Thank you, Mr. Trump

you-are-needed

Please read this in the context of my last blog “Even our little ones feel it.”

This week, I feel called to fight for our girls.  If you are voting for Hillary, then this blog is for you.  If you are voting for Trump, then this blog is for you.  No matter which candidate you are voting for, we have to stand together against Trumps words that demean and objectify women.  It is one thing to vote for Trump, it is quite another thing to support/justify “boys will be boys”/ or stay silent about how men talk about and treat women.  You want to hear something crazy…..I am actually thankful that Trump has brought this out in the light.  For me, this dark side of what it means to be an American Male now has a spotlight shining on it.  I am appalled by the lack of opposition to this kind of behavior by my Christian Community.  I am ashamed of how women like Beth Moore have been treated by our Christian Community for standing up against this behavior and sharing their stories.

Men of God, where is your voice?  Do not stay silent on this issue.  Our little girls need to hear you say that men honor and respect and sacrifice for women to be all that God created them to be.  Men of God, your boys need to hear that their words matter.  God spoke the whole world into being.  Jesus became the Word made flesh.  Words have power to create beauty/lift up/encourage/promote/love AND words have the power to put another child of God into a living hell.  Men of God, Words matter.

Women of God, it is time for you to rise up and talk to your girls about their worth.  The time is now for us to show our girls that men of God do not talk this way about any person.  We hold men accountable for their words and in humility offer forgiveness when asked because that is the power of our words.  It is time that we dig deep and honor the divine feminine in every women.  She is not defined by her sexuality.  She is not defined by her weight.  She is not defined by her looks.  She is.  Yes, she is and that is her source of power.

So, thank you, Mr Trump, for bringing this very important issue into the light.  For too long, these words have been hidden behind close doors and lurked in the shadows of my mind.  I have dealt with this issue within my own family and the confused Christian Community did not give me the words to stand against something I felt was not right, but today I look at my young daughter in the eyes, the daughter I named Sophia for the divine feminine wisdom that she holds within, and I use the power of my words.  Let us realize the power of our words and together work for a better way forward.

 

Even our little ones feel it

crying-child

On my walk to school with Peyton, he asked me if I had studied the circulatory system and the digestive system.  I said that I had and he said, “Great!  I have a quiz for you.”  I am happy to report that I did well on my quiz but the last question really made me think.  Peyton said, “Last question, mom.  Who do you think will more likely cause World War III?  Hillary or Trump?” And then he said, “I am a no vote, mom.”

Even our little ones are feeling the anxiety that we all feel around this election.  Peyton said that in his social skills class, the teacher is having a hard time redirecting the children away from politics!  I believe that the children are telling us that they need to process what they are hearing at home, in school and on TV.  They are asking us to put our big girl panties on and give them better words, better skills for handling differences.  I think we have a great opportunity to teach our children some valuable lessons that I know I did not receive in my childhood home.

We can identify with our children’s anxiety in a way that shows love for people who vote for Trump and people who vote for Hillary.  I would say something like, “Peyton, good, loving, faithful, and committed Christians are voting for Donald Trump.  At the same time, good, loving, faithful and committed Christians are voting for Hillary Clinton.”  There is a hard choice to be made and good people fall on either side but we have to make a choice.  We have to cast our vote because we have rights and freedoms in our country that other countries don’t enjoy.   We seek God in our vote first and we vote in a way that is true to who God created us to be.  During this time, we pray for both candidates and then we pray for whoever is President.  Ultimately, though, God is with us no matter what and we have LOTS of bible stories that prove that no matter who is “KING,” God is with us.  One thing I stressed to both my kids is that we never put down anyone for sharing their opinion on the candidates.  We always show love because God is love.

By showing that good people are on either side of the vote, we have already leveled the playing field and stopped demonizing the “other” which relieves a lot of anxiety.  If they are lead to believe that the “other” is horrible, ignorant, corrupt, etc, then all who vote for _______________ are horrible, ignorant, corrupt, etc.  If ____________ then wins, we have just planted fear in our children’s minds.  Let’s not do that!

We all want more for our children.  We don’t want them to live in fear.  We don’t want them to think other people are evil just because they are different.  We have a great opportunity in the next few weeks to give our children kind and loving words to use, to show that people who vote for the “other” are God’s children too.  We can begin to teach our children how to talk about hard subjects where people disagree with each other. In our homes, we can talk about listening to others.  We can talk about how to use our words in a loving way like saying, “I am very uncomfortable with talking about this.  Can we change the subject!”  We can also teach how to engage in conversation by asking good questions which as they get older will help them understand better where the person they are talking to is coming from with their statements.  If we don’t model this for our children, we will continue the cycle of demonizing those who think differently from us.

