Friday, April 28, 2017

Boys to Men

An interesting thought cycle one morning on my walks this week, prompted by my walking prayers and a meme on Facebook. A cousin posted a meme about raising little boys. It touched me, of course, since I have boys. It was about raising them not just to be men, but husbands and fathers.

During my walking prayers, I use the Jesus’ Prayer to hold each named person up in the flow of God’s mercy and grace. I start with my immediate family, then my aunts and uncles with their offspring, before moving on to Jeff’s family, chosen-family, friends, colleagues, then to the Bishop and district superintendents, and my churches—present and future.

As I reached this cousin’s family, I particularly gave thanks for her son and her hand in raising him. He is indeed an amazing young man, who is a wondrous husband to his husband. He has no biological children but as a librarian he has touched the lives of so many children. He and his husband are active in the community. One of the events they work with is the annual Easter Egg Hunt.

The boys (and girls) we raise can make such a difference in the world, and particularly in the lives of those who know them and who come after them.

Kyle and Jason, love you both. Thank you, Randi, for being a part of this gift to the world.

Matthew 19:14
“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.”

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Standing at the Precipice

In a conversation with a friend, a colleague, a spiritual co-mentor, all wrapped up in the same loveable curly-headed being, as we talked about what this impending transition called retirement  means in my life, I had a real sense of where trust in God comes in to play. It can be so easy to talk about trust in God, but in reality it is quite hard. As much as I yearn to trust, as I lean in to trust, I have always had a feeling of standing at a precipice and holding back.

Today, I watched again an amazing short video of people wearing flying suits—think flying squirrels with that extra skin stretched between their legs and bodies—as one by one an entire line of them jumps or falls off a cliff surrendering themselves to the flow of the air currents. The last one wears a camera. While having a sense of flying with that one, we also get to watch the movements of the flier just ahead, hurtling down what is a small canyon, climbing up to the trees, soaring up again to the sky, and… And what? We don’t see how the flight ends.

We are left to wonder in amazement and awe at the apparent fearlessness of the fliers, though I question that assumption. I can only imagine that at least one of the fliers, at some point, had to stand on the rock wondering if they could really let go of the solid ground to trust the air currents. This is where I stand. I have made the decision. There is now a sense of inevitability to the steps ahead of me. I suppose I could turn back, but I won’t. When I stand on the stage at Annual Conference, as my brief statement is read, whatever clothes I have on that day will in reality be a flying suit to carry me on the currents of the air, trusting that whatever comes I am in the flow of God’s future for me.

Acts 17:27b-28a
"In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us. In God we live, move, and exist."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Grace, Coffee, and Discernment in the Liminal Space

I wrote last week about the grace that Nina and I experienced offering prayer and coffee to the commuters. This week, we heard from one driver who stopped just to thank us for being there. Then today, there was a voice mail from another commuter who thanked us for making a difference in her day a week ago. She couldn’t stop because she was running late, and she was in the far lane. She had been having a rough time at work and didn’t feel good about getting there. Just seeing us helped her to feel encouraged and able to face the work situation. She took the time to look up our phone number to call and let us know.

Our intention has been to offer this during the season of Lent. I think that there is a need for this to continue on as regular a basis as possible. We have an incredible location for interacting in some way with commuters in the mornings. This reminds me of part of my walking prayer. I pray for mercy on Christ Crossman church, all who are members, all who call it home, all who worship here, all who park here, and all who pass by. This is a way of making that mercy visible to people.

Could you volunteer one Wednesday a month or every other month? Two volunteers each week are all that would be needed. The coffee is not hard to make. We now have a cart on wheels to make it easy to take it out.

On another note, this past Sunday as I talked about living in the metaphorical riparian zone—a place where footing can be tricky and yet there is great possibility of life—I shared the discernment that has come from that liminal space. In June, I will be retiring from the itinerant ministry. That doesn’t mean I will retire from all ministry. It does mean that I will have new opportunities to serve with God in the time ahead. My last Sunday in worship with Christ Crossman will be on June 11, though I will have a study leave and vacation from May 15 to June 5. I ask for your prayers. I give thanks for you. My heart is full. And you will always be in my heart.

"Consider a mustard seed. When scattered on the ground, it’s the smallest of all the seeds on the earth;  but when it’s planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all vegetable plants. It produces such large branches that the birds in the sky are able to nest in its shade.”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cups plus Waves equal Grace

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night; instead, it was a bright and windy cold morning. Nina and I offered coffee, tea, and prayer for commuters from 7 to 9 a.m. this Wednesday. As usual there were not many takers of the coffee or tea. And many probably didn’t realize that they were takers of the offer for prayer. As we waved, with many returning our waves, we offered greetings and silent prayers for those passing by. I have to say that I had two favorite return waves. The first was a man holding and talking on a cell phone. He waved his pinky finger at me. The second was a young girl riding with a man I assumed was her dad. She waved at me while their car was several places back in line at the light. As the line started moving, I waved again and she gave me a big grin and another wave.

I am fairly sure that I speak for Nina as well as myself when I say that we felt the presence of God’s grace this morning. Early on, Brenda, a woman we have met in previous years, stopped by for prayer and a coffee. Then came Joyce who drove past us and then made a turn down the street to come back by. She was going to visit a friend in DC who has just been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. Then Larry walked by with a cane. He was on his way to physical therapy and felt that coffee might help him with his focus. He has been out of work for three months.

Suddenly in the midst of the two packed lanes of traffic, a car wouldn’t start up once the light turned green. On the way to a doctor’s appointment for her sick son, her car ran out of gas. Of course, cars were pulling out around her and traffic was building up. We blocked the traffic, and with the help of a fellow driver, we helped her coast across the two lanes and into our parking lot. The doctor’s office is kitty-cornered from our lot. While she took her bundled up kids to keep the appointment, Nina drove to get her a gallon of gas in properly designated container.

Yes, there are people who drive past so quickly that they don’t seem to see us, as well as the drivers who determinedly keep their eyes straight ahead even when stopped right next to us. As a rule, people acknowledge our greeting, some getting a pleasant kick from it. Instead of being invisible tucked behind the trees, the derelict Miller House, and our large parking lot, Christ Crossman becomes a presence of God’s grace even for those who do not stop.

If you are interested in waving and offering coffee, along with mostly silent and some spoken prayers, let Nina or me know. The more often we have folks out there, the more people will begin to look for us, and that’s what relationship with God is like. The more people see God at work, the more they begin to look for the signs and then the more they than can see.

Hebrews 13:1-2

Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it.