Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 31 - - I did it!

I sure have been eating a lot of crow these days over this whole running bit. I have always been a staunch exercise hater - - particularly a hater of running. I've been more than a little proud about this. It's sort of been the fat-me schtick. "I don't exercise and I'm proud of it."

Well, then I started exercising and not just working out, but working out publicly, talking about it, writing about. For Pete's sake I made it the subject of a church newsletter and have had guest posts on an exercise blog. Geez, Louise. (Pete? Louise? Who are these people?) When I made some comment about it on Facebook a friend of mine who has ALWAYS been very active, from when we were young and on soccer and softball teams together (I was bad, very bad at these) and even now that we are moms who live strangely close to each other for two grown women who live 1,600 miles from their hometown. The kids and I went on a playdate to her house about a year ago. She gave me the choice of driving to nearby playground or walking "just up the road a little." Her "just" is a lot different than my "just." Dear God!

Anyway, she posted on my FB comment asking if I liked running now. My sister's comment was my favorite after that. "Let's not get carried away!" It was my first thought, too. But then I let it sink in a little while and the sneaking suspicion started to arise. Hey, I think I do like running now!

I'm having another similar experience today. It's sort of a difficult day at work for unbloggable reasons. It's been sort of a difficult few weeks. When I cleaned out my car before my parents visited for Pearl's birthday there were more empty DQ Blizzard cups rolling around than I cared to admit. I had been comforting myself with these treats every time I drove to or from a difficult meeting or just had to get out of the building to clear my head.

Well, we've reached a turning point today in all of these strange times. It has been by no means an easy day, maybe the hardest of them all so far. But you know what? I don't think I'll drive to Dairy Queen (or Culvers, because there were just as many empty Concrete Mixer cups on the floor of the car, too) this afternoon. I mean, I'd enjoy the treat and all, but I don't really feel that need. I do, however, want to hit the gym sometime this afternoon. It's not supposed to be a running day in my 10K training program, but I'm scheduled to do some cross training, a stationary bike ride is what I think I'll do.

Maybe I've turned another corner, one I didn't really imagine I needed to turn. Maybe I've turned a mental health corner, too, in all of this training. It certainly wasn't intentional, but I'll take it just the same. I want to do something healthy with my stress instead of eat my way through it.

Maybe it's time to go preheat the oven to bake some crow pie for dessert.

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 30

Well, I've almost done it. Personally I'm not counting the two days Blogger was mucked up against me, just so you know. I'm pretty sure I won't try the same kind of challenge in June, but maybe just maybe participating in this has gotten me a little more engaged with my blog. It's funny. I tried to do daily blogging for Lent last year. I didn't last more than a week, if that long. I wonder what the difference was.

Maybe I felt awkward about taking that kind of introspective journey public (or public-ish anyway).

Maybe it was too hard to do ONE. MORE. THING. at 7, 8, and 9 months pregnant.

Maybe (and I think this one was it) it had something to do with putting my real name on my blog. For some reason that has seemed to me to be a real step forward for me in my commitment to doing SOMETHING on here. I left it anonymous at the start (and for like 3 years) because I wasn't sure what I would use it for and I thought it was easier to leave the toothpaste in the tube than to try to stuff it back in later. I think, though, I didn't use it for anything much because it was anonymous. It wasn't tied to me, so it was almost like I couldn't be me. I haven't gone crazy or anything since putting my name on it, but I feel more connected to it since then. I haven't had to keep my kids out of it, my context hidden. I think there's more potential for something here now.

We'll see.

(For the record, yes it is after midnight, and therefore May 31, but I'm still counting this as day 30/May 30 because I haven't gone to bed yet. Now is that time. Goodnight!)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 29

I'm not sure if I should have tried to work with the Memorial Day theme in worship after all. I did NOT go all nationalistic on us at all. That is not me, but I did use the idea of memorials as my jumping off point. I thought it was a good idea. I don't think it was a bad idea. Maybe, though, it was just...meh. We did have some good participation in the pipe cleaner memorial activity which was kind of fun. I had people think of a time when they were clearly aware of God's love and presence in their lives and then make a 1 pipe cleaner memorial of that time, something that could help them tell that story. With the folks who like that kind of interaction in worship, it went really well. I want to get us talking more about our personal experiences of faith. We need to talk to one another about these experiences if we can even dream about talking to other people about them. Maybe I'll work with this theme of "story telling" on and off throughout the summer to see where it goes.

I'm so behind at getting my sermons posted. This week makes 3 that AREN'T up yet here or on the church blog. It hasn't been intentional; I've just gotten busy. Maybe tomorrow I'll get caught up if the kiddos take naps. I think I'll also include the funeral sermon from Saturday since I got a LOT of good feedback about that one. One out of two in a weekend isn't bad!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

NaBloPoMo: No Maybe About It, Day 28

I had a funeral today. The death was actually two weeks ago, but since the deceased was being cremated anyway and I had a scheduled vacation last week, the family decided to wait until today to have the memorial service. It gave their family time to come without a big rush, too. I never really knew the woman who died in the fullest sense. She lived with Alzheimer's disease the entire time I've been here. She and her husband have been married for almost 67 years and have known each other for 72. A. maz. ing.

The service itself wasn't too out of the ordinary. I read from Romans 8 with the promise that NOTHING separates us from the love of God - - not even Alzheimer's I wanted to add. I also read Psalm 139:1-12. This woman, like God as the psalmist describes, was a detail woman. Everything in its place. Everything done very carefully. Everything organized out of love and attention and compassion. I heard in the psalm on this occasion about God who pays attention to every detail. God who knows all about us, where we're going, where we're coming from, what we're going to say. God knows when we have ascended to the pinnacle of joy and when we have been buried in the depths of despair. God pays attention to detail. I also heard that even the darkness of memory loss isn't too dark for God.

Anyway, if I may say so myself, I brought all I had to this service, and preached the word and shared the comfort of faith. Besides what I brought there was beautiful music, violin, tenor, organ, piano. It was a fitting memorial and just felt right.

