Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dear Friends,
“God is not a boy’ s name”
Have you seen this bumper sticker?? It is on the bulletin board in our narthex near the water fountain.  What in the world does it mean and where did it come from?  You ask…Well…I am so happy you did!
Last year when I was at The General Convention 2015 as an alternate deputy, I visited most all of the booths set up in the gallery from various organizations from around the church.  And I brought LOTS of materials home.  Some of them made their way onto our bulletin boards…some from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, some from the Church in Jerusalem, and this one from the Episcopal Women’s Caucus.  I have been a             member of the EWC for many years and was happy to visit these dedicated women at their booth.
So…what does that phrase mean?  It means that God does not have to be a “he”.  God is not a boy’s name and God is not a girl’s name.  God is God. Period.  In my preaching, I try my best not to attach a pronoun to God.  ”God” usually works just as well as “he” or “she”.  It may seem obvious to some, or silly to others, but detaching the male gender from God makes a lot of sense to me.  It may seem natural to you to use the pronoun “he” for God, but to others it may be a stumbling block, conjuring up images of that bearded old man in the sky who reigns down damnation and judgment.  To others, it may remind them of an abusive father or older male in their lives, thereby getting in the way of their feeling the abundant love that God is. 
There are times in our liturgy that many, including me, substitute the word God for he.  In the opening sentence the Officiant says : “Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit” and the response is “And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever”.  It is easy to substitute ‘God’ for ‘his’ in the response and say: “and blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever”.   In the Sursum Corda (Lift up your hearts) at the beginning of the  Eucharistic Prayer the Celebrant says: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God” and the response is:  “It is right to give him thanks and praise”.  The response can be changed to: “It is right to give God thanks and praise”.  Neither of these changes affects the meaning of our words, but they can help to remind ourselves that God is neither male nor female. 
As our prayer and spiritual practices remind us that God is indeed greater than male or female, our words can support this knowing as well.  I hope that you will try these changes to the words of the Book of Common Prayer and see if they expand your mind and heart and full experience of God in worship.
We will start printing these words for you in our bulletins in December…let me know if you find it helpful to your spiritual growth and discipleship.
Wishing you a Blessed Advent,
Karin+

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Dear Friends,
“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves,                       
When our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
“Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess            
We have lost our thirst for the waters of life;        
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity.
“Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,                            
To venture on wilder seas where storms will show your mastery;  
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.”
           - The prayer of Sir Francis Drake, adventurer (1577)
This prayer, attributed to Sir Francis Drake, is found in the book, Joining Jesus on his Mission, How to be an Everyday Missionary by Greg Finke. It is a book that our vestry has read and discussed and one of the books on mission and discipleship that I read while on sabbatical leave.  The prayer spoke to me, as I believe that too often we become ‘pleased with ourselves’ and complacent, that we ‘dream too little’ and ‘sail too close to the shore’.  As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are a people sent into the world to proclaim the love, mercy and justice of God as we have found it in Jesus Christ.  That can be risky business, but it is our call.  
Greg Finke brings this idea local and begins small.  He asks us to explore what it means to be “neighborly” to those people with whom we interact at home, at work, and in our communities, extending ourselves to find out about them, be curious about their lives and responsive to what we believe God might be calling us to offer them.  Finke asks “What would be good news to these people?  What aspect of the gospel would bring some healing to their wounds and restoration to their lives?”  We don’t have to have all the answers, but it helps to be asking the questions, to be aware that God is working in the world to set things right for each human being we               encounter.  Jesus does the hard work.  We are only asked to “enjoy people; and seek, recognize and respond to what Jesus is already doing in the lives of the people we are enjoying”. 
Hmmm….that doesn’t sound too hard, does it??  If this idea intrigues you and you would like to know more about joining God’s mission right here and right now, please speak with me.  I would love to start a small group to begin to explore how we can join in with Jesus in this simple but profound way.
It’s good to be back, and I look forward to seeing you all in church and out and about very soon!
Blessings, Karin+