Archives for November 2013

A Letter to December





Ah, Dear Friend,

We know each other well, do we not? So many years of immersion in all the folderol and all the richness of your seasonal gifts. Shall I list the ways?

  • the wedding plans, midway through my senior year of college
  • and all the subsequent anniversaries that got lost in the shuffle, some years more seriously than others — and there have been a lot of years, haven’t there? 48 on the 18th
  • a beautiful baby girl, 2nd of 2, born on the 2nd, with big brown eyes and a deliciously feisty spirit
  • choral concerts up the wazoo, every Christmas for most of my years until . . .
  • we moved to Santa Barbara for me to take a pastoral position in a church without a choir. Go figure.
  • writing Advent invitations for worship for about 20 years
  • preaching one Sunday in Advent for about 20 years, too
  • decorating the house with W-A-A-A-Y too many Christmas decorations, collected over the decades, starting with homemade delights from each of the kids and this year, adding some special ornaments from our moms’ collections
  • sweating (and swearing) our way to a steady, straight fresh tree in front of the windows; it gets harder every dang year
  • enjoying nativity sets collected from round the globe
  • singing the songs
  • reading the scriptures
  • pondering the mystery
  • regretting the over-spending
  • enjoying the gift-giving
  • collapsing on the 26th, exhausted but generally, more than content

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with you, I must admit. The candlelit service on Christmas Eve gets me every time. But the lugging of bins, the setting up the stuff, the overkill with gifts — yeah, that has gone above and beyond what is needful and what is healthy at points. 

So, December, what’s it gonna be? Will we find our way to a happy medium this year? Just enough of the good stuff and a little less of the not-so-good?

I pledge to do my part. Can you say the same?



This post is written in response to a prompt from Elora Nicole at her fabulous Story Sessions site. If you would like a series of thoughtful, evocative writing invitations, if you would enjoy being connected with a smaller (but ever-growing) group of other writers, may I suggest you check this site out? Just click here to read all about it.

The Sliding of the Seasons

Today is the day after, the sliding day, the one that marks the shift from one special day on the calendar to an entire season of special. We chose to be quiet this day, to stay at home, eat leftovers, enjoy the freshness of the sky after rain.

So I sit in my usual spot, computer on my lap, and I drink in the richness of the gifts with which we have been lavished.
IMG_3713Sixteen of us gathered at our son’s home, to feast and laugh and say ‘thank you.’ The chiminea was lit, the appetizers spread, and we carefully helped my mother maneuver the short distance from car to house.

IMG_3695Our gifted daughter-in-law had a spread worth gaping at, with contributions from her mother and my older daughter, and a magnificent bird, smoked after brining.

IMG_3693The table was laid, complete with candy turkeys and bright colored decor, handmade by the 3-year-old at nursery school.
IMG_3705Laughter floated on the breeze, children implored Poppy to play games, food was warmed and presented and appreciated.
IMG_3696We have about four vegetarians and one vegan in our number, and Rachel and Lisa had prepared several scrumptious dishes that they could pile on their plates. We all had a Feast.
IMG_3699And dessert? Fuggedaboutit. An amazing collection of things divine and delish. Joel contributed hand made Bordeaux candies, Lisa baked pumpkin cookies and hand-sized apple pies, Rachel a decadent bourbon/maple pumpkin pie. I added some lemon pie squares and mom contributed a box of See’s Nuts ‘n’ Chews. Yeah, we had enough to eat.
IMG_3692Luke played a little piano, the kids and young adults played a little dominoes, and to cap off the evening, those not interested in watching football had a lively conversation about lasers and accelerators and all things strange and wonderful. My mom didn’t understand a lot of it, but she loved it. I think it helped her to remember who she is – a vibrant, interesting, interested woman who is always searching to learn more. The words will be lost, but the emotions will stay around a while.
IMG_3709And as we carefully got mom back in the car for the drive across town, I took a last look at that candle in the middle of the table. It seemed the perfect closing image for the day – one small light in the midst of it all, a beacon, a reminder of this next season of holy waiting, this time of Advent.

On Sunday, I will begin a daily small series, an Advent journey. A photo, some scripture, a few words of reflection, a prayer. Nothing grand, nothing splendiferous, just a small offering of thanks and worship as we slide into the next season.

Confessions of a Tired Over-Achiever — for SheLoves


IMG_3565Can I tell you a secret? I am a very slow learner.

