Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mondays in Lent

Each Monday and Lent we have decided to have a simple dinner of beans and rice. We then take the money we would have spent on a meal and are donating it to the local food pantry. Last night was a success, however I did not make enough food, but maybe that is the point.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Anonymous letter

Dan and I received an anonymous letter from a neighbor today. I won't go into the specifics other than they called us a name (not a nice one). And we decided from the start that we would not allow their anger be the guiding force behind our response. So we sent a letter back and signed it, you may be wondering how we would know who it was from, well the content made it very obvious.

Our letter is an invitation for a conversation rather than a word bashing. I'm not sure how it will pan out but it has brought to light the reality that when Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, he isn't just referring to the neighbors that make us happy, but also the ones that make us confused, sad, and angry. If love is our guiding principle, then conversation where we can listen to one another must happen. While it isn't always easy to work on solutions rather than to lash out at others, it is what I feel my family is called to do and to be.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take it on for Lent

OK it has begun, the 40 day journey to the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. My hope is that this year what I adjust and change in my life during this time will allow me to experience the story of the resurrection in a deeper more meaningful way.
I feel pulled toward creating more of a spiritual center in my home this year. So one of the things we have adopted is to take time each night to read scripture together. This might seems strange coming from a pastor, you might assume that this is already a part of our daily lives and it used to be until we moved to El Paso and our lives seemed to go into hyper drive.
Last night, Eva and I pulled out our Children's Bible that is broken down into 365 stories and began with February 22nd's entry. We began by sharing thoughts about our day and taking time to actually listen to one another. (By the way Dan was in an airport and Harry was fast asleep, I'll try to do this earlier in the day so Harry doesn't miss out!) Then we read the story together.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why Ash Wednesday?

Why Ash Wednesday?

This morning a friend asked me a similar question. So it got me thinking on my morning commute into work. Why Ash Wednesday? A simple enough question, with a perhaps simple answer: for me this day marks a special day in the life of our faith community where we come together, collectively to remember that we frequently miss the mark, in other words we sin. Today reminds us that this faith journey we are on is not one where we are in it only for ourselves, but we do have shared responsibility as communities of faith, as members of the human race. So much of scripture reminds us of our connectedness to community and our need to be mindful not just of ourselves or our nuclear family, but of everyone.

Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are all flawed. I think about my own desire to have everything just so. It bothers me that the paint on my walls have white marks showing through, it bothers me that my car desperately needs to be washed, but today it is OK, because the dirt and imperfections are a reminder in a small way that I am not God and that life can be very messy.

Today (like any day should be) we are invited to come as we are: To be open to being honest and vulnerable, to not have it all together.

So today we place ashes on our foreheads to remember that we need God, our community of faith needs God, because of our brokenness and of our world’s brokenness. We gather today to acknowledge that we need healing and our communities need healing.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


"To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects ... is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism ... kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful." Thomas Merton

Thanks be to God that I work for a church that understands the value of not working in excess. Now of course we have our busy seasons and late nights, but I am given ample time for rest and time away from the demands of ministry. If anything they give more than I take.

Twelve years ago when I was ordained, a wiser, more seasoned pastor asked me that if I do not take time for rest and for my family, then who will witness to our congregants that they too need to take time for rest and for family?

Who would have thought that taking a sabbath is prophetic?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not so good day

We all have bad days. Sometimes it seems like one thing after another happens and we don't even get to see any light. At least that is how I sometimes feel. If I could watch a replay of some of my days I think I would laugh at the comedy of some of them and my reaction to a series of unfortunate events. As a mom and dog owner, each day is ripe with possibilities. Just when I think I can sit down and read a book, someone is eating something they are not supposed to be eating, or touching something they are not supposed to be touching, or even more alarming when I do sit down and it is quiet, I come to find that the quiet time was a time of creative drawing in marker on my tile floors! A lot of my time at home is cleaning up every one's mess. I just try really hard not to make more of a mess with my words, when my day ends up not going in the direction I had planned. I think it all comes down to perspective.

One thing that stands out for me, which makes or breaks my perception of my day, is whether or not I had a positive attitude despite of the chaos around me. When I am able to be in the chaos without letting it consume me then I can rejoice.

So I find on days when I find myself at the end of my rope, I look at Philippians 4:4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Holistic Lent

On Wednesday, February 22, we enter once again into the church season of Lent. I recently read an on-line article using the imagery of our church community being midwives as we help to each other along in this period of introspection, transformation, and new life.

Lent isn’t just a time for personal introspection, a marathon of letting go and challenging our self-will. It is a time to be mindful of everyone in our church, as together we prepare once again to receive the Good News of Jesus resurrection.

Once again, we have young people in our congregation preparing themselves for baptism during this holy season. There may be some of you who are discerning a path to ministry in the church. Our congregation is still in a period of discernment during this season as we pray and clarify God’s call to us in our location within El Paso.

This year during Lent, we will provide in our worship service time for silent prayer in the sanctuary along with prayer stations throughout the sanctuary. I hope that this will heighten our communal experience of prayer with God in worship.

As a congregation that has mission at its core, I think that we can tweak how we approach Lent this year, based upon Isaiah 1:16-17, which reads “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” As we prepare to enter into Lent, rather than give up something simple like chocolate or your favorite soft drink, maybe give it up and then place aside the money you would have spent on those items and then donate it. You might even take a certain week-day meal, let’s say Monday’s evening meal and have beans and rice for dinner and put aside what you did not spend as an offering to the Food Pantry.

Or maybe you want to give up a Saturday morning of catching up on your favorite TV shows that you have DVR’d and instead go out to Jardín De Milagros to help plant the spring/summer crop.

I hope you can join us for our Soup and Study on Wednesday at 5:30 starting on February 29th. We will be looking at the topic of Abrasive Grace from the perspective of the book of Galatians.

What do you plan on giving up or doing to help someone out this year?

Easter ... ready ... set ... go!

Matthew 28:1-10 About three years ago I committed to the Narrative Lectionary.   It is a four-year cycle that takes the congregation t...