This is the message I gave Sunday March 17, 2013 at Camas Friends Church and is drawn from Isaiah 43: 16-21.
Holding the Tension
This past weekend I had the chance to go to Philadelphia to participate in a consultation with a Quaker foundation. Not only did I learn a lot by participating in the foundation but I got to see a little of downtown Philly and enjoy the sites. I got to see Friend Mary Dyer, William Penn, some old Friends, see a couple meetinghouses and make some new friends too.
Our Saturday meeting was great. There were 15 young friends invited and the goal was to draw on the excitement and creativity of these Friends to help the Shoemaker Foundation in their discernment about where to invest their money for the future.
One of the things that stood out to me about our time together was the many tensions that have to be held when a group of Quakers get together. Continue reading
Illustration by Joel Stewart
On Sunday we did a reader’s theater of the Hans Christen Andersen’s fable “The Emperor’s New Suit.” That helped set the stage for the rest of the discussion that followed.
In her book Journey Inward, Journey Outward, Elizabeth O’Connor says of the importance of self-reflection: “We must be engaged with ourselves, if we are going to find out where are, and where it is we want to go.”
One of the ways that we know where we are, and where we are going is by landmarks and signposts. This is true in the natural world as much as it is in the spiritual one.
Spiritual signposts are often favorite stories we tell about your our life, pivotal moments where we have encountered God. Like a regular signpost or landmark, these spiritual counterparts are meant to mark our directions and remind us of where God is leading us. They help us in our journey towards wholeness. Continue reading
Intro: For this morning’s message I’d like to talk about the Journey Inward based on Isaiah 6 by first telling a story that some of you may have heard or read.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Read the rest of the Luke 4 here
A 2012 NY Times article by Kaye Blegvad discusses what she calls the new homesickness. A recent Gallup World Poll found that:
One-quarter of the earth’s adults (1.1 billion in all) want to move temporarily to another country in the hope of finding more profitable work. An additional 630 million people would like to move abroad permanently.
This is the message I gave on January 6, 2013 at Camas Friends Church. It is based on Luke 14:26-27:
“Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “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.”
Think of all the many ways that conflict arises within family. It seems that just about any can cause conflict, but especially things like religion, political beliefs, job and lifestyle choices, and other ways that we might try to set ourselves apart from the group.
When we come to family conflict, we don’t often really know what to do with it. Sometimes we just go along, not wanting to “rock the boat.” Or sometimes we hope that by ignoring it, it will just go away. But dirt swept under the rug overtime will, if not dealt with, become a huge mound in the middle of the living that someone is bound to trip over.
What if I told you Jesus has the answer to all of these problems? Jesus outlined through his teachings how to mitigate family conflict. Unfortunately, it’s not what you might expect.
This is the message I gave at meeting for worship this morning:
And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages’ (Luke 1:10-14).
This has been a hard week. A terrible week. Things have happened this week that should not have happened. No mother, no father, no grandparent and no child should experience the kinds of things we have seen this week.
On Tuesday, 60 gunshots rang out where 3 people – following the normal routine of Christmas shopping, in a typical setting – a mall, died in Portland. Two were killed point blank and the shooter took his own life.
On Wednesday, there were two instances of students bringing guns to school, one at Evergreen High School and the other at Skyview – both schools in Clark County.
And on Friday, we have all heard the devastation that took place in CT, when a 20 year-old man who was believed to be mentally ill, killed his own mother, and then went on a shooting spree at an elementary school.
And that’s this week. There have been 6 mass shootings in America this year. This is terrible. It is scary. And it is enraging. Continue reading
This is the message I gave today at Camas Friends during meeting for worship. It is based on Luke 3:1-6.
The Parking Lots
When I was in high school I did what many people my age have done for generations and that was work as a grocery store carry-out: a bag-boy as we called it back then. I have many fond memories from that first job, not least of which was my promotion to working in the dairy department where my colleagues and I would eat ice-cream from damaged cartons, and have the bakery bake us up frozen pizza’s that we’d “accidentally” sliced through while stocking them in the freezers.
As a bag-boy there were two main areas that I conducted my job: the end of the register where I bagged groceries, and the parking lot where I traversed the sea of cars next to the customer I was serving on many blistery Ohio nights in the rain, sleet and slushy snow.
Of these two locations, the parking lot was where I had some of the most profound experiences of my life as a bag-boy. As a young and very earnest Christian, I took every opportunity to talk to people about my faith, the worship band I was playing on, and even offer to pray with my customers. I remember many times in that 2-5 min. walk to a customer’s car having the opportunity to catch-up with my regulars, listen to someone who had just learned bad news, or hear of family troubles at home. More than once did I offer to pray for them whether right there standing by their car, or later on my own. I never had anyone turn me down. I used what little space was given carefully, I was never pushy, I didn’t always talk about faith, but you’d be surprised how many times in that parking in Alliance Ohio, I had an opportunity to be a listening and compassionate presence.
This is the message I gave two weeks ago at Camas Friends Church on Mark 13:1-8.
This past summer I found myself feeling drained, exhausted, uninspired and generally not myself. I felt like everything was slipping through my fingers, time was moving too quickly, things felt lifeless and draining to me. I didn’t know why.
Have you ever felt that? I don’t know about you, but in these times my prayers that are offered are also uninspired. They often feel like words that fall flat onto the floor like dead weights. In these times we struggle to connect in any meaningful way with ourselves, let alone with others.
Looking back I can now identify a number of things that happened that left me feeling anxious and isolated:
- In a short time our third – and final child was born. Our family was growing.
- We learned that the home we bought going to become a serious financial burden on us.
- A number of my close friends moved or transitioned to new jobs.
- I found myself again at a cross-roads in my dissertation.
- And my work was going well, but had clearly shifted from being new, to thinking more about longevity.
None of these are tragic, a number of them are very good but even good things can leave you feeling bemused.
An insightful friend was initially the one to point out that I was leaning into a significant life transition. He told me that I had come to a point or moment in life when everything that was once easily marked by short deadlines – like college, grad school, start a family, get a job, get a house…all achievable goals that were in the past (minus the dissertation). Now I was now facing a wide-open life that was less about arriving at certain deadlines and more about patience, longevity, and endurance. Continue reading
This is the message I gave on November 11, 2012.
“As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Mark 12:38–13:2 NRSV)