Thursday, February 24, 2005

Some days there's bluegrass

I'm on a number of email lists for church leaders, with very little regularity about what "church" means and what "leaders" means, except that we all share a love for Jesus, call him "Christ", and are trying to live 24/7/52 in community. The list connection is surface; tribes emerge from the primal core and don't always have geographic center or even common language. Two of guys wound up doing Monty Python onlist today, which means that there are at least three of us in the pulpit or pews thinking Life of Brian.

It helps to lighten the weight of the call.

Yesterday my husband Bran (who is also a pastor, at another church) and I met with a colleague from Santa Cruz. Sometimes you just see your tribal marks on another person, and long silences at lunch mean absorption, not boredom or confusion. That stuff can be life-giving.

Like the fact that a bluegrass gospel band, Handpicked will be providing the music at our worship gathering on April 3. Lifegiving.

Somedays there are blues. And some days there's bluegrass.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Holy days and weeks

I have a longing for an experience of Holy Week (the week from Palm/Passion Sunday to Easter) that enraptures all senses and soul. Lent is a long leadup -- forty days of preparation by trying to pay attention to my relationship with God and others. But that last week I want to feel down to the marrow of my bones.

I don't think I'm alone. I think that's why people flocked to The Passion -- not because it was a good movie or said anything particularly profound -- to feel something. We get so jaded. It's like during the holidays when you're constantly overeating: food has to be stellar or weird to even get you to notice. We're inundated. And our God-journey can be such a distant, intellectual thing. We crave caring about it, feeling it as deeply and as overwhelmingly as we can.

Down in the bones. Beyond the bones. Wherever beyond the bones is -- that's where we long to feel God.

That's where I long to feel God. And 4/4 hymns don't do it for me anymore. Probably the feeling is mutual.

I pray others want to do this too, and that God leads us to each other.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

God is still speaking -- to and through us

We don't take up many offerings during our worship service.

Those who are devoting their lives to following the way of Jesus should give regularly and sacrificially. Financial giving is a spiritual discipline: a lot of us who are very comfortable with prayer or study or meditation or doing good works are terrible about money. Our scripture reminds us that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"; giving is an important part of learning to depend upon God and to let go of those things that are fleeting.

We used to take up the offering every week, but for the last couple of months we've had plates by the door and not included time during the service -- for many people, it felt more like bill-paying than devotional, prayerful time. Ideally, we'd have a dedicated physical place for individual gifts and prayer -- a place to give both money and prayer/praise in gratitude for God's gifts.

But today we allowed space and time for a special offering to go to the United Church of Christ God Is Still Speaking ( ) commercials, to be run in the days leading up to Easter. That message -- that God is an embracing welcoming God, and God's church should be also -- is so important. So many of us feel unwelcome in our families, in greater society, in churches. Or, even if we don't feel unwelcome, per se, we have no idea what it would be like to walk through the door. The GISS commercials help address at least one part of that.

I pray every day that people in the Bay Area will see Christ's love in us. I'm glad we're helping that happen elsewhere too.

God in Christ loves even you, and there's nothing you can do to change that.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

what does being a pastor mean?

Sometimes I go to events like Jenna's play (which was great, by the way -- any play that mixes a commentary on imperialism in early California and songs about cows is okay by me) and wonder how to explain why I'm there. Not everyone understands the word "pastor", and even if they do, it doesn't explain why I'm at a 4th grade play. "I'm a friend," doesn't get at the relationship, either.

I am one of Jenna's mentors. I help her see and feel God. I help her think about how to respond to seeing and feeling God. And, with any luck, she sees in me God's love for her.

Does that describe "pastor"? I don't know, but maybe it's a start.

starting a conversation

I'm hoping that blogging will force me to get thoughts out of my head before they get lost in all the flotsam there.

I'm also hoping that doing this will open conversations that I'd never have otherwise, with people I'd never talk to otherwise. (And probably at a time of day that I never see anyone except the newspaper guy and stockbrokers hitting the gym before the market opens.)

I love being a pastor. I love talking with people about stuff that actually matters -- and a lot of stuff actually matters.

Like the play I'm about to go see, starring one of my 10-year-olds. What better thing could I do with my free evening than show her she's loved? Even her. Even you.