Sunday, September 8, 2013

Centrality of Grace

Sometimes, I'm not a particularly good Episcopalian. Actually, *frequently* I'm not a good Episcopalian. I spent way too many years of formation in the Protestant wings of the Church to ever feel very comfortable with the half-and-half theology that is the charism of my denomination. And it works. Much of our strength is in our inclusivity, and it is part of what gives us joy, that we are all, no matter our history or our views, members of the Body of Christ. Yay, go team!

But some times, I am reminded of the core of my faith is different than much of my community. Because the tradition I come from, and the center of my relationship with God in Christ, is in grace. 

Nadia Bloz-Weber was on NPR's On Being this morning, and having to interupt in the interview for church, I downloaded the podcasts. She's an ELCA pastor, and my heart remembers with longing and joy my life in that denomination, and how the faith of that community fits with my own. In the interview, she talks about the centrality of the doctrine of sinner and saint - that we are all both simultaneously the greatest of sinners and saints of God. That God's grace is sufficient, God is all-knowing and unknowable and *still* that grace is enough.

Our acceptance of others into our community is an expression of grace, our response to God asking us to leave our judgements at the door, as God sees each as they are and who are we to judge? God meets all people where they are. But I miss the centrality and explicitness of the doctrine of grace in my faith community, because it is so central to my own understanding of who we should be as a Christian community and as individual people of Christ.

We are, as the body of Christ, both the instruments of grace and the objects of it. And I needed that reminder, that God knows me as I am, as I was created to be, and there is grace enough for that person. That I have a place, a calling, and that even if I screw this up royally, there is grace. Always enough and more.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Joy & Grief

The Church is the community of Christ, and as a community, we are called to support each other in life's joys and griefs.

This used to be done by the women's groups at church, the wives and widows who we knew as the church ladies, who became the little old church ladies.* It was meal support and emergency childcare and hand holding and bringing food for celebrations, because the community cared.

That support is changing as times are changing. My grandparents had two support networks - family and church, and one or the other could step up. These days, the communities to which we belong and who we can call on are as varied as the congregants, but the issues are still there and the church should be one of the basic community pillars of a support network, esp in times of need. Some times those needs are from joys, some times from grief, some times from medical necessity.

Part of how we're changing is the type of support. We're not just thinking of the women involved, but their husbands/partners/family as also in need of emotional and physical care. Meal delivery is now coordinated through the internet. We're moving to care packages as the instant "we're thinking of you," rather than a prayer shawl.

This is a relatively long lead up to asking for some help with brainstorming.
-What are the life events that you think should be included in this kind of support?
-What would you, personally, like to see in such a care package?

Example: Major Surgery
- small booklet of suggested readings/psalms/prayers
- chocolate
- snack bars
- trashy bestseller
- aromatherapy candle
- microwave relaxing warm wrap (the fancy version of the sock with rice)
- prayer shawl

What are your ideas?

I'll eventually collate everything together for lists for various packages, and have some things common to all of them.

*Expect another post on them later this week

Thursday, March 28, 2013

At vigil

Lord, may we watch and pray with thee this night, holding in our hearts both the tragedy of the morrow and the joy of Easter morning. Aid our willing spirits in our vigils and save us from the trials of this world now and forevermore. In thy name we pray. Amen. Taking a brief break from sewing the hems on new church linens for sunday morning. And my shift is almost up. I'll be back at 7:30 for mass and then a day of curch cleaning.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Memento homo: quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris.

From dust we are made, to dust we shall return.

Ash Wednesday is about our mortality, the fleeting nature of life, and the need for humility and perspective in our lives.

And in the voice of the priest, I also hear the words of Carl Sagan, for we are made of star stuff. One day, the makings of stars we shall be again.

See the majesty and grandeur and power of the Lord.

We are made of the dust scattered at the beginning of time, spread among all the worlds that have been and shall be.

And God so loved us, the creations of dust, that God sent a Christ, that God cares enough about us to ask us to repent and return to the Lord, that the opportunity for reconciliation is eternally created.

See the grace and compassion and love of our God.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

on baptism

Raise up a child in the way he should go...

I'm reminded yet again this evening that I was not raised in a mainline Protestant denomination. I picked up "A Sacramental Life" at the library last week and started reading it tonight. I almost immediately ran up against an assumption that I've seen repeatedly - Christian churches believe that the christian life begins at baptism, or that it is impossible to be a christian without being baptized.

Every time, that assumption brings me up short, because that is very definitely not what I was raised to believe. Heck, it doesn't apply to most of the evangelical movement. Christianity is about accepting Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. Billy Graham converted a heck of a lot of people with those famous altar calls, and he wasn't the only one. Baptism is the outward acknowledgement of the inward moving of the Holy Spirit. Life in the church may begin with the sacrament, but being a Christian, salvation from sin and death, isn't dependant upon getting doused with water. It's important, because community is important. It is only in community that we can break bread together.

And I run into the mainline view yet again. It is the stated theology of my church. It is something that I struggle with every time it comes up. I'll be over here, looking at it again.

in the mean time, I'm computerless this week, which also means short of keyboard and spell check...forgive the errors.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A drabble

The subtitle of this blog is "religion, geekdom, and the occasional intersection of the two."

This is one of those intersection points.

A subset of geekdom is fandom - the realm of people who like/appreciate a specific example or creator. Lost. NASCAR. Firefly. Cardinals. Jane Austen. These all are creators of narratives, stories that catch us, and often make us delve into endless speculations of "what if?" and "what were they really thinking?" (If you think this is limited to those book people, don't get a sports fan started about what might have happened if the ball had been caught/dropped.)

Occasionally, those of us who delve into the world of what if write it down, and that's called fanfiction. This is one of those times. And yes, there is a whole lot of Bible fanfic out there - God left us with a lot of gaps and room in the margins, then made us a people who tell stories. Thus, the Midrash, and of a much lesser quality, this.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Do not fear

"I have called you by name: you are mine."

4 years ago, I heard a call. To work for the Lord in all things. To be a light in the world, a kind word, a gentle hand, to lead, shepherd, to work with His people in the building of a kingdom in this life. I have been baptized by water and the spirit. I have met with others, attempting to discern where it is that God has called me, what is my ministry and where should I serve.

And this week's reading is one of those that I hold as comfort in the darkness, when I doubt that I heard that voice. It reminds me, constantly, that I am not alone. It reminds me that He who called me is there, even when the world is not. No matter how challenging this process is, God is with me, and I need to remember to trust in that.

43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
43:3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
43:4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.
43:5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;
43:6 I will say to the north, "Give them up," and to the south, "Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth--
43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The joy of hats

I? Am a hat person.

According to arcane rules that most people have forgotten, men doff their hats upon entering any building, esp. a church, and ladies get to leave theirs in place. I have always thought that this was related to the number of hat pins and other methodologies employed by ladies with proper millinery to keep the things in place. I have to be careful about which hats I purchase or make, so that they sit on my head without resorting to anything other than friction and gravity, because our modern world doesn't deal well with hats.

It occurred to me this morning as I was undoing the one hat pin I had allowed myself (a concession to the wind), that as a relic of an earlier era, hats highlighted one of the other major changes in the church. In the days when a proper chapeau was de rigeur for church, it was also absolutely unheard of for a woman to serve at the altar in any capacity. And here, I was unpinning my hat so that I could don my robe, and be the worship leader in an Anglo-catholic Episcopalian parish.

Times, they change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.