Monday, July 29, 2013


Having grown up in different church cultures I can understand where the following speaker is coming from. As a young person, when I did attend church, thanks to my grandmothers, I had one foot in a Pentecostal Home Church and one in a Southern Baptist Church. 

Before we married, my husband and I discussed church and where we'd raise our children. He asked that I seriously consider the United Methodist Church...he grew up in one and knew that there were time honored values. I fell in love almost immediately...I loved the regular Communion, the Pastor in robes, the liturgy, the beautiful and sometimes ancient hymns. And while I know the UMC is not perfect by any means, it spoke to me...

In an age where so many congregations are changing who and what they are in order to attract young people, these words, by Rachel Held Evans, are worth listening to (be sure and follow the links)...

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.
In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Two quotes to pay especial attention to:
"The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions."  by Czeslaw Milosz
"He cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church for his Mother." Cyprian

Sunday, July 28, 2013

the Father's prayer...

As a continuation of Friday's reading:

"Bron remembered it well, for he had learned it long before he came to the skeilic. It had been part of his preparation for this pilgrimage. He could still recite almost word for word what Cassian had written. That the prayer conveyed all the feelings human nature was capable of, could be adapted to every condition, could be usefully recruited to find every temptation. That it expressed the humility of the most pious confession. That it conveyed the watchfulness which was born of endless worry and fear, a sense of our frailty, the assurance of being heard, the confidence of help was always near and present. This one short verse was an indomitable wall for everyone struggling against demons, an impenetrable breastplate and the sturdiest of shields. Whatever our disgust, our anguish, or our gloom, this verse kept us from despairing of our salvation, since it revealed to us Him whom we called, He Who saw our struggles, and Who was never far from those who prayed to Him. If things went well for us, if there was joy in our hearts, this verse warned us not to become proud, because our prosperity could not be retained without the protection of God. The verse was necessary to each of us in all conditions because it acknowledged the need for God's help through good and ill.

All this Bron remembered as well as he recalled any injunction in anything he had ever read. 'Come to my help, O God: Lord, haste thee to help me.'"

Friday, July 26, 2013

The edge of the world...

Or more properly, "An island on the edge of the world"...

I'm reading an excellent book titled "Sun Dancing" (A vision of Medieval Ireland) by Geoffrey Moorehouse. It begins with the establishment of a monastery on "Skellig Michael" in the sixth century by Saint Finnian (Fionan). While many monasteries put down their roots in the early medieval period, few chose to live in such an inhospitable place. And although it was only about 12 km from County was 12 km out to sea....where wind, wave and storm could make it impossible to land any kind of watercraft for weeks at a time. And a place where the monks depended upon regular deliveries to survive.

The monastery was continuously occupied until the 12th century when no one knows for sure why it was shut down.

It is hard to imagine the early Christian monks leading what had to have been an extraordinarily spartan day to day existence here – to say that life would have been harsh for them is truly an understatement.  Their huts, in the shape of beehives and called clochans, indicate the bareness of life on the rock.  

These monks would have left all of their earthly possessions to come and live here. Which must  have made it a lonesome existence, despite the faith which initiated their decision to move here.

 The monastery itself was terraced (a necessity because of the sheer sides of the rock).  Three flights of stairs (perhaps reflecting the Holy Trinity) lead up to Christ’s Valley (shown above) which is the small depression between the peaks of Skellig Michael.

There are many of the things you would expect to find along with the huts...a church, a vegetable garden, graves and a large cross...
Legend has it the St. Fionan and the small group that went with him allowed the Hand of God to use the wind and the waves to take them to this remote outpost...what faith! As if a rock in the Atlantic was not isolated enough, this extreme retreat afforded those monks who wished to contemplate the Divine in complete isolation the opportunity to do so.

No one truly knows the real reason it was abandoned but in their leaving, the monastery has been preserved for future generations. Only a hand full of tourists are allowed to visit each year to maintain the pristine state of this UNESCO sight.. and although most of us will probably never see it in person, there are a couple of websites that tell the story....


The Skellig Experience

Heritage Ireland

Monday, July 22, 2013

Be Pleased...


Look to this day,
For it is life,
The very life of life.
In its brief course lies all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power.
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

A Sanskrit Proverb

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I read an excellent poem printed in Devozine:

God fills
our cup full
and running over,
not so
we can boast 
or measure,
but so
we can spill over
into the lives
of others.

