“I believe that…

“I believe that appreciation is a holy thing–that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.” ~Mr Rogers

Mr. Rogers

God and Gardens: Summer Series Prt 1

seedsThen God looked around at the earth he created, and She had a thought….I need a garden and gardeners….one thought….

God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground (see below for full passage)

God the master creator, created life to be in relationship from the very beginning. From the first moment, God said, we need life. He planted us in a garden, to coexist with and work with plants.

God the gardener

We are at no more than co-gardeners

In reality we would probably do better to think of ourselves as plants.

With this is mind, lets begin our exploration of the Bible with plants…..

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFzXaFbxDcM

Genesis 2:1-9  New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

In the day that the Lord[a] God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,[b] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

 

Mr. Rogers Does Pastoral Care for Boston Bombing

Returning again to Mr. Rogers words in times of tragedy…let us use this anger and energy to become helpers!

“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

Hopping Hadrian's Wall

boston bombingWhat can I say?  Today has just turned into a Mister Rogers kind of day.

Here are his best-known words of wisdom for getting through days like today:

“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.”

-Rev. Fred Rogers

He also had this advice for parents:

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZbXM3Kzd7o%5D

Finally, here is an article with some practical advice for you in responding to this current atrocity:

Boston bombing aftermath: How you can help

May God be with you tonight.

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When your heart is breaking….

Yesterday my heart broke….It was a difficult day with sad decisions and a good look at how temptation effects our lives….

Isn’t it interesting how it is easier to believe and remember evil than good? (for more on Good and Evil look here)

If you preach a sermon 90% about gospel and 10% about sin, most people remember the sin portion.

Why is evil so much easier to connect with? I think some of this has to do with our insecurity. Ted talk The Power of Vulnerability tackles this issue with storyteller/researcher Brene Brown.

In fact a lot of people I know don’t believe in Hell (Christians obviously included)…

So why then are the “less happy” endings more believable??? Why is it that “truth is hard” is the “real world” mantra

I don’t think life is shit and we struggle through it the best we can. I don’t think life is brutish, nasty, short. I think there is MORE than that.

But when my heart breaks, when difficult decisions are made, when people don’t show love and care towards one another, when people-hate-the-sin-not-the-sinner, when they fall back on smile-Jesus-Loves-you, when they use religion (as the TED video says) to provide answers instead of exploring faith), when people struggle with addiction, when parents don’t take good care of their children….

When these things happen, when its clear that the world is not perfect because of our self doubt, it is important to remember Jesus made us and loves us exactly the way we are…

Jesus believes that we are equipped, as those made in God’s image and as co-creators, to spread the good news…

https://i0.wp.com/radiofreebabylon.com/RFB%20Images/CoffeeWithJesus/coffeewithjesus500.jpg

How do we know this? Because Jesus spent time as one of us. Jesus went to the desert and endured the Devil telling Jesus …you are not good enough, you are not a success, you can’t help in God’s work, you need (food, drink, success, fame) Me, the devil, to get there…Matthew 4:8-10 (Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”). And Jesus says, no, the way is through love and God, its through knowing myself as an intricate, important and beloved part of God’s plan and I don’t need to be perfect/in control/married/successful/rich to do that…I just need to be grounded and centered on God (Matthew 4:10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.) Take that evil. Yes, evil exists, yes life is difficult, no I don’t think we have to accept the chains of temptation, we don’t have value our “Success” the way the world does. Instead we can depend on God (we don’t need to dull the pain or even control it), we can know Christ has been there, understands that we stumble and loves that about us, because we are stumbling on his path, we are doing the best we can, and we are created in his image. We participate in Lent, so that we can participate more fully in Easter–we participate in Lent, because its a part of life, but we also participate in it so we can acknowledge that EASTER wins!!! All the time, everytime (even during Lent, Easter creeps through on Sundays!!!) Easter like Christmas, needs to be lived (see my post on Being Christmassed for more)

comic

Please note: I discuss heartbreak and difficulty as a tangible part of life (for more look at Anne Lamott’s thoughts here)

BUT: The Good news has written the ending for us, and we can Participate in God’s Celebration…we don’t have to just watch or hum along to God’s Concert–we can party and scream all the words<<——–THIS IS THE MESSAGE, try to remember this, don’t walk away already forgetting the good news

Good News: Jesus is the Savior

Better News; So you don’t have to be (subtext you get to help!!)

So the hard decisions were made, I am continuing to pray, to live into hope, to put into practice God’s love and care and to trust that my participation although it feels small is important and that the love I show has had meaning…and really knowing that heals my heart even as its broken (just as God heals are brokenness in a broken world)…I wonder if this is how Christ feels when he makes loving and difficult decisions on our behalf…Good news JESUS is the savior….Jesus loves ALL of us, no matter what. Amen.

It’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood…

A new catch phrase that we have been working with in the church is “Won’t you be our Neighbor” yes…in the spirit of the great Mr. Rogers…

If you recall the words the song it goes

Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? could you be mine? I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you..I always wanted to live in the neighborhood with you.

How many times do we tell that to people–we love you exactly as you are, we always wanted someone, with all of your idiosyncrasies, annoyances, complaints and problems here!

How often are we able to get rid of the bottom-line, how often do we love people exactly the way they are–instead of who they could be or who we wish they were…

(Nowell calls it forgiving one another for not being God).

Why did people follow Jesus…why did they leave everything…

Luke 5:1-11Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats morred at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Boss, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all who were with him caught in the amazement at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Why did the disciples leave everything and follow Jesus? I think its because Jesus loved the disciples exactly as they were!! I think that feeding people and fishing in a lake town is probably very, very important, it isn’t as important as building a community….

And building that community means welcoming people who are spiritual and not religious, it means going out and meeting people wherever they are instead of requiring them to understand our concept of church–it means opening up to the fact that Jesus did not say follow me and tithe, follow me and become a church member, follow me and be sure to sit in pews in an A framed church for worship–Jesus said “I love you exactly the way you are, follow me I always needed someone JUST LIKE YOU (for more on that, read a blog about God making us perfect by Jim Palmer here) with your ideas of worship, your sense of God and your understanding of Life, follow me, I love you, so follow me” and I think that they did…

So can we do it? Can we leave our church buildings, our pews and our projects…can we go into the world and work to love and accept each other exactly as they are–children to the infirm, sick to the well….can we put a sign on the church door and tell people we’ve “Gone Fishing?”

What do you think?

PS here is the most awesome Garden of my Mind remix for Mr. Rogers 🙂

http://video.pbs.org/video/2244712132/

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