I am having a hard time with political conversations as an adult, but I am committed to making a difference in my children’s life.  No matter who wins this election, my family serves the God of all creation, the God who created Donald and who created Hillary.  My God is big enough to work through the life of our next President.

 

 

 

 

I am gathering

Yoga position info-text graphics arrangement and word clouds conHere is a free writing that I wrote at a workshop titled, “The Yoga of Writing and Creativity,” with Albert Flynn DeSilver in May 2016.  We were to pick 1 or 2 words from a list he gave us.  I picked water.

 

The water within me

gushing, big wave, leaves the heart chamber

rushing with power and energy, explosive crashing

clear blue

white and frothy

running and rushing to momentary stillness

laps back into with quiet calm

not pushing against but a calling

a drawing, a magnetism that isn’t to be fought against

where strength meets vulnerability

release and giving into the moment

free to rush with power

free to retreat with the same energy directed at the release

it looks weak.  it looks less powerful but the strength is built by this lapping back into itself

I am not giving in or giving up

I am gathering.

What kind of follower are you?

footprint

 

What kind of follower are you?  There are many kinds.  (video of me walking my dog talking about Patch learning how to follow can be found on my Facebook page)  You might think about your walk with God and realize that you fit into one category or another.  Or you might be thinking “On any given day, I could be found running ahead of God or sitting down in the middle of the road mad or afraid to go anywhere!”  Or a squirrel could cross my path and I forget that God is a part of my life at all!  No matter what kind of follower you are, we have an amazing book to read about all kinds of followers of the faith!  Our ancestors of the faith have responded to God in various ways and recorded their journey so that we can read their stories and find ourselves in this story!  The story that I want to look at today is the story of the Israelites  Exodus out of Egypt. 

 

Our adult Sunday School class is studying the book of Exodus and we are just now getting to the part where Moses is leading the people out of Egypt!  The children have also just explored this great story!

The Israelites are at the beginning of this new journey but it is not totally new since God walked with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. But now Moses had this incredible encounter with God and tells the Israelites who are slaves in the land of Egypt that God had heard their cries and had seen their misery.  How do you think the people responded?  The people of Israel bowed down and worshiped.  So the story goes that Moses and the people have a clear direction and everyone follows the plan.  Moses swoops in, gathers the people and they all walk out of Egypt and into freedom.  That is how the story goes…..right?  yes and no.

There are many times throughout the story that the people have the opportunity to choose what kind of follower they are going to be.  Are they going to run ahead of God?  Sit down and give up?  Or turn around and want to go a different way?  Today, let’s visit a few scenes to see how the people responded.  We are going to make this fun with playing a multiple choice game! 

moses1

1-     First scene is from Exodus 5:20-21-Moses and Aaron are walking into Pharoah for the first time asking for Pharoah to Let My People Go.  But Moses’ first attempts to bring them out of Egypt are not successful and not only are they not successful, but Pharoah makes the work harder for the Israelites.  The Israelites are already treated very poorly as slaves in the land and Moses has just made it worse!  So the people have a few options for how they can respond

(Slide)

a-ask Moses to work faster and to not take NO for an answer

b-sit and cry and wine and complain

c-get mad at Moses

d-pray and believe that the God of their forefathers sent Moses to bring them to freedom

How did they respond?  (Slide)

“c”  The Israelites get mad that Moses even came to try and free them. 

 

moses2

2-     2nd scene is from Exodus 14:10-13.  Israel’s first taste of freedom.  They are outside of Egypt at the Reed Sea and the Egyptians are chasing after them!  Now suspend your knowledge of what happens and think about the options for response.  They could

 

a-rush ahead of Moses leaving him in the dust and go around the reed sea

b-sit and cry and wine and complain

c-give up and head back to Egypt.

d-believe that God will yet again provide a way to freedom and pray to God

How did they respond?  (Slide)

   “b” and tell Moses that they would have rather stayed in Egypt than be killed out in the wilderness.  All while being surrounded by a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud which represented the very presence of God with them!!

Ok so now God has sent 10 plagues to get them out of Egypt and God has parted the Reed Sea.  Now they are trusting God, right?  Yes and No.

 

 

 

 moses3

3-     3rd scene is from Exodus 31:18-32:1      Moses left the people to ascend the mountain.  On this mountain, God gives Moses the 10 commandments writtenon tablets of stone by the finger of God.  This process apparently took God and Moses a long time so what did the people choose to do:

 

a-     Pray for Moses to have the strength to endure such intense time with God

b-    Leave Moses and head for the promised land

c-     think that Moses is dead and the journey must be over.  This is it!

d-    Ask to have another god to worship

 

How did they repond?  (Slide)

“d”  They did not know what happened to Moses but instead of replacing Moses with another human leader, they decided they needed another god to worship.  After all God has done for them, they are ready to ditch God and worship something else! 

 

moses4

4-      Last scene for today—Israel sent spies into the promised land to check out the people and the situation.  They come back fearful !  So, God is upset with the people for their complaining and says that they shall wander in the wilderness for 40 years and that all of the older ones who have complained will die in the wilderness and not enter the promised land but all the young ones will enter the promised land.  God told the people that they were not allowed to use military force to enter the land even after they sent spies to see what it was like.  So what do the people do according to Numbers the end 14?

Did they:

a-bow down, worship and pray for forgiveness

b-ask to return to Egypt

c-give in to their punishment

d-go ahead and enter the promised land without the presence of God going with them.

So what did they do? 

“d”  They ran ahead of God to enter into the promised land.  And the people of the land defeated the Israelites.

What kind of follower are you?  Where do you find yourself in the story?

We have been in a teaching series in the book of James. 

This week James says in 4:13-15 

 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.”  Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.”

James & the Israelites teach us this morning that the best way to follow Christ is to be a follower who consistently checks in.   Like our dog Patch, we may have tendencies to run ahead or be someone who lags behind but the goal is to have our eyes so focused on Christ that we fall in line with Christ’s steps.  The goal is to seek Christ first in all things.  Distractions come.  Set backs come.  Time comes and goes.  But we can learn to keep Christ our focus to keep checking in with the master.  For me, this means talking to God all throughout my day.  I don’t mean setting aside 20 min to pray all throughout the day which would be nice but I mean a few min to ask what I should do in a situation.  I mean a mommy time out when I need to gather my already low reserve of patience so that I can ask God for an extra reserve.  I mean responding to that voice that says, “Call so and so or do this today.”  I mean taking a minute to ask God what God wants from a situation.  What kind of follower are you?

 

 

                                                                                                                                                              

Second Guessing

No Second Guessing FRONT cropped DSC05607.jpg

 

The last two weeks have been hell at my house.  Our usually quiet, peaceful and loving home transformed into a place where raised voices, tantrums, not listening and acting like a stubborn butt became the norm and I am not just talking about the children!  There were time outs for children and time outs for mommy.  The anxiety level at our home crushed my chest and broke my heart and all because it’s back to school time!

But this is no ordinary year.  This year, Peyton, our brave boy who has autism, moves up into junior high.  The difference between elementary school and junior high is like the difference between vegetables and doughnuts.  Both technically are food that will give your body energy but we want the pretty doughnut with sprinkles on top!  In the end, the doughnut will not satisfy us longterm and leads to a major sugar crash!  In elementary school, Peyton’s teachers gave him some level of independence but took care of him by doing a lot of hand holding.  We loved every minute of it but just like with the doughnut, we are facing a sugar crash with the reality of the level of independence it takes to make it in junior high.

In preparation for this change, we made 3 different trips up to the school to practice because mommy is the queen of suggesting that practice relieves anxiety and leads to greater opportunities for success both for me and for him.  Now, it is up to him.  So this morning, we drove through the dropoff line, met some of his friends and sent him off into the school to work the steps that we practiced.  1-find his way to his locker, 2-unlock his locker, 3-get out his binder, 4-put his backpack in the locker, 5-make sure the locker is locked, 6-remember to carry his schedule and then 7-find his way to his first class.  To most of us, this would not be too big of a stretch but when you have sensory issues like light and sound and touch (900 junior high kids crammed into 1 building!!) AND your hands don’t always work together to work a lock or you can’t focus long enough to get the key in the hole  successfully AND when your memory challenges your ability to think of the next step, then the whole first 15 min of school seem impossible and fill your entire being with anxiety. Let’s not even talk about changing clothes for PE!!  Thus the reason for all the craziness the past two weeks at home because we both want to go back to the doughnut days of elementary school.

But no one forced this schedule on us.  In fact, his teachers suggested that he be placed in a self-contained classroom, but Chad and I both felt strongly that now was the time to call Peyton forward into greater levels of independence.  We believed that God’s plan for Peyton included taking a huge leap of faith into creating a schedule that would allow him to participate in the full junior high experience.  His elementary school principal agreed that he should be given this opportunity because they are required to place him in the least restricted environment.  This was not the safe choice but if we want greater independence for him in the future, we know we have to push harder than our hearts can sometimes handle.  I remember leaving this meeting at the school and rejoicing that God provided for us exactly what we had prayed for and that the team worked so hard to make accommodations for Peyton.  For several months, I basked in God’s love and provision.

