Blog Entries

There are boards with names on them (a story)

This is a story that came to me in the middle of waiting worship recently. I shared it as a message and the ministry that rose up after it was amazing in that each person that followed filled in a piece of the puzzle that the initial image set forth. This was my part of the story. It is not exactly the same as I shared in worship, but the heart of the story is in tact.

Imagine that you enter a hallway that looks over the steps leading into a basement of a large meetinghouse. As you walk down the steps, a dank smell and dim light overcome you.

You are with a guide, an older person, softly spoken, gentle, but the flashlight she holds in her right hand announces her confidence in her role.

As you come around the first corner and down a gradual slope, you notice that all the floorboards and studs are exposed. And on each floorboard is a name; some of them carved, like the names of lovers knifed into tree bark, some are written with pencil, some permanent marker.

This peaks your interest so you turn to the woman. You ask:

Why are there names on each of these boards?

She responds, almost surprised by the question,

Those, those are the names of the people who put those boards there. Those are the people who built this house.

Some of the names you recognize. They are names that have been told in stories that older people in the community share. They are names labeled under pictures. These are names you recently found in directories that were filed away for decades.

As though she read your mind she continues,

All of these names are important. Not one of them stands above the other. See this one, she was the clerk of our meeting for 20 years. See this one here, he was a single-dad who was a part of our meeting for a few years before his family moved to the Mid-West. Here was a widow whose deep love kept this meeting afloat through many trying times. This one, he journeyed with us for a long time before he moved on. He used to ask the most challenging questions. These people here, their commitment and time went almost unrecognized. All these names are special, not one is above the other.

You nod in understanding and continue to stroll along the wall of a great room.

Then off in the distance you see a light. Walking toward it, you assume this is where the guide was taking you. As you approach the far end of the room, you feel the warmth from the solitary hanging light bulb. The soft glow illuminates the wall and the exposed boards come into greater focus. These boards however are different from the others. For one, the names have faded. And all these boards have begun to show their age. Some are decomposing; the effects on the structure are evident.

Time stands still. The silence overwhelms you. You know what this all means, the message is an obvious one, but the guide clears her throat and speaks nonetheless.

Now we will need to find new people to fix, repair and replace these. We need new boards and new names. But it is so difficult these days to find people willing to submit to caring for one way, one building, one home. These days, we would rather be on the move than dig in our heels. There are many reasons; many feel they are no good. Many feel they do no have the time or the adequate skills. Some are perpetually seeking for fear they might one day find and actually be called upon. Even if we were to use the materials from this building to rebuild something new, the question still remains: who will say, ‘Here am I, use me?’


Hating Father and Mother: Jesus’ Advice for Family Conflict

Father & Mother

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.


Boff on the Liberative Import of the Christian Gospel

In my preparation for my upcoming class on “Culture and Systems Change” at George Fox Seminary, I came across this quote from Leonardo Boff in his book on Base Ecclesial Communities. In it he aptly describes the obstacles those within the early liberation movement faced in building a sustainable movement for justice based on the teachings of Jesus. These obstacles are still in play today for many people in this country and around the world.

The second obstacle [to liberation theology] concerns the liberative import of the Christian. We are the heirs of a codification of faith that has concentrated particularly on the call of faith to a person in his or her individuality, or to the family as privileged medium of transmission of the Christian faith and ethos. This form of Christianity has not thoroughly explored the liberative dimensions of faith-the so called “perilous, subversive memory of Jesus Christ” who was crucified by the powers of this world and raised up by God to demonstrate the divine and human triumph of a life sacrificed for the cause of the total liberation of human beings, especially of the impoverished. The Puebla conference harshly criticized this reduction of Christianity to the intimate spheres of private life.

Jesus preached and died in public, out in the world, and he is Lord not only of the little corners of our hearts, but of society and the cosmos as well.

The Artful The Pastorate

Nancy Duarte on Effective Communication

Quotations Uncategorized

Nothing is more practical than finding God…than falling in love

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love,
stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

Fr. Pedro Arrupe via Shelly F.

Blog Entries

My Year in Photos (2012)

Instead of writing up a lengthy overview of my last year, I decided to work through my flickr account – something I update regularly – and pull out photos that remind me of last year. Here are some of my favorite memories and photos from the last 12 months. (Maybe next time I’ll make a limit for the amount of photos I can post, but not only was it hard to decide, I literally just had so much fun going through them all that it was hard to stop!)

The Daniels Family 5