I have been in and out a bit the past few weeks with opportunities to watch the waves roll in and out on the Northwest coast, and spending (socially distanced) time with family and friends. These moments make me realize how this season holds a unique weight and impact on our lives. Whether it is world concerns, the upcoming election, or simply household management, I feel a different kind of tiredness. Sitting on the coast, I didn’t even pick up a book. It seemed more important to watch the water ebb and flow.

As I began that trip to the ocean, I was listening to a podcast episode where the interviewer (Mark Labberton) asked the guest (Jennifer Wiseman, Astrophysicist and Astronomer) to reflect on the state of the universe. Mark set up his question by commenting on how the state of our earth, and the state of our country, are occupying so much of our thought right now, and asked “What is the state of the universe these days?” And her response struck a chord for me.

“I would say the state of the universe is that it is beautiful.”

Jennifer Wiseman on Conversing with Mark Labberton

There is so much more going on all around us than we can imagine—an active and beautiful universe, people faithfully caring for their neighbors, teachers preparing to care for their students in whatever way they can, friends sharing zucchini and broccoli from their garden. There is much to celebrate, even in the midst of a time of loss. There is an invitation to raise our eyes, receive inspiration from the beauty of our world, and continue to work for healing and hope.

So today, I offer you a couple resources of inspiration. These are the voices I’m listening to as I choose to make August a time of slow and peaceful renewal. Enjoy!

Jennifer Wiseman on Conversing with Mark Labberton
Listen to the full interview here.

StoryArc – Issue 001 – Cosmic Peace
A Christian collaborative of artists, writers, musicians, and spoken word artists assembled reflection on peace and peacemaking.

The Generosity by Luci Shaw
This new compilation of poems was released this week. Here is one for this moment. There is an invitation to read others in the excerpt at the above link.

An excerpted poem from The Generosity - a book of poems by Luci Shaw.
Shaw, Luci. The Generosity: Poems. Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, 2020.
Congregational Life

We’re In This Together

Loving God and loving neighbor are
two woven threads, bound together into
one Jesus-following life. 

Heather James

I wonder what it means to have an active theology of community. To center our Biblical understanding that we were created to live in relationship with one another in ways that serve and nourish the common good. 

I wonder what our neighborhoods would look like if we understood that the two greatest commandments were not two different tasks, but call us into one way of life. Loving God and loving neighbor are two woven threads, bound together into one Jesus-following life. 

I wonder what our cities would look like if we took seriously the call from Jeremiah to seek the peace of the city, and in its thriving to find our own well being. Is it true that if we serve the common good, we will find our own needs met and find that there is enough for all to be healthy and whole?

I wonder what the church would look like if we were to take on the struggle to center community and die to self. Maybe we would wrestle less with form, and more with function, allowing our energy, our resources, our heart, and our hope inform how we bear love into the world.

When we worship, we are tasting from the abundance of God’s table in the light of God’s presence. How can we not allow that joy, that love, to inform who we are to those around us?

I wonder what it would look like for us to work on our understanding of community.

Would we be willing to learn?

Would we be willing to find some new ways forward?

Would we joyfully put on our masks and get to work?

Want to dive deeper into a conversation about how we live life together?

Here are a few voices I’m learning from this week:

Mia Birdsong on Community as a Verb. Everything Happens Podcast with Kate Bowler.

Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity. (David W. Swanson, IVP, 2020)

Or reach out and let’s start a conversation. I’m working with pastors and churches to strategically meet this historical moment with meaningful engagement, learning, and compassion. Want to explore the possibility of working together?

Shepherd of the Hill

Beyond the Building

I recorded a brief pastoral word for the congregation where I am currently serving as the Transitional Pastor – Shepherd of the Hill PCUSA, Puyallup, WA. Sad and glad. Those are the words of the day. We might miss being together, but what an amazing opportunity to live out our call in new and powerful ways.

Worship Invitations

Worship Invitations

March 15, 2020

Welcome to Worship Invitations ~ a weekly tool assisting God’s people in loving God and loving their neighbors well during this time of social distancing.

Each week you will find a series of invitations to help support your faith journey, and to provide an alternative when corporate worship and fellowship is not possible in real space. These are things you can do with all ages, in solitude or with others.

Let us worship the Lord together!

The Word: Take a listen to this wonderful Lectio Divina podcast, Exhale, on John 15:1-5 about remaining in God’s love.   Take the opportunity to breathe as you listen and prayerfully reflect on the words.

Action:  It’s supposed to be sunny on Sunday.  If you are able, walk outside – wander in your garden, walk in a local park, wander around your neighborhood.  Breathe fresh air and give thanks for life.  Let your kids run and play.  Take in the view and enjoy the work of our Creator.  Pray for the people you pass, the neighbors in their homes, the people in your home.  Remember the words of Acts 17:28:  In God, we live and move and have our being.

Something for our Younger Ones:  Author Sally Lloyd Jones has a wonderful Lenten guide for kids that uses the stories of The Jesus Storybook Bible.  You could jump right in or double up and catch up from the beginning.   Also for adults who will be caring for children in the  coming weeks – here is an online activity resource: Hands On As We Grow.

Service:  Write a note (or email) of encouragement to someone.

Song:   Check out this version of Kyrie Eleison by Chris Tomlin.  Kyrie eleison means “Lord, Have Mercy.”

Prayer: Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep this day, and give Heaven charge over those who sleep.  Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ. Rest your weary ones. Bless your dying ones. Soothe your suffering ones.  Shield your joyous ones, and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

Friends, may the love of God the Father, the saving grace found in Jesus Christ, and the strength of the Spirit guide you and hold you in this day, and always.

Go in peace and serve the Lord with joy!