Category Archives: reforming

My garden and a bunny got me to thinking…

This past weekend my family and I travelled up to see my brother and sister graduate from University in Sault Ste. Marie.  It was a wonderful weekend, we had so much fun and I’m so proud of them both.

Of course while I was away there was a heat wave here at home.  My garden sprung to life while I was away and so today I thought I would check out the progress in the clear light of day as we got home fairly late last night.  The change was phenomenal.

My clematis was gorgeous and in full bloom

My tomatoes exploded

My herbs were happy

…and the bunny was happy.

This bunny is one of a family of bunnies.  I know what you’re thinking.  Bunnies aren’t good because they eat your strawberries.  You weren’t thinking that?  I was.  They eat my strawberries!  Nevertheless they are in our yard this year more than any other and I discovered why.  While we were away this happened to my grass:

A patch of clover decided to multiply while we were away.  We’ve been battling this clover for a while but it’s gotten out of hand lately.  My husband has been working hard and removing it.  He is constantly outside digging it up, spraying some kind of natural iron compound on it, yelling at it and giving it the look.  So far nothing has worked.

The bunnies love clover.  They come into the yard and eat away all day.  It’s paradise for them.  Unbeknownst to us we’ve created a perfect paradise for bunnies free of dogs, quiet and removed from traffic with plenty of their favorite foods.

As I stood outside marveling at the determination of the clover to survive and the never ending stream of bunnies which seem to find their way into my yard I got to thinking.  Lately I’ve read quite a number of blogs by people in their thirties who are searching for a church and desperate to find a place where they fit in.  They long to find an environment they feel comfortable in.  They long to find a place that offers community, is recognizable to them and doesn’t exist simply for themselves.

Unfortunately they are struggling to find a place that they recognize as church and I’m not really surprised.  Church as most of us practice it today is unrecognizable to most people in their thirties.  There is no organization that they belong to, no place they go where people behave as the church does. Meetings are held at coffee houses or at a round table.  Gatherings are informal and relationship is the primary focus.  People come to church expecting to find relationship and connection but do not see it because we do not present it in a way they understand or can connect with.

My backyard is an accidental paradise for the bunnies.  A safe haven from the storms of the world.  A place where they are fed, nourished, protected and given rest.  Maybe we need to create an intentional paradise for the people of this world.  Maybe we should be creating safe places for people to escape the storms of this world. We should feed them, nourish them, protect them, empower them and allow them to be.

If we did that imagine what a ministry that would be, what opportunities we would have to serve others in our world. I’d love to know what you think.  What would your paradise look like? What do you need in a church?

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Do I need a label maker?

Everyone has a label nowadays.  You have to be an ’emerging liberal conservative with evangelical tendencies’ to feel like you fit in in the Christian community.   It seems as though people believe that if you haven’t labeled your beliefs and put them in a category you’re not thinking enough about what it is you believe.

I don’t really understand the need for all this labeling.  Labels don’t really move us ahead and usually lead to division.  Then once you’ve divided yourself into categories you often find conflict comes next as each division thinks they’re right. After all the conflict you’ll find a lot of wounded people crying out in pain and I’m fairly certain this is not what Jesus wanted for us.

I cannot find one place in the Bible where Jesus said ‘you must label yourself according to beliefs and theological interpretation’.  Jesus is all about relationship and God’s love.

We all have labels that get put on us.  To some I’m a preacher.  To others I’m a teacher.  Some might call me pastor while others call me friend.  I’m also a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and if I’m honest a pretty decent singer.  I can embrace a label for each part of my life and separate out sections of me or embrace the uniqueness that is me.   God created me to be all of these things.  Each part is important to the whole.

God created us all to be a part of the people of God.  Each part is important to the whole and we need to look at our differences as things that enhance the faith rather than detract from it.  We need to co-exist and embrace our diversity as it helps to create a rich, full faith that is constantly revealing truth to us.  When we focus on our differences as a negative thing and bring judgement into the mix we’ve lost perspective and purpose.

I don’t want a label.  I just want to follow Jesus.
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Do you think labels are important or do they hurt us?  I’d love to know what you think.

Stuck

I think we’re stuck in the same model.  You know what I mean, the model of ‘doing church’ that we’ve been using for the last 75 years or so.

