live my life with this knowledge. So, I can’t quite put into words how the (other) rain that I am praying for now is defined . But-I know that I desperately need it. I need it as seriously as the dry lake beds need it. I need it as desperately as any animal pants for water. I just don’t understand what it is I need. Desmond Tutu is known in part for his comment that when we meet another human being we shouldn't just shake their hand in greeting, we should bow to one another because we are in the presence of the Image and Likeness of God. I want to live- I try harder than ever- to live as one who truly punches a hole in the darkness that hides that very truth from our eyes – and that truth, my friends, is too often hidden from every one of us- especially from those who sit in our churches

e hënë, 26 nëntor 2007

3am, 4am, blog

I [pray] that God would grant you [and me], according to the riches of God's glory, to be strengthened with might through the Holy Spirit in our inner person. —Ephesians 3:16

Today, I am praying for inner strength. Paul teaches us to pray for ourselves as well as others.

Today, I am finally slowing down and processing the events over the past almost two months.

Today, I take time to slowly exhale and inhale and I pray for Forgiveness, grace and inner strength.

It's now almost five am and time to start my day. Longer blogs coming soon...

e martë, 9 tetor 2007

journal + devotional

Good morning world. It's about 4am. I woke at about 2:30am. So a good two and a half hours sleep and my mind won't stop racing with all the things I have to do in the next few weeks. It's an unbelievable time. Too much to get into here really.

Ultimately the reason I'm blogging is because I decided this morning, that I would like to read a devotional and I went on the web in search of one. I found the world's best devotional (in my opinion) free online. I have a copy of the book, but where it is right this minute, I honestly have no idea. So when I found it I was thrilled and wanted to share it with the world. Here you go:

My Utmost for His Highest

e diel, 22 korrik 2007

Habakkuk-a brief overview

So- have you ever finished watching the evening news with all the violence and injustice in the world and ask, "Where is God in all this?" "Why isn't God doing something?" "Why do those people get elected into the White House?" This isn't a new feeling. In fact, a man named Habakkuk wrote about it in the 600s BC.

His very name means to embrace or Wrestle and as is common in Biblical texts, the meaning of the name has a lot to do with the message he had to bring to us. His book is more or less a journal of his personal interactions with God-His wrestling with God. I don't know about you but I don't want my personal interactions/conversations/arguments with God written down for generations to come to read about!! The book is a series of questions from Habakkuk to God and subsequently answers from God. In the end, chapter 3, there is a praise song from Habakkuk to God. The purpose of the book was to prepare people to live faithfully in the midst of an unexpected downturn of events-

We've heard the saying sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes God calms God's people.

Basically, the book helps us learn how to deal when all hell breaks loose.

Chapter 1 deals with six different problems-his list is repetitious but it shows how bad things were-There was sin, wickedness, no justice in the courts- does this sound like our world today? Habakkuk thinks-- why is God so indifferent-or inactive- apparently he'd been praying for a long time as he says- HOW LONG GOD must I cry....

God answers Habakkuk and says-I've heard you- so I'm sending the Babylonians to conquer Judah. This would be like us praying about the wickedness in America and God answers saying- I've heard you cries so I'm sending Saddam Hussein to destroy America! Holy COW- What we would say to God- How we'd respond? Would we say God didn't answer our prayers?

To me- this points to another lesson we can learn from Habakkuk- that is- God does not always answer our prayers the way we'd expect God to answer our prayers or the way we'd want God to answer our prayers.

Wow- So Habakkuk- says, "God, this can't be right - they are evil" (in fact, let me tell you how evil and Habakkuk describes their evilness) and then he says, "I will wait God- I'll wait for another answer." Of course I'm putting this all in my own words.

Habakkuk is also teaching us to Wait - expectantly - for another answer- He has received one answer but he's going to wait for another. He is -- like me-- perhaps like you-- searching for understanding.

I think this also teaches us that it is OKAY to question God. Even the most Godly prophets question God- it's okay. We don't have to explain to our friends and family who are experiencing turmoil and/or tragedy-- that God has a plan- it is God's will or if you just have enough faith- In fact, I have personally seen these types of answers do more harm than good- why not just say- It's okay, friend/sister/brother- to question God. While we search for understanding - God understands.

So- God answers back to Habakkuk who was questioning the first answer he got from God- God says back to him - basically-"Habakkuk, Don't worry about the Babylonians- they will get theirs too."

God says- just go write this down- and hurry! Why do you think God said write this down? Perhaps-- to give the people HOPE. There is one thing people can not live without. In the midst of DEPRESSION or DESPAIR you can live without many things but if you lose hope- people die- Without hope - people commit suicide.

When justice tarrys we think it will never come- but God says it will. Reminding people of this is like giving them light at the end of the tunnel--It is faith in God that allows us to see that light at the end of the tunnel and it is the light at the end of the tunnel that helps us get through the tunnel.

Habakkuk vents if you will-- through the woe oracles- how bad those people are that will attack us- and they will get theirs.

