Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March- Anchorage

It took me longer than I'd like to admit to agree to go to the Women's March in Anchorage. Mostly it was because I don't like crowds and I get very anxious thinking about large groups of people milling about, even with purpose. The conversations about intersectionality, who was and wasn't included, and the vastness of the purpose also made me waffle.

In the end, though, I felt that I couldn't not go. To quote Hamilton, "If you've got skin in the game, you stay in the game." Not only is my skin in this game, but also the skin of my children, my friends, my colleagues, my neighbors, my parishioners, my antagonists, and the rest of creation. If I want to make an argument for seeing others and including others and change, I have to be where the conversation is happening. 

So I started making protest hats and praying. For the first time in my life this week, I thought about getting up early to pray more than I thought I would have time to do during the day. I actually told several people that I wanted Hermione Granger's time turner, so that I could have more time to pray.

I did not carry a sign today, though I did wear my collar. In a crowd situation, I am all pastor all the time- constantly looking around and assessing what's happening. I helped up several people who fell down. Gave and received hugs. Chatted with my friends. Tried to start a sing-a-long. Waded through the snow that did not stop. 

The march was powerful and enthusiastic. May the work that follows continue to be so. 

I made 11 "pussy" hats (all but one in pink) that were at marches today.
Seven were at #womensmarchanchorage and three were at #womensmarchwashington.
One stayed home. :) 

On our way to the Delany Park Strip in Anchorage.
It had snowed about 11 inches overnight and nothing had been plowed. 

People gathering in the cold.
I don't like crowds and I had felt very anxious the night before.
However, the atmosphere was very positive and enthusiastic. 

There were many signs for reproductive rights,
including lots that talked about uteruses (even though not all women have uteri).
Nevertheless, access to healthcare (of all types) and reproductive rights remain a significant issue. 

The signs were great and there were all kinds. 

There were kids of all ages. And lots of dogs. 

Snow on snow on snow, but it did not feel like the bleak midwinter.

My favorite sign of all- it summed up lots of what I think regarding women,
feminism, LGBTQ rights, and intersectionality. We are more than vaginal vessels
or vessels defined by the absence thereof.

#WomensMarchAnchorage is estimated somewhere between 2000 and 3000 marchers.
The line of marchers was well over half a mile long before we started walking and then it stretched out far behind us. 

We shall overcome... snow and tyranny.

This little light of mine... I'll gonna let it shine AND warm me. 

I will never forget this picture as long as I live.
It takes deep faith and desire to come out and march with a walker on unpaved streets,
at 13 degrees (F), in a huge crowd.
You have to want to be there. And she did. 

Signs at the march finish line/ work start line (depending on your view of it). 

Yep. 

Solidarity. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

I Beg (A Prayer)

Oh, God-
I beg you- do not let my heart become hardened.

In the midst of grief and fear, frustration and pain, despondency and despair,
I beg you- do not let my heart become hardened.

As I continue to press that Black Lives Matter, that vaginas are not second-class reproductive organs, that LGBTQ people must have access to all human rights, that all children should be able to be educated close to their own neighborhood with the resources of all spread to all schools,
I beg you- do not let my heart become hardened.

As I listen to spin, to lies, to twisted realities, to perspectives that I do not comprehend and that I cannot support,
I beg you- do not let my heart become hardened.

When I hear others dare to use your name, or the name of Jesus, or reference the power of the Spirit for work and words that you would not own,
I beg you- do not let my heart become hardened.

The time to walk in the Way of Christ has always been now. It was and it is and it shall be.
I beg you- do not let my heart become hardened.

Amen.


Originally written for and posted at RevGalBlogPals.org

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Haunted

I've written before on what it is like to grieve for someone who is living, but with whom you are no longer in relationship. I find myself in that position again (different person, people). I'm probably not the only to be in the situation as it seems the current political climate has caused many rifts that have broadened into chasms that cannot be sutured.

In my abdomen, I feel an ache when I think of you.

A person with whom I laughed and a person for whom I cried. Deep in my prayers, I lifted you to the Lord again and again.

Yet, my humanness disappointed you, a humanness for which I was unrepentant, an imperfect self that I am struggling to respect and love- so I refused to reject it at your petty tantrum.

Still.

It hurts. The loss of esteem hurts, but- truthfully- your question "What does Jesus have to do with it?" is the one that haunts me.

What does Jesus have to do with how we vote?

What does Jesus have to do with how we live?

What does Jesus have to do with how we treat others?

What does Jesus have to do with how we might flip tables and demand justice?

What does Jesus have to do with how we might apologize for the words, but not for the sentiment?


That phrase grieves me because I failed you. Ironically, this is not the failure you perceive- that I should have been more vocal and aimed better at stoning the sinners you wanted stoned. I failed you in that in our walk together, I should have mentioned Jesus more, pointed to him more vigorously, bathed you in stories of grace and truth.

This is also a failure.

