Julian's Pale Blue Dot
For those of you who you attend CiB regularly, it’s likely that you’ve seen or met Bob and Donna Z. They use the last name “Z.” because Bob will tell you that it’s too difficult to remember how to spell their full last name.
Donna is a retired schoolteacher and poet. From time to time, she writes prayers and benedictions for our liturgies.
We are including last week’s opening prayer here.
May its depth and beauty guide you throughout your week.
What I Believe About Doors
I've mentioned at church that work will be highly stressful for me, likely for the rest of this year, so I keep praying for wisdom and peace.
This newer spiritual practice that I've adopted comes from the abbess, mystic, and theologian, Julian of Norwich. (1342 – c. 1416). Julian was also the first English woman to author a book.
Love and Letting Go
A friend and I went to two art exhibits past weekend. We decided to hit them up in succession. The first, a kind of stream of consciousness, acid trip, color-drenched, maximalist presentation of (in my opinion) carefully placed junk.
It wasn't my thing, but my friend really wanted to go, so I obliged, knowing that our second stop would be at a museum of contemporary art, much more my style…
The Unity Tree
At the breakfast table, I clasp my hands and recite the same words that I recite every morning, words that have become a worn and beautiful path. "Let me not so much seek to be consoled as to console / to be forgiven as to forgive / and to be loved as to love." Hearing my one-year-old crunch cereal in his high chair next to me, I glance up to ensure he’s not choking. He grins at me and I continue…
The Plan Of Starvation
Church in Bethesda has the privilege of hosting an Oromo Congregation in our building on Sunday afternoons. From time to time, there's overlap in our comings and goings while the last of our folks are leaving and the first of their folks are arriving.
Each time there's overlap, it's always a joy to see them.
The Post Attractional Church
When we look around at the world, sometimes all that we can we see is tragedy. All that we might feel is despair. We see the immediate and not the possible. We see ourselves and not others. We act out of self-preservation instead of selfless compassion. But when we look up, we breed courage. We see a world where we can work together toward healing.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day at our church who is a longtime member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our church hosts a variety of Twelve Step groups like AA, and I was asking my friend for some advice on how we, as a church could do a better job of promoting them, as I didn't see them listed anywhere on our marketing materials.
The Stigma Of The Aged
There's a part of my personality that gets the best of me at times. It's the part of me that gets things done quickly and with excellence. It's also the part of me that burns people who get in my way.
What Your Bible Says About The Treatment Of Immigrants
Whatever age you are (unless you are the oldest person in the world) there's someone in your life who was here before you were that has seen more than you've seen, experienced more than you've experienced, and knows more than you know.
Slowing Down Life
Finding the information for this post wasn’t difficult. A simple search on any Bible site or in any Bible software will spit it out this same data for you in a matter of nanoseconds.
Though many Americans identify as Christian, we often cherry pick Bible passages to support our prejudices. Many of us don’t read the Bible to be challenged, changed, or deconstructed. We read it to reinforce what we were already thinking.
The Zero Sum Of 2017
“Come on, load already,” I mutter to my computer. As if it isn’t one of the wonders of the world that I can access people on the other side of the globe in less than 30 seconds.
This is far from the only time in a single day I’ll lament things moving too slowly. I’m a can-do, let’s get going, do this thing kind of gal. I want to do All the Things Right This Second.
Dogs on the Road
Another year is drawing to a close. 2017 has been a year of dizzying highs and terrible lows in varying degrees for each one of us.
Like the script above says, “Some of us died, some got sick, some got rich, some had bad luck, some of us were fortunate, more than others.”
What I Learned About Self Love From The Flu
There's a memory from my childhood that I will never be able to get out of my mind.
One day, outside of Flint, Michigan, my Mom and I were stuck in terrible traffic. The traffic was backed up it seems, for miles. As we eek'd our way down the highway, we could see what was causing the traffic jam up ahead. There had been some kind of accident.
Lying in bed with my eyes closed, I wondered if I was the victim of a cosmic joke. A few days earlier, I had celebrated a few moments of silence, but four days of looking at nothing but the inside of my eyelids was starting to feel like a bit too much.
The Sunday before, our entire church was silent just before the sermon. Everyone was reading the white text on the black screen in front of us. Among other thoughts of discomfort, the text said, “It’s too quiet” and “For the love of God, this is anguish.”
Advent is the season where we prepare for the arrival of the Son of God into the world.
And this is precisely what John is doing in Mark 1:1-4. He is a living example of these ancient words from the prophet Isaiah.
What I Believe About the End of the World
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
White Jesus (and Other Revisionist Histories)
It seems that every generation of believers think they are living in the “End of Days.”
And why wouldn’t we? With all that we see in the media one can begin to think that we may be the generation to finally witness it.
Why We Still Have A Long Way To Go
A colleague of mine told me a funny story once about his early days as a young assistant pastor. He was working at a large, influential megachurch in suburban Indiana at the time.
Each year during the Advent season, the church would set up a giant manger scene out near the entryway to the property so that passers by would be reminded of what Christmas is all about. There in the manger, nestled in the hay, my friend noticed something far too common in the suburban midwest. The baby Jesus figurine was white, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed.
The Negative Way
Late on Saturday night, I came down with a horrible head cold. Luckily, living in the city, one can go to the store to purchase almost anything at any hour of the night, so I threw on my clothes and shoes and headed downstairs to the pharmacy to pick up some NyQuill.
I entered the pharmacy only to witness an alarming scene. A man was screaming, cursing, and threatening the cashier behind the counter. The words he was using were so violent, sexist, and cruel that I can’t repeat them here.
In the study of theology, if one studies long enough, it’s likely that they will come across a method of study called, “Via Negativa.”
Via Negativa is the Latin for, “The Negative Way.” It’s a type of theological thinking that attempts to describe God by negation— to speak only in terms of what may not be said about God.