#ashwednesday is for….

Ash Wednesday is for when all four of your checks hit after the bank closes but before you can put your husband’s check in, including the really big rent check, and they therefore all BOUNCE!

Ash Wednesday is for your four year old child throwing up all over the house, and not quite getting the try to aim for the bowl or the toilet concept

Its for your special needs kid being better focused in class, even as you worry about his continual bad smell

Its for losing your voice on the night the pastor has to lead service

Its for your eldest who is struggling to concentrate getting a good email from the teacher.

 

Ash Wednesday is to lay out your whole self before God

To confess yourself, not to feel ashamed, but to be able to see yourself as God’s beloved

The very act of owning  who you are and your reality, the act of being you as God’s, frees you to be reflective of God.

I confess myself and seek God…because to me, they are the same thing….

Ps 34:4-5  I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
5Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

Building the #Nativity: (#christmas) Mary & Joseph

There are very few pictures of Mary and Joseph that are not Joseph pulling Mary on the Donkey for Bethlehem.

donkey

We aren’t there yet, though.

Besides, they aren’t Even LOOKING at each other!

But I can tell that Mary and Joseph aren’t really pictured before Jesus. Even though, they had some kind of relationship as they were engaged. Let’s face it, Mary and Joseph probably were from the same small town and knew each other really well, no matter how well they knew each other.

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So this week we filled in the first characters by telling of when Gaberial tells Mary and then Joseph about Jesus coming. Its interesting because as the artwork shows, we clearly do not picture them together.

There are two distinctly similar portions to these accounts. The first of which were that Mary and Joseph were the afraid.

Can you imagine how they each felt seeing an angel? How worried they were about this unknown, and surprising child? Jesus Christ is probably the most surprising child ever!!

No wonder they were afraid.

Today is also the Hope week of Advent. You know what hope is? ITs saying yes when you don’t know what will happen.

That’s Mary and Joseph.

That’s parenthood too, when you have a child you don’t really know what is going to happen.

My mom remembers women who swore they would come back to work after having a baby, and then realize they couldn’t stay home. Then she knew others who were trying to stay home who were going crazy and needed to go back to work. This taught her that parenthood is one of those things you have ideas about, but you don’t really know until you get there.

And even if you have a partner in parenting, that person wouldn’t necessarily parent the same way. In fact sometimes what works for one parent doesn’t work for the other.

In a way we are all Mary and Joseph, trying to figure out how to relate to Christ. Each of us working to get to know him in our own way.

Faith is a bit by parenting. You have ideas about how it should work, but you don’t really know what practices and theories work for you until you put it into practice. Active, Contemplative, Environmental, Introspective there are many ways to practice faith.

I think of how afraid Mary is that Joseph is going to leave her, and Joseph so afraid about the leaving he thinks they must do. Each of them being afraid, and lonely in that fear.

Church is unique too, because just like a family, even though our practices are different other people’s faith practices can inform our own. Even if those particular practices are never our cup of tea, we can still strengthen one another by sharing about our faith.

Family is that way too!

Last year I talked about how we are the family in the waiting room, waiting for Christ and becoming family. We are becoming family through church.

When Joseph hears that he should keep the baby & Mary, that’s the moment they start to become Family. Before Christ even arrives.

As we build the nativity, we might each be drawn to different characters, but look at the variety of family, friends and strangers that come to see Jesus. This is because God invites each and every one of us to become a part of the family.

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Heck, Jesus wasn’t really the son of Joseph, but the practice of inviting others to be a part of the family start with Joseph, continues with the Nativity,then the Jews, then eventually we are all adopted as brothers and sisters in Christ.

I think of when Joseph is no longer alone in his fears, of the moment when he tells Mary what he was hoping and worrying about Jesus, and Mary shares back. This is the moment they become family, before Jesus is even born.

(Here is our version of the family, we made with the kids as Our First Building the Nativity Ornaments)

This is what I think happened then, even tho there is no such art of Mary and Joseph

We do not have to be a certain ethnicity or worship a certain way or even read the Bible in a certain language. That’s because the Good News of Jesus Christ is translatable. Christianity can fit into any culture (when we do it right).

We are all invited to come and join the nativity, so join us as we build the nativity this Advent season

 

 

 

Do the #refugees make you feel uncomfortable?

CS-Lewis-Christianity-Happy

 

 

Do the refugees make you uncomfortable? Do they shake you from your feeling a safety and make you rethink life? Perhaps they make you hug your children tighter at night.

Today my husband and I discussed the possibility of WWIII calmly trying to assess whether that is a reasonable concern.

Friends, my faith does not solve these problems, but it assures me that the risks are worth taking.

Another name for the Holy Spirit is “the one who stirs up.” The Holy Spirit both stirs us up and comforts us at the same time (I don’t know how, but its true).

Christianity isn’t supposed to be sitting on our laurels of blessings, feeling at one with the world.

It is a call to action to serve and love one another, to be open to other human being

 

And lets be honest, that’s dangerous. Its dangerous to open yourself to being in relationship with others. But that is our call as Christian.

