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Showing posts from 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 wh…

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 man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip wasput 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,…

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)

Christian Bill of Rights: Amendment II

The follower on the Way of Jesus will take seriously the tensions of living a holy life. The realities of just war theory, health care, national economic policy, and social justice are not as sharply defined as one hopes. Therefore, the actions one undertakes must be see through the lens of God’s love for all and a desire to bring healing to all.

Thou shall not kill. Exodus 20:13

Rend the Heavens: Advent Day 16

Rend the Heavens text: My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?” as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. These things I remember... Psalm 42:3-4

Prompt: Visceral

I still feel the impact of the text to me like a punch in the stomach. The words rejoicing at the results of the election, followed by words accusing me of being "intolerant" if I was not also rejoicing. My failure to accept what one believed to be the work of God caused maligning of my vocation, my work, all I'd ever done in Christ's name. I still feel the horrible weight of blocking a number and wondering what I needed to do legally to be protected. And who else might I need to protect?

Heavy, heavy hangs the head that remembers emails from another, telling me that a "bloodless election" was something for which t…

Christian Bill of Rights: Amendment I

The follower of the Way of Jesus has the obligation to assemble with other followers on the Way. Such an assembly should occur as often as possible and should not fail to include prayer, hospitality, confession and assurance of forgiveness, counsel, and observance of the sacraments.
Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)
Rejoice always. Pray continuously. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17)

Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good.Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other.Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. Bless people who harass you—bl…

Rend the Heavens: Advent Day 7

Rend the Heavens text: And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” John 1:21

Prompt: For Pete's sake

Once, in a sermon for a preaching class in seminary, I portrayed Martha speaking to Jesus about not coming when her brother, Lazarus, had died. The professor didn't like the sermon because he said, and I quote, "It was too angry." 

I have spoken about that moment many times. 

Too angry? Too angry at an untimely death? Of someone Jesus loved?

What's too angry? 

What is too angry with Jesus? 

Are we too angry when we want a little more clarity on the when and where this is all coming down? 

Are we too angry when we are ticked about the unfairness of grace, even as it includes us?

Are we too angry when the heavens seem silent about injustice, war, and pain? 

Are we too angry when we wonder why the second time Quirinius was governor was the right time, but not the first time Trump was president?

Are we too angry…

Rend the Heavens: Advent Day 6

Rend the Heavens text: May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. – Psalm 72:4
Prompt: Yearn
God in heaven, what would this look like? You withstood David’s murder of Uriah and his adulterous tendencies, allowing the defenseless Bathsheba not only to be raped, but to experience the death of her child. You allowed Solomon to conscript his own people for the building of the temple- a building meant to honor you, but raised on the backs of people with choices take away. Constantine was permitted to use your name and your story for the shaping of his own plans and expectations, forever altering how those who follow you would be viewed- within and without the Way of Christ. So many have hung their harps on the willows, unable to sing your songs. So many have screamed to the winds for you to dash the descendants of their enemies against the rocks. So many have wept and wept and waited for joy in the morning that did not come. Can you n…

Rend the Heavens: Advent Day 3

This prompt was originally scheduled for 11/29, but I'm catching up.

Text: Floodwaters will never again destroy all creatures. Genesis 9:15b (CEB)

...and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:15b (NRSV)

Prompt: FR(ACT)URED


You can add up the parts 
but you won't have the sum 
You can strike up the march, 
Every heart, every heart 
to love will come 
but like a refugee. 

Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack, a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in. 

Anthem- Leonard Cohen


There's a fancy church word for the moment in communion wherein the presider asks God to send the Holy Spirit into the elements: epiclesis. It is in this invocation or calling down that one asks, in front of all gathered, for power of the Holy Spirit to come into the bread and the product of the vine (juice or wine) and to bless them. 
Even though epiclesis is part of my (Lutheran) tradition, it is not something that I thin…

Rend The Heavens: Advent Day 4

Due to having surgery this week, I'm starting a little behind on this daily devotional. I'll catch up days 1-3 at some point. See the prompts here.

Text: And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:31

Prompt: SHUT UP

Yesterday, I had my uterus removed. After several years of pain and bleeding and messiness and discomfort and solutions that only created more problems, we did the thing that would make it all
stop. We removed the source of the problem. 

