Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Creative Every Day for January 23

Not quite the industrious week as last week, but a few new things.  Among them I collaged my calendar:

finished a journal:

added more pages to another.

Did some drawing while having to sit still in meetings and some of those are being incorporated into a few pieces still in process.

Finishing up a few details on outstanding projects (making an old broken thing new again - pics when done) ...

And trying to remember that when I am attacked it isn't always about me (even when it feels like it)....maybe that is this week's new (again).  

Watch for a piece prominently featuring the warrior princess....she is waiting to be seen. 

Why I love "church" and Jesus

Recently a video entitled “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” has garnered a lot of attention.  While I am not a fan of rap, I do love poetry and the young man certainly has some good points.  I have heard and read a variety of responses to this video.  I appreciate that in going viral this video has forced us to look at, talk about, and think about religion, church, Jesus, and how they are the same and how they are not.

Now unless I have gotten it very wrong, Jesus did not come to “abolish religion” as this young man states, but rather because God loves us.  After the resurrection Jesus seeks out Peter.  This would be the Peter to whom he said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it (Matthew 16.18).”  

If we were able to “get it” on our own and stay strong in our faith we would be able to feed ourselves, stay strong in times of doubt and darkness, and have no need of community.  I have yet to meet a person that can do that on their own.  I believe that is why we have the church.  To hold one another up when we need holding, to love one another when we cannot love ourselves, and to continue seeking after Jesus this side of heaven.

There is much religion or the church has gotten wrong through the years.  There is much we get wrong right here on the corner of Washington and Elk in Fayetteville, Tennessee.  Yet there is much more that we get right.  Some of the them are letting a little girl carry a treasured cross into the sanctuary with the help of her father so she learns she is important and valued in the midst of our liturgy, feeding one who cannot stand long enough to cook her own meal, sitting through the night with one who has fallen and cannot be left alone, allowing questions in the context of study so that all come away with a deeper understanding of God’s word, turning coffee hour into a meal that feeds a single person with more than food, and being a place broken people enter to be with God during the week.  There are many more and likely many I have yet to learn. 

So while there are times we confuse things and make things not of man more important than things of God, I am grateful that we are a work in progress and that God is full of grace and mercy.  I pray that here in our little corner of the world that we as a people called the church and a place known as a church can indeed be an ocean of grace to those in need of refreshment.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Creative Every Day Check in January 16th

The theme for the month of January is "new."  That word is near and dear to my heart entering this year (see post "tion-ing" below).

God has been working in me to allow me courage to try new things and let go of my need to listen to my inner critic as I create. I have had many epiphanies this month (see "God and gesso" and "drying time")as I have trusted and let go of my need to please as I play in my art room.  It has been a safe place to learn, pray, play, and risk.

This week I began two new journals...

No peeking Nana Cat

an attempt to be accountable

Made some thank you gifts for service for some incredibly dedicated and wonderful people...

the picture is of the church doors, the words are prayers

and made a gift for a fellow traveler...

first time using these project boards

All of this is "new" and wonderful and sometimes frightening.  There have been burned fingers, ruined clothes, a few tears, but mostly some incredible lessons and the awe that comes when someone says, "that is beautiful."  And indeed it is!

So come, visit, play, and find "new" with me in my art room.  The door is always open and Joshua always loves new friends!

"I'm so cute, how can she not notice me?"

 And I had a new bloom on my Christmas cactus!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Still Pinching Myself as I Dance

One year ago today I officially became your rector.  In my first Sunday sermon I asked you to respond with me to the invitation of Jesus to “Come and see.”  I reminded you that we are invited to dance with a savior who will step into our lives and our very hearts, shake everything up, and in the midst of that dance, call us.  The last year has been full of many steps and a few missteps, yet what a dance this has been.  

We have said goodbye to beloved brothers and sisters in Christ who were called home or called in new directions.  We have said hello to new brothers and sisters who have become beloved.  We have visited with and been visited by brothers and sisters whose path took them to new places or shared a stop on their way home.

We have prayed together, played together, shared holy meals together, sang together, cried together, laughed together, fussed at one another, supported one another, and continued to grow together in our relationship with God and each other.

