Monday, September 29, 2008

Wisdom from some other words

I've been reading a lot of great stuff lately, mostly books that I've either bought or added to my "must read" list over the past few years when I was taking classes and didn't have time to read anything other than assigned material. Here's a few great quotes I've come across...

A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian by Brian McLaren

[Quoting theologian David Bosch] "According to Bosch: 'We cannot point to any other way of salvation than Jesus Christ; at the same time, we cannot set limits to the saving power of God... We appreciate this tension, and do not attempt to resolve it.' This means that anathemas and damnation can be invoked rarely if at all, which will disappoint all who have grown accustomed to resolving the above paradox by means of their invocation... For the rest of us, rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on (as Jesus told his disciples to do), giving all the respect and honor due those who are not convinced by our message (with the meekness Jesus taught), rather than calling down fire from heaven on them (as Jesus his disciples not to do)."

"If enough of us can bear the truth of our failures as Christians, if we can let that truth humble us and bring us from denial to sincere and profound repentance, if our hearts are made soft and responsive to the Holy Spirit through this painful but needed process, then there truly is hope in the midst of depression."

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis

"The best public contribution of religion is precisely not to be ideologically predictable or a loyal partisan. To always raise the moral issues of human rights, for example, will challenge both left- and right-wing governments that put power above principles. Religious action is rooted in a much deeper place than 'rights' - that place being the image of God in every human being."

Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, & Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner

"We are all of us Pilate in our asking after truth, and when we come to church to ask it, the preacher would do well to answer us also with silence because the truth and the Gospel are one, and before the Gospel is a word, it too like truth is silence - not an ordinary silence, silence as nothing to hear, but silence that makes itself heard if you listen to it the way Pilate listens to the silence of the man with the split lip."

"Truth itself cannot be stated. Truth simply is, and is what is, the good with the bad, the joy with the despair, the presence and absence of God... Before it is a word, the Gospel that is truth is silence, a pregnant silence in its ninth month, and in answer to Pilate's question, Jesus keeps silent, even with his hands tied behind him manages somehow to hold silence out like a terrible gift."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Modern day Good Samaritan tale... without the Good Samaritan

Walking on by.
I ran across this story/post on my favorite blog. I totally agree with PittGirl's thoughts on this one, and particularly appreciated her point at the end:
"The moment we stop being affected by violent deaths is the moment we stop being human."

Then I read through the comments people posted in response. I was pretty annoyed with the people who likely do not, and never will, live in a neighborhood like the one in the story and think they know what they're talking about. Yes, the story likely has a lot of complexities to it, and yes, this is obviously a neighborhood that needs a lot of help and needs to get at the root causes of their problems. But my biggest problem here is that people are so quick to make a judgment on the situation and neighborhood and aren't dealing with the big issues. There's a person laying dying or dead on a sidewalk and nobody cares?! Where is the love for our neighbor? And if the people of that neighborhood see so many dead bodies that they're unaffected by one more, are we just going to accept that and move on with our own lives?
Or are we going to make a difference in that neighborhood and in the world?

Where is the love?

Wisdom from the Word

Since coming to my internship congregation, I've begun to use the daily devotion booklets that they provide, which are published by Augsburg Fortress, and called "Christ in Our Home". The daily devotions provide a Scripture reading, a reflection on that reading, and a prayer. It is a simple way to take five minutes at the beginning of my day to center myself on God.

Today's Scripture and reflection were just right for some of the frustrations I occasionally feel working in the church, which I wrote about in my last post (Ramblings). I wanted to share some of what I read as further reflection on my previous post.

The Scripture passage is Romans 16:17-20, and the author focuses specifically on verse 17: "
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep an eye on those who cause dissensions and offenses, in opposition to the teaching that you have learned; avoid them."

While I thought that initially this message was a little harsh, the author's reflection helped me look at it from a different perspective... "In today's reading, Paul is talking about people who purposely bring division and place obstacles into the paths of others. We know the type; we know only too well that sometimes we are this type. We can let division and obstacles block our walk with Christ -- or we can step around them and continue on."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The more things I've been doing in my internship, the more thoughts have been bouncing around in my head. I'm going to attempt to let some of them out...

