Mustard Seeds #faith #church #hope

I have a deep seated theology about belief vs. faith.

Belief is individual, Faith is shared–hence community of faith.

Faith is the vast array of beliefs, doubts, worries and hopes that are held in community.

When a disciple asks to increase faith, the disciples says, “Increase our faith”

The disciples feel like they don’t have enough, enough hope or energy or whatever to get the job done.

And Jesus says, you–plural all of you–all you need is the faith of a mustard seed, and you can do all the moving you need to do.

Luke 17:5-10

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 7“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”’

You know, I have never seen the thriving church. I’m 33 and I have never seen the church the way it used to be.

But I have seen the church. I’ve seen it in my small church which struggled to find a new pastor, which put in thousands of hrs to sit with and reconnect with the local community.

I have seen  it in the four years we could count on, the 6 years we’ve had and the 2 more (at least) that are going to happen.

There Jesus is, in a group of people who don’t know if they have enough resources.

Jesus doesn’t say don’t worry….I love this about Jesus, Jesus never says don’t worry. Because God knows to worry is to be human. We are great at worrying, we are super champs at worrying, and its how we deal with

the unknown

the unsteady

the scary

Jesus doesn’t say don’t worry, he doesn’t dismiss the worry or tell us its stupid. Instead Jesus says “I have good news, the good news is that all the faith any and all of you need is the size of a mustard seed. I can work with that amount of faith”

The implications being this faith is enough to grow.

And when we have those moments of faith, the hymn or the prayer, the sermon snippet or the conversation in the parking lot. We are church.

I have seen the church–come see it with me….

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Reject evil

when of our baptismal questions is do you denounce/reject Evil?

i always joke this is the easy one, who isn’t against evil?  But as the news of violence and hatred pile up. I wonder why it’s so hard to act against evil?

Min the Belhar Confession there is a rejection piece that condemns wrongdoing–and I find myself, over and over again, condemning the bad things that have happened.

So here’s me practicing my rejection and denounciation of evil!

I condemn senseless murder. All of it. I condemn that African-Americans are unduly targeted, I condemn that trans women of color are the most murdered and abused of our population, I condemn the ways our Latinx, Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Native Americans (as well as countless other minorities) are silenced and erased, I condemn that people are killing police officers, I condemn small children being run over on holiday in Nice, I condemn people dying who were dancing, I condemn the violence against those who use the bathrooms who don’t look gender conforming, I condemn all efforts to divide by calling some groups racists and others anti-police. In the name of The Belhar confession I condemn any threat to unity and recognize that separation is a sin Christ has already defeated. I will continue to work towards unity and reject the sins that are prejudice, separation and bigotry.

I am done with it. No more!

I will stand behind every humans right to live, breathe, laugh and love no matter who they are. I will resist the temptation to compare and separate and will work to treat all humans like the creations of God they are!

Phew! Back the the work of living it out!

 

#PokemonGo #community and #technology

Pokemon Go is not new technology, its based upon Ingress which uses google maps landmarks to create a fun reality that layers on top of the landscape of life. In fact, the idea is not that different from Geo-caching which has been around for a LONG time.

PokemonGo.jpg

What PokemonGo has done is hit all the right notes at the right time.

-Classic Fandom that has been around for 20years

-A pre-written motif to “Collect” & “Catch” them all

-The fact that it is the Age of the Geek, most adults who complain about the overuse of technology unashamedly own smartphones and use facebook….

ageofgeek.jpg

-A year that has been…rough….2016

Let’s be clear, millennials and young people have grown up in an age where getting to know your neighbors is a rarity.

Its not because we (because I’m a millennial) are addicted to technology and antisocial–its because we are a displaced generation, overworked and farther away from home than any of our parents were…this means that technology has been USEFUL for us….

Its not all sunshine and rainbows but through facebook my parents and in-laws see pics of their grandchildren (after all what else is fb for?), through cell phones I can call my best friends in Seattle, NYC and Alabama without crazy charges pretty much whenever I want, through meetups I hold a weekly playgroup that has touched at least 300bfamilies, through twitter I can virtually attend many conferences and conversations about racism, community, church and technology, and through etsy I can find items that have my autistic son’s favorite character, through instagram I can take pics of what I am reading and hopefully find people with like interests…..

