Sunday, January 31, 2010

Things that make you say Hmmmmmm

AT our COngregational Annual Meeting today we set aside time for some visioning talk.  In groups folks were asked to discuss these questions:
What I like most about being part of RUC is…
Why are we here? What are we all about?
If RUC were to disappear tomorrow what would people (both RUC folks and A. in general) notice...
After discussion time they reported back.  WE still need to compile all the answers on the sheets but one that was interesting came in response to the last question.  THe group suggested that the community may not miss us as much as they should.  The Board Chair then suggested that maybe we could/should ask ourselves why that might be.

THe BOard will be working with the answers we got todayy and doing some visioning stuff this Spring (at least I hope so.  But that answer really got me thinking and wondering.  I think it may be a starting point....

You Know I Love 'Em But....

Sometimes they say the darndest (and not helpful) things.

For children's time this morning I thought I'd talk about what the church does.  The only kids were our 3 but I had no back up story so off we go.

AS part of it I decided to use the finger rhyme "Here is the church...".  The girls know this rhyme, they have done it many times before.

Eldest was in a shy mood and saying nothing.  So when I got to the end of the rhyme I turned to the youngest for help.  "Open the door and see all the..."

Without a moment's pause she called out, at the top of her lungs "FINGERS!" and the whole congregation broke up.

After church, during lunch, I did it with her again.  This time (of course) she quietly said "people".  But not when others were listening.  SOme days you gotta wonder why you don't just read a story.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book 3 of 2010

This book calls us to explore the ethical implications of our lives.  It chooses 7 topics (coffee, chocolate, food, cars, waste, clothing, and debt) and walks through some of the justice issues involved with each.

Such a book could well be a recipe for feelings of depression and powerlessness.  AFter all it would be impossible to suddenly change our entire lives in almost any of those topics.  But Clawson is prepared for that.  She starts out the book by telling the reader not to panic.  She is realistic enough to know that there are limits to what people feel they are able to do.  ANd so he purpose of the book is to raise awareness and encourage people to do something, not everything -- "to tweak, not overhaul" as she says.  OTOH, part of me wonders if focussing on the "Tweaking" may allow some readers to comfortably forget the need for a more complete overhaul -- tweaking is the start, not the endpoint.

One of the best parts about the book is that each chapter includes some concrete, helpful tips on how one can change, where to look, what to do to make a difference.  Each chapter also includes a reference list (books, movies, websites) for more information.

THis book would make for a great book study.  At one time the local library had a book club.  I may check if it still exists and, if so, suggest it.  Or maybe I can convince a group at the church to do it. 

Note:  You can see a discussion of his book over at the RGBP site

Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Go with PReaching on Ezra Reading the Law (Nehemiah 8)

Book 2 of 2010

Salvation on the Small Screen by Nadia Bolz-Weber

I loved this book!  I kept laughing out loud.  ANd yet I had to agree with Bolz-Weber that it gave pause for thought at times.  ANd now I can safely say that I have NO desire to watch 24 hours straight of "Christian" TV.  (Actually I really have no desire to watch 24 straight hours of TV period.)

BUt apparently I must not have the rght positive thoughts or must not be sowing enough seeds or something.  Because ministry hasn't led me to the land of the wealthy.

And it is nice to know that I am not the most cynical person in the world.  At least I don't think so, there are kindred spirits out there.  Now I have to go check out her blog...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Five--Planes, Trains and Automobiles


1) What was the mode of transit for your last trip?  Car, well van actually.  The most cost-effective way to travel with 3 kids and a dog.

2) Have you ever traveled by train?
That I have.  A few times: when I was about 8 with my mother and sister, during University I went out to my grandparents ahead of the rest of the family by train, and then when I wen to Britain I traveled exclusively by train (well other than the plane to London and back home).

3) Do you live in a place with public transit, and if so, do you use it?
No public transit here.

4) What's the most unusual vehicle in which you've ever traveled? 
Not sure I have ever traveled in an unusual vehicle.

