Monday, June 15, 2009

"seeds of mercy and seeds of justice"

Watching tv at the gym this morning, I learned that Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt got baptized into Christianity by Stephen Baldwin while on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! Spencer said that he saw that Stephen was surrounded by love and he was like, "Whatever you've got, I want that," and Stephen said "Jesus."

My second thought upon hearing that was, "And are you going to do the 'Give up everything and follow me' that Jesus asked of the rich young man?" But my first thought upon hearing it was, "Yes, that is supposed to be how we bring people to Christianity -- by living our lives in such a way that they say, 'Hey, what's up with that? Tell me more about that.'"

Later today, I was poking around the MethoBlog some, and I read one blogger say: "Jesus is a person. Not a product. Introduce me. Don’t sell me."

This same blogger quotes Seth Godin (from his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us):
Senator Billy Bradley defines a movement as having three elements:

1. A narrative that tells a story about who we are and the future we’re trying to build.
2. A connection between and among the leader and the tribe.
3. Something to do–the fewer limits, the better.

Too often, organizations fail to do anything but the third.
People often ask me why I do so much church (I attend worship or discussion at at least 4-5 different places each week), and I haven't come up with a better answer than, "It makes me happy" (for which articulation I have my friend Meredith D. R. to thank).

My best friend's pastor has said two things about church that have stuck with me.
1) This is not the place we pretend to be well.
2) We go to church every week because we touch the face of God.

Cambridge Welcoming Ministries is my "home" church.

Last night, Prayers of the People took twenty minutes (that doesn't include the Pastoral Prayer or the Unison Prayer, though it does include the pastor repeating each articulated prayer back to the parishioner). CWM is not a large congregation. There were probably two to three dozen people present last night. But this is the place where I offer up all the joys and concerns that are on my heart. Sometimes I forget some. Sometimes I just lift up names because the "why" is too complicated and/or too incriminating. But this is the place where I can offer up all the prayers that are on my heart. And I could do that at my morning church, too (I was recently touched when a parishioner told me that she can't remember all my friends' names, but she prays for "Elizabeth's friends"), but CWM is the place that models for me that I can list a half a dozen names, complete with explanations, and can ask for prayers for the same people week after week.

I get cranky about "Passing of the Peace" turning into socializing time (that is what Coffee Hour is for!), but the times at CWM when a hug with someone has turned into an extended catch-up session such that I don't actually get to peace the entire congregation before we are reconvened for Communion feel right.

Last night, our Closing Hymn was "Bring Forth the Kin(g)dom of God" [see here for full text]. The last line of the last verse is: "Love our journey and love our homeland: love is the kin(g)dom of God!"

True story.

And in closing, CWM's unison Closing Prayer: "All this we ask in the name of Jesus. Feed us daily; hold us fast; calm our fears; and send us forth boldly, joyfully, and ever faithful in your spirit. Amen."

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