February 3, 2008
We are teaching through some of the key themes of Genesis this month. When studying the narrative there are so many things we cannot explain nor should we…not an acceptable way of study for many of us that have been raised in the western rational way of thinking…the Old Testament is hard for many. God doesn’t seem like the Loving Jesus of the New Testament, at first reading God can actually seem pretty angry, cold and calculating when things don’t go the way he wants them to go. Here is a line that Todd Hunter used last year when he was with us. I think if we start with this view of God and really can get it deep into our soul we can (and I think this could be what faith is about) let the gaps be, we don’t have to have God make rational sense in every way possible.
“What lies behind the universe is TOTALLY COMPETENT LOVE – Behind the known world is totally competent love”
If this is my starting place I can let the mystery be.
January 21, 2008
As I work on my dissertation proposal (actually a course that helps me prepare and hone in on what my proposal will be) I am rereading some thoughts from Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
Some of my thoughts surrounding my working topic –
The Practicing Church – morphing from traditional to missional — what are the practices of:
With regard to leadership I find the following from pages 234-241 helpful:
“If I am right in believing, as I do, that the only effective hermeneutic of the gospel is the life of the congregation which believes it, one has to ask how such congregations may be helped to become what they are called to be.”
“…,the Church in the New Testament is represented by visible communities of men and women located in places which can be visited and to which letters can be written.”
“…they are represented by visible congregations which have a specific location–whether in the primary geographical sense, or in the sense of location within one of the sectors of public life in a complex and multisectional society. I have already said that I believe that the major impact of such congregations on the life of society, as a whole is through the daily work of the members in their secular vocations…but the developing, nourishing, and sustaining of Christian faith and practice is impossible apart from a believing congregation. It is therefore important to my thesis to consider, however briefly, the question of the leadership of such congregations.”
“In some Christian circles it is unfashionable to talk much about the ordained ministry, because of the fear of being guilty of elitism, one of contemporary society’s catalogue of unforgivable sins. Without going into an elaborate discussion on this fear, I will make two simple points. First, I hope I have made clear my belief that it is the whole Church which is called to be—in Christ—a royal priesthood, that every member of the body is called to the exercise of this priesthood, and that this priesthood is to be exercised in the daily life and work in Christians in the secular business of the world. But this will not happen unless there is a ministerial priesthood which serves, nourishes, sustains, and guides this priestly work.”
“Men and women are not ordained to this ministerial priesthood in order to take priesthood away from the people but in order to nourish and sustain the priesthood of the people.”
“The business of leadership is precisely to enable, encourage, and sustain the activity of all the members. To set “participation” and “leadership” against each other is absurd. Clericalism and anticlericalism are simply two sides of the same coin.”
“The minister’s leadership of the congregation in its mission to the world will be first and foremost in the area of his or her own discipleship, in that life of prayer and daily consecration which remains hidden from the world but which is the place where the essential battles are either won or lost.”
“…in the person of Peter—we have given to us a picture of apostolic leadership in the Church. Peter is first presented to us as an evangelist. He is a fisherman who, however, catches nothing until he submits to the Master’s instruction. When he does so, there is a mighty catch which he brings, with the net intact and as the fruit of his work, one undivided harvest to the feet of Jesus. Then the image changes and Peter is a pastor to whom Jesus entrusts his flock. He can so entrust it because Peter loves him more than all. But then, finally the image changes again. Peter is a disciple who must go the way the Master went, the way of the cross. He is not to look around to see who else is following. He is to look one way only—to the Master who goes before him. Ministerial is first and finally discipleship.”
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
August 2, 1963
January 12, 2008
It’s been busy…
Last week my youngest son, Alex turned 10! In eleven days my oldest son Michael turns 30!
Just returned from a retreat in Oregon. Three days offline..it was a great time away with Rich and others. Lots of down time and reflection. Good conversations, lots of alone time out in the woods, on a river. God affirmed our path in some pretty amazing ways.
