apples, trees and wonder

Today was the wildly joyful wedding of two people who have and will bless this world.

The service lasted nearly three hours. That was amazing.

Also amazing was the fact that my eldest daughter Leah took the pulpit.

She read from the Hebrew bible the account of how it was God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. It is a tale that calls Moses to remember that God is in all places and it ends with a recounting of how it is God was present through the generations. All those named as God-companioned were, of course, men.

Except when Leah read it. She read the account with energy and meaning and it ended with the voice of God assuring Moses that God had been present to his mother and to her mother and to Sarah and to Rebecca and to Leah and to Rachel.

And I thought as I watched my daughter launch her heart into proclamation that for too long astute and powerful women have been subjected to a recounting of God’s story that does not include them.

I have known this. I have named the scriptural and traditional gender warp that has too often cast women as bit players. I have mourned the ongoing (still???) challenge it is to find hymnody or liturgy that is fully inclusive of women as Holy reflectors.

Today, I know the enormity of woman loss in a place deeper yet because my daughter took the pulpit and made the story her own.

Isn’t that what we are waiting for?

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

From generation to generation it is our story.

It’s time for the women to speak.

Palm Sunday now

The story of Jesus is not some long-ago drama we come to church to hear.


The story of Jesus is NOW.


All of the things that Jesus did and taught and longed for us to know with our whole lives.


Those things are NOW.


And the wild hope of Hosanna and the brutal chill of silence as lives are hung on a cross and left to die.


Those things are now too.


Jesus rides into Jerusalem yet.


Jesus rides in on the back of a humble beast meant to remind us that the way of power used by the world is not the way of God.


Jesus rides into the halls of power yet and the hopeful raise their song yet and Palm Sunday is now.


It is now.


Palm Sunday is now while the legislature of our state is in session hearing the cries of the hopeful – save us! – as housing for homeless and marriage for same-sex couples and health care for the poor and adequate education for our children are tussled over in the halls of power and Jesus rides into schools where bullying is being addressed and Jesus rides into nations grappling with how to deal with violence that mangles the souls of women.


Palm Sunday is now.


On Palm Sunday we acknowledge that Jesus is riding toward the cross.


The cross: the place where the passion of love hangs in agony as the wounds borne by those who work with their lives to overcome hatred and injustice are hammered time and time and time again.


The cross is the price of hope and loving:  tell me that is not so.


It was and it is and Jesus teaches us that we must be willing to know the pain of the cross.


It is our own.


The cross, as theologian Dorthee Soelle names it, is the world’s answer, given a thousand times over, to attempts at liberation.


In long ago Jerusalem, Jesus rode into the streets to the cheers of his hopeful followers.


He knew that the audacity of his message – that we are to love God with all our hearts and minds and imaginations and our neighbor as our very selves – he knew that such teaching was going to challenge those who made money and wielded power through cultivating a world where money and privilege were enjoyed by the few when the needs of the non-elite were deemed a non-issue.


Jesus knew that liberating the poor and the marginalized from the grinding injustice that kept them invisible and powerless could not be allowed to be imagined in the hearts of others.


He knew keeping people cowed and poor kept the privileged in power.  He knew.


And yet he got onto the back of that donkey and rode toward the cross.


The cross.


The place that waits for all who dare to love.


Come, you that love the Lord.


Allow yourself to feel and feel deeply.


Allow yourself to be swept into the hope in Christ Jesus that swells your heart with Hallelujah and shout it shout it shout it and follow it to the place where God calls you to witness for justice – in your school and in your work place and in your community and in your nation and in your home – and allow yourself to feel the pain of loving because through the present power of Christ Jesus – through the NOW of Christ Jesus – you are no stone.


You are a called disciple of Jesus. You are walking love and you will not let hatred and indifference to the pain of others numb your heart.


Oh, that we would ride into the Jerusalem that awaits us each.


Palm Sunday is now.  Jesus rides with us yet.



Advent 19

“Salvation” does not

Mean liberation from tasks

We alone can do

Haiku by Vic Hummert


Worship on Sunday centers on the song of Mary.  Upon being told that she is to bear the hope of the world, that even then the pulse of promise resided within her, Mary says “yes” to magnifying God.

She says yes, she sets out on a journey in order to share the news and ponder what it might mean for her.  She sits in the company of an older kinswoman, Elizabeth, and it is then that her soul sings revolution song: the mighty will be brought down, the poor lifted up, and the world forever changed by the child in her womb.

Mary agreed to magnify holiness.

So too might we.  We might open ourselves to holy invitation to nurture within and through us the healings and witness that we are uniquely called to share.  The tasks we alone can do are as wildly and wonderfully different as we are.

Day by day the invitation to be magnifiers is delivered.

Through our “yes” we participate in the deliverance of “those who walk in darkness and the shadow of death” (Isaiah 9:2).

We offer light to those struggling with heart aches and despair.

We work for justice in order that the hungry might be fed.

We pay attention to the ways we are kin to all of creation.

We begin to act from the place of love.

We trust the life and love growing within us and we agree to consider what it might mean to apprehend ourselves as pregnant with promise.

“Yes” changes everything.

It did.

It does.




Advent 17

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,  and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of God has spoken it.  Micah 4: 3 – 4

Home is… what?


