Monday, March 31, 2008

Political Mini Rant

OK - I am tired of the whole question about whether or not Hillary should drop out.
First, she is never going to quit unless she runs out of money. And I think that is what is going to make the decision.
So please, stop talking about it!!!!!


We had an elder's retreat this weekend which was really good on so many levels. We are studying a book - "I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church" and came up with a number of new ideas ot help us to choose life, be bold!, be real community and have fun! One of the issues that came to me was that maybe it would be helpful for us to become an "open an affirming" congregation. We talked a bit about that and decided that we needed to talk to some of the gay people who worship with us as well as see what that would mean for us. What would be the process.
Then yesterday afternoon I talked to Seth who is a gay man who worships with us. He told me that when he tells friends that he worships at our church, their question is: "is it open and affirming?" And he says no - but it is a safe church. What I am learning is that there are various stages of openness and acceptance.
  • First, there is tolerance - which can be "love the sinner hate the sin." but we are glad you are here. As a woman minister I have experienced that with male colleagues whose theology says that only men are called to leadership in the church but they are "willing to work with me." I find it patronizing and uncomfortable.
  • Another level is we are glad you are here to worship. We accept you. But we are not sure you should be in leadership - so be quiet about your sexual orientation.
  • Another level is come, we accept you and you can be in leadership. That is where we are now.
  • But the final (?) level is "open and affirming" which says we celebrate who you are. And then we would put a rainbow flag outside the door of the church which would signal that. For us, I think it would be great advertising and a real statement of who we are.

I believe that it would be good - and exciting - to get to that step and I am going to start exploring how we get there.

Another event of the weekend was Sunday worship and I preached on forgiveness. I think I could preach on this every week and never be done. I am constantly amazed at the folks that i meet who are carrying around either guilt or grudges that literally sap their energy. The sermons was about the disciples right after the resurrection locked in a room in fear and suddenly Jesus comes and says - "peace be with you." And then breathes the spirit and then tells the disciples that "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” So my sermon was about the movement from prisoner to priest.

Here is a quote from it:
"This is the Gospel – that Jesus comes into our lives – we who without him are so easily imprisoned by all sorts of things
Are called to be the ones who come and bring God to free others from their prisons of unforgiveness.
Phillips Brooks wrote – We never become truly spiritual by sitting down and wishing to become so. You must undertake something so great you cannot accomplish it unaided”
Being a priest to others – bringing God’s love and grace into messy and difficult situations with sometimes hard to love people is hard."

I could tell this was something that some people needed on Sunday. I always need it.

Last thing, I took today off which has been great. I like not working on Mondays. When I take Thursdays off I am thinking too much about Sunday. Monday gives me time just to rest and

GO TO THE MOVIES - which I did. We saw "21" and I thought it was really good. Chuck did not like it. He said that if he had been alone he would have left and gone into another movie. There was a fair amount of tension about the brainy and vulnerable MIT students who were counting cards in Vegas. The acting was good, it was a good story and I liked the fact that it was true and there was a nice little twist at the end. I give it a Bplus.

It was a good weekend.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Marty on Wright

This is what Martin Marty had to say about Jeremiah Wright
I think it is helpful in understanding the issues.

