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Showing posts from 2017

Learning, always learning

When I was five years old my mother decided to divorce my birth father, making her a single mom with three kids in 1962. A few years later my mom married again, and that man adopted my brothers and I, making us a legal family. After that my mom cut us off from my birth father and his family, and I did not see any of them for over 20 years. Even when we reconnected we were never able to rebuild a consistent stable relationship, perhaps that was part of the problem in the first case, and why my mom got divorced? 
Family relationships can be complicated. The stories in the Book of Genesis of Abraham, Sarah and their son Isaac along with the Hagar and her son Ishmael remind me that all human relationships are complicated. 
The reading this morning reveals just how complicated things were for Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham. First of all, who are these people? Sarah and Abraham were called by God, who led them into the wilderness with the promise that they would build a great nation. Along the way…

Playing for Hope

My family and I once lived in a community with a high percentage of immigrants from Serbia-Croatia, people who had fled the war in the early 1990’s. My son is still friends with some of the kids he met.
 It was on May 27, 1992, only two days after my son was born, when a line of people, waiting to get bread from the only shop in Sarajevo with flour, was attacked, leaving 21 people dead. Despite the violent attack, the next day people were back in line for bread. They could die from starvation or they could die trying to get food.
A Bosnian man named Vedran lived across the street from the bakery and witnessed the shooting. Vedran had been a cellist in the Opera Theater before the war closed it down. So the day after the shooting Vedran dressed in his concert black suit and tie, crossed the street, sat down in a chair, and began to play his cello for those waiting in line. Every day for twenty one days he came and played Albinoni’s Adagio. He played for all that was lost. He played for a…

Riddle me the Trinity

Today is Trinity Sunday. It always follows the Sunday of Pentecost, and it launches the long Season after Pentecost, also known as “Ordinary Time” which continues through November, until Advent begins. To help us understand a bit about the complex nature of trying to explain the Trinity, one God in three persons, I’m starting with a few riddles
You will always find me in the past. I can be created in the present, but the future can never taint me. What am I? (History)
 You can see me in water, but I never get wet. What am I? (A reflection)
I am a ship that can be made to ride the greatest waves. I am not built by tool, but built by hearts and minds. What am I? (Friendship)
What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening? (Human beings)
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Okay. The last one, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” is a spiritual question. Unlike a riddle, a spiritual question, known as  a “Koan,”in Buddhism, has no specific answe…

For the sport of it...

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This past week was, for me, an incredible journey, driving with my son across the amazing country we live in. The goal of the trip was to get him and his car to Seattle, where has moved to start his first job and launch his career, post college. We also had to do an extensive apartment search to find him a place to live, which we did! Following I-90, the drive out west, through the fast paced highways of Chicago, the rolling green hills of the Mississippi River in Minnesota, the spectacular beauty of the Badlands and the unexpected grandeur of Custer State Park in South Dakota, the vast and unique glory of Yellowstone with its hot springs and geysers, from the stunning Rocky Mountains to the rich green Cascade Mountains and the Puget Sound of Seattle, left my son and I in a constant state of awe. At one point I even said that my eyes were growing numb from the ceaseless beauty we beheld. We were also entertained by the wildlife, the prairie dogs sounding their alarm as we drove by, am…

Women Rising

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The Episcopal Women’s Caucus has long been an advocate for justice and a change agent in the Episcopal Church, standing firmly at the nexus of sexism, misogyny, racism, ageism, and heterosexism in the church. It formed in 1971 as a caucus, not a committee or task force, making explicit its founders’ intention to be a politically potent agent in the polity of the church.
The Caucus’ advocacy initially focused on advocating for women’s ordination and the full inclusion of women in the governance and ministries of Church life. The Caucus’ focus on gender equality not only raised the Church’s awareness of adverse practices that enable sexism and other power inequities, it also worked with other social justice advocacy groups to help the church understand the interlocking nature of oppressions. The Caucus works under the umbrella of The Consultation, which also includesAssociated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry Advocates, Episcopalians on Baptismal Mission, E…

Encounter Love

On a beautiful Sunday morning, in an old white stucco church with red doors and antique wood pews, a young couple baptized their first baby, a little boy.  Dan and I, and our two small children were present. I was in seminary at the time and our parish priest was a semi-retired gentle old man who had moved to the area because his wife took a prestigious position as the head chaplain at a local retirement community. Although I was only beginning to learn about liturgy and the sacraments, I was surprised when the priest eliminated portions of the baptism service, specifically all references to sin as it pertained to the infant being baptized. Later when I asked the priest about this he said that the couple could not imagine their precious new born baby being sinful and they didn’t want the idea of evil to be associated with the baptism. I understood that, newborn babies being sweet, innocent, and a gift of joy and delight. Apparently, this has had a lasting impact on me because now when…

Speaking one's mind, telling one's heart, becoming living water

I had a sixteen year hiatus from church between the years I was fifteen and thirty-one. In my late twenties, when I began to think about my spiritual life and contemplated going to church I was hesitant, fearful. Like most fears my fear was not rational. I was afraid that going to church would mean that I would lose myself. Growing up I was always the obedient daughter who excelled at life, but I never voiced my own opinions. I lost my self in what others wanted me to be and do. The church of my childhood reinforced that role for girls and daughters and I was a good little girl. But when my family left the church and stopped practicing Christianity, I had the opportunity to rethink everything and figure out who I was and what I wanted. So finding out as a 28 year old that I was being pulled back into church life was powerful and terrifying. But my desire to return was two-fold: I wanted a community where I could belong with a group of people who had similar life experiences and hopes …

Just, Humane, a spiritual examen of self

When Dan and I were first married he worked in the computer industry designing and selling systems, from servers to computers to software, from installation to training, to law schools, universities, and graphic artists, primarily using Apple products. Beginning in the 1980’s including the twenty-two years that Dan worked in that industry, I’ve been inundated with technology. We had one of the very first Apple desktop computers. I was in seminary in the mid 1990’s when I first started using the internet, on a dial-up access, to do research for papers. I’ve built websites and Facebook pages and blogs for myself and churches I've worked for, including this church, and as well as for the many social justice groups I work with. Soon my son will graduate from Eastern with a degree in internet security, which is primarily about preventing hacking but also considers internet law and ethics. Dan, Peter, and I have lively conversations about all of this, although my input is primarily on t…

Holy Habits

When my children were little we had a daily habit of praying two prayers. One was the prayer before meals:
Bless us oh Lord and these thy gifts which are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen. 
The second one I prayed with each child at bedtime. It comes from the New Zealand Prayerbook: 
Dear God, Thank you for today. I am sorry if I have been unkind to anyone. Help us to forgive each other. Thank you for my family and friends. Please be with me tonight. Amen. 
The bedtime prayer in particular became an opportunity for me to talk with my children about our day, what had gone well, to reflect on occasions to forgive and be forgiven, to consider how we responded to life’s challenges, and how we might respond better the next time. 
As an adult my preferred way of praying is in silence. I spend 30 minutes every day in silent prayer. I give myself over to that liminal space and open myself to the possibility that God may speak into my life. I learned how to pray this w…