In chapter 1 - Habakkuk was "low." He was worrying over the world as it was- In chapter 2, he goes to the watchtower to wait for a second answer- and in chapter 3- he is praising God who makes him walk on high places- (I'm reminded of much afraid in Hinds Feet on High Places- an allegory of the Christian walk. You should read it- it's quite entertaining.) In Habakkuk, there is, similarly to that book- a steady progression of his spiritual life upward.

There is within Habakkuk- a mourner's litany-all the loss or fear of loss and YET I will rejoice---I found it useful in my own life to construct my own personal mourner's litany-borrowing from Habakkuk's book and writing down a line of loss or fear of losing and then at the end of the line adding the "YET" I will rejoice because...expressing my assurance in God's provision in All circumstances.

We can learn a great deal from the "Old School" and I'm glad my interest in it has been rekindled - "The color of Hope- Cross" picture seemed appropriate for this blog.

May you always know Hope - even in the midst of chaos.

e diel, 17 qershor 2007

Isaiah Chapter 1 - The Growl and Grace of God

Today, I realized I am “not” a teacher. When I study the scriptures for a lesson, I find it really easy and enjoyable to write down what looks like sermons but very difficult to “figure out” how in the world to engage a group of people in a classroom setting.

I have been studying Isaiah chapter 1. I have tried to focus on the issue of “true worship” but quite honestly I found it easier to do that when studying Amos. I did realize that when you ask people why they go to church you will get countless different and even sometimes complex answers.

However, I believe if you ask Isaiah, he would say people went to the temple to “appear before the Lord.” Isaiah identifies what is lacking in Israel’s approach to worship. For them- worship was religious duty- a formality. There was a disconnect between their worship, prayers and offerings and their lives- the minute they walked out the door- To me, Amos speaks to this subject very clearly so I don’t feel like getting to in depth with that issue here. What I did see in the first chapter of Isaiah that I did not see in my recent study of Amos was a “call for repentance.” That is not a subject we talk about too often in my denomination.

Isaiah pleads passionately with the people (like a parent to a child.) He pleads them to stop that self destructive and unproductive lifestyle of worship. Instead of perpetuating a world of violence, Isaiah proposes a vision that demands another reality- a reality that requires doing good, seeking justice, rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan and pleading for the widow. Once again, I see another voice of old telling the people/ telling us--- that worship/prayer/offerings alone are not enough to please God. I am reminded of Amos saying to the people- I gave you hungry stomachs but you did not “return to me.” It is revealing to me that we must begin to realize the acts of social justice are not separate from our “relationship” with God. The scripture in Isaiah calls for us to “wash ourselves.” Our hands are full of blood.

Does that mean that people could make themselves righteous by performing certain acts?? Or is it saying that we “earn salvation” ?? No not all –but it is saying-- how we choose to respond to God’s gift or grace carries tremendous responsibility. The call here is in “plural imperatives.”

Imagine a community of faith devoid of worship or any liturgical practice—Imagine an individual Christian who never prays – inconceivable…..or is it?

Verse 13- worship is meaningless- and God detests it. Worship needs to be from the inside out- It must flow out-Worship that is external and not internal is not acceptable but also if it is internal and not external it is also not acceptable.

The call was to worship from the heart and to do social justice as a true fast – God requires it. True worship of God is a faithful response to our God- a God who seeks justice, that rescues the oppressed, defends the orphan and pleads for the widow. How can you move to a new town and go from church to church to find a “good worship” service – a new church-- and walk right by the homeless man begging or forget about the elderly widow you now live next door to—How? Why?

Authentic worship of God is a response in all of life that reflects a concern for others in ways that God is concerned for them. As Christians we have a huge RESPONSIBILITY toward God and OTHERS. It is not cheap grace and as Bonhoeffer reminds us- Discipleship—Following Christ is costly also. It is not easy to live a life of “true worship.”

The message in Isaiah chapter 1 is really twofold. There is more to serving God than fulfilling the correct religious duty – worship is not a ritual to be performed correctly but an all encompassing lifestyle that expresses God’s own self revelation. It is praying a prayer to God of-- help me to cry over the things that make you cry and anger at the things that anger you, O God- and then- acting on this prayer- acting on it with the love of the all-loving God.

It is clear in these scriptures. The directives have been given us-- we have a true north. Isaiah outlines what we must do: We Must repent (verse 16) wash ourselves- turn from our neglect of acts of social justice) and verses16-17 cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan and plead for the widow!

It is spelled out for us.

It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said in Letters and papers from Prison, “The church is the church only when it exists for others.” Any emphasis on grace that does not deal with the theological dimension of transformation to which that grace calls us is not the full message of Isaiah and not the full message of the Gospel.

Someone once said that if you took out all the passages of the Bible that spoke of the necessity to do acts of social justice or care for the poor you would simply be left with a small leaflet or pamphlet.

It is the very premise on which our Lord Jesus’ entire ministry was based.

