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.

stars

“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.

All right,” sai…

All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying

humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

 

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY.”

Susan and Death, The Hogfather by terry pratchett

Stories are an essential part of being human.

Fantasy helps us to work towards the world in God’s image, dreaming and imagining is a part of that

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”  (NIV, Joel 2:28)

Being Christmassed

“That’s What Christmas is all about Charlie Brown” last night, in the face of tragedy, we put on Charlie Brown Christmas to 60 people. Many of them children: children who laughed at Snoopy, marvelled at Linus’ blanket, and tried to tell Charlie Brown where to get his tree “It’s over there!” It was a moment of innocence and hope. With all of Charlie Brown’s searching for hope it is ultimately understand Christmas “and the angels were singing Glory to God in the highest and on earth Peace and Goodwill toward Man.” Charlie Brown who is so often mistreated and depressed is able to be “Christmassed” (yes that is the verb for feeling the true meaning of Christmas–and it often sneaks up on you). And because Charlie Brown found hope in Christ, I did too…I also went through his hopelessness, his loneliness–ending in the sad, dead tree being alone on the stage. But, then the heavenly voice came down, then Angels started to sing about the glory of God. And when hope seemed to be God, the tree was resurrected, decorated and brought back in all of its glory. If a tree can be resurrected then surely brave teachers, small children here and in China can be too!

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

Hopefully we too can be part of the helpers

Someone should do this…..

What is both wonderful and frustrating about being a pastor is that a lot of what is done is unquantifiable. Most of the time I am well aware of the fact that I am a “pastor” not only in the church but also, and perhaps more importantly in the community. What this ultimately means is that as a pastor, you wear a lot of hats–some of them better than others.

Whenever people ask how it is to be a pastor I usually say something along the lines that I’m a Jack-of-All-Trades and as such, I get a lot of enjoyment out of doing many different kinds of things.

However, my job also is “thereotically” to put myself out of a job. In between visiting people I should be training my deacons and elders to visit people, in between preaching I should be teaching others how to testify to the word, in between leading and organizing events I should be training/empowering others to lead and organize events.

On the one hand I love the teaching, on the other hand, I find that no matter how things go it is ultimately the pastor who (right or wrong) gets the praise or the blame. This means that whenever there is a suggestion of “Someone should do xxx” whether xxx is fixing the exhaust fans in the bathroom, creating a Farmer’s Market, improving the worship experience, or advertising the church itself (my church’s current cross to bear), that I automatically feel like “I” am the one who is responsible for all of these things.

I need to do x, y and z to keep the church going, I am responsible, I am human–sometimes I need to step back and remind myself that God is really in charge of things. Sometimes I need to take a day to be not just, pastor, mother and wife and be just a Katy. A simple human who God is making into the best possible version of myself.

In the meantime Someone should work more theologically on developing a better understanding in the congregation and on the street in general of who the pastor is and how that works in relationship with the congregation and the world–who knows maybe that someone might even be me 😉

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