I am also a quick study — which is not the same thing at all. I can gather facts, read articles, enjoy rich and satisfying discussions, even occasionally try out a practical application of whatever it is I’m studying.

But to truly, deeply learn something?

It seems to take me a lifetime.

A case in point: over a decade ago, I actually preached an entire sermon on the topic of margin, creating white space at the edges of life, space for breathing and listening and looking. I read a book on the topic. In fact, I read two books on the topic, I wrote a decent sermon about it and I prepared a series of lessons, which I offered in several different settings over the next year or so.

And I meant every word, too. I believed then — and I believe now — that busyness is the biggest single scourge of the last 100 years. Over-scheduling, unrealistic expectations, the constant addition of just one more thing to an already well-scribbled calendar — these are the things that lead to death. Like a farmer’s field that is never allowed to lie fallow, a life lived without margin leads to total depletion of the good things that replenish the soil/soul.

Preach it, sister!

And I did.

But somehow, I didn’t manage to live it very well. Too many days pushed right to the edge, too many notes jotted on the calendar, too many obligations, expectations, commitments and appointments. Slowly but surely — and with alarming regularity! — that necessary white space began to shrink. And I began to fumble and flail and eventually, to crash and burn. Instead of a calendar and a life lived in balance, with sufficient margin for stillness, silence, gentle community with loved ones, reading, writing, bird-watching, sitting at the beach. . . whatever might help me create room for that margin of fallowness, I lived my life at full tilt pretty much 24/7.

I knew about margin in my head, but I hadn’t learned it in my heart. 

Please follow this link to read the rest of this post. I am so pleased and honored to be writing for the good people at SheLoves today. This month’s theme? MARGIN — and it’s been looked at and defined in such a rich and wide variety of ways. These are the ideas and memories that came to me when I pondered that word . . . 

Choose Life: A Photo Essay

IMG_3689How often, when push comes to shove, do I choose rightly? How consistently do I choose life?

We looked at John 6:15-71 this morning, a huge chunk of scripture, masterfully handled by Pastor Don Johnson, and as the familiar words rolled over me, I was struck by how often and how easily we choose to walk away from LIFE.

John 6 tells us that miraculous healing has happened over and over again, the swirling crowds have been fed, and the disciples have been comforted in the midst of a storm. 

But for so many who are watching, listening, hungering — what Jesus does is not enough. There is a greediness to human nature that impinges on so many of our life choices, a desire for more. And Jesus recognizes it, telling those who will listen that they need more than full bellies if they want to truly live: they need the bread of heaven, the BREAD OF LIFE.


Jesus invites them — and us — to go deeper, to grow in trust, to stop hunting for the next free meal. He pushes them, hard.

“Stop asking for more manna – I am not Moses. I am MORE than Moses. I am the Bread of Life.”

We were reminded this morning of the fluidity of the groups that clustered around Jesus – the crowds, the ‘Jews’ (or enemies — those who were vehemently opposed to Jesus and all that he did and taught) and the disciples, which was a larger and more diverse group than the 12. There were women disciples, too, there were old folk and young folk, there were people from all walks of life, there was a wide variety of people who listened and learned and changed. 

But at this point in his ministry, at this push-back point, some of that larger group of disciples melt back into the crowd, and they walk away. 

They walk away.

Why? Because of these words: 

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”


And the verb Jesus chooses to use to describe this ‘eating’ is the rough-around-the-edges one, the impolite one, the messy, noisy, colorful one: crunchJesus says. Chew, gnaw, masticate — make a mess and be enthusiastic about it. Give it your whole self.

Give it your whole self.

Choose life!

As he watches many of those who called themselves disciples exit the scene, he turns to that closest circle and asks, “You too?” Do they, too, find him too much, too embarrassing, too demanding? 

And Peter, bless him! — Peter says these words, which just may be my very favorite words in the entire New Testament:

“To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

As I listen to Peter’s heart cry, I discover that I am encouraged. I am reminded to keep chewing. My heart is gladdened to know that Jesus invites me to be a bit messy, to listen well, to learn of him, and then to live and pray and serve and speak with passion and commitment.

I, like Peter, choose LIFE. I choose to eat the Bread of Life with thanksgiving and with gusto.


And this week, we looked for and chose life wherever and whenever we could find it.

After so much sadness last week, it was sweet to remember that the goodness of the Lord can be found in the land of the living.

So we happily watched a grandson play basketball.

We enjoyed the beauty of a California sky after rain, as we sat at a school playground,
IMG_3628as we drove along the ocean’s edge,

IMG_3636as we enjoyed the view from our favorite cliffside vantage point,


as we walked along our favorite sidewalk.

We found and relished LIFE in the faces of our dear ones, old and young,
IMG_3621in the littlest pilgrim, at her Thanksgiving feast and program,


and in the joyous discovery of a friend’s new book, lining the shelves of my favorite book store in the world, Vroman’s in Pasadena.


I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting that friend — and taking my daughter to hear her speak — and to be reminded by both Sarah and my girl that God’s creation design is for men and women to work together, side by side, under the leadership of God alone. 


We joined two dozen of our friends at church to offer an evening of beauty and food and friendship to 180 international students in our Family Life Center, enjoying the up-front goodies,


and the behind-the-scenes scrambling.


These are small things, spots of light amid much darkness. But they are filled with life, with the goodness and faithfulness of God, with the beauty of creation and the joy of family and community.

Sometimes, I can too easily feel buried by the pain, by the loss, by the darkness. But if I will remember to keep chewing, to let go of fear and embarrassment and laziness — then I discover again that I am full, filled to overflowing with the Bread of Heaven.

I am ALIVE, and I am grateful.

Joining this with Michelle, Laura, Jen, Jennifer and Ann this week:


Philip or Andrew?

I am indebted to the fine homiletical work of our pastor Don Johnson for the thrust of this reflection. His sermon this morning was dead on, and so very important. Please read the gospel lesson, the Word of the Lord for the saints in Santa Barbara this morning:

John 6:1-15, NLT

After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked,“Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples,“Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.


It was hot, dusty, flies and people milling about,
buzzing, buzzing.

Over 5000 folks climbed that hillside with the water view,
oldsters and children, men and women,
seekers and hangers-on —

wondering and wandering and wanting to see
what the rabbi might do,
to hear what he might say.


Jesus was the newest ‘show in town,’ and everyone was curious.
They had seen (or heard) about the healings, the ‘signs,’
and they wanted to see a few for themselves.
So they hoofed it, out into the countryside, hiking up the hill by the lake,
hanging around, waiting for the show to begin.
The star of the show, however, gathered his closest friends and went to
the tippy-top of that hill and . . . what?
Gathered the props for a magic show?
Laid out a careful plan for crowd management?
Discussed what the format for the day should look like?

None of the above.
None of it.
Oh, there is a sign coming —
and a doozy of a sign, too.
And the crowd will be pleased,
so overwhelmingly convinced that Jesus
is the latest hot number,
that they will succumb to mob mentality
and try to force the guy to become
their next Grand Poobah.
(Something which Jesus will have NONE of.)


No. There is no talk of technique or teaching,
there is a simple lesson in faith, told to two particular disciples.
Rather than a story about the crowd.
or even a story about a ‘trick’ or a sign,
this is something else entirely.

This is a story about 
contrasting worldviews,
personal invitations,
scarcity and plentitude,
faith and doubt.

This is a story about possibilities
and whether or not those who follow Jesus
are open to them.

This is a story about Philip and Andrew.

IMG_3602 And this is a story about giving what we have,
no matter how small it might look to us,
to the gentle, prayerful care of Jesus the Christ,
and then waiting to see
how too little
becomes more than enough.

That is a barley loaf in the pictures above.
Poor people’s bread in 1st century Palestine,
the bare minimum for a day’s calories.
Crumbly and salty, even tasty, when you get used to it,
what a mother might pack for her son
for a picnic by the lake.

A far cry from Philip’s anxious bean-counting,
(“Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough to feed all these people!”)
and the only small thing that Andrew could dredge up 
in his cursory survey of the crowd.
A boy’s lunch basket.
That’s all he had.

And it was more than enough.

Neither Philip nor Andrew could see that more-than-enough
when they looked at that little lunch.
But Andrew had a hunch, just an inkling,
and he wasn’t all that sure about it, either.
But he brought that small bag of food,
and he gave it to Jesus.

What small thing can I bring to the top of that hill today?
What paltry gift can I bring?
Can I take my eyes off of the need that seems to 
surround and overwhelm,
and look only at Jesus?
Only at Jesus.

Can I resist the attitude of scarcity that oozes out of Philip,
can I turn away from my proclivity for anxiety rather than trust,
my inclination to look at the crowd rather than at Jesus,
my unholy need to control outcomes
rather than let the Holy-Spirit-power-of-my-Redeemer
have its way with the little, the last, the least and the lost?

Ah, Jesus. Have mercy on me, a sinner.
Help me to be an Andrew.
Not quite sure, but willing.
Wondering about outcomes,
but handing it over,
no matter how small it looks.


After church,
after lunch,
after a deep breath and a deep sigh,
we piled my 92-year-old mom into our car
and headed 80 miles east toward her 90-year-old sister,
who is dying this week.

When pastor Don asked us to write down the small things we have,
the things that we find when we search our hearts
and our calendars and our commitments,
the things we need to bring to Jesus —
these two were on the top of my list:
my writing
my mother.
And today was a day for my mother.


It was a hard day, a tiring one, filled with confusion
and fear and grief.
It was a day when I had to pray for grace and for patience
every second of every minute of every hour.

I had a hard time looking at Jesus
in the midst of this particular crowd.
I had a hard time sitting down on the grass
and partaking of the bounty that comes
from not enough when it is given over to the Savior.

But there were glimpses.
There was beauty.
There was grace.
My beautiful cousin, looking at her mama with so much love.
My beautiful aunt, rousing just enough
to grab her sister’s hand and cry, “Ruthie! Ruthie! It’s you, it’s you!”
My beautiful mother, having to meet her grief
over and over and over,
as she forgot who the woman in the bed was,
and then remembered when I gently repeated,
“This is Eileen, your sister, your best friend.”
And the beauty of old songs, sweetly sung.
“On a hill far away. . .”
“For God so loved the world. . . “
“Away in a manger. . .”
“I come to the garden alone. . . “
Every word sung by the sisters and the cousins,
every word an offering of love to each other,
and to the God who gives us songs to sing.

Every word, a reminder that when we give it to Jesus,
the little things are more than enough.

An update, late on Tuesday night: my much-loved, delightful, charming, fun-loving Aunt Eileen
moved into the arms of Jesus at 9:46 p.m.
Thanks be to God and peace to her memory.

Offering this small thing to Laura, Michelle, Jen, Jennifer, Ann and Emily this week, grateful for the ways in which they each point me to Jesus and away from the crowd.

The Truest Disciple: Reflections on John 12:1-8

I’m nearing the end of a wonderful online writing class (offered through and for one of our lessons, we were asked to write something in the style of one of our favorite authors. I chose Barbara Brown Taylor, whose sermons are perfection. This small meditation is a very feeble attempt to echo her insightful handing of familiar Bible passages.


“Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.  Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”  (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”


It was a party, you know. A dinner party. Because that’s where all the really good things in life happen, right? Sharing a meal with people we love, laughing over a shared glass of wine, telling stories, building memories.

And they were all there, the whole motley crew. The Twelve that followed Jesus up the road and down again. And the three – the siblings, Martha, Mary, Lazarus – who loved Jesus and hosted him time and again.

And this was a special party, truly special. Lazarus had been . . . well, there’s no other way but to put the bald truth out there — Lazarus had been dead.

And then he wasn’t, because Jesus said, ‘Come out.’

But like many parties often do, this one wound down to just three people, three people in the spotlight.

Jesus, because . . . well, he was Jesus, after all.

And Judas, because he asks hard questions and flings accusations.

And Mary.


Right here, in the deeply misogynistic world of 1st century Palestine, the one in the fullest glare of the spotlight, the one truly faithful disciple turns out to be . . . a woman.

All the guys are there — the crusty fisherman, the bickering brothers, the tax collector, the one who sat under the fig tree. And they’ve all been there for the last three years, covered in dust, sprinkled with Galilean water, living the daily ins and outs of the Jesus life.

Yet somehow, they missed it. They missed the point of it all, the thrust of their mission, the terrifying end of the story they didn’t even know they were telling.

But Mary?

Mary gets it. She is so full of the glorious, heartbreaking truth that it literally pours forth from her body. She comes to the end of the dining couch, where Jesus is reclining by the table. She bends down, breaks open a wildly expensive vial of fragrant oil, and pours it over his feet, loosing her hair to rub it right into the cracks and crevices, scandalizing everyone in the room except the one she came to anoint.

