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Monthly Archives: October 2011

The ISSUE: Lessons From A Church Meeting

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That’s right. The ISSUE. You know, the issue dividing church congregations across America, causing us to take sides, split apart, be rent asunder. We, who are to be One in spirit, in unity, and in love, are instead many in division, in opinion, in anger and in alienation. You know, the ISSUE.

And no, I’m not talking about bad potlucks. Or boring committees. Or the quality of church tea. (But really, Lipton? Not that Lipton isn’t a fine, upstanding company, I’m sure, but that ain’t tea. Why do the coffee snobs get all the good stuff?) (I digress.)  Of course, it would be great if the meeting of hundreds of interested members I attended this weekend was called to discuss the quality and quantity of our congregational family’s outreach to the poor, or whether or not we were sufficiently welcoming the lonely, broken or sick in our communities into our arms.

But no. It was called because I belong to a traditional Christian denomination (let’s say it rhymes with Shmesbryterian) that is struggling with the issue of gay and lesbian members in positions of church leadership. The meeting was called to educate and inform the congregation about denominational events on the national level, biblical background for the two major positions, and to recap the work that had been done in our congregation. Following that was an opportunity to break into small groups and be heard, to ensure that all opinions were reaching the ears of leadership.

People, I gotta tell you, lessons were learned. Because I’m a giver, and those lessons will sink in to my head better if I’m forced to write them down, I thought I’d share them with you. To be clear, this post is not my statement on the issue, nor arguments to change anyone’s mind. That is another post, if it is a post at all. These are just lessons and observations. Three of them, in honor of the 3-point sermon tradition…..plus one more because I really have four.

4. Leadership, well done, is a towering act of love.  I truly do not think I have ever seen a more practical, real example of this than Sunday afternoon. I cannot imagine the time our senior pastor put into this presentation, the preparation, the planning and consideration, or the prayer. Or how many brothers and sisters in Christ prayed him to it and through it. But it was evident in every respectful, careful, and loving word he said. He was logical and emotional, respectful and firm, thorough and concise. He walked us through an issue that could have left us splintered, grieving and broken, and brought us to a meaningful position from which to cling together. I left in awe of and grateful for his leadership. I want to grow up and be just like that. But inevitably louder and a good deal more obnoxious, I am afraid.

3. That whole thing about what happens when we assume, and what it makes out of you and me? Truth. I was reminded how difficult it is when smart, thoughtful, prayerful, good people come down on radically different sides of an issue.(Side note A: If any non-Christians ever read this post, please be assured that even within my small denomination there is widespread, LOVING disagreement on this issue and many others. We are dumb humans, trying to figure it out. Side note B: If any gay or lesbian Christian or non-Christian ever reads this post, please know that my (probably not Shmesbryterian) God loves you unconditionally. Period. Not trying to be pushy. Just sayin’.)

In the listening group, I saw the fallout in difficult assumptions that came out just in my small group of 4-5 people. We represented both sides, and hurtful assumptions were made about “my” side. Assumptions are short-sided, and they are the death of good dialogue.

2. Humility will take us all a great, great distance. This was true both in the presentation (for good) and in the listening group I participated in at the end (maybe not for good).  As Christ Himself did not say anything about the ISSUE in the Scriptures, we simply CANNOT be entirely sure what He would say. I know I do not want to be caught someday looking in His eyes, trying to justify what I had claimed He would say or want, or the resulting actions I took from such a claim. Please save me from that arrogance. At the very least, I think we need to hold any position with a degree of “this is the best I can do as a fallible human being and I could well have it entirely mucked up.” Such humility, liberally applied with love and mercy, would serve us all well, even when we feel the need to take a stand. (I must remind myself of this frequently, as I can wield righteous indignation with the best of them.)

My final lesson, which I think I will be pondering for a long time to come:

1. We are likely to find more of Christ, and to look more like Christ, when we CHOOSE the  inherent messiness of living out our faith with people with whom we disagree. We may allow God to do a far bigger work in us when we choose to be with those with whom we differ, and argue, and struggle.

In a world that pushes us to polarize, to separate, to split into red and blue, black and white, for and against…….to choose to stay together? Oh, this is the radical choice. But if we do it the world’s way? When we separate ourselves into comfortable little camps that look like us, think like us and feel like us, we are in danger of reducing Christ to a god who merely looks like us, thinks like us and believes like us. Lord, have mercy.

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You Must Watch This Video….right after you read my blog

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Often in this blog, if I am making some sort of bossy, pushy and emotionally compelling demand such as the one in today’s title, I will be linking to something that I find Really Important. Good works that you could support, if only you knew about them.

Today is different. Today, I want you to watch this video because I don’t want to be the only one standing alone in my kitchen, snorting and laughing at my computer. That would be pathetic, so help a girl out. I found this video via Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like. Jon makes me laugh through his blog on a regular basis, and we are great friends. Only he doesn’t know that yet. But he will. He and his wife Jenny and my husband and I are going to be awesome Christian couple friends, as soon as I figure out how to get 7 years younger and 75% cooler.

