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,...
Learning from the Failures

Learning from the Failures

Experimenting with new ideas is risky.  Sometimes the experiment works and we end up with something beautiful.  Sometimes it all blows up.  Yet even in that explosion we learn and discover new things that can take us to the next place, the next experiment, the next step in following God. The past few months have caused me to really think about the person that I am and how I function as a pastor, leader, follower of Christ, friend, and person.  And here’s the deal, I am far from perfect.  I have flaws. What I am learning about my flaws is that I need to be real about them and even embrace them. It’s only then that I and others can work within who God has made me.  Wonderful, broken, beautiful me. There are lots of great things about me too. This isn’t a pity party or a fishing expedition for compliments.  This is me naming in vulnerability that I am not perfect.  I am a sinner, I am a human, I am a work in progress, I am a beautiful mess, I am not ashamed of who I am. Our task as a church is to grow into who God created us to be.  We walk together in faith, holding each other accountable.  We know each other, the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, the mediocre and the excellent.  It is a gift to know oneself, to be known by others and in all of it to be sure of God’s love.  This is the community we are building here in Southeast Portland Parish and I’m glad it...
Passing down Wisdom

Passing down Wisdom

One of the things I love most about our new collaborative parish between a new church start and a traditional church is the amazing ways I learn from the people in our community.  Just this week I was blown away by the depth and theological understanding of the folks at bible study.  Then the United Methodist Women gathered, I don’t think anyone else in the room besides me was under 80.  Our conversation about what it means to be women and the real ways they shared about their lives was incredibly insightful.  When they then linked to the curse of Eve and started discussing that theologically I knew I was in the presence of women who take their faith seriously. I learned so much that day and was challenged to think differently and go deeper in my own understandings. The group that gathers around the table at dinner is a shade younger than the folks I encountered at UMW, and yet the wisdom and understanding is just as deep.  We have a couple in our community who are 10 years or more younger than I am, and they regularly share about their faith experience and view of the world that has me just soaking up the wisdom.  Our kids often help me see God more clearly as they join their voices to the conversations too. Our community has a richness built from our wide experiences and common willingness to think deeply and share vulnerably. We see the vastness of God more clearly when we learn about God from a wide array of other.  It helps us from only seeing a God who...