Technology makes manifest our longing to connect, giving us opportunities to find new ways to reach out. It was only a matter of time before technology would turn things on their head and actually succeed in bringing people physically together.

It brings people together in communal spaces, inviting them to talk and interact…and what is amazing is they do!

It would be easy to pooh-pooh the effects of a fad…but why not celebrate? Is this not what we hope the ultimate goal of technology to be? Isn’t it wonderful when people get together? (and yes, people are imperfectly using the technology, a handful of people have taken advantage of it and people need to remember to be SAFE on their cellphones–but you should see the hundreds of churches seeing positive effects of one game)

When things are tough, and community is hard to find, I see PokemonGo as the opposite of escapist, its creative. Its creating community in what has otherwise been a fairly lonely year of tragedy. As communities of queer,Latinx, African-Americans, police officers are effected, as Baghdad, the Middle East and France are attacked, as time is hard, PokemonGo is just what the Dr ordered.

So GO! Don’t capitalize or dismiss the game.

Enjoy it, live into whatever interactions it creates (whether you play or not)

and be excited for what it might mean for the future, because that future won’t come unless we dare to dream it.

 

#Confession #lent the #bible is clear

Prayer of Confession:

Embodier of God’s Love, teach us your love. This week our confession is that we are not willing to make the sacrifice. We are more concerned about who is a part of the kingdom, instead of loving those who might not be. We ask, what must I do? Yet the Bible is clear. When people in the Bible said Moabites were bad (Deut. 23), then Ruth the Moabite came to love Naomi in heroic ways. When the people of the Bible proclaimed that those from Uz were evil (Jer. 25), Job from Uz was uplifted as the the most blameless man on earth. When God’s people hated Samaritans, Jesus told a Samaritan who was the only one to love an injured neighbor. When foreigners and eunuchs were banned (Deut 23), an African Eunuch is prompted by the Holy Spirit to be baptized into the church. (Acts 8). When the story begins with prejudice and fear, the Spirit of God moves them to be stories of God’s openness, welcome, inclusion and affirmation. We confess that often time our story is one of worry and doubt, about what we can do, about what others can do to us. Turn our story into God’s story, the story of love. We confess ourselves and pray that we are changed here and now. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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Many Waters, #love, #lament Psalm 69

Recently the curator of the achurchforstarvingartists spoke at our Presbytery Retreat, to discuss counter-intuitive thinking for ministry.

Last Week the Psalms of Praise lead to thinking about the position of kneeling/servanthood as how we will ultimately be kneeling to Christ in order to be next to him, for that is obviously the position he will be taking in the 2nd coming (as opposed to a more victorious, glory-to-God-fear-inducing or otherwise judgy-type-stance)

So it makes an odd kind of sense, to me at least, that this week’s Psalm of Lament would induce and encourage the opposite position, the one of standing up and shouting.

Psalm 69 and Matthew 7 both encourage bringing our troubles to God. Not skulking or hiding them, not muttering them under our breath, but full out yelling. Standing up and crying out to God, Saying the words Hosanna! Save us! Save me! ” Save me, O God,
   for the waters have come up to my neck.” “I have come into deep waters,
   and the flood sweeps over me.”

Lament is a unique feeling it is somewhere between mourning and anger.

It is the energy of loss.

Lament is important, because when we do not name loss it consumes us. Madeline L’engle describes it in her book The Wrinkle in Time as being Xed. The nothingness, the loss of love and feeling of powerlessness starts to erase personhood. It makes your feelings look like *just nothing.*

Quotation-Madeleine-L-Engle-people-Meetville-Quotes-185385

If you’ve ever had a conversation with a loved one who makes a claim about what is bothering them, and you state that its *nothing* you might have opened a can of worms, because that *nothing* value you assign to the problem might make the person feel like their problem is *nothing* because they are *nothing.* This is a dangerous write off of others’ experiences and feelings, furthering the Xing process.

Lament can be different from just anger or mourning, because it is the energy behind naming and crying out for that which is a part of being human–for love, for laughter, for companionship, for safety and stability and beauty.

“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
   At an acceptable time, O God,
   in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.”

