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Archive for February, 2011

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Spirit,

As we continue our series When Christians Get It Wrong, we look this week at the perception of those outside the church that Christians are anti-gay. Of all the words young adults have used to describe the church: judgmental, hypocritical, sheltered, intolerant of other religions, anti-scientific– anti-gay is the one probably that hurts the most because it’s the one I am least able to defend– our UM policies do single out gay people for discrimination. Amy DeLong, one of the editors of the book, The Loyal Opposition, which we read in our Reconciling Study, has been charged and will face a trial for violating church law. Here’s the news service storyand a powerful response by a group of retired bishops calling for the church to remove its oppressive language and celebrate the gifts of its gay and lesbian pastors. Here’s the trial website in case you want to support Amy through this process. I hope you’ll add Amy and the denomination to your prayer concerns.

As to the critique that Christians aren’t critical thinkers and are anti-science…. there’s a growing movement trying to combat that perception. This weekend over 600 congregations –from 50 United States, 13 countries, and 6 continents– will celebrate religion and science as part of Evolution Weekend.

Here’s how you can participate:

A conversation with Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution (among others), will stream live over the internet on Evolution Weekend as part of a new venture with Countryside Church called Darkwood Brew.  Darkwood Brew streams from a coffeehouse setting in Omaha where folks who are physically present interact with people from all over the world who are looking for a more open, intellectually-honest form of Christianity.  It’s a unique experience that mixes modern technology, world-class jazz, biblical scholarship, arts, and ancient contemplative practices in a mix called Pneuma Divina.  They’ve been streaming Darkwood Brew since November and already it has caught the attention of MTV, who sent a crew out in December.  February 13th’s episode of Darkwood Brew will feature a dialog between Michael Zimmerman, Professor of Biology at Butler University, and Michael Dowd.  Immediately following Darkwood Brew, Dowd will be taking questions live over the internet.

Anyone who wishes to participate, get online at 6 pm EST/5 pm CST at www.darkwoodbrew.org on Sunday, February 13th.  Or, if they can’t make it to the live broadcast, the recorded version posts shortly we go “off the air”.  Episodes since Jan 9th are currently posted for viewing.

Adam Hamilton writes:
“Following Jesus can be more about open doors than locked fences, more about serving people than judging them, more about joyful living than angry fighting.”

Certainly I’ve experienced that truth in the open, joyful, servant way Amy DeLong has conducted herself and her ministry over the years. She has been a leader in the call for reconciliation and holds great hope that the church will live into a new more open, more gracious way of being the body of Christ.

Shalom,
Pastor Kelly

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Winter Poem

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Spirit,

Trying to rake the snow off the parsonage roof, I’ve discovered muscles I never knew I had. My core is sooooo sore–perhaps I should create a new spiritual discipline–shallow breathing. Perhaps below the layers of fat is a ripped abdomen.

Here’s another winter poem I came across from The Circle of Life…. (I just love that second stanza):

All through the night into the morning hours
cold beads of rain
ice the tree’s dark branches.

The trees are strong; they do not bend
and this becomes their downfall.
When you do not bend, you break.
The icy day becomes my classroom.

Near the ice sculptured trees
frozen little bushes, vines, and cedars
are bowed low in adoration,
bent, but not broken.

The frozen trees, sad and beautiful,
moan and sway with the weight of reality.
Lovely ice sculptured arms
yield to the bitter truth of the moment
as the silence is harshly broken.

In its wake, a deafening silence
rises up from deep inside
where my tears are frozen
like the beads of rain
that fell through the night.

How do we name what happens
without condemning it?
This is nature’s way;
there were no developers present.

Was the rain unkind to freeze?
Did it have a choice?
Do we have a choice
to bend or break,
to destroy or build?

Sometimes I fear reality.