But even with all we did, we weren't the best part. I was going to say "maybe we weren't the best part" to fit the NaBloPoMo theme, but frankly I know we weren't the best part. The best part came after the benediction. The widower had it all planned out last week before I even went on vacation. Parked just outside the church building, right outside the front door was his Cadillac Escalade golf cart. I kid you not. When the service was over he had me announce his intentions and ask everyone to line the church sidewalks. He put the box of his wife's remains in the passenger seat, flipped the switch on the tape player (it started with "America, the Beautiful"), buckled his seat belt, and pulled out into the parking lot.

He told me it would be just one spin around the parking lot, taking his wife for one last ride. He had bought this "golf cart" last spring to drive her around town, by the home she lived in as a little girl, by the school she attended, the park where she used to eat picnic lunches. It was the world of the 1930s, the world she tended to inhabit in her own mind. The weather hadn't been good enough this spring yet to drive her around, so he said at her memorial he would take her for one last ride.

I'll admit it seemed a little hokey to me at first, and I wasn't the only one sort of grinning about his one cart parade. I don't think we were being disrespectful; we were all supporting him in what he wanted to do. it just...well... it's hard to describe. But anyway, as he completed his lap around the parking lot the congregation applauded as he drove back up the drop off circle, expecting, as he told me, that he would park and we'd go in to eat lunch. But he didn't stop. He mouthed to his daughter, "One more time," and stepped on the gas. We all laughed and cheered a little, started to clap along with his tapping toe to the big band music that started up when the patriotic tunes had ended.

The scene repeated itself about 4 or 5 more times. Every time we thought he'd pull in, he say again with a tip of his head and a few tears in his eye, "One more time." The funeral director, in awe, said, "Who knows what's going on in his head." I felt, though, that maybe I knew. When this ride was finally over, their ride would be over. It was both sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. Or maybe it was heart breaking because it was sweet. I just ached for this man who so obviously loved his wife, who had lost her in bits and pieces over the last 7 years or so, and who finally had to end their ride today. When we all eventually gathered inside the funeral director said to me, "I only hope I'm half the husband he has been."

I think he can be. I think I can be half the wife. I think we were shown the way to do it today as this widower drove in his golf cart. "One more time." Don't be in a rush. Don't move to quickly on to the next thing. Savor the perfect moments and when they're good, when they're really good go ahead and take one more time.

Friday, May 27, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 27

Maybe I was meant for life on a commune. Do those still exist? Or maybe I need to dig out my project from the church history class in seminary when we all had to invent our own church order. I don't remember much about mine, and actually I don't remember really being all that interested in the project itself at the time. But I do remember mine was for families living somewhat communally. Sometimes it seems like a great idea.

The neighbors came over tonight to share our ROCKIN' pork roast from the church Drive Through BBQ fundraiser. We had 8 kids and 4 adults around (they had an extra over) and just ate wherever we fit. The kids ran around and played and enjoyed themselves. We chatted, shared a bottle of wine, and laughed a lot. It was a awesome. I love casual nights with easy friends. I love sharing our families!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 26

Maybe I'm not meant to be a daily blogger. I'm glad to have taken up the challenge of a month of daily post, but I'm glad I've only taken it for a month. Or at least I'm glad I've only taken this particular challenge for a month. The theme of "maybe" is a little too vague for me. I feel like I've written the same thing almost 25 times, or at least about 20. There have been a few original topics. :)

So, I'll finish this challenge out. I'm only a few days away from success (other than the 2 days when Blogger was acting up). But when June comes I think I'll try to change it up a little. I'll still aim for daily posts for another month, I think, but I won't feel like I'm tied to a particular theme (especially one like "maybe" - geesh!). I'll try to pick a topic sometime during the day and either blog it right away or save it until later. Or if nothing jumps out at me I'll use the daily writing prompt from the National Blog Posting Month website. That will feel a little more natural.

I think my other goal will be to comment on at least one other person's blog every day. I LOVE comments. Who doesn't? I read a lot of blogs without commenting, but figure other people would probably appreciate a few comments, too. I know I'm coming late to the blogging world and it seems like some of it is fizzling out a little bit, but I'm still willing to give it a try. We'll see!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 25

Maybe some of us should have spent a little less time mocking and rolling our eyes and a little more time listening to the message behind the media blitz. I watched the first half of the last Oprah show this afternoon. Although I'm about to speak of it nicely, I did find it a little annoying and tough to watch in one setting. It seems that as a long as I have been in the pulpit it has been en vogue for preachers to complain about the way our hearers turn to Oprah for advice and life guidance instead of Scripture (or more honestly, instead of us). I've done it a time or two myself.

However, today as I listened to what Oprah had to say on her last episode, sort of her "last lecture" in the style of one of her famous guest, Randy Pausch, I began to think maybe we preachers have been a bit too quick to judge. Actually, I began to think we preachers should pay a bit more attention to Oprah ourselves.

Whether we like her or not (for any number of reasonable or unreasonable excuses), Oprah knows our congregants. In her second or third segment today she lectured the church on who are people are. She told us the needs we are called to address with the Word of God. She articulated the longings of the people in our pews, the longings of the children of God in this and every generation - - the desire to belong, be needed, be worthy, be loved.

It wasn't brand new stuff. Theologians and sociologists have been saying some of the same stuff for a long while. But it's still worth it to listen to it all again. It's worth it to listen to it from Oprah because whether you like her or not or are merely indifferent, she has the ears of a WHOLE LOT of the people in our pews. Her language is already out there and her words are ringing in people's ears. Much of what she had to say in that arena was not just compatible with Christian theology and preaching it was laying the groundwork for us to walk right in with the gospel message.

We are loved by God. We are worthy in God's eyes, simply because we are created by God. We belong to God. And the challenge message to the church is to embody the love and the acceptance and the uplifting nature of God in the world, so that others can experience and believe what is true. Oprah has primed the pump for probably the better part of 25 years. We don't need to work against her; she has set us up to fill in the rest of the message with the good news.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 24

Ah....vacation couldn't just end quietly. It's 10:42 pm, and I just put Pearl to bed. There was also the late evening phone call that pulled me out of my TV induced stupor. Oy vey.

Oh well. It's been a good vacation just being here at home. I really haven't had to deal with anything which is awesome. I have a lot I'm going back to, including a funeral at the end of the week, but I have been able to really be away from it all even without leaving town, this whole week. That's been a blessing. I'm so glad I can finally do that. Maybe I should have just done it earlier in my time at this church, but it didn't feel like I could. I'm not sure I trusted the folks who stayed behind to work, and I certainly didn't trust myself enough walk away and not be involved in what was behind. I didn't trust the work I had done. I didn't trust my own dispensable nature if that makes sense. I didn't trust the Holy Spirit to work with or without me.