Because, you see, she had been paying attention. Like that other Mary, she was ‘pondering these things in her heart,’ listening with care. As Judas snarled, Jesus calmed the storm: “Leave her alone . . . this perfume has been stashed away just for today, to prepare me for . . . my burial.”

Even here, on the eve of his own brutal death, Jesus insists on changing up the rules for acceptable behavior.  He shuts down what we might call the ‘churchy’ attitude, the self-righteous platitudes, and he elevates the simple but loving actions of a contemplative woman.

What we do and why and how we do it — that’s what counts. It’s not so much what we say or even what we believe — it’s what we do. Because the take-home truth is this: the surest sign of a true disciple is the delicious aroma that permeates every corner of the house.

Every corner.


In the midst of a hard and tiring week, I’m thankful tonight for 
the stories of scripture,
the gentle care of health aides where our moms live,
the sunshine sparkling on the water,
a 91 degree swimming pool for therapy on unhappy tendons,
CPK salads for dinner.

Joining this with Michelle and Jen, Ann & Jennifer this week:

Ladies Trio: A Deeper Family

It’s time for my monthly post over at A Deeper Family – I hope you’ll follow this link over there to read the rest of this story. Our agreed upon theme for this month (a first, for us) was to write a narrative reflection on a holiday song. This is the one that came to me – a song I only sang once in my life and can no longer find, despite extensive google searching!


It’s true — I sang in a women’s trio in the 1980s. Very much restricted to our local church, but yes — I stood in front of the mic, in front of the congregation, and I belted out the low alto part whenever I got the chance.

My kids were elementary and middle school age, and I was trying to find my way to whatever might be next in my life — which, now that I think about it, seems to be a recurring theme for me.  At that point in time, the search led to both women’s ministries and worship ministries, teaching and organizing events for younger moms, and assisting with musical production and worship planning.

I’d done the mommy thing for a long time by then — my eldest was an early teen — and I was itching to get out of the house, out of what sometimes felt like the constraining role of caring for children, running a home. Our mid-sized congregation had a wide swath of artists of all stripes – graphic designers, writers, actors, musicians — and it felt great to re-discover gifts I hadn’t used in a long while. It was intoxicating and exciting and fun.

This particular performance experience began on December 18th, our 16th wedding anniversary. I had a rehearsal at church that morning for a song and slide show to be offered the following Sunday. Our 9-year-old son had complained of a sore foot for several days — two nights before, he’d played his French horn in a school concert and limped as he walked off the stage.

“What’s with the foot, Eric?” I asked, a bit skeptically. We actually owned a pair of crutches from someone’s sprained ankle and I assumed this was more of the same — no big deal.

“I dunno, Mom. It just hurts to walk.”

Please come on over to A Deeper Family to see how this one turns out . . .

Tuesday’s Read, Read, Read! (a book review and a synchroblog to celebrate Sarah’s new book!)

First, the book review:

Every once in a great while, a voice arises that speaks truth in love for an entire generation of Jesus-followers. Sarah Bessey is such a voice. I began reading her blog three years ago, and quickly discovered a Soul Sister. Sarah has the heart of an artist, the skill of a surgeon, and the grace of a dancer when she begins weaving words together. And she has woven them into a masterpiece with this beautiful, heartfelt, lyrical book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

With a foreword by Rachel Held Evans and a stunning manifesto by Idelette Mcvicker leading the way, Sarah dives into her topic with an extended version of a popular blog post, “A Bonfire on the Shore.” All of us — egalitarians, complementarians, feminists, non-feminists — are invited to join her around that bonfire, to listen to one another in love and to share stories, life lessons, observations, and most especially, questions and answers that we have lived in the everydayness of life as well as wrestled with in our minds. “I want to tell the truth, but first I want to live the Truth,” she says; “I won’t confuse critical thinking with a critical spirit,” she promises.

And then she dives into the whole Big Topic, declaring that yes, she is a feminist — but only because she is following after the ways, words and actions of Jesus, her savior and friend. She is learning from Jesus what it means for each of us to be a human person, whether male or female. Never discounting the differences between men and women, Sarah makes a strong case for her position without alienating those who might disagree with her. She stakes out her place: “Patriarchy is not God’s dream for humanity. It never was; it never will be.” But she leaves room for conversation: “I don’t think God is glorified by tightly crafted arguments wielded as weaponry.”