Through the decades, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. has called me teacher, reminding me of the years when he earned a master's degree in theology and ministry at the University of Chicago — and friend. My wife and I and our guests have worshiped at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where he recently completed a 36-year ministry.
Images of Wright's strident sermons, and his anger at the treatment of black people in the United States, appear constantly on the Internet and cable television, part of the latest controversy in our political-campaign season. His critics call Wright anti-American. Critics of his critics charge that the clips we hear and see have been taken out of context. But it is not the context of particular sermons that the public needs, as that of Trinity church, and, above all, its pastor.
In the early 1960s, at a time when many young people were being radicalized by the Vietnam War, Wright left college and volunteered to join the United States Marine Corps. After three years as a marine, he chose to serve three more as a naval medical technician, during which time he received several White House commendations. He came to Chicago to study not long after Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder in 1968, the U.S. bombing campaign in Cambodia in 1969, and the shooting of students at Kent State University in 1970.
Wright, like the gifted cohort of his fellow black students, was not content to blend into the academic woodwork. Then the associate dean of the Divinity School, I was informally delegated to talk to the black caucus. We learned that what Wright and his peers wanted was the intense academic and practical preparation for vocations that would make a difference, whether they chose to pursue a Ph.D. or the pastorate. Chicago's Divinity School focuses on what it calls "public ministry," which includes both conventional pastoral roles and carrying the message and work of the church to the public arena. Wright has since picked up numerous honorary doctorates, and served as an adjunct faculty member at several seminaries. But after divinity school, he accepted a call to serve then-struggling Trinity.
Trinity focuses on biblical teaching and preaching. It is a church where music stuns and uplifts, a church given to hospitality and promoting physical and spiritual healing, devoted to education, active in Chicago life, and one that keeps the world church in mind, with a special accent on African Christianity. The four S's charged against Wright — segregation, separatism, sectarianism, and superiority — don't stand up, as countless visitors can attest. I wish those whose vision has been distorted by sermon clips could have experienced what we and our white guests did when we worshiped there: feeling instantly at home.
Yes, while Trinity is "unapologetically Christian," as the second clause in its motto affirms, it is also, as the other clause announces, "unashamedly black." From its beginning, the church has made strenuous efforts to help black Christians overcome the shame they had so long been conditioned to experience. That its members and pastor are, in their own term, "Africentric" should not be more offensive than that synagogues should be "Judeocentric" or that Chicago's Irish parishes be "Celtic-centric." Wright and colleagues insist that no hierarchy of races is involved. People do not leave Trinity ready to beat up on white people; they are charged to make peace.
To the 10,000 members of Trinity, Jeremiah Wright was, until just a few months ago, "Pastor Wright." Metaphorically, pastor means shepherd. Like members of all congregations, the Trinity flock welcomes strong leadership for organization, prayer, and preaching. One-on-one ministry is not easy with thousands in the flock and when the pastor has national responsibilities, but the forms of worship make each participant feel recognized. Responding to the pastoral call to stand and be honored on Mother's Day, for instance, grandmothers, single mothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, gay-and-lesbian couples, all mothers stood when we visited. Wright asked how many believed that they were alive because of the church's health fairs. The members of the large pastoral staff know many hundreds of names, while hundreds of lay people share the ministry.
Now, for the hard business: the sermons, which have been mercilessly chipped into for wearying television clips. While Wright's sermons were pastoral — my wife and I have always been awed to hear the Christian Gospel parsed for our personal lives — they were also prophetic. At the university, we used to remark, half lightheartedly, that this Jeremiah was trying to live up to his namesake, the seventh-century B.C. prophet. Though Jeremiah of old did not "curse" his people of Israel, Wright, as a biblical scholar, could point out that the prophets Hosea and Micah did. But the Book of Jeremiah, written by numbers of authors, is so full of blasts and quasi curses — what biblical scholars call "imprecatory topoi" — that New England preachers invented a sermonic form called "the jeremiad," a style revived in some Wrightian shouts.
In the end, however, Jeremiah was the prophet of hope, and that note of hope is what attracts the multiclass membership at Trinity and significant television audiences. Both Jeremiahs gave the people work to do: to advance the missions of social justice and mercy that improve the lot of the suffering. For a sample, read Jeremiah 29, where the prophet's letter to the exiles in Babylon exhorts them to settle down and "seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile." Or listen to many a Jeremiah Wright sermon.
One may properly ask whether or how Jeremiah Wright — or anyone else — experiences a prophetic call. Back when American radicals wanted to be called prophets, I heard Saul Bellow say (and, I think, later saw it in writing): "Being a prophet is nice work if you can get it, but sooner or later you have to mention God." Wright mentioned God sooner. My wife and I recall but a single overtly political pitch. Wright wanted 2,000 letters of protest sent to the Chicago mayor's office about a public-library policy. Of course, if we had gone more often, in times of profound tumult, we would have heard much more. The United Church of Christ is a denomination that has taken raps for being liberal — for example for its 50th anniversary "God is still speaking" campaign and its pledge to be open and affirming to all, including gay people. In its lineage are Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold and Richard Niebuhr, America's three most-noted theologians; the Rev. King was much at home there.
Friendship develops through many gestures and shared delights (in the Marty case, stops for sinfully rich barbecue after evening services), and people across the economic spectrum can attest to the generosity of the Wright family.
It would be unfair to Wright to gloss over his abrasive — to say the least — edges, so, in the "Nobody's Perfect" column, I'll register some criticisms. To me, Trinity's honoring of Minister Louis Farrakhan was abhorrent and indefensible, and Wright's fantasies about the U.S. government's role in spreading AIDS distracting and harmful. He, himself, is also aware of the now-standard charge by some African-American clergy who say he is a victim of cultural lag, overinfluenced by the terrible racial situation when he was formed.
Having said that, and reserving the right to offer more criticisms, I've been too impressed by the way Wright preaches the Christian Gospel to break with him. Those who were part of his ministry for years — school superintendents, nurses, legislators, teachers, laborers, the unemployed, the previously shunned and shamed, the anxious — are not going to turn their backs on their pastor and prophet.

Martin E. Marty is a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School and a panelist for On Faith, of His most recent book is The Christian World: A Global History (Modern Library, 2008).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Healing Service

Once a month we have a healing service at our church on Wednesday nights. It is very simple and we usually have from 4 to 10 people attend. That was the case last night.

So, after I ranted about the political scene, I go into a church sanctuary with a handful of people and experience on a personal level the healing presence of God.

As we came into the church, Faye said that she had a testimony. And so she told us about the fact that she just returned from the doctor's yesterday and the tumor that they had seen on an xray was now gone. Pat came with Lisa. Lisa is 29 years old and living with her parents as she is fighting breast cancer. She has been having chemo and had surgery last month. She has been attending our healing services for 4 months and we just love her. We laid hands on her and prayed and prayed for continued healing. Natalene was there. She is having back problems and we laid hands on her. A year and a half ago she had brain surgery and I believe it is a miracle that she survived that and was able to go back to work. Again, I just love her.