The imagery struck me...have you ever filled a bucket full to overflowing? The water rushes over the sides...not in precise measured amounts. You cannot control where it goes. It splashes wherever it wants. If we allow God to fill our cup to overflowing, think of the lives we will touch, lives beyond our control. How many others can we reach and refresh with God's life giving love?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

All that is required?

Those of us who have been Christians for a long time sometimes forget that we have no claim or right to the grace we have received. When we feel we deserve it, that it is ours by right, it is no longer grace and we have no claim on it. To be a part of God's family is a gift pure and simple. Our lives and all we have are given by the Holy God who spoke the world into existence.

Take a moment to step back and look at our situation from the outside. We live in a country with freedoms never before experienced and our church facility is so much more than adequate. There is nothing to keep us from reaching out to those in need. Are we content with sharing ourselves and all we have a couple of times a year? Doesn't Christ charge us to empty ourselves and give freely with open hands? Luke 12:48 tells us " whom much is given, much is required". Are we doing and giving all that is required of us?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fearing Difference

'Tis a shame, but true:

Christian communities fear difference sufficiently that they usually spend a considerable amount of time tending the margins or boundaries of their communities, not in order to connect with those outside but, rather, to protect themselves from strangers. Sometimes discussions of church membership are more concerned with who is in or out than about how to be an open and welcoming community.

From: Inward / Outward

Saturday, July 13, 2013


As I mentioned Thursday, I am on retreat...

 This annual pilgrimage fills me with peace and renews my soul...I thought I'd share a few pictures of the places I where I will be spending time...

Friday, July 12, 2013


All over the world, there exists a simple precept that, when followed, has the power to end conflict and banish strife. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Its meaning is clear: treat others only in ways that you would want to be treated. However, this rule is not always easy to follow. It can be a challenge and yet, when we do so, we bestow a gift of loving kindness on our fellow human beings. And, in honoring others, we honor ourselves.

It is as uncomplicated a tenet as one could wish for. When we live by it, harming another person becomes nearly impossible. The Golden Rule is rooted in pure empathy and does not compel us to perform any specific act. Rather, it gently guides us to never let our actions toward others be out of harmony with our own desires. It asks us to be aware of the effect our words and actions may have on another person and to imagine ourselves in their place. It calls on us to ask ourselves how we would feel if what we were about to do were directed toward us. And yet this rule invites us to do more than not harm others. It suggests that we look for opportunities to behave toward others in the same ways that we would want others to act toward us. Showing compassion, being considerate of others, caring for the less fortunate, and giving generously are what can result when you follow the Golden Rule.

Adhering to the Golden Rule whenever possible can have a positive effect on the world around you because kindness begets kindness.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Outdoor Retreat...

What timing! I leave for a (4) day retreat today and I am so looking forward to time alone in the beautiful Kentucky hills. This is the first time I will make this trek alone...and I will miss my usual companion. But leave it to Busted Halo to give me the opportunity to commune with nature in a whole new way...

A Virtual Outdoor Retreat

If you plan to spend any time out of doors, check it out!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Garden....

My son took this picture of our vegetable garden over the weekend and it clearly shows we've been blessed  with an abundance of rain! It could be considered an inconvenience but I see it as a joyful excuse to walk barefoot in the mud!

To me, gardening is one of the most profound ways we have to worship . After all, His first act after completing creation was to set Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Each time a plant bursts through the soil, I experience the Resurrection first hand. The harvest provides a true reminder of God's grace and bounty.

If I am troubled, there is no better place to sort things out than on my knees in the garden. While I dig, weed or harvest I can also meditate and pray. Spending so much time in a position of supplication, it is easy to see God there in plants and in the soil. I can think of no better therapy.

Here in the garden, it is easy to anticipate God's promise for the the seeds are planted, grow to maturity and give forth their fruit it is easy to believe that one day, all creation will be restored to what God intended it would be all along.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Parable

There is a parable from India that describes 6 blind men feeling different parts of an elephant, a strange creature that none of them knows about.
The first man has his hands on the animal's thick side and declares "This creature is a wall!"
The second man feels all along one of the sharp, smooth tusks and declares, "No, it's a spear!"
The third touches the elephant's squirming trunk and says, "No! It's a giant snake!"
The fourth is feeling one of the animals thick, sturdy legs and says, "Not at all, this is a tree!"
The fifth runs his hands over the elephant's wide ear and says, "Nope! This is a fan!"
The sixth holds the beast's rough tail and pronounces, "You're all wrong, this is clearly a rope!"

