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."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What advise would you give to the next generation?

I received one of my favorite surprises when I got home from work last week.  There was an amazon.com package on the front step.  The box contained Anne Lamott, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son.   The story begins with a conversation with her nineteen year old son that most parents dread.  Sam told Annie that he was going to be a father even though he had barely started college. 
Annie had previously written on her son Sam’s first year.  She shared her insecurities and failures and all the people who helped her make it through.  This book is about her grandson Jax’s first year.  Sam helps her share this story.  He agreed to help for he says, “To this day, that book is the greatest gift anyone has given me … I hear (in Operating Instructions) and feel my mother’s love for me.”  This is a continuation of that love story:  of what it takes to parent grown children and become a grandmother.  The book is witty, funny and neurotic all at the same time.  She struggles with how to give advice and yet let go. 

One of her pieces of advice to her grandson is written on his first thanksgiving:

Dear Jax: … it is time for me to impart to you the secret of life. You will go through your life thinking there was a day in second grade that you must have missed, when the grown-ups came in and explained everything important to the other kids….But there was not such a day in school. No one got the instructions. That is the secret of life. Everyone is flailing around, winging it most of the time, trying to find the way out, or through, or up, without a map. This lack of instruction manual is how most people develop compassion, and how they figure out to show up, care, help, and serve, as the only way of filling up and being free. 

With Mother’s Day just around the corner what piece of advice would you give to your kids or grandkids or the young person in your life.  What would you pass on that would help them to grow into themselves and navigate the world.  Would you share a story from your life that contains meaning for you?  Is there a scripture or hymn that would share your faith with those precious to you? 

In the Gospel of John, Jesus spends his last night with his disciples imparting wisdom, John 13-17.  He shares what he believes they need to know in order to continue on after his betrayal and death.  He tells them to believe in him and in the Father.  He tells them that a Holy Spirit will be coming.  He tells them to love one another.  He tells them they are no longer servants but friends.  He prays that they may all be one.  He gives to them his peace.  Take time this month to share your wisdom, to pass it on to those you care for.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dear young mother,

I want you to know that we loved your singing voice and your sons singing voice.  Children do the most amazing and annoying things all at the same time.  All of us who are parents or have brought a child to worship know that you will never know what can happen.  They may decide to steal the microphone during the children's sermon or tell a story that is on their mind that is in no way related to what you were trying to talk about.  They may decided to lay down and scream and kick  their legs, or discover that the acoustics are great so why not shout no.  But each child that is present is a gift from God that allows us to encounter the Holy.

Even the pastor's child has been know to be distracting.  During my first call my son was in second grade.  We always had a bag of stuff to do.  I had learned not to put action figures or vehicles in the bag.  Instead we made sure there was mazes and puzzles, books, and paper.  So he decided just as the sermon was starting that stabbing your bulletin with a pencil was very cool.  It made this great noise and created this circle with lead around it.  Now when you discover something that amazing, you can't help yourself, you have to make the noise again and again.  There I am the pastor preaching the sermon.  I am becoming distracted by my sons new found noise making ability.  I preach extemporaneously, so I don't have it written although I have it planned.  So I can't just keep speaking when all my mind can think is please stop.  So I loose my train of thought as one more pencil slams into the paper and say excuse me I have to be mom for a minute and tell my son to stop what he is doing.  Who knows how the sermon went after that. 

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.  Mark 10:13-16.

Did Jesus know that those same cute, adorable children, could make noise and be a distraction.  I think the answer is probable yes.  He was spreading God's Kingdom and God's kingdom included those who were sometimes the most unwelcome.  He was inviting those with the least power to be part of this new kingdom.

Dear young mother, this is one of the reasons I became a minister in the first place.  I have this very odd call story.  In fact it is the first story I every told when invited to share why I thought God was calling me to ministry.  I was in my 20s and while always believing in God, I struggled with the church.  When I was visiting family I always went to worship, but when home with my  husband I couldn't find a place where I fit. A family had invited me to come to their church.  They had just hired this new young (40s), female pastor.  So I decided to go to church.  My son had just learned to walk, so he was running every where he could.  He also loved to scream no.  This was the answer to everything.  So we settled into a pew in the back, where we could make a quick exit if needed.  He was doing what toddlers do.  Exploring.  I thought he was being really good and really quiet.  The service was just about to the point where the pastor was going to give the sermon.  This old man sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and told me to get out, since you aren't paying attention  to the service anyway.  I started crying.  I grabbed all our stuff and fled.  I cried.  I cried for a week.  My husband said some unkind things about the man and said give it up, who needs the church.  But I couldn't let it go.  This was the United Church of Christ, the church of my heart that said everyone was welcome.  But I wasn't welcome, me the pk (preacher's kid), grandchild of pilgrims, was not welcome.  Why didn't they want my son and I in worship?  

When I shared that story for the first time, I said to my home church, where my grandparents belonged, that this is why I want be a minister.  I want to make sure every child is welcomed and a place is found for them.  

So dear young mother, please know that you and your son are welcome on the good days and the bad.  For in him and in you we get to experience God's presence.