During this service we read scripture, listen to music and do prayers of intercession. Then we lay hands on whoever wants that. And then we do communion and say the Lord's prayer.
What I realized as I stood there last night was that everyone of us could point to healing that God has done in our lives - for me it is more in my spirit than in my body. Others may not realize how much God is healing some of the emotional pain that have carried for years.

There was a sweet sweet spirit in the room and I know it was the presence of the Lord.
I am blessed by a night like this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Just a little one.
I am sitting watching MSNBC again (somebody stop me!) and hearing them talking again about Rev Wright and Barak Obama and I wonder

- does anyone care where Hillary goes to church and what she hears?
- does anyone care where John McCain goes - ( I think to a Baptist church in Arizona even though he is nominally an Episcopalian)
I do know that he has been supported by Rob Parsley who is a mega preacher in Columbus who drives me crazy. Anti intellectual, anti gay, oh - I can't go on about it.
The point is that so many of these Christians can preach against women in leadership and against gays (or no - they "love them - but hate the sin") and it is all taken for granted.
But a man confronts the systems that are in this country - racism and militarism and is accused of "hate speech" and "Anti-Americanism".

And again - why is no one supporting Jeremiah Wright? I keep waiting to hear that the general minister of my church is going to make a statement. I hope so.
That's all for now.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I am sitting at 6:00 PM and watching Meet the Press. It has been a good Easter with one little glitch.

First the good part. The good part was two worship services and a breakfast - all of which went very well. Our theme for this morning was "Joy in the Morning" and it felt pretty joyful. We actually tried to sing (and dance!) to The Lord of the Dance and it was okay. We handed out a magnet at the end with a Bible verse - John 16:22. And I thought the whole thing was nice.

At two oc clock we had out Easter lunch and it was so nice. Chuck made ham and twice baked potatoes and a delicious Greek Salad. Dawn and Jason came and she brought a delicious chocolate cake, Marnie and Todd cam e and brough our entertainment - Reagan and Addie who found eggs hidden in the house, John and Marsha came and Marsha brought crafts for the girls to do. And JOhn and Ella Mae came and brought wine and their love for the little girls. It was just nice and, of course, chaotic, but mostly just nice.

The glitch was that in between lunch and church I went to CVS and did not have my wallet. I looked at home and in the van and knew I had not taken it out of my purse during church. And so, .....canceled credit cards and my debit card. And wondered whether the worst could have wallet got stolen at church. After everyone left Chuck went to the church because he thought that if it was stolen - it might have been thrown away afterward. And amazingly enough - there it was in the lost and found. The driver's license was in there, the debit and credit cards and even two checks written out to me. The only thing missing was the cash and coins. So.....of course I feel stupid. I am always being told to watch that I keep my office open and my purse in view of anyone.

But the truth is that someone today went into my office and took my wallet and extracted the money (by the way - not much - under $20). Chuck and I started to do the wondering - who could have taken it? And it is a waste of time.
Just a disappointment and a reality - that we live and practice our faith in an imperfect world.
But I continue to trust God - and maybe I need to be more careful!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reagan and Alyse

Reagan and Alyse came over after our GIFT program at church last night (Generations in Faith Together) and spent the night. They are here now right now.

First we stayed longer at church because they were so happy playing there. They were playing a game where Reagan was the queen and Alyse was her servant and her night and her guard. No one could speak to the queeen except Alyse. They concocted a throne for her to sit on. It all seemed to work and you just picture 10 years from now as Reagan continues to rule over her subjects :)

When they came in last night they wanted to play games so we played bunco together. There are two problems with bunco - first it goes too long and second they don't like losing! This, of course is written by me - the one who has a T shirt that says "Plays Well with Others - As Long as She wins!" Anyway, we figured out how to solve this problem. They decided they were a team and cheered each other on against me. And they won - that works!
We played Blokus for a while until they got tired of it and they just made up games together. Games like throw the coin and throw the ball and pretend queen and servant.

I put them to bed at 9:30 and told them they could whisper together but not talk loud or jump around. Alyse said she was going to sleep on the floor and Reagan was on the futon. (again a queen?) So, I am in the family room watching top chef and suddenly they are there. They have heard a noise. So I say - go back to bed and I know you will be okay. I continue watching TV and soon they are here again. So finally I say, "What do you want?" And Alyse says: "I don't want to go to bed," So, I surprised them by saying long as you are quiet. And they were as I watched Top Chef. Finally to bed at 11 with Reagan sleeping in the middle of the bed and Alyse on the floor scrunched up.

We are going to go shopping for Easter dresses this morning. But I told Alyse that we are going to buy one for Reagan and for her if she wants. She says she doesn't but I am betting that Reagan and I can persuade her. She is so tricky sometimes. Reagan informed me that they were going to "pass" on breakfast. I said, that was okay but if the changed their minds they could have cereal, or eggs or pancakes. To which Reagan immediately said - "scrambled eggs" and Alyse said "Tomatoes!"

I woke up first and they joined me in the family room and I asked them to check on Poppy. They were out and were back in 30 seconds yelling "naked!" It turns out they should have yelled "underwear!" but still startling to them and insignificant to Poppy. One of the young men at the Monday night Bible study had a similar experience of being startled to see Poppy in his underwear. Poppy thinks nothing of it - but most of us would rather not!

