Thursday, December 28, 2006

Song of the Week

Our Flag is Still There
By John McCutcheon

I'm not usually a big fan of "the flag" - seeing it as mostly a tool for displacing reason, compassion and/or responsibility. But this song makes me think again. Based on an essay by Barbara Kingsolver by the same name (in Small Wonders). McCutcheon will be performing in Seattle on April 24 at Town Hall.

Christmas In the Trenches

A "Silent Night": The "Christmas Truce" of 1914

Silent Night, by Stanley Weintraub, is the story of Christmas Eve 1914 on the World War I battlefield in Flanders. As the German, British, and French troops facing each other were settling in for the night, a young German soldier began to sing "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht." Others joined in. When they had finished, the British and French responded with other Christmas carols.

Eventually, the men from both sides left their trenches and met in the middle. They shook hands, exchanged gifts, and shared pictures of their families. Informal soccer games began in what had been "no-man's-land." And a joint service was held to bury the dead of both sides.

Read more at God's Politics, a blog on Sojourners.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

God ordered all things to be produced so that there would be common food for all, and so that the earth would be the common inheritance of all. Thus, nature has produced a common right, but greed has made it the right of a few.
Ambrose of Milan, fourth century


What I Inherit

Yesterday I had a chance to start mourning the passing of my father-in-law.

I've been awfully busy these past weeks with work and helping the family through their grief, and haven't felt like I had the time or energy to really put toward starting to unpack my reaction to and coming-to-terms with his death.

I have inherited his car - Susan passed it on to me because I am finding myself in need of one with this job. Yesterday I got the oil changed and fluids checked, and when I got home again I started going through the hidden storage compartments. John had left a key-chain leatherman-tool and a small administration oil vial. (For those not familiar with our community, we have a sacrament in which we place a small drop of consecrated olive oil on the head of a person who is ill or troubled, and say a prayer for strength or peace or recovery. My father-in-law and I held the same priesthood office, and I have a similar vial on my own key-chain.)

A key-chain isn't a very private thing, but it seemed very intimate to be holding it. We shared a faith tradition and held a common inheritance. We shared a sacred office, and I will never know how many times he prayed over someone, how beloved he was and how humbled I'm sure he was to be asked. There were few times when I saw John serious - I only heard him preach once, and was never present when he administered to the sick. And yet he and I share this - a key-chain filled with consecrated oil, always at the ready to transition to the sacred; like gun-slingers in the Wild West, hands always at our sides, only in our holsters are shalom.

My own father, when he and John ordained me a couple years ago, presented to me my grandfather's consecrated oil vial - this one quite a bit larger and on a pocket-chain, a mid-twentieth-century version of my aluminum key-chain. He said, as he was giving it to me, that he found fascination and took comfort in the idea that some amount of his own father's oil was still in there. Now I have it with me, and I have my grandfather's and father's consecrated oil to draw on. I think I will ask Susan if I could have the oil in John's vial. Something in me would like to think I have the strength and wisdom of three men to draw on when I offer my small prayers. And, that way, if I have a child someday who inherits my grandfather's vial, that young priesthood member will have two grandfathers to draw on, and John will live on (if silently) in that.

In John's car I also found a stash of his CDs - his driving music presumably. And I liked almost all of them myself, and could imagine John singing along to them. I didn't know John liked Simon & Garfunkel so much, or that he enjoyed Celtic music enough to have multiple CDs, or that he wanted to listen to Scottish-Immigrant folk songs. All of a sudden, I realized with new force how tremendously much I didn't know about John. I hadn't really had much of a chance to get to know him, and there was certainly so much more I could have learned from/about him. I was overwhelmed by the loss of so much - even just the inkling of how much I had lost in John's passing crushed me. For the first time since the Memorial Service, I tarried with the loss.

And it makes what I have inherited even more precious.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Leave the Dogma Behind

Rural California Denominations Unite for Real Needs and Ministry

"Some people do think we're renegades," said Reed Schroer, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Rhodes. "To some mainline churches, our association with each other would be anathema. But our thinking is, we're neighbors first."

