Changing Habits

When I was serving my last church community I would go out to breakfast every Thursday to write my sermon.  Moving here there weren’t any places that seemed the right place to take over a table and spend hours working.  I also stopped giving traditional sermons, so it wasn’t urgent to find a good place to focus on writing.  Every once in a while when I need to really think and write I head to Shari’s, a 24 hour comfort food extravaganza. Lately Jeff and I have been tracking all of our spending on an app on our phone.  We set a monthly budget and then log every expenditure.  It’s been so helpful to be intentional about our spending.  I actually went to Target the other day for a specific item, and when I couldn’t find it I left with empty hands.  Instead of recreationally shopping and buying things I might use I’m thinking about what I actually need. I’m supposed to be writing a TEDx talk that I’m giving on Friday.  I have been struggling to focus on it, there’s just too much to distract me when I work from home, like the laundry I need to move to the dryer or the bag of games under my desk I really should put away.  I thought about going to Shari’s last night to spend a long chunk of time writing while eating pie, but I realized it was probably time to develop a better habit not just for my waistline, but also for our budget and my own self-discipline around writing. So here I am, sitting outside on...

Sacred Signs

I grew up in a progressive, social justice oriented church.  My Sunday School classrooms had Corita Kent prints on the walls and her work has adorned everything from curriculum to my seminary text books, I just never really knew who she was.  I’m lucky enough to serve as a docent at the Portland Art Museum and this week our docent education was all about the woman behind the amazing art that has been influencing me throughout my life. Sister Corita talked about being someone who sees the sacredness in all the signs around her.  She turned supermarket advertising, road signs, and billboards into meditations on the nature of God and our role as people.  She demonstrated our longing for God using a Del Monte tomato add to talk about the fullness of the blessed mother.  Not unlike the apostle Paul, she helped people meet God where they were and see God in the unfolding life around them. In learning about Corita Kent I was given language about the way our faith community functions.  This idea of seeing the sacred all around, in everyday life, is a huge part of what we do. We meet people where they are and live our lives as a way to demonstrate God in the midst of the everyday.  When I talk about the way that  do evangelism I sometimes struggle to explain it.  My job is to listen to people’s lives unfold and to point out God in that unfolding.  The same way Sister Corita used images and slogans to express the divine I reflect back the goodness and light of divine life....

God on the Edges

 I’m not one of those folks that thinks the church is dying.  I think the church is changing, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to deal with the transformation from a cultural force to a voice on the margins.  Working in an institution that remembers the 1950’s and 1960’s as a time of prosperity, plenty, and peace and which spends much of its energy working to adjust to the realities of our current levels of activity and abundance is wearying. Being in an industry that is in decline isn’t easy. In the mist of this stress of institutional change I know that I am so lucky to be in places of innovation and forward thinking.  Over the past 13 years of my ministry career I’ve spent a lot of time in trainings and around tables talking about how we can be faithful to God in new ways as the world shifts.  I am thankful to be in an annual conference where relationships matter more than programs and while we stumble to what is next we pick ourselves up and keep learning and experimenting. In this season of ministry I’m more often than not surprised by the institutional church and the ways in which people are ready to let go of what has been in search of a richer faith experience and a simpler way of being community.  When I think I know what the answer is going to be or how the system will react to change I find I don’t actually have a clue and that God is moving in ways here on the edges that...

Low Sunday

This past week we had a low Sunday, mostly because the Sellwood Bridge and many neighborhood roads was closed all day so that cyclists could enjoy a lovely, if wet ride throughout the area. Sometimes when we have low Sundays I get bummed out.  I worry about the future viability of our community and wonder if people are growing here.  That didn’t happen this week.  Maybe it’s that my anti-depressants are working really well. but I think it’s actually because both brunch and dinner were such amazing, holy experiences. Brunch continues to be a place where we are moving from Capitol Hill people and Sellwood people to one community.  The smaller group this week allowed for deeper sharing and wonderful connections.  I felt God’s presence with us and learned as we shared a meal, laughed, and thought about the ways good leaders call us to step outside our comfort zones.  How could I be sad about the folks not there when so much happened with the folks who were there? One of the things I love about dinner is that our child care person is back hanging out with us.  He’s a lovely young man from the neighborhood who does a great job of playing with the kiddos.  This week, as it has started getting darker, my daughter and I drove him home since biking is not the best option.  While he’s often fairly quiet at dinner, it was so fun to talk to him in the car as he shared the things he was thinking about that had been sparked by our conversation at the table.  To see...