"Shut up" is the utterance we think of- possibly a little rude- when we want someone  or something to stop talking or making noise or creating a distraction. 

I wanted my uterus to shut up. It had served its purpose for me (growing two healthy babies) and now it was dysfunctional and its noisiness was disruptive and painful. 

Since I didn't often mention the pain I was experiencing and since I am only 35, peopl…

Sermon: Premeditated Action

Luke 21: 5-19, The Message 

One day people were standing around talking about the Temple, remarking how beautiful it was, the splendor of its stonework and memorial gifts. Jesus said, “All this you’re admiring so much—the time is coming when every stone in that building will end up in a heap of rubble.”  They asked him, “Teacher, when is this going to happen? What clue will we get that it’s about to take place?”  He said, “Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One,’ or, ‘The end is near.’ Don’t fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end.”  
He went on, “Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Huge
earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. You’ll think at times that the very sky is falling.  “But before any of this happens, they’ll arrest you, hunt you down, and drag you to …

While I Wait

Lord, I don’t know what you want me to do, but I see people in pain- so I will tend their wounds while I wait for you.
I don’t know what you want me to say, but I hear people grieving- so I will listen to their stories while I wait for you.
I don’t know how you’d like me to react, but I see injustice and unrighteous- so I will sweat and bleed to make things right while I wait for you.
I don’t know how you’d like me to see, but I perceive spaces of unwelcome and violence- so I will speak and act against them while I wait for you.
I don’t know how you’d like me to pray, but I cannot remain silent to your face- so I will pour out all my grief and pain and anger while I wait for you.
Amen.

Written for and originally posted on RevGalBlogPals

About Last Night

I am thankful for friends, who let me absorb some of my shock in their home. It gave me enough air that when I was called to go to Mad Myrna's by another friend, I could go. Because if you're called to the gay bar on election night because people are crying and want to talk, you put your shoes back on and your glasses and you go. I went as a pastor, but a friend also said, "We need you as a human being."

And so I went. And I listened. And I was sober like a rock because I can't drink right now. 

There was laughter and crying. 

And then the thing that blew me away: a guy I had met earlier because he came with some friends to Election Day Communion leaned his head in to talk to me. 

"Tonight was my first experience with Christianity. It was really nice. Really welcoming and helpful. I liked it," he said. 

Election Night Communion at Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK was his first experience with Christianity. I don't know if that meant ever in a chu…

Sermon: In The Resurrection

Luke 20:27-38 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to [Jesus] and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”  Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he s…

Review: CEB Women's Bible

A couple weeks ago, I was asking a group of [church-going] children what they knew about the Bible. Among other shared information, we tried to name some Bible characters. They quickly shouted out, "Jesus!... Moses!... Abraham!..." The oldest kid in the group is probably 8, so that was okay. I asked for the names of any women or girls in the Bible. Mary's name was speedily recalled and then there was a stall. My own son raised his hand and said, "I can't remember her name, but there was the girl in the garden who ate the apple." Great, our group could literally only name Mary and Eve. So, looks like my work is cut out for me. Good news: there's a Bible for that!

I recently received a copy of the CEB Women's Bible for free in exchange for a fair review. This Bible is in the Common English translation- hence, CEB. This is not my favorite translation. All translation is interpretation and all interpretation is political. So, accepting the CEB as a stud…

When the Body of Christ is Fat

Within a very short amount of time, two people whom I love were called "fat ass". One of these slurs occurred in the church building and the other occurred in the same building and within the context of worship. Both incidents were the result of a person with already impaired judgment lashing out at the person who was in front of them, perceiving them to be unhelpful or denying aid or service. Regardless of the "why", the reality is that the name was uncalled for, hurtful, and aimed to be a deep cut.

The reality is that a person who is under the influence of legal or illegal substances and often displays impaired judgment can still tell that body shaming- comments about shape, appearance, or size- is a way to lash out at someone who is frustrating you. That means those words and that way of using them are deeply rooted in our culture. An additional truth is that when we, as a congregation, attempted to console and listen to those who had been hurt in this encounte…