The Meaning of Children

There is  a great series about parenting, faith and life going on here.

Sadly I was too overwhelmed to officially attempt to join, but these are my thoughts.

I have known and loved so many children already, and its been a blessing. I cannot remember a time without young children in my life. I am the eldest of four children, my youngest sister is 10 years younger than me. She is about to graduate from college this weekend. At Oberlin I worked at Headstart, at Princeton Seminary I was the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at a local church, and then I started having children of my own.


Three Boys

I like to say…I have all the stuff.

My children have taught me a lot about individuality and acceptance in that each and every one of them is unique and different.

My eldest (7) is a dramatic leader, he love performing, and projects. I like to say he’s like me without the adult super-powers. He is wordy and smart and argues about EVERYTHING. I do mean everything, he verbal processes every single decision.

My middle child (5) is different. He has severe communication problems and not so severe physical coordination issues. He is empathetic, easygoing and overall a complete sweetheart. I think he only can understand 10% of our verbal communication, yet he goes with the flow and throws himself into group activities with joy.

My youngest (3) loves cars, rockets, stars/moon and baseball and basically everything stereotypically boys…took three to get there, but we got one. He likes to entertain himself, and cackles cutely when he is making trouble.

My kids are not perfect, and there is no way to treat each of them equally, they are too different. In fact, parenting skills are obviously NOT the only thing that molds a child. However, I think they are comfortable. They know they are loved for who they are and their skill sets and trouble spots are accepted.

I often think of how God loves and accepts each of us. Of how when we ask people to be exactly the same, we are really saying that God does not have enough love to share it with those who are so different. Its too hard to love different children.

Having three different children, I think that I have enough love for each and every one of them, and my husband (which of course is yet another kind of person) and I don’t love them for being the same or different or perfect.

I love Franklin’s sense of momentous occasions

I love Westley’s way to lead you to what he wants by holding your hand.

I love Ashburn’s cackle of delight when something surprises him.

I love being able to love them.

For more articles be sure to check out some for the month of May and June

#love of a #black #genderfluid prob. considered #disabled man, pondering Acts 8

When I did a search for the bulletin cover for this week I noticed something. I could find many artworks entitled “Baptism of the Eunuch” for the bulletin (that’s where I got today’s bulletin cover), but no children’s worksheets. As you may or may not know, we are trying, very hard, to be more inclusive of the children during worship. It is a difficult line to walk, many children are very loud and squirmy, and many adults appreciate a time of quiet worship without said children. But anyway, as a part of being more welcome, I’ve been creating worksheets. I have in my head that the mantra should be something like “Busy Hands for Listening Ears” For those of us who can listen and doodle, knit, etc. during church (Note that sleeping is not one of those options). And by the by if you are an adult who picks up a worksheet to do I won’t tell although I would personally consider it an accomplishment, since church has this mistaken idea that if a project is creative it must be a children’s only activity, which is ridiculous.

Finally I found, a very few pictures and activities when I happened upon the search term of “Philip and the Ethiopian.” Now I don’t know how many of you would categorize or even know what story is being referred to by this title, but I can say, as a pastor, I never would have put two and two together. So there we have it, the baptizing of the Eunuch and Philip and the Ethiopian. Baptizing the Eunuch/Philip and the Ehtiopian. And lets get this straight: the baptism was not a white man’s burden kind of baptism because Philip does not set out to go and convert the black man. He instead goes out to meet a person where they were and walk with them to his/her next step in faith.

If I were to guess, we Christians like the picture of Philip and the Ethiopian better than the picture that is really put forth in the story today.
Its like 1 John 4, which is great, Beloved, love one another. Can’t you just….picture it? What comes to mind when we say love one another? Maybe a perfect spring day…perhaps some unknown children laughing together, or the whole world holding hands. Perhaps its the rendition of “Its a Small world after all”

In the abstract, love is a beautiful, beautiful concept. But in reality, the story that is put here is way more disconcerting. An Angel of the Lord says you need to get down the road. And if this is me, I’m immediately thinking, shoot I’ve missed something, I’ve not been doing enough, ok, God is calling me to go somewhere and do something…so I’m going to make up for whatever I’ve done wrong and go and get it done with now. I am a get it done sort of person and I hate it when I miss things.

