Monday, August 24, 2009

Faye and the Good Samaritan

We are going to have to get a digital camera at church because it would have been worth the cost just to have a picture of Faye getting beat up by Craig, Jim, and two kids and lying woe-is-me on the floor hamming up the one beset by robbers in the Good Samaritan story. Another picture would have been Joanne (the Good Samaritan) dragging Rick (the donkey) down the center aisle by his ear. Lots of fun.

How do we decide who we help in a world full of suffering and requests for help and when? Once more a lot of wisdom from the congregation shared in church.

Here are the end-points of the conversation:

There are two ways to give to others:


We give because we need to give. Don't count the cost or worry about the consequences. Give and let it go (don't let your right hand know what your left is doing).


Mission is a call. We care that we are indeed helping. It demands relationship and love as the foundation of action and will almost always implicate us in a justice issue.

Ted's Rule #634 of the Spiritual Journey.

Always open your heart when there is suffering, But only do what you are called to do. Corralary: if you aren’t doing what God is calling you to do, you are getting in the way. If you are doing more than God is calling you to do, you are getting in the way.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Greg, er, Craig, uh Greg uh??

See full size imageWhat fun today in church. We were talking about how we make decisions and I called up the three people from the congregation to chairs up front to interview while I gave a brief introduction. When I started to interview them, I noticed that Craig was sitting on the stool. Greg, whom I had asked this week to do the interview, had been sitting with Craig during worship and had told Craig to go up. Ok! Except that all through the service, Greg kept coming up to answer the questions also.

How do we make good choices and follow God? Well, that is how a lot of the time. We think we know what we are doing, but we turn around and everything is different that the plan. It was fun to watch Greg up and down, interested in the questions. It was even more fun knowing that I had planned on asking four people, two men and two women with differing decision styles, but decided on three for time sake. Chance called out the four. God is in the unexpected changes.

Ignatian Process of Discernment

1. Stop
2. Become Free to Make Decisions
3. Surface Ideas (using careful thought, but also imagination).
4. Gather Relevant Data
5. Evaluate Options
6. Test on Congruence with Fruits of the Spirit

(fruits of the spirit from Galatians 5:16-26 look at love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).

Picture found at

Monday, August 10, 2009


Attentive. Prepared. Hopeful. Anxious. Grounded. Present. These were some of the traits we saw from fishing that applied to fishing and waiting for God (a phrase from Psalm 130). Good conversation. Also a thank you send off for all the musical and personal gifts shared with us by Harriet.

My favorite comment of the morning. I sat in the sanctuary with a fishing pole, line out, waiting, asking,

"What am I doing?"

"You're doing it wrong!"

And, I was.

They told me I didn't have my finger on the line to see if there were any strikes. (Thankfully, no one told me I was doing it wrong -- that there is no fishable water anywhere inside the church. Think about it.) Anyway, it was an instructive mistake because that is what we do with God. We ask God a question and then we sit around waiting without anything in motion that would catch a signal if it was sent. We don't know how to listen, who to listen to, or what to listen for.

As I am trying to learn how to fish, that is what I am hearing. Fisherfolk don't just throw lines endlessly into the water. The people that are talking to me know there are fish where they are fishing. That's not the problem, getting them to strike is. Not so for me, I have no idea how to tell if a fish is around. That's how most people pray. They have no idea whether God is around, they just float requests and questions into space and wait to trip over something.

What do you need to learn about how to pray?

picture found at

Friday, August 7, 2009

True Colors

I am getting ready to do another conversational and listening sermon this week on waiting for God, God waiting for us, Silence, Absence. Silence and waiting is where we crystalize, let who we are become transparent and clear. I have been thinking a lot about the Cyndi Lauper song as I have been writing. There is a stunning rendition on YouTube of her singing the song in a little studio on an old Howard Stern show. She does it very raw and direct, hunched over a mic singing her heart out. Here is who I am! Wow!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Waiting for God

On the surface, this statement is a bit ridiculous. How can you wait for a supreme presence that is everywhere all the time? How can you wait for a loving presence that is constantly filling you with life? Dietrich Bonhoeffer says something nice in his short book, "Creation". The creating word of God is a continuing word of God. If God was ever to stop saying our name we would utterly cease to exist. So, every aspect of creation is constantly affirmed (or loved) by the Creator.

But knowing that there is air all around me, and breathing deeply the breath of life are two different things. Knowing that God is everywhere and knowing the God who is everywhere are miles apart. Here is where the waiting comes.

Last week, I mentioned that Christian maturity can be measured by four elements:
grounding in prayer,
an assurance of God's presence,
the freedom to make choices,
and the orientation to service (or better, love).

These will map out the general themes of the next four conversational sermons. This week we will reflect on silence, assurance and prayer as a continual engagement with ineffable presence of God, something we often have no awareness of at all.

So, what does it mean to you to wait for God?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Talking with the Preaching

In our spiritual tradition, God is found in the community of faith (to be sure everywhere else also, if one pays attention). Our Wesleyan tradition values this affirmation highly. In the beginning, the spiritual path was the small group meetings where people shared their own faith with each other and in the sharing found God's Presence and direction.

In the last decades the world has grown wary of experts. We all know the feeling of being duped by someone playing games with statistic and our media attention has wide enough scope to get evidence of almost any view. So, people are beginning to turn to places where real people share what they are going through. It is much more messy than experts, and probably a whole lot less penetrating, but in the mess we find the comfort of authenticity. This is the real strength of blogs, we see not only the resulting reflection but the process. Which is exactly what we found in Wesleyan class meeting. God is not sought in the answer, but in the process, and so the Spirit we discover is a flowing Presence -- a river of life, not a rock of salvation.

This week's sermon and for the next few weeks will flow with this conversation as we learn to discover God's word in our community. We will explore together various aspects of our good news of this conversation.

August 9, 2009 Waiting for God Psalm 130
August 16, 2009 Asking for Wisdom 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
August 23, 2009 Taking off Thick Skins Ephesians 6:10-20
August 30, 2009 Arising to the Beloved Song of Solomon 2:8-13

How did you feel about that this week?