An Advent Journey, 2013: Looking for the Light – Day Nineteen

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Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for.

But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal.That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

Galatians 3:23-29-The Message

Of the many good and great things wrought by the Incarnation, this passage in Galatians surely represents one of the most beautiful and most freeing. 

The Law is fulfilled, its purpose served. God has come among us and now, because of the birth and life and death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, we are — all of us — in direct relationship with God.

These three short paragraphs are astoundingly beautiful and profound, aren’t they? We are ‘at our destination,’ as Paul puts it: in Christ we are all equal, we are all family. No divisions, no higher or lower than, no hard-and-fast roles to play. We are ONE.

Is that not amazing? 

So why, I wonder, can we not live this truth and enjoy it? Why do we resort to finger-pointing, labeling, categorizing, sublimating, separating?

Maybe this is exactly why we need to celebrate Christmas every year. To remind ourselves of who we are – our own selves, and all the selves who worship around us, who write blogs out in cyberspace, who write books and pontificate and theorize and stigmatize. We are all one . . . IN CHRIST.

Hallelujah!

Mighty Savior, will you help us to celebrate who we are because of you? Please remind us of this liberating truth: we are equal in your sight. There is no racial, gender, or ethnic distinction that amounts to a hill of beans in the life of the kingdom. Not.One. Praise your name!

Remembering Helen – Five Minute Friday

I’m not at all sure how this will come out, as the prompt this week brought to mind something that happened to me a couple of times lately — a memory was stirred. And having that happen twice in a week, well. . . it makes me think this is something I’m supposed to get down. So, I’ll try to do it in 5 minutes and link it up with Lisa-Jo and the gang this week:
Five Minute Friday

The view from that hill . . . a little closer to the sea.

PROMPT:  SMALL

GO:

The road winds up the hill, the hill that opens up to the sea. And every time I drive up that road, I remember Helen. She was such a small thing, dark-haired, pixie-eyed, full of sweetness and light. Byron asked me to go and see her. She was a friend of a friend and she was in Santa Barbara to receive a new treatment in her battle against lung cancer.

I was brand new to my job as Associate Pastor and I was pretty new to visitation, especially when the person was unknown to me and critically ill. But I went – how could I not? She was delightful – vibrant, open, seeking, devoted to her family and to her Lord. She wanted someone to talk to, to pray with, to help her face into the realities that were coming at her faster than a freight train.

Oh, how I loved her!

I met with her about a dozen times over the next few months. She would travel back and forth to her home in Arizona in between treatments, staying with friends when she was here. Eventually, she stayed for longer and longer periods of time and the family rented a house up on the bluff, a house with a distant view of the deep blue sea.

Each visit, she seemed smaller, shrinking into herself in some ways, but pouring herself out in others. Her eyes always sparkled, her smile never wavered. Oh, her voice got weaker and finally, she couldn’t walk very far at all, choosing to stay in bed or in a chair nearby. But her spirit? Indomitable.

She died quietly, here in Santa Barbara, and the family asked me to create a memorial service for her in our small chapel so that all those in this town who loved her could come and remember and worship together. 

That chapel was full, I’ll tell you. She was small, yes, she was. But her heart was huge and her sweet smiles and soft words reached out to dozens of friends. 

That was almost seventeen years ago. And every time I drive up that hill, I glance to my left, to the street that sloped up and around the bend. And I remember the gift of Helen, the first of many friends I walked with to the end of the road.

STOP

2 extra minutes

Midweek Service: An Old Advent Sermon — Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

This sermon was preached 11 years ago as part of a series on creating ‘margin’ in our lives. Three of us preached in this series — on economics, relationships, time. And when my turn came, the topic was a tough one for me: honoring these bodies we’ve been given by caring for them well, including making space for Sabbath. It was preached during Advent and used one of the Isaiah Advent texts as its primary focus. And it was preached at the end of a very difficult year for me personally. I had been on an extended medical leave from January-August and the story I tell happened during those months.
Each week’s photo is from a collection of pictures taken in St. Vitus’ Cathedral, Prague.

     Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
preached by Diana R.G. Trautwein
Montecito Covenant Church
Advent Series, December 15, 2002
“Making Ready: Is There Space for God in Our Bodies?”