However, I digress. This video is awesome, and I think I have just found my latest Internet time-suck in Tyler and Tripp. Watch for detail people, and listen close, cause there is lots of awesome to be had.  Enjoy, and let me know if you liked it too!

WUNX = Enough Joy

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Today was a generally crappy day. Just the way it happens. Some days are crappy.

I thought it would be a super productive day, but it was not.

I thought my five-year-old would shake his fever. He did not.

I thought I would avoid (potentially hormonal) fits of malaise and hypochondria in which I was sure I was coming down with his fever. I did not.

Had I thought about it, I would have hoped to avoid frustration, pain and confusion resulting from the NEVER-ENDING saga that can be extended family. Nope, I didn’t.

However,  days like today remind me that if I stay focused on the right Source, the joy will come. Not overabundant quantities of joy, not endless supplies of say, sleep, chocolate, Sour Skittles, sun and sandy beaches. No, no, just….enough joy.

Enough to remind me that there is good in the world. That I can laugh, and I should. That while I am worrying (needlessly) about things over which I have no control, that God has my back. And that He knows when I need a giggle, so I can get up and do it again tomorrow.

Today my five-year-old invented his own form of New Math, a sophisticated blend of linguistic symbology and algebraic representation. It will probably help us stabilize wormholes or polarity fields or something in the future. Oh, have I not mentioned he is a genius? I’m not bragging just cause he’s my kid, it’s quite simple. He’s a genius. What’s that? No, I do not think it was a fever-induced vision…..

We were having a jovial disagreement about the merits of his breakfast, sort of a “no, it isn’t” “yes, it is” kind of a thing. I said “well, what do you know? You’re five!” To which he said, “Oh, yeah? Well, I know what 1 plus X is! Wunx!” Wait for it…think about it……

Wunx. Also pronounced wuncks. Brilliant.

Just. Enough. Joy.

Carry on.

Note: my brilliant, fever-dreamin’ boy swears he made this up, and did not hear it from Spongebob or elsewhere. If that is not the case, you may burst my bubble, cause it will still make me giggle. And that is the point.

I Am the Avoider

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Yeah, that didn’t happen. I start a new job tomorrow, one with promise and potential to be rewarding, and to use my skills for a good purpose. And a week ago, when last I posted, I knew what I needed to do:

“Goal 2 – Mental meditation and reset: I start a new part-time job in a week or so, and I need to fully process this exciting new opportunity and work through incorporating it into our family life. This will require lots of quiet time, alone, to think. Oh, I’m SURE I’ll have lots of that this week.”

Nope, didn’t happen. Not even close. What extra time I did have this week went directly to other pursuits, such as a tasty new recipe for chocolatey oatmeal bars, new fall TV, and the relative merits of flea medications for cats. Oh, I jest somewhat, as the week was also full of Important Family Stuff, and Important Church Stuff.

The truth is, I can be a bit of an avoider. Sometimes thinking about Big Stuff can be overwhelming, so I only allow myself little bits and bites of it at a time, letting it sift through the other topics on my mind and sneak into my full consciousness without really focusing on it. Or I talk about it with all my girlfriends, and my mom, and my husband (at least ’til his eyes glaze over, guy-style), and then I figure I’ve handled it.

Sequester myself to think it through, alone? Who has the time? Even less likely, sequester myself to take it to the One Who already knows how it will turn out – why on earth would I do that? Because if I don’t think about it, it might go away. And if I don’t pray about it, I don’t have to trust Him to help me, or risk that He won’t help me the way I want.

In truth, I know that in time alone, I can tease out my concerns, my fears, and my next steps. In conversation with Him, I can share the weight of those concerns, safely face those fears, and seek His guidance on the next steps.

But no, I continue to stumble along in the dark, taking a gamble on my abilities to see it through.  Then I wind up being about as effective as my dining room light:

On my own, I'm about this effective...

Why, yes, I have considered a career as a photographer, why do you ask? Oh, I kid….

Can you believe that NONE of the bulbs in this fixture are burnt out, even though only one is lit (the rest is just reflection)? None of them. They just won’t stay on for more than a millisecond at a time, and unless I can find a solution, I may have to switch out the entire light fixture. Which would be tragic, because it has my favorite design quality: it’s Swoopy. Swoopy is a hard-to-pinpoint, unique quality that I find very pleasing, and that this fixture displays in quantity. If only it was able to actually produce light, as well…..

SEE? See how I make that clumsy graceful comparison? I am but a 5-light fixture burning only one bulb at the moment, not producing nearly the light I could in the world….Really, the potential metaphors are nearly endless – I am but the Bulb, and Christ is my electricity.

If my fittings are loose, I can’t use the juice. OK, I don’t know what that one means, exactly, but points for the rhyme!

OK, it’s cheesy, but it’s what I’ve got tonight. Thanks for coming by to bask in my dim light, I’m off to do a little thinking, and sharing, and maybe even some quick recharging.

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