Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Today's Friday Five is an opportunity for you to list five of your favorite 'go-to' movies/tv shows/books. You can use images, links, explanations or netflix.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
It’s taken me a long time to find the time to focus and read just one book that isn’t for an immediate (like, in a few hours) adult ed class. But wow, I am glad I spent the time reading Carol Howard Merritt’s latest work, Reframing Hope.
The thing I love about Carol’s writing is that I feel like she may be the only person writing about a new generation without talking down-to/about-from-the-outside. I realize that she is part of this generational shift and so speaks from within rather than outside, but she also manages to write in that sort of inside voice. (By contrast, books such as unchristian, They Like Jesus But Not Church, etc, all feel like they are attempting to talk about “us” via the GenX/Millennial stereotypes and caricatures common among older generations, rather than from within.)
This book was, for me, a relatively quick read, and while I didn’t find it earth-shattering for my worldview or faith or church involvement, I could see in every chapter something that others in my church life would find surprising, new, or challenging. I also heard echoes of my own preaching, which is often characterized as “always being about community.” Well, yes, of course it’s about community—because I believe that is one of the defining issues of our time and one of our greatest needs as human beings…and something that has been so changed by technological advances over the past 50 years. Carol also talks repeatedly about the importance of community, and what community might look like in generations that have grown up in a postmodern era/the internet age, and during a generation-long distrust of institutions. (And, of course, even as these cultural changes play out we see how the turnings of culture and generations are relatively predictable—see Strauss and Howe’s Fourth Turning for more about how we now live in the midst of a culture shift that is likely to bring about a greater desire for, and building of, community.)
As leaders (ordained and not!) of established congregations, particularly in the mainline, we need to be reading this book (and Tribal Church, too!). These shifts are real, the culture change across the generations is real, and the needs of a new generation are real. New generations are not going to turn into the previous ones—there is no chance that GenX-ers are going to magically turn into Boomers as we age. Instead we continue to live out our experiences and our archetypes (drawing again on Strauss and Howe), only older. GenX and Millennials and the new generation of children are not going away, and we are not going to change to be copies of our parents and grandparents, so it’s time the church learned what that means for ministry, for community, for sharing and living the gospel, for caring and bringing hope and loving one another as Christ has loved us. This book is a good start as we seek to understand and minister to/with people of a new generation.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
more than meets the eye
17 October 2010, Ordinary 29C
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Did you know that your spinal cord is only as big around as your index finger, but contains 10 billion nerves cells? Or that there is enough iron in your body to make one nail? Or that your nervous system transmits messages to your brain at the speed of 180mph? Our bodies are incredible things, with all kinds of hidden beauty and complexity. (all facts from here)
Some of you have probably seen the exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry—the ones with cross sections of the human body, or where you can see a humongous 3-D heart. Exhibits like these, along with pictures and doctors and TV shows, have taught us much about how the body works, and just what is inside this skin of ours. Our bodies are much more on the inside than they appear on the outside. And, of course, who we are is much more than just our physical body—we are more than meets the eye.
Who we are includes all kinds of things—from our bodies to our thoughts and beliefs to our education and experiences to our actions and words. While we are more than the sum of our parts, our lives do reflect all those parts. Often we can see someone’s heart in the way they relate to others, we can see their faith reflected in their choices and actions. And we can see the changes God makes in people in the ways they live their life every day.
Jeremiah tells us of a promise—a promise given during the darkest shadow of death, in the midst of deepest despair and loss. The Israelites have been pulled from their homes and taken to Babylon and the Temple has been destroyed. In a culture and religion that bases identity on living in the land God gave them and on worshipping in the Temple where God lives, being in exile meant that they were no longer a people—no longer a nation and also no longer the people of God. They were abandoned, alone, without hope...and they were living their lives as if that were true. Until…the word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah, saying “I’m still here—have courage.” God promises to stick around even in the dark days, even in the midst of horror, even when we can’t see God’s work or feel God’s presence or hear God’s breath. And to prove it: a new covenant, one not based on physical stone tablets or a small inner room in the Temple or even on Thou Shalt Nots.
At Sinai, God gave the gift of freedom and the gift of land and the gift of community, and made this covenant to remind us of those gifts. This new covenant is a little different. It’s a covenant for captivity, a covenant that can be kept anywhere, a covenant impossible to break. No matter where we are, what darkness surrounds us, or what dis-ease lurks below our surface, this covenant is for us. We shall be God’s people, because God has written the covenant inside us. When we were being knit together in our mothers’ wombs, already God was replacing our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. When we are lost and fear we might never be found, even then God’s word of life is within us. When hope has deserted us, or we have deserted it, still the Word dwells within us and God’s breath is nearer to us than our hands or feet. We may not see it, but God is there, working in and through us.
This is a covenant that changes us, changes who we are and how we live. God promises to be at work in our hearts, in our spirits, in our physical bodies and our spiritual lives…and that inner change will also bring outer change. God is in the business of transforming us, literally from the inside out, from the center of our being out into our actions and lives. God writes the word on our hearts, and sends the Living Word into our midst to be the heart of the Body. This is a community covenant, not really an individual one (though we often understand it that way). It’s a covenant with the house of Israel, with the whole body. And it’s a covenant that levels the playing field in the community, too—from the least to the greatest, everyone is a beloved and forgiven child of God, which means everyone has something to offer. Since transformation is something God does in communities, not something we do to ourselves or by ourselves, that also means that just showing up doesn’t guarantee the inside out change God promises…but at the same time that not being in the community is a hindrance to God’s work. So we need to be here and also engage our minds and hearts, not just tune out when the music or the prayer isn’t our favorite. We need to show up and also truly share our lives with one another, not just put on a happy façade. We need to come together and also pray for each other and for our community. We need to be here in this building and also out in the world working and playing together in God’s mission. We need to be a part of the community with our physical bodies and also with all that other stuff that makes up who we are—our intellects, our experiences, our resources. Then we too might experience this transformation, this change from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, from lost to found, from being confined by the smallness of our vision to being freed for God’s vision. God is always at work in us as individuals and as the body of Christ and as a part of the world community God created and called good.
Some of you may recognize my sermon title as being part of the Transformers cartoon theme song. Just like The Transformers, we are definitely more than meets the eye. But even the Transformers show their true nature out in the world! So it’s also true that this change is one that carries over into both our private and public lives, into our public discourse and our relationships and our choices, into our homes and our workplaces and playgrounds. For no matter who we are or where we are on life’s journey, we are the people of God, children of the covenant, loved and made to love others.
May it be so.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Schoolhouse Beach--with smooth (and strangely velvety feeling) limestone gems rather than sand. So many of these have been taken from the beach that it's now illegal to remove them--and the fine if you're caught is $250 PER STONE. It was super pretty and the rocks were very tempting...but not $250/rock tempting.
we became "leafers" for just a few photos...because who wouldn't? We even climbed the 188 steps of the "mountain tower" for this one: