Origin Stories and Midwives of the Spirit (John 3)

This is my last prepared message given to Camas Friends Church (June 21, 2015).

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5–6 NRSV)

The Power of Origin Stories

For a moment, I want you to think about the power of origin stories. Origin stories are birth stories, but often applied to how a certain comic book character became a superhero (Wikipedia). Continue reading Origin Stories and Midwives of the Spirit (John 3)

A Fantastic, Participatory, Quaker Meeting


This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. (John 15:12–15)

Fantastic Mr. Fox


The third strength I see is that you are a participatory Quaker meeting (See First and Second Here).

Before I talk a little about what it means to be participatory, I want to say something about what it is not.

One of my favorite stories is the story about the Fantastic Mr. Fox. In the story, Mr. Fox, who is the fantastic one, would steal either a “plump Chicken from Boggis, a goose from Bunce, or a nice turkey from Bean.” And every evening these three farmers could never catch him for Mr. Fox was a clever and fantastic fox.

If you know the story then you know that what transpires between the protagonist and these crooked farmers is an epic battle. Armed with machinery and weapons the three farmers matched by the wits of Mr. Fox and the other animals. First the farmers dig up Mr. Fox’s home in the ground with shovels, then they get great big tractors and dig deeper into the ground, pushing Mr. Fox and his family further underground. The more Fox and the other animals escape the more “wild with rage” the farmers become.

First the farmers dig up Mr. Fox’s home in the ground with shovels, then they get great big tractors and dig deeper into the ground, pushing Mr. Fox and his family further underground. The more Fox and the other animals escape the more “wild with rage” the farmers become.

[Slide] Boggis, Bunce, and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean!
These menacing crooks
So different in looks
Are nonetheless equally mean!

Continue reading A Fantastic, Participatory, Quaker Meeting

A Remixed Church: Adaptation, Legos and Renewal (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:16–19 NRSV)

E. is going to do Lego demonstration for us. Prior to Sunday I have asked him if he would be willing to:

a) show the congregation at the beginning of the message a pre-assembled lego creation, b) disassemble that during the message, c) reassemble something recognizably different using only the pieces from the previous creation within and d) show the congregation what he has made.

This week I want to look for a moment about how transformation has taken place within this community. I believe that one of the things that makes Camas Friends strong and unique in the Quaker world is that it is a community that embraces change and the willingness to adapt and be flexible as central to who you are. Continue reading A Remixed Church: Adaptation, Legos and Renewal (Isaiah 43:18-19)

A Blended Family: On The Importance of Difference

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.(Luke 14:26)

Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.” (Acts 2:3–6)

The Image of the “Traditional” Family

I have been thinking a lot about family lately, what makes family emotionally well and what works against us? As many of you know the news has been focused on issues of family lately.

There’s the whole Josh Duggar situation (the 27th yr old from the Family Values TV show “19 kids and counting”), where he confessed to molesting at least 5 girls when he was between the ages of 14-15. And this is a very bad situation, but what makes it worse, in my opinion, is that he was employed by the conservative Christian lobby group that attacks same-sex couples and their families. Continue reading A Blended Family: On The Importance of Difference

New Life After Loss (John 21:1-12)

This is a portion of the message that I gave on resurrection Sunday, April 5, 2015

We have been reflecting on the theme of transformation this year, because as the elders spent time praying for the coming year, we knew God was inviting into deeper transformations as a community.

A lot has been said, and there is plenty more to say about our theme, but today is the day that the church worldwide stops and remembers that the kind of transformation we are talking about – both spiritually and societally – has resurrection as a necessary part of the process.

With every loss and every death there is always the possibility of new life. Continue reading New Life After Loss (John 21:1-12)

Memory of Love: Practicing Pregnant Absence

You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.” (Luke 24:48–53 NRSV)

The Interplay between Presence and Absence

Why should Jesus leave at all? Why have all these appearances at the end of John preparing his disciples for his departure, or this scene of Jesus being mysteriously whisked away in what is classically called the ascension?

I think it’s because his leaving was just as important as his coming.

Jesus knew that if he didn’t leave right there would be no way to sustain the movement that he began. He knew that until he left, his disciples would just remain students; In his leaving they would become the teachers.

In the Gospel of John Jesus said:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

But this is perspective, that it absence is as good as presence is a hard one to swallow in our day and age isn’t?

Availability and Unavailability

Our culture highly values presence. There are apps that you can use to log-in to stores, parks, and other locations you visit. There are plenty of ways to show photos from the places you travel and share them in ways that others feel like they are present with you on the trip. There are apps that measure your online presence and impact. And there is even an app called “presence” which monitors motion in your home while you are a way.

Could it be that presence is held almost to the point of idolatry? We prize availability far more than unavailability. Continue reading Memory of Love: Practicing Pregnant Absence

Peter’s Unfinished Love (John 21:15-23)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

(John 21:15 NRSV)

This week, as I was thinking about the sermon, I asked my kids if they had anything they thought I should preach about.

This is taking my discernment to a whole new level.

I don’t think they knew exactly what I was asking at first so we talked for a little bit until they finally settled on an idea: Inspector Gadget.

That’s right. They wanted me to preach a message on inspector gadget. One of my absolute favorite childhood cartoons and now that Netflix has recreated the show, it’s theirs too.

The appeal of gadget for me growing up was, well, all his gadgets. I would get my mom to buy my pants that had pockets everywhere, and I would keep trinkets in them. She’d call them my inspector gadget pants. That may be why I like to wear vests now. More pockets for more gear. Continue reading Peter’s Unfinished Love (John 21:15-23)