Walking in the reality of it is not as fun though.  I am not basking in God’s love and provision.  Instead, I am pulling my hair out, wanting to run away and second guessing our decision to put Peyton through this level of stress.  I am second guessing the resolve I felt several months ago that God was present in this thing at all.  Second guessing.

At times like this, I treasure the scriptures and all of the flawed, imperfect, disobedient, disbelieving heroes that are our ancestors of the faith.  I am thankful that when I experience the harsh reality of living out my faith, then I can turn to the scriptures and find stories that still speak to me today.  Stories that give me insight into how God is active in our world.  Stories that show me how humanity relates to God in time of great success and in times of great failure.  Without these stories, I would find it hard to find deeper meaning and greater complexity in my own story.  Right now, I am studying Moses for an adult Sunday school class that I will begin facilitating next week.  I love Moses because God called him to partner with God in setting God’s people free.  What an amazing calling!  I can’t think of anything more stretching, more impossible, more frightening and more exhilarating than to walk before the Pharaohs of our world and say, “Let my people go!”  But, right alongside all of this thrilling adventure is Moses second guessing.  Thank you, God, that this hero of our faith tradition is also very human. Here are the highlights: God calls Moses to go to Egypt where he grew up and ask the Pharoah to free the Israelites from slavery.  Moses second guessed God saying, “But what if they don’t believe me or listen to me?”  Then God gave Moses 2 signs to show the people God’s power.  Moses second guessed God’s call because Moses felt like he could not speak, so God provided Aaron to speak for him.  Later, Moses second guessed God’s call to move into the promised land so God promised that God would go with them.

Second guessing.  The Good News is that God continued to work in Moses life through the second guessing AND Moses dug deep and found the strength and courage to trust AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN the call of God on his life.

This is what I am attempting to do today.  As I lie awake for hours last night second guessing and praying over my children, I finally fell asleep.  In my dreams, I was filled with peace as I watched my son with his unique head bobbing, double arm swinging walk travel down the hallway of school.  But he was not alone.  On either side of him were angels with watchful eyes protecting him.  Then, I was transported on top of the giant water slide that my daughter fought off her fear to experience this summer.  I watched her face and saw her dig deep, really deep, and find the courage to let go and off she went down that slide.  Thank you God for these visions of my children!   I am thankful that God is still at work in me through my second guessing and I choose to trust AGAIN.

 

 

 

 

Psalm 77

Call to Worship  based on Psalm 77

Has God’s steadfast love ceased?

You are the God who works wonders!

Are God’s promises at an end for all time?

You are the God who works wonders!

Has God in anger closed the door to compassion?

You are the God who works wonders!

When my heart is troubled and my mind in anxious tumult, I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old.

For you are the God who works wonders! 

Practicing Sabbath

If you would like to listen to the sermon please go to KWCC.org and click on sermons July 31st, 2016

Good Morning.  At general Assembly this past year, I was sitting in one of the sessions when the speaker said, “The church offers something to the world that no one else offers.”  My ears immediately tuned in. I thought about inspiration…nope, they can get that in listening to a TED talk or reading a book.  I thought about music…nope, they can get that at a concert.  I thought about community….nope, they can get that at work, in a bar, through a shared interest.     He said, “WE offer Sabbath.  We need to teach Sabbath.”  What does Sabbath look like to you?  (Show pictures of fishing, napping, devoting time to a hobby like scrapbooking.

 

For me, I always think of going to church and not just going to church but going to church on Sunday.  All of these ideas are a part of what it means to practice Sabbath, so, this morning I want to build upon our ideas of Sabbath and what God calls us to when the scriptures say to keep the Sabbath Holy.  It is not a small request.  It is not a side note.  It was such a big thing that eventually they put laws in place that if you did not keep the Sabbath, you could be put to death.  If it was that important to the faith of our ancestors then to me it is worth taking a look at for today.  Remember with me that God gave the 10 commandments to Moses, or in godly play curriculum, we tell the children that God gave us the 10 best ways to live.  These set of instructions could be divided into two catagories:  1- the 1st 3 are to help the people of God learn about who God is and what God is like and what relationship looked like with God and 2-the last 6 are to help them understand how to live in relationship with each other. Jesus helped us understand that when he said that all the law can be boiled down into 2: Love God & Love your Neighbor.

But it is important to note that this fourth commandment is situated right in between 3 commandments that talk to us about God and the other commandments that help us learn how to live with each other in peace so this fourth commandments pulls double duty in that it teaches us about our relationship with God and it teaches us about our relationships with others.

Let’s first look at the basic scriptures that talk about Sabbath.

Genesis 2:2—God rested on the 7th day from all the work that God had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.

Exodus 20:8  Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.