Anyway, right now they are downstairs cracking hickory nuts with Poppy. I don't know why we buy them toys - when they can amuse themselves in so many other ways.

This is the joy of my life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jim Wallis

This is from Jim Wallis' blog on Huffington Post. Again, saying it better and smarter than I ever could.

"There is a deep well of both frustration and anger in the African American community in these United States of America. And those feelings are borne of the concrete experience of real oppression, discrimination, and blocked opportunities that most of America's white citizens take for granted. African Americans across the spectrum of income and success will speak personally to those feelings of frustration and anger, when white people are willing to listen. But usually we are not. In 2008, to still not comprehend or seek to understand the reality of black frustration and anger, is to be in a state of white denial which, very sadly, is where many white Americans are.

The black church pulpit has historically been a place of prophetic truth-telling about the realities that black people experience in their own country. Indeed, the black church has often been the only place where such truths are ever told. And, black preachers have had the pastoral task of nurturing the spirits of people who feel beaten down week after week. Strong and prophetic words from black church pulpits are often a source of comfort and affirmation for black congregations. The truth is that many white Americans would indeed feel uncomfortable with the rhetoric of many black preachers from many black churches all across the country.
But if you look beyond the grainy black and white clips of the dashiki clad Rev. Wright and the angry black male voice (all designed to provoke stereotypes and fear) to actually listen to what the words are saying about America being run by "rich white people" while blacks have cabs speeding by them, and about American misdeeds around the world, it's hard to disagree with many of the facts presented. It's rather the angry tone of Wright's comments that provides the offense and the controversy.

Ironically, a new generation of black Americans is now eager and ready to move beyond the frustration and anger to a new experience of opportunity and hope. And nobody represents that shift more than Barack Obama. There is a generational shift occurring within the black community itself, between an older generation who are sometimes perceived to be stuck in the politics of victimization and grievance, and a younger generation who believe that opportunity and progress are now possible--not by ignoring, but by being committed to actually changing the facts of oppression and discrimination.

Barack Obama represents that hope of dealing with the substance of the issues of injustice while at the same time articulating the politics of hope, and even the possibility of racial unity. Obama's attraction to many who are white, especially a new generation, demonstrates the promise of a new racial politics in America. But to be a leader for a new generation of black Americans, Barack Obama had to be firmly rooted in the black church tradition, where the critique of white America, the sustenance of the African American community, and God's promise for the future are all clearly articulated. That's why he began attending Trinity Church where he was converted to Jesus Christ in the black liberationist tradition of, among others, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

So it would be a great tragedy if the old rhetoric of black frustration and anger were to now hurt Barack Obama, who has become the best hope of beginning to heal that very frustration and anger. Obama has never chosen to talk about race in the way that Rev. Jeremiah Wright does on the video clips that keep playing, and indeed has never played "the race card" at any time in this election. It's been his opponents that have, especially the right-wing conservative media machine that wants America to believe he is secretly a Muslim and is from a "racist" church.
This most recent controversy over race just demonstrates how enormous the gap still is between whites and blacks in America--in our experience and our capacity to understand one another. May God help us to heal that divide and truly bless America. "

Amen and Amen

UCC Response to Media Coverage

Here is the UCC response to all the coverage of Jeremiah Wright. I have been waiting for the church to respond. This is a time when we who have a much more open theology can be heard.

The Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, released the following statement on March 17 on the rhetoric of preaching, in light of recent news coverage of Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., and Chicago's Trinity UCC.

What Kind of Prophet?Reflections on the Rhetoric of Preachingin Light of Recent News Coverage of Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.and Trinity United Church of Christ
The Rev. John H. ThomasGeneral Minister and PresidentUnited Church of Christ

Over the weekend members of our church and others have been subjected to the relentless airing of two or three brief video clips of sermons by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ for thirty-six years and, for over half of those years, pastor of Senator Barack Obama and his family. These video clips, and news stories about them, have been served up with frenzied and heated commentary by media personalities expressing shock that such language and sentiments could be uttered from the pulpit.

One is tempted to ask whether these commentators ever listen to the overcharged rhetoric of their own opinion shows. Even more to the point is to wonder whether they have a working knowledge of the history of preaching in the United States from the unrelentingly grim language of New England election day sermons to the fiery rhetoric of the Black church prophetic tradition. Maybe they prefer the false prophets with their happy homilies in Jeremiah who say to the people: "You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place." To which God responds, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. . . . By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed," (Jeremiah 14.14-15). The Biblical Jeremiah was coarse and provocative. Faithfulness, not respectability was the order of the day then. And now?
What's really going on here? First, it may state the obvious to point out that these television and radio shows have very little interest in Trinity Church or Jeremiah Wright. Those who sifted through hours of sermons searching for a few lurid phrases and those who have aired them repeatedly have only one intention. It is to wound a presidential candidate. In the process a congregation that does exceptional ministry and a pastor who has given his life to shape those ministries is caricatured and demonized. You don't have to be an Obama supporter to be alarmed at this. Will Clinton's United Methodist Church be next? Or McCain's Episcopal Church? Wouldn't we have been just as alarmed had it been Huckabee's Southern Baptist Church, or Romney's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?
Many of us would prefer to avoid the stark and startling language Pastor Wright used in these clips. But what was his real crime? He is condemned for using a mild "obscenity" in reference to the United States. This week we mark the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, a war conceived in deception and prosecuted in foolish arrogance. Nearly four thousand cherished Americans have been killed, countless more wounded, and tens of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered. Where is the real obscenity here? True patriotism requires a degree of self-criticism, even self-judgment that may not always be easy or genteel. Pastor Wright's judgment may be starker and more sweeping than many of us are prepared to accept. But is the soul of our nation served any better by the polite prayers and gentle admonitions that have gone without a real hearing for these five years while the dying and destruction continues?

