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."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Believing in Yourself

As I was preparing for my sermon this week I was trying to figure out how I thought the rejection of Jesus in Nazareth related to my theme of self-esteem.  I know when I picked it I thought they fit.  But as I was stumped when I got in the car to head home from the office and a song started playing.  And I knew where to start. 
Made a wrong turn once or twice
Dug my way out, blood and fire
Bad decisions, that's alright
Welcome to my silly life

Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood
Miss 'No way, it's all good'
It didn't slow me down.
Mistaken, always second guessing
Underestimated, look I'm still around

You're so mean when you talk
About yourself. You were wrong.
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead.

So complicated,
Look happy, You'll make it!
Filled with so much hatred
Such a tired game
It's enough, I've done all I could think of
Chased down all my demons
I've seen you do the same
(Ohh ohhhhhhh)

The whole world's scared, so I swallow the fear
The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer
So cool in line and we try try try but we try too hard
And it's a waste of my time.
Done looking for the critics, cause they're everywhere
They don't like my jeans, they don't get my hair
Exchange ourselves and we do it all the time
Why do we do that, why do I do that (why do I do that)?

I'm Pretty, pretty, pretty

Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than *** perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing, you're *** perfect to me
The video for this song which can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocDlOD1Hw9k (MA rating); it is about suicide and bullying.  You can hear the pain in the lyrics.  Of someone who didn’t always feel like they belonged or believed in themselves.  Who has been told that she is different, but has reached a point where she mostly remembers to turn the other voices out.  She knows now who she is.  That those voices outside of her will still appear, but they no longer control her.  SHe wants to share this lesson that you are perfect to me.  I remembered this interview of Pink where she was talking about her song Stupid Girls, which is about the startlets who play dumb and dress a like and have lost themselves.  In some of the interviews around this song she spoke about not fitting in as a child.  She was not considered pretty, was not quiet, she wanted to sing rock and not be a pop princess.  Somewhere along the way, making her way out of a wild childhood, she learned to accept herself and what she was good at.  She learned and continued to be her.  In a world that says women are to be thin, quiet, and pretty; she didn’t fit the ideal being loud, bigger than size 0, and not conventionally beautiful.  Pink learned to value herself and helps us through her art to value ourselves. 
It’s not easy being different.  It’s not easy hearing voice tell you: you are not thin enough, pretty enough, quiet enough.  How do you learn to be yourself.  The story of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth help us to see this too.  He has come to his hometown for the weekend.  Maybe he had come home to see his mom and visit family.  And while home he is present for the Sabbath.  As part of his practice, he heads to church.  Being the Religious raised in this congregation, they invite him to read the scripture.  I have been present for many of those invitations.  Every time we were home to visit Grandma my dad was invited to preach at his home church on his vacation.  So Jesus picks up a scroll and begins to read:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free, 
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ Luke 4:18-19 
He then says this is what I am meant to do and be.  For the rest of my life, I will show you how this is about me.  He spends his ministry freeing people from captivity, healing those who are sick, opening the eyes and ears of those who can’t see the coming of God and sharing the coming of God here and now.  Then it seems to go seriously wrong.  The people are amazed by how well he speaks.  Can that really be Joseph’s son?  I mean he’s the one who pulled his sister's hair and took that apple off the tree.  He fought with my son in school.  He can’t possibly be “the one.”  When knew him when…So maybe when the people said, "Isn’t that Joseph’s son"; he was hearing all those voices that spoke about his unwed mother.  So he speaks about finding the one God needs you to be with.  Not always the conventional choice.  Remember the prophets sometimes did that.  They healed the outsider and took food from the stranger.  The people of Jesus’ hometown were not thrilled with this answer.  They dragged him out of town and were thinking of throwing him off the cliff.  But Jesus knows who he is and what he is called to do, so he passes on through the crowd. 
One of the important journey’s of our lives is to learn to love and accept ourselves:  to know who were are and accept who we are: beloved children of God.  We need to be able to hear those voice that tell us who we think we should be, but not let them define us.  One of the authors who has been influencing my thoughts is Brene Brown.  In her book, the Gift of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You think You’re Supposed to Be and Embracing Who You Are,” speaks powerfully about becoming whole-hearted.  She argues one step is to be authentic.  We have to learn to let go of what others think about us. 
One of the stories she tells is about fitting in verses belonging.  We often try to fit in, conforming ourselves to the group.  So when you walk around a high school, you see all these kids who are trying so hard to be an individual and yet they all have the same hair, clothes, eye make up.  What we need is not to fit it but to find a place of belonging.  Brown tells the story of a scientist who learned to accept himself because his parents taught him to embrace his difference.  When he came home and told his parents he and his friends were translating books into Klingon that encourage him.  They took him to Star Trek convention and he learned that it was ok being himself.  He embraced his creativity and brains and learned to be himself.  His parents his accepted his geeky non jock self. 
The journey to hope involves learning to believe in yourself.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Breathing and Silence

