life

Awaken Me, Plz?

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Monday Bring ItI need to wake up. It’s Monday. It’s a Monday of Mondays… I mean, it feels like a Monday’ing, Monday’er, Monday’ifferic Monday kinda Monday… but it’s our Monday. Let’s drop a boom on it. Let’s make it OUR Monday, YOUR Monday, MY Monday. Let’s make it GOD’S Monday. Let’s make it a Monday to love, to learn and to serve.

Let’s make it a Monday to shape the rest of the week. Let’s make it a template for prayer, life and struggle. Let’s awaken to what is happening all around us and our value as participants, not victims. Let’s begin now to create something of this Monday and this week that we can be glad of, happy in and remember fondly.

Harness some God juice (not talking about coffee) and roll into the day with a song between your ears and a burning in your heart. We are called to make this week not to be rolled by it. We are called to sanctify this day, not to hide and cringe from the light. Need a hand up? Grab a friend or a beloved. Need a touch of wisdom in your cup? Ask God to awaken it and 1377071_10151917020710673_1478156934_nenliven it in you.

Begin this day and this week with a prayer that becomes a chant that becomes an education that becomes a fire that becomes a lifestyle that becomes a strength that becomes a peace that overcomes. Begin this day with a mantra of intention and a dream of action. Begin this day and this week with a hope of awakening.

We’re trying. God is helping. Bring it.

AMDG, Todd

Light Not Overcome by Darkness

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Advent Logo 2014 Week oneIn this first week of Advent many of us are asking hard questions about race and justice. Many of us are trying to understand how we can repair the hurt and divisions in our nation and among our people. But others of us don’t seem to even be trying to understand the pain and view from the other side, more comfortable in a perceived sense of rightness.

At Church in Bethesda we begin Advent with the introduction to Jesus from John’s Gospel; it’s a cosmic intro like none of the other accounts. Here’s John, speaking of Jesus, John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John begins to tell us about Jesus by going back to the beginning of the beginning with language that sounds very much like a creation narrative. John goes to the beginning of the beginning to make Jesus central in the creative power and meaning of God’s presence and work to bring the world into being. In doing so John calls Jesus the Word, the logos of God. The Word was of God, with God and was God’s activity.

This is a special way to present Jesus. Though we may think it easy to relate to Jesus as a baby in Luke’s Gospel, a child and a human being, I think John is doing a cool thing by calling Jesus Word. I think John is teaching us about Jesus by reminding us about ourselves.

Word.

Is there another species on the planet using words as we use them? We have the singular gift of speech and word, written and spoken. We tell stories, our stories. We write our stories down and share them. You’re reading my blog. I can’t help myself, I have to craft some words and throw them out there in the hopes that someone else will read, comprehend and maybe even appreciate them.

Jesus is Word just as he is light and life. This is a connection point to for us to the divine. One of the beautiful movements of John’s passage is highlighted later in these verses, John 1:12-14

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only [Son], who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus entered creation to bring us into the divine. He came into our world to raise us out of it and into the world beyond us, born of divine will. He was begotten so that we might be begotten again into newness. He came here and identified with us so we could be identified anew into the thereness of heaven’s will. This is story, word and meaning.

Our words have power and meaning just as the Word in John’s introduction was also the life and light of all people. Jesus will later call us the “light of the world” in Matthew’s Gospel, further emphasizing our shared role in his story of bringing light and life to our planet, to our people.

We relate to Jesus not only in our shared human infancy, but in our shared words of light and life, a shared mission and purpose in creation. We are a blend of human and divine, as was Christ, made so by Christ, and now continuing the great work of Christ begun at the beginning of beginnings.

The Work of Advent.

I know we usually talk about the waiting of Advent, but John reminds us that we stand singularly among creation as co-light and co-life with the Word and the Word’s work in Advent. Even in the first week, with only one candle lit, and the light seeming so small, the work moves on. Even in a broken world, in broken times, when the darkness seems so strong and justice so elusive, our words are still so needed.

IHS Sun LogoShine your light. Speak life. Believe. Own your begottenness and know that the darkness runs before your light. The darkness cannot overcome or commandeer your light. Even if some don’t understand and even if your own don’t celebrate your light, it must still shine. Your words must still be life giving and creative.

This is an Advent Season to embrace our calling. In the face of whatever frustration or disappointment or darkness we see, shine on in life and love! And let’s make our Advent prayer one of purpose and joy to our God, Psalm 19:14 adapted with John 1…

“May all the words of our mouths be life and light in the world,
and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing and part of your great work,
oh God of Creation, our Hope and our Divine Parent!”

