4 Things Millenanial/Youngish Christians Could do like no other

1. Recommend Reading Material. We all know that Christian literature can run the gambit from great to sappy. The question is, what are Christians reading that they find relevant? (I personally think Fantasy should be included ALL the TIME) Discuss. 

2. Start rating Apps, recommending websites, etc. 7% of Christianity is under the age of 40. Screen shot of P:C(USA) daily prayer app on iPhoneHence media gap. Hence, great resources like the Daily Prayer App. What is daily prayer? How about the app? How is it different from the book? Why pick the PCUSA one? So far this app is a VERY insider thing. You don’t know about it unless you already know and love the Book of Common Worship…not good evangelism. Plus it would be good to have some feedback on what makes a good Christian app and what doesn’t (just saying). If you are interested look at the app here if you have it…please review it…or any other Christian media resource.

3. What do you wish Christianity addressed? Your young, your Christian…or spiritual and are looking for resources. What do you wish church’s had? Personally I would like a non-conservative Christian Parenting group, or a worship that was TRULY family oriented or a way to gather and discuss TED talks. All of these things would be awesome for me, how about you?

4. Environmentalism/Social Justice and Church–>Big Ticket issues are important, so important churches often don’t think they can handle dealing with them. But I think that the more we do, the better Kingdom Keepers we will be….discuss…..

Mighty God, giv…

Mighty God, give us loving hearts, so that they might become a garden. Root us in loving thoughts, so that we might blossom with the good work that is the fruit of your love. We pray this in Holy Jesus’ name. Amen.

A grace not works prayer

Ozma of Oz, Eon/Eona, Song of the Lionness and coming out of the closet

Spoiler alert: if you haven’t read “The Wonderful Land of Oz,” I’m about to ruin it for you….

I think “The Wonderful Land of Oz” is the first cross gendered story I ever read..True I had read other tales of girls dressing as boys to escape whatever…but Ozma is the only “truly” transgendered character I can think of….She simply changes from a boy to a girl–turns out she’s been a girl all along. Kind of like the book “Boy Meets Boy” its almost too blase about the acceptance…but hey,  I like to think this is how it will be in a perfect world!

PS its the total feminine empowerment story, every power-player is female!

The 14 'canonical' Oz books, by L. Frank Baum

“Eon/Eona” does the girl disguise thing plus a legit transgendered character who is lovely, as does “Song of the Lioness”, Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End hints at other kinds of love, even though sexuality isn’t really the point. of course Malinda Lo does a great (no-cross-dressing needed) out and out lesbian fairy tale. (PS want a great history of sexuality? Check out “Coming Out Under Fire” an amazing history of gay and lesbian sexuality)

All this makes me think about all those transgendered people are under enchantment, they don’t look like who they are supposed to be….

on the other hand, most fantasy is about that (I’m part fairy, I’m dating a vampire, I have superpowers, I’m really a girl in disguise, I’m a prince/princess turned into a frog)

Being a fantasy nerd, I often feel frustrated with who I present to the world and who I really am

Its difficult on so many levels..

I’m a pastor, fantasy-loving, mother. I am not right-wing, or conservative, but I’m not an atheist either. I had children young and am a professional career woman. I am creative, cheerful, optimistic and yet strong, a leader and am super-responsible.

I’m hard to stereotype.

So I read fantasy, I read it because I know that I am not limited to what other think Christianity is (THANK GOD), but at the same time I think that my Christianity defines my entire being. I read fantasy, put my family first and dress the way  I want to because I am Christian. Being Christian isn’t a guideline for me, it is the very fiber of my being and I continue to find more and more ways to live fully into it…..

If I’m in disguise, and I think all of this is a part of being Christian, what parts of Christianity are being unexplored when we are exclusive. What do gay men and lesbian women experience in Christianity that I miss out on? How about single parents, immigrants and the transgendered?

Fantasy is not about escapism, for me its about the facts of life

1. the world is full of a multitude of unique and interesting beings

2. we have to learn to get along

3. there is a battle between hatred/greed/powerseekers and love–good and evil do both exist…..

4. Even when humanity is failing, hope exists, heroes emerge, and love wins

5. Everyone has a call: a unique part to play in this ongoing quest for hope and love, and it doesn’t matter who we are, because the call is perfect for each and every one of us (only fantasy literature seems to do a good job of defining call!)

Living into this is hard, but this is my reality, and for me fantasy is another way to understand real life and the Bible….

Gotta love the irony of that…I’m sure God gave me an appreciation of wry humor so I can straddle all of that..

So some day fully believe I’ll come out of the closet…….and find Narnia

HA!

Martin Luther K…

Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that “Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice.” Our world changes when justice prevails. When we love one another — no matter who they are — justice and peace become part of our reality. When we work for justice and equality we are fully living into the love we are commanded to show one to the other by Jesus.”

Because you can’t go wrong with MLKJ

Why is Christianity uncomfortable: Love defined

Christianity is not, “Smile Jesus loves you”–anyone who says that is probably selling you on Christ (so to speak)

Last Sunday’s Scripture included one of my favorites from Revelation

Revelation 7:9-17

9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

One thing I always testify to is my absolute belief that at the end of the world every knee shall bow to Christ. I don’t know exactly how, but I have faith in Christ that it WILL happen (again do not ask me the why and wherefores, I leave those technicalities to the boss).