Read the news here.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Christian Preaching This Sunday

I will be preaching this Sunday - Christmas Eve
at the Highland Park Community of Christ (map)
10:30AM Service
"A Whole New World"
A Family-Friendly Service and Sermon
Dynamic, Biblical, Revolutionary, and Celebratory
Everyone is welcome -
Please join us!
(Free potluck luncheon after the service!)

Navajo Dissidents Take Action to Stop Tribe-Backed Power Plant

As energy corporations closed in on Navajo territory, a cluster of elderly women and other locals rushed to greet them – planting themselves in defiance on the ground they hold as sacred.

The Navajo elders, joined by native-rights activists and other supporters, formed a blockade last week in Burnham, New Mexico at the site of the Desert Rock Energy Project, a proposed coal-fired power plant. The self-described "resisters" say that in a land already ravaged by fossil-fuel industries, another power plant will make their environment dirtier and their communities more powerless against industrial interests.

For the whole story, see the New Standard News.

I post this story for a couple reasons. First, I'm originally from Arizona, a short distance from the Navajo Nation, and maintain a fondness in my heart for this people. Second, this is a story of indigenous people standing up against greater powers - the image of old ladies squatting in front of buldozers and stopping them is just plain inspirational. Third, there is a connection being made here by these people between their faith/culture/beliefs and concern for the environment - stewardship of the earth, particularly the earth under our care, is a sacred trust.

Like the
Dine, we too have only limited land and resources. We white folk can afford to export our garbage and exploitation beyond the horizon, and so feel we are free to do as we please. Not so. Some little old ladies cooking frybread in the road know this better than we do. Perhaps we should listen.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reverse Religious Correctness

The Devoted Student, By Mark C. Taylor
Published: December 21, 2006, in the New York Times Opinion page

An article by a professor who is concerned about religious intolerance leading to students' unwillingness or inability to question or think critically about things.

"The task of thinking and teaching, especially in an age of emergent fundamentalisms, is to cultivate a faith in doubt that calls into question every certainty." (I could easily quote the whole thing... better read it yourself.)

Read the letter here:

(The painting above is "St Mark Freeing a Christian Slave" by Tintoretto 1548, Accademia, Venice.)


Evolution Sunday

A Sunday to Show How Science and Religion Have Much to Offer Each Other
Feb 11, 2007


Dead Sea Scrolls

My mother-in-law and I went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls this afternoon - those fragments of scrolls hidden away by (likely) the Qumran settlement of (possibly) Essene Jews in the first century C.E.

I was impressed with the extraordinary build-up in the exhibit to actually viewing the scroll fragments. The vast bulk of the exhibit was a crash-course tour of the Dead Sea geography, archeology, paleography, DNA and spectrum analysis, and the political, social and religious situation in first-century Palestine. I was exhausted before even seeing the scrolls - but the inculcation served its purpose: to convey the profound significance of the finding of these documents.

My first (and enduring) impression of the scrolls was... they're so small. They were tiny things! The ones I looked at were barely five inches high, and the letters written on them were miniscule. Presumably this was because parchment and vellum were so hard to come by, the desert spiritualists had to stretch their meager resources as far as they could go - nothing but the most sacred words could be afforded the value of being put down in writing. (It is like allowing students one 3x5 card for notes on a tough exam - they'll write almost illegibly small in order to fit everything in.)

And then I thought of me blogging about them. Here, in today's world, words are cheaper than the proverbial dime-a-dozen. Almost everyone is literate, and words are everywhere - we have so many ways to convey words that they've almost entirely lost their value. Emails and two-inch thick Sunday newspapers are perfect examples - we hardly read or remember anything we get in them. And now blogs - where people put their idlest thoughts out for public viewing - add a whole new angle on the worthless word problem.

