Friday, December 16, 2011

Randomness to catch up

I've never claimed to be good at blogging. It gets away from me with all the other writing I seem to need to get done. I keep saying I want it to be a discipline and maybe I'll get around to it, but disciplines aren't really my thing. I'm the free-spirit creative type. Probably means I need the discipline, but then, I'm not going to claim that I'm good at doing what I need either.
This Advent has been a particularly good one here. I was able to get things done ahead, both at work and at home, I'm glad to say. The joy of less stress is one of the best gifts for this time of year.
I realized the other day that I'm craving some radicality in my life these days. I'm not talking sky-diving or anything, but just some change that might actually help usher in the kingdom. I'm seeing these amazing churches that actually change the way that people see and do things. I want to be a part of one of those, help lead people to news ways of thinking and believing. Right now I feel in a bit of a rut. The church I lead now is not interested in becoming more than they are, even in good ways. It is in survival mode, as are many churches these days. Human capital is at a premium and when we try to start something new, it usually gets hailed as a great idea, but then falls by the wayside when no one wants to actually work to get it off the ground or keep it going.
In other news, we did get that admin!! I realize now just how much of my time was spent doing clerical work. I feel like I'm able to devote so much more time to pastoral duties, and I think my sermons are even doing better as I don't have to put them off to the last minute as often.
That's where I am...

Friday, June 03, 2011

Spiritual but not Religious

That's such garbage in my opinion. Well, at least a cop out. I will forever stand firm that we cannot truly worship outside of community, at least not in a fulfilling way that enhances our relationship to God. God created humans to live and work and worship together, not as solitary beings. We learn more about God as we learn more about one another.
What got me thinking about this was reading a travel blog of a friend who took a month to travel to Iona, Scotland and then around other parts of Scotland and England. All of Europe is said to be increasingly less and less 'religious,' so I don't know if my friend just attracts out-of-the-ordinary people, or if what is really true is that they are distrustful of organized religion, yet deeply spiritual. I'd say the latter, knowing the deeply spiritual roots of the British Isles--the Celts and Druids, etc.
Yet I feel our country is going in the opposite direction. We seem to cling to our doctrines and dogmas, but there is no heart to them, or any soul. Scripture has become a bludgeon with which to pound the opposition into oblivion. How did we get here? How can we recover a sense of mystery and wonder that should go hand in hand with worship? I hope I can get back to you on that...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

un-holy week

It's holy week and that means crunch time. With Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and 2 services on Sunday, it gets a little crazy. Plus somewhere in there I have to dye eggs with the kids and get the Easter baskets ready (yeah, the easter bunny comes to the pastor's house... what of it?)
Thankfully, the duties of three of those 4 services are shared. Still, it is a lot to have to be prepared for. I find being "on" in front of so many folks very emotionally and physically draining. Even as an extrovert. Still, I have been known to have some rather un-holy thoughts about holy week. Wishing it were over, shorter, fewer events.

Might I just add that having spring break this week... doesn't. help. one. bit.

Ok, so I've got all that off my chest. What's really been on my mind lately is all the back and forth energy going on in the church right now. The session has lots of positive stuff going on--they're really on board with some changes that need to be made, yet they let themselves get all in a dither about what the congregation will say. Ok, I know we want to be transparent and maybe even compassionate in our change-making processes. But when we let ourselves get all worked up about what people will say and think and will that make them stop giving... well, being enthusiastic about changes is great, but not if you can't follow up on them for fear of what other people will do.
It's a bizarre dicotome. At the last session meeting, everyone on the session was convinced and excited that we did in fact need to hire a part time admin. asst. Not just for me, but for all the leadership in the church, as a way to take the busy work off our hands so that the leadership can focus on the leading part of their work. The motion to hire was on the table. Then came the discussion. People began to fret about how we present this idea to the congregation, aware that money is a huge pink elephant in our church. And how, of course, the ones who are the most vocal, negatively, about spending are the ones who don't tithe and won't up their pledges from what they started with 30 years ago. But I digress. So we talked round and round and finally tabled the motion. Basically, we got nowhere. Yes, the session thinks it's a great idea, but how do we convince everyone else? They'll say it's already getting done, so why pay someone else to do it? (BTW, *I'm* the current secretary--this is not working out well in many regards)
It's going to test my patience, I have no doubt. I think it will get done, maybe even in this calendar year, but not by much.
So let's just say that that whole big presentation on risk taking that we heard at the last retreat--yeah, maybe it's time to pull that back out again.

Monday, April 04, 2011

keeping it real

My real thought for today is that I'm ready for lent and easter to be over. It sorta ruins my spring. yeah, really. I know, that's not a nice thing to say, but it's at least partly true. I wind up getting so overwhelmed with both church and home responsibilities that it just saps me. This year hasn't been as bad since we're doing things just a little differently at church, celebrating the Six Great Ends of the Church, one each Sunday in Lent. We've gotten a set of banners and are dedicating one each week. They are just beautiful and really make the space come alive.
I questioned the idea of adding color during lent, since usually it's a time of well, I'll just say it, deprivation and denial. But really, Lent is meant to be a time of preparation for easter. Sure, the meatless fridays and goodie-less six weeks have become the hallmark of the season, but seriously, I just don't see how that helps most people. It seems mostly empty to me in most instances.
I think that this series has indeed helped us to prepare ourselves for Easter. I think having joy during Lent, if it's correctly directed, can be a great tool.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


In my last post I talked about teetering on the edge of the cliff. After our most recent leadership retreat, I have the feeling that we are beginning to finally lose our footing on the top up there. Our leaders are ready, or so they say, to take the plunge and do some of the changes we've only thus far talked about. Awesome! I just hope they're also ready for the fallout that will come with. I hope that I can prepare them well enough to stand their ground when it feels like its falling out from under us.
We are a group that works well together and spends plenty of time in healthy, spiritual discernment. Honestly, I truly look forward to taking this plunge with them. It's something of an adventure, really.
As for myself, I still struggle daily with making church and worship relevant to all who step in our doors, from my own 6 year old who bounds down the aisle, to the eighty-six year old who teeters in on a walker each week. There are so many people 'out there' who are looking for something, but they don't know where to find it. How can we offer it to them? How can we keep our own integrity in tact at the same time? I try really hard not to fall prey to the books and programs that claim to have all the answers. Most of them are out-of-date before they even get printed. Mostly, I feel challenged to motivate my congregation to find their identity in this changing landscape. Figure out who we are and if it meshes with who we want to be, and if not, make it do so. Ah, it sounds so easy...