We are called to preach and embody Christ and the Good News Even at the risk of our own lives. Does that include refugees who might be terrorists?

As a Christian you are called to be in some kind of relationship with every other human being on the earth.

Because they too are creations of God.
Do the refugees make you uncomfortable?

That might just be God tapping you on the shoulder.

 

 

#hopewins #notafraid #diwali Practicing Humanity & Defeating #Terrorism

Today is diwali the celebration of light winning over darkness, how fitting a reminder, for me a Christian when mercy and justice are hard to find today.

Fear Not!

Every time an angle appeared, every time God speaks, fear is cast out. God doesn’t want us to live in fear, God wants us to live into hope.

But that’s hard, its hard when attacks occur all over the world on one day–Beruit, Paris, Baghdad. Its difficult when gun violence continues to cause school shooter drills and institutional racism is unveiled again and again and again.

So what I do is, I cry. I pray. I look at the stars. I light candles.

(until we find the right words, we’ll light candles–Martha Spong)

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I live in hope.

This expression is one I use when things are uncertain. I toss it off in casual conversation as though it is easy, but it is so, so difficult.

Worrying is a human past time. Its a way to cope with the reality that evil is in the world. It is a tool that can be overused to the point where we worry too much and forget to live.

Fear also, is interesting. As Christians a tenant of our faith is the fear God. We are not supposed to base our decisions on what could happen, we are not supposed to live our life based in fears, we aren’t supposed to live into the worry and the guilt, because the truth is, we humans do not function well in those state.

When we are anxious and afraid, when we are guilty or judgmental, we make bad decisions.

No doubt, this is why over and over again we are urged only to fear God. “Those who fear God” is an expression in the Old Testament to describe all those who are trying to follow God instead of giving in to other things. But then God tells us over and over again to fear not. And counsels us to hope and trust in what is going on….

Its hard not to fear, not to worry that I’m not secure enough in money or friendships. Its hard when my body does not function the way I want it to, or when my children get hurt from the bad things that go on in the world. Its hard when the news talks a lot about the problems of the world and little about the solutions. Its hard when refugees and children are dying from violence and rejection. Its hard when people proclaim “its not like it used to be” with authority as if evil is new and spreading instead of being old and already defeated by Jesus.

But I live into hope.

I practice not being afraid.

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Building trust, assuming people are trustworthy, treating everyone with respect and kindness.

Because those are hope building practices, and this is how to defeat evil. This is how #hopewins, this is how we defeat #terrorism, not with weapons or policies, but with the refusal to live a life of fear.

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#Syria #refugeecrises #Germany

So does Reconciliation look like Germany taking in as many Syrian refugees as they can?

For a nationality that bears the guilt of driving many (mostly Jews) from their homes as refugees in not just Germany but many countries. Reconciliation might look like this.

France, who has experienced much political strife is also taking a lot….interesting

I feel like this requires much deep thought….

What is the theology of far away? In America I feel like Syria is way far away. Even Pakistan, which I personally know some people from and am more able to understand the persecution, particularly of Christians, feels far away.

God, Stooping, Kneeling and Praise Ps 113 Narrative Lectionary

One of the most common themes in the Bible is the proclamation that EVERY knee shall bow to Jesus Christ. I like this because I feel it contains within it the POSSIBILITY for universal salvation. This is a tricky thing, because if Jesus is our only salvation, then its difficult then to go and state that Every knee shall bow to God. However, this is my faith in God’s everlasting love and salvation, and what is great about this proclaimation is that its EVERYWHERE in the bible from Isaiah 45:23 to Romans 14:11 to Phil 2:10-11

5Let the same mind be in you that was* in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8   he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.


9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

During my oral examination for ordination, I got asked about this phrase in my statement of faith, for I stated that I whole heartedly believed that someday every knee shall bow to Christ, every tongue confess him Lord.

I got asked if I was a universalist (that means that everyone will be saved no matter what which makes religion and even the need to do good irrelevant to some people), and I cheekily answered that the Bible says this to be true in both the New and Old Testament. I had no clue as to how God will put this mighty and impossible work into being, but I believed that the Bible was telling the truth, and if you viewed that verse to be universalist than Jesus and the prophets must have been universalists. This got me a laugh.

So, when I was looking at Psalm 113, a Psalm that names God and praises God as the one who stoops, a thought occurred to me….

When if at the end of the world, every knee shall bow, because that is the position Christ will be in? Christ who emptied himself, Christ who humbled (knelt/stooped) to be on earth

What if Christ comes, as always, to serve the world the actual physical position of servanthood, stooping and crouching to serve, and what if we all get on our knees to serve with her?

Maybe that is why it is couched with all the words about NOT judging each other in the New Testament, something that would definitely would have been better understood after Christ’s physical incarnation than before…..

Is it so hard to believe that Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to Christ not because of the mighty thunder and lightening of the end of the world, but because God is serving and listens to what it is we have to say and invites us to assume the same position? We are conquered by God’s graciousness and are finally able to embody it…

Psalm 113


1 Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord;
praise the name of the Lord.


2 Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
4 The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.


5 Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who stoops to look
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

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