Here I was standing in the presence of two-thousand year old fragments of texts countless numbers of people worked to produce and pore over, that represent so much work and effort poured into such tiny things, scraps that meant the world (and more) to the Qumran community. How can I pay reverence to such significance? It is beyond my abilities, it seems, as a 21st-century Westerner - words are virtually worthless. I have a greater sense of the time and care put into the animal skins that served as the medium for the message. I felt so unworthy, so handicapped, to appreciate them.

Part of me feels like I didn't.

One other interesting note was that the Qumran community was so insistent on purity, and as a consequence carefully avoided pronouncing the name of God (YHWH), instead substituting "Adonai" (Lord) or something similar, they changed the script when writing YHWH, so that you wouldn't just mindlessly read it accidentally. It was fun to see the crowd try and find the YHWHs in the texts - completely unintelligible except that it was different from the surrounding (also unintelligible) text.

I came out feeling like I missed something - I felt I should have been feeling like I had a more profound encounter. In the end, though, they were just parchment fragments - fascinating for their historical implications, their archaeologial significance... but not particularly thrilling in themselves. (I feel bad even writing this... why?)

But I did enjoy the tour, the education, and seeing the actual scrolls. I suppose it will be a conversation starter if nothing else.

Technorati Tag:

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Political Church?

I spent part of my afternoon today at a demonstration in front of the Puget Sound Energy building in Bellevue. (Some classifications of workers at PSE make seriously sub-standard wages and are not given health insurance or other benefits, despite huge profits being raked in by the company.)

While walking the line, talking with workers and organizers, and networking with the community, people were surprised and excited to see faith represented at the demonstration. Some people that knew me as an activist-member of SEIU Local 925 gave me raised eyebrows when they noted that I had traded in my "purple for a collar." (Purple is the signature color of SEIU, and I've taken to wearing a clerical collar to demonstrations, pickets and rallies.)

Of course, they hadn't heard of the Community of Christ - not even people who I learned lived within blocks of my home congregation in West Seattle. But they were enthused by my description of us as a "peace church," and by my seeing part of my job as standing up for workers and people who are disadvantaged and ill-treated by our present system. And it seems the yearning for reaching out to the faith community is great. Everyone I spoke to was encouraged to see a connection being made beyind just the labor movement, to see someone making equitable work/compensation standards a faith issue. I think my involvement with JwJ may be groundbreaking in the Puget Sound - opening the way for those of us to put our bodies where our words are, who confess with the prophets of old that social justice is the true worship of God. And I can see people interested in a church that would put one of its own so publicly on the side of the dispossesed.

The Community of Christ doesn't have a name for itself in many of our communities. Since (thankfully) abandoning our old name, we've been given a new opportunity to remake ourselves in whatever image we choose. Sadly, it seems we have not taken advantage of that opportunity, and so wandered anonymously in our neighborhoods and communities, literally almost invisible (I've spoken with several people already who have literally walked in front of my home congregation's building and who live in that neighborhood who didn't know it was there, or that it was any kind of church at all.) Getting ourselves into the streets, involved in actions and organizations that are actually out there doing something about injustices, can be a transforming undertaking, not just for ourselves personally, but for our church, our faith community (D&C 151:9).

The Community of Christ needs to be given a face in many of our neighborhoods. What face will we give it? By not doing anything, the face is blank, expressionless, passionless, and fatally uninviting. By choosing a ministry - or several ministries - to be actively engaged in, we can make a name for our community. And a good name is to be chosen above even great riches (Prov. 22:1).

Our church has for over 100 years avoided taking any overtly political stance, for fear of alienating membership or becoming the target of outside criticism. And yet, our traditon from its very beginnings has been overtly political: we've been about the transformation of the world we live in - the just and equitible distribution of resources, the elimination of class distinction, a fervent confidence in peace and the ability of people to live harmoniously with each other in goodwill, and the profoundly personally transforming nature of the gospel in us as individuals and a polis or community.