Then the Holy Spirit says to Philip, that one, there and there must be some reason that the Holy Spirit had to say this was the person. This Ethiopian, which means he is racially different and black. From Ethiopia, what do Ethiopians know about Jews, they are the Abyssians one of those invading races that the Old Testament Jews had to deal with. So how does one even talk to such a different person?…to add to this person who is genderfluid: a eunuch sometimes eunuchs were referred to as female, the word for eunuch in Greek is non-man, yep, this person is blurred in the lines, no one knows what to refer to them as. Are they even human? Is it even worth talking to this person? He/She can’t have children, He/she is obviously hasn’t been nor ever will be circumcised. (I’m reverting to he in this text just to keep things clear) Is this person even human? Is this a natural thing?  Which brings us to our final point which is that this person was probably also considered to be disabled in the Greek culture.

 So here you have it some black, nonJewish, Ethiopian, genderfluid, disabled person. Go and love them.
The specifics very quickly get complicated, and even Philip needed the Holy Spirit to remind him that God is for Everyone that Jesus died for this person too. I think it is here that the church has some work to do, because it is the most difficult to love someone who is different from yourself. You usually end up saying something like “I just don’t know what to do…because I just can’t understand them………” a particular type of love that takes hard work. No doubt this is why most of the Presbyterian Churches consist of 98% of one race and the toekn 2% of another (which is luckily not the make up of this particular congregation). Not only are individual churches made up this way, but also, the numbers for the entire Presbyterian USA entity run that way to. And the reason is, it is difficult to love someone who is not like you. It is difficult to understand them and it is difficult to know their needs. That is why we need to meet people where they are, and ask them what it is they need. To walk with them wherever it is they are. Not because this person is perfect but because “every” single “one” of “us who loves is born of God.”

And the eunuch asks…who is this person who is dying for the world? Tell me about this person.

And I imagine that Philip did a little Bible study with this person that went something like. God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1st John 4:9-10) if God is for us, who is against us? For God Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us! (Romans 8:33-34).

So naturally, the eunuch says, well, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?
This is the line….the one that drives the Presbyterian piece (or any other mainstream church piece) of us nuts. You can’t just baptize someone because they asked. Thats not decently and in order, there needs to be rules and a statement of faith and meetings. How can you get baptized without a meeting?

And someone else felt that way too, because some later manuscripts say “Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

But really, there is no answer, what is to prevent the Eunuch from being baptized, his learning of God has already begun. The Eunuch was already studying the scripture and sought out instruction. It is for this reason that we baptize babies, because babies already know love, and they are already children of God, and in reality no one of us will ever know enough or everything about God. However we are in pursuit of that knowledge.

This is another reason why fun things should not be just for children. This is another reason why people are moving away from calling Christian Education Sunday School, because that implies the only learning we have to do about God is as a child.

The truth is, though that we need to continually learn about God, and the ways to learn about God are to be creative, to be open and to find specific people to love, not to leave it at the generality of “love one another” but to find that totally weird person in our lives, to purse the strangers, the aliens, those who we don’t understand, to listen to the Holy Spirit and to love them. To walk with them, wherever they are, whatever their level of understanding is and to try to support their journey of faith. Meeting people where they are and walking with them, and to be as open to their learnings about God, as our own understandings of God might be.

You know what I think? I think Phililp went out to teach the Eunuch, and instead the Eunuch taught him. It was the Eunuch who asked Philip to teach him (not vice versa) The Eunuch blurred the lines of understanding of how to love this person who was black, from a completely different culture and spoke in a fashion that was probably hard to understand, this person who wasn’t quite male nor female, this person who was probably returning back home at the end of the day, and not staying to be a beloved member of Philip’s own congregation.

