Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Open Letter to the Church

Note - Just before Thanksgiving, our pastor announced that she is leaving us after Easter next year. This is not really something that anybody expected, or wants... Needless to say, emotions are running high, and there was a very fervent Town Hall meeting after church on Sunday to discuss the issues. I stood up and said my piece then, but I wanted to put something down on paper for the benefit of everyone who wasn't there, and to figure things out more clearly for myself. I am not a politician, and this is not a game. It's my thoughts and feelings on the situation as best I see them. The letter follows after the break. If this is relevant to you, please read it, consider it, and pray over it as much as I have this week. If it's not relevant to you, then thank you for your time and God bless you for bearing with me this far.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I am a liberal Christian

What does that mean?
  • It means that I place the power of God's love far above the letter of the law.
  • It means accepting people as they are, for who God made them, and celebrating their individual uniqueness.
  • It means that some of the people I used to call friends are convinced I have a warm spot in Hell for leaving their little conservative flock and going to worship with 'those people'. But if they are right and all of my friends are going to Hell I don't care, because I'll be in far better company!
  • It means I am proud to be a member of an open and affirming UCC congregation, and to spend my time with a widely diverse group of people - single, married, divorced, widowed, young, old, gay, straight, transgendered, rich, poor, and inbetween.
  • It means serving lunch to the homeless and cleaning cages at the kitty shelter because God commands us to care for the people who can't care for themselves and to help those in need.
  • It means respecting the science behind God's creation and knowing that there is still MUCH to learn. The more we learn about how the Universe works, the more amazing and miraculous the whole thing becomes.
  • It means that God wants me to use my own intelligence when it comes to interpreting His will, not play a blindfolded game of  'follow the leader' because somebody with a piece of paper that says 'preacher' tells me they know better than me.
  • It means working to FULLY become the person that God made me to be, whether that fits into somebody else's neat little pigeon hole or not.
  • It means that I will never EVER tell somebody that God does not love them and care for them unless they change their ways.
  • It means crying when I read or hear of yet another piece of blatant discrimination against the powerless. 
  • It means wishing I had more resources so I could do more to help other people... but doing as much as I can with what I have, and trusting God to provide for our basic needs - and so far He has.
What does it mean to you?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

'The Rules' my way

Written November 6, 2011

A friend posted the 'rules for dating' in her diary, taken from a book somebody or other wrote to try to 'help' women find Mr Right instead of Mr Right Now. A lot of them seem appallingly old-fashioned to me. I'm not a 'rules' type person... but the more I stop to think about it the more I realise that yes, I have 'rules' - we all do. So what are some of mine?

- Respect yourself AND your partner. Never ask your partner to do something you're not prepared to do yourself.

- Never take your partner for granted. Remember the reasons why you fell in love with them.

- Never pretend to be someone else just to make another person happy. If they don't love you for who and what you are, they don't really love you...

- NOBODY is perfect, and that includes you. You know you're not... and if you're not perfect, why should you expect your partner to be?


 Written November 4, 2011

We're having a service on The Fruits of the Spirit tonight, and David asked people to do a VERY short reflection on each one (like one minute FLAT). He wanted some different responses to just singing a song, so I offered to do a poem. So I wrote a couple for him. He loved my poems, but he also asked me to do a spoken reflection to go with it. There I felt a bit like the blind man being asked to describe the elephant... I'm fumbling in the dark and trying to get ahold of the most important part of it, but I don't know which one that is because it's too big to see the whole picture at once.

For those who aren't familiar with the bible verse, here it is -
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

My 'fruit' is joy, and I get to go second. Great joy! NOT! lol I've been thinking about it for the last three days and I've changed my tack about five times, so I really have no idea what I'm going to say when I stand up. I just hope God puts the right words into my mouth...


Written August 18, 2011

Last sunday the choir sat up in the middle of the platform arranged around the piano. I could not bring myself to sit up there with them and to put myself in the center of attention that way. That wasn't the only reason I skipped choir... but to be honest it was a big part of it. But I also felt that with 16 people there and nothing particularly demanding for the choir to sing that nobody would notice I wasn't up there... and I wasn't feeling well. I was getting the beginnings of a migraine and I wasn't up to the noise and the lights and the attention and being stuck on the platform for the full service without being able to move or relax. It turned out to be the right decision for me because I got pretty emotional and I would have absolutely hated to feel like anyone else was watching. But last night the choir discussed Sunday, and when someone said how much they loved being more a part of things than usual, I cringed inside. I do NOT want to have to do that. It makes me feel like a bug under a magnifying glass. If they said 'you must do this' I'm sure I'd get used to it in time... but my gut screams NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Salvation, Faith and Hope

Written July 26, 1011

I really didn't want to go to bible study last night to talk about Salvation and Faith. I wanted to stay at home and wallow in my misery, and not to have to put on a happy face for a few hours and to nod my head and agree with things that the author of the book said we 'should' believe, when I didn't feel the least bit like they applied to me right now... but we went anyway, and it really was just what I needed to hear... especially the reminder that Salvation is a continual ongoing process, not a one-time flip of a light switch. We are working our way closer to God one babystep at a time for as long as we live. I always think that if things aren't perfect, I must have done something to screw it up. Maybe I've been so bad and horrible that God doesn't want anything to do with me any more, and that's why things aren't working out for me... Maybe I just plain don't DESERVE good things to happen. Of course, most of the time I know that that is not true... but it's really hard to remember when the rocks start piling up on my shoulders and the depression kicks in again.

The book we're studying (Know what you believe) has several pages about Salvation, but you can sum it up in three sentences:-

We have been saved by Jesus. He bought us body and soul when he sacrificed himself on the cross. (Justification)
We ARE being saved every day of our lives, as we grow in our faith and we work towards knowing and following God more closely. (Sanctification)
and when we die and go to heaven we SHALL be saved once and for all. (Glorification)


Written April 1, 2011

When I showed John my last diary entry he said it sounded like I'm a Buddhist!I He didn't even begin to understand why that casual statement upset me and we didn't have any time to sit down and talk about it... I obviously didn't express myself the way I wanted to. But my diary is more for me than for anyone else. You guys get to read it, and I really really appreciate your input and thoughts (and especially encouragement) on everything I write, including stuff about faith. Nobody can live in a vacuum, and the things other people say help you to figure stuff out all the way instead of just partway. But I'm not a theologian. I don't have a direct pipeline to God. God doesn't even speak to me in words. Some people say that He does, but I have never experienced it in 40 years. God speaks to my heart and my gut and my soul - when He wants to. A lot of the times I could pray myself blue in the face and He doesn't speak to me at all. What I think and feel is what 'I' think, I don't expect it to be true for everybody else in the world. You have your own thoughts and feelings about this stuff and I respect them just as much as I respect my own.

Asking the Hard Questions

Written March 30, 2011

John was asking me the hard questions last night and I don't have any answers... the more I think about them, the further out of my fingers they slip until I can't find anything to say at all. I know what I'm 'supposed' to say. We're all horrible sinners who have lost our way, and God sent his son Jesus to save us from our sins and he sacrificed himself on the cross and three days later he rose again and went back to heaven to be with God to prove to us that he really WAS God so that we will have an assurance of going to heaven when we die and we'll all be angels dancing around on the clouds until God calls an end to the whole shebang and sounds the last trump and then we'll all have shiny new physical bodies to live in the new heaven and the new earth. And if we don't ask God to save us in exactly the right words (or we have the misfortune to pick the wrong religion) then we'll spend the rest of eternity burning in the pits of Hell where we all really deserve to be.

That's what I'm SUPPOSED to say. But I just can't do it. Life isn't that simple. Nothing is ever that simple.

What does it mean to be a Home-maker

Written January 17, 2011

The Penny Pincher posted a thing about how wonderful homemaking is and it was all very well... but every one of the bullet points she listed revolved around children, even though she SAID that anyone could be a homemaker and it didn't have anything to do with having kids... Things like that make you feel like you should be guilty for not having the 'M' part of SAHM. So what does it REALLY mean? She asked for comment, so this is what I wrote her about my day:

  • Homemaking is having a hot meal ready when the family gets home... and then eating the leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week because you're the only one home during the day.
  • It's being there to say 'welcome home, I love you, how was your day?' with a smile on your face when your partner gets home... and waiting at least five minutes to tell them that the dishwasher exploded at midday.
  • It's trying to keep at least one day ahead of the laundry pile, and hoping to avoid 8am cries of 'where are my socks?!' because nobody ever thinks to tell you that they're putting on the last pair!

Faith, Hope, and Love...

I have a craft blog... and a private diary for musings not for general consumption. But I've been tossing around the idea of a faith blog for my occasional essay. I generally write them in my diary, but my close friends who read it aren't particularly interested in religion, and sometimes I'd like to share with a wider audience. The first few entries are going to be direct posts from my diary, and later on I'll write as I am inspired. Please feel free to comment!

If you're wondering about me, I have been a Christian for 25 years, since I was 15. But I am a modern liberal Christian, and I believe that showing God's love is more important than dogma. So don't expect any Fundamentalist rantings here, because you're not going to find them! I am proud to be part of the UCC church, and to be a member of an open and affirming congregation, which puts me right out there on the far left of the religious spectrum!