Monday, March 14, 2005

quote from my hubby

i found an old journal today. actually i had been looking for it and was pretty excited to find it as quickly as i did. while i have some personal stuff in it i primarly used it for writing down little quotes or thoughts i heard/had; you know, the stuff you hear every so often and think: WOW, that's brillent, but then promptly forget and wish you had written down somewhere.

in any case, here's one of my favorites, a quote from my hubby.

"Do you think God gets to stop worrying about us when we die? Is that why we're mortal?"


Sunday, March 13, 2005

my dad

i often like to visit my friend rick over at brutallyhonest (see link to the right). the other day he joked that he had produced some blogging offspring and i retorted by saying, "thanks dad." i was just reading a post on his site about the marines and unions and it got me thinking about my own dad. i am a pk (pastor's kid) by way of my father. my dad is a contemplative man with a severely dry sense of humor. people who know both of my parents often remark that i am a good mix of my dad's introspective personality and my mother's gregarious and outgoing personality. i would agree. i think i got the best of both of them.

a few years ago my father was asked to join a protest in support of union workers at a prestigious ivy league university. the workers were being treated like dirt by the school and he was trying to decide if he should go in support or not. when i asked him what was in his heart; what did he think he was called to do, he responded something like this: "i guess i should go protest."

shortly after joining the sit-in a picture was taken of him a row or two (i can't remember exactly) behind the rev. jesse jackson. his arms were linked with other community leaders and workers. it's a great picture and he has it hanging in his study. i like to look at it when i'm visiting my folks because some time after the picture was taken he was arrested.

my dad, a child of the 60's, who was in his first year of ministry when king and kennedy were shot, who never got into trouble in his life... was arrested!!!

and my response?

"i'm proud of you dad."

and when he shirked off my pride i reminded him that few daughters could say that they were proud of their fathers for being arrested.

i love you dad.

God's peace,

Saturday, March 12, 2005

why i love my job

being a pastor is not the easiest job in the world. my mother-in-law likes to joke that pastors only work one hour a week (knowing fully well that isn't how it works.) when i meet people who are, for the most part, unchurched and they find out what i do for a living the are always fascinated that one can actually make a living doing what i do.

being a pastor can require working long and crazy hours, dealing with conflicts that are inane at best, and you can often feel as though you have no time to do what you are actaully called to do.

but i love my job. i love serving the community that has called me and i love serving the Church of Christ. and the thing that i love best is the relationships that i get to be in with people. i am invited into peoples' lives in a way that no other profession allows. people call me to be a part of their best and most joyous times: weddings, baptisms, and other special occassions. and i am called to be a part of their deepest grief at funerals, at deathbeds, in moments of guilt and suffering.

it might sound strange that being a part of the worst moments in peoples' lives is one of the things i love most about this job, but it is. you see, those are the moments when i've been called to speak for God; to remind people that God does indeed love them, forgive them, and has gone through hell (literally) for them. my job is about the Good News; what can be better than that?

God's peace

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

camels and the eye of the needle

i heard it again the other day; that dreaded statement: "the church just wants money." it's a statement/sentiment that i hear often in my profession. all the church wants is money. sometimes it is an excuse for people leaving church; always it is an excuse for not giving, for keeping what we think is ours.

i read somewhere once that Jesus talks about the topic of money more than any other thing in the gospels. i don't know if this is exactly true; i've never done a poll on my own, but i would venture to say that it is quite possible. Jesus knew that wealth, more than any other thing, was an impediment to having a relationship with God.

the funny thing is that i don't think the church spends enough time talking about money and wealth. most church leaders are afraid of doing so. what if we scare people off? what if they are offended and stop giving? what if i have to listen to what i'm saying?

and so members of congregations, in many churches, get bombarded sometime around the month of september (usually right before the church budget needs to be finalized) with guilt trips about increasing their pledge so that the church can stay open.

the church is doing a disservice to the people who sit in their pews sunday after sunday when this is how we deal with wealth. first of all, it is not the church who should be receiving our money. yup, that's right; we shouldn't be giving our money to the church. we should be giving it to God.

now, can the church be the conduit of our cash? it should be and many congregations are equipped to be good stewards of our gifts. but if churches only ask for money to pay the utilities and the pastor, well... there is a problem. because if the church is just using our gifts to pay bills and stay in business, then it goes without saying that the church just wants money.

we are afraid on so many levels. fear keeps us from giving out of our own stash and fear keeps the church from giving it out of theirs. and the fallacy with that fear is that our wealth really isn't ours. faith should teach us that all that we have is really from God. everything we got has been entrusted to us by God. that's the idea of stewardship. we are God's stewards.

