Sunday, December 30, 2012

If you haven't read the book, maybe you've seen the movie

Today we begin a sermon series based on a portion of the Book of Exodus. The series is entitled "Change: Journey toward a promised land."

If you haven't read the book, maybe you've seen the movie. (Released in 1956, this is the first movie my parents took my sister and me to see.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Excellent journalism by UMNS

Please take two minutes to read this story about the human cost of border families separated by our U.S. immigration policies.

It is written by Amanda M. Bachus, director of Spanish Resources and editor of el Intérprete magazine published by United Methodist Communications. In addition to being an important human interest story, it is also an excellent example of submersion journalism.

It also includes striking photos by Mike Dubose, my favorite photographer. Find a photo gallery that accompanies the story here.

This is a photo by Mike Bubose of the Revs. Saul Montiel (left) and John Fanestil (other side of fence)  blessing communion bread on opposite sides of the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico.
Congratulation to United Methodist News Service for exploring new journalism styles and its consistently excellent work.

And congratulations for this particular poignant story.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Preaching about scriptures we'd rather ignore

This billboard appeared last March in Harrisburg, Pa.  According to a Religion News Service story, it was paid for by a local chapter of American Atheists in response to the state legislature declaring 2012 as “the year of the Bible.”

This is why we need to preach and teach about these kinds of verses in the Bible. I try to periodically preach about passages of Scripture I'd rather ignore. Not long ago I did a sermon on Ephesians 5:22 "Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord."

After that sermon I got an anonymous letter postmarked at a North Carolina post office from someone visiting Foundry who told me they had not heard the gospel preached that Sunday. I take that kind of response seriously, because if I haven't preached the gospel I haven't done my job. But it did occur to me that a sermon that is not gospel or good news to one person may be good news to someone else.

At any rate, I believe we need to help folk with these kinds of verses. They maybe do not make the most giddily inspiring sermons but we need to deal with these texts.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This is a disturbing cartoon

As someone who spends a significant part of my sermon preparation trying to understand the Greek text, I find this cartoon a bit, well, rude.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Quote of the week

Joy is an intermezzo of gratitude that interrupts the routine motion of life. 

Our lives, for the most part are motion and struggle. But now and then joy comers to arrest the motion, it stops the tedious ticking of our life-clocks with the bracing discovery that we have received a gift... stilling, for a moment anyway, the haunting anxiety that maybe life is made only of the stuff that hurts and angers, and makes us feel small and stupid and phony, there comes a sense that life - now, here, today - is a gift worth blessing God for. 

That's joy!
--Lewis B. Smedes Author, 1982
(Hat tip to Rev. Alvin Jackson)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sea gulls over Captiol Hill

This morning when I parked near the Eastern Market Metro entrance to get a cup of tea at Starbucks, I heard angry noises over my head.

Three sea gulls were flying angrily around the metro entrance park loudly squawking at each other.

I tried to rememebr if I'd ever seen sea gulls on Capitol Hill before. Maybe once. I am not quite sure. It has certainly not been a common memory.

Then I remembered the Reliable Source column in the Washington Post written by Roxanne Roberts (of Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! fame) and Amy Argetsinger.

I happen to be an ardent fan of the Reliable Source column, although I do force myself to read the real news before I read the gossip.

The Reliable Source often reports on celebrities who come to Capitol Hill to lobby for various causes, arts funding or global health, for example.

The Reliable Source calls then celebvocate

It occurred to me the sea gulls might have been in town to do some lobbying or celebvocating. Maybe they were advocating for less stringent rules about the disposal of garbage on the beaches or the disposal of fish killed by commercial fishing boats.

I did discover a news story about an owl capturing and eating a sea gull on Capitol Hill, but it turned out to be the Capitol Hill in Seattle, not the neighborhood where I live.

Or maybe the oceans are rising and we are now living closer to sea gull country than we used to.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Where is joy most likely to find you?

Joy of Motion Dance Center in Friendship Heights has classes for adult to learn how to dance. Even if they've never danced before in their lives. Maybe joy could find you learning to dance.

Perhaps joy could find you in the kitchen. Joy Wilson spends her days baking and writing. Her blog has become very popular. Her baking is sometimes quirky and often fun.

Anybody else experience joy when you are lost in a good book?  Joy sometimes finds me when I lose myself in a great story whether a novel, history, or systematic theology?

Or perhaps teaching others to read is where joy could find you.

Is nature where joy might find you? Beth Norcross will be teaching classes about nature and the church at Wesley Seminary:  “CM – 138 Greening Congregations” every other Tuesday 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. beginning January 29 and continuing through May 7 and “Hope and Healing for Creation”  9 am- noon every weekday June 10-21, 2013.

 Sometimes joy may find us in worship.

Think about where you might put yourself this week so that joy might find you.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Go Wisconsin!!

I can recall being in Wisconsin only once in my life. Jane and I were in Chicago for some reason. After we had finished whatever we were there to do, we rented a car, drove into Wisconsin, and rented somebody's condo on a lake for the weekend.

