All day I have been processing the historic vote of yesterday at the ELCA national assembly in Minneapolis. It is an amazing vote - one that I believed would happen eventually, but which took me by surprise yesterday. I cannot imagine the deep feelings that our brothers and sisters in the gay and lesbian community must be feeling. I also cannot imagine the disappointment that my brothers and sisters who are against this vote must be feeling. I am both humbled and amazed by the courage it took for us to reach this place in our history. I am honored to be serving a church that can address these issues, deliberate, search scripture, prayerfully consider one another's voices and then vote and reach conclusions that seek to include rather than exclude. God's grace comes to us all and in baptism we are claimed into the family of God. There is no exclusion - we are claimed by God and grace is ours. We don't earn it, we can't win it, we don't deserve it and we are all lost without it. I am thinking about a sermon for tomorrow and keep thinking of the gospel text from the lectionary and the words of St. Paul: "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I like the 'practice of pedaling' as a metaphor because I have been a long distance bicycler in the adult years of my life. I haven't done much the last couple of years, and at the end of this week I am going to attempt the Habitat 500 ride. 500 miles in a week is a bit intimidating at this time of life, with not a great deal of time to devote to preparation. The longest ride so far I've done is 40 miles - but I tell myself if I can do forty I can do sixty. We'll see! I am comitted to riding and I hope to ride all 500 miles. But the 'practice of pedaling' says it all because in order to do a longer ride, I have to practice on shorter rides. It's kind of like the Christian life - in order to make it in the long run we need to build a base of faith and study of Scripture now that can sustain us when the going gets rough. We hope to be successful in the Christian life, but there are simply no guarantees because we are human and I have seen so many whose faith seems impenetrable fall prey to things they thought themselves incapable of. It's good not to fool ourselves! So, we practice faith as we practice many other things in life. If we fail there is always redemption, reconciliation and the ability to begin anew. God doesn't give up on us no matter how much or how often we might give up on God! If you study scripture from cover to cover that is the overriding message - God's faithfulness. So, as I ride those 500 miles this next week my plan besides pedaling (a lot!) is to pray. I have a whole list of names in my congregation alone of people that are going through difficult things; cancer, treatments, surgeries, relationship issues, divorce, and many other things. So as I pedal and pray I will be seeking God on their behalf - to give them strength, courage, perserverance, patience and peace. The 'practice of pedaling' could possibly become a spiritual discipline!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The life of a minister is incredibly busy during Lent, Palm Sunday and Easter. I have been asked how I maintain the spirituality of it all, or if it just becomes business. Some of it is business to be sure, in fact much of it is the business of getting things done. I am driven to distraction by all the details of this time of year. However, on Palm Sunday we have a reader's theatre type reading of the passion story - I am narrator, and I find myself being filled with emotion during this reading. I tear up many times, I even get choked up at times, and it certainly hits me with full force as I understand at the spiritual core of my being the meaning of this story in my own life. That just happened this past Sunday, as it does most times I have publicly read the passion story. Yes, there are moments of deep spiritual meaning for me. I suspect as a minister I am not much different than anyone else who has faith, commitment, spirituality and depth. We are all touched at moments by God in our lives. We don't control it, we can't cause it, but it happens. Sometimes in the midst of the most menial tasks of life. Being a minister doesn't make me special, being a Christian doesn't make me special. God's love is for all that God created. I have found meaning in Christianity and in spirituality, but I don't demand that others find the same meaning in the same way. God is much too big to be contained in my small ability to understand God! And so during this Easter season I experience deeply a faith that is rooted in Christianity and that has grown in ways I haven't anticipated or sometimes even understand, because God is always the author of life - even my little life with all it's ups and downs. I am grateful for faith, because it sustains me when times aren't good and it adds another dimension to the joy I experience when times are good. "I believe, Lord help my unbelief "has long been a prayer I can relate to. I don't have all the answers, I don't even begin to understand sometimes why I am a minister, and yet I feel called to be here. What I know is that the mystery of God is the most compelling thing I have ever encountered in my life and I cannot see myself doing anything else.