I never cease to be amazed at God’s sense of humor.  I am perhaps the last person who should be standing up here in front of you all, giving you a pep talk on taking care of your bodies.  Because I’m doing a really lousy job of it at the moment and actually, to be honest, have done a really lousy job of it for most of my life.  And lots of people that I talk to, church people, followers of Jesus Christ,  tell me the same thing. 

Why do you think that’s true?  Why do you think we let our lives run right out to the edge of the page physically? Is there something we should be doing (or not doing!) that we’ve lost the knack for?  Is there something we should know that we have forgotten?

Our text for this morning offers some helpful ideas.  This beautiful poem from the prophet Isaiah has been read as part of the celebration of Advent for hundreds of years.  And I believe that it (and a couple of other admonitions in scripture) can point us in the right direction as we reflect together on what it means to live our lives with physical margin.

I want to make something crystal clear as we begin this morning:  to be a follower of Jesus Christ means that everything we are and everything we do is to be set inside the sphere of his Lordship.  Jesus did not come to Bethlehem, to be born in isolation, homelessness, and poverty so that he could establish yet another religion, another set of rules about sacred and profane.

Jesus came – as a baby born of a very human mom, as a young boy filled with curious questions, making messes, laughing, crying, eating, sleeping, dreaming; as a grown man, learning a trade, living in community, walking the dusty roads of Palestine, catching fish and catching people — Jesus came to save us, to bring rich meaning to our very human living, to show us what margin looks like in day-to-day life, long before the term ‘margin’ was ever coined.

Jesus came to call us to God, to point us to truth, to walk the way of holiness in our midst.  And every bit of Jesus’ coming speaks loudly and clearly to the worth and value of human life, of physical life as well as spiritual life.  By choosing to wear human flesh for 33 years, Jesus of Nazareth gave new meaning to our understanding of what this flesh means.

These bodies, my friends, are the place where we meet God, where we receive God’s grace, where we live the life granted to us on this earth.  And they are precious gifts.   No matter what shape they are in.  No matter what we or anyone else thinks they look like.  No matter what our culture tells us they should look like.  No matter what the ravages of age or disease may do to them.

No matter what. 

They are gifts and they are temples.  There is no sense of our bodies, in and of themselves, being outside the range of God’s saving grace.  Now what we choose to do with these bodies can be, and often is, anything but sacred.  In fact, we can choose to profane these gifts rather royally.  But the bodies themselves are hallowed, sacred and splendid, God’s chosen dwelling place through the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, what we do to and with our bodies is of primary importance and is not to be ignored.

Somewhere along the way, a whole bunch of us Christians got the idea that the body is somehow disconnected from our spiritual life, that it is of little or no value to God, that only what happens between our ears or in our hearts is important.

It just ain’t so, and the whole scope of scripture gives testimony to this truth.

Isaiah recognizes it here, in his word picture about the coming of God.  This beautiful poem is a vision on many levels – it speaks to the people to whom it was written – the Israelites living in exile and hoping for a better future; it speaks to the Jewish people who read it hundreds of years after it was written – nurturing their desire for the Messiah, who would bring about the glorious era pictured here; it speaks to us, followers of Jesus in 2002, who see in these words a description of the in-breaking kingdom of God, made real on earth by Jesus’ first coming and being brought to full fruit with Jesus’ second coming somewhere further out in the future.

It speaks to mind, spirit and body:  “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees,” the prophet cries.  Tell them this good news:  “The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.”  The body and the spirit are redeemed, ransomed by the glorious salvation of God.

This beautiful chapter is a vivid picture of what life can and will be like for all of those who choose to put their trust in God, who choose to let God be God – no thing or no one else.  The desert turned to a pool-filled garden, human bodies restored to their creation design, harmony between humanity and the animal world and the created order, the joyous praises of God’s people resounding throughout – that is what is promised to those who choose to find their strength, their hope, their joy in God.

Ok.  So it’s a beautiful picture.  Sounds great – wish I was there.  In the meantime, how do I live in the now?  How do I manage these tired hands and these feeble knees?  While I’m waiting for Jesus to bring in the kingdom in all of its fullness, is there any way for me to experience just a taste of it in the present?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I believe there is. As I read and reflected on this picture, this passage, over the past couple of weeks, I also did some other kinds of reading. I read the book from which this sermon series gets its primary focus:  “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives,” by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. and I read: “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives,” by Wayne Muller.

