Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some dread Lent as a time of darkness that comes, for those of us in the north, just as days are finally getting longer and lighter. Many of us were taught that Lent is a season of punishment and are reluctant to wallow in our faults when the spirit of spring is right around the corner. But for me, the onset of spring, of shorter nights, is part of Lent's genius. It's less about what's in the darkness than about being able to shine Christ's light on every nook and cranny of our light hungry souls. So, even in the forty days of repentance that dust us off and clean us out to receive resurrection fresh and new, Sunday worship continues to shine that light of Christ in little resurrection celebrations. God's light has not gone out. It is ever strong enough for our darkest days. We practice receiving Christ's light in worship, not as dry runs, but as the living breathing presence of the Holy One in Three, a constantly renewable source of spiritual energy. Sometimes I think that we mistake 'information" for "transformation" thinking that if we just know enough about anything, that will solve the problems of the world. But while knowledge is certainly power, practicing information gathering instead of resurrection living can lead to 1) analysis paralysis, 2) overconfidence 3) inattention to the unknowable, but very present, power of God. As I learn to see God's creation with that living light, I see evidence of dark turning to light where attention is paid: the combined nickels and dimes of Nothing but Nets:, the family receiving energy assistance and eager to help another in turn, youngsters devastated by death too-soon who weave loving community around each other and bereaved families. I see adults with renewed "ahahs" about who Jesus is and what difference that makes. We are all learning what it means to living Holy Spirit light in a world fascinated with darkness. May your Lent be marked by welcoming rather than wallowing, and may any dark corners in your soul invite Christ in to bring new life. Keeping in Touch: Check readfieldumc.blogspot tomorrow 11:00 am or after, as we begin our online Lenten discussion. Please pray for ... ...all those suffering form the flu, especially the frail old and young members of our communities. ...sufferers from the effects of darkness, physical or spiritual. ....students waiting for college acceptance and finance package notification. ....the UMVIM team in the last stages of preparation for trip #4 .....Rev. Russ Peppe and those preparing wonderful worship for March 8 and 15. The Pritchards have charge of the stone soup pot following worship this week, march 1. (One vegetarian and-rumor has it-one chicken this week). Drop your contribution in on your way to worship! We are just 15 chairs shy of a full fellowship hall. (No that's not a metaphor...). If you've already signed up to sponsor one or more chairs, thankyou! Please send your sponsorship check to the office as soon as feasible so that we can pick up the last batch. And if you haven't sponsored one yet, please consider helping with this important hospitality resource.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Staying in Love

Midweek Meander 2-11-09 The most radical thing we do is to choose to love each other….again and again. – “Who don’t you love,” was the question posed in an anti-racism training workshop I attended last week. I really thought hard about that. After a lifetime of seeking Christ, I honestly couldn’t think of any one I’d list as unlovable. My mind shifted categories to “easy to spend time with” or “hard to spend time with.” And “renews my energy” or “drains my energy.” But I felt like I was ducking the question, “who don’t you love?” Is love an attitude or an action? In worship last Sunday, the Men’s group presented a wonderful conversation about the Wesleyan “Three Simple Rules” Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God. They showed us how companionship in Christ can help us struggle with the simple, difficult, questions we ask and choices we make. It’s hard to know how to love in a world that makes it sound as easy as picking the right card (why does that take so much time???), buying the right gift, or finding the perfect soul-mate. The most radical thing we do is to choose to love each other…..again and again. It’s radical to choose to love the same husband or wife through rough spots when all around we see “not happy with that one? Get a new one.” It’s radical to choose to love friends who take their “stuff” out on you, coworkers who step on you to get ahead, neighbors oblivious to your feelings. It’s even more radical to choose to love people we’ve never seen but who we think of as competitors rather than partners or threats rather than as persons. It’s hard to choose to love someone we know we have to keep our distance from for safety or sanity. By choosing to love someone, or someones, we choose to seek what’s best for them at the same time that we are seeking what’s good for us. And sometimes it would be an awful lot easier to just go away. How will you choose to love while we’re celebrating love that makes the world go ‘round? Why not think outside the box? Love by entering the human struggle. Become active in a political effort instead of critiquing from the side line. Call someone you miss. Talk (and listen) with a person who has a very different perspective. Invite someone to worship or lunch that you wouldn’t usually spend time with. Find a way to tell the ones closest to you that you choose them, not just to keep them happy, but because you make each other’s lives better. In the Joy of Seeking and Serving Christ with You, Karen US: CHOOSE FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE ON VALENTINE’S DAY During Valentine’s Day week in the US, consumers are expected to spend more than $345 million on chocolate, benefiting large confection companies. When you buy fair trade chocolate through UMCOR’s partner Equal Exchange, small-scale farmers in Latin America, Asia and Africa benefit from a portion of your purchase and earn fair living wages. Why not choose to buy fair trade chocolate for a loved one and at the same time help United Methodist Committee On Relief meet its 100-Ton goal? The 100-Ton Challenge ends on World Fair Trade Day, May 9, 2009. Help farmers earn fair living wages, send their children to school and empower their communities. You can also give to UMCOR-SA&D, Advance #982188.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Love is....

Morning Meander 2-03-09 Love is in the Air…. Love hurts….. The Trouble With Love…. Diamonds are a Girls’ Best Friend…. What popular love song sings in your inner ear as Valentine ads and articles start to pop-up? (Add to the conversation with your comments below. You never know what’s going to stick. Sometimes it’s a long term favorite. Sometimes is something new and thought provoking. Sometimes it’s a catchy tune but the words make us wince. The third “Simple Rule” asks us to stay in love with God. How can love be a “rule?” Isn’t it a flight of fancy, a dance of the heart? How can a rule help me stay in love with anyone, much less God? My idea of “rule” is formed by my grade school years, and, if I’m honest, so are a lot of my ideas about Valentine’s day. Rules are things other people make me follow and love should be whimsical, sweet, and a little shy. Somehow I suspect that’s not exactly what Wesley had in mind when he invited us to “stay in love with God.” What if a rule were a measure, or a framework for taking stock and making sense of all the various experiences and ideas of love? What if love was about trust and helping each other become the best person we can be? How can I really stay in love with someone or some God I never talk to…never spend time with…never ask what’s happening in their lives and souls? What really rules the way I spend my time and energy? Valentine’s day is a lovely celebration of what tips us into love with another person and the third simple rule is an essential reminder of what it takes to stay in love, with God, a love that makes the way we love each other stronger and more meaningful as well. So this year as the day for celebrating love draws near, I’m thinking about what “rules” will shape my love. What are you thinking of?