Religious people often seem to be content with their religion and non-religious people think religion is irrelevant. Both- often seem to be able to compartmentalize morality and ethics as belief systems from how they live their lives day to day. Isaiah’s message says that the two are woven together- it is impossible to have the type of relationship with God to which we are called and impossible to avoid the Growl of God if we separate the two.

You see to me, this scripture shows the Growl of God. In CS Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles, God is represented by the Lion, Aslyum and if memory serves me correctly-we are reminded He is “not a tame lion but He is Good.” We are also told when he does not like something “God Growls and the Earth shakes.”

I’m also reminded of a Nichole Nordeman song – the chorus repeatedly tells us, “Let us not forget to tremble.”

The Growl of Isaiah is directed toward Israel and of course it is followed with Grace—“though your sins are like scarlet they shall be like snow.”

What was missing for them- could have been the fear of the Lord.

We too must listen for the Growl of God- and respond- lest we be held accountable – (verse 20).

Through Isaiah – I see us being called to a triangular reformation – reform in three areas- attitude toward the divine God, change in how we live – ourselves- and lastly the care for our neighbors.

Prayer without ethics can silence the most eloquent of religious prayers-“Even though you make many prayers I will not listen….”

Come my friends---let us worship together-

Micah 6:8
“He has shown you, O man, what is good
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

e diel, 27 maj 2007

Pentecost in the UMC and Virtual Church

Acts 2:1-4
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled."

So today was Pentecost Sunday and I was very pleased with how our United Methodist Church Pastors preached, presented and applied the story of Pentecost to the church today. I am So very thankful for my pastors/preachers/teachers at this UMC. In the past, I remember thinking that Pentecost Sunday had always seemed somewhat neglected or perhaps avoided in the UMC. Here, I will try to share what I have learned.

The season of Easter for us has ended. Now--Let us

Rewind to Jesus' time-- the disciples + (>100 people including women) waited- waited-prayed-probably prayed some more and more and wondered-what's next-They had already been through supernatural life changing experiences what could be next- Jesus had risen from the dead already-then---- sssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhswooooooooooshhhh the sound of a mighty rushing wind and The Spirit of the Living God gave the people a New way to communicate the Gospel. New words- a new language that a new group and a new generation of people could understand. Around Three Thousand came to Christ because of this.

Today, the pastor asked us to picture a crowded room, all people in it praying expectantly aloud and at once- this is the image of Pentecost. In the little UMC, we were asked to Pray out loud and all at once, the Prayer list on the back of the bulletin. I really found it interesting --how "uncomfortable" the air was in there- not really for me- but a little, yes. Some but not all people were softly and quietly mumbling prayer concerns and finished PROMPTLY- long before the entire list could have been verbalized out loud to God--Long before what the Holy Spirit was giving me to pray about each person on the list could have been prayed and long before those extra people or concerns brought to my memory by the Holy spirit while praying the list could have been said.

I'm still processing what that means but what I know we have to open ourselves up to is the reality that this same Spirit of God is trying to break through in our lives Today. We can't worry about what "people may think" about the noise. We also have to be open to what new way the Holy Spirit may be trying to provide us as a tool for reaching a new generation with the same Gospel of Jesus Christ's unconditional love and reconciliation.

At this point, in my processing the teachings, Fast forward with me- to the virtual Second Life.

Have you heard of it? It is a whole new world for a whole new generation. It's really not for me-- but when I heard about it, I had to check it out. You create a new you- a new identity- you are born for the first time, in your second life and there, you have to learn to walk, speak, drive...know Jesus? This is your second (virtual) life. It seems to be a happening and growing place for the new generation.

IN the second life- many churches have already been formed and built...It is a whole NEW WORLD and a new generation could begin to know Christ there! In this world, they have actual Bible studies, worship services, counseling etc. You can email the Friar at the monastery if he is "not on duty" or watch "church slide presentations" on a big screen of what appears to be their real time (non-virtual) worship, mission trips etc- That is- if this "Baptist" church is not currently holding a Bible study or a service.

Just FYI-so far- there is not a United Methodist Church.

I will post some snapshots of me, in a few second life spiritual locations.

Me at the UU in second life

The UU church seems to be one of the most popular in Second life (based on number of hits and number of UU churches in second life.)
This UU church was portrayed as extremely peaceful and full of nature.

Me at the Monestary

The monastery is a really peaceful farm place with animals and sounds etc. I saw a few other folks walking around here. The Friar was not in on my walk but there was a link to email him- there are brochures for downloading in all churches I've visited.

Me at Baptist church in second life

They have a cool sound system, plenty of seating, CCM ads on wall and a video of their real time worship, missions etc. the church is always unlocked.

e diel, 20 maj 2007

Princeton Theological Review

You may know about this or maybe you're not interested but I found
The Princeton Theological Review online--Check it out sometime.

e mërkurë, 18 prill 2007

prayers for virginia tech

I couldn't let the week pass without praying here for the families, friends and victims of the Virginia Tech Shootings.