As I studied these, I thought “I know this!  I learned these scriptures in Sunday School as a kid.”  But I knew that there had to be more to it so let’s look a few others that might not be as well known.

First, I will read Exodus 20 and read v.10.

But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

Now here is one about our relationship with God:

Exodus 31:13  You shall keep my Sabbath(s), for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations.“ talks about the Sabbath as a covenant or a sign between God and God’s people.  A sign that lets everyone know that are the people of God with a different order to society.  Jesus would later refer to it as the Kingdom of God.

Here are more scripture passages that talk about Sabbath as a way to live in the Kingdom of God.

Exodus 23:10-11 For 6 years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the 7th you shall let it rest so that the poor of your people may eat….6 days you shall do your work, but on the 7th day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief and your homeborn slave and the resident alien may be refreshed.

Deuteronomy 15:1, 15   every 7th year you shall grant a remission of debts…… remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the lord your God redeemed you; for this reason, I give you this command.

Leviticus 25:10  “and you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.  It shall be a jubilee for you; you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.”

Wow!  Sabbath has a lot more to it than I have ever thought!  I had never paid attention to all of these scriptures about Sabbath.  We saw that Sabbath is to give us time and space to remember all that God has done and to think about how we live our lives in relationship with other people.  This commandment is important because Jesus said that all of the law can be made into 2: Love God & Love your neighbor as yourself.  I believe this is why God called this day Holy.  This day is the beginning of our understanding how to follow and be the people of God.

First, I want to look at Sabbath as loving our neighbor.  These are the scriptures that blew me away!  Sabbath reminding us of very practical ways of how we are to show love for our neighbor.  Let’s recap.  We just read how on the 7th day Sabbath all people including those who are traveling through the land and those who worship other gods.and animals and the land are to be given rest.  Then you see that in the Sabbath year, the 7th year, debts are to be erased and the land given rest.  Then on the 50th year after 7 sets of Sabbath years, people who have lost their family’s land and become slaves, then they are able to return to their family’s land and given a second chance.  Sabbath is a way of living together!  A society structure!  It is a way for divisions to be put aside in favor of remembering that God created and so we are all connected to the earth, to each other and to all living creatures.  This sounds like a great society that God is setting up for God’s people but my next question has to be why did God instruct us to do things this way?  Let’s remember why….

You see the Israelites came to Egypt because there was a famine in the land and Egypt had all the food.  They quickly realized that the way of life for them in Egypt was Bread for Bricks.  You can eat and not die of starvation, but you will be our slave in return.  This way of living made it easy for the Israelites to stir up feelings of hatred, so much hatred that could even lead to murder.  It was easy to covet what others had because they were not allowed to have.  It was easy to justify stealing when your family barely had enough to survive.  Years and years of this cycle of working and not having enough, working to barely live, and living lives that did not matter created a pattern of thinking.  It got deep down into their DNA defining them as a people.

Leaving Egypt, the question became, how would the people of God live.  Would their time spent in Egypt make their hearts calloused to other human beings, to the animals and to the earth? Would their time in Egypt make them a slave to work worshipping the gods of success and achievement instead of the God who brought them out of slavery?  Would their experience in Egypt cause them to want so badly to have power and control that they would turn and oppress others to achieve that goal?  But our God is a gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love so God not only delivered them out of slavery but gave them a new way to live so that he could get the slavery mentality out of the people.  It is one thing to help someone physically walk out of slavery but it is another thing to help them change the way they think about who they are as a child of God.  This was the purpose of the 10 commandments.  For God’s people, the work Sabbath rhythm is a way of life that encourages a continued look at liberation.  Creating time and space for Sabbath allows us to think about how we are personally opening ourselves to God’s freedom and how we are going about the work of helping set our neighbor free.  We may not be slaves making bricks for our bread like our ancestors but Maybe its financial slavery.  Maybe its some kind of addiction.  Maybe its fear that enslaves us.

restart-button_slider1

Very practically speaking to me Sabbath is like pushing the restart button every week.  If I have been sucked into fearing people who are not like me or fearing for my future, if I have forgotten that I am a child of God , if I have elevated Amber’s ability to do do do over resting in God’s provision, if I have forgotten my neighbor, then practicing Sabbath is my opportunity to remember that I live in God’s kingdom and this is my new way of life.  Isn’t that grace!  God built in this rhythm so that we could reorient our thinking, our words, our doing and our not doing.