Both books are excellent, helpful and come to you highly recommended.  And as I read these two gentlemen’s suggestions for living more balanced lives, it seemed to me that the picture Isaiah paints is available to us in the here and now, at least in part.  For the Kingdom of Heaven is alive and well in the hearts of believers right here, right now and there are ways in which we can connect with that truth, even in the daily-ness of living.

It also became increasingly clear to me that the questions I asked at the beginning of this sermon (and those question were:  Why do you think we let our lives run right out to the edge of the page physically?  Is there something we should be doing (or not doing!) that we’ve lost the knack for?  Is there something we should know that we have forgotten?) those questions can be answered, in the context of this week’s theme and topic with these two statements:

1.)          We need to remember that our bodies are sacred, gifts to us from God to be used for his glory, not our own. And . . .

2.)          We need to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy – so that it can help keep us holy.

We’ve already spent a few minutes this morning looking at the truth of that first statement and now it’s time to look at the truth of the second one, particularly in light of our need to create physical margin in our lives this Advent season.

From the opening verses of Genesis, God declares and models the need for margin in our lives – and he calls that space “Sabbath rest.”  It’s a thread that continues throughout the Old Testament, showing up as the 4th commandment (one of only two that are stated in the positive rather than a ‘do not’), and noted again and again as a necessary ingredient in the life of the people of God.

Jesus observes its importance – as it was originally designed by God, not as it was legalized by religious rule-making – and Jesus models its place in the flow of life.  Repeatedly, the gospels tell us of Jesus’ drawing away to be quiet, to pray, to be alone or with a small circle of friends.  He often left in the middle of ministry, he left with the job undone, he left with people in need, standing on the doorstep.  He honored, he remembered, that ‘Sabbath thing’ as an essential part of his life; we who are his friends are called to do the same.

God our Creator has built into us a need for rhythm in our lives – the rhythm of action and inaction, doing and being, moving and resting.  I want to give you just a small picture of how that need for rhythm was brought to my attention this past year.

After about six weeks of staying at home, seeing a few doctors, resting, worshipping in private, playing way too much computer solitaire. . .I began to feel stronger and more able to face the outside world.  The timing was wonderful, it was February and Ash Wednesday was coming.

I wanted to go somewhere for an Ash Wednesday service where no one would know me, but I could enter into the beauty of rhythmic worship and begin to find nourishment in community once again.  I chose to go to the noon service at the Old Mission.  Now I had lived in Santa Barbara for just over five years at this point in my history and I had never taken the time to visit the mission.  I had never been inside.  So I went, not knowing what to expect at all.  There was a good crowd of people there – probably about 400 or so – and there were printed worship folders, complete with melody lines, so that everyone could follow the service.  I sat on a hard wooden bench about 2/3 of the way back in the sanctuary and waited.

Suddenly, there was this gloriously beautiful voice drifting over my head, like an angel song, I thought at the time.  The service had begun and it was lovely.  The words of the songs, the rhythm of movement – standing, sitting, kneeling, processing – the words of the liturgy, the reception of the ashes – all of it was intensely moving and drew me into a time of true worship and repentance.  I had had a Sabbath experience at lunch hour on a Wednesday.

Later that same day, I drove down to Carp to get a gift for my husband for Valentine’s Day.  I had heard about this orchid warehouse and thought I’d check it out.  So in I went, feeling refreshed from the church service and some time in prayer with a friend.  I walked into the showroom and was suitably impressed at the wonderful arrangements and plants on display.

Then someone opened a sliding door near the back, and I walked into this absolute symphony of color and design.  There were thousands of brightly colored orchids extending to every edge of this huge warehouse.  I don’t remember ever seeing so many beautiful plants in one space ever before in my life.  It was truly breathtaking.

And I had another experience of Sabbath, of worship, right there in beautiful rural Carpinteria.

Tears came and I uttered a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving to our Creator God for his genius and for the gift of partnering genius shared by us human creatures in propagating these gorgeous plants.

The entire day was a gift, a gift of the rhythms of life lived in Sabbath mode.  Somehow, the great gift of Sabbath rhythm, of Sabbath rest, has been lost in our time, in our culture.  If we are to experience it again, we must be very intentional about it, and we must look for opportunities to incorporate its benefits into our lives in all kinds of ways.

