Saturday, March 28, 2009


I've been pondering lately what it means to be "connectional." I currently serve on my conference's Order of Elders Advisory committee, and we have talked about "lone rangers" and the affect they have on the greater connection of our Annual Conference, both within the orders and within the whole body, as some churches are also seen to be "lone rangers".

When I say "connectional", I believe that it means that the health of my church cannot be sustained only by sacrificing the health of other churches.

When I say "connectional", I believe it means that when I am only concerned about my own self or needs in the system and how I can get ahead, I should be questioned.

When I saw "connectional", I believe it means that I play a vital role in something larger...and I must recognize that the others around me also play vital roles.

When I say "connectional", I believe it means that I should be urging all churches to faithful discipleship--not just one-upmanship.

When I say "connectional", I believe it means that there will be times when I carry someone else's burden...and times when I can feel free to ask for help carrying my own.

When I say "connectional", I believe it means that God is in the midst of the connection at all levels, and I ignore that at my peril.

When I say "connectional", I believe it means that the connection doesn't need me to imitate and create a needs me to discern and act in my local setting in conjunction with the movements of the connection.

When I say "connectional", I believe it means that I have a right and duty to speak and to be listened to, heard and considered by the connection...and to listen and consider in return.

Just some thoughts. I wish that this was more natural to us, but this Body of Christ finds it far more easy and personally rewarding to think congregationally instead of connectionally and individually instead of within the understanding of the Orders. I wonder if we'll ever intuitively move in a different direction.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The pioneering spirit

Last Friday, I did a graveside service for a 90-year-old. Yesterday, I went to the funeral of a colleague's father, who was 95. And then I went and sang at the bedside of a woman who is in hospice (last stages of Alzheimer's).

None of them did I know personally, other than what their families have told me about them. But I've been listening more and more to "Vista", by David Wilcox, and I keep going back to the title track:

The mountains were high from the valley below.
Back in those days, they didn't know
what was waiting for them over the divide
and who would be the first to see the other side.
But you led the climb up to the cracks,
seeing it all ahead of the rest
Your expression showed the wonder of the place
Looking westward with the sunlight on your face

And the wide open vista...the wide open sweet Someday
Climbing over the ridgetop to finally see the view
that none of us ever have known
Crossing over to home...and the vista.

The flowers were bright here at your side
All of us came to say our goodbyes
Light of morning shines strong into the room
Your breathing changes, time is coming soon
I speak my love, I say my words
You squeeze my hand to say that you've heard
But in your eyes I saw the twinkle in the blue
Looking over the ridge, out into the view

Of the wide open vista...the wide open sweet Someday
Climbing over the ridgetop to finally see the view
that none of us ever have known
Crossing over to Home...and the vista
The wide open sweet Someday
Climbing over the ridgetop to finally see the view
and all of us go there alone
Crossing over to Home.

I love that juxtaposition of the pioneering spirit and the journey to a heavenly home. And it seems like a lot of our "pioneers" are beginning to go--the pioneers of civil rights, of various industries, of women's rights. I wonder if that pioneering spirit will be a factor in my generation. I wonder if anyone, when we go, will call us brave and those who moved forward into a more faithful place.

What mountain lies before me, and what will I do to climb it? I feel like so many times, I watch myself and others content to set up camp at the foot of the mountain. Are we so scared to see God, the great Someday...Home? I think there are a few climbers. Oh, that I might just leave the safety of the camp and just climb.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I'm not doing well in 2009 with keeping up the blog.

Things seemed to have spiraled here in the church, between the various organizations I have responsibility in and my calling as a pastor and wife.

But I wonder how much of that I choose.

I choose every day to be my husband's wife. Some days more graciously than others.

I choose every day to be a pastor. Some days more graciously than others.

I have tried to discern what God has called me to beyond the local church.

The choices I make have effects, not only on me, but on many others. My family, my congregants, my peers and colleagues, but also on myself. How do I go about balancing all of those in a healthy way?

And why is it that every time I try to make a decision I believe to be healthy, people keep telling me that realistically, I can't (or shouldn't) do it?

I'm preaching this Sunday on the cruciform shape of life, using 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. I'm pondering all of the ways in which the cross makes absolutely no sense, pays no attention to the "reality" of the day and flies in the face of conventional wisdom. But I wonder if it's even possible to break free from my own neediness (which translates sometimes into busy-ness) and the neediness of the church (which translates, somehow into creating more busy-ness than is either healthy or faithful) to get to a place in which I live life looking like the cross.

I'm being haunted by something just beyond my reach--that there is something more than working at "life in Christ". There is living into it, which is a different thing all-together.

I want to live, not just work.