We might like to think that racism is a thing of the past, that Martin Luther King's harmonious multi-racial vision, articulated in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and then struck down by an assassin's bullet in Memphis in 1968, has somehow been resurrected and now reigns throughout the land. Significant progress has been made. A black man is a legitimate candidate for President of the United States. A black woman serves as Secretary of State. The accomplishments are profound. But on the gritty streets of Chicago's south side where Trinity has planted itself, race continues to play favorites in failing urban school systems, unresponsive health care systems, crumbling infrastructure, and meager economic development. Are we to pretend all is well because much is, in fact, better than it used to be? Is it racist to name the racial divides that continue to afflict our nation, and to do so loudly? How ironic that a pastor and congregation which, for forty-five years, has cast its lot with a predominantly white denomination, participating fully in its wider church life and contributing generously to it, would be accused of racial exclusion and a failure to reach for racial reconciliation.

The gospel narrative of Palm Sunday's entrance into Jerusalem concludes with the overturning of the money changers' tables in the Temple courtyard. Here wealth and power and greed were challenged for the way the poor were oppressed to the point of exclusion from a share in the religious practices of the Temple. Today we watch as the gap between the obscenely wealthy and the obscenely poor widens. More and more of our neighbors are relegated to minimal health care or to no health care at all. Foreclosures destroy families while unscrupulous lenders seek bailouts from regulators who turned a blind eye to the impending crisis. Should the preacher today respond to this with only a whisper and a sigh?

Is Pastor Wright to be ridiculed and condemned for refusing to play the court prophet, blessing land and sovereign while pledging allegiance to our preoccupation with wealth and our fascination with weapons? In the United Church of Christ we honor diversity. For nearly four centuries we have respected dissent and have struggled to maintain the freedom of the pulpit. Not every pastor in the United Church of Christ will want to share Pastor Wright's rhetoric or his politics. Not every member will rise to shout "Amen!" But I trust we will all struggle in our own way to resist the lure of respectable religion that seeks to displace evangelical faith. For what this nation needs is not so much polite piety as the rough and radical word of the prophet calling us to repentance. And, as we struggle with that ancient calling, I pray we will be shrewd enough to name the hypocrisy of those who decry the mixing of religion and politics in order to serve their own political ends.

UCC Response

Monday, March 17, 2008


I had a really wonderful weekend.

Twice a year Kay and I lead a day retreat for women. And Saturday we had a rescheduled Lenten Retreat at Camp Christian. We had 13 women because of the date change - but it was a wonderful time.

I had a thought in the morning before the retreat : you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. And that really is the story of ministry. This retreat was really a day to spend with God and we presented several different forms of prayer - prayer walking, doing a mandela,
meditating on scripture, body prayers, praying together, silence. Lots and lots. We led them to water and for most of us - we drank. For me it was just a blessing. I got in touch with some of the resentments I carry and was able to recognize how it has caused me to feel unneeded distress.

Sunday morning I preached on 2 stories - the palm Sunday arrival of Jesus and the trial of Jesus. My original thought was to look at the crowd - I always find that interesting. The crowd that says "Hosanna" becomes the crowd that says "Crucify Him." And I had a lot of trouble ending the sermon. I knew it was something about what we choose to do - but I didn;t know what it was. And finally I said - "spend time at the cross this week." And now on Monday I realize that it is the same thing. you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.

I don't know what anyone needs. I only know that these stories and this message of a man who shows a different way of life - nonviolent and forgiving and trusting God has what we all need.
Spending time at the cross is going to give each of us something different - or not.

I continue to be amazed at the media's response to Barak Obama's minister and church. It seems that they don't have any knowledge or history of the African American Church and they don't seem to know about the gospel message. Jesus came and while he was non violent - he named and stood up to the systems that destroyed. As they say - he did not just comfort the afflicted - he afflicted the comfortable. Anyway, maybe this dialogue will bring other pastors out to support the church in Chicago.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Obama's Minister

How interesting is this campaign becoming! Now charges about Obama's minister Jeremiah A. Wright.

Well, my first response is: I guess they (whoever they are) will stop saying he is a muslim. I was appalled to receive email forwards from friends about that.

But the problem is that his minister is not a conservative Christian. And for the media, that has been their image of Christianity in America.

Jeremiah A. Wright is a United Church of Christ Pastor and I imagine he would be described as liberal and progressive. The UCC's are "kissin' cousins" with the Disciples of Christ.

I went online and saw some of one of the sermons that he preached and then subsequently I saw parts of it shown on MSNBC. Definitely taken out of context. When I watched the clip I thought: "Wow! What a preacher!"
The point he was making was that Jesus was like a black man in a country in which white men were in power. And Jesus stood up against the religious and political establishment. He labeled Hillary as being more a part of the establishment and Barak as more of an outsider. And he said that there were experiences that Hillary never had in her life that a black man has. There is such a thing as white privelege and the unfortunate part is that many of us are so unconscious about that. It is not that we set up the world - but we were born into the world in which we have an advantage just because we are white. (Just like we have an advantage in life being born into a First World Country!)

I watched TV this morning and was dismayed at the reaction to the preaching. First, I heard Chris Mathews talk about journalists who "speak truth to power" which is also a phrase that we use about Jesus and hopefully about good preaching. I was appalled that they took the sermon out of context. And that they didn't understand that Christians have a higher calling than to America's interests.

Politically the pundits are saying that Obama has to distance himself from his pastor. I am very interested in how he is going to be true to his faith and to his campaign.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday - my day off

Just a quick post - I am getting to do many things I like today

1. I Read another chapter in A New Earth. I am really liking this book and it is putting into words a lot of where I feel God is leading me. So much for me is about giving up control and learning to live in the present and trusting God. I find myself underlining all the time in this book and even writing notes in the margins. Ihave not yet gone online for the second "class" but this book is reinforcing what I am learning in life I will write more on it later.

2. I watched a movie this morning - The Hunting Party - which came and went into the movies theatres. I absolutely recommend this. It is based on a magazine article in Esquire and stars Richard Gere as a war reporter in Bosnia and Terence Howard as his camaraman. It is about war and friendship and life. It has a lot of soul in it. I don't want to say more - except to recommend. See it.

3. I got to take a walk in the woods with Christy. She is in her last year of grad school, having written a dissertation and now finishing it up. She did not get the job she should she wanted - but I know that God has something wonderful for her. It is good to be with her and catch up.

4. Soon we are going to a comedy club - for dinner and comedy. With Dawn and Jason. That is such a great release for us. We have been laughing a lot lately - Chuck and I. We have been staying up late and watching David Letterman talk about Elliot Spitzer. There is something about sex scandals that brings Chuck and I together :) !!Anyway, there are a few people that we can go to comedy clubs with - Kacey and Brett, Marnie and Todd, Melanie and Dawn and Jason. Really looking forward to this!!

Life is good. Snow is melting. Spring is coming.

One more thing: I loved this poem that someone sent me.


'A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ> that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.'> >
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not shouting 'I'm clean livin''> I'm whispering 'I was lost, Now I'm found and forgiven.'>
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride.> I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.> >
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not trying to be strong.> I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.>
When I say.. 'I am a Christian' I'm not bragging of success.> I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.> >
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not claiming to be perfect,> My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.>
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I s till f eel the sting of pain..> I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.> >
When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not holier than thou,> I'm just a simple sinner Who received God's good grace, somehow!'> > >

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More politics

I am disgusted by Geraldine Ferraro and all the ways in which Hillary Clinton's campaign is being divisive. I hate the thought that we want to elect a "fighter" who will try to "throw the kitchen sink" - i.e. do anything to win.

I read a blog today by James Moore who wrote "Bush's Brain" about Karl Rove. He says it better than me. I agree with this completely. Here it is:

"If anyone has paid acutely painful attention to the political ministrations of Karl Rove over the past two and a half decades, it's me. And if there is anyone qualified to make comparisons between democracy's Darth Vader and Hillary Clinton, I stand at the head of that line, as well. And sadly, the similarities are so brutally obvious as to be disturbing.
First, there is this matter of her husband, a man I admired as president in spite of his teenage behavior. Sen. Barack Obama has run a campaign that has never mentioned race. In fact, ethnicity was not an issue until President William Jefferson Clinton made his comparisons of Obama in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson. We were on the verge of almost transcending such superficial nonsense until Mr. Clinton brought us back to 1968.

And presently, we have the first female vice presidential candidate ringing the bell on the same topic. Geraldine Ferraro is, of course, a part of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Senator Clinton plays the innocent on most of this by refusing to denounce these pronunciations. When she had the opportunity on 60 Minutes to tell the world that it is nonsense for the fear mongers to suggest Obama is a Muslim, she demurred with a qualified, "as far as I know" he's not. But she does know.
Sen. Clinton and Obama have attended numerous Capital Hill prayer breakfasts together. Does she think he was playing the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, perhaps trying to see what is going on with that whole Christianity thing? Isn't any person believable when they declare their faith until they have been vetted by the Clinton campaign?
She saved her campaign in Texas by acting like George W. Bush drunk on the ideas of Karl Rove. The 3 a.m. call ad that used fear to drive voters in her direction was nothing more than a desperate politician's attempt to tell everyone not even duct tape will save them if they vote for Obama. Created by Roy Spence of Austin, the ad was first deployed in 1984 in the Mondale campaign. (His ad agency also gave us, "You are now free to move around the country," and, "Don't mess with Texas," as memorable slogans.)
As Karl Rove has proven and as Orlando Patterson pointed out in the New York Times, campaigns and their messages are often more about image than substance. Was it an oversight or a design that the children sleeping safely in that 3 a.m. ad were white? Isn't everyone in politics astute enough to know these days that everyone who needs protecting isn't white? When Bush was running for president, Rove never let him be photographed without a rainbow coalition of children. Are we supposed to believe that Hillary's minders didn't see the racism implicit in her phone call ad?