Telling pieces of her own story all along the way, Sarah looks at the whole of scripture first, most especially at the words and work of Jesus in the gospel narratives, refusing to allow the ‘problematic passages’ to take precedence over what she sees happening in Jesus’ relationship with women. She does this, however, without ever discounting the power and authority of the biblical message. She works hard to sift out the cultural specificities from the timeless truths, always with an attitude of appreciation and respect for the Word of God.

Sarah gives testimony to the partnership she enjoys in her own marriage, making a beautifully strong case for mutual submission. She makes room for single women at the table of full-personhood without diminishing the joy she has found in being married and birthing babies. And she calls the church to open-handed, open-hearted sharing in the work of kingdom living, inviting us to reconsider traditional ‘women’s ministries’ in the light of all that needs doing in the wider world.

This is a joyful book, an honest book, a welcoming book. I don’t know if you will find yourself proudly wearing the, “I am a Jesus feminist” badge when you finish it. I hope so. But I do know that you will be glad you read this book, that you will wrestle with the questions she asks and the stories she tells, and that you will stand up and cheer when you read the opening invitation and the closing benediction. Because Sarah writes truth, with a capital “T” — but she never tells it without love. And YOU, yes, you, are so very welcome here.

I received an advance release digital copy of this fine book from Simon & Schuster Digital Sales, Inc, in exchange for my honest review. This is it – and it is an honor. But I highly recommend that you purchase a hard copy of this one – it needs dog-earring and marking up. I compiled a 7-page document of favorite quotes and ideas, some of which are my own response to Sarah’s thinking in these pages. Now, that’s a good book.

And now, the synchroblog — my own reflections on why I am who I am:


 They came streaming down the center aisle on Sunday morning.
Men, women, children.
Students, grandmothers, professors;
building contractors, retirees, babes-in-arms.
Down they came, moving slowly beneath the chandeliers,
bending low over the basket,
taking a morsel of bread
and dipping it into the offered cup.

“The body of Christ, broken for you.”
“The Cup of peace, given for you.”

And, once again, I remembered who I am.


 It was All Saints Sunday, a day of remembering.
And we did exactly that.
We re-membered ourselves,
all of us — past and present — in litany,
in prayer, in memory.
The presence of those who led the way
to where we now are was palpable,
breathing out of the wood and stone and stained glass,
echoing in the guitars and piano,
standing right there in the worship center with us,
shoulder to shoulder.


 We lit candles to help us remember.
And we thanked God for friends and family
who have left this physical realm,
this place-in-space that only partially reveals the truth of who we are.

And we sang!
Oh, how we sang,
joining our 300 voices with the sound
of saints and angels
around the world and across time,
remembering who we are.


 This is our home, these are our people,
this is our song.
I am a woman, yes, I am.
I am glad to be female,
grateful for the power of my body,
the gift of child-bearing,
the ability to nourish.
But I am also a human being.
First and foremost, I am that.
And I am blessed to be part of a community
that celebrates both truths,
that doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge
the ways in which my femaleness
brings wholeness to the image of God
in the midst of the sanctuary.

 For the last forty years, this is the truth my husband and I have lived:
we are partners.
We are equal before God.
We bring different gifts and abilities
to our shared table,
but we are, each of us, seen by God for
who we are,
ALL of who we are:
redeemed by Jesus,
gifted by God,
called and filled by the Holy Spirit,
commanded to love God, others and ourselves,
sent to a world that hungers for grace.
Both of us.


The candles were still gleaming Sunday evening,
as a small group of us gathered to worship Taize style.
Sung prayer, lectio, and once again,
a shared table.

But this time, a litany of silence.
Deep enough to hear the bread tear,
quiet enough to hear the purplish fluid being poured out,
every last drop.


Dark enough to exhale.
To fully exhale all the worries of the day,

the carbon dioxide of doubt,
the staleness of fatigue.

It is within this context that I can say yes,
I am a Jesus feminist.
In the center of worship,
in the midst of the congregation,
in the place where I am known.

And in that powerful, life-giving truth,
I rejoice!

My deep thanks to those who lead our congregation in worship that is real and rich – Don Johnson, Jon Lemmond and Bob Gross. It is Bob’s voice that you hear, along with his composing and arranging skills, in the Taize songs I have linked in this piece.

I am joining this post with Sarah’s synchroblog, with Michelle’s weekly invitation and with Jennifer’s storytelling.