I am thinking maybe I need to figure out how to spend more time in Wisconsin. For a couple of reasons.

One reason is that it is the home of the United Methodist pastor Rev. Amy DeLong who was tried in a church trial for performing a same-gender commitment service. (Read Time magazine's coverage of her trial here.)
Rev. Amy DeLong

It is also home to the clergy of the Wisconsin Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church who served on the jury during her trial. Their sentence was a 20-day suspension and a requirement that she write a paper to outline procedures for United Methodist clergy to resolve issues that "harm the clergy covenant, create an adversarial spirit or lead to future clergy trials."

Amy's paper has been written and presented to the conference. The conference has established a clergy covenant team which is meeting and hosting a webpage.

Time magazine called the jury's sentence at Amy's trial "historic." Time said: "The elders handed down the first sentence in 20 years of United Methodist jurisprudence that did not indefinitely suspend or defrock an elder for officiating a same-sex union."

The sentence of the Wisconsin clergy may be the reason there have so few complaints filed against clergy concerning marriage equality. 

Father Bill Brennan celebrates mass with a woman priest
So, go Wisconsin.

And then I came across this headline this week in a Reuter's news story:

Wisconsin Catholic priest, 92, punished for Mass with woman priest

So, once again, go Wisconsin. You sound like a place with lots of good, courageous people.   

Friday, December 7, 2012

Let's have a baby boom, baby!!!

DCist headline says:

Over the Next Decade, Wards 1 and 2 Will Make the Most Babies

That's our neighborhood here at Foundry. More Foundry folk are concentrated in wards 1 and 2 than anywhere else.

Spread the word that we've got a great nursery and Sunday school!!!

We love doing baptisms!!!! 
 And Foundry is the kind of church you'll want your child to grow up in -- diverse, inclusive, engaged, reconciling, welcoming to all, changing the world to make it better for all babies everywhere. 

So let's have a baby boom at Foundry. 
And let's be sure to remember to thank and pray for all of our nursery volunteers and our nursery staff Chasta Piatakovas and Kristina Scriber. And the person who coordinates our ministries with children Pastor Theresa Thames.
Pastor T

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What does it mean to be chaste?

The Bell Ringer of Notre Dame
Congratulations to the LGBTQ students of Notre Dame who have been trying to establish a university-recognized LGBTQ organization there for years. Yesterday they succeeded, according to an article in the South Bend Tribune.

But wait! Zack Ford, who edits a web publication called Think Progress, has actually read the fine print of the Notre Dame plan for the new LGBTQ group and has written an article entitled "Notre Dame’s First LGBT Student Organization Will Have To Promote Chastity."

Ford quotes the plan that created the new student organization. Can you figure out what this paragraph is actually trying to say?
At the same time, the University also adheres to the Church’s teaching concerning homosexual actions. As a result, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity” and to “friendship,” and should cultivate “the virtues of self‐mastery that teach them inner freedom” (CCC, 2359). Indeed, each and every student at Notre Dame is called to nothing less. All Notre Dame students are urged to understand and live the teachings of the Church relative to their lives and expressions of sexual intimacy.
The question is what does it mean to be chaste?

Merriam-Webster says it can mean either to be celibate or to be pure in thought or act. The usual assumption is that being chaste means refraining from sexual activities. 

The Notre Dame statement says"Homosexual persons are called to chastity." It then adds that "Each and every student at Notre Dame is called to nothing less."

Even the married ones?

Why is it so hard for us church people to affirm loving committed same-gender relationships? 

In order to avoid making this simple act of affirmation, it sounds as if Notre Dame is asking absolutely everybody not to have sex.

What corners we paint ourselves into!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Foundry's own Garrett Peck on the end of Prohibition

Today in 1933 Prohibition ended.

Foundry Church's own Garrett Peck is the author of The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet.

You can celebrate or bemoan the anniversary of the end of  Prohibition by watching Garrret interviewed on below.

Also, in case you missed it, the District of Columbia Council voted yesterday to allow Sunday sales of liquor, according to this article in the DCist

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The secret to joy

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
"Flow ... the secret to happiness"  is a great TED Talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "chick-sent-me-high-ee"). It should really be subtitled "the secret to joy."

I will be referring to it in my sermon tomorrow on the First Sunday of Advent.

I will also be drawing upon a book by Jonathan Haidt (pronounced "height") who teaches at the University of Virginia. His book is entitled The Happiness Hypothesis.

Oh, we will also be drawing upon the Bible: Luke 1:11-23, the story of John the Baptist's father Zechariah. 

Foundry's Advent series this year is entitled "Suddenly ... joy." We are reading stories about the preparations for the birth of Christ from Matthew and Luke to learn how to have more joy in our lives.

And the Christmas tree is up! A crew of Foundry folk have been decorating the church this week and have done a great job preparing us for Advent and Christmas.

And the choirs are getting ready for their Advent/Christmas music special on Sunday, Dec. 9 Great Joy! A Gospel Jazz Christmas.