The Long View

This week I’ve been reflecting on the fact that how things are now is relatively new.  It’s easy to point to technology and think about times when people wrote letters or used rotary phones.  What’s harder is to remember that our way of life is constantly shifting.  Big things that we just take for granted about who we are and how life flows are actually pretty temporary. Being a pastor this extends to how religious life is expressed. I read an article recently about the growth of  Christianity.  The center of that growth is shifting from the US and Europe to the south and east, South America, Africa, and Asia.  These pieces of information floating around in my brain have helped me to hone in on a sense of movement and change.  Christianity started out in Israel.  It spread in the Mediterranean, through the Roman Empire into all of Europe and crossed the Ocean to us with the conquistadors, missionaries, pilgrims, and others.  I can picture in my head a wave moving over parts of the earth, changing and reshaping as it circles us again and again over time. Our jobs as people who believe in a preferred future, a kingdom of God reality, or God’s dream made manifest are charged with the task of looking forward and capturing that momentum in our living.  It’s an easy trap to want the same things for future people as the things that benefited me, but I have to remember that what was the right expression of God’s spirit in a past moment isn’t necessarily the right expression now. Without Sunday School,...

Finding Art

For the season of Easter, which is the fifty days from Easter Sunday until Pentecost, our faith community has been sharing rock art with our neighbors.  We wrote words on stones and placed them in our front yard in an old metal barrel hoop with a sign saying take what you need.  We replenished the supply a few times and have shared more than 120 messages of hope, love, and peace with our community.  This week I found something in the hoop that we did not put there.  It was a beautiful piece of art.  On the attached note it said that this was a found piece of wood that the artist had painted and returned to the world for someone to find and enjoy.  It’s thrilling that the little space we created to share love with our neighbors became a place for them to share as well. I think this is one of the true marks of a successful faith community, that we are part of a larger series of interactions and that we are helping make space for more beauty and love to be poured out into the world.   There is something so freeing about engaging with those you don’t even know in a common love of life and the community.  The trust revealed in these ways of risking are all part of creating the desired future that God calls us to.  A world where people freely give and where love rules.  A world where art matters and we can truly provide the things that each other need like clarity, joy, and wonder (to name just...

The Power of Showing Up

Lately I have been forcefully reminded of the power of simply showing up.  It’s a principal I know to be true from my life, but it seems like lately God is being very clear that abiding with people is a really important aspect of faith development.  I’m not talking about showing up on Sundays at worship or attending every faith community event.  The kind of showing up I mean is that work we do in the world of being people who reflect God’s light to others. I do this through my volunteer work, through the friendships I cultivate, and in the habits I try to have.  We’ve been doing it here in Sellwood now for nearly 2 years, but it was something we practiced in our last setting too.  Everyone’s way of engaging in this work will be different according to each person’s gift and call.  If you want to learn more about how I do this particular work you can check out our past blog entries. The reason I’m reminded about how important showing up is the response I’ve been getting lately.  In the past 2 weeks I have had three people I have known for a while now show an interest in attending  a faith event through the communities I serve. One of the people was a nurse at the clinic where I volunteer once a month.  After a year of shared jokes, snippets of our stories unraveled, and hard work helping patients she asked me about coming to Capitol Hill, the traditional church where I serve half time.  One year of being myself and getting to...

Big Silly Grin

I love what I am doing so very much.  When I get to talking about this ministry I get ever more expansive with my hands and I know that I have a ridiculous grin plastered on my face. The reason for this is that it feels like my whole life has led to the work we are doing here in this place. I was made for such a time as this.  Everything from my seminary education, the things I learned from pastors I have worked with, the training I received through the Congregational Leadership Development program, the life lessons about ministry I learned from my parents, my awesome partnership with my husband, and who God made me have contributed to this coalescence of call and location. Deep fulfillment and a feeling of belonging are not the only reasons I get wild with my gestures when talking about the Sellwood Faith Community.  The thing is this experiment is working.  Every single week I am surprised by God’s beauty and the things unfolding here.  Every single week I interact with someone and know that we are both enriched by the interaction.  Every quarter we have more and more people participating in the activities we are hosting.  More people in my network are asking about the community and indicating an interest in coming to events.  And it’s not just me.  Other members of our core group are bearing fruit by creating spaces in the world for holy and deep conversations or transforming service and bringing new people into contact with our community. We risked, and we asked some of you to take...