Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two Roads Diverged

Two Roads Diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
and be one travelor
long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth.......

These words by Robert Frost are forever etched in my memory. As freshmen in an excellent school system, Nancy Shaw, my 9th grade English teacher made us memorize this poem. I am so indebted to her! I still remember most of the poem and certainly this opening stanza. This stanza is a work of pure genius because it represents the human condition to a tee! I have found myself reflecting on it often throughout my life years after leaving high school.

I thought about it my senior year of college when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and decided to leave behind my dreams of grad school for a job with health benefits. I thought about it after a few stormy relationships in early adulthood and a come to Jesus discussion initiated by a wonderful friend. I thought about it when I contemplated a long and rich career in the Federal Government in WDC versus exploration and adventure in other areas of the country. I am thinking about it now as I contemplate graduating from seminary and thinking about a new church start rather than ordained ministry as it is currently understood.

There are many years between some of these contemplations. I substituted contingencies for contemplations when my disease became more challenging than I could manage without a great deal of medicine or scientific intervention. I thank the Rev. Bob Molsberry for helping me to revisit my life in handicapdom. Blindsided by Grace, is a wonderful book about his struggle through accident and adaption to life in a wheelchair. I had the good graces of meeting him at the New Church Leadership Institute in Atlanta. I happened to mention to him that I still feel uncomfortable when I see someone in a wheelchair, ever since I was diagnosed with MS. Grace indeed set in and a wonderful discussion ensued. And then of course I read his book.

Grace happens everyday in my life. My messy, broken, sometimes weak, sometimes tingly life. Sometimes the right side of my body refuses to work in concert with the left. Sometimes I am so confused, I cant remember my daughters names. Sometimes I wish I was all okay again so I could get up and go to work like the mover and shaker that I used to be and fulfill my public service in the Federal Government.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
and be one traveler
long I stood
and looked down one
as far as I could
til where it bent in the undergrowth.....

I guess I am still sorry and angry I cant travel both.
Even though I am sure that there is so much goodness that comes out of my contingency. God has carried me and I have been mightily thankful, but part of me wants to look down one as far as I can and see what might have been. How do I let go...really let go?

Maybe that is why I moved back to my hometown with my family. Maybe I have to re-shape what it means to hear and fulfill one's call. Not in a perfect sort of way...but on the path or road that you are given....that may be my call, my road. There should be a place for everyone to find purpose and meaning despite what comes their way....perhaps that is the road I am taking.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Acts on Ordination

My conclusion to a paper about Ordination. Would love comments on this one.

The purpose of this paper was to discern the specific meaning of and intention for the word ordination by the author of Acts. The addition of examining the MOM’s interpretation of meaning and intention for ordination was an afterthought inspired by my own journey and my recent attendance of a New Church Leadership Institute in Atlanta. I realize that the UCC has a great distance to go to marry up their vision of being a church for welcoming folks “wherever they are on life’s journey”, with UCC polity on ordination. Perhaps God’s call to me is to simply illuminate that distance. Ordination is how the Holy Spirit calls someone to contextualize the meaning of a living God in their own specific setting. If we as a denomination limit who may be called to ordained service by virtue of the exclusions mentioned and the many that have not been, we exclude the next generation of Paul/Paula from spreading the good news in a language and context that brings God alive for them. We will have kept God in a box for ourselves and lost site of the Great Commission.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

emerging call

Its been a while. I have given over to the blessing or curse of everyday mayhem that motherhood, or should I just say life, stirs into my mix. It has been a while since I have posted and I realize I have not posted much specifically about my emerging church and my emerging call. I think that is because I am not particularly bloggified or bloggifiable yet.....and it has become easy for me to express my call to something non-traditional, and yet hard to articulate what that something is. Being an external processor, I find I need to talk idea out loud and then refine them based on conversations, corrections or revisioning that happens.

Sooooo.. Here is where I am today. HOPEMEUCC ..Hands of Peace Extended. A progressive Christian Church without walls that seeks to form Christian Community in new ways and places. Joyfully following an incarnate God, we see to identify the presence of God around us and in others.

We meet 4x a month in different places for different purposes. Our first meeting of the month will be a celebratory meal with music, bible study and discussion. It probably wont be church music as most know it, but a mix of jazz, blues, folk, rock from whatever live artists we can invite to our meal. Different and differing voices will read the text and discussion will be opened up to all to discern the voice of the Divine.

The second meeting of the month will be "it's all about us" and will have the elements of reading the Scripture and talking about the UCC identity and how we are living it out or at least how we want to be living it out. This meeting will continuously explore the Church identity alongside our Christian identity.

The third meeting of the month will be "and now for something totally different". This meeting will focus on our Christian text and then on ecumenical and interfaith understandings of our faith. We recognize that our own context is that of being Christian, but seek to discover God's meaning for our lives as Christians in a multicultural and changing world. We will draw on other faith leaders to educate us and dialogue with us to enhance all of our understandings and to expand our knowledge of and faith in a living God.

The fourth meeting of the month will be "Jesus has left the building." We will do mission on this meeting in a variety of forms and forums. We may work on a habitat for humanity home, or serve dinner at a soup kitchen. We may learn about green energy opportunities in our community or what is going on with local food cooperatives, or how to interface with local seniors with special needs. The fourth meeting will be about getting out, looking for Christ in our midst as well as being representatives of the incarnational God in our communities.

If the month happens to have a fifth Sunday, my exhortation will be to go explore elsewhere so that we remain in touch with what else is happening in church communities and so we can share our story.