God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Friday, October 26, 2018

Send a Thank You this Thanksgiving

When I was in seminary, someone suggested that we should keep a file that held the thank you notes we received. These word of kindness about how you made a difference in someone’s life, would see you through the hard times. In those moments when the people you minister too think that you can’t do anything right or when it seems that you met resistance to your ministry and ideas, the file and notes will remind you of who you are and who you strive to be. Those words will comfort you and uplift your soul. These words help me through tough times.
I wanted to thank you for your beautiful sermon this morning, and for being there for Bellamy the other day. I so wish Bellamy could have been in church to hear your message as I'm sure the words would soothe her heart and soul. When she told me that she had spoken with you about what's happening in her life, I was so relieved. She has kept so much inside for so long, and tried to hide the hurt and confusion, and it only adds to the stress and results in making things worse for herself. ….  Thank you for your support and guidance and friendship, we all have people that come in and out of our lives for reasons we can't imagine.  I'm so happy you came into ours....  Happy Birthday (late) by the way, I hope and pray that your days are peaceful and fulfilling and joyful. 
Who could you write that note to? The person who sat with you when you received the hard news. The person who took out your trash, walked your dog, raked your leaved, plowed your snow, brought you a hot dish. The person who you went to lunch, coffee, a movie, a concert with you. The person who delivers your paper, fixed the plumbing, got your heat going. The person who did that job at church that you are no longer able to do. Who do you appreciate for their presence in your life? You never know what difference your words can make to the person who receives the note.
Can you imagine a world where we practiced thankfulness and spread thanks to the people we encounter? This November I invite you to take on the promise of Thanksgiving and send a note every week to someone who has touched your life. Send them a note, an email, a text that tells them what they did, how much you appreciate them, and how it helped you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How Do We Speak to the Pain of Sexual Assault?

Come bring your burdens to God
Come bring your burdens to God
For Jesus will never say no.
This last week has been a really hard news week. It has made people uncomfortable and angry, worried and stressed as memories have surfaced for so many people. Memories of times when they experienced violence. The trigger was a high profile man being accused of reprehensible behavior toward women and another man being sentenced for drugging and sexually assaulting women. This has led to women sharing their stories. Stories of the assaults that happened years ago, assaults that happened and went unreported, assaults that were reported and dismissed. Story after story of such pain and violence. In this atmosphere, I wonder about our response, what should the church do and say, what should Christians do and say. For let’s be honest the bible and the church do not have a great track record of protecting and speaking up for women. Just read past the scripture text for this Sunday from Genesis 12:1-9, the call of Abraham, the next story is Abram pretending that Sarai is his sister and the Pharaoh sleeps with and marries her. With stories worse than this about rape, how do we speak to the pain?
As a follower of Jesus, I want to look at how he interacted with women who experienced pain, hurt, disrespect, evil. In Luke 6:36-50, we have a sinful woman who comes to Jesus weeping. She washes his feet with her tears. Jesus has words for the men who complain but to her he says, “Your faith has saved you go in peace.” We have the story from John 4 where Jesus rests by a well and starts a conversation with a Samaritan woman who has had five husbands and is currently living with a man. While they speak of this, Jesus focuses on being the living water and on his role as Messiah. We have the story from John 8:1-11, in which religious men bring a woman they caught in the act of adultery before him and want to know if he follows the law of Moses and believes she should be stoned. He challenges the man who is without sin to cast the first stone. But to the woman he says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” In these stories Jesus while acknowledging the women’s actions offers them grace and mercy.
the_anti_paul crying 'Jesus
Then there are the story of the Widow at Nain in Luke 7:11-17 and Mary and Martha on the death of their brother in John 11. In both of these stories when confronted with the pain of the women he weeps with them.  With the women who are ill he says: ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’ Mark 5:34; ‘Little girl, get up,’ Mark 5:41; ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ Luke 13:12; ‘Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.’ Mark 1:29. Or there is the story of Martha and Mary where Jesus encourages Martha to choose the better part, to choose the part that makes you different and unique, that is outside the norms of gender imposed by society.
I wish we were choosing the better part, the kingdom way. When we hear these stories of pain I think we have an obligation to every survivor to say, we see you, we love you, we will hold space for you to cry and rage. We will be there to comfort and support you and help you find the healing and justice you need.
Come bring your burdens to God
For Jesus will never say no.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Beauty and Brokeness

As River and I have been walking around Hinckley, I have been enjoying the Monarch Butterflies. We always seem to have one that flutters in and out of our path. This one day, River decided to stop and smell and the butterfly landed on the bush right above her. I had been watching the butterfly and thinking about how beautiful it was. I was enjoying it flying around us. 

Then it landed there above River and I noticed how broken the butterfly was. There were holes in its one wing and the beautiful orange color when you got up close was faded and worn. As soon as I noticed how faded the butterfly was, as soon as I saw how it was damaged and flawed. I stopped seeing its beauty. I only saw its flaws and faults. I no longer could experience the joy and wonder for I was think about how the monarch was near the end of its life. I saw the butterfly’s death rather than its life. 

How do we respond when we encounter the broken, the flawed? When we learn that someone is ill, seriously ill, do we only see their illness and forget the person there are who laughs with us, who has always been there when needed, who know when its time to get away? Do we stop seeing their beauty? Or when we discover a person that we like, who makes us laugh and has always been kind to us, holds political opinions that we find so antithetical to our own beliefs that we have trouble seeing the good in them. Yet, we as followers of Jesus are invited to see the beauty in brokenness, to love those people we hate, to bless those who have been beaten up by life. We are reminded again and again of the Jesus who didn’t see the man who couldn’t walk but saw a man who needed forgiveness, the woman ill for years who was blessed for her faith, the lepers who were brought back to wholeness, the blind and deaf who could see and hear, the woman who was invited to drink the water. Jesus saw the beauty in the brokenness and brought out its light. Jesus wants us to move closer to the broken butterfly and experience its beauty.