Tomorrow is a big day for VCC (it is the first time since my ordination in 1996 that we have set in someone as a pastor) we are setting Jim Fox in as our associate…
Book recommendation – The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson
Beginning a new series of teaching tomorrow – taking narratives from Genesis and Exodus through the next few months (until Easter we will be at crossing the Red Sea)…
January 6, 2008
Last week at VCC we did a reflection – looking back at 2007 and asked these questions:
- Who were the significant people in your life?
What books or Bible study instructed your mind and heart?
- How were you a gift to a person or a community?
- What was your greatest joy this year? Your greatest sorrow?
- In what areas did you grow? Were these areas related to your joy or your pain?
- Did you root your life more firmly in Scripture and in prayer? Did God seem near or far off?
Is there anything you feel God is saying to you as you look back on the year?
This morning we will reflect on looking ahead at 2008 with these questions:
- Who are the people with whom you would like to deepen your relationships in the year to come? Do you have relationships that need to be healed? Are there places in your own heart that need healing?
- Is there an aspect of your character you would like to develop, or one of the fruit of the Spirit you would like God to grow in you? (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Gal.5:22)
- Are there any other goals, in the area of mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional growth that you’d like to name before God, asking his help?
Most of the time we encourage living in the present, this real day to day, ordinary life and see all aspects as holy. Spiritual formation is happening whether I am watching Fox News, CNN or eat dinner with my family. All of life is forming me. There are a few times during the year that it is good to reflect on the past and ask what do I hope for in the future. As followers of Christ we live in three time zones, the past, the present and the future. The Kingdom has come, is here and our prayer, “Kingdom Come”
December 29, 2007
I was thinking of writing a reflection on 2007 when I received an email this morning titled “One Year Later” a comment on my “Meeting With Mark Driscoll” post.
I clicked on the link and was taken here
I read through the posts and the comments and felt sick. I will leave it at that.
Highlights from 2007
2007 is a bit of a blur to me. Between family, friends, church, Turning Point and grad school, I need to look at my calendar to remember.
Unfortunately I began the year with a bit of a health scare. I had a cycle of migraine headaches that ended up lasting from late December to almost the end of January. Upon having my eyes examined as one of the numerous tests and doctors I saw they discovered something that could be either nerve damage or some kind of growth in my brain. I ended up having brain scans and all kinds of tests. It ended up being nerve damage to the nerves that connect from behind my eyes to the optic nerve. It is not a serious condition and can be corrected with eye glasses. I fought migraines almost the entire year. In September Rich (he makes coffee for us every morning, started using decaf, didn’t tell me until 3 days into it) and I stopped using all caffeine and I have not had a migraine since!
Bakke Graduate University
I continued grad school. I always seem to be behind but I love it! One highlight was teaching a session for the incoming doctoral students in January and June. This is a dream for someday… to teach part time in seminary as an on the ground practitioner. I continue to be amazed at how Bakke’s unique seminary, connecting practitioners with academics is the kind of seminary Brian McLaren wrote about in his book “New Kind of Christian”. I remember reading that section several years ago (before seminary was even an option for me) and thinking, that’s a seminary I would love to attend.
February – March
I spent two weeks in India for a course for Bakke Graduate University. You can read highlights here. I loved India, the people, the colors, the smells…
Our community journeyed through the Lenten season together using Henri Nouwen’s “Show me the Way” reflection. We met every Wednesday evening for soup, bread and sharing our journey.
I attended the Feast of Saint Patrick. What an amazing group of people. The Roman Catholic part of me envies having a beautiful building, St E’s, the intentional living in both the Convent and the Brown House. I hope I spend time in the future with these fellow travelers.
Along with Off The Map we hosted the Missional Matrix event. Scot and Kris McKnight were with us as well as Todd Hunter. We have known Todd for several years and it is always good to be with him. I have read Jesus Creed for a long time and so meeting Scot and Kris was an honor. We had a blast.
April – May
April – Easter! I love Easter. I love the Lenten season leading up to Holy Week, Palm Sunday and then BAM! Easter – Love Wins!
