There is a bit of scripture that pictures God as mother hen gathering her chicks. (Matthew 23:37)
I have always felt the power of that image. Chick-gathering is in my wiring in ways fierce and strong.
And I cannot much do that gathering in these days of pandemic living.
You join me in this ache, I know.
My biological chicks have issued the mandate that their “elderly” parents (when did THAT happen) are to stay home.
My church is connecting in ways that don’t involve physical gathering. My gratitude for a staff that can support this frontier of cyber-connecting is immense.
And, leading worship in an empty sanctuary hurts.
How do we live, we who miss the sense of gathering in our body selves?
I find that I have become connection obsessed.
Our church staff is moving into largely distance work. We shared a “Last Supper” of pizza and appreciation yesterday. We will meet via Zoom every day but how to name the grief of not sharing ideas and laughter in the flesh?
My children are reaching out daily. This I like. And, the role-reversal of their concern for their vulnerable parents pierces my heart. After years of being the mother hen I find that my chicks have powerful capacity for tending.
Who will we be when this pandemic loses its power? How will we connect our hearts and passions for the good of all while we shelter in place?
While I cannot open my wings to embrace, the Holy can and the Holy does.
I pray for us all the creativity and heart to continue to know our connection.
Even as we know the fear, grief and anger of this time, we are profoundly gathered in.
I am praying this week.
I am praying for the hearts of United Methodists to be strangely and profoundly warmed.
The notion about living with a strangely warmed heart comes from the experience of John Wesley. Wesley lived for decades as pastor and child of God without a clear sense of his full welcome into God’s embrace.
Through a heart warming experience, Wesley came to know the power of holy wholeness.
That heart warming brought Wesley and the movement now called United Methodism alive.
It has brought me and so many alive, this astounding good news that we are beloved, known, and made one with God’s heart.
United Methodists from around the globe are gathering in St Louis this weekend. They are gathering for a specially called conference. At the conference delegates will engage with each other and with the Holy Spirit to determine the future of the movement sparked by a man who knew what it was to feel doubtful about being fully welcomed into God’s grace.
United Methodists have been wrangling around this issue for decades. Countless hours, resources, passion and energy have been poured into how it is the people of Jesus the Christ are called to discipleship in the company of all.
There are plans being presented, talk of schism being bandied about and hearts feeling exhausted and near broken by the continued insistence on the part of some that GLBTQ children of God are blessed and beloved; well, kind of. Sort of. Not really.
Legions of others are fully exhausted by the continued profanity of exclusion currently articulated in our Discipline. The thought of another “not yet” in regards to living congruency with the gospel is unbearable.
So I am praying.
I am praying for the delegates and the bishops.
I am praying for the children I have baptized. I want them to grow up in a community of faith that welcomes them wildly and gratefully, with all varieties of being celebrated as God gift.
I am praying for the too many who have felt unwelcome by the people of Jesus.
I am praying for colleagues who have been mandated by our current disciple to closet living. My heart cannot go too near the cost of practicing subterfuge around holy relationships.
I am praying for my church: The United Methodist Church and the church I am appointed to serve. Both are full of people who have found welcome and invitation into the good-news-making of Jesus. I love both the larger and my local church. I believe in the power and the promise of the strangely-warmed.
The Holy Spirit is a force for love in this world. This I believe.
This is a pivotal time.
I am praying.
Please join me.
The family joke goes like this: My children ask me what I want for my birthday. I tell them that I want them to write me a poem. Sometimes it has even worked, this birthday request of poetry.
Yesterday I received a gift. Aware that my heart is sore from the pain of my little sister’s beloved son in intensive care and knowing that my heart is sore from the bruising of this election and life, my eldest daughter sent me a poem.
I share it with you because it was balm for my soul and perhaps it will be so for yours.
And, would you loft a prayer for my nephew Miles? He is a paramedic who flies through the air on a helicopter to provide healing for others. His medical helicopter crashed early Saturday morning. He is in critical condition. We are not meant to fall from the sky and live but live he does and so we give thanks for good bones and the ways in which beautiful is made.
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.