- Once upon a time - the way things were
- Then suddenly - something disrupted life as it was
- Wisdom - someone or something made you see life in a new way
- Happily ever after - there is a new way of living
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Is this what you pray for?
|Banning Mills Free Fall|
Friday, June 5, 2020
Warning: I’m talking about race.It may make you tense or bring up emotions. Also know (if you didn’t already) I’m white. I don’t understand everything I should. I will make mistakes. But I’m listening. I’m learning. Please have grace with me.
Over the past week after the murder of George Floyd, I've done a lot of seeking. I wanted to show my blank friends I care and have a greater understanding of the pain they are going through. I wanted to be part of the solution but I just wasn’t sure what that meant.
After many prayers, texts, and phone calls I distinctly heard God calling me to listen. And I have been. I recorded three of those listening conversations via Zoom. You can watch them here.
Each conversation (the recorded ones and the non-recorded ones) was distinct in and of itself but there were some commonalities that I want to share with you:
- My black friends are hurt. This came out more in personal conversation than the interviews. I can’t say that I fully understand their hurt because I’ve not walked in their shoes but I will attempt to describe my sense of this hurt as best as I can for the benefit of white readers. What I sense is a combination of grief, anger, and isolation. There is grief that the dream they and others once envisioned has been set back. There is anger at the injustice. And there is a sense of isolation in a country with the ideal of all people being created equal. These feelings don’t mean that there isn’t the possibility of hope or reconciliation. It doesn’t mean that non-black friends have not reached out to them. But there is pain in feeling that they are not valued. In my quest to find out what I can do, I felt this pain and realized that I should’ve done more before George Floyd died.
- Instead of looking for answers, we need to make sure we are asking the right question. For Rev. Dr. Theo Turman the right question is “What does love look like for you?” For Dr. Walter Fluker the right question is “What’s going on?” For Rev. Karen Webster-Parks the right question is “How can you uniquely offer hope?” If you ask the right questions from a good number of people you will find a path to ways you can respond.
- There is no “one size fits all” answer. When it comes to race, everyone is on a spectrum of bias. Some people are so extreme it is easy to define them as racist. Some people seem very open and inclusive but if you were to dig deeper you could see how they have not challenged the cultural norms that favor one race over others. The existence of this spectrum means we need a multi layered approach to seeking justice and reconciliation between blacks and whites in this country.
- This is a marathon. It takes time. And training. I need to keep listening. I need to keep learning. One day we will cross a finish line but until then we need to grow stronger and keep moving forward.
I cannot do justice to the issue of justice in one post. But I pray that my attempt will lead to a greater understanding.
Until Everyone Hears,
P.S. - My denomination is issuing a statement soon. If you are a clergy person in the NGUMC, please be on the look out for it. There are also several organized peaceful gatherings going on. Search "where is the protest in (your metro area) on Twitter if that is your thing. Also it is an election year. Ask the local candidates how they are advocating for change. Call or text your black friends. Listen to them.
"Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me so you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Ah, what’s going on"
Saturday, May 30, 2020
How Racism is Built Into Our Structures
Monday, May 25, 2020
How we normally think of Pentecost
Looking back and forward
- Start in our homes. Love our-self. Love our families.
- Love our neighbors. Those physically next to us. Who are they? Why are they in this town? What are their dreams? Fears? Needs?
- Love to the ends of the earth.
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Is now the right time?
I've told the staff at our church that they shouldn't think of this as "extra" time. They are working from home during a crisis, not just working from home. They aren't homeschooling schooling, they are collaborative (with teachers) schooling from home during a crisis. It's a lot to think about. It's stressful. And while you really want to read the Bible all the way through, the idea of tackling it seems overwhelming. Procrastination sets in in many areas of your life and I just want to tell you...that's okay.
Procrastination involves our brains making a calculation between now versus later. In our present culture, we are surrounded by more and more distractions. Our everyday environment pulls at our attention with an overload of temptations to quickly and easily shift our focus from one thing to another. Our brains have increasing difficulty in making the correct calculation between the tasks or projects which need to be accomplished now or later; and we delay or postpone completion.
So if you want to tackle something new during this time, here a few tricks to engage your brain to get over procrastinating...
- Break it down - break it down into smaller components. Read a really short book of the Bible. Then another. Then read just a few chapters of a larger book. Before you know it you have read a LOT!
- Action - keep doing it every day. If you skip a day that is okay. I tend to go by a "two day" rule when forming new habits. I never go two days in a row without practicing my new habit. That gives me a few skip days here and there.
- Information - Get more information about the habit you are forming. If it is about reading the Bible, grab a good commentary. If you are trying to exercise daily, read a blog or watch a video about the exercise you are trying to do. I used to get information first and it took me forever to start new things. Now I start something and supplement the routine with information.
- Never give up! Okay you may get in a rut from time to time but get back to it when life allows.
If you want to remember these steps, they spell out BRAIN. But don't feel obligated to start something now. Start when you are ready. We are all trying to adjust right now. Do something small to grow closer to God (pray, read your Bible, do some Holy Mischief) but don't feel you have to write King Lear...that's already been done. Grow closer to God and He will mold you into the person He is calling you to be.
