A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

What now? December 1, 2013

November 30th. About 10 days ago I would have given ANYTHING for it to be the end of November and this little experiment to be over. But I have completed the challenge that was put forth by my friend (?) Andee Zomermann, and I think that I have learned, grown and even appreciated the opportunity to blog every day and the other opportunities that have come my way because of National Blog Post Month. I have learned to let go of perfection (as I am sure anyone still reading can attest to), to view the world a little differently, to read what others are thinking more often, and to be grateful for seemingly random connections.

My sole reason for doing this experiment was to attempt to improve my writing skills, even minutely. I don’t know if I have accomplished that goal but I have discovered something about myself that 30 days ago I would have denied. I like writing. All the way through a M.Div., I loved the reading assignments but never cared for the writing. It always felt like a chore, a necessary evil. I think some of this stemmed from the forced prompts and also from a time crunch point of view. There were so many parameters on the writing assignments (which I understand) that it seemed to suck any joy, creativity or spontaneity out of the any writing that needed to be done. With certain professors, you could get away with being little more yourself and creative but there were others that you knew that you had to follow the letter of the assignment or else your grade could suffer.

But with this writing outlet of blogging, there is a freedom that I enjoy more than I anticipated. I also notice other people’s freedom in their own blog or other writing posts. Everyone has their own unique voice and when it is cultivated, honed and offered to a wider public there is a sense of being who God truly created you to be without any of the boundaries (other than appropriate ones!), limitations or societal expectations. Your experience and perspective on life, culture, relationships and more is your truth and others can take it or leave it; it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day.

For this opportunity, I am grateful. While not everyone will have a blog, I do wonder how it is that we can allow all voices to be heard regardless of platform. The internet has exploded with people offering their two cents, but there are so many more people whom I have the privilege of speaking to one on one each day who should also be heard by more than just me or a small circle. How is is that those without access to this venue can be heard? How do we make room for all voices to be heard in our society? Especially those who aren’t traditionally heard? I am a white middle class, well educated woman with many privileges. How can I use my position and place for the sake of others? How could I use this platform as a vehicle of equality? Perhaps that is the next challenge that I should accept.

*While I will not be writing daily anymore, I do intend on keeping this blog going. Thank you to all who read it! I am always amazed that anyone does! Advent blessings to you all!

 

Reflection Time November 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bweier001 @ 5:52 am
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So this writing a blog post a day thing sounded good until it’s nine days in and it’s 10:45 p.m. on Saturday night and I need to get up at 5:15 a.m. for church. 🙂 But here is the thing, the discipline of writing each day has been good for me. I have noticed that it is giving me permission to reflect a bit deeper and have some internal alone time. For an extrovert like me, that is not a natural go to.
The busyness of my day to day life of mom, wife and pastor (etc.) doesn’t typically afford me much reflection time or sleep. Most of my personal time comes in the form of my daily morning run. But I find myself looking forward to the time when I can just sit and write this blog. Kinda an excuse to not do anything else.
I don’t allow myself much time to do “just nothing” or something that seems frivolous. But one thing that I do know about myself is that “down time” is crucial to my creativity and overall well being. Writing everyday has been a creative outlet that I didn’t even know that I would necessarily enjoy-it’s very different from all the academic writing of my seminary years-and one that I hope I find space to continue after this “national blog post month” is complete. Don’t worry, I won’t continue to blow up your twitter feed with my posts. 🙂 But I am curious to anyone (all four of you) who read this: what are your creative outlets that you should find time for that could gift the world? Where do you find reflection time?

 

Working myself out of a job November 2, 2013

Yesterday, I told you a little about my journey to seminary and my ministry foundations. Today, let me tell a little about what I am currently up to in ministry. I finished seminary, was ordained a little over a year ago and I am the part-time associate pastor of youth and household ministry at this really great (and fun!) church in a Denver suburb. My senior pastor is Rob Moss (honestly, you should stop reading my blog and go read his, it’s better: The Neighborhood Church) and so far it’s going great for me but you will have to ask Rob if it’s going as well for him. Seriously, go read his blog. You’re still reading this? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you….