Let me suggest just a few ways in which you and I might experience a sliver of the paradise described by Isaiah and included in the biblical concept of Sabbath.  In addition to incorporating better health habits like eating well, sleeping well, and exercising regularly, I believe the intelligent, prayerful observance of Sabbath can give us the physical margin we all so badly want and need.

The age we live in values speed, noise, activity, money, success.  Sabbath values are centered around slowing down, being quiet, being still, saving time, building relationships – the very opposite of what we are told, every single day, is what really counts.  So what I’m asking us to do is not going to be easy, but it is going to be incredibly rich.

Here’s a beginning: if at all possible, set aside one afternoon or evening each week to observe the holiness of Sabbath.  Turn off the phones, the television, the computer, the beeper.  Light candles for dinner.  If you live with family or friends, enjoy their company over a good meal, play a couple of table games or read a book together.  If you live alone, create a beautiful space for yourself to eat, to be quiet, to read, to reflect.  Or invite someone over to share it with you.  Incorporate some simple prayers into your mealtime, inviting God to be present in your Sabbath.

If an entire evening or afternoon of keeping Sabbath seems overwhelming to you, start smaller.  Take a walk sometime during the week – for 20-30 minutes. Keep silence during the walk, and do it somewhere beautiful if at all possible.   Look around you, observe what you see. Then sit down and reflect for a few minutes on what you’ve experienced.

Observe moments of silence during your day.  Just stop whatever you’re doing and be still for 2-3 minutes.  Pray if you wish, or just breathe.

Breathing consciously, intentionally, slowly — breathing is actually a fairly important part of slowing life down. There are ancient Christian practices of prayer that are centered on our breathing patterns and they can help us for just a few minutes of the day – to capture some Sabbath time.

Offering blessings, silently, to those around you is another small way of keeping Sabbath.  Try that the next time somebody cuts you off in traffic!  Offer words of blessing instead of frustration (or worse!) – bless the people around you wherever you are.  Ask God to make you a blessing to others as well.

Rediscover the fine art of dinking around – spend time doing not much: sitting in the yard, pulling a few weeds, playing a board game with some kids or adults, tossing the baseball, shooting a few hoops.  I’m not talking about hustle here, I’m talking dinking around, deliberately slowing your pace.  And do this whenever – in the middle of your day, in the middle of the night if you have trouble sleeping.

Refuse to be driven by the need to be finished before you stop doing something.  Our need to be finished is one of the primary forces pushing us away from Sabbath-keeping.  The commandment is ‘to remember’ the Sabbath, to keep it holy.  And we so easily forget it, don’t we?  I surely forgot it these last few weeks and my body is telling me that’s a real shame!

Let’s face it.  There will always be more work to do than we can conceivably get done.  We will never be finished, and that’s the truth.  Therefore, we must learn to stop working, to stop pushing, to stop achieving, to stop trying to do it all: to stop.

That is a huge part of what Sabbath is all about.  Stopping what we ordinarily do.  Stopping.  And the other part is remembering: remembering whose we are, remembering to say thank you to God, to others, re-membering ourselves, getting ourselves together, in one piece, ready, then, to return to work, to daily doing.

My house this year does not yet have a single decoration in place.  There are very few Christmas gifts bought.  The Christmas letter has not been written.  And you know what?  I’m increasingly ok with that.  Surely one of the most powerful messages of Advent is the value of stopping – waiting — and being expectant rather than distracted or overwhelmed.  And Christmas itself is really about things like smallness, vulnerability, wonder, quiet, and mystery.  If I don’t somehow slow down enough to see it, to sense it, to experience it, the truth and beauty of Christmas can pass me right by.  And I don’t want that to happen again, do you?

I am going to stop long enough to enjoy a taste of the glorious kingdom described by Isaiah.  I am going to remember the keep the Sabbath, in ways both large and small.  I am going to acknowledge that this very tired old body of mine is a gift from God, a container for my spirit, a container for the holiness of God Almighty, a sacred thing, a set-apart thing, a living organism with a real need for that blank, white space around the edges.

My prayer for all of us, for me and for each one of you, is that this will be our experience this Advent, this Christmas.  That we will find ourselves traveling on the Holy Way, redeemed by our God, on our way to God, “singing,” as the prophet phrased it, “with everlasting joy upon our heads.”