These scripture passages about Sabbath calling us to a way of life where we love our neighbors as ourselves radically changes the view of Sabbath.  But Sabbath is not just about plotting goodness of ourselves and our neighbor.  It is about remembering.  “Remember that you were a slave and the lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore, the Lord your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”

 

Remember…..God.  We create this sacred time and space to celebrate that God is the beginning and the end.  This is how I am able to rest and refuel during Sabbath because I remember that God worked in human history as recorded in the bible and we stop our doing so that we can take time to remember all that God has done and is currently doing in our life.  In this way, we learn about God’s love and God’s character by looking for ways in which we see God working in our world and then we are able to identify areas that God is calling us to partner with God.  We have 6 days to partner with God to work for good in our world and then God says rest and remember that my love is the beginning and my love wins in the end.  Jesus said to his disciples in

Matthew 13:  To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  The reason I speak to them in parables is that seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen nor do they understand.  But blessed are your eyes, for they see and your ears for they hear!”

Weekly practice of Remembering helps sharpen our eyes and our ears so that we can see and hear God at work in our world.  I really need that right now.  I must confess that in our world today, I am finding it very hard to find glimpses of where God is working.  I can feel totally exhausted, depleted and hopeless as I read the newspaper or watch TV.   This is why Sabbath is a practice.  This weekly remembering helps me practice using my eyes of faith to look for where God was with me the past week and today and this hour.  If I can practice finding God in what has already happened. then I can more easily look at the future with hope because if God has worked in our past and is working in our lives today then God will be there working for good in our future…whatever the future may hold.  We no longer have to fear and live with anxiety but we have hope because we remember.

love-god-love-people

These two ideas must go hand in hand.  We create a sacred time and space for remembering God and celebrating God’s goodness AND we use this time to give thoughtful consideration to our neighbor.  Sabbath is how love for God and love for neighbors begins.

It is fitting that the heart of our worship service is communion.  For it is at this table that we remember God’s love for us displayed in the life and death of Jesus.  We also remember God’s power in raising Jesus from the dead.  As we come to the communion table this morning, let us as a community of faith in practice let us remember that our God is the God who works wonders.

 

 

a touch of Magic

Disney fireworks wallpaper 4.jpeg

Our family vacationed in Disney World again this year.  For my personality type, vacationing at Disney World shows what brilliance, perfection & a touch of Magic (insanity) can create.  I am inspired to tears by Disney World’s attention to detail (even the bathrooms have their own attendant so that they can be immaculate), outrageous goals (watch the story of how it all began) and employee dedication (how do you get people to give their best every performance, everyday!).

After Disney World, we took off on a Disney Cruise which took hospitality to a whole other planet not yet known to man, only to Disney!  The last night of our cruise, we watched the performance of Believe.  Believe tells the story of a young girl who believes in Magic.  Her father is a great thinker and accomplished man who does not embrace her love for Magic because he knows that logic and science and research will produce the results he desires.  Eventually, his love for his daughter opens his heart and leads him on a journey to discover the Magic that is within himself and that is beyond himself.Magic or power or the something that we can’t explain or is just beyond our reach, I like to think is God.

This show reminded me of the passage in Mark 9:15-25 where there is a young boy who cannot speak and who is tormented the scriptures say by a spirit.  The disciples try to cast it out but they are unable and so they bring the boy to Jesus.  Jesus says, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you?  How much longer must I put up with you?  Bring him to me.”  The father of the boy says to Jesus, “If you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”  Jesus said to him, “If you are able!  All things can be done for the one who believes.”  The father cries out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

“I believe.  Help my unbelief!”  I find myself sitting with these same feelings often so I use scripture to help me through times like this.  As a Christian, I read in Genesis that God created humanity in the image of God.  I am an image bearer of the One True God.  I can say that inside me is a touch of Magic.  As a Christian, I believe in God who is active in human history and who works with creation to bring about good things.  There is Magic that is beyond us and that calls to us if we just believe.

 

Discussion Questions:

1-What person, place, experience, entertainment show, art work, bible study, preacher…..inspired you and left an imprint on your life?

2-On your journey of faith, what/who inspires you to keep pressing towards the goal of becoming more like Christ?

3-As a church, how can we help inspire others to believe even in their unbelief?  Our own church family and those that bravely walk through our doors for the first time.

 

Summer Camp Blessing

 

summer-camp

Gracious God,

We greet summertime with excitement about times of relaxation, going on great adventures and spending time with those we love.  We joyfully anticipate sun kissed skin, beach balls in the pool, and time to let our creativity and imagination run wild.  Lord, we ask that during these fun times of summer that our minds would be open to your presence all around us.  Open us to see that you are present in all of creation from the fish in the lake to the flower in the field.   Open us to see that you are present in all of our friends those that we already know and those that we will meet.  Open us to see that you are present when we are at home and when we are on vacation or at summer camp.  This morning, we pray a special blessing over our kids during their time at camp this summer.  Help them to grow in their knowledge and experience of you.  Help them to be Christ to all they meet to look around for ways to  lend a helping hand and a kind word to those in need.  Encourage our kids to participate enthusiastically in all camp activities, to listen to their counselors, to be a good friend and to make lasting friendships. Guard them from all danger and guide them to make healthy and safe decisions. Return our children home to us with a sparkle in their eyes and a lightness in their step.  Return our children home to us with stories of how they experienced the abundance of your love.  Return our children home to us healthy and happy, safe and sound. May we their church family pray for them and eagerly await their return.  Amen.

