holy vexation

When I came to Richfield UMC seven years ago for my introductory meeting, I was scared and fragile feeling and grief-full.  Could I really make community with these folk, and how was it possible that I could leave beloveds in Duluth?  Would this crazy and audacious process of pairing pastor and congregation to live Christ together really work?

One of the people at the table that night let me know that the Senior Pastor has always led the men’s Bible study, so of course I would do the same.  I asked him if that would be so, given that for the first time their Senior Pastor would be a woman.  He didn’t miss a beat as he assured me that such details didn’t matter.

And so I have gathered every Wednesday at eight o’clock with a dozen or so men who bless me beyond the telling.  We talk about the seemingly unmentionables in church:  politics and sexuality and change and challenge.  We share insights about scripture and life.  We read books and The Book and we laugh plenty, pray, and hold each other when life gets scary.

Today’s epiphany was delivered by the same man who informed me that of course I would lead the men’s Bible Study.  We were finishing up Karen Armstrong’s drink-of-living-water book “The Bible” in which she says over and over that the lens through which we must read scripture is that of compassion and care.  Bible bullets meant to mangle are antithetical to the gifting of God’s invitation to love sung over and over again throughout scripture.

I was bemoaning the ways that hate speech in the name of the Christian movement has moved my children from the lap of church community.  My fellow scholar paradigm-shifted me away from my well-worn lament.

He asked about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Didn’t I suppose that she too worried about her son challenging and walking away from the organized religious community of his parents?  Look what happened to the movement of God in the world when he set out, challenged, and proclaimed a new way.

I’m still grinning.  Because of course he is right.  Whew.  I don’t have to flop around trying to convince the next generation that we (that would be those of us who claim kin called church) really ought be trusted and joined and worked through.

Maybe, like Jesus, they are listening to a deeper voice and following a broader vision than they have heard sung through the church.

I’m hoping that we listen to them and respect them and allow ourselves to be shaped by their challenges.

Worlds are changed by those who vex their parents.

Spring song

Is it just me, or does Spring springing early make it more intense?

Outside my office window the crab apple trees are ready to pop – in mid April!  Scootering down the road my nose encounters blooming trees and back yard barbeques.  The sun feels like blessing, sinking into those light-starved places in my soul that have learned to hibernate during the winter.

All things are possible!

The church is stirring with new life.  My eldest daughter just organized her first (of many, I am sure) major fundraising event in Denver.  My middle daughter is coordinating an eco learning event in the metro due to roll out this Saturday.  My son is playing tennis and zooming through the whee of these days, my guy is shorts wearing and deep breathing and I am almost jangled to confusion by gratitude.

Life is sweet, and good and pregnant with promise. 

All things are possible.


It is possible to be woven into a quilt of the finest and warmest of stuffs.

This I know.  It happened to me last night.

I was back in the midst of a people with whom I had made life for years.  I was invited back to celebrate a ten-year anniversary of a justice event given birth through the hearts and energies and convictions of some of God’s finest souls.  The event was held at the church I had been member of for four years, left, and returned to pastor for five.

There were people there with whom I raised my babies.  People who taught me leadership and life.  People who shared in the symphony that is ministry.  People close to my heart and woven into my life and how can thanks of that magnitude be lived?

I am proud that ten years ago the risk was taken to speak and witness on behalf of glbt folk.  I am proud that we joined with others to advocate for healing the wounds of historic exclusion of same from communities of faith.  I’m proud that a new way was proclaimed and lived.  The church bumped through conflict;  churches often do when they follow the Way.  Grace led us through.

We gathered to celebrate the then and the now stitched together by love holy and fine; compatriots in the making of music, worship, witness, celebration, and life.

The Body alive.


Amazing; truly and wildly amazing.

The sanctuary of the church was literally packed to the rafters on Easter Sunday.  We had two services lush with brass and organ, children’s song and good news and we rolled in hope like joy crazed dogs.

If you have ever wondered if it really matters that you show up at church, stop wondering.  It matters.  It matters that hundreds of people rolled out of bed on Sunday morning and listened to the need of their souls to be in community where hope spoke:  Children in their Easter finery, elders willing to brave chaos to be present in their church, college students and youth group grads reconnecting with their church kin, pastor moms (that would be me) almost levitating with the joy of having their babies present to lend their brass-playing beauty to the mix.  It was a lot to take in.  I’m still digesting!

What I am left with is such gratitude.  The church showed up, witnessed, imagined, and made claim on gospel promises. 

With the Christ, we are risen. 

We are risen indeed!


My mother had a system (of course she did, it is her way!) whose rhythm my sisters and I breathed in.

Saturday mornings were ironing days.  Set up in front of the tv (it lived in the only seemly place; the basement) we girls would steam and fold and press our way through the morning.  The wrinkled became straight.  All was well with the world.

Most of the ironing was my father’s accoutrements:  handkerchiefs (iron flat, fold once and iron, fold again into quarters and iron again), shirts (collars, then sleeves, then side back side) and pants (hold them by the cuffs, let them fall, follow the inside seam line to press).

When parties had occured of the special variety, the pile included table linens.  They were to be found in the refrigerator.  They had been dampened and placed in a bag, thus preparing themselves for the straightening to come.  Proper preparation was a part of the rhythm.

Tomorrow is Easter.  Following two worship services for me and three for Cooper, we will gather at table with the family we share.

I am readying the table.  It is ironing time.  I plug in the iron and settle into the rhythm taught decades ago and I am suddenly moved by the ritual of home making.  My mother is with me:  it is her wedding table-cloth I am smoothing.  My father’s mother is with me:  some of the napkins came to me by way of her trousseau.

As I stand at the ironing board, celebrations of years past flood my heart.  Faces and laughter and feasts thrum in me and while I try to practice short cuts by not preparing the table-cloth as my mother taught me (I have not sprinkled and refrigerated!), I laugh at life and learning and being.

Of course my mother’s methods were right.  Try as I might to shorten or dance from them, I give up trying to get the table cloth to behave according to my schedule.   I go downstairs, wet it, bundle it in a plastic bag and close the refrigerator door with a smile.  My mom was right.  There is a seemly way to things.  Preparation matters.  Sometimes it is ok to acknowledge that.

Rhythm, ritual and savor. 

Holy, holy, holy.

holy week

There is a deepness about this week called “holy”; a deepness of breath, a stilling of pace, a pause.

It is as though the whole swirl of the Christ-among-us is concentrated in these seven days.  The wild unfurling of hope, the stillness and grief of last meals, the betrayals and the turncoat fear and the utter silence after the last is breathed.

We are asked to take these things into our bodies and hold them awhile.  We take them in as witness to the then pain and to the ongoing of the now sorts of crucifixions.  We choose for a time not to look away.

Of course, we know that Easter is coming.  The trumpets and the lilies will declare an end to death and we will know the real of resurrection hope.

But for this week, we becoming willing to bear witness, summoning the courage to know that this deepness is reminder.  For all weeks we are called to see.  To choose not to look away from the instruments of torture – relational, societal, and visceral – that exist yet. 

And we are better for it, this week called “holy”.