Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Excited By The Spirit

Will the Holy Spirit show up Sunday? I can usually tell the Spirit is at work when everything comes together, almost surprisingly. But after spending time the last few week reviewing Acts texts. (I do love that book.) I think everything coming together is an unlikely sign of the spirit. Separated people come together, yes, but when the Spirit first shows up, things fly apart a bit. At least our sense of things and the way it 'should' be.

I'm excited about this week because the three congregations that meet in our church building are coming together to worship. We'll have Spanish, Cambodian and English portions of the service. We'll read Psalms together but each verse will be in a different language. We'll sing together and teach each other songs. We'll listen to choirs and the three preachers will preach on Acts 2 in their own language. It will be a learning experience for some of us to be the ones sitting without understanding.

I'm hoping we will feel the Spirit's presence moving. I'm hoping many of the children will come back to have VBS together this summer. I'm hoping there will be a movement to get signs for the other congregations up on our property. (With our without county approval.) I'm hoping that there will be more coming together than flying apart. Maybe I'm hoping to be surprised by the Spirit.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ascending Texts for Children

Whew, it's been a busy couple of weeks. Now I'm looking at incorporating Ascension into the beginning of the service then moving on to the selection of the replacement disciple. That means the children's story and Ascension text will come close to each other. How do we share texts like this with children, or adults for that matter?

Our tendency is to avoid such texts and yet we risk increasing the split that exists between religion and the balance of life? How about we talk honestly about how we read these texts. (The children aren't toddlers, they are elementary at least.)

Why not talk to them about what they imagine when they hear the story and how Jesus' isn't a "super hero" with cape. We could say when we hear the story we should read around it and see what else is there to learn. We can understand that people of different times experienced the events of Jesus' life differently than we do. The story is more than a set of physical facts. We can say that we dare not limit God's action in the world to that which we can understand.

Barbara Brown Taylor writes,
"Both science and religion have been guilty of using "God" as a synonym for "that which we do not understand." The danger in that is that science gets to determine how big God is, forcing God to retreat further and further into the regions of the unknown as science extends the boundaries of the known. Rather than invoking God only when natural explanations fail, it may make more sense to understand God as the God not of facts but of meaning."
So I will attempt to talk to the children about stories that give meaning to our understanding of who Jesus is. Perhaps they will have less trouble understanding than the adults.
We shall see how it comes out!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gifts at Death

There's a particular kind of loss in watching a new friend slip away into death. We work with death so much and I've even looked forward to that moment when the door opens to the 'other side' so I might (selfishly) catch a glimpse - maybe, just for a millisecond. .

Then I read blogging friend RJ's post at whenlovecomestotown and realized the sadness I've been feeling. Some is related to the memorial service I will lead Saturday for a mom of friends and some is for the new friend who recently became seriously ill.

I believe there is more than what we see here even if it is difficult to describe that which we will only see when we're there ourselves. " I Believe" help my unbelief - is a wonderful song by Zehnder. What I realize today is, its not lack of belief, its just the sadness of loss of more days of friendship, that could have been.

I'm going to keep looking for the gift that RJ writes of on his blog. Maybe his blog is the gift to me today.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I like to watch the ripples spread after throwing a rock into a pond. The ever-widening circles don't stop until they bump into an edge. It's the same principle that makes earthquakes into dangerous Tsunamis but it's beautiful on the scale of rock to pond.

Acts 8:26-40 is a ripple in the spread of Christianity. Jesus tells the disciples in the 1st chapter of Acts,
"you will receive power when the Holy spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
We have to be impressed that within just a few chapters Philip, the Evangelist (!) covers the ground from Jerusalem, through Judea, into a successful preaching gig in Samaria and on to the "ends of the earth" represented by the Ethiopian on his way home.

The journeys of our lives are rarely so succinct and successful. And the funeral eulogy that sums up our days won't be heard by our ears. I believe we need to take the time to examine our journey of faith to see how we are faring.

It is time we checked, can we name our destination? Are we holding onto baggage that is preventing us from getting somewhere? Do we need more supplies? And do we have the right guide? All are questions worth pondering. A faith journey, like any trip, needs planning and preparation. Let's not take the days we have for granted or just tumble through life. Instead, may the ripples of our journey spread the good news to all the ends of the earth.