now steward and stewardship are churchy words. they aren't used outside of church doors very often (except perhaps at the occasional cottage meeting organized by the stewardship committee). a more contemporary and better recognized word would be manager. the job of managers is to manage. simple, i know, but also accurate. God has given us everything and made us managers of the stuff we got. the idea being that we are to use our wealth to care for ourselves and to care for the world around us. but we often get stuck on the idea of taking care of ourselves to the detriment of caring for others and this doesn't make the boss (ie God) very happy.

the sad part is, most people understand on some level that God wants us to take care of others, even non-churchy folk get this. but fear often keeps us from managing our wealth in such a way that we all get what we really do need to live.

i have recently fallen in love with the Lord's Prayer. (that discussion can be saved for another post.) in the prayer Jesus teaches us to say, "give us this day our daily bread." when we pray this petition we do so believing that God will indeed supply us with all we need. in fact, God has given us everything we need, the trouble is we have trouble sharing.

we like the bread that God gives us, but it is not ours alone. the loaf that God hands down to us is meant to feed the entire world, not just us. and many of us have become fat from overeating while others barely make it on our leftover scraps.

both the church and individuals are guilty of this. we have become hoarders of God's gifts, the things that God entrusted us to share.

when the rich man asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all he had, give it to the poor, and follow him. and the rich man goes away heart-broken because he had so very much.

we have so very much. why do our hearts break when God asks us to give just a portion of it away?

it is time for the church to say something different about money; to strengthen the faith of those who sit in its pews and encourage them to trust in its managerial skills.

God's peace,

Sunday, March 06, 2005

God's exteme love

a fellow blogger friend of mine at had this on his site today. while rick and i don't always see things the same way i often think we look at things with the same eye. here's his link:

it's worth it to read both his blog and the link back to the one he is commenting on about a courageous woman in pakistan who was gang raped as part of a punishment during a village dispute.

the orignial blog suggests that she suffered because of poverty; rick's suggests it was because of an extreme religion. i would suggest that it is a bit of both. anytime religion is taken to a fundamental extreme it becomes dangerous and those most vunerable in society become the first victims. the most vunerable are usually the poor, women and children.

rick knows that i have been against the war in iraq. in fact, most people who know me know that. and i still believe that it was the wrong choice and that we were mislead. and yet, i pray and pray and pray that God will bless the outcome.

back in 1999 (or was it as early as late 1998?)the ordeal of women in afghanistan became public. clearly their plight had something to do with religion gone wrong, taken to the extreme. i remember praying that God would do something so that america would become involved to change what was happening to oppressed women there. now i am certainly not suggesting that 9/11 occured because of my prayers. what i do see however, is the hand of God working in the insanity of what occured that day in september and in the lives of women, children, and the poor in afghanistan.

certainly God (or perhaps Allah) found a way to break into the story of Mukhtaran Bibi, the woman who was raped, just as God is breaking into the story of the war in iraq, just as God has broken into stories throughout history even our own.

and when God breaks into the story the story changes. it is no longer about religious extreme or extreme poverty, but God's extreme love for even the most vulnerable in society.

may you all see God entering your story with his peace.

Friday, March 04, 2005

pizza in heaven

a second grader at my daughter's school died at the beginning of the week after a long battle against cancer. she was friends with another little girl who attends the church where i am the pastor. victoria, the girl from church, was having a hard time dealing with the news monday night at dinner (she had just found out that day). her mother tells me they were having pizza for dinner and victoria mentioned that pizza was one of her friend's favorite foods. "do you think God is giving her pizza in heaven?" she asked.

"yes." her mother replied.

there is pizza in heaven. i'd like sausage and raw onions on mine one day.

God's peace

let's begin

it was almost 4 years ago that i got down on my knees and felt the incredible weight of too many pastors laying their hands on me at my ordination. i say too many pastors because i had a great deal of trouble not collapsing onto the floor from their weight. my mother also laid her hands on me. she was one of my sponsors and was encouraged to be a part of that moment. "we were going to make sure that you got the Holy Spirit into you." she told me after it was over.

i can still feel the weight of the Spirit, which is a strange thing since the Spirit also has a way of lifting me up.

after 4 years i still struggle with what this call to ministry is all about and i see that as a sign that i am maturing in this job. when i first started i knew it all. now i realize just how little i really do know.

Jesus warned his disciples that they would be questioned for their faith and told them not to prepare a defense in advance, but rather to let the Spirit speak for them. so this is what i am doing. i will let the Spirit speak for me (though i do believe she appreciates it when i've taken the time to do my homework.)

my hope is that writing this blog will be like doing homework; stretching my creativity to new limits (something i have been neglectful about doing) and getting me back into the habit of writing again.

God's peace,

"and vivian followed."

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