Hope

Hope

Advent begins this Sunday.  It is the church season of practicing waiting.  It’s a time of expectancy.  We are training ourselves to see the ways that Christ comes in to the world all the time.  It’s one of my favorite seasons of the church year because we are filled with wonder as we celebrate what God did, does, and will do.  There are so many seasonal traditions and ways of reminding ourselves of the beauty of our faith. The first Sunday of advent we focus on hope. We’re looking at Isaiah, and the suggested reading for the day is Isaiah 64, but somehow when we were doing worship planning for the winter, I dropped off the 4, so our reading is for Isaiah 6.  And you know what?  It’s perfect.  It is this story of how Isaiah was called to speak to the people in a time of chaos and uncertainty.  It is a passage filled with incredible imagery of angels and God’s magnificent mystery.  It is also super confusing because God sends Isaiah to a people who won’t understand or believe.  Why would God play that game?  This is part of what makes this passage such a good fit for us, because there is something to wrestle with here.  It’s not just a happy, easy, pat on the back that God will always offer us hope.  It’s more complex than that, we in fact don’t understand why God would want us not to understand. One of the most beautiful things about this parish model is all the ways we get to engage with the story of God. There’s...
Grateful for Rest

Grateful for Rest

This week of Thanksgiving I had a lovely break.  It’s been a stressful time of transition these past 5 months with adding Trinity to my portfolio and Amanda to leaving the Parish.  There are so many little and big things that need to be accomplished and it is vitally important to be present and connect with people. I’ve found myself in the shower thinking about the church budget or not realizing it was time to make dinner while reprinting the leadership roster.  I have to admit that I was wearing a bit thin.  So 3 days in Boise with my mom and sister were a great time to forget about the to do list and just be.  It was a time of laughter, hikes, great food, and lots of games.  We also shared those things in life that we see as great blessings.  I am so grateful for my job, for the work I am called to do in this neighborhood.  I’m grateful for an incredibly supportive church management and hierarchy that has allowed us to experiment with what church looks like over the past 5 year and who helped me try to readjust as things broke down with Amanda.  I’m grateful for the people of SFC and Trinity UMC who are willing to try new things and who I learn from every day.  I know life will get back to being busy these next few weeks before Christmas, but this time to give thanks and rest means I am ready for the work ahead and the beautiful celebration of advent....
When It’s Not Comfortable

When It’s Not Comfortable

Today I am feeling a little tired and out of sorts after a couple of very busy days.  As I began to work on various tasks that need to be completed I realized I had not done my morning devotional and that it was something I probably really needed to help me do my best today.  Instead of settling my soul however the scriptures I read stirred questions and tension within me.  And that is actually just what I needed. So often we go to God looking for peace, for rest for our weary, busy souls.  And so often God provides that hope and the good news of love and grace in the words of scripture and in our experiences of worship.  Yet sometimes what we need is to be stirred up, to be challenged from our complacency. The scripture I read from Revelation is about angels pouring out bowls of the wrath of God on the earth and then awful stuff happens like water turning to blood and people getting painful sores. And then the heavens rejoice.  Sometimes as I read the news and feel the fear of the brokenness of my own heart it seems like the chaos and pain of revelation is here, now.  And to think that heaven is rejoicing at our misfortune is so at odds with who I know God to be in my life.  What reading this scripture does is force me to engage with theologies I’m uncomfortable with. As I’ve learned from therapy, avoiding the negative feelings actually just makes them worse.  So after reading the scriptures today I spent some...
Stretching

Stretching

Being a new church start pastor means lots and lots of times when I have to step outside my comfort zone and and stretch beyond who I am to meet the challenges of the work God is placing before me. This week it’s been learning how to use word press plug ins to create a website.  10 years ago I was a whizz at dreamweaver, but technology has changed and so now I have to change too. As I began the website process my first step was to reach out to a friend who has way more knowledge in this area and ask for help. She came and spent an early afternoon with me for which I paid her in pad thai.  After she left I was able to begin work in earnest with all the new insights she had offered to me. The next step was to trust myself to try.  I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned something from each one, even if the lesson was don’t do that. And eventually after enough attempts I was successful. We’ll have a new website up here before too long. It would be easy to just stick with what I know. And after 4 years to stick with what’s been working.  God has other ideas.  I am constantly taking on new projects and trying out new things.  It is so tempting to stay with what’s easy, yet in my experience that never leads to experiencing the fullness of God.  And so I stretch.  I call in help and learn from others.  I try and I fail.  I learn...

What If……

This last week we celebrated our community at Charge Conference.  This is the annual meeting of the church where we elect officers and review our past year of ministry.  One of the things that our regional supervising pastor (called a District Superintendent in Methodese) had us do was to think about What If…..  She invited us to dream about our future as a community and think about what God might be unfolding in our midst. The next day when I went to the Art Museum for the weekly docent lectures we heard from some of the staff at the museum about the new Picturing Oregon exhibit and all the innovate ways they are shifting the museum experience to help more and more people connect with art.  And this made me think, what if the church’s goal was to help more and more people connect with God? That evening I went to dance class with my husband.  I am most comfortable dancing with him, but we rotate through partners during the class.  And it was uncomfortable at first to learn how to dance in closed position with a young man named Will instead of with my husband. And yet as we danced I learned from him, and Raleigh, and Lars, and Emerson, so that by the time I rotated to Jeff we both had improved and were better dancers than if we had only danced with each other.  What if God is asking us to get outside our comfort zone to learn about living our faith from other people? On Tuesday my daughter and her 3 friends trick or treated,...