Your salvation- evident or not- is not mine to claim, establish, or grow. Your life in Christ is not mine. The Spirit's work in you in not mine. It does not depend on me. It does not wait for me. It will not wither without me.

I still pray for you.

And I pray for me... that I will let you go. Because you belonged to God. You belong to God.

And, thus, never to me.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Extra! Extra!

I have a second blog that is only about books and reading.  Because I need that space.

I even bought the domain name since I do read all the things.

It might not be for everyone or for you, but I thought I'd let you know.


https://readsallthethings.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Christian Bill of Rights: Amendment V

Amendment V
The follower on the Way of Christ will not hold human institutions, including courts, governments, or social agencies, as sources of salvation or aids to sanctification. Those on the Way of Christ will, however, use all power and privilege to hold these institutions, adding the church catholic to them, to standards of justice and equity. Those on the Way are not in thrall to these institutions, but to the law of God- which is interpreted through the Living Word, the written word, and the on-going work of the Holy Spirit.

“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector.”  Matthew 18:15-17

Don’t spread false rumors. Don’t plot with evil people to act as a lying witness. 2 Don’t take sides with important people to do wrong. When you act as a witness, don’t stretch the truth to favor important people. 3 But don’t privilege unimportant people in their lawsuits either. Exodus 23:1-3


Then Jesus said to them, “Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other. There will be great earthquakes and wide-scale food shortages and epidemics. There will also be terrifying sights and great signs in the sky.  But before all this occurs, they will take you into custody and harass you because of your faith. They will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.  This will provide you with an opportunity to testify.  Make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance.  I’ll give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to counter or contradict.  You will be betrayed by your parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, and friends. They will execute some of you.  Everyone will hate you because of my name.  Still, not a hair on your heads will be lost. By holding fast, you will gain your lives.

Star Word 2016: Respect (1)

It's late, which means writing a post is probably a bad idea since this is neither a confessional nor a diary. Nevertheless, I'm typing away. On Sunday, we (the congregation I serve and me) drew our star words- adjectives and adverbs that might give shape to our year in one way or another.

Since drawing my word, I've wrestled win it. I will unspool some of that wresting here and some will be between me and the Holy Spirit.

My word is "respect".

Of all the things I might struggle to respect- close to the top of the list is the President- Elect. However, I have always been respectful of the office of the President. It makes me sad and frustrated when people refuse to call a president by name, using epithets or euphemisms. I have been driven to deep grief by how people have treated and spoken about President Obama.

I said many things about Mr. Trump when he was a candidate. Most weren't kind and I did mean them. However, I have skin in the game of the American Experiment and I respect certain offices, though I disdain racism, sexism, anti- LGBTQ actions, idolatry of the free market, and abuses of power. In a little over a week, the prayers of the people will change to be "We pray for our president, Donald, our governor Bill, our Senators Dan and Lisa... "

I have been praying for how I can pray with deep intention and respect for the President-Elect and how I can respond with courage and power to the real concerns and fears of many people, including myself.

I can respect that people see things differently than I do. I can respect that I could be wrong. I can respect certain roles and titles and traditions.

However, I will not ask for Divine Help to respect taunting, intentional disruption livelihoods, petty behavior, jealousy, treason, deliberate ignorance, pandering, or pouting. Someone once told me that I preached tolerance, which told me that they don't listen to me. I never use that word. I might accept certain things that the next person doesn't accept, but if I don't think it's okay- I don't tolerate it.

I will continue to respect the office of the president. I will pray for President-Elect Trump in his transition and in office. However, I am still the very very very politically minded girl I've been all my life and, as I always have had with every president, there are a few things that I will not tolerate.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Star Words and Approachability

In 2015, after several years of meaning to do this, I copied my friend Marci Glass and did Star words with the congregation I serve, Lutheran Church of Hope. Marci has written about this practice on her blog in several posts. I recommend scrolling down and reading this first posts and then you can pick and choose (or read them all). 

I used the PDF of words she had created and shared generously with other RevGalBlogPals via our (closed) Facebook page. LCOH's diligent administrative assistant and I cut out 300+ stars last year. We also made a separate set of stars for kids from the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). While I'm not saying that adults shouldn't also choose from that list, it was easier to have a more condensed and more easily interpreted set of words for our younger members. An adult can wrestle with approachability. A six-year-old, not so much. 

This year, on 1/8/17, we will choose words again. Because I don't like to feel wasteful, we are not choosing from a complete set. We are choosing from the 260+ words that are left over, which also means that there are no repeats from last year. 

You can read from my January 2017 newsletter article below on my own thoughts about my 2016 word. 


____________________________________

Last year on Epiphany, we drew out Star Words as a congregation. Reaching into a bowl of more than 300 possibilities, we pulled out words like “fun”, “encouraging”, “solemn”, “inviting”, “tactful”, and many others. Some people may not have thought about their word again since that Sunday. Others have worked it into their lives or paid attention to where it showed up. A congregation member recently encouraged people to tell the story of their word.

