Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
There is something about the ABC salvation mentality that lead me to believe as a child that faith in God meant simply believing he existed. In some way or another, it's a mentality that i've carried with me to this day. Sort of this idea that faith in God didn't mean he had to be active or do much in particular--just be.
But God isn't inert, inactive, or disinterested. He is living, working, breathing life, and shaping the world. We don't place our faith in simply his existence, we place our faith in His active work.
1 Samuel 17 include the narrative of David and Goliath. The scene takes place in a valley with the Israelite army camped on one side and the Philistines on the other. The story is familiar: Goliath challenges the army, only the young David accepts, he slays the giant and victory ensues. But it's more than a children's story--it's a story about faith. Yes, the Israelites "believed" in a God, but only David, an errand boy, had the faith that God would prevail.
Here is where i meet this scripture: as an activist, as a social work student who aspires to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and as a member of a socially conservative church and family, sometimes i am burdened. I look back and i see all the failings, and the mistakes. I know the pain of the loss of marriage equality in CA, and i was there in Portland, Maine when activist, students, and all of us who went door to door--having those conversations--discovered we had lost equality. I look ahead and see how impending the challenge to equality and peace are. I know that the HIV infection and death rates are still increasing and far from plateauing. Do i fight because it's a fight that just needs to be fought? Or do i believe there is hope?
Not content to remain an errand boy as the battle wages on, as the enemy taunts--young and perhaps naive, i enter the battle.I know it will take miraculous work to get us though this. So i pick up my faith, in an active loving God, and i move forward, trusting He will prevail in all things.
This I commend to you as well.
I anticipate that the next few weeks will be a little like Advent and Lent for me. That may sound weird but hear me out. This is a period of waiting, longing, hoping for our time to meet one another and seek some radical change in the church we all love so dearly. As such, it feels a little like Advent to me and during Advent I like to add something to my daily routine. So I would encourage you all to add some spiritual practice, as brief as it may be over the next 2 weeks. I personally will spend 10 minutes in prayer every morning at 7am CST specifically for our TAMFS GA team and that our work at GA will be memorable and transformative. You are welcome to join me. I also plan on giving something up, thus making this journey a little like Lent, as a way of reminding myself of what is lacking in the church namely a love that transcends the binaries of gender and sexuality, a love that is so inclusive and welcoming that JC would smile down upon us. So I will be giving up desserts. By giving up sweet things these next two weeks I will be reminding myself of how sweet it will be to finally meet with you all in person to do God’s work for our beloved church. Blessings to you all as you prepare in your own ways for GA.
I suppose I should begin this devotional by making a confession. My name is Kate and I am a GA Junkie. My parents began dragging me to General Assembly at a very young age when they decided that was the appropriate thing for Louisville seminarians to do. I don't think they realized the addiction that they would instill into their child, perhaps they would advise some sort of rehabilitation program now, but alas here I am, arriving in Minneapolis on Wednesday. General Assembly for a child is not necessarily a bucket of fun. Sure, I was able to teach adults the macarena at the Witherspoon dance and find free pens throughout the exhibit hall, but all in all the dealings of committees and plenary sessions were not terribly appealing to a kid. Yet, here I stand as an adult returning once more. I have often been asked why I continue to come back well after my attendance was deemed necessary by my parents. As I walked through the halls of the San Jose Convention Center two years ago I kept coming back to that same question. By then I had found myself passionate about several of the issues coming to the assembly and was feeling frustrated by what seemed to be the constant tabling of overtures that I wanted to see passed NOW! I asked myself why I kept coming back to this place to fight these battles, why not take up with my home church or school, or why not even a secular national group? It was one thing that I witnessed in San Jose that provided my answer and led me to be writing to you all.
As I returned to the Convention Center in San Jose on one particularly sunny day I was greeted by a group of picketers. I had heard that they were coming and had been somewhat skeptical, as if these people would travel all this way just to hold a sign in front of us. Yet there they were with signs of hate and curses, enforcing a view of a God that not only disowns, but damns some of his/her own people. It was in my state of anger and confusion that I saw gather a group of people wearing rainbow stoles, people from TAMFS as well as other associations. Instead of fighting back, instead of making even a playful and somewhat taunting snarky remark, they surrounded the protesters and knelt in prayer. Each one connected to the person next to them, bowing their heads in front of people who would be happy to tell them they are hell-bound. It is then when I realized why I return. General Assembly has become a family reunion. We all gather, some family members closer than others, some distant relatives you've only heard of. Usually you meet one or two people that it turns out you should have met by now since you seem to know all the same people or go all the same places. Sure, there are some family members who don't agree with your views. Maybe there's a crazy aunt that you just can't seem to come to any sort of agreement with. But ultimately, we are all part of the same family. We will see it as we hold hands and bow our heads in prayer and as worshipers gather and committees break free. YAADs running around laughing despite voting differently in committee.
I share all this to hopefully quell some fears. We may be faced with what seems like unchristian behavior but it is important to remember as those in the prayer circle last assembly did, that we are all children of God bound together and chosen to be adopted into an infinite family. And with families comes love. (After all that is what we are fighting for isn't it? The right for all forms of love to be recognized!)
With the following scripture I wish you all a peaceful time until we see one another and a calm heart with which to approach the assembly. For those of you who are both new and old alike, this is your family too and I cannot wait to take all of our places at the table and hopefully remind the rest of God's children that this table is larger than we realize, large enough to fit each and every one of us and fill us all with love for one another and Christ.
1 John 4: 18-21:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. We love because God loved us first. If anyone says “I love God” and yet hates their fellow Christian, they are a liar, because the one who does not love their fellow Christian whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen. And the commandment we have from God is this: that the one who loves God should love their fellow Christian too.
So, hello, I’m Lisa, and I work here. Not here on this blog, but for That All May Freely Serve, the organization that thought it just might be fun to bring together a group of people and turn them loose at the 219th General Assembly, to practice hilarious feats of hospitality, and occasional provocations to laughter, and a totally earnest love for the church and for God’s people, just to see what could happen.
But, let’s refocus on me, for a minute. We thought we would use some of this blog real estate to introduce our team members, so, I agreed to try.
Me? I’m a lifelong Presbyterian, and a candidate for Ministry. I’ve been a candidate for Ministry since 1986, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!
I’m a member of Noe Valley Ministry, a lovely, eclectic, faith-seeking, justice-loving Presbyterian Church in San Francisco. Come visit!
More about me
Likes: San Francisco fog, the perfect 20 minute nap, history, old game shows, and people singing together.
Dislikes: funny movies that aren’t (they just infuriate me!) Cheerios – another long story, and not much else, really!
And, here’s the most important thing: I grew up in Minnesota, and I’m so excited that General Assembly is going to be in my home town.
Here’s the thing about Minnesota, from an insider’s point of view: people in Minnesota are really nice – in line at the grocery store, on the phone, stuck in traffic, at coffee hour – even if you wake one up suddenly in the middle of the night, a Minnesotan will be nice! “Minnesota Nice” it’s called. First they made it in to a joke – in that kind of self-deprecating way we have, then they started marketing it. You can get “Minnesota Nice” on T Shirts, and oven mitts, and coffee mugs and other stuff like that. Please don’t buy me any, ok? Thanks!
And here’s the thing about “Minnesota Nice.” I’ll admit it, I used to make fun of it; used to think it was artificial, and superficial, and co-dependent, and frankly annoying, which, sometimes it is. But, now that I’m an old lady, and now that it seems like the rest of the world is bent on being un-nice, I really appreciate some Minnesota Nice!
What I appreciate more than nice is “kind.” Kind is nice, but without the superficiality. You can have an open disagreement with someone, but still show deep generosity, caring, openness, and courtesy toward one another. So, if we can match “Minnesota Nice” with “Presbyterian Kindness,” I think it will be just about the best General Assembly ever!
But that’s just my opinion.
Have a nice day!
Hey, and thanks for reading!
~ Lisa Larges ~