For the right to make mistakes and to seek forgiveness, for the right to call out the heirachical and bigotted structures that make one feel unsafe, from the fact that women are interupted for speaking during CEO meetings (and men aren’t), to the fact that young African-Americans are seen as more suspicious than young Caucasians, its the facts that Transsexual people cannot feel safe in either men nor women’s bathrooms, its the fact that sexual abuse is insufficiently prevented and addressed, its in the fact that some children go to bed hungry at night, the fact that some people have daily painful realities to deal with in violence or addiction or physical ailments or mental illness. It is the fact that life is not fair, and who has not lamented that one true fact?

God does not want us to paste our smiles on and live our life ignoring its problems. God acknowledges there is real and harmful evil in the world, real difficulties that are a part of everyday life and that fact means that lament is a necessary part of our existence.

Lament is the deep mourning for those things that the soul needs to survive and thrive. It is for that reason that standing up and naming what is going out, and calling on God for it, can be a creative and healing act.

Whenever there is anger in a system, be it a church or a school or the government, that means there is energy, and when named and processed that energy can be used for change. Love

Lament is a just form of prayer, and one which the church too often forgets or glosses over, but God invites you to pray, reminding us that when our children ask for bread, we do not give them snakes. We give them bread (or even sometimes cupcakes) How much more will God Give us.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7


Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.

P.S. Might I recommend Madeline L’engle’s less known books “Many Waters” (about Noah and the twins) and “An Acceptable Time” (about time travel and the role of evil) ….as you guess the names are from scripture 🙂

Transgendered and Ministry

Being Transgendered is living into the reality and wholeness of yourself.

Mary McKibbean Dana attempts to write about Pastoring to a trangendered person (I say attempts because she admits she still learning)

So here our my unsorted thoughts about being Trans….

I, in my secret-most parts, wish the church was the FIRST place people feel safe to turn to when they have been rejected by family, job, friends, politics, life….

after all, isn’t God the person who sees Nicodemus and CALLS HIM BY NAME! and makes him whole.

Its Jesus who talks to the risque Samaritan Woman (who is defined as risque just because of who she is, its considered dangerous) and when she says “You shouldn’t be talking to me” man does that sound familiar.

I think of all the things we say in church

We honor names, but claim that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, for that reason we don’t even say the person’s last name (I like to say because their official last name becomes Christ). We say that Christ calls each and every one of us by name, and if that name needs to change to fit who a person is now that’s ……VERY Christian. Saul–>Paul

We say that in Christ there is no male or female. (ponder)

When we think about trans* people the orphans of most movements, the ones who are feared and so violence is repeatedly done to them, the ones who are so often homeless, who have difficulty getting jobs, who for some reason are a considered esp. dangerous to children.

…..Church should be the first to institute family/asexual bathrooms for safety. Churches should have resources for depression and homelessness. Churches should be a safe place to talk about how and why you feel different and that God blesses our search, imagining a world for us where all are included and loved.

We are all loved.

No exceptions

God created us, loves us, calls us by name and makes us who we are supposed to be….

#oberlin #MichelleObama #PCUSA intersecting #spiritual and #college

I attended Michelle Obama’s Convocation Speech at Oberlin College. A speech that was won by the Nine Scholars program to help Local High School Students achieve (awesome!)

Only problems were 1. Oberlin already had an awesome speaker lined up the Founder of SAVE the CHIDLREN on the 50yr anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Grad speech 2. Security was a bear in what is normally a very informal, formal ceremony (people float in and out, wear whatever they want…I like it).

It was the 10 yr anniversary of my graduation from Oberlin and my sister, the amazing Noelle was graduating so I had dual reasons for attending.

Plus I got to stay over with my peer and fellow graduate Charlie who owns the local gaming store (back in the day I founded the now mainstream Sci-Fi and Fantasy Hall which was really just a safe place for the gamer-geeks who had yet to find popularity in the real world). Infinite Monkey, if you want to support a great small business I recommend ordering from him here or Facebook them 🙂

While there I regaled the locales with tales of my pastorhood, my supposed youth (I look really young and DEFINITE not like a pastor) my parenthood (yes, I do have 3 children) and mourned…just a little bit that I had very few Oberlin-like people in my life. Instead I spend most of my time explaining to my mostly older congregation how the modern world is and explaining to my friends (most of whom don’t go or have never gone to church) why religion is a really awesome and exciting place for me to be…at least most of the time 🙂 (I try to be really honest in these conversations).