Our community stands at the precipice of a tremendous time, when citizens of the world (and Americans in particular) are yearning for a community that translates high faith claims into concrete actions. If we can become that church, if people hear our name and think of social justice activism driven by confidence and personal transformation through the gospel, if people hear our name and think of a community that puts the "go" back into gospel, then I think we'd find ourselves with renewed vigor, dedication, resolve, confidence, and perhaps... maybe, a few more people willing to join us in becoming transformed so that we might transform the world.

Instead of running away from political engagement, let's reclaim that territory for our God.

Labels: ,

Tell Wal-Mart: Stop Abusive Child Labor

This holiday season, it is time for Wal-Mart to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on child labor. For too long, Wal-Mart has repeatedly violated U.S. child labor laws and profited from overseas child labor abuses.

Our children deserve better than Wal-Mart this holiday season.

Please sign the petition and tell Wal-Mart to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on child labor:

Shockingly, Wal-Mart’s own internal audit, revealed by the New York Times, found “extensive violations” of child labor laws and state regulations. In fact, the audit of just one week’s time clock records found 1,371 instances in which minors worked too late at night, during school hours, or too many hours in a day. It also found 60,767 instances of workers missing breaks and 15,705 instances where employees were forced to work and miss meal times.

In addition, a recent investigation into a factory in Bangladesh revealed that children, some only 11 years old, were making clothing for Wal-Mart. The children report being routinely slapped and beaten, forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, often seven days a week, and paid as low as 6 and a half cents an hour.

Yet, despite all of the facts, Wal-Mart has refused to adopt a zero tolerance policy on child labor.

Please sign the petition and tell Wal-Mart to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on child labor:


Monday, December 18, 2006

More Families Face "Heat or Eat" Choice This Winter

New Standard: Over the next few months, families across the country will be deciding which comes first: staying warm or staying fed. Heating-fuel costs have soared in recent years, now rivaling food, health care and other essential expenses squeezing low-income households.

In the world's wealthiest, most-developed nation, the fact that low-income people have to face this choice - among all the other terrible choices they face - is a faith issue. How are we treating "the least of these who are members of my family" (Matt 25:45)? As we celebrate the birth of a child whose parents were turned away from every warm place and forced to give birth in a dirty hovel in a strange land, as a national community we should be more compelled to stop this crime against humanity and against our faith.

Labels: ,

US Episcopal Congregations Split over Liberalism

Woman and Gay Bishops are the main issues.

Falls and Truro churches in Virginia, 2 of the oldest Anglican parishes in the US, have voted to split from the Episcopal Church over its liberal attitude on issues such as homosexuality. The 2 evangelical parishes near Washington grew particularly disenchanted with leadership after the recent elections of a gay bishop in New Hampshire and the church's first female presiding bishop. The 2 churches are likely to be joined by up to 8 other parishes in Virginia, which would cost the diocese 10% of its membership and a large slice of its revenues.

Read the whole story at the Guardian

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Quote of the Week

What do we want the Church to do? We don't ask for more cathedrals. We don't ask for bigger churches or fine gifts. We ask for its presence with us, beside us, as Christ among us. We ask the Church to sacrifice with the people for social change, for justice, and for love of brother. We don't ask for words. We ask for deeds. We don't ask for paternalism. We ask for servanthood.
- Cesar Chavez

Friday, December 15, 2006

Channukah Begins Tonight!

"Left Behind" Game Leaves A Lot Behind

(from Faithful America) No doubt you have heard about the "Left Behind" book series... Well, FaithfulAmericans, hang on... Just in time for Christmas comes a new video game: Left Behind: Eternal Forces - an end-time video game inviting your kids to engage in what makers call "spiritual warfare."

Despite a vigorous PR effort to downplay the violent, warring aspects of the game (blow away a non-Christian, lose a point...) the fact remains, the game is about blowing away non-Christians. That would mean Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and everyone else, including the healthy percentage of Christians who know better than to buy the idea that God would ever be part of such a nightmare.