I thought what do we do when this type of tragedy happens? We light candles rather it is in our church or home and we pray. So in memory and honor -

Merciful and loving God, May your light surround the families, friends and victims of this tragedy. In this moment, may they find tranquility, peace and healing in the midst of chaos and media extravaganza.

In my soul- I hear the UM hymn It is Well:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

e diel, 15 prill 2007

Divided people of God! or Divisive People of God?

Picture by Marc Chagail

We hear about it all the time, churches dividing. Oops, there goes the local church.

I don’t get it – I don’t even get it when it is just little fireworks exploding here and there and maybe I saw one over there- I heard it was another one over there –hmmm... who is setting them off? To me, it is much a do about nothing. Why are people so quick to judge others and why are people who are one body often so divisive?

I believe we are called to a higher calling of reconciliation-even reconciliation amongst ourselves. If this is true –if we believe this calling- then, why is it any person in the ministry of reconciliation can be so divisive in their own congregation? Why would anyone want to divide his or her own church body? I think when some people ask you certain questions they are making an intentional effort to lead you in their direction or to find something in what you say that will help their divisive plan. Didn’t Jesus pray that we all be one? To me--to deliberately cause a schism within the body of Christ is sin.

As a people of faith, called to reconciliation of all people, and sent into the World- including into our own congregation, we can not stand for divisive measures-- but what do we do? I believe we must speak our disagreement with whatever the pronounced divisive attacks may be. But what else do we do?

I’ve been praying about why this happens in some churches- maybe in all -Tonight I thought about:

Matthew 20
20. The mother of James and John came to Jesus with her two sons. She knelt down and started begging him to do something for her. 21. Jesus asked her what she wanted, and she said, "When you come into your kingdom, please let one of my sons sit at your right side and the other at your left." 22. Jesus answered, "Not one of you knows what you are asking. Are you able to drink from the cup that I must soon drink from?" James and John said, "Yes, we are!" 23. Jesus replied, "You certainly will drink from my cup! But it isn't for me to say who will sit at my right side and at my left. That is for my Father to say." 24. When the ten other disciples heard this, they were angry with the two brothers. 25. But Jesus called the disciples together and said:

You know that foreign rulers like to order their people around. And their great leaders have full power over everyone they rule.

26. But don't act like them. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. 27. And if you want to be first, you must be the slave of the rest. 28. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.

I guess I thought about it because most often it is people seeking some sort of “power” position who are the divisive schemers. They are serving to be great instead of serving the greatness of God. I try to remind myself these people are probably plagued with insecurities and jealousy. So, what to do about this? How easily we fall prey to the human desires for worldly glory and honor.

Was it also Absalom who sought to subtly win the hearts of people away from David, the God appointed leader?

And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom. And there came a messenger to David, saying, The hearts of the men of Israel are after Absalom II Samuel 15:12-13.

Absalom was impatient to be in a position of authority. He had already had his equally evil brother Amnon murdered (II Samuel 13:28-29). Now he plotted a conspiracy to overthrow David, who God appointed as the king. Absalom wanted to capture the throne, and eliminate his family rivals. He pretended to be a friend of the people and a friend of righteous judgment (II Samuel 15:2-6). The Bible records, "so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (v. 6). The people's hearts were easily stolen. Things have not changed. Absalom's rebellion led to civil war. He came very close to achieving his goal. This action of Absalom is called a conspiracy. The Hebrew word can also be translated as "treason." The Bible teaches us that this is no new thing-it happened then- it happens today-- but I just haven’t found the way to deal with it yet.

I don’t want to just avoid the divisive people; I want to be part of the resolution. But you've got to admit it's hard when you really feel welcome at the table- then look up and suddenly- unexpectedly- you see wolves hovering around it waiting to divide and devour. Then what- Run? fight?

e mërkurë, 11 prill 2007

Spiritual path to physical fitness

My focus for this blog goes back to the things I spoke of when I started this blog (see Feb 5th posting.)

When I began with my quest, I thought it was a new concept. I thought why hasn’t more been written about the relationship between health and spirituality? I realized when I recently joined the YMCA, it was not a new concept after all. I walked into a gym and saw a prayer request box. I saw scriptures posted on the wall and even though many of these people may be extremely conservative finding my liberal views repulsive, it really felt good to be there. I have really wanted to find a place to work out and to make my work out a form of worship.

Last night, after returning from being out of town with work, I forced myself to go to a “first time fit” class at the YMCA. Having done virtually nothing for so long, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I met two instructors-one was like a very caring drill sergeant! She encouraged me to wait for the first time fit instructor and “made me” work out for the 20 minutes I waited. The first time fit instructor was warm and compassionate but strong. I explained my physical conditions and most importantly she was familiar with my heart conditions.

