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I had a migraine Sunday night. That’s not unusual; I’m prone to migraines. But this one was different. It bowled me over, the pain exponentially worse than any migraine I’d suffered before. I prayed a lot that night and was genuinely surprised when I woke the next day, fragile, but alive. With the cessation of pain came a dawning — every one of us is so special. We are wonders.

God made you of star-stuff,
sky and earth together,
fueled by fire, awash in water.
No one can do what you do,
not as you do it. Not exactly.
You were sent to fill a you-shaped
crack; there is no one else to fill it.
Your body keeps the dam from breaking,
keeps gravity from failing, moves musically
as planets round a sun. Your individuality
is a gasp in a world of weary sighs. Stand up.
Walk. You will get there. We all will, if only we
lean on the star-singularity of each other,
wheeling through life like a night sky on fire.

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This past week, the Methodist church voted to ban gay clergy and gay marriage.  This move reinforced their church policy that stated “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

I have friends who are now torn.  Stay with the church they grew up in?  Or stand with a gay grandchild?

This is a choice that saddens my heart. No, I’m not Methodist but I have family members who are – it is the church my father was raised in.  So I find myself asking – How is it that the leadership has failed, yet again, to truly hear Christ.  Christ, who ate with sinners.  Christ, who healed on the Sabbath.  Christ, who accepted water from the adulteress.

I understand why these people think homosexuality is incompatible with Christ’s teaching.  I don’t agree, but I do see the steps they took to reach this conclusion.

But I have to ask – why aren’t you picking on adulterers, thieves, liars and those who break the sabbath?  You could, with the Bible, make a case for this type of prosecution as well.

Or, even better, why not truly follow in Christ’s footsteps. Welcome those who are different from you.  Those who believe different things, were raised different ways and who are attracted to different people. It will take bravery but it will definitely cause much less damage to those you claim to serve.

Follow Christ.  Walk gently.  Be brave.  Make a space at your table.

–SueBE

 

Going to church on Sunday is great.  No really. It is a big part of how I recharge my spiritual battery.  Sitting amid the choir, I soak in the music and gaze up at the descending dove in the window.

When I leave church, I have a tendency to get busy.  I’ve got a checklist and things to do.

Pick up something for the food pantry.

Check on so-and-so.

You see we are the hands and feet of Christ and part of that means moving and acting among the people.  I had a great reminder of that just this past week.  As you leave the Toddhall Retreat Center you see a sign.  “You are now entering the mission field.”

Go.  Walk among the people. Help them see the light of God.

–SueBE

 

You know how it is. Some people instantly “get” you.  No explanations are needed when something cracks you up because they’re laughing too.

I had never thought about how this might look to others but then someone at church stopped a group of us.  “Do you know how worrisome it looks when you’re all laughing.”

Cricket.  Cricket.  Cricket.

Seriously?  Why would it be worrisome?

You see, he wasn’t joking.  This was one of those well-intentioned warnings.  “You must not know how this looks to someone else…”

Frequently, we’re laughing about something we goofed up in choir. “Oh, well.  Maybe no one heard.”

Does this mean we should stop laughing?

Nope.  Laughter is a gift from God.  When we can laugh at our own mistakes, and there are plenty of mistakes to laugh at, they become less worrisome. And who knows?  Maybe next time we really will do better.

Until then? We have the laughter which helps keep us positive.  And, apparently, more than a little annoying.

–SueBE

 

 

 

Do all things with joy.

I spent last weekend at Toddhall Retreat Center.  There were fourteen of us who went up there to write for the weekend.  At meal time, we’d head on over to the dining hall to see what they had prepared for us.  As a mom, I have to tell you that I love it when the shopping, cooking and clean up just happen.  Would it be pushing it to far if I said it was a miracle?

Take a tray. Get your utensils and then move through the line.  Come dinner, I noticed that everyone in line was seriously upbeat.  I wondered what we were having.  Then I stepped into the serving area and was greeted with an amazing smile.   As she plated your chicken and rice, she also served up a great big, sincere smile.  I found myself grinning back.

Each and everyone who made eye contact with this joy-filled woman came away with their own heaping spoonful of joy.  A single person armed with a serving spoon and a smile, she also shared a heaping spoonful of all that is good and right with people today.

Seeing eyes and a big smile.  Why not be that person for someone else today?

–SueBE

 

It’s easy to be grateful for the good things in life.

Today I wondered: Should we also thank God for the bad things?

So you’ve got bills. That means you’ve got services. PS Like a computer or phone to read this post.

So you’ve got a spare tire around the middle. That means you’ve eaten a nice meal in your time. PS If you’re eating right now, please clear the crumbs. I’ve got a thing. Ta.

So you’ve got worries about the future. That means for today at least, you’ve got what you need. PS Or else you’d be worrying in the present tense.

So you’ve got pain from the past. That means you’ve got things to blog about, or make a song about, or sketch about. PS And you’ve learned a few things going forward.

So you’ve got nobody to count on. That means you’ll look back on this time and realize how much it meant, since you made it there on your own. PS Time to put the effort into knowing where “there” is.

So you’ve got aching feet. That means you’ll finally realize that high heels are actually high hells (excusez mon français), and ditch them once and for all! 🙂 PS Never wear shoes that slow you down in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

That last one is just a pet peeve. I always think back to the years that I staggered about in heels, thinking it made me look nicer to others. I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy to distract women from what they’re really capable of. PS I’ve also long believed zombies are just misunderstood.

Which brings me to…

So you’ve got pet peeves. That must mean your basic needs are being met. You’ve got free time to chat about life lessons, zombies, and conspiracies. That’s a lot to be thankful for!

On Wednesday afternoon I’m at church for about 2 hours.  We don’t have services on Wednesday but we do walk.  One of our members cleverly named the program Come Walk With Me.  We aren’t fast so plenty of talking goes on while we walk.

This week an awful lot of that chatter was about how mean people have become.  Flame wars.  Law suits.  Mean spirited tweets.  It seems overwhelming.

But I have to be honest with you. I think we can change it.  The first step?  Instead of complaining about it, find something positive to mention.  Miss Ruth is a champion at finding positive stories on-line.  And that’s why I’ve spent so much time putting together these Inaugurate Light images.  I want to put something positive into the ether.

Putting something positive out there amidst the negative.  Hmm.  Where have we heard that kind of advice before?  Working against great odds to do good?  It sounds just a little Biblical.

–SueBE

They’re meeting at the Vatican right now. They’re calling it the Protection of Minors Summit. And they’re addressing the elephant in the room — or, more fittingly, the sacristy — sexual abuse by priests. So far, the Catholic Church has addressed this scandal in fits and starts. There has been some transparency, as various dioceses publish lists of “credible accusations.” Nuns, too, are finally having their #MeToo moment. There have also been some bitter disappointments, like cardinals who blame homosexuality for the crisis, or the leaked regulations governing priests who break their vows and father children.

Will this summit do anything to really address the grotesqueries that have occurred in the Church? Maybe. But only if true root causes are examined. Chief among them? Clericalism. You know, the whole attitude of “only I can make bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ; only I am special; therefore, whatever I do cannot possibly be wrong.” It’s a poison that too many “men of God” have swallowed whole.

I am waiting to hear the results of the summit, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m also not leaving the Church. My faith isn’t in people. It is in God. The community I choose to practice my faith with is, by and large, a good group of people. Bad priests don’t represent my faith any more than Hitler represented patriotism. But I want to see my Church do right.

Jesus set the table at the Last Supper, and I know Him to be inclusive. It’s time to add a leaf to the table. Let clerics eat humble pie, and allow new voices to be heard. Invite married folks, women, LGBTQ. Let them speak. If not, the Church is sunk. And no summit on earth will bring it back.

 

 

This week in women’s Bible study we read 2 Chronicles 20 about King Jehoshaphat and his defeat of several enemy kings.  It wasn’t that Jehoshaphat didn’t have a mighty army.  He did!  But God told them to stand firm and watch and God would take care of it all.  And the two allied armies defeated each other.

Read the Bible and time and time again you will find stories of impossible things – a few loaves and fished feeding a multitude, water turning into wine, a sea parting.  These things don’t happen because someone worked super hard or had a plan for instant success.

Nope.

God did the impossible.

If you are a type-A control freak like I am, the thought that great things can be done if I stand firm and believe is disconcerting.  Isn’t there a plan?  Five easy steps?  A schematic?

But no.  The key is standing firm in God.

Now if only I could remember that when I’m scrambling around trying to figure out what to do.

Stand firm.  Believe.

–SueBE

Ask me to name a president whose a social justice warrior and first on my list will be Carter.  Definitely Carter.  His work with Habitat for Humanity has earned him the #1 spot on this list.

But Eisenhower?  I can’t say that I would have even considered him until I saw this quote.  In trying to find out when, Eisenhower said this, I’ve seen it quoted by warriors (Colin Powell), justice organizations, peace movements and more.

This reality made me think.  Often we assume that we know how someone feels and what they are thinking especially when it comes to things like Justice and Peace.  We think we know who is for each and who is against.  But this has helped me see the truth of what is stated in 1 Kings 8.  Only God knows what it is in every human heart.

Only God.

–SueBE

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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