Will you stand with me and sing a song of everlasting joy to our good and generous God, creator of all that we are?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of a Long Life — A Deeper Family

It’s the first Thursday of the month and time for my monthly post at A Deeper Family. And this one crept up on me, bigtime. Somehow, I thought the first Thursday was next week (duh!) and had set aside tomorrow afternoon to write this piece. Fortunately, truth dawned at approximately 9:00 p.m. for an essay that was due at midnight. 

With the grands at Shell Beach, one year ago this month.

 

Forty years ago, I was a stay-at-home housewife with three children under the age of five, wildly in love with my kids but often overwhelmed by fatigue and feelings of failure.

Thirty years ago, I had two teenagers and a pre-teen, served as an active volunteer in church and community, loved entertaining large groups of people in our home and was oblivious to the truth that this good, rich time of my life was rushing by me.

Twenty years ago, I walked across the stage to pick up my master of divinity degree from Fuller Seminary after four years of study, all that studying done while managing a small floral business in my home, watching each of my children move into committed relationships and becoming a first-time grandparent.

Ten years ago, I was nearing the midway point of my pastoral life here in Santa Barbara, discovering the harsh reality of death in our family circle for the first time, trying to balance (what is that, anyhow?) home and church, family and congregation.

Today, right now, I am retired from parish work; I offer spiritual direction from my home; I write on my blog, here at ADF, and several other places on the internet and in print; I have children older than most of the people I meet with or write with; I am married to a man I love deeply, a man who stays home most of the day because he, too, is retired; I am mother to my mother as she fades into the dim recesses of dementia; and I am Nana to eight grands, two of whom are college students, for Pete’s sake.

And at this moment, on a warm California evening, I am reading this list and wondering . . . who do I want to be going forward?

If I am blessed by continuing good health and even the moderate level of agility which I currently enjoy, I may live another fifteen, twenty, maybe even twenty-five years at the most.

What will these years look like when I stand there, in the future, and look back at now?

What do I hope for, dream about, pray for, purpose in my heart to do — or maybe more importantly — to be during however many decades remain?

Here, in no particular order of importance, are the things that rise to the top as I ponder that question:

Please join me over at A Deeper Family for the rest of this post . . .

On Retreat – February, 2009 – Archive-Diving

A remarkably beautiful weekend away with women pastor friends, words and photos I want to save, memories that are precious to me.

Last Friday morning, my husband was kind enough to drive me to the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank on his way to work, so that I could catch a flight to Seattle.

Since the mid-1990s, I have been 1/6th of a group of women pastors ordained in the Evangelical Covenant denomination. Sometimes I wonder what sparks friendship, what bonds people to a commitment to one another. I think we found a certain commonality in our mid-life call to ministry, our shared experiences within the denomination and a rather off-beat sense of the absurd. (As a fine example of that last point, we called ourselves the Ya-Ya Goddesses. Yes, we did.)

About once a year, we tried to gather for a period of retreat – usually about a week long – with days spent in silence and solitude and evenings spent in conversation and community. We searched for someplace beautiful and quiet, some place that would allow us time to savor the goodness of God in the natural world while at the same time enjoying the conveniences of indoor plumbing and cooking facilities. Due to a long list of stresses in all of our lives, it has been almost 5 years since we have attempted to get together and now a weekend opened up for 4 of us and we grabbed it.
I met my friend Nancy in the Seattle airport, picked up a rental car and drove 2 hours north through rush hour traffic to the Stanwood exit, following lovely 2-lane country roads to one friend’s spectacular home and guest apartment on Camano Island.

Oh, my. 
      What a view. 
           What a house. 
                What a welcome. 


Because we have been unable to squeeze out travel time in these last five years, this year’s gathering was filled with catching up, story-sharing, lots of laughter and a few tears here and there – in addition to fabulous food, cooked by Diane and Vicki and cleaned up by Diana and Nancy.

Basically, we had 2 days together rather than our usual 4 or 5, as one whole day on each end was spent in travel. During these years since our last gathering:

     one of us has lost a daughter to breast cancer, 
     one has lost a son-in-law to the after effects of cancer 
               treatment many years ago, 
     one has survived (successfully) a drawn-out lawsuit and 
               built a new home, 
     one has endured terrible disappointment in her job 
               situation and has very recently both remarried and 
               moved from one state to another.