When the work out began it was pretty easy but ten minutes in I thought I was going to die. Then I went into some arrhythmia and I thought this is it- sudden death. I slowed and paused. The instructor who was working the room eased over to me, removed her microphone and said you OK? Are you have arrhythmia- I said yes but it’s fine now and in less then 30 seconds I was trying to keep up again. The steps then got a little confusing-why do complicated rhythms when you are at a point of cardiac exhaustion in the routine? With those steps I was completely lost but I wasn’t quitting. After 45 minutes of what I’d call intense cardio- we started strength and core exercises- they were not easy (first time fit-yeah right!) but I had no problem with those. I truly saw my weakness is indeed my heart. At the end of this workout- we did stretches.

The music changed from upbeat secular to contemporary Christian worship and as I stretched and prayed in dim lighting I could not stop the tears from rolling down my face. I had done it. We had done it- God and me-made it through my first – first time fit class.

Today I begin what I'll call the Ten Commandments of my calling to a spiritual path of physical fitness:

1. FAITH and Vision. Without vision I will perish. I see myself fit and I believe with faith I will get there.
2. Peace* and rest. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I will not have vices-like mountain dew or any other food or beverage that controls me (sin will not be my master.) I will pray in a quiet place daily. I will not keep company with anyone who takes or tries to take peace from me. I will be positive and not be close friends with any negative people.
3. Eat healthy. I will think of food as sustenance saying to myself, I will have my anti-oxidants or I will eat my good carbs.
4. Water of life. I will drink water more than any other beverage.
5. Strength training. I will not lift for muscle building but lift enough to keep my muscles strong.
6. Cardio training. I will do cardio training at least 20 minutes everyday beginning today.
7. Stretching. I will stretch daily.
8. Breathing. I will do deep breathing exercises daily.
9. Light therapy. I will sit or walk in the light or sunshine each day for 15 minutes.
10. Fasting. I will fast and pray at least monthly about my spiritual path(s).

Art work by farid de la ossa.

“Therefore… offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."
~ (Romans 12:1).

e premte, 16 mars 2007

St. Patrick's Day

I was reading the blog monastic rumblings (see the link under blogs I read)
and found the meaning of St. Patrick's Day. It shines a whole new light on my celebration of it tomorrow-check it out if you want to know more about St.Patrick's Day.

I also found there-this wonderful LENTEN DISCIPLINE which I am going to read aloud to myself daily in hopes of Remembering it/living it.

Fast from judging others;
Feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from fear of illness;
Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute
Feast on speech that purifies.
Fast from discontent;
Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger;
Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism;
Feast on optimism.
Fast from negatives;
Feast on alternatives.
Fast from bitterness;
Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern;
Feast on compassion.
Fast from suspicion;
Feast on truth.
Fast from gossip;
Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm;
Feast on prayer that sustains.
Fast from worry;
Feast on faith.
--from The Anglican Digest

e mërkurë, 21 shkurt 2007

I Want the ASHES!?!

I couldn't attend the service and the study so--- I asked the pastors for a quick prayer and imposition of ashes prior to my rushing off to the study. Why was ashes so important to me? I usually leave them on as a reminder of my mortality. But, I didn't want to do that tonight - well I did want to - but I knew I wasn't going to because I didn't want to appear ?? proud-

Sooo-- I was late for my study but I wanted the ashes! Not sure why - it's just a symbol- but I did- so, I interrupted the pastors' service preparation and made myself late in order for a pastor to wet/smear ashes on me reminding me that I'm dust. She did it in the office and I almost laughed when I looked at her because in my crazy rushed mind, I had this thought- I thought she was rushing too and was going to lick her thumb and stick it in ashes and swat it on my forehead- I'm laughing now- But I didn't laugh then- Why was that so important to me? Maybe because I've gone to ash wed services for many years- It's really like Lent just doesn't begin without a little dust on my head- It takes the ashes for me to really get it- "slow down-" She even said it- "take a deep breath" I don't know- maybe I just needed reminding that God's grace is sufficient- Maybe I needed it to begin a time of contemplation- maybe I just needed it to say God, I'm mindful and humbled and grateful for you-God have blessed me richly. So after a brief prayer, I rushed out and drove rapidly down the highway to the study- I turned the radio off, wiped the ashes that I wanted so bad from my brow, and said-more than said, "Holy is your name."
And- I was thankful the pastors rushed around and stopped service preparation long enough to help one person- a nobody like me to remember.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from God comes my salvation.
–Psalm 62:1

Ash Wed- Lenten Reflections

This morning, I woke early and before beginning my work for the day, I sat in silence- an effort to begin my Lenten reflections. Not long ago, someone told me to pay attention to my senses and sit for awhile when I was in those moments. You know the moments- the moments when your chest is tight or your throat closes up in sorrow or there is a swelling in your stomach- a swelling of joy or of sorrow for no reason at all. For me- the moment is often soft slow tears for no reason-tears I just can’t hold back and sometimes I think of these as the waters of my baptism-welling up from within as my reminder-

These moments that are deep within- My dear wise, old friend told me-“live in those moments, poke around in those corners, and feel the texture of their walls.” She said, “You need to slow down and stay long enough to sense the presence of God sitting with you- in you.” It’s hard for me to do that lately-I guess she recognized that going on with me. It's just hard when work is so hectic and when life is full of wonderful and busy things- things that I want to do or feel I have to do…

So- today begins my personal Lenten journey. My time to reflect on life-a time for turning – things over inside of me – for turning things around- for turning away from the worldly pressures and busy-ness-A time for turning over my habits and wasteful desires-A time for me to turn over my sins and repent.

