I just checked my blog and saw that I accidentally posted this picture with no text on my site via flickr. So, here’s a little update. We just arrived home (Camas, WA) last night after being gone for almost two weeks. Yesterday, we traveled for almost 12 hours, from the time we left Toledo (where Emily’s folks live) to when we walked into our house. L did great considering the amount of time she had to sit on her parent’s laps while flying. We had a great time being with family, and I really enjoyed my traveling among Quakers in both Greensboro and Barnesville. But it’s nice to be back home, sleeping in our own bed again and getting back to work in the office.
Tomorrow morning I leave for North Carolina to attend the Friends Association for Higher Education. FAHE is for all Quakers working in the field of education and so I will be attending largely as one interested in teaching Quaker theology and history. This year I am presenting with two other Quaker academics: Abigail Adams and Jeffery Dudiak. Abigail is a social scientist and Jeff is a philosopher. The workshop we are doing is called:Quakers and the Postmodern: Problems and Promises. For my part of the program, I will be presenting my ethnographic research on one “postmodern” Quaker meeting in order to give some concrete examples for what the other two presenters will have theory and explanations.
Then I will be driving with Jeff (and others?) to Barnesville, Ohio. It is the 50th anniversary of the Quaker Theological Discussion Group. It has been a group focused on keeping the academic backbone of Quakerism alive and is committed to strengthening the Christian legacy of our tradition. I will be among some of my own Quaker heroes and really look forward to this. I am also the respondent to Gerry Guiton’s (from Australia) paper called: The Kingdom of God, the Early Friends and the Future of Quakerism. It should be fun.
Then, after that’s all done, I will meet up with Emily and L, who are already in OH, and go and visit my family for a couple days before heading back to the West.
This past Sunday we finished up our discussions around Acts 2. For worship, we had a more meditative tempo. The host for Sunday’s worship led the congregation in a simple prayer, shortly after one of the women in the congregation shared about her growing concern for child trafficking in the world, but especially in the Portland/Vancouver area. I found her discussion to be deeply moving.
We did a few Taize songs and then, after our petitions and thanksgivings, we did Lectio. Here is the intro I gave, followed by the actual flow of the service so you can use it if you would like:
Letio is a way to pray the scriptures. It is letting the Inward Christ speak to us through his inspired and inspiring word. It also gives us space to respond to that word, to allow the word to speak through us. Then as we go you go from worship you “Take a word with you.” The hope is that whatever word you are given you can hang onto it and allow it to shape your life during the week.
This Sunday our meeting for worship will be focusing on the last portion of Acts 2:
So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47 NRSV).
We will be reflecting on the text following the pattern of Lectio Divina. I look forward to how the Holy Spirit will speak to us through this passage. As I have been studying this week and thinking through this text I found these two quotes from Karl Barth which I deeply appreciate:
Emily has been feeling a little “different” these last few months and seemed to be growing a bit in the tummy so I suggested she find out what’s going on. Apparently, there’s a baby growing inside her! Who would have known?
I’d like to introduce Baby Daniels #2. That’s about all we know of the baby so far. Oh, She/he is due at the end of November and has a strong heartbeat. We are all really excited for the addition to the clan. Emily is doing well and L doesn’t really understand the concept of “there’s a baby in your mommy’s belly” just yet, but I think she’s excited too.
I think the baby looks most like mommy right now, but what do I know? 😉
My friends Peggy Parsons and Marge Abbott are giving what I might call a “dramatic presentation” of Quaker history at Multnomah Meetinghouse this Saturday. These two women are well-versed in all-things-Quaker, lively, provocative and will surely make it an enjoyable time for any who wish to attend.
I plan to be there and look forward to meeting other Friends. Here’s the information:
This past Sunday we looked at Peter’s Sermon in Acts 2. I struggled over this text for a while. How do I preach a sermon on a sermon and keep it interesting? Actually, I’m trying to avoid using words like “preach” and “sermon” because they feel less participatory and Quakerly. I really am interested in developing a style of relfecting on the text and inviting others to do the same. In either case, it took me awhile to work through some of my own feelings about Peter’s Sermon. I had a hard time moving past the tendency to quote Peter’s statement, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39 NRSV)” as a kind of revivalistic salvation message.
I’ve been reading through excerpts of Oscar Romero’s prayers and writings and many strike me but this one really stood out to me this morning as one we need to hear today:
The true protagonists of history are those who are most united with God, because with God’s viewpoint they can best attend to the signs of the times, the ways of Providence, the build of history. Oh, if we only had persons of prayer among those who oversee the fate of the nation and the fate of the economy! If, instead of relying on human devices, people would rely on God and on his devices, we would have a world like the one the church dreams of, a world without injustices, a world with respect for rights, a world with generous participation by all, a world without repression, a world without torture.
Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love, July 17, 1977
This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday and for someone who spent his high school years in a Charismatic church, I know the day fairly well. It proved to play another significant role in my spiritual autobiography as it was also the day of my first sermon as pastor of Camas Friends Church. We covered the scripture passage Acts 2:1-21, the text all churches following the Revised Common Lectionary would have covered as well. Here is a summary of what was said.
