Thursday, October 26, 2006

Letting the Sermon Go.......

I've started publishing my sermons - on the church website and on my own sermon blog - All the church's pastors before me - all 2.5 of them (another long and boring story) - have provided written copies of their sermons on Sunday mornings. I hate that - and I've resisted it for a long, long time. It always feels so cut and dried to me - devoid of body language and the human emotion present in the spoken word. But.....I have a number of web savvy seniors who are housebound, but highly mobile in the internet world. So I made a deal with them. I would post the sermons on the church website and if they really wanted a written copy, they could get it and print it themselves.

I've been amazed at the response. If that sermon isn't up on the web by 8am Monday morning, I start getting the e-mails. And this isn't just from the housebound folks. Quite a number of people who are present in worship on Sunday morning download the sermon and read it again. Who knew? Personally, I can't imagine doing that - but obviously, we have a bunch of visual learners in the crowd.

So - this past summer, I decided to try another experiment as an outreach to the marginally connected members and friends of my church. As a manuscript preacher, who writes the manuscript then preaches without it, I started e-mailing the manuscript to the housebound and vacation bound members who I was pretty sure would be worshipping God in absentia.

Again - amazing response. I struggle with whether I am enabling folks to stay home and worship at the church of the holy pillow. We are a completely handicap accessible church - so sometimes I think that my electronic outreach is counterproductive to the growth of the body of Christ on our corner of the road.

But prompted by a 20-something beloved child, I'm beginning to think that the church of the future will have to look and feel a lot different. Beloved child tells me that for his generation virtual community is not significantly different than actual community - so perhaps with chat rooms, instant messaging and computer video conferencing - the virtual church of the future will be one more manifestation of the body of Christ in our midst.

I'm still not quite sure how the electronic virtual kiss of Christian love works though.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Psalmist writes: " the beauty of holiness have I begotten you, like dew from the womb of the morning."

Such love God has for each of us...and such a gift for each day of living. As I walk through the hospital corridors and nursing home rec rooms, as I weep with families whose daughters find themselves fat and ugly, whose sons make incredibly bad choices in order to be cool, I pray that on that day, in God's good time, each of us shall know that we are precious to God and loved just as we are. Perhaps when Jesus went out in the cool of the dawn, it was to walk barefoot through the dew and to remember that, no matter how ugly it got, God had begotten him in the beauty of holiness...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Do you suppose God hears the prayer of the blogger? I wonder - because I am most often moved to pray in this space. I am challenged in my prayer life by the wanderings of my often overloaded (not with heavy thoughts, trust me!) brain. But here in this space I seem more able to focus, to bend my mind toward God. As a person journeying in the Reformed tradition, I believe in this inner calling, that somehow the Spirit of God is reaching out to touch my spirit. And I affirm the outward calling of my sisters in ministry, that God's Spirit present in the church is ministering to me through them and calling me to share my gifts with them. So perhaps the desire to pray here in this space is legitimate and somehow holy. Of course, if reaching out toward God - praying, indeed - is somehow theology, as that obscure Swiss theologian Karl Barth seems to suggest - than perhaps all life is prayer. We do believe that all life, broken and disordered as it surely is, is in one way or another reaching out toward God, right?

Or maybe it's too early in the morning after too late a night for coherent theology, prayer, or thought:)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Here' what a "normal" day looks like:
  • Wake up and
    • exercise or
    • feel guilty about not exercising
  • Pray and
    • feel guilty that I'm not being "productive or
  • Be productive and
    • feel guilty that I'm not praying
  • Eat and
    • run out the door leaving the dishes or
    • feel guilty about taking the time to clean things up
  • Get to the office and
    • spend time on paperwork and phone calls and feel guilty about pastoral calls or
    • make pastoral calls and feel guilty about the paperwork and phone calls
  • Shoehorn in time for the family and
    • feel guilty about work left undone or
  • Work late and get most of it finished and
    • feel guilty about time for the family.
It's not time management that's the problem, it's guilt management.

A dear friend gave me a coffee mug from the Garrison Keillor Lake Wobegon series with a picture of the Lake Wobegon church named "Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility." My friend knows me well.

Another friend warns against the "General Manager of the Universe" syndrome - she suffers from it, too.

Isn't great that we worship a God who desires to carry our burdens - who admonishes us to be still and know that God is capable of more than we can even begin to imagine? It's a day-by-day struggle for me - but with God's help, I think - think - think - I'm making progress.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety." Ps. 8:8

One dying, one dead, one drinking himself to death, one starving herself to death, one wishing that death would come like an old friend slipping into his room, one barricading the door against the intruder. So many needs, O Lord, so much pain and brokenness. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for holding it all in your hands. Thank you, Shepherd of Israel, for standing watch through the night. Let me be like the psalmist. Let me lie down and sleep in the peace of resurrection faith. O Lord, make me like down in safety and rise to the glory of dawn. Amen.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I am a lamb of God.
I have no idea where I am going.
I have no idea what I will find when I get there.
I trust that God will lead me through the valleys
to the mountaintop,
But I have no idea what that journey will look
I trust that the Good Shepherd will lead me to
green pastures and still waters.
I trust that the Good Shepherd will find me rest.
I am a lamb of God.