 

Flow, a Pentecost Sermon

flame of passion

If you would like to hear the message from Sunday, please go to http://www.kwcc.org and click on Sermons.

Flow.  What images comes to mind when I say the word flow?  A stream.  Breath in and out of the body (slide).  Blood coursing through veins and arteries (slide). Energy (slide) . Wind (slide).   Waves in the ocean (slide).

There are so many just natural and normal everday occurances for us to discover flow.  But Flow also talks about those intense moments in time where we join something beyond us.  Something mysterious.    Writers might think of the time when words naturally begin to take form and shape and bring life to an idea.  Our greatest actors understand flow.  These actors work incredibly hard to create a character and feel and move and dress and find similarities between themselves and the person and then they let go and they are that person.

good will hunting

You can see it happen with Robert Williams in Dead Poet Society.  There is a scene where he is talking about how much he loved his wife who had passed away.  At first it is an intense moment and then he cuts a joke about missing her farting in her sleep at night and he and matt Damon bust up laughing.  You just know that his words were not a part of the script but in the moment he became that character and he knew this was what that character would have said.  Richard Rohr says “any gifted person knows this to be true.  They look like geniuses to the outsider and they often are, but there is method behind their holy madness.  They have learned to wait for and fully expect what Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi brilliantly calls “Flow.”

 

Flow has movement and connection.

Flow is as ordinary as breath and as magical as art.  Flow connects us deeply to the things of this earth but also allows us to stretch up towards the mystery of the heavens.   For me, when I hear the word flow, I think of yoga.  Last week in class, the focus on the class was this saying, “I am rooted and so I flow.”  As I moved through the class I thought about how the strength of my legs allowed by upper body to bend and twist.  I thought about how my mind was rooted or focused on my breath and that this breath flowing through me activated each and every pose.  I feel this best in tree pose .

Vrikshasana-Tree-pose

My strong leg sends energy down to all that is earthy and human and yet my arms reach with similar energy and strength towards the heavens.  I feel energy coursing through my body as i activate every muscle but if I am open to it I also feel the energy of the earth and the heavens flowing through me.   Now, in the church, we use this same flowing language to describe the mystery of the Spirit.  Spirit as descending dove.  Spirit as fire and wind and water.  Spirit as here in the beginning of creation hovering over the deep and spirit as power descending on the people at Pentecost.  John 3:8 says this “the wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  The spirit flows wherever the spirit flows and when the power of the spirit comes, we flow…  Let us hear the story of Pentecost this morning thinking about this idea of flow.

holy spirit

Let us read the Pentecost story together this morning.

Luke 24:45-49

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and he said to them this it is written, that the messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And see I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.  Then he led them out as far as Bethany and lifting up his hands, he blessed them.  While he was blessing them he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.  And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Acts 2: 1-4

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues as of fire appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the holy spirit and began to speak I other languages as the spirit gave them ability.

Acts 2: 42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.  All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all as any had need.  Day by day as they spent much time together in the temple they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.  And day by day the lord added to their number those who were being saved.

***********

Today is the day in the life of the church that we celebrate Pentecost.  Pentecost is really the culmination of our Easter Celebration.  Jesus’ resurrection showed God’s power to act in human history and even God’s power over death. Resurrections power to bring Jesus back from the dead was poured out on all people of all nations.  Now we celebrate that the power of resurrection was given to you and to me through the flow of the Holy Spirit.  I think it is through step 6 of the 12 steps that we encounter this flow and I think Our Pentecost story gives us great insight into how this step works.

For those of you who are just joining us we are in a teaching series following Richard Rohr’s book Breathing Underwater.  In this book, we are looking at the 12 steps to recovery that AA follows.  We see the deep spiritual connections to the 12 steps and we can identify with the idea that we all have our own issues.  Each of us has character defects, struggles and addictions.  And so we entered the 12 steps with step 1  acknowledging that we all are addicted to something: shopping, the internet, approval, drama “I call these ambulance chasers!”, sex, pain medications, perfection….you name it and someone in here probably has a story.  These addictions are blocking and even fighting the flow of God in our life.  In steps 1-3, we decide to admit our powerlessness over these addictions and we acknowledge our great need for God’s holy power to work in our life.  Then in steps 4-6, we are challenged to do the intense and hard work of looking deeply into our lives in order to discover areas that are blocking the flow of God in our life.  Today we are looking at step 6 which states (slide) “were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character.  Hear the flow as I state this step in a different way “We have to practice opening our heart, mind and body to God in order to be ready for what God is already doing.”

