Hope

Hope

This week is the first week of advent, the season of the church year where we practice waiting for Jesus.  Part of the theology around advent is training ourselves to see Christ coming to the world. While we remember the historic events in Bethlehem all those years ago we also think about Christ returning. Some churches focus on the end times, on the idea that Jesus Christ will return to earth and trigger the day of judgement. And so for them advent is about getting your soul ready for that day.  For us advent is about all the times God in Christ breaks in to the world.  Advent is practice for noticing God all around us and for being ready to participate in Christ coming in to the world. Hope is the theme for the first week of advent.  Hope is the glimmer of light in the darkness. On Sunday to help us reflect on hope we read Black Rook in Rainy Weather by Sylvia Plath. On the stiff twig up there Hunches a wet black rook Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain. I do not expect a miracle Or an accident To set the sight on fire In my eye, not seek Any more in the desultory weather some design, But let spotted leaves fall as they fall, Without ceremony, or portent. Although, I admit, I desire, Occasionally, some backtalk From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain: A certain minor light may still Leap incandescent Out of the kitchen table or chair As if a celestial burning took Possession of the most obtuse objects now...
Rule of Life

Rule of Life

About a year ago I began using a liturgical planner.  As I began using it the first task was to create a Rule of Life.  Here is the explanation of that task written by the creator of the planner, Jenn Giles Kemper: “A rule of life is a commitment to live your life in a particular way. It is meant to be crafted with prayer and discernment, in partnership with God, as you consider the way God made you and the values  inscribed upon your heart. Once written, it serves as a tool that can help you make decisions for your life and determine how best to order your days. The first example of a Christian rule of life came from the Desert Fathers, a monastic community of mystics living in Egypt around the third century AD. The most well-known rule is the rule of St. Benedict, written fifteen hundred years ago, which was created to help his community of monks translate their faith into the habits and rhythms of their shared daily life. His famous rule has inspired many communities and individuals to develop their own rules with a similar intention. Our English word rule is derived from the Latin regula, meaning “a straight piece of wood,” “a ruler,” and, by extension, “a pattern, model, or example.” Esther de Waal, a longtime student of monastic spirituality, writes that “regula, a feminine noun, carries gentle connotations: a signpost, a railing, something that gives me support as I move forward in my search for God.” A rule of life, then, serves as a gentle guide that keeps you trained toward God. In this way,...
Vulnerability

Vulnerability

At SFC we do discussion based worship.  We eat, we share, we talk, and we wrestle with big themes.  This means that we are vulnerable with one another.  At a table of diverse voices we began on Sunday with me sharing my personal, emotional reaction to this Tuesday’s reaction.  It may not have been how others’ felt, but it was my truth. The feelings I brought with me that day matter, and others began to share their own reactions and feelings.  One person articulated the worry that church was not a place to talk about politics.  Another stated that they never talked about politics in their family so as not to bring disagreement, discomfort or strive.  Others talked about their distress of how divided our country is right now.  We talked about our hope in God, who calls us not to worry, but to strive for the Kingdom of God and the justice of heaven.  As we thought about how to do that we realized that church is indeed the place to talk about politics.  No we shouldn’t tell people who to vote for, or what to think. Faith communities should be the places where people share their views and worries and are heard.  It is okay to disagree with one another and with your pastor.  Faith communities should be places where we learn and grow from each other as children of God.  It’s a delicate thing, to disagree and to be vulnerable with one another, yet the table of God is the best place to do that work.  We know we are held by something much bigger and...
Investing in people

Investing in people

SFC is in a place where we no longer are worried about survival.  We have a strong core group of folks who have given generously.  With the continued support of the New Start Initiative grant we have the resources of people and finances to thrive.  We are entering in to the next season of ministry and so we are investing in our people, helping draw them out in to what God is doing next in their lives.   This means I am doing one of my favorite parts of ministry, spending time with people who are restless because God is nudging them in a way they haven’t yet claimed. I begin this process by praying for the people of our community and for God to help me see them clearly.  As we gather together I work to notice those expressing a call or a question about how God is unfolding the story of their lives.  Then I begin to meet with that person over coffee or a meal and we talk and dream about the community and their call.  From this comes beautiful gifts to the community through the vision and leadership of those who listen faithfully to God.  Sometimes that person then starts to look around and invest in someone else.  This has happened a few times in my ministry and it is always amazing to watch someone step in to leadership and begin to touch the lives of others and call them in to leadership too. I’m excited about how God is speaking to the people of SFC in this season.  I’m excited about getting to spend time...
Standing Together

Standing Together

One of the best things about this faith community is the way we support one another.  We do that through prayers, by showing up when folks are sick, by attending birthday parties for each other, or attending events in which folks are participating.  Recently two of our number decided to attend a protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  They used a protest technique of writing a name and a phone number on their arms in case they were arrested and needed to call someone for help.  The name and number they chose were mine.  Even though I wasn’t with them in the streets, they knew I was supportive of them and would come help as needed. We can’t all be the ones who protest or who mow the lawn when someone is sick.  We each do our part, and mine apparently is coming up with bail money.  Each part of a community is needed, each person with their call and their gift serves in the ways that they can.  And together we are something beautiful, something far greater than the sum of its parts.  Our protestors were able to risk, because they knew they weren’t out there alone.  Our folks are able to keep on going because they know they don’t face anything in life, from the difficult times to the moments of unmitigated joy on their own. This is our fourth year of ministry here, and it is so amazing to see this community coalescing in to something so rich and deep as we share life and follow God....