How much of our lives do we spend seeing only that which is right in front of us? 

One of the greatest gifts I've ever received was from a friend who constantly reminded me to try and see the "big" picture. To find out and know all that I could before making an assumption. I don't always get it right, but the practice has saved me, more often than not, from reducing something as large and magnificent as an elephant to a rope or a fan! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013


By all accounts, Jesus was a master teacher. Followers were drawn to Him by the magnetic power of His words which have been described as "short, precise, terrible and full of refreshment".

Jesus gave His most time honored and enduring lessons  spontaneously...right on the spot. Most were in response to a question raised, i.e.: "Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?" "Is it lawful to pay taxes to pagan authorities?" "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Just as He responded to questions, His responses were themselves often questions. Pushing the seeker to search His own mind and heart for the answers.

His use of parables served His purposes perfectly. Everyone loves a good story and His were able to hold the interest of farmers and fishermen and all in between. Most of those He spoke to were illiterate and the stories He told helped preserve the message for years to come.

After all, it is one thing to speak in lofty, abstract terms about the love of God  but it's quite another to tell of a man who lays down his life for his friends or of a father, heartsick with worry, scanning the horizon for a long lost son.

Although some of the images Jesus used in His teaching are confusing to us, after all, much has changed in the 2,000 years since He taught, with time and study (and the use of search engines on the internet), they can still speak to us today. One thing has never changed, most of us still love a good story!  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Who is God to you?

One of the most destructive mistakes in the growth of any relationship is to allow assumptions about a person's character to affect the personal discovery process. Sometimes it is a bad first impression that molds a false judgement. Sometimes it is stereotyping that kills the relationship before it can begin. The answer is, of course, to get to know someone personally.

In some cases a pile of misinformation, stereotypes and bad first impressions has to be worked through before a serious relationship can develop.
"I thought everyone who did that was..."
"He acted like that other guy and so..."
"Before we met I heard that she..."

One of the most popular God-stereotypes for religious people is the "Cosmic Policeman". This is the God who has a whistle in one hand and a large stick in the other. He only blows the whistle when we do something wrong, he dishes out our punishment with a whack from the happy stick of pain. To make things worse, the whistle, the pointing finger, and the whack are done in broad daylight so that everyone can see. The Cosmic Policeman gets his jollies by humiliating us in public. Occasionally, through the groveling and crying of "busted", he might show mercy, but it is probably just to induce a much-needed favor. He might even say, "There's going to be hell to pay if I catch you doing that again. I made you. I can make another one just like you!"

He can't really be like this, can He? If this were His true nature, what would it say about the meaning of life, the value of creation, the future of our world? How do you see God?
Pope-meets-Santa Claus?
Distant cloud of nothingness?
Carl Sagan's nemesis?
Omnipotent retiree?

Have you ever wondered where these stereotypes come from? First impressions? Secondhand information? Fairy tales? If we want to move closer to Him, we will have to kill these stereotypes and get to know the real Him, not the imagined Him. We will have to demand that He be all that God must really be.
Endlessly wonderful.
The Lovely.
The Perfect.
Could He be God and be anything else? Then why settle for less?

Most of us have layers of stereotypes that we force God to wear. Wouldn't it be great if He could come to the party dressed as He really is? We might discover something beautiful behind the hearsay.

From "Enter the Worship Circle" by Ben Pasley

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Excellent article concerning (In)dependence Day...

We pride ourselves on our independence. We are a nation of pioneers, after all. And we live in a world, age, era, culture — call it what you will — that looks askance at any form of dependence, be it on family, government or the kindness of strangers. We look with pity on the post-collegiate twentysomethings living with their parents, praying to God that won’t be us. We turn our heads when the person in front of us at the grocery store pulls out food stamps. We nervously cross the street when we see someone begging for change. We can do it on our own. We don’t need help.

We are lying to ourselves.

Read the entire piece here...