sniff

I forget. I flat-out forget.

I forget that I am a woman pastor and that somehow my gender combined with my role is offensive to some.

I forget.  And then I run into the barbed wire of suspicion or the distaste of those who are quite clear in their minds and expressed sentiments that I am abomination.

I will admit that it wounds, this sniffing around my being for the sure-to-be-found pollution lurking in my unseemly-vocationed self.  Barely hidden sneers, voiced longings for the “good old days” when pastors were men and a man could have a pastor, the boycotting of community based in some part upon the gender of the Lead Pastor; all are real and on good days they roll off the sure of my soul that speaks of God’s calling of me to this work.

But some days, I gets tired.  Some days, I ache for a world in which we are seen as the Christ first, and the dreaded other, second.  Some days I want to let fly my anger about being assumed upon.  Some days I want to weep, knowing that what I am living is a picnic compared to my sisters who have gone before.

And the waste of the power of the Holy is ongoing.

yes we can

I had a magic red ticket.

It took me through secret service checkpoints and through a maze of barriers and it took me right into the VIP section for today’s rally for Mark Dayton and his bid for governorship of Minnesota.

I was there for the main attraction:  President Barack Obama was speaking on the University of Minnesota campus.  He was there to remind us all that within us each resides the power of the vote and the power of passion and influence.

I was there with my daughter, who was the generator of said magic ticket.  Her friend is an advisor of Obama’s who urged Leah to fly from Denver to Mpls for the event.  Of course she did.  I got to be her date.

We zipped on the pink scooter through the streets of downtown Minneapolis (I am now well aware that the end of October means chill in the air), laughing all the way.  That was on the way there.  On the way home we were flying and laughing and so moved by the experience.

We were there.  In a field house filled with Minnesota goodness:  Garrison Keillor was a mere ten people away, Tubby Smith was resplendent in his Gophers regalia, Senators and Representatives and people of all skin hues, ages and walks of being were gathered and together we made a ruckus when Obama took the stage.

I don’t know how any person has the soul strength to withstand the barbs and the skullduggery that politics seems to inspire.  Persons willing to lead are scapegoated so thoroughly:  fears of a people get slathered all over their beings and facts matter less than the delight of naming a nemesis.

The text I’m preaching on tomorrow has to do with having the faith it takes to allow our own goodness and potential to be nurtured and shared with a world desperate for the light that is ours to shine.

And so I pray for all people:  keep your light lit.  Keep your light lit when people fear change so much that they will take to the light with oxygen-killing condemnation and derision.

We are meant-to-be-shared light, we followers of the Way.  Oh, yes we can.  And must. And God willing, we do.

wide open space

Yesterday a friend died. 

It felt, literally, as though a huge cosmos breath had been cycled through and with it the light and zap of Loren was released into all that is.

I know in soul-marrow territory that he is embraced and freed and for that I celebrate.  After three years of struggle to stop the growth of over-zealous cells, Loren allowed himself to be led into new life.

Here’s the thing.  His witness was of the life-changing variety.  He had passion for life and earth and love and an abiding impatience with archaic and stuck ways of thinking.  He was nettlesome and brilliant.  And, later on in life, he apprenticed himself to the finest teacher he could have prayed for his good Creator to send:  his wife, Candace.  Through her good, her love, and her partnership, Loren learned breath and gratitude.

His last breath left his body yesterday but the breath of his witness continues to be breathed:  Through the organic farmers with whom he labored, by body and heart children and grandchildren, by fledglings in ministry taken up by his imagination and placed into pulpits and voice, by friends and by colleagues and by an earth heard and honored.

So Loren, we breathe thanks for your being and we acknowledge the wide and open space that holds your hum.

God speed.

organ transplant

We are blessed with the gift of a new organ – of the pipe variety – at church.

And oh, it is a marvelous and challenging thing, this new life.  It would seem easy to pluck out the old, install the new, and all is swell and good.

But wait!  Putting a new organ in an old body is never a breeze.  The body is used to compensating for the less-than-functioning and even if it is not optimal, the old organ is known.  Things clank along and the systems work in their hampered and known way.

Well, with a new organ, adaptations have to be made in its body space.  In order for the organ to sing with its full gusto, flooring and space and lighting and sound issues have to be addressed.  It would be flat-out goofy to put a new organ in “diseased tissue” surroundings and expect it to fully function.