Michelle Obama gave some nice props to Oberlin and their open-mindedness, remarking how different the world would be today if all colleges awarded degrees to African-Americans and women from way back….noting it was one of the few places that she prob. could have graduated from 100 yrs ago. I nodded to myself, finding it sad that Oberlin, college, was one of the few places where I experienced the openness and hospitality that so many organizations attempted to live into, including at times the church. (I did mope a little bit)

Then Michelle urged Oberlin graduates to not just to enter the world, but to engage with it. To be in the hard places, to find the people who don’t necessarily think and act like you, but to instead be in the real world. To know that that small incremental work that is being done is important.

She then noted that 10 years ago (God? did she really say that), 10 years ago 1 state allowed for same sex marriage, and now any minute the United States was ready to pass it for all states (and I noted to myself that the PCUSA is already there, thanks in a large part to the small incremental changes that we had done over that last 10 years). And I remembered thinking, at my graduation that the world WOULD change for the better, that our speaker at that time had noted the start of that change towards equality and being EXCITED to be a part of that.

It has been work for me to live in-between. I am a full time professional woman and a mother, both the same. I am a religious pastor and a Fantasy geek–one of which is getting less popular (the religion) and one of which has become startingly mainstream (the Sci-Fi Fantasy). But I am still both the same. (Even moreso I have a traditional worship but am very groundbreaking in my ministry to the community) I work with people who are like me and I am friends with people who are like me, very few people get all the pieces that make up who I am. And yet, here I am. Not immersing myself in one thing or one way, I am doing the hard work of the real world.

And when my session, had a progressive discussion about Gay marriage, and I shared that with those people I met at the Oberlin graduation. I talked about meeting people where they are, and sharing my experience, to love them, they said they couldn’t imagine engaging with people who believed things so differently than them.

That’s right, the people at Oberlin, who sometimes I viewed as very accepting, couldn’t accept my religious people. NOT vice versa.

But there it was…the hard work of sharing…of being in the real world. The hard work that I consider being ministry whether it is at Oberlin College with stereotypical liberal students or sitting at a meeting of the church with the elders who talk through their traditions and their desire to serve others.

I may have cried a little (hmm…a lot…) during this speech where Michelle Obama brought the word to me. When Marian Wright Edelman then, daresay I preached, sharing some of the Word of God and Liberation in the way African-American Women are able to do without offending the nontheists of crowd while reaching into the tradition of Justice bespoke by MLK. Hers were not the words I needed that day because, that’s the world I live in every day. But I am so glad she was there, giving a piece of my world to Oberlin, because Oberlin shared a piece of its world back to me in Michelle Obama that day…and I don’t live in one world or the other. But in between, testifying back and forth between the two, like these two ASTOUNDING African-American Women.

The Meaning of Children

There is  a great series about parenting, faith and life going on here.

Sadly I was too overwhelmed to officially attempt to join, but these are my thoughts.

I have known and loved so many children already, and its been a blessing. I cannot remember a time without young children in my life. I am the eldest of four children, my youngest sister is 10 years younger than me. She is about to graduate from college this weekend. At Oberlin I worked at Headstart, at Princeton Seminary I was the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at a local church, and then I started having children of my own.

Three

Three Boys

I like to say…I have all the stuff.

My children have taught me a lot about individuality and acceptance in that each and every one of them is unique and different.

My eldest (7) is a dramatic leader, he love performing, and projects. I like to say he’s like me without the adult super-powers. He is wordy and smart and argues about EVERYTHING. I do mean everything, he verbal processes every single decision.

My middle child (5) is different. He has severe communication problems and not so severe physical coordination issues. He is empathetic, easygoing and overall a complete sweetheart. I think he only can understand 10% of our verbal communication, yet he goes with the flow and throws himself into group activities with joy.

My youngest (3) loves cars, rockets, stars/moon and baseball and basically everything stereotypically boys…took three to get there, but we got one. He likes to entertain himself, and cackles cutely when he is making trouble.

My kids are not perfect, and there is no way to treat each of them equally, they are too different. In fact, parenting skills are obviously NOT the only thing that molds a child. However, I think they are comfortable. They know they are loved for who they are and their skill sets and trouble spots are accepted.

