Saturday, January 29, 2005

relay for life

Hey all -I'm participating in the Relay for Life this June in Oneida. I found with CROP walk in the fall, my only luck in raising funds was through online donations, since everyone I know around Oneida is a church member of mine! So, if you're feeling inspired, click on this link below or on the Relay icon to the left in the sidebar, and help support cancer research. Thanks!


Click to donate:

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

bible verse: proverbs 3:27-28

doing my bible study lesson tonight, i came across these verses from Proverbs, a book i don't always find so inspiring:

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it' - when you have it with you."

Seems like a no-brainer sort of reading, doesn't it? Yet, I think we need to hear it, live it, especially as a nation. How much good is it within America's power to do? And how much good is withheld from others?

Monday, January 24, 2005

a prayer

Lord, do something about your Church. It is so awful, it is hard not to feel ashamed of belonging to it. Most of the time it seems to be all the things you condemned: hierarchical, conventional, judgmental, hypocritical, respectable, comfortable, moralising, compromising, clinging to its privileges and worldly securities, and when not positively objectionable, merely absurd.

Lord, we need your whip of cords. Judge us and cleanse us, challenge and change us, break and remake us.

Help us to be what you called us to be. Help us to embody you on earth. Help us to make you real down here, and to feed your people bread instead of stones. And start with me.

--authored by the Very Rev'd Dr. Jeffrey John

found this on Dylan's lectionary blog - right on.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

wrestling with angels: via deep calls to deep via correction

I found this 'parable'/story via deep calls to deep, via correction:

I said, “I am out of strength. I am going to stop fighting now.”
The angel stood up, without a bruise. I was out of breath; my lungs hurt; my bones felt like they were on fire.
“Why were you fighting with me?” the angel said.
I rolled over onto my back, aching all over. “You were in my way,” I said. “Don’t be coy.” I turned my head and spat blood.
“Yes, that.” The angel lifted a bit off the ground. “That wasn’t a good way for you to go. My job is to help you find a better path.”
“What if I want to choose my own path?”
“It’s your choice.”
“If I go there now, you won’t try to stop me?”
The angel smiled. “I can’t stop you. All you have to do is walk around me.”
“I tried.”
The smile faltered. “Now who’s being coy?” the angel asked. Its bright wings fanned with just a trace of anger. “You didn’t try to walk around me; you tried to push me out of the way.”
“So? What’s the difference? What does that mean?”
The angel hovered close to me and whispered in my ear. “The law of love does not allow us to bless wrong turns.” It began to turn away, then stopped and added, “You know that we love you when you take the right path; but sometimes we love you more when you fight.”


just food for thought... not sure who authored, but good stuff anyway.

Monday, January 17, 2005

from Sunny Florida

I'm writing briefly from sunny Florida this week, where I'm working with a Volunteers in Mission team from my conference on hurricane relief. I just couldn't leave my laptop at home though, so here I am, compulsively blogging!!
What's been on my mind?
Why do we like to do these mission trips? I've heard a lot of people talking about feeling great knowing that they are helping others. And it does feel good, to accomplish something, and see the gratitude from people who really need help. But it reminds me of a debate I once had with a college friend - he argued that we only do things to please ourselves. All our actions, even those that benefit others, are for our own pleasure, deep down. I argued that surely this was not true of all actions, though I also must admit more truth to his statement than I would like. And of course there's also the Friends episode where Phoebe and Joey debate much the same issue. Is doing something for others selfish or selfless?
As I'm here this week, I hope to focus in on the why of being here, and hope that while helping others, I can help myself, not just to make myself feel good, but through living in service and discipleship.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

Go see it: Hotel Rwanda which stars the fantastic Don Cheadle, along with a great supporting cast. I've read a lot of great reviews for this film, and finally got to see it yesterday, and it was as good and better as advertised. The movie recounts the Hutu's genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, and particularly follows one man's journey that ultimately led to him saving hundreds of people from death. Particularly important in the film, I think, is the critique in the undercurrent of Western countries, like good ol' USA, who did practically NOTHING to help, unwilling to even label these atrocities as genocide. And the critique of not just governments, but everyday people, who will watch stuff like this on TV, say how terrible it is, and then go back to eating dinner. Ouch - right on, isn't it?
Go see it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Martin Luther King Jr. - Human Relations Sunday

This Sunday in United Methodist Churches we celebrate Human Relations Sunday, which is planned to coincide with the celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. I was looking for some MLK quotes today, and was really disturbed to find that one of the highest results on my google search was a site supported/run by white supremacists who were trying to criticize MLK in every way possible. I won't link to them - don't want to support their site - but if you want to check it out to join in my disgust, you can go to www dot martinlutherking dot org - isn't it appalling that they have that domain name? Anyway, enough disgust, and on to a quote to share:

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."
From "Letter from Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963

Let us heed the words of Dr. King, and find our voice to speak out against injustice!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Equipped for Every Good Work with Dan Dick

This weekend I spent an overnight along with other conference leaders for a Spiritual Gifts Workshop presentation by Dan Dick, of the General Board of Discipleship. His presentation is based on a book co-authored by Dick and his wife, called, Equipped for Every Good Work.