AMDG, Todd

 

The Thing Is, I Wanna Be Your Pastor

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Puzzle Cross BlueI have no idea what you think of when you hear the word “pastor.” I can hope you hear “pasture” and that you can imagine a shepherdess or a shepherd, and green fields with blue skies and cool air. I hope you don’t see an angry face of someone who lacks faith in you or lives to adjust you, change you or rule you. I hope you can imagine a person of grace, joy, humility and imperfection. I hope that you can imagine a friend and a companion.

I whipped up this image of a puzzle piece cross to emphasize that I believe in and trust in the scriptures that teach our completeness when together and our deep need of each other. Maybe we’ll explore some of those passages through July.

I want to be your pastor.

I want to be your pastor because I need you. Yes I’m paid to be a pastor, and I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to be supported as the pastor of a congregation, but that only meets the financial needs of my life and my family. It’s the people who choose to savor grace with me, those that carry me along with them and I carry them with me, who keep me choosing day after day and year after year to be a pastor.

pas·tor, noun 1. a minister or priest in charge of a church.
2. a person having spiritual care of a number of persons.

All through July of 2014 I’d like to work on some various expressions of why I’d like to be your pastor. You see, I want to be your pastor even if you don’t attend my congregation. I want to be your pastor even if you don’t call yourself a “Christian.” I want to do life with you and I offer myself to you as a friend, a neighbor and a pastor.

I don’t really like the “in charge” part of the above definition. I prefer the “spiritual care” part, but I don’t want you to think that liking the word spiritual implies that I have a dualistic sacred & profane, spiritual & secular divide for thinking about and doing life. Pastoring is a shared caring. We walk through all the things of life together and I don’t have a list of life’s stuff I don’t want to share with you.

It’s July 1st and if I’m your pastor, then hear me say that I am thrilled to be your pastor! I love the people with whom I am blessed to do life! And if you have never thought of me as your pastor, then think again. I’m at your service. I offer myself to you.

I’m not sure what all I’ll write about in July, but I’m excited to start the process of praying and thinking and expressing something I’ve wanted to blog about for a while: I want to be your pastor. Let me also invite you to ask me a question you’ve always wanted to ask a pastor. Something on your mind? I’m at your service.

Be safe this July 4th weekend, ok?

AMDG, Todd

sacred unease (a poem for nov. 1 2012)

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still grey skies
mock the storm in my soul
as a sacred unease
rises, shifts and rolls
i cannot name the thing
which inside me grows

This often happens when I sit to intentionally write some poetry. A still, quiet moment allows me to hear some of my more painful inner movements that are drowned out in the usual activity of the day. It’s not that I’m totally filled with melancholy, but it’s there.

In recent months I’ve been in several different situations discussing the impact of depression on our lives and those conversations have had me thinking. I have lived with the ebb and flow of depression as long as I can remember. I don’t think it’s ever outright owned me, but it’s been there. I’ve learned to watch the seasons and to be aware of their impact on my moods. I’ve learned to listen to the people who love me and live with me; Teresa will let me know when I seem to be letting it get an upper hand.

I’ve been thinking about some of the ways that being a person of faith has impacted the way I deal with my depression and darker moods. I think that growing up with a “seen and unseen” worldview has been helpful for me. I was raised to put my faith in something beyond my senses, beyond my ability to perceive, as I could perceive other things. So when the dark thoughts come and I perceive no hope, I have this reflex to look past it and try to see what may not be seen.

I have a cognitive trigger built into me that causes me to seek. When I seek I am in movement. When I am in movement I cannot be held in the grip of anxiety, fear or hopelessness for too long. So when I am in the grip of depression, it never holds all of me, there is a bit of me still free to roam.

I’m not saying that this idea is a panacea or a magic cure all of some kind. And there will always be times when our imbalanced physiology demands the help of trained professionals, both for counseling and for medication. When I stop seeking, then I think it will be time for me to see a professional.

But having that safety valve built into me allows me to be very open about the presence of darkness in my soul. I can deal with the fact that even as a creature of the light, I retain these shadows; I own the shadows. But the shadows don’t own me. I’m grateful to God for this. And so even as I write something that questions what “inside me grows” I am also very assured that it will not one day rule me and destroy me, or supplant in me what God would do. My unease is sacred.