We do have one of the longest church names in the history of the free world though: Lutheran Church of the Master. So, it gets shortened to LCM. Mostly that is fine, except it is also the acronym for “Lutheran Campus Ministry” in the Rocky Mountain Synod. Confusion can occur.

LCM is a place that when the Holy Spirit decides she is going to move-she moves and you had better be able to keep up. It can be exhausting but mostly it is a lot of fun and fulfills my need to be creative and “outside the box.” Actually, my favorite thing to say is that I have left the box and set fire to it so that no one can get back in. We are in a place and time in the greater Church where status quo is not even a possibility and I honestly have very little patience for it. This is where LCM and I are a great ministry match.

So what does this mean for youth and household ministry at LCM? Well, several things. One, is that we recognize we are in a culture where there is no longer a sacred time of the week (or two if you think about Wednesdays) when a large population will come to worship or participate in faith education. Two, we recognize that our under 30 generation does not want our worship or institution and that is ok. We don’t know completely what that will look like but we are willing to step out onto the edge. Three, what the under 30’s DO want is to be relevant, useful and to engage in something meaningful. In reality, isn’t this what we all want, regardless of our age? It just takes on a different flavor in this generation (as it has in every preceding generation). Four, age segregated, one hour education (i.e. Sunday school and/or confirmation) doesn’t form faithful followers of Jesus. We are acknowledging that we have to resource, empower and equip families to have faith conversations in their homes. Five, we are not the only church undergoing these culture shifts. It’s us and every other church in the Western Hemisphere. Comforting and yet…

I could list more but this is enough to keep me busy for a few years I suspect. As I mentioned yesterday, my passion is for Christ-centered, stable families, so everything I do in a day, week or month is to work toward a vision of families reading the Bible, praying, serving and loving their neighbors for the sake of the community and world around them. A vision that includes families and households (whatever configuration or number of people in a home) who so naturally serve and engage the community around them, that LCM becomes known not just as a place to come on Sunday mornings or other times but is a place where people leave to fill the world with the love of God. I also say that my job is to work myself out of a job. What if people so naturally participated in God’s mission that they didn’t need me (or any pastor) to walk beside them? I would hope that they would want me to walk with them as part of the body of Christ.

I won’t bore you with specifics of how I work toward that vision but one of the key components for me in ministry is relationships. I think that we are all so hungry for connectivity that has been lost in our “leave our house box, for the car box, for the cubicle box, and then return to the house box, to stare at the TV box” culture that we look for it in anyway possible-healthy or unhealthy. Hence the rise of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. It’s interesting to me that the newest social media sites, such as “Meet-up,” are about people actually connecting at some point-what for it-in real life! We are created by the Triune God for relationship with God and one another. We are only as whole, healthy and happy as we are connected to God and others. We cannot be whole alone. This globalization that has emerged only proves the point. It matters what happens to children in Syria, it matters what happens to the rice crop in China, it matters when women in India are not safe, it matters when our neighbor across the street suffers from depression. It matters to God and it should matter to us as God’s people.

This is what propels me to walk beside families in this complex world that we live in. The gospel of Jesus Christ has something to say about our relationships: the love and mercy of God are for all, in every time and in every place. We are freed from worrying about our salvation and so we GET to simply be the love of God in the world. We are freed from worrying about if we will get it 100% correct (we won’t) because God is in the midst of our attempts. That is a HUGE praise God for me as I mess up frequently. Ok, daily. OK, OK, I have probably messed up 8 times just in the time I have taken to write this post. But this is the message that I think the world desperately needs to hear and needs leaders willing to be transparent in our own failed attempts. We are not alone, we are in this together and most importantly-God is and promises to always be with us.