Seasons Come & Seasons Go

In the mainline church we have a church calendar that we follow, with special seasons full or colors and symbols with meanings meant to encourage our spiritual growth.  Some of these seasons are based around specific, important parts of the Christian narrative like Christmas and Easter.  Ordinary time is one of the seasons, which I totally love, because we honor ordinary time with it’s own symbols and colors.  It’s a great reminder that God is with us in the holy days and the special times and in the mundane everyday moments of existence. We’ve been in the church season of Lent now for nearly 6 weeks.  This is the period before Easter that is meant to be a time of chosen suffering (giving something up or taking something on) as we prepare our spirits for the events that led to the cross and to resurrection.  This week is Holy Week, and each day has a special story associated with it.  This is an important time for my faith.  Jesus gets mad during holy week.  Jesus argues with God and submits.  Jesus tries to tell his friends some really important things at the end.  Jesus faces power and corruption and lets them win.  Jesus is humiliated and hurt and he dies.  Good Friday, which commemorates that death, is probably my favorite worship experience of the whole year.  It’s because God is in it.  The worst we can know like torture, pain, suffering, and death happen in this moment and God is right there with it.  So no matter how dark or bad or painful my life’s season becomes I know...

We all have a gift that can make the world brighter

At dinner last night we talked about all the things participants in the Sellwood Faith Community do outside of the monthly SFC organized community service projects.  We have people who are passionate about car seat safety and so they volunteer at car seat checks.  We have folks who are passionate about kids so they volunteer in teaching and mentoring capacities with various organizations.  We have someone who is exploring a more vegan lifestyle and someone else working with others to encourage bee populations to return to our neighborhood.  It’s amazing when we add it up all the ways that members of our community are caring for the world and using their passions to serve others. Two of the people I’m particularly proud of are my husband Jeff and our daughter Paige.  Jeff is a gifted musician and ever since she was little it has been clear that Miss P takes after her dad in this gift.  They have been making music together since she was very small.  Here is a ridiculously adorable video as proof:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=s8NyVP13tC4#t=105 Paige has seen the people in her life and in her churches use their talents to serve others, so she and her dad decided to record a CD and use any proceeds from CD sales to benefit Imagine No Malaria, which is a program that helps eradicate malaria through education and prevention practices.  You can find out more here:  http://imaginenomalaria.org.  To get started they launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for the production of the CDs.  You can watch their video and even help them finish their campaign here:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-functional-monkeys-album God made...

Digesting Takes Time

A few years ago I was able to go on a retreat led by one of my favorite theologians, Rob Bell.  If you aren’t familiar with him go watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loFBGdeXGtg (my favorites are Dust and Lump if you want to pay to watch more).  Rob started a church in 1999 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It grew to be one of those megachurches with about 10,000 people in attendance on a Sunday.  So as someone who had dreams of starting a new church my ears perked up when during one of the sessions Rob began talking about what he would do if he were going to start another new community.   One piece of his advice has been rattling around in my head ever since we began the Sellwood Faith Community.  He said.  “Do Eucharist a lot…… The medium is the message.  We are not ultimately about words.” Well, up until the last month or so hadn’t really focused on communion,  in fact it took us 6 months to include communion at our dinners.  And then it was only once because it was a member’s birthday and she specifically asked that we do communion with dinner.  Given the fact the first communion happened at a dinner I maybe should have been spurred to action earlier, but as I am continually learning things have a season.  I just have to be open to the unfolding of the seasons and it becomes clear what needs to happen next.  So a couple of months ago we were wrapping up early.  We had enjoyed a great discussion and a wonderful meal.  It was clearly time...

The Hard Work of Hope

About a year ago our community decided we needed a sign out front.  We wanted to declare our presence to the neighborhood.  We purchased a yard sign that says Sellwood Faith Community and we started our weekly practice of writing positive, loving messages on a chalkboard.  We wanted to be a hopeful contributor to our neighborhood and it was one more way of telling people about who we are.  We knew that it was an incredible long shot that anyone would ever come to one of our events because of the sign, but more likely that someone we had already engaged with would recognize us and be more interested in what we were doing. We knew this because in all of our training and seminary classes the statistics on evangelism show that relationships and repetition are the most fruitful ways to connect to people.   You have to tell your story again and again.  You have to listen deeply to the people around you.  And you have to invite people into the places where their story and yours meet.  This is hard work yet I’ve seen the fruit of it from our chalkboard in people taking pictures of it, of the comments I get from friends at our daughter’s school, and just seeing someone smile as they walk past reading it.  We’ve had people come to dinner or worship who have found it very helpful to have the yard sign so that they know they are in the right place.  It can be intimidating to walk up to someone’s house not sure if you are in the right place....

Getting Creative

Our dinners have been known to have almost the same number of children as adults.  One of the lovely things about our model is it provides a great space for everyone, regardless of age to be an active participant in worship.   The kids eat with us and share in the discussion.  Sometimes they contribute more than others, mostly depending on if the topic holds their interest. No matter what I know that sitting with us while we talk is good exposure for them on how we are faithful and spiritual people.  Kids learn the most about faith from watching the adults in their lives practice faith.  Every week these kids get a front row seat on our faith and are treated as equals in sharing about their faith and spirit. As stimulating and amazing as our faith can be, I know bored when I see it, so we let the kids leave the table when they start to glaze over.  This also allows us adults to venture a little deeper into some darker or more grownup spaces.  Until this month they used to go and play with some games and would come back to us when they needed something.  This has worked well so far, but we realized we could make this a better experience for the kiddos and for the adults.  To that end we’ve asked a friend’s son to come and hang out with the kids during the time when they are playing.  He’s leading them in crafts and guiding them as they play games.  What’s really cool is he has decided to join us for...