I use the term ‘doing church’ instead of ‘being church’ because most of us really are just doing it.  We get up Sunday mornings {or we don’t} and we go to church to have worship done for us.  We might throw some money on the plate, attend a few dinners and help out here and there but in actual fact the church is something we expect to be there for us.  It’s a place we go when we want tradition, to be comforted or just as a habit.  It’s something that doesn’t really change.

We are stuck.

Stuck is not a good thing to be.  When I think of stuck I imagine gum on the bottom of a shoe or a door that just won’t open.  Not pleasant experiences and definitely not something that will entice or serve anyone in a positive way.
As a church we are stuck.  We are unable or unwilling to move or release ourselves from the holding pattern we have been in for years because of fear, because of tradition, because of a desire to maintain some control over the process.

The thing is, we are not in control or we shouldn’t be.  God should be the captain of our ship.  God should be the one who is in charge and if you read the Bible you’ll see that often times people who get stuck on control or who like things a certain sort of way get into a lot of trouble {I’m looking at you Ahab & Solomon}.

It’s time for us to vision.  Not those stupid visions that happen when you throw 7 people on a committee and get them to draft a new statement of who we are but actual real life visioning.  We need to throw the people of God into a room and ask them where they want to be in 10 years.  We need to hear what they are passionate about and find ways of making ministry real and vital in our world.  We need to make a choice to work with God.  We need to seek out who God wants us to be.

Who does God want us to be?
Where is God leading us?

I’d love to know what you think.

Frozen in fear

I have been accused in the past of having high expectations of people.    That I think they are capable of more then they actually are.  I’ve been told that I should just accept that some things won’t change.  I doubt God endorses this philosophy as God is constantly pushing people to change, to be better and to trust him.  This is seen time and again in the Bible and in our own lives if we’re honest.  God wants good things for people, for all people and that rarely lets anyone off the hook when it comes to change.

I think this is why I get so frustrated with the church.  Presbyterians in particular are notorious for halting any hint of change with debate and discussion.  We table absolutely everything.  We claim we are waiting on the Holy Spirit but I have a feeling the Holy Spirit is dancing about in the room and no one is willing to see it. We are afraid of doing anything for fear that it might be wrong or it won’t work.

This fear is killing us.  It’s paralyzed us.  We aren’t doing anything for fear of offending or losing people.  We do this delicate dance around this issue of change and growth.  We never want to talk about what needs to be done because we are afraid.  In my reading this week I came across a passage in Deuteronomy where Moses reminds the people of God that God is always with them.  That God in fact goes before them:

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 NRSV

We need to remember that God is going before us.  Our trust should be in God, not our processes.  We need to accept that movement is part of faith.  Movement and change are built into our history.  There is only one constant, God.  That constant is the thing we should cling to.  We need to push through the fear we feel.  God has moved on and is expecting us to catch up.  It’s time to let go of our attachments to what we know and move forward into the unknown believing that God will provide.

Do you think that’s possible?
Will we find the courage to follow God into a new {different} life?

Meet me at dawn.

As the sun begins it’s stretch into the sky, my alarm goes off on the nightstand beside me.  I slowly drag myself out of bed and stretch my body attempting to get  muscles moving once more and it’s clear to me in seconds they would rather be tucked back in my warm bed.  My feet barely leave the ground as I point them in the direction of coffee.   Shuffling towards the kitchen while rubbing my eyes I’m lucky not to make contact with any door frames.  I can barely see.  The light is dim.  I need that coffee.  The minute it takes to brew feels like an eternity and I’m hesitant to create any noise that might waken my 2 year old.  These moments are meant for me and God.

With coffee in one hand and a notebook in the other I scramble off to find my Bible.  After I have collected everything I settle into my corner, comfy and secure. I begin to pray.  After prayers I read.  It’s God and I.  Together in the quiet of the morning.

Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?  Time with God at dawn.  Moments set aside for reflection and prayer.  The truth is it’s more like a duel than a sunrise symphony.

It’s not that I don’t love God, I do.  It’s not that I don’t respect God, I do.  It’s just that in the morning, at the crack of dawn before the world awakes I’m probably a little too me when I face God.  I ramble about anything and everything in my thoughts.  As I’m not reading for a purpose there’s very little to direct me and my thoughts can seem scattered and confused.  While reading I’ve been known to complain to God, cheer to God, reject some rules and find myself pushed in to the reality of what it means to be a follower.  Some days I struggle to stay awake and most days it’s not pretty.