— Macrina Wiederkehr

We have a beautiful winter anthem tomorrow as well as an important discussion about how we think about suffering and what we say to others when bad things happen. The research shows that many of the things we say in the face of suffering pushes people away from God. Take your time driving in tomorrow and walk carefully across the parking lot that was well-manicured today.

If you’re looking for a good movie during a snow day (looks like we may have a few opportunities this week)… Check out The Infidel. It’s a humorous exploration of identity and ethnic realities and stereotypes when Mahmud Nasir, successful business owner, and salt-of-the-earth Muslim discovers that he’s adopted – and Jewish.

Shalom,
Pastor Kelly

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Winter Blessing

Groundhog Day

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Spirit,

Just in case the icy mix is getting you down. . . . here’s a winter blessing to help broaden your perspective as you shovel and rake.

Blessed are you, winter, dark season of waiting,
you affirm the dark seasons of our lives,
forecasting the weather of waiting in hope.

Blessed are you, winter, you faithfully guard a life unseen,
calling those who listen deeply
to discover winter rest.

Blessed are you, winter, frozen and cold on the outside,
within your silent, nurturing womb
you warmly welcome all that longs for renewal.

Blessed are you, winter, your bleak, barren trees
preach wordless sermons about emptiness and solitude.

Blessed are you, winter, you teach us valuable lessons
about waiting in darkness with hope and trust.

Blessed are you, winter, season of blood red sunsets,
and star-filled, long, dark nights,
faithfully you pour out your beauty.

Blessed are you, winter, when your tiny snowflakes
flurry through the air, you awaken our sleeping souls.

Blessed are you, winter, with your wild and varied moods,
so intent on being yourself,
you refuse to be a people-pleaser.

Blessed are you, winter, when ice storms crush our hearts and homes,
you call forth the good in us as we rush to help one another.

Blessed are you winter, your inconsistent moods
often challenge spring’s arrival,
yet how gracefully you step aside
when her time has come.

The Circle of Life by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr

How do we hold hope in the midst of the uncertainty?
This Sunday, our series on When Christians Get it Wrong, turns to how we deal with suffering. Leslie Weatherhead in The Will of God suggests we need to think clearly about suffering before disaster falls upon us,  “for when the storm is raging it is too late to talk about the anchor that should have been put down before the storm began.”

Somewhere this morning (lots of places probably), there is a concern that a roof will collapse and already this week someone has been injured falling from their roof. There are trucks jack-knifed on the pike, there are more leaks than we have buckets for, a neighbor has $2,000 worth of car damage when hit after inching out from the snow bank blocked side street. Most of Springfield’s homeless have made it shelters but there are others who struggle to keep their place warm. Insurance agents struggle under the weight of work while homeowners struggle with the weight of roof rakes. Children are getting cabin fever.

And yet . . . .
There is baking going on — a beef stew down the street, a fruitcake here.
Old board games are being re-discovered and slime is being made and played with (see recipe below).
Neighbors help each other and a snow blower is shared.
Families check in on one another. A woman calls on a neighbor when she needs assistance.
Books are being read, movies watched, couples are reconnecting, prayers are being said.
In the icy storm, there is a place for winter wisdom.

Shalom,
Pastor Kelly

Reminders:

  • SuperBowl Grinders scheduled to be made this Saturday (when another storm is projected).  Pick up on Sunday.
  • Stewardship Meeting, Feb 10, at 7.
  • Men’s Fellowship scheduled for Feb 12. Youth are headed to Camp Aldersgate that day.
  • Slime
    • Mix: 1 cup white glue, 1 cup water, food coloring.
    • Mix until dissolved: 1 tablespoon Borax, 1 cup hot water.
    • Combine glue mixture and Borax mixture in a large bowl. You can use a spoon or your hands. Let the slime sit in the bowl for a few minutes until more of the water is absorbed.
    • Explore and play. Have fun stretching, rolling, cutting and exploring the unique properties of slime! (Slime sticks to textiles so play with slime over a non-carpeted surface. Store in an airtight container.

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