But this vacation I was able to be away. Maybe they've changed. Maybe She's changed. Maybe I've changed. Maybe it's a little bit of all of us, but I have been away without even leaving town, and it has been a blessing. Now it's time to go back.

Monday, May 23, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 23

So the world didn't end this weekend. Not that I thought it would. Not that anyone with with any credibility thought it would. Since I was on vacation I missed the opportunity to address it at all in worship. Maybe that was a good thing. I may have made snarky comments which probably wouldn't have been appropriate. I'm reading all these stories about people who really did believe it enough to sell everything they had to try to convince others. How horrendous. Someone on Twitter posted something to the effect of - - "I get why they want it to be true. I want to go to bed tonight thinking tomorrow will be drastically different." Maybe that's what was so appealing about the whole idea. Maybe people just want to believe that SOMEthing will change, that God will intervene, that what they are experiencing is temporary, that there's a way out. Maybe that's not something to scoff at.

I think this whole media storm could have been an opportunity to talk about the end times, the kingdom of God, the (false idea of the) rapture. Maybe it still is? I'm not excited about the lectionary options for this coming Sunday, so I'm thinking about picking up these topics. I would go the direction of not knowing the day or the time, so until then sinking ourselves into the task of embodying God's love and radical inclusion here and now. I'll keep thinking on it for a little. Tomorrow is my last day of vacation so I don't want to get back to work too soon!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 22

Maybe my vacation is coming to an end. Not the post I hoped to make. For the love of Pete. It was great having my parents in town, but I'm afraid Mom left her cold behind - - in all 3 kids. For real. No one has a fever which is why I'm pretty sure it's just a cold, but they are down for the count. W seems to be the worst. He's really dragging and complaining about aching. K isn't much better. M seems to have it the least which is the best part. It's just so hard to keep a baby comfortable. It's pretty selfish, I know, but I really want them to be OK for school in the morning so I can have my last two days of vacation! I just want to get out a little bit tomorrow on my own. Just a a little bit!

(Weak post, I know, but they can't all be home runs!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 21

Maybe I should have pushed harder. I ran my first 5K race today, and I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I LOVED it. I really did. I did the whole thing in 35 minutes which was pretty good. I didn't know how far I was at any giving point along the course so I was afraid to push myself too hard part way through in case I still had a long way to go. I finished feeling really good, not at all sore or achy like I am on my training days much of the time. I could have gone faster. Maybe.

I have sort of a funny history with God. it seems that every time I say I'll NEVER do something, I end up doing it. I'll never go to seminary. I'll never be a parish pastor. I'll never meet a man willing to meet a pastor (well, that one was a little different). I'll never enjoy exercise. And even more I'll NEVER run. Now I have and not only that I like it. After dinner tonight I even felt like I wanted to go out again. God has a funny sense of humor. I noticed this about some of the "big" things, the spiritual things, the call things a few years ago. It never occurred to me that it would work with something like running and exercising, too. But it did. The thing I swore I'd never do and definitely never like has become pretty important and life-giving to me.

Please don't tell me this means I'll have to move to Florida again sometime. Really. I'll NEVER do that!

Friday, May 20, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 20

My baby turned one today. Sweet baby girl. Being so tiny makes it seem like time is going slower, but I can't really deny it. And I can't stop it.

I don't want to. I mean, I can't wait to see who she turns into, what she will be like. K decided M needed a baby "a soft baby, Mommy, not a hard one that will hurt her when it hits her in the head." M has been hugging that baby and carrying it around all night. It is so sweet. She'll be a beautiful, caring girl.

But at the same time, maybe I do want to freeze time. Maybe I do want to cuddle her for years more not just months. Maybe I do want to nurse her morning and night and when she bonks and when she wakes up at little bit grumpy. Maybe I do want her to stay a baby a little bit longer because she's my last baby and I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to that chapter yet.

Happy Birthday, Pearl! I sure do love you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Running Prayers

I had a bad day Tuesday. I've had a few of those lately, and I joked recently that if I have too many more I'm going to gain a ton of weight with my emergency drives through Culvers and Dairy Queen. But on Tuesday I had a bad day and for the first time ever I didn't want a Blizzard or Concrete Mixer (or at least that's not ALL I wanted); I wanted to go for a run. All day long I was itching to get out of the office and just run. Run off my energy. Run off my anxiety. Run off my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

My gym bag with my running stuff was at the office because I planned to go for a run at the end of the day, so when I finally got everything checked off my list I mapped out a 5K run on MapMyRun.com, did a quick change in the church bathroom, and hit the road. I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to stick it out because I didn't have my iPod. I had never run without music, my own or a Couch to 5K podcast (mostly I use the free ones from NHS Choices when I'm running outside). I even considered skipping the run all together, the lack of music being my excuse. I didn't, though. My first run was a few days away, and I needed to know that I could do it, and I REALLY needed to run.

I did my warm up walk around the parking lot and then turned out onto the sidewalk with a steady pace. It didn't feel too fast or too slow. It was just right and rhythmic, which I had never noticed before. When I'm listening to music on an outside run or a podcast or TV show on the dreadmill it's all I can hear. When there was nothing else in my ears suddenly I could hear myself. I could hear my feet hitting the pavement. I could hear my heart thumping in my chest. I could hear my breath, rhythmically flowing in and out of my lungs, two beats in and two beats out.

I remembered as I noticed this someone else's post on RunRevRun in which he said the Jesus prayer works well as a breath prayer while running. I'll be honest that my knowledge of spiritual practices is pretty weak, so I don't actually know the Jesus prayer, but the idea stuck with me. On a rough patch of the run, heading up a hill I chanted, prayed in my head, "I - Can - Do - It" with each of the four beats of my breath. As the hill crested it changed to, "Thank - You - Je - Sus."

It wasn't a flippant prayer. It was simple, maybe even trite-sounding, but it was completely sincere. Thank you, Jesus, for getting me over that hill. Thank you, Jesus, for getting me out of my office, for getting me out of my head. Thank you, Jesus, for my body that moves, my lungs the breathe the breath of your life in and out, in and out.