The game's creator Troy Lyndon has stated, "There's no killing in the name of God." Yet the facts are, this is a game about a Christian fundamentalist-drenched end-time scenario in which the "enemy" is a dark army of non-believers pitted against converted Christians... containing as much violence as any we have seen in Grand Theft Auto. Despite poor gamer reviews its very premise remains troublesome.

What "Left Behind" leaves behind is Christ's central teaching. In fact, every major faith tradition offers the world a deep and simple well of goodness, tolerance, forgiveness, and above all, love. I would hate to think of a world in which those rich and nourishing expressions of God are extinguished, either in life or on a video screen. If there is a need for anything at all as we end this year scarred by hatred and war, it is a place where everyone's voice is heard, and where nobody's beliefs are assigned a point value.

Please allow a personal thought here. Those who believe in the end-time scenario have reasons that I may not understand. However, in Luke's gospel Jesus said that the kingdom of God is "within you." Over and over again I have seen that "kingdom" within so many - from the young mother I watched yesterday on a busy New York bus talking gently to her toddler, to my dear Muslim friend who sits daily beside his Christian wife while her body succumbs to Lou Gehrig's disease. If I have learned anything from these and so many other "angels" in this world it is that if the kingdom of God comes, it will not arrive by God overriding the worst that people can do to one another. The kingdom will come through God using the best of who we are and what we do for each other.

A well-meaning friend once asked me if I was ready for the rapture. "What if Jesus comes tomorrow? What are you going to do?"

I replied, "The more important question for me is What if Jesus DOESN'T come tomorrow? What will I do then?" So many need our expressions of care.


Stormed In

Reporting from C&P Coffee House

I am SO totally not the only person with this idea.

The Seattle area experienced its worst wind storm in roughly twenty years, and in addition to city-wide reports of flooding and downed trees, the southern half of West Seattle is now electricity-less. So I headed north to this coffee shop with wi-fi so I could at least plug into email, not to mention get any sort of work done. (*on the phone* Hello? Tell me about how the office of Seventy is expressed in your ministry? What can the Mission Center do to help? *people looking at me wierd* Uh... nevermind.) ;-)

One note, C&P doesn't take credit/debit cards - but they were nice enough to let me have coffee and a pastry, contingent on my promise to come back and pay with cash later. (Yay! Civilization!)

So I walk in to the place and it is a line of people waiting to join a sea of open laptops on every imaginable horizontal surface. Nuts. I managed to find an unoccupied ratan chair in a corner and here I am.

Thankfully, despite the mudslides, trees-in-streets, downed power lines, and even a "sinkhole" somewhere in Seattle, so far there's no reports of serious injury. And I got a professionally-made mocha with my morning commute. :-)


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Second Week of Working for the Church

Still a lot of work... but really enjoying it.

Things are starting to come together... slowly. I'm learning more the administrative ropes (still a challenge). I'm managing to contact a few people. And, as always with this kind of work, there were surprising and unexpected successes and breakthroughs that make the drudgery lighter. All in all, I really can't believe my good fortune in having this job.

That is one complication, actually. Now it is my job to do most of those things that I had been doing voluntarily in my spare time. So when I'm working there is this disconnect - am I working now or is this fun? And what do I fill up my spare time with, now that I'm doing my "volunteer" work (and more) during the work-day?

And working from home adds a whole layer of ambiguity - when am I not working? When do I stop working - does closing my office door mean I'm "out"? And as much as I'd like to maintain a 40-hour (or so) work-week, that idea was shot down the first week. It just isn't that clearly calculable. But I want to make sure the church gets its money's worth, and I want to make sure I'm not working myself into burnout. I knew the work-life balance issue was going to need some attention, but I wasn't prepared for not knowing where to find that issue at all sometimes!

Yesterday I drew up a schedule - down to 5-minute increments - to keep me on track. So far, though I've been five or ten minutes off all day, it's helped at least make me feel like I have some direction. Part of my daily routine, I hope, is going to make deliberate room for prayer and mediation, part of which will be lectio divina writing - published on a blog (imagine that) linked to this page. I'm trying to keep a balance, too, between allowing myself not to be immediately productive, to let the Spirit move and guide me, to work with me and my work, but still... it'll be nice to at least have my "non-productive" meditations count somewhat like "productivity" (look, ma, I put it on the web... it must be something!).