The Clinton campaign doesn't seem to understand that the depth of Obama's appeal comes from his willingness to look forward with optimism instead of over his shoulder in fear. When he says, "We need to talk to our friends, but we also need to talk to our enemies," he is speaking for every mother and father who has a son in Iraq or one who might end up toting a gun for an amorphous cause that few can any longer explain. Who doesn't want to know why we are so despised that people will strap bombs to themselves to blow us up? Oh, I forgot, they hate our freedom. That's one Sen. Clinton hasn't tried yet.

It is also obscene in the extreme for the Clinton campaign to compare Sen. Obama to Ken Starr. Many voters from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunny shores of California want to know how much money the senator and the former president are earning, to whom he is speaking for large sums, and how he paid for his library in Little Rock. Do the Clintons really want to remind us what Ken Starr was looking for? As a friend of mine has suggested, this utter lack of judgment to bring his name back into the public discourse is "breathtaking."

Clinton is unwilling to sully her own hands with these absurd references. Like Rove, she relies on surrogates to go out and fire the gun. After the targets are wounded or dead, Rove had his clients come in and call for gun control and explain how they admired the political victim. Not Senator Clinton. She does nothing to denounce the nastiness. By pretending Obama is not prepared to lead, she proves her own desperation to acquire power and she denigrates the remaining historical reputation of her husband's administration. Historians might look beyond this dust devil she has spun, but the general public won't be able to see through the dirt flying through the air.

We are all tired of this. We all have Bush-Clinton fatigue. We need a hopeful, fresh start. Hillary might have made a fine president. But she has turned into an ugly campaigner.
This is not her time.


Saturday, March 8, 2008


We are having a blizzard here in Columbus, Ohio.
What that means is a lot of snow AND wind. Without the wind it is just a snowstorm.

So, I have spent the day on the phone - first question at 11 AM- should we cancel the early service.
Finally, YES> So phone calls all around on that.
Then conversations with Erica at noon- should we cancel Sunday School? And finally, yes. So she took care of that.
Then conversations with Bonnie at 1 - should we cancel the lunch after church and the meeting with the guy from Cleveland Christian Home. Yes.
And finally - conversations with Daryl at 3 - should we cancel worship? And the answer seems to be YES.
Then phone calls to Kim the organist, Carol, the choir director and the TV stations. And emails to everyone whose number I have.

NOW - it is 4 PM. No church tomorrow. No sermon to finish. (I kept putting off finishing it and now I will look at it again in 3 years!) No children's sermon to think about.
No more phone calls I have to make.

So, maybe I will shovel snow. It is an amazing amount of snow.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A New Earth

I started reading the book last week and just this morning watched Oprah's first class with Eckhart Tolle and filled in the workbook.

This is good stuff.
Here are some of my notes from watching:

1. They talked about giving up labels and just experiencing things as they are and Oprah said that she tried walking outside and just being in the moment in nature. This absolutely resonated with me. I learned years ago that not knowing the names of trees and plants can help us to just experience the life within the world. We get out of the mind. And this past year I have spent a lot of time walking in the metro parks here in Columbus and know that it has helped my spirit.

2. They talked about the difference between religion and spirituality. I am, of course, aware of that. I know that our labels for our beliefs and our rituals can get in the way of accessing the holy. But, as a religious woman, I know that the words, music, rituals and community can also be a door into the holy. We really have to give up our childhood faith and be open to living in the mystery and the messiness and the majesty in ALL its forms.

3. I loved when they talked about how Jesus came to show the way of the heart and the Christ consciousness. It reminded me of a book that has been really helpful to me - The Kingdom Within by John Sanford.

4. They talked about when you go deep enough into your own religion that we all end up in the same place. I absolutely believe that - I picture that we are all digging into the well which is fed by the same stream. That is not to say that some places that people dig ends up being dry - because they ARE being led into ego and separation and prejudice.

5. They mentioned some books I will looks for: The Seekers Guide by Elizabeth Lesser and Joel Goldsmith.

6. They talked about our species which looks at people maiming and killing each other for entertainment. Saw that in a new way - !!!

7. They talked about advances in technology and how it brings more ways of violence and death. But I could not help but think about the technology they were using that was literally bringing people around the world together to talk about life. Cool.

8. "Do we understand our responsibility to become aware of our mental processes? Do not amplify negativity. Become aware of your own mind." Yes. This is all about not being reactive but becoming conscious. YES!

9. Our individual fears, doubts, resentments, angers contribute to the collective unconscious. A thought: what in the heck is this election adding?!?!?!?