Home is warmth and light at the end of a long day.

Home is choices about space and sound and interactions.

Home is safety and a sense of secure wrap.


During Advent, we await the birth of a child born apart from that warmth and securitycalled “home”.  Why is it that the Word would choose to become flesh in such absurd vulnerability?  What was God thinking?!


The Word became flesh in the straw of a manger warmed by the bodies of animals because we are to know that our God inhabits the pain of want and the pain of living with fear.  In precisely such a place Jesus was born in order that we might consider the no-room-in-the-inn reality of all too many of God’s children.


This year we are encouraging our church to give and give generously in order that we might provide home for homeless youth in the southwest metro area of Minneapolis.  These are young people (250 on any given night) who long for their own “fig tree and vine” (see Micah above) in order that they might feel secure in this world.  We are working with Portico, an interfaith consortium of people who believe that homelessness leaves Jesus on the streets; cold, hungry, promising, and so afraid.


Ours is to work for a world in which compassion lights the streets.


You may choose to give to Portico or another organization that ends homelessness.  You may choose not to give. The reality is that we live the privilege of making choices day after day.


But whatever it is you choose, be aware:  you are choosing.  From the taken-for-granted safety and warmth of your home, you are choosing.


How it is you will shine Christ light in this , God’s world?


It seems to be vexatious to use feminine pronouns for the Holy.

A church volunteer remarked on an intriguing church bulletin.  Since we reuse our music inserts, Monday brings a day of sorting and recycling.

The Monday bulletin sorter noted that one of our church bulletins had been painstakingly edited (I surely hope not during the sermon!).  Throughout the Parker Palmer version of the Prayer of Jesus, in which God is addressed as Mother and Father, any reference to the feminine in the Holy had been deliberately crossed out.  It seems the notion of God as both male and female (and more) was too much to be borne on a given Sabbath.

I understand that language for God is a powerful thing.  Surely there is no intention of “taking away” each believer’s preferred name for God.

And, at Richfield UMC there is a deliberate choice made to include the feminine when imaging God.

For centuries, nearly the only language used for the Holy was male, even though scripture tells us from the get-go that In God’s image God made them; male and female God made them” and there are a myriad of non-male images of God used throughout scripture.  Even so, church culture through the ages reflected the seemingly sure sense that combing in the feminine would sully the power of the Holy.

Our Women and the Sacred group at church is reading “Half the Sky” by Kristof and WuDunn.  It is a really hard read, since it details the ongoing subjugation of women through sex trafficking, substandard maternal care and the use of rape as a weapon of war, among other things.

Statistics in the beginning of the book take the breath away:  “It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battle of the twentieth century.  More girls are killed in this routine “gendercide” in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.”  (“Half the Sky”, pg. xvii)

There is a life-denying denigration of women rampant in the world today.

Naming matters.

I am saddened that the use of feminine language for the Holy would cause church-goers to methodically excise such offending words from their worship bulletin.

But more than that, I am heart sickened by the deaths; day by day, minute by minute, of God’s createds born into woman form.

Perhaps when we can speak the sacred feminine, we will end the devastation that is woman kill.

May it be so.

we’re ok

I spent part of last night in the company of our future.

I was at Minnesotans United for All Families for a phone bank training.  There were some fifty of us in a big room.  There were many places we could have been.  We were there.

We were there on National Coming Out Day in order to make phone calls to voters.  With a scant few days before the election and air waves being inundated with increasingly fear-provoking ads, the need for heart touching is great.

What I saw as I took part in it all was that I was easily one of the oldest people there.  I sat with my two daughters.  Around me were couples, singles, and a wonderful assortment of the kind of young people I would LOVE to have in the pews of the church I serve.  They were there because they do not want the constitution of their state to be contorted by discrimination.

I am hopeful.  With all the anxieties of this election season, what I saw last night gives me a great sense that there is a generation coming up behind us that knows the power of civic engagement and knows how vital it is to be attentive and engaged.

It’s about love.  It’s about love for country and love for the gift that is living democracy and it is about the living of love in families and last night that love walked into the room in the hearts of those who care enough to take action.

Join them.  Join those who were surprised a minister would be present.  Join those who speak up and have conversations via phone or in person.  Find a phone bank or invite a friend out for coffee or write letters to the editor and pray pray pray that love might live in a Minnesota that values justice for all people.

Maybe, just maybe, if the church of Christ Jesus speaks for love, those present last night might see their way into faith community.

We need them.  They have much to teach us.


Today Minnesota United Methodists voted to speak publicly against the marriage amendment coming before voters in November.

This is no small thing.

We join the ranks of Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ in Minnesota; all have voted to speak out against this attempt to legislate oppression.

What makes this decision poignant is that unlike the above named denominations, our denomination corporately holds a stance on homosexuality much like that of the Catholic Church.  Many of us work hard on seeking change in that regard.

For the MN Annual Conference to overwhelmingly support public opposition to legislative oppression means that we claimed our call to advocate for justice.

I am a hope filled woman.  I am moved by the witness and advocacy that has taken place for decades in order for this church I love to step out and speak out.  I am aware of the work yet to be done and the wounds yet real.

But today.  On June 1st in St Cloud Minnesota, United Methodists spoke their hearts.

And I do believe we are a changed people.

Thanks be to God.