The journey has not always been an easy one and sometimes our dance has resulted in us stepping on one another’s toes.  That is part of learning a new dance.  Each of us comes with our view of what the right steps are and sometimes those steps result in a change in the dance.  Sometimes we have to take a break, rest, and start the dance again in a different way.  

The good news is that we are a people who believe in grace.  There have been times we have had to say, “I am sorry,” or “I accept your apology.”  Those are hard words and yet necessary in the life of the church.  Much like a dance in time we begin to move more fluidly together as we let Christ be in the center rather than try to wrest control ourselves. 

Our lectionary now places us at the beginning of the Gospel of John.  We see Jesus inviting Phillip to “follow me.”  That invitation is for us too.  We have had the chance to come and see and now we are called to take that next step.  To actively respond to the invitation to follow Jesus.

Phillip immediately goes and tells Nathaniel about Jesus.  When Nathaniel questions him Phillip’s reply is to “come and see.”  And they go to find Jesus again.  Their dance takes them into new life.

The calling of Samuel is a story familiar to many of us.  We usually focus on the response of Samuel to God, “here am I.”  Yet remember at first Samuel was confused and keeps going to Eli.  It is to Eli he says, here am i.  Samuel is unaware that the one calling is God.  It is not until Eli realizes that it is God speaking that Samuel is able to respond to God’s call.  It is then that Samuel says, “speak for your servant is listening.”

Just as Samuel needed the wisdom of Eli, we need the wisdom of those who have gone before us in the place, the saints that have helped to make this part of the body of Christ what it is today.  We need to remember the steps of the dance they have shared with us.  We learn from their example as well as their missteps.  We carry on the dance which began on that St. Mary Magdalene day over 130 years ago.

We need to listen for and discern God’s call for us today.  What does it mean for us as a worshiping community to follow Jesus?  How are we being called to live that out with and for one another and the communities in which we live, work, study, shop, and play?  

This next year will be a lean one in terms of budgets and pledges, yet that does not mean we limit our response to share the Good News of God in Christ.  It may mean we do so in creative ways as we use our resources wisely.  It may also mean that we discern more carefully how we share our gifts and talents with the world.

So rather than spend money we don’t have on curriculum, can we continue to rely on the gifts and talents of those teaching to develop Sunday school programs that fit the needs of our children?  

Can we do Bible studies relying on our Bibles rather than a program?  

Can we make materials needed for worship as an act of prayer rather than purchase them?

What would our altar look like on the weeks no one signs up for flowers if we brought them from our gardens at home?   What if we planted a garden here?

What would it be like to listen to the Word of God rather than follow a written sheet?

What would it be like if rather than pay an electric bill for those in need, we worked with others to transform lives?

There are many more questions I could pose, but I will leave you to ponder some creative responses to how we move into this phase of the dance.  I will rely on you to listen to how God is calling you to share your gifts and talents in the year to come, how you hear God calling us.

And while we each discern how that is lived out, the good news is we do not do this as individuals, but rather as the Body of Christ lived out in this place we call home.  We do this as we continue to grow together in our understanding of how to love God and love our neighbor.  We do this as we respond to the invitation to “follow me.”  We do this as we continue to learn to dance with our Lord and with one another.  There will still be times we may step on one another’s toes, yet there will be more times when our dance becomes fluid and more intricate.  

We do this as Samuel did by saying, “Speak for your servants are listening.”

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drying Time

 My epiphany today was that just as in art the artist needs to let the layers dry or cure or set, so we must do that in this journey of faith.  
God starts with a blank space,

prepares it,

then slowly builds upon it.

Each layer adds a new texture, a new color, and new things emerge.  

This takes time.  When we rush the process we end up  something less than we can be if we take the time to step back, step away, and let the Holy Spirit work.

Yet if we take that time to let God work in and through us, just like a work of art we have the chance to be more beautiful than we thought we could be.

 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
   we are the clay, and you are our potter;
   we are all the work of your hand.  (Isaiah 64.8)

Mold me Lord and let me allow for drying time.   ~Amen