I often think of how God loves and accepts each of us. Of how when we ask people to be exactly the same, we are really saying that God does not have enough love to share it with those who are so different. Its too hard to love different children.

Having three different children, I think that I have enough love for each and every one of them, and my husband (which of course is yet another kind of person) and I don’t love them for being the same or different or perfect.

I love Franklin’s sense of momentous occasions

I love Westley’s way to lead you to what he wants by holding your hand.

I love Ashburn’s cackle of delight when something surprises him.

I love being able to love them.

For more articles be sure to check out some http://miheekimkort.com/2015/05/17/the-meaning-of-children-you-suck/ for the month of May and June

#love of a #black #genderfluid prob. considered #disabled man, pondering Acts 8

When I did a search for the bulletin cover for this week I noticed something. I could find many artworks entitled “Baptism of the Eunuch” for the bulletin (that’s where I got today’s bulletin cover), but no children’s worksheets. As you may or may not know, we are trying, very hard, to be more inclusive of the children during worship. It is a difficult line to walk, many children are very loud and squirmy, and many adults appreciate a time of quiet worship without said children. But anyway, as a part of being more welcome, I’ve been creating worksheets. I have in my head that the mantra should be something like “Busy Hands for Listening Ears” For those of us who can listen and doodle, knit, etc. during church (Note that sleeping is not one of those options). And by the by if you are an adult who picks up a worksheet to do I won’t tell although I would personally consider it an accomplishment, since church has this mistaken idea that if a project is creative it must be a children’s only activity, which is ridiculous.

Finally I found, a very few pictures and activities when I happened upon the search term of “Philip and the Ethiopian.” Now I don’t know how many of you would categorize or even know what story is being referred to by this title, but I can say, as a pastor, I never would have put two and two together. So there we have it, the baptizing of the Eunuch and Philip and the Ethiopian. Baptizing the Eunuch/Philip and the Ehtiopian. And lets get this straight: the baptism was not a white man’s burden kind of baptism because Philip does not set out to go and convert the black man. He instead goes out to meet a person where they were and walk with them to his/her next step in faith.

If I were to guess, we Christians like the picture of Philip and the Ethiopian better than the picture that is really put forth in the story today.
Its like 1 John 4, which is great, Beloved, love one another. Can’t you just….picture it? What comes to mind when we say love one another? Maybe a perfect spring day…perhaps some unknown children laughing together, or the whole world holding hands. Perhaps its the rendition of “Its a Small world after all”

In the abstract, love is a beautiful, beautiful concept. But in reality, the story that is put here is way more disconcerting. An Angel of the Lord says you need to get down the road. And if this is me, I’m immediately thinking, shoot I’ve missed something, I’ve not been doing enough, ok, God is calling me to go somewhere and do something…so I’m going to make up for whatever I’ve done wrong and go and get it done with now. I am a get it done sort of person and I hate it when I miss things.

Then the Holy Spirit says to Philip, that one, there and there must be some reason that the Holy Spirit had to say this was the person. This Ethiopian, which means he is racially different and black. From Ethiopia, what do Ethiopians know about Jews, they are the Abyssians one of those invading races that the Old Testament Jews had to deal with. So how does one even talk to such a different person?…to add to this person who is genderfluid: a eunuch sometimes eunuchs were referred to as female, the word for eunuch in Greek is non-man, yep, this person is blurred in the lines, no one knows what to refer to them as. Are they even human? Is it even worth talking to this person? He/She can’t have children, He/she is obviously hasn’t been nor ever will be circumcised. (I’m reverting to he in this text just to keep things clear) Is this person even human? Is this a natural thing?  Which brings us to our final point which is that this person was probably also considered to be disabled in the Greek culture.
 

 So here you have it some black, nonJewish, Ethiopian, genderfluid, disabled person. Go and love them.
The specifics very quickly get complicated, and even Philip needed the Holy Spirit to remind him that God is for Everyone that Jesus died for this person too. I think it is here that the church has some work to do, because it is the most difficult to love someone who is different from yourself. You usually end up saying something like “I just don’t know what to do…because I just can’t understand them………” a particular type of love that takes hard work. No doubt this is why most of the Presbyterian Churches consist of 98% of one race and the toekn 2% of another (which is luckily not the make up of this particular congregation). Not only are individual churches made up this way, but also, the numbers for the entire Presbyterian USA entity run that way to. And the reason is, it is difficult to love someone who is not like you. It is difficult to understand them and it is difficult to know their needs. That is why we need to meet people where they are, and ask them what it is they need. To walk with them wherever it is they are. Not because this person is perfect but because “every” single “one” of “us who loves is born of God.”