Many congregation members want their pastor to be involved in everything the church does, which requires a time commitment on the part of the pastor which is more than many other full-time jobs. However, congregation members also want their pastors to be energetic, compassionate, passionate, and rested. They truly care about their pastor's well-being and want them to have time off and take care of themselves. Does anybody else see a contradiction here? Now, I am not complaining about any expectations that have been put upon me yet, as I am only about a month into my internship and am far from over-worked. This is just what I have observed regarding many of the pastors I know, and it does bring some concern for the future. I guess there is a need both for pastors and all those in ministry to learn to say "no" and parishioners to learn to accept that (if they haven't already).

Why do we church people get so hung up on things that, ultimately, don't matter? And why does it always come down to money? I realize our economy is in a horrible state right now, and we do need money for a church to operate, but there comes a point when a groups discusses a topic to death and you need to do what you can and move on and trust that God will provide. Are we serving God, or money? And are we really using the money that we have for its best purposes? I will be the first to admit that I have more "stuff" than I need and that I don't always make the best decisions regarding how I spend my money. I'm sure there are some congregations where the topic of stewardship is beaten into the members heads, but I think many are afraid to really delve into the subject. And it's more than just the message that the church needs money. Why don't we really talk and think through how we are using our money and our other gifts? And why not with our whole congregation, and not just a select few?

Sometimes I get frustrated with people... with the church... with people in the church. BUT, I know we're all only human. We're sinful, but we're loved and created by God. And ultimately, THAT'S WHAT MATTERS.
God loves you.
God loves me.
Therefore, I strive to love and serve God by loving and serving others. It's not always easy. But it's the call that God has BLESSED me with.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How I spent my 08/08/08 birthday

At least a few weeks have passed since my birthday, but I wanted to share the events of the day...

In the time leading up to my birthday, I knew my boyfriend was planning something big/special, but he wouldn't give me any information except that I needed to leave the whole day open, and should plan to get someone to let Sadie out a few times. It was making me a little crazy not knowing what we'd be doing, especially since he was willing to share his plans with a few of my friends and family and they kept teasing me about it!

So the day arrived and I spent the morning relaxing and getting ready, reading, and enjoying a bday breakfast of a muffin and a latte from wawa. Josh arrived, and we set out around noon. I still didn't know what we were doing. As we got going on our drive, he was taking us west on the PA turnpike, and I was thoroughly confused because all the places I had thought of as possibilities for our destination were either in Philly or somewhere else in the east coast region. We kept driving, and he kept messing with my head. We stopped at a travel plaza and had a quick lunch from BK, and I got a crown and declared myself queen for the day. :) Then we continued driving. I knew b
y this point that we would be spending a significant amount of time in the car. (Yes, I'm quick, I know.) FINALLY, around Somerset, when we had stopped at another travel plaza for a bathroom break for me, I was let in on the surprise. I returned to the car from the plaza and he handed me a card, which I read, and thanked him for. I was somewhat puzzled though, because he had already given me a card earlier in the day and when I looked at him he had a very strange look on his face like he was waiting for me to realize something. I pulled out the card again, and inside the envelope were two tickets to the Steelers preseason game that night!! At this point there was much excitement on my end. :D

We continued the drive to the 'burgh, and after sitting in traffic for a while and finding a parking garage that might as well have required you give them your first-born child for the ridiculous amount they overcharged, we made our way to the stadium. I was decked out in my jersey (#86) which Josh had thoughtfully brought for me, and he in his... Eagles hat. Yup. Don't get me wrong, I love the Eagles as well, and I gladly cheer for them faithfully, EXCEPT of course, when they're playing the Steelers. It was rather convenient that the Steelers were playing the Eagles on my birthday, because if it were any other team, I don't think Josh would care much. And he is from Philly, and that's his team, so it was appropriate as a fan for him to wear the hat. But I honestly was slightly worried for his safety. I know Steelers' fans. Luckily, we survived the night with only two derogatory shouts in his direction. Again, thankful that he's an Eagles fan, cause if he were a Browns, or Ravens, or Patriots fan... oh boy...

The game was a lot of fun. The Steelers won, which was a bonus, even though preseason games don't mean much. And even in preseason, there's an excitement in the air of the stadium that's awesome. It's great to be among all those other fans. And it was great to share it with Josh. It was an amazing surprise that he definitely put a lot of thought, time, and money into. It really meant a lot to me, because he knows how crazy I am about the Steelers.

It definitely goes into my memories as one of the best birthdays ever.