I kept it up as I ran the 5K, my first real try on my last day of the 9 week program. The whole last mile was up hill. I ran the whole way for about 2 1/2 miles, but had to walk about a quarter mile toward the end. I wasn't happy about that, but I got over it. I used the time to calm myself, calm my breath, and get reinvigorated for the final push at the end. When I picked my feet up to get back to running at the end my chant prayer changed one last time. "I - Will - Do - It. I - Will - Do - It." And I did.

I think I've found that place where my movement is part of my prayer. I never understood it when people said that. I've never been "good" at still prayers, words flowing from my mouth or my mind toward God. I've tried, but 20-something years of conscious faith has never really felt fulfilled by my prayers. I think I made a connection with my embodied prayer while running this week. It wasn't just the chants and breaths it was the movement, the power, the strength. It was the physical act being stretched, pushed, and sustained. It was the communion within and beyond myself. It was prayer in a new and exciting way.

Has this happened for you? Do you find yourself praying through and during your exercise? What is that like? How does that happen? What "techniques" can you describe that add to your life of prayer and communion with God? I'm excited to delve into this even more!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 18

I had a meeting to begin to plan a funeral that will take place Memorial Day weekend when I'm back from my time off. I was reminded in that meeting how unique my job is tha I get to walk into very intimate times with people I would otherwise have never even met. It's so very cool. I mentioned in a sermon or in worship a few weeks ago the sense of wanting to take off my shoes for I am walking on holy ground. Ever since I thought of that when talking about preaching, I've been thinking about it more and more. It feels like that sentiment fits so many different situations in my life, not just in the church, but at home, at the Y, even in the school or daycare somewhere. Maybe it's because the holy is in all of these things. Maybe for some reason I'm just in tune more to the presence of the divine, the Holy Spirit, than I have been in the past. That's what it feels like. It feels like I'm sensing the holy in the ordinary. I've heard people say that, but never really got it so pardon me if this sounds ridiculous. I'm sort of in awe of the experience and just filled with gratitude for it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 17

My friend, Kari, just started a blog today. Yea for Mamma's Time Out! She wrote about being in mourning as her maternity leave ended and she came back to work at her church. Kari's baby boy is almost exactly 9 months younger than M, so we had fun with our monthly lunches and pregnancy stories! I had a talk with a church member about mourning today. Her husband died a year ago today; I went into labor 48 hours later. I was standing on the chancel leading the congregation in prayer at the funeral a few days after that.

She told me that this has been a rough month. I understand. Her husband's birthday was last week. Today is the anniversary of his death. Her first Mother's Day without the father of her children was the week before that. It's a difficult time with lots of important milestones to pass all at once in the first year of mourning.

Also this week was a death in the congregation of a women who has suffered with Alzheimer's for 7-8 years. People are tempted to sweep this family's mourning under the rug because she "has been gone for so long already." It doesn't matter. I don't think it means they mourn less; I think it means they mourn longer.

Pearl started to walk this week. LadyPrincess has less than month left of kindergarten. My little boy spend two weeks away from home without crying for home ever. I know these are all things to celebrate, but I think I may be feeling a bit mournful about some of them, too. My kiddos are growing up and with each step (literal and figurative) they move a little farther away from me. I mean, I don't have unhealthy feelings that they should be near me, with me, around me forever. I mean, I let my not-quite-4 year old leave for 2 weeks. But maybe as I'm watching this last one go through all the little bitty stages for our last time as a family, I'm mourning a bit that it's our last time.

I joke that keeping M small is God's way of letting me have a baby a little longer. Now that she's walking that doesn't work much anymore. Oh well. They've gotta grow up, right? There are fun times ahead (K's first dance recital is tomorrow!), and I look forward to so many of them. It just means I also have to say goodbye to my favorite parts of these times and that's not always easy.

Monday, May 16, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 16

My boy is back! Godzilla made it home from the farm this afternoon, and I was so excited. Maybe I did miss him after all. :) It was weird because I didn't feel horrible while he was gone. In fact I felt guilty that I was sort of enjoying the peace and the ease in the family dynamics without him. I mean I felt REALLY guilty about that. But when I saw Grandma's car parked in front of our house when I got home and then I heard him screaming, "Mooooooooooommyyyyyyyy!" to me as he ran over from across the street I was overjoyed. It was glorious.

He was having a hard time settling down in bed even though he was really tired. I climbed next to him on the bed and told him I had to give him all the kisses I missed. He told me to get off so he could get his blanket up right. I did and started to leave the room, and he said, "No, Mom, now you can sleep here next to me tonight." Loved it. Almost took him up on it.

I need to bookmark this post to read again (tomorrow?) when he's driving me bonkers again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 15

This vacation coming up this week is just. in. time. Maybe it's a little bit late actually, but at least it's happening. Now that I've gone public and put my real name on this blog I have to use that dreaded phrase "unbloggable." I've got a few of those things going on. Oy vey. For real. I mean, it's nothing major that I going tear the church apart, but we've got a couple of small to medium fires burning that all need to be managed and quickly. I've got 2 days in the office this week, so I pray that I'll be able to handle them in that time. I don't want things hanging unfinished over the week off.

And I'm tired. My creative juices are running dry. My confidence in my ability to preach a word from God is pretty low. It's not that I think I can't ever do it. It's that I think I can't do it right now. Hopefully the week is enough, but if not I'm looking forward to two straight weeks in July and August. That will rock my world. Actually, I'm also kind of hoping for a random Sunday off in June if I get selected for a jury!!! I can pray.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NaBloPoMO: Maybe, Day 14-ish

So, like gazillions of others I was locked out of my blog Thursday and Friday. I don't actually know what the story was, but I saw other people complaining and when I came over here I had lost a post and some comments. I didn't even try to put anything up because I didn't want my words to be lost and wasted.

But maybe there aren't wasted words. I mean, I write in a journal that no one ever reads, but does that mean the words are wasted? I've been thinking about that a lot since I've been trying to up my blogging. I write in a journal daily. I haven't missed a day since like the 6th grade. We're talking over 20 years here. It's on top of that that I have been trying to add daily blogging. It's been hard for me to do.