Really, though this is a lot of work, I wouldn't trade it for anything (true?) right now. I am tremendously excited about this job, this work. I am really anxious to get things rolling, and I'm trying to keep that energy up, because once things do start rolling, I'm going to need to keep up with them. Already, people in the Mission Center have responded very well to my contacts and I think there's room and interest to do some good work. Keep me in your prayers.

Blessings: Peace and Solidarity,

P.S. One tangential observation: People love to talk with me about religion and God now. Strangers. People whom I knew but with whom I never spoke about religion. Former co-workers and neighbors and friends. Community activists. People come out of the woodwork when they learn that I am a full-time minister to talk about God with me. This is still amazing to me. I need to get used to it, and start capitalizing on these opportunities.

Don't get me wrong - I don't want to proselytize. I just don't want to miss the opportunity to deepen people's faith, to connect the dots between what we've been doing and are doing (mostly social justice and labor movement folks) with our faith declarations. So far, I've been doing an adequate job of that - making use of the opportunities, connecting things, drawing out of people deeper and more intimate observations and confessions. But I need to work on it more. And, certainly, I need to get out on the street more.

One aspect of this job I hadn't considered is the amount of desk-work. I want to get out on the street, in the pews, around potluck and conference tables and get to work! But I am realizing how much back-work, how much preparation, cultivation and intentionality goes into those interactions. Those meetings are more precious to me now, and that realization puts my deskwork into greater clarity, into a larger vision, gives my hours behind a computer more value. Plus, I must remember, this is a job. Somebody's paying me to do this. There are technicalities that must be satisfied.


Quote of the Week

(photo uploaded from:

There is no power equal to a community
discovering what it cares about.
... it is always like this. Real change begins with the
simple action of people talking about what they care about.

-Margaret Wheatley

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bolton's Herald Article

Have you read Andrew Bolton's article in the December Herald? Titled "Jesus' Mum", it talks about the revolution that Jesus' life is forecast to produce: a moral one, a social one, and an economic revolution.

I've never seen the word "revolution" so many times in the Herald ever, let alone in one article!
I love the ending lines:
She was a feisty young woman who dreamed of a world turned upside down, who dreamed of a real Zion. As Mary sang her song, her child Jesus caught the melody of the kingdom: Revolution!
I LOVE having Andrew as our International Peace and Justice Ministries Coordinator.
And, fair warning, I'll be pretty much lifting my Christmas Eve sermon out of this article. ;-)


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Congregation Assignments

End the pins and needles...
Stop the presses...
The cows have come home to roost; the eggs have hatched; the time has come!

Congregations were notified this week of the Mission Center staff assignments. As of January 1, my congregations will be:
Auburn, Highland Park, Rainier Valley, Renton, and University Place (Tacoma)!

Please keep these congregations in your prayers, as they'll be having me as their CSM.

Of course, these are my assignments as a Congregational Support Minister. A full half of my job is also to be a Mission Center-wide coordinator (including all of Washington, Oregon and Alaska). I will thus be travelling far and wide, as well as focusing on the Puget Sound. And, pretty much, if there's a potluck, I'll be there no matter how far away it is. ;-)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Public Rhetorics and Permanent War

When: Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - 3:30 PM Where: University of Washington Communications Building 202, Details

"Public Rhetorics and Permanent War" is a collective of humanities graduate students and faculty who share a scholarly interest in understanding and clarifying the production and role of public rhetorics during what increasingly appears to be a state of globalized permanent war. Articles and essays to be discussed include Wendy Brown's "Neo-liberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy," Immanuel Kant's "Perpetual Peace," Foucault's "Society Must be Defended," and Hardt and Negri's "'War' (In Multitude)."