I fully intend to use this day and this season to seek the face of God for direction, what turn take-a new start, and renewal. I also believe that it is not a coincidence that my peace study group is coming together tonight to discuss government repentance in the peace making process. Lenten repentance for me is not only an inward and individual experience but also an outward and social one. This turn in my view of repentance began several years ago when I studied a book titled Speaking of Sin? The lost language of repentance by Barbara Brown Taylor. It was the beginning of my belief that too much focus is on individual sin and that we should also look at corporate sin.

So, Not only am I going to pray for forgiveness for my personal over indulgence of FOOD, I am also going to pray for the world in which the economy and government has had an influence on the poverty level-Poverty was created by human decisions - our votes and I am also going to fast while I pray and give the meal money to a charity of my choice and I am donating some time to deliver meals to the poor.

Another example of what I have realized is that up until my wonderful teacher(s) in the UMC and the Episcopal church, I had no historical memory. I have historical memory now and I realize in spite of my lack of personal involvement in the death of innocent people in the Middle East and in spite of my lack of personal involvement in the turning away and in most cases death of Jewish children sent to and rejected from America for refuge during the Holocaust—I am an American and I repent and feel deep grief over those acts of violence and over all acts of violence taken by America toward people of other lands and Native and African-American people of our land. Forgive me I pray.

Please join me in repentance during Lent-

e enjte, 15 shkurt 2007

Blasphemy Challenge ramblings

A group called RRS the rational response squad issued a very expensive campaign (The blasphemy challenge) I am not going to put a link here- google it if you want to see the sad videos of young people who believe they are committing the unforgivable sin- It’s a challenge to or a solicitation of young people to blaspheme the Holy Spirit- publicly on u tube. They get a video- Yes a DVD (approximately worth $ 25.00) What is their cost?--- oh- easy- just- their soul. Hmmm-disturbing- The distributor of the video – a documentary- The God who wasn’t there-- is said to have donated 1001 videos to the Blasphemy challenge.

I have been disturbed about this for a while- ever since I heard about it.
I haven’t blogged on it yet, because quite honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say.
It just makes me really sad. There was a point in my own life that I worried about the sin I had committed but it wasn't anything as direct as this.

Last week, a family friend shoved something under the door to keep people from coming in, cut the phone line in the house, and shot himself. He’s far from the first person I’ve ever known to kill himself. In fact, I can not even count on one hand the number of people I’ve known to give up hope like that. Now, these young people believe and perhaps some even worry- that they have done the most unforgivable thing – so they probably think- what’s left to live for or think nothing else I do “bad” really matters. Why??- Well, because they think they committed the unforgivable sin.

This week, I had to travel and work with someone – who denies the existence of God. There are a couple of people that believe that way at my job. Have they seen this? I don’t know- but the girl this week and I ended up talking at length and by the end of the conversation, I told her I believe she is really closer to believing like me then we both had realized-- She’s just one of many people who for whatever reason have been hurt by toxic faith- or religion in extreme hurtful forms. Prior to the conversation today and if she was a bit younger, I’d see her responding to the challenge-

I don’t necessarily believe that what is going on at the web site is always blasphemy-I think to commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, you have to believe first-many of these youth just don’t believe-and I'm not really sure that it is blasphemy unless miracles of God - or God's work is being called/credited to the work of Satan. I think the web site for the Blasphemy challenge takes Mark out of context and adds a spin.

Why is the founder of the Blasphemy challenge taking away the kids’ hopes and manipulating them?? They say that religion (Christianity) has caused mental torture on these kids- yes – perhaps some toxic controlling faiths have- I don’t believe it is healthy for Christians to go around telling kids, they are going to hell- but now look at this- These people/atheists are doing the same thing- telling young people they are going to hell-But, the question I have for the atheists is why the focus on this unforgivable sin if you don't believe??and--talk about mental torture- what mental torture is being committed by these atheists??—the young people will go through mental anguish the rest of their lives after believing they have committed the unforgivable sin.

Is it the unforgivable sin- is it blasphemy? For me it’s like the debate of pre-tribulation rapture or post –I just don’t get into the debate- I’m no theological scholar- so I just know I’m gonna’ do my best to be ready either way- and I know if you are a kid and you are considering this challenge…Why play Russian roulette--- don’t risk it. If you don’t believe in God, I love you anyway.