So a team of health professionals is at work in our church.  We are meeting and praying and visioning and truth be told we are sometimes overwhelmed (I know I am!) by the shifts and adaptations that are needed to welcome new life.

I pray for a spirit of collaboration and laughter and wonder and gratitude and patience.

Life means change and change means life.  The vision that drives our willingness to change is crucial.  Do we want full-voiced worship life?   Oh yes we do!  Are we courageous enough to wade into the adaptations that must take place in order for this new organ to thrive?  We are.

Can we listen?  That’s the crucial question.  Can we listen to each other, to the Spirit, and to the heartbeat of God whilst we prepare for new life?

There is new life singing through this Body.  Your prayers for our organ transplant are most welcome.

phoenix

The whole world was watching as 33 Chilean miners were born again.

For a time the snarl of fear was vanquished.  We were all attendants at the miracle of birth.  The tube would go down, the men come up, the hugs and smiles and wonder shared, the wonder palpable.

The world was united, breathing with men trapped in the earth womb that held them fast.  Countries lent brains and technology and from every corner of the world prayers were voiced for the safe delivery of the 33.

Thirty three men brought us to a place of oneness while worlds and hearts away, hundreds of men and women and children faced the fracture of war for yet another day.

The phoenix delivered, we rejoiced, and for a time we were reminded that when the many become one, miracles are.

gratitude shine

One of my favorite saints of the church made an announcement during bible study this morning.

Today he is ninety years old.  He was shining with the wonder of it all.  How was it, he wondered, that he could be so blessed by ninety years of living?

He has raised babies, served his country, his community, and his church. He has been married for decades to a woman with whom he has made meaning, and he has arrived at a momentous and marvelous benchmark.  He is ninety.

Following bible study I called to check on a beloved friend whose body is being claimed by cancer.  He has fought so long and so hard to live.  He is 65, and not near done wringing juice and justice from his world.

And yet, he will never see ninety years of living in this lush world.

Every day we are given is gift.  Painful sometimes, to be sure, and seemingly meaningless and vexatious and so many woundings come our way but oh, to live to be ninety, with a face shining with gratitude.

May God bless our comings in, and our goings out, and our living of the gift that is life.

wonder of wonders

I’m still laughing.

A night or two into our pilgrimage, it was getting on to bed time.  A number of us were relaxing in the lobby of our hotel in Kelso, Scotland when two of our group members burst in with the most amazing news.

They were SURE they had seen Northern Lights.  They wondered if I had seen them before and what color they had been and went on to describe the somewhat clear color they had seen in the heavens and the slash of darkness that split the light.  They were amazed and excited and being prone to taking any opportunity to share such things I asked if they would show me the signs in the heaven they had seen.  A group of us piled out of the hotel in great haste lest this wonder disappear.

They led us through the night to the ruins of an abbey nearby.  The crumble of the walls was stark in the night.  Softening the stark was a garden with a very tall cross pointing toward the sky.  In order to see that cross at all hours of the night, there were spot lights that lit it, shining the message of resurrection for all to see.

As we approached the site of the sighting the women were so excited to share that it was in a specific spot that the wonder could be best viewed.  We put ourselves in the appointed place and yes, it was clear that there was a light shining with the afore-mentioned dark stripe separating the two pools of light. 

I stopped and I looked and I was instantly torn because what I could see was a shine in the heavens, to be sure, but a shine that was like no Northern Lights I had ever seen and yes, that light truly did bear a stripe of darkness and so clear to me was that the mysterious stripe looked suspiciously like it corresponded to the light those two spotlights were unable to shine through the tall cross.

I tentatively suggested that the Northern Lights were in fact the light thrown by the spot lights and the stripe that of the cross and my rational explanation was pooh-poohed in no uncertain terms until one of the sages in our midst suggested a way to solve the mystery.

She suggested that we position ourselves in the magical viewing spot and she would cover the spotlight with her jacket and then we would know.

So position ourselves we did, and cover the light she and a compatriot did.

And the Northern Lights by golly disappeared!  Poof, just like that they were gone!

We laughed so hard the neighbors were poking their heads around curtains.

So there we were.  Pilgrims on pilgrimage hungry to see signs in the heavens and the shimmer of the holy in our hearts and sometimes just sometimes wonder is shared and some old grinch (in this case the grinch bore my name) has to go and make things all rational.

A wonder of wonders became the holy communion of laughter and as for me, Northern Lights have never been so fine.