Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What happens when I am given unrestricted space to be. Think. Read. Ruminate. Pray. Bicycle. Talk. And not least right now?

I'm amazed at the deep passions that are welling up within me. The deep convictions that are challenging the way I'm living. The deep Truth in which I am longing to be transformed. The deep church/community that I long for.

As I learn, I'm antsy to act. I called Nancy down in Fresno wanting to invest in her and in her deep community with poor and rich, Black, Latino, White, homeless and home owners. I wanted to invite homeless people to come for tea, wash their clothes and maybe stay in one of our 3 empty rooms. Today I saw a family's belongings out on the lawn in front of an apartment building and I wanted to make sure they had a place to go. If not, they could stay with me. I want to hang out at the homeless shelter and get to know my neighbors on the street. I wanted to give away all of the extra sleeping bags (at least 2) and tent I have to those who are “camping” every night.

I remember last year when I was down in Biloxi the joy of going to Wal-Mart and buying $100 worth of sleeping bags (about 8) and going down the block and handing them out to the beautiful families who were without homes. God's economy?

I was talking today to a new friend who shared that her favorite experience in life so far was the year she spent in Mexico on a “missions” trip. She went to share and serve and instead came face to face with the mission of God – the kingdom of God...a community of sharing – caring for needs as they arose. Who got missionized – the community or my friend or both?

My happiest times (when not in the mountains) and the times that I am most content happen when I am joyfully giving myself to others in service and in community whether in Fresno, Biloxi, Beyond's like we are supposed to live it daily instead of as a mission trip “high”.

What does it look like here? What does it look like in the midst of a new marriage? Who is my community? Do I need to seek it out or will it seek me out? I read today something new... something about there being a salve in salvation...a healing balm in salvation...can the salve be applied without anyone there to rub it in? I don't think so... Plus, salves tend to smell rather exotic and peaceful...think of Tiger Balm...don't you want to be around the fragrant salve of Christ?

Attention Sunday PM: What does a community of children playing in the mud and sharing sandwiches and the Lord's table look like in that holy space? Because it is HOLY...God dwells with you every time you walk in to the Fireside room or the Crown and Anchor. The salve is applied every time the ladies meet for tea and ruminate with Lisa on the the Scriptures. The fragrance permeates the room when Brian and Bob and Jeff and Clyde and Greg and Brooks and Michael “bond” - the fragrance of Christ and other fragrances as well- Be church to each other, be community and pray for us who are wandering looking for what has been lost...Jen Summers, Kari who married the Turk, Jenna and Dan, Wayne, Josh and Dana, Kim and Scott, Juliette, Doug and Lyn and Haley, Mark and AriAnn, Billy and Pamela, Rodger and Cathy, and me!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Unimportant People

Unimporant People

the gospel reading from today's lectionary:

Luke 18:15-30

15People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. 16But Jesus called for them and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 17Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."

18A certain ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 19Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.'" 21He replied, "I have kept all these since my youth." 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." 23But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. 24Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

26Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" 27He replied, 'What is impossible for mortals is possible for God."

28Then Peter said, "Look, we have left our homes and followed you." 29And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life."

For those of us familiar with this passage it's hard to notice Luke's thematic intent in both of these encounters. Luke wants to make it thunderingly clear that childlikeness is Kingdom of God-likeness. That is, snotty-nosed, laughing, crying, giggling, puking, needy, dancing, sing-songy little kids are precisely what the Kingdom of God is full of . . . and so it seems that Jesus' Kingdom of God is full of nonsense - (because children in 1st century Palestine were of little significance in public - to be seen an not heard; and certainly not worthy of the time of a rabbi). And yet here Jesus invites insignificant nonsense into his presence - and calls it the Kingdom of God.

This story sets up the difficult but profoundly beautiful encounter with the "ruler" - where we have a grand overture of what Jesus seems to be getting at in the brunt of his teachings . . . Rulers (important people) are not nearly as important in the Kingdom of God as children (unimportant people); or prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans, Romans centurions, et al.

When the ruler responds to Jesus' answer about keeping the commandments with the phrase "all these I have kept since my youth," the ruler is in effect saying to Jesus that he has never really been a child. When the ruler was supposed to be playing games in the mud like the rest of the kids on the block, this child was intent in keeping in line with the moral code of the commandments - a child 'ruler' if you will.

Now the ruler wants to be commended for his moral performance, his goodness, and his godliness but Jesus will have none of this. Rather, Jesus invites the man now well into his adulthood to become a child all over again; one that has no control or ruler-ship over his life, one that is free from the distinction of being important, one that is free even from good religious moralistic living. Jesus invites this ruler to become a mess. To have the freedom from being important. And so it is within the economy of the Kingdom of God that Jesus redefines importance and prominence simply and mysteriously as one's capacity toward childlikeness.

Bizarre. Strange. Hard to apply. Hard to grasp. Difficult to put one's head around. But perhaps for many of us we need to consider . . .

that instead of being important and exacting in our Bible studies and missions trips and churches and ministries and conferences - maybe it's time we go and sell our importance and run screaming outside to play in the mud. And laugh loudly in our own beloved muddy mess - so we too might become inheritors of the Kingdom of God.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just some thoughs to share

Every once in a while I will pick up a book where within the first few sentences I realize that the book has the potential to change how I view my life and my word. That happened this morning when I picked up Shane Claiborne’s “The Irresistible Revolution”. Shane is a quirky fellow of 30 who has decided to live his life as if the words of Jesus are true and worthy to be followed. My husband Alex is reading the book with four 9th grade boys – pretty life changing stuff kids who are just beginning high school.

If you are looking for a change of pace, you might want to be refreshed by the words of a young man who is seeking a new Way and a new world – one dreamt about by the fathers of faith and promised by the Son of God.

A few reads that have profoundly encouraged me:

Soul Survivor by Philip Yancy

Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

Romans 8:5-6 (NRSV)

May we seek the Spirit today!

Lots of Love,


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Preserve Pics III

More Pics from the Preserve

Ben by the fire - en fuego!

Mittledorf Preserve

More pics from the overnighter on the way . . .