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.

varied and dense

The Holy Spirit finds ready kindling in the bellies of pastors.

My partner is a pastor. I am one too.

Last night Cooper offered a mini retreat at his church.  Twenty some people came out for an evening of faith sharing.  He got home after ten, set the alarm to get up at six and now he is unloading food from a truck for their church’s monthly food distribution.

On this day I will meet with a couple to plan their wedding and talk about their hearts.  I’ll follow that with a hospital visit and phone calling, come home and write a sermon and then attend a dinner for our confirmation students and their parents and mentors.

Tomorrow we at RUMC will be in the presence of five amazing youth as they speak for themselves their intention to live in the grace of God in the way of Jesus.  At our second service we will all savor the power of our discipleship, and then it is off to a party and then and then and then we will motor off to our place of regrouping:  the cabin.

It is a varied and dense thing, this art called ministry.  It fascinates and calls me yet.

I’m preparing to spend time with new clergy in a retreat setting next month.  The stated topic is “margins”.  How do we as clergy maintain margins in this thing that is living our vocation?  How do we give and give and give knowing that we must also receive receive receive?  How do we balance the exquisite juggle that is parish ministry with the needful time spent apart from it?

Sometimes the belly fire falters.  Like all others whose work is woven into their bones, clergy wonder if we can muster the energy and hope that keeps us setting alarms and dreaming programs.  We wonder if the world is just too busy to sit open before the immensity of possibility and grace.

And then we encounter eyes that light up and puddle, hearts that hunger, and transformation that invites and the spark that felt falterish gets lit anew.

Mostly I thank God for seeking my partnership in the stirring of hope.

In a world tangled and seemingly bent upon savaging, I am part of a movement that proclaims the power of holy and human love.

For today, that is enough.


tree of life

I have been drawn to trees of late.

Truly, it has ever been thus.  Some of my most powerful childhood memories include times spent held by trees.  Climbing trees was an elemental need for me then.  Sitting on a branch, surrounded by green and growing and supported by power and movement, I was home.

In my professional life, I have been powerfully engaged in green and growing.  It has been a season of funerals for long time members.  As I have sat with family and heard stories and hearts, I have felt grafted into the alive thing that is family.  Pastors are allowed to be, for a time, a part of the life cycle of families.  When we gather for funerals, the hope is that family members feel surrounded by the life beat that is a growing, powerful, and eternal tree of life.

Today in the mail I received a gift from one of the families.  I had come to know them well through officiating at the funerals of their grandparents who died weeks apart.  They are a beautiful lot, and the ways they named the knot holes of family life and the alive of gratitude moved me.

They sent me a tree.  It is on a silver pendant, crafted by one of them.  It has heft and power, this symbol, and I am moved by the convergences.  I am blessed to have been a part of their witness of the tree that is life.  I am blessed to wear that symbol as I continue to sink roots into the Holy and reach toward the sun in my own life and the family I am blessed to learn with.

Sometimes, the thing that is parish ministry near takes me to my knees in wonder.  We hold the space in community where we pray that others will find each other and the Holy and in that partnership move toward life transformed.

I am transformed.  I am transformed by the welcome, the lament, the laughter and the snarl that is life.

The tree will remind me:  Sanctuary is, alive is, life is.