Overall, I really enjoyed the weekend. I've done Gifts Inventories before, but this one was more in depth, and tied things together instead of just doing a survey and leaving it at that.

Some highlights:
In the teacher-disciples model, disciples can someday become teachers. But in a shepherd-sheep model, "a sheep can rarely become a shepherd." We should be mindful of how our models of leadership can or can't be empowering.

Burnout: "when we force square pegs into round holes, asking pastors to minister in areas where they are not gifted."

Giving: "People gifted in giving see their gift not as a solution but as seed."

We have structure-based churches - we keep the same structure and feed people into different roles, recycle them through the structure.

Something I really found interesting is that Dick and his wife/co-author studied Spiritual Gifts in the denomination and did up statistical tables by jurisdiction as well. The results were almost identical across the jurisdictions, despite the differences we like to give ourselves. Overall - our denomination priorities "inward tending gifts" or "self-tending" gifts, like teaching, administration, etc., while Evangelism, Apostle, etc., - these outward reaching gifts were toward the bottom of the list across the denomination, in the United States. Central Conference results, however, showed much more outward-turned results.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

re-post: devotional life for progressive Christians

I posted this a while back before anyone was really reading this blog. Now that more people seem to be stopping by, I thought I'd put it out there again with some edits/additons since it's been on my mind again...

Do you find it difficult to have any sort of devotional time? When I was growing up, I was almost compulsive about my personal Bible Study, devotion time, etc. Somewhere along the way, I got more and more sporadic. In part, I found myself frustrated with the devotional books that I considered theologically too conservative. I find it hard to bond with God when you're busy mentally disagreeing with the author of whatever resource you're reading. My habit was broken, and I've never gotten it back for more than a few weeks at a time.
So, a disciplined devotional/prayer/bible-reading life - is it something I should be striving to get back, or something that is filled by other ways I am close to God? This is a debate I have with myself all the time. On the one hand, God is just simply the center of my life. I don't have specific time spent with God, because I honestly feel that all my time is with God, with varying degrees of my awareness. On the other hand, is that the easy way out? Isn't there something to be said for the discipline of devotions?
What do you think? Do you have a devotional/prayer life? Are there progressive Christian resources you would recommend? This last part is my particular interest - what are your specific practices? Ironically, my older brother who is more Eastern-ly-inclined in his spirituality, and certainly went through more of a time of rejecting Christianity than I ever came close to doing - he meditates regularly. Or at least more regularly than I do.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Eco-Justice Notes - 12/31/04 - Earthquake, Tsunami and God

Another excellent edition of Peter Sawtell's Eco Justice Notes found here: Eco-Justice Notes - 12/31/04 - Earthquake, Tsunami and God.

Some great deeper theological reflections on the tsunamis and our reactions to them and what all this means for people of faith.

Excerpts:
"God did not cause the earthquake and tsunami in some premeditated fashion to punish the wicked, to warn us of the impending end times, or to call the survivors into deeper compassion. (There are writers who have suggested each of these.) If we grow in compassion and relationship as a result of this tragedy, that is a blessing for us and the world. But God has better ways to nurture compassion than killing hundreds of thousands of people...

The intentions of God, and the workings of nature, are not all about humans. The whole universe is not centered on our experience. The Earth existed long before humans came on the scene, and it will be here long after we're gone. As we ponder the meaning of this event, we must do so in light of the entire history of this planet, and in the context of the entire web of life...

The scope of this event pushes us outside of our normal moral categories. There is no human cause behind the earthquake and the waves. The destruction has killed and displaced rich and poor alike -- although, of course, the long-term effects will be hardest on the poor. There are not, apparently, any gross failures or abuses in providing available relief and aid -- only the inability of local, national and international systems to respond adequately to such a widespread catastrophe. Blame and fault, sin and evil, are categories that just don't fit here. Rather than pointing fingers at others, we do better to acknowledge our own limitations...

It is in the long-term projects for rebuilding that we must work toward our best understandings of justice for all involved. Let us seek to establish societies that provide care and empowerment for the poor. Let us rebuild with a commitment to the most sustainable societies."


(emphasis mine)