So there was LOTS to talk about.

And talk we did, until fairly late into the evening on Friday and Saturday nights. And on Sunday night? Well, on Sunday night….we ordered pizza by the boxload, enjoyed hot fudge sundaes AND watched the Red Carpet and the Oscars. What more could you ask for?

Diane’s home and apartment mirror each other architecturally and are both lovely to look at and live in. The apartment is dedicated to providing retreat/renewal space for weary pastors – what a glorious gift to offer the church!

When I went back to work on Tuesday, my boss asked me what I had gained ‘spiritually’ while away on retreat with my friends.

At first, I was stymied – this gathering was filled with more talk and less silence than most. But as I thought about his question, I was once again reminded that often very profound things can happen spiritually when you least intend it and seemingly don’t plan for it.

I went away this last weekend in a spirit of openness to whatever God might do with our time together. And it was so good for me to hear something of each of their stories — in order to make better sense — or perhaps to have a better sense — of my own.

For of the six of us, I am the last remaining pastor serving in a local church. Two work in retirement community environments, one teaches, two are ‘retired,’ though both are active in the parish churches they currently attend.

My pastoral role has been a gift to me, to my family and, hopefully, to the churches that I have served. And as I reflected on both the question I was asked and on my time away from the routines of life and work in Santa Barbara, I discovered (or re-discovered) these important truths about myself:
          1. I am a person who needs regular exposure to God’s beautiful creation to function well in ministry and in life.

          2. I am a person who needs some kind of regular interaction with long-time, hold-me-accountable, encourage-my-gifts, listen-to-my-crap friends, friends who know something about me in my local setting but are not a part of that setting.


          3. I am a pastor who is called to serve the Lord in the local church.

          4. I am a pastor who sometimes needs reminding that taking a break, setting a boundary and stepping out of the routine are necessary and important things to do from time to time.

          5. I am a person who, despite being in the throes of long-term, low (and sometimes high)-level-anxiety-and-concern-now-moving-into-grief – I am a person who needs to have some order around her. And that sense of order has just fallen off the cliff during these years of illness and worry in our family.

After seeing the lovely, quiet and restful spaces that Diane has created in her home, I am encouraged and challenged to make such spaces around me in my work environment and in my home office environment. Slowly, slowly, I am going to purge my book collection, get rid of extraneous paper and create workspaces that are conducive to reflection, writing, thinking and prayer.

          6. I am a person who will very likely apply for the next go-round of the Center for Spiritual Direction, offered by our denominational seminary and ministerium. It’s been on the back burner for a number of years, and I think the Spirit is nudging me to move in that direction NOW. (Applications are due March 31.)


So, yes, it appears that some things did happen spiritually during this time away. Thanks be to God – and to really good friends.

Nancy and Diana with Diane
Nancy and Diana with Vicki (Maybe next time, we’ll master that automatic picture-taking thingy.)

The Mystery of Faith…

There are days when I think that God has an
interesting sense of humor.
Today is one of those days.
I am writing in another space today,
where I write today about the very center
of my call as a pastor.
And, in a way, for me,
it all comes down to one question:
What are you going to do with me?
Maybe I’m oversimplifying,
but somehow, I don’t think so.
Because if you struggle with the issue of women
in ministry, at some point you’re going to
have to do that struggling with a real-life,
flesh and blood, Jesus-loving, Jesus-following human person.
Please click over and see what I mean, okay?

And while you’re doing that,
I also want to encourage you to read
She and I are at very different places on this particular journey. 
Yet I can honestly say that I love her very much, 
I respect her opinion and I welcome her voice.
I trust and I hope that she can say the same about me.
The comment sections at both places are very interesting 
and hopeful to me. If we can keep a civil conversation going,
loving each other, even when we land at different places,
then there is indeed real hope for the Kingdom moving forward.
Do you know what I think?
I think that our amazing God is doing some very wonderful things 
through the vehicle of the internet.
And she has offered grace to all of us awkward speakers, inviting us to share our experiences and our ideas and our points of struggle. My prayer is that the discussion underway at her site and at the various channels at A Deeper Story can be heartfelt, honest, hopeful and welcoming – even when we disagree.
Can I hear an amen??

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