life turns and turns on the crystal glass
breathing in our body
silence is a voice, our voice
silence is a body, our body
life turns and turns on the crystal glass
breathing in our body
I invite you to breathe
I invite you to listen to the silence
                                                  Jaume Plensa

One of the artists whose work I came to enjoy last year in New Orleans, has a sculpture called “Breathing.”  This sculpture is on the BBC building in London was commissioned as a
memorial for war and foreign correspondents killed on the job.  At 10pm during the evening news a beam of light can be seen to shoot up into the sky.  The sculpture is composed of words which spiral down.  The words and image evoke themes of speech and silence, life and death; these themes journey with us from Ash Wednesday to Easter.  Our Lenten journey takes us through death to a time of rebirth and new life.  During this journey from ashes to cross to new life we are reminded to take time to slow down and reconnect with God.  We are invited to enter into the silence of the presence of God.  Psalm 62 invites us into a time of waiting, a time of hoping, a time of silence and expectation that God will break forth a new into the world.  The writer of the Psalm in silence is waiting for the God who embodies salvation, embodies love and constancy.  The psalmist waits for God to come and redeem him from trouble.   

1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
   from the Holy One comes my salvation.
2 God alone is my rock and my salvation,
   my fortress; I shall never be shaken. 
5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
   for my hope is from God.
6 God alone is my rock and my salvation,
   my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 
8 Trust in God at all times, O people;
   pour out your heart before the Holy One;
   God is a refuge for us.
                                            Psalm 62

Breathe and enjoy the silence, 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mardi Gra Beads

Do you have any memories that just stick with you?  Good memories that you will never forget.  Today I am wearing one of my memories.  When my son was little, barely crawling we were visiting one of my best girlfriends in Connecticut.  She is a Cajun living up north and in her house was this box she pulled out.  This box was full of colorful beads.  My son just sat down, which when you are less than one and are finally moving, is rare  As the box opened, it was like Christmas morning full of wonder and joy. He started pulling out silver and gold, purple and blue, red and pink.  He put them around his neck.  He brought them to my friend and I.  He buried himself in the beads and laughed.  O how he laughed.  His joy was contagious, we couldn’t help but smile and laugh with him.  He even tried to get the little schnauzer into the joy of beads.  I remember the knots.   I spent so much time untangling beads.  There would be this big clump of knots and the color my son had to have was in the knot.  So I would weave them in and out of each other and just when I would have them untangle, my son would bring me a fresh pile, to untangle some more.  As we left that day my friend told him about Mardi Gra and gave him a pile of beads to take home.   
Those beads were this amazing abundance and never ending source of joy.   So waking up today I had to pull out my pile of beads.  Now that my son is seventeen, they are my beads and my memories.  I wrapped myself in purple, green, and gold and remembered the joy those beads brought us for years.  Those beads help my son learn to be gentle for the tears flew when a chain broke and couldn’t go around your neck.  He learned how fragile the world can seem.  I learned from those beads that even the worst knots you run into with patience and gentleness can be unraveled.  Those beads remind me to reach out to old friends and enjoy some laughter.  They remind me to embrace life and celebrate the simple things like a box of beads and a child’s laughter.  They remind me of how fragile life can be and how moments and years can fly by in the blink of an eye.   I hope you stop take time to enjoy the beads of your life today.