Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week Reflection--Finding ourselves with the Pharisees

I don't mind finding myself with the disciples. At least they were faithful at times. I don't mind finding myself with the crowds around Jesus. At least they heard and experienced Christ at times. During Holy Week, everyone seems to be missing the point about Christ. Everyone seems to forget Jesus' promising to rise again. Everyone is surprised on Sunday morning.

It is the Pharisees and High Priest I don't want to relate to. I cringe at the thought of being like them. Yet, I must admit, I have been like the Pharisees and High Priest. I have been resistant to change. I have been reluctant to join God at work in my life and the world around me. I am most reluctant to join God when God shows up in people and places, ideas and activities which I do not recognize as "Christian" or from people who have a different political view or theological view than I.  Instead of straining to hear God in those who I differ from, some times, I have jumped to conclusions.

And so, the Cross, once again, is because of me and for me. May we all experience the grace and love of God this Holy Week. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week Reflection--Finding ourselves with the Disciples

I can relate to the disciples. They have left everything to follow Christ. I have not necessary left everything but I have lost some friends to follow the call of God into ministry. Other relationships have an added tension to them due to my role as pastor and my friends' view of women in ministry. 
The disciples have been at times faithful and zealous. Their enthusiasm and their sense of entitlement has gotten in the way of others experience of Christ. They were reprimanded. I too have defended my Christianity at the expense of others. 
There is the follower of Christ who cuts off the ear of the priest's slave as they  come to arrest Christ. This disciple defends Christ without knowing what Christ is doing.  I too have reacted without knowing what God is up to in my life or around me also. 
During Holy Week, we remember the disciples running away in fear or in Peter's case, follow from a distance and then deny. I too have allowed fear to keep me from following Christ. 
And so the disciples remind me, the cross is because of me and for me. But they also give me hope. The disciples didn't run so far the Risen Christ couldn't reveal himself to them. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holy Week Reflection---Finding ourselves in the crowd

Each year we revisit the Story of Christ's Passion. And each year, we are invited to join the Story, to find ourselves within the characters.
Today, is Palm Sunday. The crowds which have followed Christ, awaited Christ's arrival every time he came to a village, now line the streets of Jerusalem as Christ enters on a donkey. This crowd who shouts "Hosanna!" will in days cry "Crucify Him!"

I have played the part of the crowd. I have praised God on Sunday and crucified him or others on Monday as I joined in the gossip or the complaints. I have raised my voice in worship on Sunday and raised my voice in anger on Tuesday. I have been the crowd too many times.

And so I am reminded the Cross is because of me and for me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why Liturgy?

My grandparents on both sides attended the United Methodist Church. My parents left the UM when I was young and attended a non-denominational church, a baptist church, and settled in an Assembly of God church. All of the churches my parents took us too were more contemporary in worship. Yes, we sang hymns at times but the one thing we did not have was liturgy--at least in the Methodist/Catholic/Episcopal sense of the word. Because all churches have an order to their worship. There was a fear in the un-liturgical churches (known as low church) I attended that liturgy was too Catholic. Liturgy had the reputation of being cold and life-less. Repetitive prayers and cold old hymns plagued the "dying churches" according to those in the low churches I attended.
So I have come back to liturgy and I have fallen in love with it. Why?

*Liturgy calls us to join the story of Scripture. It connects us to the Redemptive narrative. We are the people lead out of Egypt. We are the people awaiting the Messiah. We are the people who cry "crucify him." We are the people surprised by the Resurrection.
*Liturgy connects us to the Saints who have gone before. We sing their testimonies in the hymns. We pray their prayers. We lift our voices in chorus with theirs.
*Liturgy brings a sacred rhythm to our often chaotic lives. We travel the seasons of life as we travel the seasons of the church. We are called back to the Manger, back to the Mount where the Sermon was given, back to the Mount of Transfiguration, back to Gethsemane, back to Calvary, back to the Resurrection.
*Liturgy reflects the need to prepare for our Lord's return and our waiting for our Deliverer.

What is your experience of liturgy?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Incomplete without a man?

Ironically, after I posted my thoughts on how I can pastor as a woman, a family friend sent me the message, "you need to get married so you will have a spiritual covering, a spiritual head to do ministry."
This isn't the first time I have been told this. Back when I was in college, I volunteered to work with the youth as the church waited for a new youth pastor. The pastor told me I couldn't work with the youth because I didn't have a husband, a spiritual covering. At that point, I was feeling called to ministry but had not shared it openly with a lot of people. Why would I share God's call on my life when I received statements like this? And so, I must be wrong. God obviously wasn't calling me because I was a single woman. I must be hearing God wrong. And so started my 10 years in the wilderness. Questioning myself, questioning God, I drifted aimlessly. I must not be able to hear God correctly. But what kind of God calls someone to do ministry but doesn't send what is needed to accomplish this task? To add to my confusion, at the same time I felt God was calling me to ministry, I felt God was calling me to a long period of being single. How conflicted can one person get?!
Thankfully, God had my path begin to cross the paths of some very godly women pastors. God's grace exploded across my imagination and soul. Suddenly I was not incomplete without a man. Suddenly, I was not a third class citizen---behind men and behind Balaam's Donkey. If God could use a donkey, he surely can use someone who desires to serve him? I was drenched in God's grace and freed to joyful obedience.
And so, when the words were spoken once more that I need a husband to be complete and covered so I may minister, I wasn't hurt or sent into a spiral of doubt. I smiled and let it go. I claimed the God who promised to be the father to the fatherless and husband to the husband-less would be enough for me. And I am thankful. Thankful God has brought me out of the pain, out of the oppression, out of the feeling of inadequacy due to my gender. Thankful for the freedom and hope and grace I have found.