Showing Up Makes a Difference

Showing Up Makes a Difference

One of my key strategies as a church planter is to show up.  And time and time again this strategy has yielded holy and profound opportunities beyond my expectations. This week’s example begins with a rallying cry from our area supervising pastor, District Superintendent Rev. Erin Martin.  At our fall pastor’s meeting she talked about one of her goals for this year was for us to show up for climate justice.  A couple of folks talked about the ways they were working for climate justice and encouraged us all to be part of the movement.  It was inspiring and I’m glad I showed up to the meeting to learn about the vision and work of my peers and leadership. The very next month at the neighborhood association meeting I met Rep, Karin Power, who is an environmental lawyer by day and lawmaking badass, also by day. She spoke at the meeting about what she would be working on in the upcoming legislative session, which included a cap and invest bill that would reduce carbon emissions and invest in cleaner solutions in sectors such as transportation, energy production, and industrial facilities. I handed her my card at the end of the meeting and told her that we as Portland area United Methodist clergy had a vision to work for climate  justice.  I asked her to let me know if she had any ideas for faith based folks to help in the legislative process. I’m glad I was at the meeting to learn more about her work and to make a connection with her. In December Rep. Power and I met...
Ashes and Dust

Ashes and Dust

I am sitting in my darkened office with a dusting of ashes on my forehead.  My eyes are red from crying as I read of the 17 families who’s loved one did not come home from school today.  Mr. Hixon.  Meadow Pollack. Joaquin Oliver. Coach Fies. Missing or rumored to be among the victims. Our lives are fleeting.  Our world is broken and violent. And I sit in my office with ashes on my head.  A sign  of mourning in the ancient world, sack cloth and ashes.  A sign of death found in the shape of the cross. And I claim that I am dying.  You are dying.  We are all dying and we are all in this world that is as impermanent and flimsy as dust and ashes. And yet even as we know this, even as we know there is heart break and terror in our communities and neighborhoods; Even as we recognize our own limited existence we claim hope in the God who embraced death.  The God who is with us in shame, humiliation, pain, and terror. We do this Lent thing in the church to remind us that God became flesh and blood and came to us, not as a ruler of wealth and power, but as a carpenter who suffered and struggled and died.  God is in it all, with us dusty people in this beautiful and terrible life. And we are called to then know our own mortality and know the power of the days we have.  Into those days we are called to bring light, to remind people God loves them and...
Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

Recently I was walking across the college campus that is down the block from Trinity United Methodist Church’s building.  It had been day full of meetings and rushing around trying to get everything done, so as I walked I tried to be really present in the moment, a tip I learned from my therapist.  It’s amazing how much my anxiety and stress is reduced when I take a little time each day to be centered in the here and now instead of hurrying to the next thing, voice texting on my phone, as I whir through my mental to-do list.  As I walked I noticed the way the air was a little warmer then it had been the past few weeks.  I smelt the rich earth and heard birds calling.  Shoots were beginning to push up through the earth.  It felt like spring. As I walked my steps were lighter and so was my heart because I realized that not only was the earth rejoicing in the coming of the season of new life, so are the folks of the Southeast Portland Parish.  I was on that college campus, meeting with campus staff and a group of church folk, to talk about ways our community could support students.  We’ve been asking people in our neighborhood how we could partner with them, or what’s going on in their world, or what they need, and it’s been amazing. I was shocked to learn that the school operates a food bank because so many students struggle with food insecurity.  This is a far bigger crisis than my own days of subsisting on...
This Countercultural Life

This Countercultural Life

This past Tuesday instead of watching the hoopla and spin of the political drama unfolding in the US, a small group of us gathered for worship, silence, and prayer.  We remembered our baptism, prayed over the water, lit candles, and claimed our allegiance to the God who holds us all.  It was a countercultural act in a time when it seems our airwaves are inundated with loud voices telling us to hurry, to fear, to grasp for more for ourselves. Another one of our community chose to spend Tuesday night at an ESL citizenship class. Her support and appreciation for those who are working to be part of this country was a way to actively bring in to being God’s preferred future of a world where our differences of language and place of birth mean less than our united vision of how to love one another. The roar of our culture is deafening.  It is important that we pay attention, that we know what is happening, and that we listen to the speeches and statements of those in power.  This allows us to hold the powerful accountable and to be active in our communities in serving God well.  It is also important that we find ways to be other, to step out of the mainstream and claim the way of God.  This can be in how we worship, how we pray, and how we witness. -Eilidh...
Sparkly Shoed Evangelism

Sparkly Shoed Evangelism

A dear friend recently invited me to a holiday party, so I of course showed up in my best, most ridiculous, blue, sparkly platform heels.  My shoes were a big hit and  my friend delighted in telling his other guests that I am a pastor.  And because I was at this party at the home of a gay man, and because I was wearing sparkly shoes, suddenly people who had never wanted to talk to a pastor before were hanging out with me, asking all sorts of questions about faith and God and life. This is my method of evangelism.  Showing up where people are as myself, my full, God created self, and being open about that.  I love shoes and sparkle.  I love Jesus.  I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and read Bonhoeffer.  I’m a mom who needs my mama friends to help me figure out this parenting a teen thing.  I’m someone who walks with people and offers them support as they figure out life. I’ve read a million articles on authenticity and how it’s the key to sharing faith.  I’m always a pastor, and happy to talk about that whatever the surroundings.  Part of the beauty and importance of church planting is that we get to be the unexpected community.  It’s a great place to be able to break down walls and help people connect with their authentic selves as they explore faith. I’m so glad that sometimes this job includes wearing fabulous shoes. -Eilidh...