And the eunuch asks…who is this person who is dying for the world? Tell me about this person.

And I imagine that Philip did a little Bible study with this person that went something like. God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1st John 4:9-10) if God is for us, who is against us? For God Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us! (Romans 8:33-34).

So naturally, the eunuch says, well, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?
This is the line….the one that drives the Presbyterian piece (or any other mainstream church piece) of us nuts. You can’t just baptize someone because they asked. Thats not decently and in order, there needs to be rules and a statement of faith and meetings. How can you get baptized without a meeting?

And someone else felt that way too, because some later manuscripts say “Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

But really, there is no answer, what is to prevent the Eunuch from being baptized, his learning of God has already begun. The Eunuch was already studying the scripture and sought out instruction. It is for this reason that we baptize babies, because babies already know love, and they are already children of God, and in reality no one of us will ever know enough or everything about God. However we are in pursuit of that knowledge.

This is another reason why fun things should not be just for children. This is another reason why people are moving away from calling Christian Education Sunday School, because that implies the only learning we have to do about God is as a child.

The truth is, though that we need to continually learn about God, and the ways to learn about God are to be creative, to be open and to find specific people to love, not to leave it at the generality of “love one another” but to find that totally weird person in our lives, to purse the strangers, the aliens, those who we don’t understand, to listen to the Holy Spirit and to love them. To walk with them, wherever they are, whatever their level of understanding is and to try to support their journey of faith. Meeting people where they are and walking with them, and to be as open to their learnings about God, as our own understandings of God might be.

You know what I think? I think Phililp went out to teach the Eunuch, and instead the Eunuch taught him. It was the Eunuch who asked Philip to teach him (not vice versa) The Eunuch blurred the lines of understanding of how to love this person who was black, from a completely different culture and spoke in a fashion that was probably hard to understand, this person who wasn’t quite male nor female, this person who was probably returning back home at the end of the day, and not staying to be a beloved member of Philip’s own congregation.

But the Eunuch taught Philip by asking an enormously relevant question that should burn in our hearts as Christians today. What is to prevent me from being baptized? to which Philip’s answer was…

To say absolutely nothing

Acts 8:26-40

26Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

1 John 4:7-21

7Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

Baptized Ash: The Stars, the moon & me

We are brief, like flowers, like a breath of air.

We are mortal, here one moment and gone the next.

It is amazing to think that the same God who is eternal, the one who created rocks and trees that last hundreds or thousands of years, the ones who crafted the heavens that seem to be billions of years old created us as temporal beings.

stars

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them? ” Ps 8:3

Death is real for us–it is a real part of our existence, but we our lives matter. God created us and then God sent Christ to us. Even though we are not perfect and live only a short while.

Christ baptized us, marking us, tagging us as His. Like writing a name on the bottom of a favorite toy, we are marked. Marked by the cross, reminded that God takes care of us and is particularly present to us. When we are baptized, we die with Christ, we rise with him, and we live into the fact that we are the be-loved children of God–adopted into God’s family, covenanted through Christ.

And this is important because our lives are short.

And we are not perfect–my 6 year old son has just realized he is not perfect, and he never will be. He shuts himself up in his room and cries about it. When he makes a mistake, he mourns it.

And because bad things happen in our lives, we have to deal with real things and real evil and God knows that we have to deal with all this.

Do you know what I do when my son cries forlornly all alone?

I go to him, I sit with him, I hug him and comfort him. I tell him I will love him no matter what. I know he’s not perfect, and that’s ok, because I love him.

Isn’t that what God did when we were sad, broken and alone ever-realizing our imperfection. God gathers us in Her arms, hugs & comforts us and tells us–we are not perfect, but God loves us no matter what–God loved us when we were Ash and will love us when we become Ash again.

Us humans wish we were perfect, but God made us something better than perfect–God made us loved.