In May we had our annual women’s retreat. This is one of the highlights of my year. Women in our faith community go on retreat held in a beautiful setting overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains on Whidbey Island. This is one of the most bonding times we have together as women in community. We laugh together, cry together, pray together, sing together, cook together, eat together…it is a rich time of relationship with God and one another.
The majority of summer was spent working, leading VCC, leading TP and course work for school. We spent a 5 days with my sister and her husband at their house on Orcas Island. We live in one of the most beautiful regions in the world.
I began meeting with a Peer Direction group as another practice to try to keep myself growing and grounded in God during this very intense season of life. Five of us meet monthly. I love this group! We are four generations of women (I am in the middle). It’s amazing because almost monthly I think, “I am too busy for another meeting” and then we meet and I realize, “I am too busy to not have this meeting”. The depth of listening to God for one another and the direction that comes is one of the best gifts I received in 2007.
September – October
By the time Alex went back to school the first week of September I realized I was exhausted. The first week of school was in and I decided I needed to practice rest even if it was for only 24 hours. I decided that on Friday’s I was not going to be responsible for anything and only do things I wanted to do. I would putter around the house, and cook a beautiful fall dinner, usually roast chicken with root vegetables. I didn’t do it intentionally but it ended up turning into modified Shabbat meal. We would usually invite friends over and it ended up being a wonderful time. No agenda, no church business, just good friends, good food and good wine.
In September I agreed to be the Area Pastoral Care Leader in our area of churches. This is an honor because I don’t think there has ever been a stand alone woman in the Association of Vineyard Churches USA to ever break out beyond local church leadership. Diana Butler Bass said to me, “so you’re a bishop”…
By mid-October Friday nights were taken up beginning with a trip to Texas. I went with a small group of women to meet with the National Director, Bert Waggoner and his wife Evelyn to discuss how to empower women in the Vineyard on every level of leadership. I met some wonderful women that I know will be life long friends.
Arriving home from Texas the following weekend we had our second annual Turning Point Dinner and Auction. You can read about it here.
November – December
I began November attending the Off The Map Live Event. As I stated in an earlier blog, I think it was the best event to date. Brian McLaren spoke in our church that Sunday a.m. our recording computer crashed so unfortunately it was not recorded.
Rich and I went on a 5 day cruise to Mexico with the NW Regional Leadership of Vineyard. We had a great time! We had never been on a cruise and frankly never that interested. It was a great gift. Lots of rest and good, good times, oh and a bit of work actually got accomplished!
Ray Bakke was with us the first Sunday of Advent. You can listen to his message here. I am a very, very fortunate woman. My life is never boring. Sometimes I wonder how this has all happened. In the past two years so much has converged at once, wonderful wonderful life dreams and deep personal pain. The paradox of holding joy and sorrow never escapes me for long.
Advent and Christmas were wonderful. I think every year I readjust my expectations of Christmas. Even though I love Christmas, the past few years Christmas was not the same. I can’t explain it. This year I used Maggi Dawn’s “Beginnings and Endings” as well as some other Advent reflections and I realized – I love Advent, and leading up to Christmas it made Christmas somehow more meaningful, less about the hustle and bustle of shopping and the rest of the busyness of the season.