But the Eunuch taught Philip by asking an enormously relevant question that should burn in our hearts as Christians today. What is to prevent me from being baptized? to which Philip’s answer was…

To say absolutely nothing

Acts 8:26-40

26Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

1 John 4:7-21

7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

Baptized Ash: The Stars, the moon & me

We are brief, like flowers, like a breath of air.

We are mortal, here one moment and gone the next.

It is amazing to think that the same God who is eternal, the one who created rocks and trees that last hundreds or thousands of years, the ones who crafted the heavens that seem to be billions of years old created us as temporal beings.


“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them? ” Ps 8:3

Death is real for us–it is a real part of our existence, but we our lives matter. God created us and then God sent Christ to us. Even though we are not perfect and live only a short while.

Christ baptized us, marking us, tagging us as His. Like writing a name on the bottom of a favorite toy, we are marked. Marked by the cross, reminded that God takes care of us and is particularly present to us. When we are baptized, we die with Christ, we rise with him, and we live into the fact that we are the be-loved children of God–adopted into God’s family, covenanted through Christ.

And this is important because our lives are short.

And we are not perfect–my 6 year old son has just realized he is not perfect, and he never will be. He shuts himself up in his room and cries about it. When he makes a mistake, he mourns it.

And because bad things happen in our lives, we have to deal with real things and real evil and God knows that we have to deal with all this.

Do you know what I do when my son cries forlornly all alone?

I go to him, I sit with him, I hug him and comfort him. I tell him I will love him no matter what. I know he’s not perfect, and that’s ok, because I love him.

Isn’t that what God did when we were sad, broken and alone ever-realizing our imperfection. God gathers us in Her arms, hugs & comforts us and tells us–we are not perfect, but God loves us no matter what–God loved us when we were Ash and will love us when we become Ash again.

Us humans wish we were perfect, but God made us something better than perfect–God made us loved.

#MYOGHS a counter to #notmyOGHS, ideas for better theological #media

Presbyterians are awesome. I say this completely biased opinion, but I love, Love, LOVE our theology and integral to that is the community-connectional nature of our theology…We are one in Christ

We shoulder our burden together trying to connect smaller churches with bigger ones, trying to partner up those congregations that differ, trying to reach out into the community…sometimes our actions are not as effective as we like–but we base them on a solid theology.

Were I to run the campaign for One Great Hour of Sharing I would illustrate the following theological statements from 1 Cor 12

Because the Eye cannot say to the hand “I have no need of you” (Someone looking for things, Another person working with their hands)

The body is not made up of one part…but many…(I would make a body shape out of a diverse bunch of bodies)

If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be. (I’d have someone listening, and someone else smelling food)

On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable..(maybe share one of our stories of someone who was raised into ministry or service with low resources, or an illustration of the widow’s mite)

For we were all made to drink of one Spirit (water for all)

One Great Hour of Sharing: Because we need each other…

Christmas: What if we just owned it?!?

The elves are starting. Many parents do the elf on the shelf thing (Not me, Advent is busy, and we find them creepy although lots of parents do a good job) or even the kindness elves. Christmas flyers are being sent out, and of course retail has been talking Christmas forever

Tumblr is starting to look snowy

And us pastors are DEFINITELY starting to think about Christmas-Auditions for our Xmas play have started this week. (which we put on for children as food drive…YAY)

Technically, in my family, we aren’t supposed to listen to Xmas music til thanksgiving

(but I give myself a pass to sneak it in the car, when I’m alone)

And you have to watch Love Actually 6 weeks before Christmas, because that’s when the

movie starts……and that may be before Thanksgiving.