I don’t think Christianity is about guilt, I don’t think its my job to convert people and I think that God is ultimately merciful when She sits in judgment. (AGAIN NOTE THE LACK OF JUDGMENT IN ALL OF THIS: IF CHRISTIANITY FEELS JUDGMENTAL YOU MIGHT BE ATTENDING THE WRONG CHURCH)

However, I do know that God loves EACH and EVERY one of us. The Good News of Jesus Christ is not that God loves everybody, but God loves each and every person, with all of their warts and faults and encourages us to do the same–that is the uncomfortable and “not feel good” of Christianity, for Christ’s love calls us to practice a love that is equal to God’s, to practice grace worthy of the Holy Spirit and to be as merciful as God.

In the end, we will all know God’s love, we will all accept ourselves and each other for who we truly are, and in the end we will not be able to help but to bow to God and praise her, crying Glory, Power and Might be our God–for what is more powerful than love!

Being Pastoral

I love being busy, when the scale comes out between underachiever or overproducer–I am definitely on the overproductive side of life. This gives my ministry a sort of…let’s call it…hurried air. When I go on visits, or run meetings, or preach a sermon: my guess is I come off as rushed.

Why do I do this? I guess I have something to prove–I want to show myself as capable and responsible, able to “get stuff done” unfortunatley I probably miss things in the rush. I am full of energy, but people don’t feel like I can “sit with them and their problems.”

Energy–a gift and curse

 

 

General Service Announcement

General Service Announcement

“This is a general service Announcements reminding everybody that the best treatment for dementors is CHOCOLATE…in light of the sad events in Boston, in my professional and pastoral opinion I recommend CHOCOLATE for everybody” (Should you be someone who is unable to do chocolate, Cookies may be substituted). Chocolate may not fix our sadness, but it reminds us of the good that does exist in the world and encourages to act out of love not fear.

PS Check out today’s Lectionary Reading from the Bible–remember the opposite of love is not hate but fear, hate grows out of fear
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
1st John

Sermons are Art

Sermons are Art

Sermons are art, sometimes they rock, and sometimes they don’t. Its less of a quotient of how many hours you put in, and tends to be where you are emotionally, are you feeling creative, is your imagination engaged, can you connect to your audience, is it relevant and yet provoking.

I’ve always said, I wish every sermon was a masterpiece, but since its art, it doesn’t work that way. There are practices and disciplines that help you to be a better artist, but never any guarantees.

This brings me to Presbyterian Today their articles about arts in the church (Shout out to Katie Douglass who pursued arts even while she did her doctorate at PTS)

Arts and Church Art as worship and considering popular culture (ie arts) and religion (cough, cough Science Fiction/Fantasy and Religion anyone? Read about Faith and Dr Who & Star Trek here)

and  Whether Sermons are becoming Obsolete…(well depends what you mean by sermons)

If we aren’t approaching Sermons as an art, but instead only as a form of communication or education,  then we are not encouraging creation, we are merely communicating about it. And I really think that is missing God’s point. If its art, then the format is far more open then are first and second definitions of sermon imply!!!!

Abundent Grace: A Parenting Parable

John 21:1-19 is about Jesus’s Abudent Grace–You might think that its about Peter’s need to be forgiven 3 times, but I see it as ever so much bigger.

Jesus is abundent, so much so, he equals and exceeds our need for forgiveness…this is where love gets scary folks, because God know every single sin, and is equal and greater than those sins–God loves us so that all our empty spots–all our places of sin are filled in–so much so that they in fact overflow with God’s Love

Brennan Manning says it like this….

Parenting says this: My three boys take one bath (there’s a trinity joke somewhere in there, but really its just easier to run one bath). They are all in preschool and can all still fit, and mostly they love it. One day my eldest, Franklin, was scooping all of the toys to him–telling me he wanted to play with all of them. I then pointed out that he can’t play with the toys, because he is hanging on too tightly, and his hands are too full, and that he must share the toys to be able to play with them (this was a moment of parenting brilliance).

That’s how God’s love is–think about the fact that the disciples caught 153 fish (ps great scholarly debates exist about this number, until a scholar drily observed that maybe its says 153 because there was an eyewitness who actually saw the fish, and that is the actual–as opposed to being a symbolic–number)

Anyway, they catch all these fish and what are they to do? They can’t eat them all before they rot (pre-fridge and pre-salt), so they have to share the wealth…just like the manna, just like the toys…that is the abundance of Christ’s love–it is so abundent it fills even the most ordinary corners of our lives (fishing is a daily thing in Galilee). Although we may be like the disciples and be unable to see Jesus from the boat (or the bathtub), he will keep appearing, and keep loving us, inviting us to be nourished and then to “feed my sheep” or Share the toys so we can be in relationship with and nourish one another….

How’s that for use or lose it parable of the talents?

PS: Note the nets did not break this time (which is a whole other sermon) I think this is because the disciples have a little more where-with-all to catch some of Christ’s love, it doesn’t all pass through this time, some of it gets caught, harvested and used.

 

John 21:1-19

 

21After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”