Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Blessing for Community

A blessing for community on the occasion of my friends' wedding:


Omie and Taj asked me to say something about the relationship of love and community. I suppose, as a pastor, words to that effect should come easy. But the truth is I’ve been struggling all week with this task.

Taj and Omie are building together. We’ve been invited today to bear witness to that, and also somehow to participate in it. We are stand ins for the community they will cultivate around them as individuals and as partners. There will be changes over the years to this community as people leave and new people come. The love we share with you today will shift and change and mature. Community often has the sense of permanence and solidity—in a way I want to tell you that each of us in this room will be here for you through thick and thin, through all things good and bad. In a traditional church service we might ask the congregation to make their own vow to you as a couple, promising to care for you and help you uphold your vows to each other.

But there is something too controlling, too stagnant about that, something of what bell hooks* might call “dominator culture”. She writes, “Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”

As you go forward, building with each other, draw near to you those willing to risk, willing to move through fear, willing to connect deeply, willing to revel with you. In the midst of that community, guard what you have with each other fiercely, for that is as sacred as each of you are individually. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Note On Hope


(cross posted at Practicing Families)

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. ~Romans 5:1-5

A note on hope. A note on hope from a parent who very occasionally gives up on hope. A note on hope from a parent whose children very occasionally produce the sufferings which produce endurance, which produce character, which supposedly produces hope, which, quite frankly, frequently disappoints, despite the fact that God’s love is poured into my heart through the Ding Dang Holy Spirit.

I found myself recently pondering the ragged remnants of hope, dashed against the rocky shores of adolescence and my limited humanity. It is not a pretty shoreline most days. I won’t bore you with the details—if you care for children, you know the basic outline. I was left standing (just barely), staring at my child who would not change, no matter my persistence, my assistance, my clenched teeth. I was left without hope because I could not see the way forward and I could not turn my back.

So I breathed as deep as I could, taking in as much of God’s grace as I could find. And then I cursed and threw my hands in the air. And my kid LAUGHED. And I SUFFERED.

And then I endured to the next day, because that is what parenting is sometimes. I threw my shattered pieces of hope straight back at the Holy Spirit.

The Lord picked up those pieces and reshaped them and offered them back. And I saw that indeed I could not have hope for my child. Because hope for our children produces expectation, which produces stubborn mule-headed arguments, which produces FRUSTRATION in the 10th degree, which produces cursing and the waving of hands, which solves nothing, but does feel good.

But the Lord handed me back hope for myself. And I saw that no matter what happened with my child, there is hope for what will become of my life. And likewise the Lord will go with my child and the two of them will work out their own deal.

Hope for myself. Trust in the Spirit. This is decidedly better for my heart. And probably for my child.