But the two are totally different. No one reads my journals. I'm pretty sure it's been that way the whole time even though, confessional, I was totally a journal peeker of my sister's as a child. She caught me back then, so it's not complete news to her anyway. But I THINK no one reads mine. I don't imagine or plan for anyone to while I'm alive and I joke that it shouldn't be my kids who read them, but my grandkids. The readers need to be at least a generation removed from me even after I'm dead. I would be embarrassed for them to be read.

The blog I intend for people to read, or rather I hope. I hope for some interaction, so acknowledgement that I'm not crazy or I am good at what I do or I'm not alone. I hope for some relationship or friendship with folks who read me and folks whom I read. So it felt a little bit like it would be a waste just to type somewhere without any potential for the interaction I crave. I've got other places to write my thoughts unanswered. This place is for more.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 11

Maybe I'm turning into a runner. Today is supposed to be my resting day according to the Couch to 5K plan, but I'm sort of itching to get out and run. And it's 9:43 pm! I can't believe tomorrow is a rest day, too. I'll be ready to get my running shoes back on Friday even if it's on the treadmill. Ugh, I hate the treadmill, though.

I wonder if I should add in some strength training, or something else that's not running to mix it up a little. I think by now I've probably got myself in good enough shape that adding to the plan wouldn't risk hurting me. I think. I saw a workout plan for going. From a 5K to a 10K and that included something on every day of the week. Some days were running days and others were strength training days, so I bet I could do it without injury. I just need to find the time and the space.

I've been wondering a lot today who or what could have been if I had felt this physically successful way earlier in my life. What if I hadn't believed my own mental message that I was fat, lazy, slow, and completely unathletic? Would I have looked the same? Would I have felt the same? Would I have ended up with the same interests and priorities? Would I have been the I am now and would that matter anyway? I wonder if it would have been a better experience, particularly through junior high and high school. I wonder if I would have had more self-confidence and with it self-esteem. I may not have ended up in the church since so much of my attraction to the church was as a place. Of belonging when I felt like I had none. Maybe I would have felt accepted and included somewhere else and not felt the need to be in a church.

Then the next big question that came to me was how all this thinking and my experience should or will inform how I raise my kids, particularly my daughters. Do I encourage them to a more active lifestyle than I was encouraged? That's not right. I was definitely encouraged; I just chose to ignore that encouragement. Do I force them into a more active lifestyle? How do encourage health without creating body image issues?

Right. Now my plan is to model, model, model. My first runway show is.... Just kidding. I mean, I want my kids to see me making choices for activity over inactivity. I w ant them to see me prioritizing my exercise. I want us to do active things tougher so they don't resent the emphasis I'm giving exercise in my life. I want to give them plenty of options for active healthy activities whether it is playing outside in our yard, sports, dance, going for walks, whatever. I want to give the positive messages early on about their involvement in healthy activities to counter their own self-deprecating thoughts. I don't have negatives feelings at all about the messages I heard from my parents, but they had no idea how horrible the soundtrack was in my head. I didn't let them hear it, so I give them no blame. I guess what I want to try to do is speak only positive soundtracks around them, not just about them, but about me to show them it's healthy to love yourself.

I think that'll be my start!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 10a

Folks are calling today May 10a. Or at least Presbygeeks are. I just got home from my presbytery meeting in which Presbytery of the Twin Cities area became the 87 vote to approve replacement language for "fidelity and chastity" in the Book of Order. If you're not Presbyterian (and maybe if you are), your eyes probably just glazed over. Long story short, presbyteries and session or. No longer specifically prohibited from ordaining open and practicing non-heterosexuals.

I'm probably supposed to gall philosophical here, but I don't think I will. It's late. I'm tired. And frankly I'm not all that philosophical. This is something I am in complete support of, but I haven't been an activist as some are. I was at GA when the previous language was proposed and began the process for inclusion. I was a YAD that year and was torn about staying in the church that had what seemed to me to be a ridiculous policy. I was angry and dismissive of folks on the "other side" who obviously just didn't get it.

I've grown over time, thank goodness, and now see that there are people of REAL FAITH on all sides of this issue. "They" aren't ignorant or clueless or uninformed. They are real people who read and pray and worry about the church just like I do. It sounds silly now, but it was a big change over in my thinking about these conversations in the church.

I know it's not over yet. There is still much division in the church. We still have the concern of same sex marriage to struggle with, but maybe this is a good beginning. Maybe this will be a new way to try to be the church together. Maybe we'll find out that we can live together and even serve and strive together. I sure hope so. I sure hope so.

Monday, May 9, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe (not), Day 9

OK. The main goal of this is to get me blogging more, specifically daily, at least for the month of May. I don't have anything on the "maybe" topic, but I've got something else.

I've got anxiety. LadyPrincess has her birthday party on Saturday. After much hemming and hawing about where it would be and what we would do, K decided she just wanted to have friends over to our (very small) house to color with chalk, eat pizza, and have cake. Hey. I can do that. We sent invitations home with all the girls in her class (just 7 including her) last week and now we wait for the responses.

Enter my anxiety. We got our first RSVP today, a yes, which is great. I'm waiting anxiously for more. I'm worried for her that for some reason people aren't coming. I know. It's stupid, but she has waited so patiently (usually) all year for her turn to have her birthday and her party. She is literally the last kid to turn 6 in her class during the school year. We have gone to just about every party, and she is so excited to have her own, a simple one, at home. This couldn't be any easier, but I'm freaked out that for some reason no one will come and she will be heartbroken.

Goodness, gracious, SheRev. Get a grip. Am I really going to relive every one of my own childhood issues through my children? Because this could be ridiculous. In fact it feels even worse than my own issues because I'm just so much more keenly aware of how painful it could be, and I don't want my big girl to be hurt.