Too often the youth today- see the extremes- Extreme fundamentalists-literalists who see in black and white and the extreme atheists – who must be religious in spite of them claiming they are not- because this blasphemy challenge sure seems like extreme evangelism for their own cause. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians don’t get it- I try to understand more than to be understood and if you are one of those people considering taking the challenge- I promise you- I will make all efforts to live peacefully despite our differences. To Love you. Not to condemn you to hell. Not to force my views on you- to love you and share my views with you – and to listen to you- just as you are…

That’s the challenge I put out there for all Christians- to not judge anyone- not even atheists- who are we to judge? Let’s pray we learn to love as Christ loved.

e hënë, 5 shkurt 2007

Spirituality and Health

After praying and pondering about how to solve this weight problem I’ve had- I’ve come to some conclusions which I hope will help me begin to put my body into action. I've been trying to think about a healthy physical life the same way I think of a healthy spiritual life. If I do that I have to think of moderation. A healthy spiritual life for me- is not based on hidden mysteries or rare experiences. It is not based on going to any extremes. It is built on everyday activities that compose my life and making those everyday activities- sacred.

To live in balance, I have to start with and remember my strong foundation-- that is Christ Jesus’ life/teachings, death and resurrection. This foundation helps me walk the tightrope of life. Daily spiritual practices help put everything else in my life in perspective. In essence- I want spirituality to form the basis for my work, play, time with my family, and now even exercise and nutrition. I already know that there is spirituality in the everyday mundane activities- so there must be some spirituality in Diet and Exercise.

But, even if it is spiritual-a lack of balance causes me to lean toward the extreme- either I start to exhibit antisocial behavior (Yes I have been there), or fatigue and burnout. Sometimes, I feel this lack of balance now- in that my physical being is not being cared for even when my spiritual being is cared for-

So how do I find that balance in my diet too? And--How do I start to see exercise as a means of worship? There seems to be a body/spirit divide in my life and that is just not right. I want to make my diet a spiritual endeavor and exercise my meditation time.

Kahil Gibran- who I love- talked about eating. He indicated that eating should be “an act of worship” and the table an alter. If you’ve never read The Prophet it is worth quoting here.

"…when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.
And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyard for the wine press, say in you heart, I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the wine press, And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels."

My goal is to remember what The Prophet has taught me and go from there- each day is a new day.

Therefore… offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."
~ (Romans 12:1).

e mërkurë, 24 janar 2007

kavura and my search for understanding

Since the last post and because of the last post and because of the title of my blog, today, I pray that God will help me realize I really am just one woman searching for understanding in the great kavura (An Aramaic word for a learning community of faith and hope) and help me realize that every voice is a sacred voice.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

st. francis of assisi - 13th century

e shtunë, 20 janar 2007

Liberal Christianity and Evangelism

As those of you, who I know are reading this, already know, I'm progressive in my theology and liberal minded in my politics. But, I heard once, don't let your politics shape your faith, let your faith shape everything else in your world, including your politics. I believe that.

So, here I am, not yet conforming to all the liberal ways of those people with whom I so enjoy associating. I am rooted and grounded in this one thing, my personal relationship with the Lord and Savior of my life. So when recently told by someone that this particular church needed to decide rather or not they wanted to grow in numbers or NOT. NoT?? I was shocked. I said, "Yes of course the church wants to get new members we are ALL called to make disciples for Christ. Whoa, this seemed like a foreign concept to my friend...Or perhaps it was just something that he, as a liberal, didn't want to or had difficulty embracing.

I went into a mini-sermon about making disciples for Christ and then giving them a protective body in which they could grow. I'm not sure I got my point across, but I tried. It was sort of dream like for me. If I hadn't had a third person there, I don't know if I'd believed my own ears! But then, I looked inward; am I wrong?? I always ask myself those questions, then I go and spend time praying about it and about one week (7 days) later I write.

OK, so maybe I've decided I'm not a liberal Christian, after all!? I do think it is good to embrace and accept ALL people without judgement. I do believe the Bible was written by men, at a particular time, in a particular place and those factors should be considered all in context when interpreting scriptures to apply them today. I also believe it is GOOD to question one's own faith and to ponder ideas about God and God's relationship to/with ALL of humanity. We should NOT put God in a box and assume God is only doing this or that. But I don't believe in taking these questions and developing new theology.

I guess ultimately, I do believe in the UMC's theology and slogan that we should all have open hearts, open minds and open doors. Now, I'm not saying we should have so open minds and hearts that our own faith is tossed here and there by every wind and notion ... and when I'm talking evangelism, I'm not saying we should hand out copies of the 4 spiritual laws or leave them as tips on tables....Why do people do that?!

No, not at all, but I am recalling Mark 10

17. Jesus started on his way, a man ran up and fell on his knees before him. "Good Teacher," He asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

I wonder if Jesus had a fundamentalist conservative disciple on one side whispering, "Hand him a track and let's get him saved" and a liberal disciple on the other side, saying, "It's OK, Jesus tell him he has to decide for himself what to believe and we'll accept him for that."