I got the word “approachable”. This word gave me pause in many ways. I try to be as accessible as possible, but I frequently hear that people don’t find me approachable. Strangers feel okay asking me questions or seeking my help, so then I am surprised when I find out that church people do not. One congregation member told me that I am very approachable if a person needs help, but it is harder to approach me as a person who wants to help me.

In my time in Poland, I spent 11 days looking for people who were approachable to help me with directions, transportation, and translation. Standing on a sidewalk in the middle of a place where you know no one and no one knows you can be very scary. I think about this experience a lot when I think of refugees or immigrants who may have very little knowledge of where they are or how things work. How approachable do I seem when I am out and about?

On January 8, we will draw new stars, new words, for 2017. Does this mean I can quit thinking about approachability? We had enough stars last year to go again from the same pile. So the words that were taken are gone. We all get a fresh start. How should we approach this exercise?


When I drew stars for people who wanted them, but were not at church, I prayed for them before reaching into the bowl. Is there a way to be open to this experience and to a year of the Spirit’s work in clear and mysterious ways? Even if you’ve long tossed out your star, think back on your word and on your year. What did you learn? What would you like to learn? How approachable are you to the Holy Spirit’s work and power?



If you are interested in a word of your own, please comment below or email me at lcohpastor@alaska.net. Next week, I will pray for people by name before I draw a word specifically for them. The words are all face down in an opaque bowl. I can't see anything about any star when I reach in and draw. 




Saturday, December 17, 2016

Midnight Sun Invocation

I was asked to give an invocation at the Midnight Sun Holiday Lunch on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. The honored guest was Senator Lisa Murkowski. Senator Dan Sullivan and Representative Don Young were also in attendance. Giving an invocation is tricky because you're talking to God, but people can hear you.
I wrote out the prayer because I wanted to remember to cover everything that was important to me and I wanted to be sure to stay in my allotted time. I am sharing this with you because it might inspire your own prayers. 

Dear God, Holy Parent of all,
We gather today in this beautiful state, in a wonderfully diverse city, and we know that surely you are present here. Not only because you have promised to be where two or more or gathered, but we because we trust that there is a soft spot in the Divine Heart for Alaska as one of the best parts of your creation. 
We give you thanks for the opportunity to gather, to see old friends and to meet new ones. We look around and we remember those who are no longer with us and we commend them to you in their eternal rest in light. We rejoice for the ongoing work and community that comes out of this event. Bless us as we continue that work today and tomorrow and into another year.


Holy God, you already know the prayers of our hearts and minds, yet we lift them to you. We cannot stay silent in the face of war and threats of war around the world. The images of children, grieving families, beseeching refugees, and so much destruction are burned into our minds. We watch and we weep and we wonder where you are in all of this and what we can do in your name. Be with all who are working in war-torn regions- those who are offering medicine, shelter, education, those who are working for peace, for hope, for justice, those who donating, praying, and welcoming. Let your holy light shine into all these dark places and let us see that the darkness will not and cannot overcome it.


On our home front, we ask that your life light would bring healing to the divisions in our country, our state, our city, and our homes. Strengthen us to speak the truth and to hear it. Grant us to know, deep in our bones, like an unquenchable fire, what it means to stand with and for those who have been stripped of their voice, their power, their history, their choices, and their freedoms. Help us to remember that in the gospel according to John, Jesus spoke of having sheep in other folds. All people are our brothers and sisters in you. Grant that we may see them as such and work with them toward the healing and renewal of the earth, her people, and her resources.


We pray for those in power, especially those in elected positions who are tasked with the hard work of defending our Constitution, all Americans, and the resources of our great nation. We pray for those who do that task in the uniforms of the Armed Services, especially those who are away from the families and communities in this season.


Lastly, O God, you have told us to pray without ceasing, but people want to eat- so our prayers continue- with the power of the Holy Spirit- rising to you. Prayers for those in need. Prayers for our families and friends. Prayers about health and finances and homes and community. Prayers of joy and prayers of fear.


We lift all these to you and we trust that you hear them and that even now you are working in response, working for healing and restoration. We place all our hope and trust in your great faithfulness. Amen.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christian Bill of Rights: Amendment IV

Amendment IV 

The follower on the Way of Jesus cannot escape the power of God. No place is beyond the reach of the Spirit. No relationship outside of the hand of Christ. There is nowhere to go and so the follower must learn to wrestle with and to rest within both the Real Presence and the felt absence. This is the tension of the faith.


The same night [Jacob] got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the
By Talmoryair (Own work)
[CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was
put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”
Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. (Genesis 32:22-31)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christian Bill of Rights: Amendment III

The follower on the Way of Christ understands that there is nothing that did not come from God and
that will eventually be either returned to God or rendered moot. Therefore, the follower on the Way is generous with all and to all.

Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)

[Jesus] answered, “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.” (Luke 3:11)


Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:1-2)