I get that people just don't seem to RSVP anymore. I work in the church and plan programs. I DEFINITELY get that people don't RSVP. Couldn't they just do it this once, so my stomach would stop churning? Maybe just this once? (There I got one maybe in.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 8

Maybe 2 weeks was too long. I don't want to say "I told you so," but.... Actually I can't say it because I never told anyone so. I was too busy trying to be the tough, supportive mom to tell anyone I wasn't sure 2 weeks was a good idea. Apparently Godzilla starts to get a little wistful for home today. Apparently he didn't goo upset, but started to ask for home. He's not coming back for over a week. I was doing pretty darn well until I heard that. I feel bad knowing he might be sad even if I'm doing pretty well myelf. Hopefully it blows over. If we need to go get him, it really won't work out to do it until the weekend, and by that time it'll only be a few days until he's coming home anyway. I think he'll do OK. I'll do OK, too. Just remind me when he's been back a week or so how much I'm missing him!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 7

I'm having second thoughts, but way too late to do anything about them. I'm wondering if I over-estimated the need to organize worship tomorrow around reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden. Maybe it's not what I thought it was. I thought it was something that had to be addressed, something I've never really done with a potentially political current event. I thought this was one I just couldn't ignore, particularly the variety of responses to the initial news. But now it seems..old. Weird. It's not old at all, obviously, but things move so fast that it feels like people have moved on. Is it worth it to open it all back up? I hope this is a good decision I'm making. I just don't know anymore, but I don't want to scrape together a last minute alternate plan. We'll see what happens.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Five Word Association

From Songbird at the RevGals: It's been a busy week for me, trying to get back into the routine after a post-Easter vacation. (How did it get to be Easter 3?) So to keep it simple, here's a Word Association Friday Five, with a bonus twist for those feeling creative. First, for each of these five words -- all of which remind me of my *most* excellent vacation -- share the first word that comes to mind when you read it.

1) Airport - Atlanta
2) Baseball - Orioles
3) Art - Museum
4) Chocolate - Pastry
5) Grill - Spain

Bonus: Tell us a story that comes to mind based on one of the word pairs.

Wow! For some reason as soon as I glanced at the list of words I started thinking of my father, my bio-dad. I don't refer to him much because he has been dead for a few years and usually when I'm talking about my dad, currently or even in older stories, I'm talking about my stepdad, but those words and therefore my answers brought him to mind. I guess because they are vacation words, and summer vacations as a kid meant flying to see my father, including flying overseas a number of years when he lived in Germany while we lived in Florida. One summer we spent a month in Spain which is where the grill comes from. Most nights we cooked on the grill on the back porch of our rental house. When I get to season them I still season steaks the way my dad did several times a week on that trip, simply, with pepper, seasoned salt, and rubbed down with crushed garlic. No big stories, just a general impression.

Thanks for the nice easy one! It's been a while since I have played since Fridays are busy days with my kids who are home. I'm on my own today so it was nice to pop in!

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 6

Maybe God got it wrong. I'm a heretic, I know. But maybe God got it wrong when I got daughters. Now don't misunderstand me, I LOVE my girls. I mean, I really really love them. Last night as I was nursing Pearl to sleep, I was relishing in the moment, knowing that as she is getting close to a year old these nights are getting fewer and and farther between. I can be gone and away from her for longer periods of time because nursing isn't necessary anymore. It's more like bonus time. Anyway, I was nursing her and also waiting for her to fall asleep so I could go tuck the Princess into bed. She was lying there waiting for me, but apparently the wait got long. She was asleep when I finally got there. I turned her light off, stood on the edge of Godzilla's bed and peeked up into the top bunk. Thankfully she was close to the edge. Then I did what every mother is told to never do - - I tried to wake my sleeping "baby." It didn't work so well, but that's OK because I got one of my favorite sights - - that half sleeping and awake purely blissful smile. Love it. Absolutely love it.

Fast-forward about 11 hours and I can't even believe it's the same girl. This is when I think maybe God mixed up the order at the baby assembly line. It was breakfast time and we had gotten there a little later than I intended. There wasn't time to make the scrambled eggs LadyPrincess requested. I talked her into oatmeal and proceeded to make it. When I placed that piping hot bowl of apple cinnamon goodness in front of her all hell broke loose. I kid you not. I couldn't kid you if I wanted to because I never would have thought to make up a story where the little girl FREAKS out about the oatmeal. She wanted to open the packet and pour it in the bowl. Really. That's all. That's what I messed up. I ripped open the little paper packet and poured it in the bowl.

Drama ensued. There's was stomping of feet, slamming of doors, tears, lots of tears, screaming into a pillow, and a refusal to eat the oatmeal. Holy cow. Are you sure, God? This is what you thought I could handle?

If my mom new about my blog I'm sure she'd be cracking up right now because I am fully aware that this bugs me because I did the exact. same. thing. as a child. OK, not about oatmeal because we didn't eat oatmeal, but about anything, everything else. In fact, I remember these own irrational, emotional tantrums of my own which is exactly why I was sure God would only give me boys. Again, not that I don't like girls, just that I couldn't imagine that many emotions in one house at the same time.

I am well aware that this is just the beginning and all you well-meaning moms of teenage or older girls, please don't fall prey to the urge to tell me this is nothing compared to what is coming. I know that, and if no one else has ever told you this, hear it from me - - saying that to another mom of younger kids doesn't sound nearly as helpful and compassionate to us as it does to you.

I sent the girl off to school still completely unresolved about her oatmeal. I had given lots of hugs, let her cry on my shoulder and in my arms, but eventually she had to go. She was still crying as she walked down the front stairs of our yard. I had asked her what was really going on, what was making her sad in her heart, why was she feeling so angry. She couldn't articulate anything other than the oatmeal. A friend of mine said this morning, "Sometimes it is just about the oatmeal!" Maybe she's missing Godzilla. I don't know. I hope she's having a better day even right this second. I don't like to see her so sad, and, well, frankly, I don't know if I can handle it if she comes home still that upset.

Love my girls to death. Really I do. I LOVE them like I never knew I could, but sometimes I wonder if maybe God forgot I was supposed to get boys.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 5

This week has been kind of a mess for me in the running department. I have had the synod meeting and other conflicts that knocked me off my regular schedule. I have ended up one day short in my week of Couch to 5K. I have this obsession when I am trying to be committed to something to make sure I do each and every little step. The problem is that I need to keep progressing or I will drop it all together. I know myself. I know I can't let that happen.

I think maybe tomorrow I need to just skip the last day of the last week (3 25 minute runs) and just move on to the next week (3 28 minute runs). My 5K is only 2 weeks away, and if I lose another week I'll never get there. I seems kind of scary to just go on, but I think I need to in order to keep up.