What did Jesus do?
He answered a question with a question (which reminds me of last week's Sunday school lesson)... Anyway,

18. "Who do you call Good?", Jesus asked? "For no one is Good but God alone."

Hmmmm, I'm getting it as I write--- Maybe instead of Liberal Christianity/theology or Conservative Christianity/theology, it should be "Humble Christianity/theology."

OK so that's not all JESUS did.

21. Jesus looked at him and he LOVED him.

So, he acted- he loved - How? I don't know, maybe he hugged him or maybe he Listened to him, with an open mind, and heart. Maybe Jesus accepted him, just as he was.

But that's not all- Jesus then told him, "Go and sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven, then come and follow me."

To me, that is faith without works is dead. What you do after accepting is a part of your salvation.

So, I believe Christianity is about so much more than Telling people about Jesus. But, how can we Really be the church of Jesus Christ without having a desire to bring people in- into the sanctuary- the sacred place. It was suggested by my friend, that perhaps that local church should be / is called to be a "safe place" for a small group verses growing in numbers. The sanctuary, to me, is indeed a place of refuge. It should be that safe place, a place to worship the most High God, Just as I am. And along that line- why should anyone be denied an invitation there? Let anyone who thirsts come to the water...So, Why not bid ALL to come?

To use a phrase probably coined by liberal Christians, "Is not everyone of sacred worth??"

I believe we are called to get that message out. Not sit comfortably and safely in our sanctuaries.

Matthew 28:19
Therefore Go and Make disciples of All nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

e shtunë, 13 janar 2007

Ramblings: Some of you will NOT like this one; So please skip and go to- beginning blog

Last week I went to a lovely book study on the book I'm reading (see profile). The group consisted of mostly the wise (elders). I sat across from a couple in their 80s and 90s. They are also the founders of a local chapter of a National Peace organization. I was amazed and just soaked up Every one's knowledge and wisdom. I fed on each word that was said.

I left chewing on Peace without justice is appeasement. And while I realize that sometimes force is inevitable, it's hard for me to understand how some Christians and faith communities can give their blessing to war and other acts of violence...yet often withhold their blessings from loving people.

I don't understand why we can't unite as Christians in the tradition of our Christ and work together to create a world where differences are respected and conflicts are resolved non-violently.

I'd also like to hear the President, who speaks so often of his Christian faith, explain to us...how his faith has supported the war in Iraq; How did his faith help form the words in his recent speech? I'd like to know simply this:
Would Jesus Threaten Iran and Syria for no apparent reason and Send more troops to Die in Iraq?

Oh and while I'm just rambling, I heard Pat Robinson announced recently that God has declared there will be a terrorist attack and millions WILL die. I also heard he said, something like God didn't say nuclear but --
Wow....My God is not a God of Fear. I just don't believe God would tell a pastor of millions to go on national television and scare them all half to death. Happy New year and Oh, God says you will all die this year.

Interesting, isn't he that head of RR? Isn't he in frequent contact with President Bush?

What is happening ? Shouldn't Christians seek peace-- internally and externally?

Psalm 32:17 - The fruit of righteousness will be peace

e enjte, 11 janar 2007

The meaning of Life

I heard a cool story:

Just before a baby is born, an angel
shows it everything there is to know
and learn on Earth.

Then at the moment of birth,
the angel touches the infant’s upper lip,
and the child forgets everything.

We spend the rest of our lives
trying to remember
what the angel showed us.

e hënë, 8 janar 2007

Blog's Beginning

Why is it God always wins at Hide and Seek?

Yet, sometimes, I just keep on playing...Funny though, it isn't a game to me...not at all like when I was a kid and played with friends.

So here I am God, out in the open...transparent, vulnerable.

For so long, I've been searching for the meaning of my life?? I'm not saying I don't know my purpose, perhaps I do...but maybe I'm just having difficulty figuring out how to fulfill my purpose and still maintain so many other things--or should I say juggle them.

At least I finally understand that it is time to realize this IS my life? MY life? And, I realize today that it is time for me to understand that when I ponder my life --I no longer have to punctuate it with a question mark.

I'm not quite to a constant explanation point but I believe that will come, after all, I am joy.

This blog is my search for understanding. I'll try to blog at least weekly. It is also my effort to get my life back...or well-give it back...depending on how you look at it...My focus is health exercise and diet--not just physically-but also spiritually.

I know that somewhere out there as you read this-- you are with me-and for that I thank you, the reader...because I know that in your own way, your own space, your own prayers-your own hopes, fears and aspirations, you are with me. My prayer is that in each blog there will be something for you, too.

With this blog's beginning I am realizing the words to Adrienne Rich's poem-- I know you are reading...and I know that in the Atlas of this difficult world we live in-- You are with me trying to gain your own understanding of life...................

A Texas rancher said to me, I can get in my pick up truck and drive for 3 hours and still can't get to the other side of my property. I replied,
I have a pick up like that too.....

My pick up just can't get far down the spiritual path right now.

My hope today is in Ecclesiastes 3 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity."