may this year be one of newness, hope, and deep tide-strong growth. bringing in the new year is always difficult for me. i have trouble with letting go of things that have been with me for so long; but i will try to open up and let those things that need to be freed free and hold on with all my might to the life-giving promises that will stick to your bones and hold you afloat in the stormy seas. i will believe in the companion of grace and the deep grasps of each other.
“she was made up of more, too. she was the books she read in the library. she was the flower in the brown bowl. part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. she was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly. she was Katie’s secret, despairing weeping. she was the shame of her father staggering home drunk. she was all these things and of something more that did not come from the Rommelys nor the Nolans, the reading, the observing, the living from day to day. it was something that had been born into her and her only–the something different from anyone else in the two families. it was what God or whatever is His equivalent puts into each soul that is given life–the one different thing such as that which makes no two fingerprints on the face of the earth alike.”
from: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by betty smith
i’ve been reading rob bell’s new book what we talk about when we talk about god and this quote has been stuck in my head since i’ve read it.
“how did the message about the Jesus who comes among us to heal us and free us and bless us and teach us how to be more generous and forgiving and less judgmental and more compassionate ever turn into something other than a clear and compelling message about God’s desire for us to flourish in God’s good world? it’s complete madness how the Jesus story has been so thoroughly warped and distorted in our world.”
this book is making me think and stir and hope and think some more. here’s to you and i flourishing in this good world.
i suppose the title of this post is provocative and a bit definitive (though i should clarify i am writing out of my experience and the experience of those close to me). it has been a thought/conversation/journal entry/prayer/endless questioning for a good bit of time and in honest reflection i presume it shall remain to be that way. and perhaps that is good; to keep thinking critically about the reality in which we are showing those that come into our communities, our worship services/meetings. but i use the word reality intentionally. humans experience life from various points of entry. some humans are incredibly self-aware and have spent time in thought and/or therapy understanding the thought and feeling processes of their being. others are deeply wounded or adamantly think that they are “ok” and need no further inward awareness than merely being awake (i hide no thinking that the latter is a far more unhealthy way of being than the former). part of our position as the Church is to invite humans into a deeply personal and communal paradigm by which we understand the world. the world meaning our global community and our world meaning those with which we live and eat and laugh and play.
some of us have done exceptional jobs at the personal paradigm. Jesus becomes our “personal” Savior ( understand i am not implying any overarching negative connotation of this atonement paradigm, I am merely trying to emphasize the focus of individual self). others of us completely throw personal responsibility to the wind and act like hell because we feel like God has saved us all and there is no reason to render much attention to the personal conduct or condition of one’s soul.
this method of thinking only begins with understanding of salvation. sadly, we impose these thoughts on the way in which we value and build our church community. (i should clarify here that i am speaking of the global Church and of individual church communities. the personal experience i bring to the table is a blend of many communities i have/am a part).
i know very few things for certain. most of them are about myself: i abhor the taste of beets: reading the work of bell hooks and rob bell awaken depths of my soul every.single.time: good coffee never gets old: and east tennessee will always be the most beautiful place during autumn.
there are things, though not so personal, i believe are true. to the core of who i am and hope to be, i believe they are true:
with Christ, community is the means through which God reveals the love, commitment, grace, and mercy of God’s self.
the church is not just about those who have yet to recognize the presence of God in life.if so, than you can go ahead and throw out anything you believe about faith being missional and something so incredible it must be shared (which i guarantee you are not willing to do ((particularly if you are southern baptist)).
the church is not just about those who have recognized the presence of God in life. if so, than you can go ahead and throw out anything you believe about discipleship (which i also guarantee you are not willing to do).
the church is about all of us. regardless of where one falls on the spectrum of recognition, or connect-ability, or politics, or sexuality.
the church is for all of us because God is for all of us.
perhaps we may all fare well to exercise some restraint when we make definitive statements regarding who the church is for….unless of course we are willing to make statements regarding who we believe our God is for.
today marks the lovely day that brandon and i have been wed for an entire year. it seems to have gone quickly and slowly all at the same time. with changes of apartments, jobs, cities, and regions altogether, it’s been a year of transition. we’ve been happy, sorrow-full, contemplative, confused, and joyfully content. its a beautifully hard thing, marriage. i am happy to continue to dance with you, sweet b.
though we have been sick…and the days grow dark so quickly…it is christmastime. and i am overjoyed.
sorry for such a dull blog life…i promise to do much better….starting next week!
yesterday brandon and i went hiking at stone mountain state park here in north carolina. though the hike up kicked my tail (i.e. me clutching my chest for fear that my heart was going to explode due to total out-of-shapeness) the view from the top was worth it. at an elevation of 2300 feet, the mountains sang quiet melodies of peace and calm. we rested at the summit for a good bit, snacking on apples and yogurt covered raisins while letter writing and reading from flannery o’conners complete collection of short stories. it was a lovely reunion with autumn and the trees that have always spoken to the depths of the girl i am and hope to become.
this weekend has been full of fun and unexpected little dates. both b and i have had bouts of the sickies this past week and needed something fun this weekend. orientation began this week for b and i spent hours and hours job hunting. on thursday evening i got an email from my sister telling me about “cinema under the stars” and also giving me a coupon for a two for the price of one burrito/drinks at qdoba. what fun! so after i picked b up from his final orientation we enjoyed some veggie burritos and jumped next door to whole foods and choose a chocolate covered cheesecake, mini key lime tart, and mini fruit tart for dessert. we threw out our quilt and leisurely enjoyed mr smith goes to washington. it was a lovely night. saturday morning we woke early to enjoy the farmers market in old salem. we scored some local heirloom tomatoes and mixed peppers. the yummiest part, though, was sharing an oatmeal creme cookie from winkler bakery. perfectly delish is an understatement. come visit me and we’ll share one too!!
(i wanna live in yellow house one day..or at least a splash of yellow paint somewhere!)