I can't believe how close it is. I can't believe I'm almost doing it. It makes me wonder if maybe I did have the ability when I was younger. I was so convinced that I was a big, un-athletic, lazy couch dweller. Really. The message playing in my head was that I could never be physically fit; I would never be pretty in THAT way. I would never have the ability to move and be healthy and in shape.

But now I'm doing it and maybe I could have all along. I'm thrilled to be finding that out, but also a little sad. It makes me wonder if I could have or should have tried harder. I doesn't do me any good to think about it now, but it makes me wonder if my experience would have been different, better even.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 4

I can't even remember now where the conversation started last night, but I think P and I are going to go on a cruise next winter. Maybe (OK, so it's sort of a lame way to sneak the theme in, but whatever.) I'm excited. We haven't had a REAL vacation just the two of us pretty much ever. I've looked at a few possibilities on-line. I really really want to do a longer one, at least 5 nights, to the Western Caribbean. I have loved the itineraries that include Belize. I can't believe he's gone along with my little bit of planning so far, but he has.

We so need this. First of all I need to get vacation after Christmas. I have said it several times, and I haven't made it happen yet, I need to space my vacations out. Secondly, I NEED to get a break from winter next year. Thirdly, we need some time away without kiddos. It will be awesome. I'm such a dork. It's not even for sure, and it's at least 8 months away, but darn it. I'm excited. Now it better happen.

It better not be maybe

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NaMoBloPo: Maybe, Day 3

So I've been thinking about the church, the church I serve, not the church universal. Maybe I should think about that someday, too, but right now I'm on this one. I've talked and thought and preached and probably blogged about our need to find our thing, our mission, our particular way of engaging our community. We've discerned a a project that the church has gotten behind, and that's great. I think it's something we're called to do.

Maybe, though we also need to look at who we are called to be. I lament sometimes that I am the only female minister in town, besides a VERY good friend who is a part time ELCA associate pastor. On top of that there are only 5 churches out of probably about 15 that could even have female ministers. (Another question for another day is, "Why do we have 15 churches in a town of 11,000?"). The churches in this town are conservative. The Christian message folks hear is conservative. Now I don't have too much of a problem with conservative in general, but I do have a problem with judgmental and intolerant. I don't think all of our churches fall in those camps, but I do think there are some. And I do know that some are vocal.

Maybe our church needs to get vocal, too. Maybe we need to make the conscious decision to speak up about who we are and what our distinctive message is. I'm not talking about a distinctive liberal message, because we are not a uniformly liberal congregation by any means. I'd say we probably lean that direction if you average us all up in some sort of numerical fashion, but we are not all in agreement on many theological issues. Yet somehow we live together. Somehow we don't let those things get between us. Somehow we agree to disagree on the non-essentials, and are more interested in giving people are place to grow and a community in which they can belong and worship and serve.

I don't know that it has been conscious. It probably was at some point, at least somewhat during the peace process before I came. Some of our agreeing to disagree may also be "avoiding the conversation" in disguise. I can admit that. However, I think we have a good bit of groundwork already laid to develop our voice in the community as a church WITHOUT all the answers. Maybe it's time we start using that voice.

Monday, May 2, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 2

What was a I thinking deciding to try this daily blog thing in May? I should have tried February when there are fewer days. 31? I don't know if I have a chance of coming close. A blogger that I follow celebrated when she finished one month saying, roughly, that none of her posts were just random stuff to write fill in the space. I don't think I can promise that.

Maybe I'm not cut out to be a writer. Not that I'm trying to be a WRITER-writer, but maybe not I'm not cut out to be a reflective, inspiring, journaling, challenging, processing writer. And maybe that's OK.

Because when I was thinking about today's post, all i could think of was the song "Maybe" in the movie Annie. I love it - - the movie and the song. It opens the whole show. It's the song of an orphan, longing for a different life. It was from the moment I saw the movie at the age of 4 or 5 my favorite song. How depressing! I used to organize playground games of "Annie" at recess, and each game, no matter what scene we were re-enacting , would begin with my brilliant rendition of "Maybe." What was going on with me?

I could armchair-psychoanalyze that to death, but it's probably not that hard. Child experiencing divorce at a young age. Doing the parent shuffle for visitation. I felt somewhere in the middle I'm sure, and probably longed for that same image Annie did.

Or maybe I just liked how she sat up high in that window and took care of Molly when she had a nightmare.

I don't quite know where I am going with this, probably a whole lot of nowhere, but well, it's what came to mind tonight with the thought of maybe. Man, I loved that movie!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

NaBloPoMo: Maybe, Day 1

OK, so I don't have a great track record with trying to do things daily around here. Let's be honest, I don't even have a good track record. I'm going to try anyway to participate in the NaBloPoMo daily blog "challenge" for the month of May. The topic is "Maybe."

I'm starting at at difficult time of an interesting day. I just sat in the common room of the Lutheran retreat center where I'm attending a synod meeting to watch the president announce the killing of Osama bin Ladin. i know there are going to be a lot of eloquent words typed in the days ahead, but mine will not be among them. It's 11:22 p.m. as I'm starting. My baby is sleeping in a Pack 'n' Play at the foot of my bed. And I don't know what I think.

Maybe I should be celebrating with thousands (more like millions?) across this country. Maybe I should be typing up pithy judgmental statements and putting them on Twitter, berating the folks who feel this is a time to celebrate. Maybe I should pray for the families of 9/11 victims. Maybe I should be worried about the use of the word "justice" in the president's speech. Maybe I should be sad that the world has come to this.

Really I'm feeling some of all these things, and trying not to act on any of them. Sometimes I think it's just too soon to act or react. Sometimes I just have to live with things for a while. On the one hand I see and can cognitively understand the joy some people are experiencing, but on the other I am just not there. Is it because I'm a mother? Is it because no matter how horrible he may have been I just can't imagine rejoicing at the death of someone's child? I don't know.

I know that I'm not comfortable with the word justice as I'm hearing it. I hear it as a deeply theological and spiritual term, and I hope the way it's being used is as a secular term. I don't know. Maybe.

I know that I'm not comfortable with a single line in the president's speech in which he said that bin Ladin's "death should be welcomed by all who believe in peace." It wasn't the whole speech (which over all I felt was well done), but it made me cringe.