As Christians (and secondarily as citizens of the United States), we need to understand more about the forces that work to shape our thinking about the world. It would be wonderful if the only force at work in us was the gospel - but if that were true we and the world would look very different indeed. Forums like the one above might serve to help us navigate amid the sea of ideas, so that we might more faithfully tune our hearts and minds to the One to which we have dedicated our lives.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Community of Christ a "Sin-Welcoming Church"!

Woohoo! (The layers of irony here are delightful!)

Apparently the Community of Christ was recently listed by a rather vicious anti-homosexual organization as one of a select few that are "sin-welcoming", meaning - of course - that we don't take a hard-line stance of abhorrence and exclusion when it comes to homosexuality. The website is run by "Americans for Truth", and dedicated to exposing the "homosexual activist agenda."

The first irony is that they have collected a huge resource of support-providers for people of "othered" sexualities. Really! It's a whole page full of welcoming churches, national organizations, media, blogs... you name it. This stuff should be listed on GALA's webpage! :-)

The second irony is that the reason that the CofC is listed is because our leadership have encouraged us to enter into a respectful, faithful dialogue about homosexuality, and in particular about homosexuality among priesthood members. The First Presidency (under McMurray) was very clear to not take a stand or encourage a specific end-point for the discussion - but felt led to call us into discerning and caring exchange and exploration. That's it!

The third (and key) irony is that "sin-welcoming" is precisely the charge laid against Jesus by the Gospel Pharisees. It seems to me that if our faithful response to the leadings of the Spirit are opening us up to the charge of "sin-welcoming", then we must be doing something right.

Labels: , ,

First Week of Working for the Church

Man, this is a lot of work!

I mean, I wasn't expecting it to be a cake-walk or anything, but still.... Everyone kept telling me it would be a lot of desk-work, so I thought I was prepared. Nuh-uh. I have a to-do list that is, seriously, FIVE PAGES LONG! And it's not stopping. Every day I scratch off two or three things, and put on five or six more. This is nuts.

Today was the first time, honestly, that I've gotten out of the house in this job. (I suppose I did have two meetings with the regional leadership... so perhaps this was my third time out of the house this week.) I went downtown for a protest/rally in support of striking janitors - spent the morning networking with Jobs With Justice and other community organizing/activist groups, and spent mid-day marching and chanting and waving a broom over my head, and spent the afternoon getting home on the bus.

One particularly interesting facet of all this today was that I wore a clerical collar for the protest. (Ministers in my community rarely wear vestments of any kind, particularly a collar.) I did because I want to start communicating publicly that standing up for workers' rights, for economic and social justice, is a faith issue for me. The collar is an immediately recongizable symbol of my acting as a minister. What was interesting was not so much wearing it at the picket line, but before and after. People seemed to just open up in conversation. Whereas usually we'd probably talk about the weather or something neutral, by my wearing my faith "on my sleeve" (or, in this case, around my neck), people seemed much more interested in sharing their faith. And everyone's story is so engaging!

I guess it shouldn't be surprising - but it still is - that in my first week of "ministry," the most spiritually engaging conversations I've had were with people outside of my own faith community, people with whom I was marching and chanting and standing for social justice. It is important that we were together working for some of the lowest-paid, least-thought-of workers in our culture, helping them help themselves. It was almost like church out there. Church on the sidewalk with a broom in my hand.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Young Adult Event at World Conference

The International Young Adult Event: "We Are Many, We Are One " March 31-April 1.

The event will take place Saturday-Sunday after the close of World Conference 2007. It begins at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and ends at 3:00 p.m. Sunday. Cost: $25.00 US.
Additional details and registration information on the International Young Adult Event Website:

Also: and

Human Rights Day Celebration in Seattle

Maria Hinojosa to Speak at Town Hall, Northwest Immigrant Rights Director to be Honored

Award-winning journalist and author Maria Hinojosa will speak at a free evening event to celebrate Human Rights Day in Seattle on Thursday, December 7, 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm at Town Hall on 8th Avenue and Seneca Street. The theme of the event is "Human Rights: Crossing All Borders." Ms. Hinojosa is host of "Latino USA" on National Public Radio and senior correpsondent for the PBS newsmagazine program, "NOW." She also will speak at a daytime event from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at First United Methodist Church's Drury Hall at 5th Avenue and Columbia Street.