5) What's the next trip you're planning to take?
The next one will be to PResbytery in February.  No idea what will happen for holiday time next summer

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book 1 of 2010

One  of my goals for the year is to read more (easily attainable if one turns off the screens more often).  The first official book of the year [actually the fifth one I read but the first 4 were a re-read of the last 4 Harry Potter books so I'm not counting them] is this one:

It tells of a canoe journey across the country.  6000 miles over two seasons.  An easy and highly enjoyable read.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where is God -- A Newspaper Column

For the last 2 days the news has been full of pictures from Haiti and the aftermath of the devastating earthquake there. In the face of such destruction and suffering and death many questions arise. For those of us who take seriously the God who is Love one of those questions is, naturally, Where is God?

Where is God when the world turns upside down, when innocent people have their lives torn apart? Why do bad, even evil, things happen of God is in charge? How can we continue to proclaim God's goodness and mercy in the face of the reality of the world.

I can't answer that question. I certainly can't answer it in the 500 words of this column. Better minds than mine have spent careers trying to wrestle with the problem of evil and the WHY question. And they too rarely come up with answers that really satisfy. For one author I read last year the question of evil caused him to give up on faith. Bart Ehrman struggled with the varied Scriptural explanations of evil events (punishment for sin, testing, “a mystery” to name some) and found them all lacking. For more you could check out his book God's Problem.

I agree with Ehrman. Scripture does not give us a good answer to the “why do bad things happen to good people” question. (Perhaps more vexing to some of us is actually the “why do good things happen to bad people” question but that is another column.) Certainly it seems unfair, even unjust. But there is another way to look at it.

The How, Why, and Where questions around evil are all based on an assumption. They are all based on the assumption of a God who is all-powerful. Indeed this is the God portrayed in Scripture (which, in my opinion, is why Scripture can't answer these questions satisfactorily). But Scripture also tells us that God is Love. To my mind these two pictures can not co-exist in the face of the news from Haiti I watched at lunchtime. No all-powerful God who is also Love would allow or cause such suffering.

And so I have come to doubt that God is all-powerful. In fact I have come to believe that I can not believe God is all-powerful. And this was freeing for me. This was the moment I came to believe that God is still relevant. Also, this belief changes the title question of this column. Where is God?

If God is not responsible for the disaster then where is God in the face of the disaster? The late Fred Rogers, who was a Presbyterian minister, used to have an answer. “Look for the helpers”. When disaster strikes look for the people who are helping. That is where God is. That is how God is acting.

Disaster has struck our brothers and sisters in Haiti. God has started to respond. God calls us to respond. Gifts to support the people of Haiti can be sent through the United Church (and a variety of other agencies).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Spiritual Trends

I am really not a big fan of trends, I think the whole concept is overhyped.  But this article seems to have some intriguing possibilities:
5 SPiritual Trends for the 10's

The Trends are:
1. Eastern spirituality will flower
2. Religious terrorism will be the new normal
3. Religious liberals will build on advances
4. Religious right will regroup
5. Secular spirituality will strengthen

What do you think?

Well If there was any doubt...

PAt RObertson is an idiot.
This video pretty much proves it (actually idiot is being fairly nice given this video)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

You Have to Love the People

There is a theory that clergy should move every 5 or 6 years to avoid getting "too close" to the people in the congregation.  IMO this is hogwash.  What does "too close" mean anyway?

Is it harder to keep some sort of clinical detachment when grieving with the congregation?  YEs.  Suck it up and deal with it.  But one of the blessings of ministry is to share the lives of the people with whom one lives and works and ministers.  OBviously there is always the need to have some professional distance and so on.  But it is a blessing to grieve with them and to laugh with them (I note that people rarely worry about the "too close" thing when it comes to sharing the joys of life, just about the supposed problem of loving the people whom you are burying).

I was reminded of this yesterday while doing the funeral of a charter member of the congregation.  It is one of the few times when looking down at the family I had to pull myself together as the service started.   But it is a blessing.  Not a hardship.  Not a problem.  A blessing.  TBTG.  Amen