Acts 2 is a favorite among our more lively and spirited brothers and sisters. There was, at least for me, growing up in a community that focused so heavily on the Spirit a strong emphasis on this chapter as it pertained to tongues, and prophesy. I remember many sermons discussing the ins and outs of the meaning behind this baptism of the Spirit, what Peter meant by “Sons and Daughters” and of course plenty of good jokes around the whole, “they must be drunk” line. I too was tempted to make a joke about that but was able to refrain myself for the time being.
Jarrod McKenna’s posted on the God’s Politics Blog about the “I’m Sorry Day” Australian’s celebrate every year as a remind that “there is no future without confessing and seeking to heal the pain of the genocide of Aboriginal peoples and the evils that created the stolen generation.” It’s a good short post and he links to, what looks like, an excellent new Aboriginal contextual theology book The Rainbow Spirit Theology: Toward an Australian Aboriginal Theology.
And I think we Americans, especially those of us who are Christians, need an I’m Sorry Day as well. With what seems like increasing intensity our “culture wars” continue to appeal to fear and doomsday, we continue to close our hearts to people who need us, we shout and curse those who live differently (whether for right or for wrong) then us, and yes, we kill in God’s name. Repentance and forgiveness are meant to be key markers of the faithful church, yet we have somehow allowed these practices to all but disappear in our communities.
As many of you know by now George Tiller, a doctor who conducted late-term abortions, was murdered Pentecost morning in his church while we he ushering on Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning, moments after services had begun at Reformation Lutheran Church, Dr. Tiller, who was acting as an usher, was shot once with a handgun, the authorities said. The gunman pointed the weapon at two people who tried to stop him, the police said, then drove off in a powder-blue Taurus. Dr. Tillers wife, Jeanne, a member of the church choir, was inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting.
I didn’t hear about this until later in the day when I listed to some of Jay Bakker’s sermon where he expressed a mixture of grief and anger over what happened Sunday morning. I too am grieved over this death, in the same way I am grieved over aborted births. Killing of any kind is simply wrong.
But we should not be surprised that this kind of gruesome “Christian terrorism,” as I’ve called it elsewhere, continues to happen either. So much of the rhetoric around this particular topic, and a few others, are so hateful, so inflammatory, and in your face, that violence is the only possible end. Whether it is physical violence such as this murder, the violence brought on by severed relationships (whether family or friend), systemic violence that continues to oppress particular demographic and ethnic groups, or violence of language, it is not the way of Jesus. Matching wrongful behavior with more wrongful behavior continues the logic of the world, and ultimately displays our own disbelief in the power of God’s kingdom to bring about redemption and salvation amidst sin and destruction. When we lash out in violence like this we don’t show fidelity to the kingdom, rather we betray our own atheism.
Christian leader Frank Schaeffer wrote a moving piece this morning titled, “How I (and Other “Pro-Life” Leaders) Contributed to Dr. Tiller’s Murder,” where he confesses his, and his father’s, roles in this death:
In certain passages he [Frank’s father, Francis Schaeffer] advocated force if all other methods for rolling back the abortion ruling of Roe v. Wade failed. He compared America and its legalized abortion to Hitler’s Germany and said that whatever tactics would have been morally justified in removing Hitler would be justified in trying to stop abortion. I said the same thing in a book I wrote (A Time For Anger) that right wing evangelicals made into a best seller. For instance Dr. James Dobson (of the Focus On the Family radio show) gave away over 100,000 copies.
And since that time Schaeffer, and many others, have come to realize that this is going to far in the wrong direction and only contributes more to the problem them helping to come up with solutions that are rooted in God’s loving and peaceable kingdom. Schaeffer takes the remainder of the article to confess and ask forgiveness:
The same hate machine I was part of is still attacking all abortionists as “murderers.” And today once again the “pro-life” leaders are busy ducking their personal responsibility for people acting on their words. The people who stir up the fringe never take responsibility. But I’d like to say on this day after a man was murdered in cold blood for preforming abortions that I — and the people I worked with in the religious right, the Republican Party, the pro-life movement and the Roman Catholic Church, all contributed to this killing by our foolish and incendiary words.
I am very sorry.
And so I think we Christians need to follow suite and say we are sorry for contributing to death of all kinds, from the unborn to those (whom we may) feel are worthy of death. We are sorry for the hate speeches, the racism, the prejudice, the homophobia, and the fear we instill in our communities about those who do not live the way we do. This is not how Jesus would treat others, this is not how he would respond. This is not what the church was meant to look like. I am sorry, for my own lack of faith and my own violent responses to things I personally disagree with. I am sorry that to disagree with another often means to break fellowship with, to alienate, reject or push away from rather than to go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, and lovingly pray for our enemies. I too find it very hard to overcome differences and confess I need the Holy Spirit to help me in this area.
May we church have an “I’m Sorry Day” and offer freely the forgiveness we’ve been freely offered.