Though it’s all a bit of a blur – I am thankful, for my family, for my friends, and for the awesome community called VCC. The opportunities and the challenges of life, the joy and the sorrow, the mistakes and the successes…I consider them all gifts from God.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Happy New Year
December 27, 2007
For all the implications that come with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto we pray to the LORD
Lord hear our prayer
December 26, 2007
This year we did not have a Christmas Eve Candlelight service. We decided to take a year off and instead Rich and I hosted a Christmas Eve open house. We were surprised with the number of people that came through. It was great. I made a gigantic pot of clam chowder and everyone brought something to share. Kids were playing and a few of the younger ones were so adorable, they were all dressed up and after a while kept telling their parents, “we really should go, Santa is coming” so cute…
I had some great conversations over red wine. I did not realize how many people in our community do not have any family in Seattle. There was a lot of laughing. In some ways I enjoyed our gathering as much as I do the traditional candlelight service. My daughter Nicole and stepson, Aaron (our only adult single children) were with us and spent the night. We opened gifts in the morning, Alex (our almost 10 year old) had a pretty fun Christmas. He got a Risk game. Rich and I, Nicole, Aaron and Alex played a game of Risk a game we used to play a lot when my first two children were growing up. We got down to Alex, Nicole and I when we had to stop so we could go over to Seth and Laurie’s (my stepson and daughter-in-law) where we met up with most the kids and all grandchildren. Our eleven grandchildren range from the oldest, 16 year old Chrystal to the youngest, 9 month old Tate. We had brunch (waffles, crepes, strawberries, whipped cream, bacon and sausage) and then all the kids opened their presents…so adorable. We hung out and played games, all the guys and Angela went out in the snow and played touch football and later we got some great family photos. I have a group of photos of Alex with my biological children, Michael and Nicole but I didn’t have any of Alex with his siblings from the Swetman side. Yesterday they were all together (something that does not happen often) so we got some great shots of all the kids…then with spouses, then with the grandchildren. We had a great time.
Rich, Alex and I got home around 6:00, I made linguine with clams while Rich and Alex played another one of the new games. After dinner Alex was so tired, (he and Nicole stayed up until 2:00 a.m.) so he went upstairs to watch a Rocky movie while Rich and I watched The Kingdom…good movie, the last few lines of the movie say it all, I actually found myself praying…
Rich and I went to bed and both said, this was one of the best Christmas seasons. it was a great combination of being with our faith community and some of our kids on Christmas Eve and then being with all the kids on Christmas day.
Today, Alex is working on getting his electronics to work. I need to get a great deal of over due writing done for school.
From today’s prayers “Sacred Space”:
How do I find myself today?
Where am I with God? With others?
Do I have something to be grateful for?
Then I give thanks.
Is there something I am sorry for?
Then I ask forgiveness.
December 19, 2007
December 13, 2007
Last night Turning Point, (a non-profit organization founded by VCC) Vineyard Community Church partnered with the Center for Human Services and the families that live at Ballinger Homes partnered together for the residents annual “Festival of Lights” party. Ballinger Homes is a low-income apartment community owned and operated by the King County Housing Authority. The Center for Human Services runs the “Family Support Center” in conjunction with many community partners.
Ballinger Homes is home to 110 families, the majority of whom are immigrants from all over the world. Turning Point and Vineyard provided gifts (gender and age appropriate) and food and volunteers for the event. We have served this community for four years. We love these families! Before the kids went to the gift station they first filled out a paper with their name, age and
“Wish Upon a Star”, we asked them for a life wish, not for things. Here are some quotes:
- “to stop world hunger and let people get along with each other more and I wish to have a digital camera” Female age 13
- “I want to be a doctor. I wish the war would end” Female age 15
- “I want to become a doctor and hope to get a job in the UN to work in poor countries” Female age 17
- “I wish to go back to camp (YMCA summer camp) and to bring all my friends with me” Female age 14
- “I wish to be a teacher. I wish for my parents to have a nice life in the future for all the nice things they have done for me” Male age 13
- “I want to be Cinderella” Female age 5
- “my wish is for my sister to come to America to be with our family” Female age 14
- “I wish for the homeless and the sick to have a place to live and a healthy life” Male age 15.5
- “I wish for better grades at school and be better at basketball” Male age 16
- “to be a football star” Male age 13
- “to be able to help people in need through medicine. I always wanted to help others because others have helped me in the past” Male age 18
- “I want to be an artist” Male age 12
- “In my life I want to be a kids’ doctor because I like kids” Male age 17
As you can see, I don’t have the formatting for WordPress down and I have spent way too long trying to format…I also tried to upload some pictures can’t figure it out.
The night was great. The generosity of time, presence, gifts and more is what VCC and TP do best!
I think I have landed on the title for my dissertation…The Practicing Church…this will reflect the journey we have been on. A few of the areas I will concentrate on:
What are the practices of a church organized around the mission of God in areas of:
1. Spiritual formation