Then on thanksgiving we toast with Egg Nog and watch our first official Christmas movie–which is tricky to decide…. (My brother wants “Its a Wonderful Life” I like “Miracle on 34th” My one sister likes “Holiday Inn” My other sister likes “The Santa Clause” the kids prefer “The Grinch who Stole Christmas” the cartoon)

1020 × 765 –

And we do celebrate St. Nick’s day on Dec. 6th where St. Nick leaves Candy in everyone’s shoes and a family game/movie in the holiday spirit……

Ok, lets be honest, we celebrate ALL MONTH LONG

I am all for surprises and delayed gratification, I love waiting for good things, and I like advent, but since I (and everyone else) is already planning Christmas…….I wonder if some year WE ought to just OWN Christmas at church the way retail does.

You know go all out

Start celebrating as soon as humanly possible

Tell the Christmas story five weeks in a row. Because there is always Way, way too much story to get through on Christmas Eve (and I always feel sad for the parts I miss)–Angels and Shepherds and Wise Men and Mary and Joseph (not to mention all those animals hanging around)….so many scriptural narratives to cover!!!

And there are so many good ways to tell the Christmas story, Velveteen Rabbit, The Littlest Angel, the Gift of the Magi, Miracle on 34th St, all the puppy and kitten present stories, the shepherds perspective, the drummer boy, the (three) wise men, the unexpected Christmas youtube video, the googlemaps version of Mary and Joseph’s journey, Charlie Brown & the Grinch, the advent conspiracy, the feeding of people on thankgiving, etc. etc. etc.

As someone in the Nextchurch Twitter discussion pointed out, we are celebrating Christ’s birth ALL THE TIME anyway.

Besides, not everyone may even know the Christmas Carols anymore (tears) maybe we should sing them on Sunday–I know the ambiant music never covers as many true hymns and carols as I want (Holly Jolly Christmas is fun, but First Noel speaks to me)


Maybe Advent is during the week and Christmas is every Sunday. (Hey, it works for Lent right?)

How would you take ownership if you starting celebrating Christmas after thanksgiving? How would it change how your church did mission that month? Could you tell the gospel in different ways? Are there lead-in activities that might make it more possible to engage and connect to the community? How about your stewardship campaign, if you directly tied it to Xmas could you do so in a good/GREAT way?

Seems to me that if we are to party people into the kingdom, great mission/storytelling and singing of Christmas is a great way to start….after all, who doesn’t love the candlelit service? Who doesn’t wish that this is how church feels all the time?

One of these years, I’m going all IN!

Preach Sister #queer #love #theology #Jesus

Play Video5:53

My Sister preaches, preach sister

she is the 1 in purple. Feel free to skip to min 4

She also said on fb ““also says A reminder that that is NOT what christianity usually means. Christianity is about love and grace, about finding and defining yourself and the world in relation to God and their love. Christianity does not have to mean hatred, exclusivity, or fear of retribution. In fact, the people for whom that is what Christianity means are generally the fringe minority.
Please do not judge this religion on its extremists.”


We like to limit God

to say God only believes in one kind of love

two kinds of genders

and sexuality is easy to define–

placing all those who don’t fit into these “normal” parameters into a category of…

“sorry God just messed up when God was making you”

“God only believes that these aspects are valid in a human being”

“You are an invalid human being”

Don’t even get me started on ethnicity and differently abled folk

Seriously…what kind of mediocre God are you preaching about…

My God has way more flexibility, creativity and love

My God is so good that I fall to my knees before the Trinity–overwhelmed with a need to love & accept people for who they are in the way that God’s Wild Love can….

and if you say your God is very different from mine…I’m inclined to agree with you….Your God is a lot tamer than mine!

Christianity<–straight up!

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

You see, Aslan is not just a lion, but he’s a great Lion. He’s the King of the Beasts, and the real ruler of Narnia. Now, Susan asks the beavers, “Is he safe?”

Mrs. Beaver says, “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

Lucy asks, “Then he isn’t safe?”

And Mr. Beaver says this famous line about Aslan: “’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”  The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Why do we want to limit love anyway?