Let’s take the 1st part of that statement “entirely ready.”

Luke tells us both in his gospel and in Acts that after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and opened their minds to the scriptures.  Then Jesus ascends into heaven and we see the followers of Jesus continuing to practice their faith.  We see them doing the very ordinary daily practices of spending time in the temple, worshipping, praying and spending time with each other.  But while these ordinary acts were performed they were awaiting the power of the holy spirit to come.   They were practicing with anticipation!

ansel adams

So, what does it mean to practice with anticipation?  Photographer Ansel Adams who would wait days and hours for the perfect circumstances and ideal light to take his iconic photos said it like this, (slide)“Chance favors the prepared mind.”  This idea that magical art the kind that takes our breaths away happens when the artist continues to practice their craft in the most ordinary sense but they do so awaiting a moment of divine inspiration or what Ansel Adams calls Chance!

Richard Rohr says it like this, “So the waiting, the preparing of the mind for “chance,” the softening of the heart, the deepening of expectation and desire, the “readiness” to really let go, the recognition that I really do not want to let go, the actual willingness to change is the work of weeks, months and years of “fear and trembling.”

We see this in artists who practice their craft daily eagerly awaiting the  spark of inspiration.  We see this in lovers who practice loving deeply and in tender moments ignite the flame of passion and desire.  Sparks and flames come from practicing an openness and a willingness, from anticipation and waiting and longing.  After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, the disciples eagerly awaited the coming of the spirit and continued practicing their faith which readied them for whatever God would do.  Or you can say it readied them for what God was already doing!  But the readying is not a step they skipped.  They readied themselves through study and worship and prayer and through loving and serving each other.  They did the work to be entirely ready!

Flow.  Flow has ordinary but intentional work but Flow has a bit of magic!

The sixth step says “were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character”

The second part of this statement “to have God remove” is where the magic happens because we let go and await what God is going to do.

 

Here is a story that Brian McLaren shared in his book Finding our Way again.  I think it speaks to the magic and mystery of step 6.

violin

Imagine a great violinist who gives 200 concerts a year.  Let’s say that 3 of her concerts were disastrous—she had the flu or her bridge broke in the middle of the evening, or a fire alarm buzzed five min into her first song.  Let’s say that 190 of her concerts were good-some stronger than others, but the crowds were satisfied.  And what were the remaining 7 concerts?  They were exceptional, the reviewers might say: Inspired, transcendent, ecstatic.  They might even use the term magical, but of course they don’t mean it in a literal sense.  They mean that some inexplicable things converged that night and the music somehow unleashed latent power that was unknown the other 193 nights.  The violinist herself can’t explain this.  She feels on those nights that she has been taken up to a higher level, that on those 7 nights a glorious mystery has filled her and the audience and the sound waves that connect them….She knows that what happened those nights was not simply in her power; she was every bit as prepared, practiced, serious, committed and dedicated the other nights as well.

In Step 6 there is a divine flow moving us between ordinary practice and anticipating a God encounter.

Some of us may be really comfortable with the first part of step 6, the idea that we have to work on ourselves and scripture supports this idea that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling like it says in Philippians 2:12.   We have to do the deep work!

Then there are others of us who know deep in our guts that God is so powerful that God will speak and it is done and scripture supports this by saying that salvation is a gift from God so that no one can boast.  Thank God for Grace!

So is it all up to us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?

Or

Is it all up to God so that no one can boast?

The answer is simply YES!  Paul in Phillippians 3:12 puts it like this “I have not yet won, but I am still running to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me.”  We run to get the prize which Jesus has already captured us to give to us freely!  WHAT!  We ready ourselves for Grace which is already happening.  Sometimes this may feel like a relay race  where you have run your leg of the race and then you hand the baton to God expecting God will do the rest but more than likely it is like partner ice skating where we don’t realize that God is the one holding onto me the whole time.  God is the one empowering me to fly through the air and God is the one holding onto me as the motions of our body become as one.

 

The followers of Jesus practiced their faith in such a way that their hearts; minds and bodies were open and they waited expectantly for God to Flow.  And God flowed through the power of the Holy Spirit. The power flowed through them causing all the people to be filled with awe.  Power flowed through them and many signs and wonders took place.  Flow.

So, Let us be people who work the steps.  Let us be who we are….. a community of faith in practice.

And then

May we be open to The God Flow.

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