10. We have a responsibility to mind what is in ourselves.

11. Oprah's prayer has been to ask God to use her. That is really what it is all about for all of us. How can the divine use us in the circumstances of our lives?

12. You don't become good by trying to be good. Allow the goodness within ourselves to emerge. "Be still and know that I am God."

13. "When you look at the self it dissolves." I need to ponder this awhile.

14. Our access point is the present moment - I am definitely working on living in the present moment. I spend way too much in the past and the future.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Political Wondering

Well, I have to admit that I was disappointed that Obama did not win Ohio or Texas.

I just read in the Huffington Post what I had been wondering about. ....what effect Rush Limbaugh had on the results. Apparently he is more popular in Texas than Ohio. He has been encouraging his listeners to vote for Hillary. I think he believes that McCain could win against Hillary because she is so polarizing. I think so too - one of the reasons why I am against her as the candidate.
Anyway, this is what Ben Miller wrote:

"Now, look at Ohio. Once again 9 percent of voters were Republicans, but Obama and Clinton split them evenly, 49-49. Once again, 14 percent of voters were "conservatives," and Obama and Clinton split them 48-48. (Obama did better with them than he did with liberals and moderates.) Those tactical voters who thought Obama could win gave him a 80-18 victory, a margin twelve points smaller than the margin in Wisconsin.It's a similar story in Texas, where Limbaugh has the most listeners of any of these states. Obama won the Republican vote 52-47, but conservatives (22 percent of all voters, up from 15 percent in the Kerry-Edwards primary) went against Obama. For the first time, they were Clinton's best ideological group: She won them 53-43. And Clinton won 13 percent of the people who said Obama was the most electable candidate."

Anyway, not to be dramatic and to give Rush Limbaugh more credit, I think he did have some effect. Because he would like the democrates to be disorder and she is the candidate that many people hate.

I don't hate her - I like her. But I don't want a president who is a fighter. I want a uniter. Not to be naive. But the more I think about it - the more I realize that I am sick of the "throw the kitchen sink" at him and "I'm a fighter."
Now I am reading that Obama is going to go negative. I hope he speaks the truth - but continues to be more thoughtful and hopeful.


Tomorrow is my day off and I feel good tonight about ministry.

This morning I planned the worship service for Sunday and worked on the prayer retreat that I am leading on Saturday.
I had a meeting with the director of the YMCA and we talked about the possibility of working with them and having our church be a place where kids come after school for snacks. Then they might go on to the library up the street or the the Y next door. It is a natural for us and it makes so much sense. I get excited just thinking about it.

I also worked on the program for tonight.

Wednesday nights we have a program "Generations in Fellowship Together" (GIFT) and I am just returning from it. We had a really nice chicken and noodle supper and afterward we went into the sanctuary and sang, did a Bible quiz on the story I preached (the healing of the blind man) and then we divided into pairs and took turns being blind people and then we had a discussion.
The whole program took an hour and it was really a lot of fun. We shared our highs and lows and I learned about who is grieving and who is having health problems and all kinds of things.
Afterwards I talked to somebody about their divorce and someone else about their son's illness and someone else about some issues at church. All of this feels good.

Ministry for me has always been about these moments together when we share a little bit of our life with each other and find support and friendship and understanding. I watch some of the adults who relate so well to kids and see what a difference it makes.

I am happy to be doing what I do.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Because Chuck says "it's all politics" and "they're all the same" I convinced him to vote for my candidate!

One more thing about voting

I couldn't figure out how to edit this - so this is an addendum.

My husband has little interest in any of this. He says "it's all politics" and "they're all the same."

I have to say that I am and always will be a woman of hope. I hope that one person can make a difference in the direction that our country goes. I hope that they are not all the same. And I hope that God leads people into a "calling" of politics and can guide them in their campaign and in their leadership.
(I know that God talk by political leaders makes people crazy, but still.....)

Ohio Voting

Today is the day and it is raining like crazy but Chuck and I voted.

We got to the polls at 9 AM and were able to walk right in. But I was were told they had been "slammed" this morning with voters standing in line to cast their ballots.

Four years ago I stood in line for an hour and a half to vote. And I find that there it is basically thrilling to be part of a democratic process where everybody's vote counts.

I start most every morning with "Morning Joe" and listen to Joe and Meka and Willie and many, many political guest and newspeople try to interpret what is happening and going to happen.
But it all comes down to this - individuals casting their votes.

My goal this year is to see at least ONE candidate in the flesh. Sunday both Hilary and Barak were 5 miles away - but it was the only time that I cannot get away - Sunday morning. Hopefully, Ohio will continue to be a key state and we will get more candidates coming here.

Anyway, I will be watching MSNBC tonight - hoping that my candidate wins my state!! I have done my part.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Big Give

Well, I watched it and I liked it.

And, of course, I cried.

What I didn't like about it was the cheesy music in the background about following your dreams or something.
What I liked was learning about the people who were selected and then the stories of the people who were helped.
Some of the stories were almost overwhelming - a homeless woman, a vet who is recovering and needs a home, a widow whose husband died in a robbery.
But you see ingenuity, compassion, and people who were willing to give alot of money to help someone else.
Pretty good.