I don't know. I don't know how I am feeling about everything I have learned in the last hour or so, but I know that I'm going to have to go back home and get in the pulpit on Sunday morning and speak about this before and among the people of God I am privileged to serve. Maybe they're unsure about it all, too. Maybe I'm not the only one stuck in this tension of celebration and confusion Maybe.

Looking for Proof

John 20:19-31

"Christianity has an image problem." That's the opening line from a book released in 2007 called unChristian. "Christianity has an image problem." The book discusses research that involved polling youth and young adults from inside and outside of the church to find out just what this segment of Americans thinks about Christians. That line sums up the author's feelings upon analyzing the research. "Christianity has an image problem."

I should probably say before going too much further that I disagree with a good number of the action points the author suggests, but the research he presents and shares is invaluable. Whether we want to hear it or not, it is good for us in the church to know that those who don't come through our doors, particularly young people, think we are hypocritical, salvation-oriented rather than relationship-oriented, anti-homosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgmental. Whew. What a report card!

But this is what people are saying about us. This is what people, particularly young people, think about who and what the church is. This is what people, who have heard a little about the Jesus we worship, Christ whose name we claim, think about those of us who call ourselves Christians, and it's something to which we need to pay attention. The good news in all of this is that even if they think we're doing a poor job of mimicking him, they seem to have the right idea about Jesus. If these are their complaints about the church than at least they see that Jesus is steadfast, loving, inclusive, and forgiving. At least they can see past the way the church messes up his image. Now we just need to work on bringing ourselves in line with that image.

People are watching us. People are wondering if what we say is true, and right now anyway, people are doubting that we are who we say we are, followers of the risen Christ. They are doubting and questioning and looking for proof that the resurrection is real and that the body of Christ really is here, on earth, now. There are a lot of Thomases out there.

Thomas wasn't in the house with the rest of the disciples when Jesus came in on the evening of the resurrection. He missed the big reunion, the showing of Jesus' hands and side, the breathing of the Holy Spirit on Jesus' disciples. Thomas wasn't in that room when the proof was made visible, when Jesus spoke to them and showed them the wounds on his hands and his side. He missed seeing it with his own eyes, experiencing it with his own life.

He's gotten a bad reputation over the years. Ordinarily people don't mean it as a compliment when they call him "Doubting Thomas," but his doubting seems to me to be perfectly normal. What he heard when he returned to the disciples from wherever he was just didn't make sense. The resurrection didn't make sense. Even if he had had some kind of hint that it was coming, it is pretty unbelievable. I'd say Thomas wasn't so much of a "Doubting Thomas," but a "Questioning Thomas," a "Just want to be sure Thomas," a "I need a little proof Thomas."

That's what the people around us need, too. A lot of them are doubting, but I think the doubting starts with questioning. They need to see a little proof that these followers of Jesus are serious, that we followers of Jesus are for real. They have heard about Jesus, one way or another. They seem to understand, one way or another, that his message and his life is about love, acceptance, and forgiveness. They just need to see something that lets them know that we are about what he was about. They just need to see a little proof that Jesus is alive, that the resurrection really does mean there is new life, that his body is really real, really here, really at work in the world.

There's a pithy little statement that goes around. I haven't really discovered it's origins. It's been attributed to some famous world religious leaders, but I can't find anything to back that up. However, it is still a telling and challenging statement to Christians. "I like Jesus; it's his followers I can stand." Is that not an important thing to hear? Does that not tell us volumes about how we are perceived, how we are reflecting on ourselves and our God? There are people out there watching, waiting, looking for proof, but we don't seem to be showing them the resurrection. We don't seem to be demonstrating new life in any way that looks like good news.

Eventually, a week after the resurrection, the disciples are back in the house together. Thomas is with them this time, and even though the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them. His response to Thomas' request from the week before is one of my favorite parts of the whole story. His response is NOT one of his "Ye of little faith" moments. Jesus doesn't berate the disciple who missed his first appearance. and needed to see for himself. He doesn't chastise the one who needed a little more proof, something to see and to touch to be able to believe the resurrection is true.

That apparently is what we in the church are perceived, among other things, as doing. The people who doubt the connection of the church to Jesus are used to a kind of Christianity that yells at people who don't believe. They are used to seeing a side of the church full of deceit and false prophets, judges and overly pious, but completely disengaged "believers" They are used to being told that their questions aren't going to get them into heaven, and "ye of little faith" are in eternal trouble.

But this is NOT what Jesus says to the one who questions him, the one who doubts that he is alive. This is NOT what Jesus says to Thomas who just wants a little more proof that what everyone is saying is true. Jesus says, "Peace." Jesus invites Thomas to touch what he needs to touch, to see what he needs to see to believe. Jesus shows up ready to give Thomas whatever he can in order that Thomas will believe what is true. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed.

Earlier in this worship service, as we prepared to ordain and install new leaders in this congregation, we heard the witness of Scripture from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. The church in Corinth was a troubled church. There was bickering inside of it, debates about all sorts of things, including whose gifts for service were the best. Paul tries to impress upon the church that no one gift is more spiritual or more necessary than another.

He compares the church to a body, one body, with many different members. The foot is not any less a part of the body because it is not the hand. The ear is not less of the body because it is not an eye. The church is, Paul declares to us, the body of Christ and each of us are members of it. We are the body of Christ.

Later today we will hear New Spirit sing a song that asked "If we are the body?" The song talks about two people who come to worship who are left out for some reason or another. One is teased and mocked and she slips into a pew. Another person sinks into the back row beneath judgmental glances. "If we are the body," the song asks, "Why aren't His arms reaching, why aren't his hand healing, why aren't his words teaching?" "If we are the Body why aren't His feet going? Why is His love not showing them there is a way?"

The world, this town, even our neighborhood is full of Thomases, not who have rejected that Jesus is loving, compassionate, and forgiving, but who haven't seen proof that the church is his body. The world, this town, even our neighborhood doesn't need to hear from us or any other church that calls itself Christian, "Ye of little faith." Instead we need to show them with the works of our hands, with the walk of our feet, with the love of our hearts that Jesus is alive, that his life is our life, that his love is our love. The world, this town, even our neighborhood is waiting to see the body of Christ and the evidence of his welcoming love. Let's make it our goal to fix Christianity's image problem, even just here on our little spot on the globe, by walking with his feet, healing with his hands, reaching with his arms, and offering peace with his words and ours. Amen.