Left and Right

Left and Right

Here at SFC we don’t all think alike,  but we think.  We don’t all vote alike, but we vote.  We don’t all believe the same things, but we share about those beliefs.  It has been a hard season here, sharing deeply in our anger, fear, and isolation.  We make ourselves vulnerable to each other and it can be hard to share when you disagree with people that you love.  This, however, is where real relationship comes.  We can say the hard things, speak our own truths, and trust in the deep love of God that hold us all around the table. This love is apparent in our weekly emails.  I share the ways that we can be present with one another each week.  Most often this is in the form of prayer requests, but sometimes there is a need for a lawn to be mowed after surgery or the chance to show up at the concert or game where one of our kids is playing.  And the thing is we do show up for one another.  People send cards, they show up at the concert, they mow the lawn, they ask the next week about the sick friend. Too often we let the fear of broken relationships stop us from really sharing our wounds, our beliefs, and our needs.  As we continue to grow at SFC it is beautiful to see people, walking in faith, open to each other so that all may be strengthened to continue faithfully following God.  This is really what we need to get through this difficult time together, folks who stand with one another...
Nourishing our Souls with Art

Nourishing our Souls with Art

This week I got to attend a Poetry Party as part of UMC LEAD, a conference I was speaking at in Charlotte, NC. In the midst of hearing speakers and learning about new aspects of ministry, it was so lovely to have time just to nourish our souls.  I could feel myself relaxing as the words of Dale Fredrickson and the music of Dobsy washed over me.  For a moment I was able to surrender myself, to stop thinking and just be.  It was such a holy gift, especially the night before my talk.  I slept well, not worried or anxious about the morning.  Art has such power to help us touch something so vast beyond ourselves. The next evening at UMC LEAD we got to tour the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture.  45 minutes there transformed the stereotypes I wasn’t even aware that I held about African-American fathers through. The photographs of Zun Lee spoke so profoundly of fatherhood and broke my heart wide open with their beauty and power.  I dreamt that night of the work of DeShawn Dumas and Brenda Youngblood, abstract artists whose work carries a weight long after I have stepped away from the gallery. Art helps me to see others more fully and challenges me to see more of God’s imagination at work in the world. I am so grateful to be able to be a docent at the Portland Art Museum and bring what I learn there to our table at SFC.  This spring I will be leading some tours on spirituality at the museum, so that together we can all have some...
Connections to the Past

Connections to the Past

When I was a youth I had amazing experiences through my church. I got to participate in youth Sundays, attend retreats, gather with other kids every week to learn about God, and go on mission trips with my peers. It was with my youth group that I learned to be a leader, lived out the gospel by visiting people in prison, and talked about the difficult issues of the day from AIDS to farm worker rights.  Sometimes when I think about the ways my youth group experiences shaped me I feel sad for my daughter, who will not have those same youth group experiences. Here at SFC we have a small youth group.  The most we’ve had at a gathering is 6, a far cry from the 20 plus who showed up regularly at my youth group.  We meet monthly, instead of weekly, and we just don’t have the capacity for things to be the way they were in my day.  And I’ve come to realize that’s okay. My daughter will experience faith formation in other ways.  She has been leading in church by reading scripture in worship since she was 6.  That’s not something I got to do in the big churches we attended when I was a child.  Church is in her home, helping to clarify that our whole life can be a prayer dedicated to God. Sometimes she even does get to have some of the same experiences I did, such as this past week when we attended the winter retreat at Suttle Lake United Methodist Camp.  Here we were in the same rooms where 25...
Finding Empathy

Finding Empathy

A lot of my world is PTA meetings, hanging out with moms, and volunteering in the local schools.  This means that a high percentage of my social media circle is made up of parents, from this current context and from the places where we have lived before.  Lately there have been a ton of posts about snow days.  A recurring theme is for people to complain about a school delay or closure because their neighborhood or yard isn’t that snowy or icy.  Recently I saw a different take on that theme.  A person made the statement that the district obviously cancelled school because of conditions in other neighborhoods.  That person’s friends then chimed in with updates about their neighborhoods, and between the newly fallen snow and the persistent ice it’s clear that for the safety of all students the district made the right decision. This week Meryl Streep made an impassioned speech about empathy that has resonated deeply with lots of folks. Empathy is something we long to receive and yet when we’re annoyed about a schedule change due to snow we look out our window and make an assumption that the rest of the world looks just like our front yard. If we really want to embody our values we can start on the ordinary days.  I love the view out my window and I must remember not everyone shares it. That is my first step in finding empathy and expressing love for others this year, the simple reminder that my experience isn’t universal....
New Year

New Year

I just published the calendar for SFC for January. It is the first time since we started our main gatherings that they are the only thing on the docket for January.  No hikes, book clubs, small groups, or service projects.  We are taking a handful of middle girls on the snow retreat and my mom’s coffee group continues, but other than that we’re only gathering together on Sundays.  This is fitting as this month we are discussing our values, as individuals and as a community.  What are we about?  As we reflect on that this month we’ll pick back up some of our programs, maybe add some new programs, and create opportunities for new leaders to step forward. It’s good for all of us to pause at different points in life and assess where we are and where we are going.  It is easy to drift over time, so it’s smart to check that you are headed in the right direction.  For us this season it means slowing down a little so we can really reflect on what it means to be this community in this place at this time.  Too often communities get in to a routine with programs and events.  What started with a calling to address a need, should be checked to see if the spiritual need is still there and if the program still is offering holy life to those who are a part of it. As we journey through this month please hold our community in prayer....