-Until Everyone Hears
P.S. - When it comes to washing your hands frequency counts. To look at the science go here or here. And wash your hands!
Monday, May 11, 2020
In other words...we are all ministers.
The Means of Growth
The Intersection of Faith, Technology, and Timing
Reclaiming Old Habits
Seven Thesis in Reclaiming the Priesthood (because 99 is too many)
- Re-vision our time: Name that we have been slaves to our schedules and re-imagine the way that we spend our time to align with the things we say we value.
- Refine relationships: Recognize that we don't know our neighbors and family members as well as we should and build our relationships to be healthy and life affirming.
- Be healed: Find ways to nurture our holistic health by disciplines that feed our body, mind, and spirit. We need to address our mental health. Our high anxiety and depression rates. The root of the word "salvation" is a form of the word healing. A cure. A rescue.We need to remember that and seek healing for our whole self.
- Don't just study Christianity. Practice Christianity.
- Love. Abundantly. Find ways to love others that is radical, disruptive, and meaningful.
- Connect with God in deep and profound ways through ancient ways of prayer that have stood the test of time.
- Re-imagine community: A community of believers that is about people with a purpose and not about a building and programs.
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
I've been singing Yorktown from the musical Hamilton ever since sheltering in place started. There is a specific line when they talk about the end of the American Revolution when "the world turned upside down." Revolutions do that. It doesn't matter if they are political, spiritual, or emotional and now.. biological/cultural.
The incarnation is one of biggest moments when I feel like the world turned upside down. God put skin on and moved into the neighborhood. Powerful. And it inspires us to rethink what is happening now in terms of what that means in building the Kingdom of God. I've been sharing the videos that my clergy group "Parts Unknown" put together to inspire others. Today, my video is being shared:
If you're ready, let me know. And we will create Holy Mischief like the world has never seen before.
Until Everyone Hears,
Friday, May 1, 2020
5 Tips for Worshiping Online as a Family
- Find a way to watch on your TV. - This might seem obvious for some of you but I know some families where the person most likely to encourage the family to attend church is watching exclusively on his/her device and therefore the family is not watching together. If you've been doing that for several weeks, you've created a habit that excludes the rest of the family. Its confession time, I did this on Easter. Easter was the first time we did an entirely pre-produced worship service so I worshiped in my jammies with my ear buds in. Despite the engagement in the chat, it was lonely. The next time we did a pre-produced service I hooked my laptop up to the TV in the family room with an HDMI cable. Two other family members joined me inspired by their own free will. The others remained in bed. It was so much better. Watch as a family. It will magnify the message. They won't watch all of it with you but they will see you keeping your faith a priority and that is priceless.
- Talk about worship beforehand. - In the article about engaging in live-stream worship it talks about setting the right mood for worship by possibly lighting candles or something similar. If you've ever lit a candle with a toddler around, you know this isn't always wise. Instead, talk about what worship is (a way to praise God and experience God). Tell your kids what your favorite part of worship is. Talk about what you miss by not being there in person. Ask them what they like best about KiDS Min. Discover what you have in common and what is unique about each person in the family. You might discover something new about your own faith in the process.
- Pray. Pray during the service but pray as a family before you watch that God will be revealed in the experience. Pray afterwards that God will sustain each of you throughout the week. Take the spiritual leadership of your family that God has given you. You can do this! If you need some inspiration about how to pray, check out this post. It might not seem just right at first but your prayers are beautiful to God no matter what. Show your kids what it means to pray and to be authentic. You've been handed a gift here. Use it.
- Participate. I'll confess. I don't sing during online worship. Maybe a little but not in the same way I do during in person worship. Mostly I look at the faces of people I don't get to see as often anymore and I mourn that I didn't appreciate that time as much as I should.have. I also don't say The Lord's Prayer out loud. I say it in my head. So how do I participate? Do you really want to know? The same way I do watching sports or a movie at home: I talk to the TV. I am more of an AMEN corner worshiper at home than I am in person. It's been very freeing to say "YES!" or "I don't know about that." or "I'm with you!" I rarely do that in person. I'm regretting that now.
- Discuss. What did you learn? Where did you see God? What will you do differently? Talk about these from a grown up perspective and a kid perspective. They need to hear you wrestle with these questions so that when they wrestle with them in the next phase of their lives, they know it is part of growing their faith. Asking questions isn't a lack of faith; it is a deepening and clarifying of faith. Also be sure to model that you don't always have to have an answer. Many books of the Bible end with a question and not a statement. It's okay for you to do the same.
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Reflections on the Unknown
Slowing DownWe are constantly on the go. And when we are forced to slow down we become anxious. Am I missing something? What happens next? We forget that the Psalmist tells us to be still and know that God is present. Sometimes the busyness gets in the way of our faith. Look at this time of sheltering in place as a gift. So many other things have been taken away but you now have the chance to spend time with God. You have a chance for your soul to catch up with your body. Take deep breaths. Walk with God. Have no other agenda than to just be with God. I promise it is worth it!.
-Until Everyone Hears
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