It’s funny really.  When I’m writing a sermon I pray with a purpose.  I’m composed and directed.  Things have a plan and I listen and reflect and follow as I’m supposed to.  Without a plan I’m all over the map.  Without a plan it’s chaos. These mornings aren’t perfect but they’re me.  This time set apart from God is one on one time with no real purpose.  It’s rather liberating really.

This ritual is fairly new.  Adopted out of the realization that I far too often neglect time with God independent of work.  I came to the conclusion after one too many days away that I needed to schedule God in as he’s too easily pushed to the side.

I’m probably not alone in this.  Life is busy and in this modern age we’re always moving, thinking and saying we’ll get to reflection next week.  Time set aside for quiet reflection is frowned upon as we could be using that time to do something.

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to sit.  I’m actually getting more accomplished now.  I waste less time on the internet.  I am more invested in the day, in what is happening right now.  Starting the day off with God means I actually carry God with me.  It’s a nice feeling.

It’s okay to sit.  It’s ok to reflect.  There is nothing wrong with stopping.  We all need to set time aside to sit, listen and hear what God is saying.  While my time isn’t perfect, it’s my time.  Time God is using to teach and direct me.  It’s time for discovery and surprises.

This week I invite you to join me.  Seven days is all I ask.  Seven days at dawn where we meet God and surrender our time to him.  It doesn’t have to be perfect time.  It doesn’t have to be planned.  It just has to be.

Will you join me?

Let’s just end it already…

I’m tired of hearing about how the church is dying.
Let’s just kill it already and be done with it.
Seriously, I’m tired of this.

There is so much negativity floating around out there.
There is so much disbelief in the resurrection that I want to bang my head repeatedly against my desk sometimes.
When will we start believing in the resurrection?
When will we start believing that the Holy Spirit could come?

Think about it, what sane person would join an organization that believes it’s dying?  No one I know.

How are we supposed to attract people when all we do is talk about death?
We need to become a church of the resurrection.

Our focus needs to be the Gospel, not the next roast beef dinner.
We should be feeding the poor and helping our community, not worrying about cash.
We must stop dwelling on death and start embracing life.

We are a church that speaks about resurrection.
It’s time we started believing in it.

How Mad Men made me think about disconnect & the church {with a hint of Zou Bisou Bisou}

I can’t get this song out of my head.
I blame Megan Draper.
I have to say it may have been the only good thing about Sunday’s episode for me.


I’ve watched Mad Men from the beginning and I’d like to say I’m happy it’s back but really I’m not sure I care because it’s been so long and I feel so disconnected.  I think it’s that way with a lot of things.   It definitely seems to be that way with church.  People tend to talk to me about their faith (occupational hazard) and it’s often a reflecting on how things were, or how much it meant to them back in the day.  Once you’ve walked away it’s hard to come back.  Things are never as they were and memories become hazy and it’s easier to let things lie.   They’ve lost connection with the community.  It’s hard to reconnect after a long time away.

I was willing to let go of the show.  I was willing to walk away after Sunday night’s episode but my husband says I cannot, I must give it a chance.  I know this is only a television show and it doesn’t affect my life if I don’t watch it but it got me thinking.  Are we willing to put in the effort it takes to reconnect with those who are not connected with the faith any longer?  Are we willing to put ourselves out there and share our lives with them so they can see who we really are?

Right now it seems like faith has become too individualized in the Christian community.  We talk about our individual journeys, our preferences, our theology, our desires and our needs.  What about the journeys of those who are new, those who are lost or those who are struggling?  What about the preferences of those outside our walls?  What about their needs, desires and wants?

We need to move past our own agenda and into Jesus’ agenda.  We need to support one another, love one another and share the hope that Jesus offers.

Community is important.  Community centered around the good news and the hope it brings.  We really need to share in the ministry and mission of Jesus.  We need to get out into the world, get our hands dirty and work side by side spreading hope and peace.  Jesus called us into community.  We need to shift our focus from what we want to what people need and start being the church once more.