The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Executive Director, Magdaleno Rose-Avila, will be one of the recipients of the 2006 Human Rights Distinguished Citizens Awards. For more information, please call the Seattle Office for Civil Rights at (206) 684-4500 or see their website here.


What the Torah and the Qur'an Teach Us About Moses

Temple B'nai Torah and IMAN Islamic Center invite you to attend the second of a series of interfaith events exploring the lives and teachings of prophets found in both Hebrew and Islamic scriptures. The session will take place on Sunday, December 10, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the IMAN Center, 515 State Street in Kirkland (map, directions). All are welcome. Contact John Hale at for more information.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Interfaith Prayer Service This Tuesday for Slain Deputy and Assailant

From the Church Council of Greater Seattle

An interfaith "Service of Hope" is set for Tuesday night, December 5, 7:00 p.m. at the King County Sheriff's office, 9609 16th Ave. SW, Seattle, to remember Deputy Steve Cox, killed in the line of duty, and Raymond O. Porter, the man believed to have killed him. The entire community is invited to attend and to offer prayers.

According to news reports, Deputy Steve Cox, 46, was in the process of making an arrest at a known drug house when he was killed by a single gunshot to the head. Raymond Porter, 23, his alleged assailant, was subsequently killed by King County police officers at the scene.

"Service of Hope" is a program begun by the Church Council in 2004 to gather people of faith at the site of violent deaths in order to offer a presence of peace, reconciliation, and hope. These services sometimes attract over 500 and sometimes as few as three people for prayer, words of faith, and a ritual of spiritual cleansing of the site.

People of all religious faiths, as well as those without a religious background, are invited to attend. No signs or leaflets are allowed, as this is not a political event. Clergy are asked to wear vestments as appropriate to their traditions, and those who inform us in advance of their participation will be offered an opportunity to share in spoken prayers.

Our community continues in prayer for everyone affected by this senseless act of violence.


Preaching Christmas Eve at Highland Park

I'll be preaching the Christmas Eve Sunday service at Highland Park (map) in West Seattle. The service starts with singing at 10:15 and worship at 10:30. Everyone is invited to share in this celebration of anticipation of new birth!

We will light the Fourth Advent Candle for Joy (and have a children's candle-lighting as well), and I'll be speaking on Luke 1:47-55, the "Magnificat" - Mary's Song of Praise, and also Luke's way of foreshadowing the life, ministry and purpose of Jesus.

Please come and share the peace and joy of Christ with us!


Young Adult Activity

Dec. 16th - Saturday- 6PM

Erik Skoor, coordinator extraordinaire, writes:

Well, it somehow seemed appropriate to officially kick off the Christmas season with a little snow, some ice, and a whole lotta cold, in my humble opinion. With that holiday spirit in mind, it's time to come together by clear the evening of Saturday, December 16th for our next YAPS event! Come one, come all and join us for an evening of fun at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood for the Lights of Christmas! There's a myriad of things to do, lights to see, and food to eat . . . and it's very family friendly :) I'm not lying, here's what their site says:

"Dazzling light displays, the smell of fresh hot donuts, the holiday sounds of Victorian Carolers, and so much more make The Lights of Christmas the perfect holiday destination for your family, your friends, and your group."

Check out the details at the Young Adults of Puget Sound (YAPS) MySpace post


Why War Fails

By Howard Zinn

"I suggest there is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks are not only morally reprehensible but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out."

Read the full article here:


Song of the Week

"Have You Been to Jail for Justice?"
(lo-fi version)
By Anne Feeney

Anne Feeney will be performing in Seattle at a concert at the Highland Park congregation, February 2 (Friday), 2007! Woohoo!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bumper Sticker Idea

"I read my Bible open."