Sermon for 10/19/2014
Guest Preacher at First Moravian Church in Greensboro, NC
Proper 24, Year A/19th Sunday After Pentecost
“Seeing A Different Way”
I’m willing to take a guess that I’m not the only one here this morning that is tired… tired of political commercials, that is. Are any of you like me and just ready for those cute Christmas Commercials to start and the political ads finally to come to an end? (RAISE HANDS) I am usually one that dislikes Christmas celebrations starting before Advent, but this year, I am waiting with eager anticipation to see those cute Hershey Kisses bells play “We Wish You A Merry Christmas!” They can’t get here soon enough.
The political commercials flooding our lives right now remind us we live in a political world. We are surrounded by it. Left, Right, Conservative, Liberal, Republicans, Democrats, and everything in between. It’s on TV, the radio, in print media, on Facebook, and it’s hard to escape. It is a part of our daily lives, and times like now as the election day looms near remind us just how true this is—politics are a part of our world. This may seem like a modern invention, but in reality, our world has been under the influence and effects of politics since the beginning.
Matthew’s text this morning may look like a debate about money on the surface, and it certainly involves money, but it is also a very political text. This text brings together the Pharisees and the Herodians in the same scene. These two groups were arch-enemies—like Carolina and Duke or Republicans and Democrats today. The only thing they held in common was a desire to get Jesus out of the picture. With their common enemy of Jesus, we see them working together to trap him in a corner.
Jesus is in a lose-lose situation in today’s passage. They ask him, “Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” The Pharisees were Jews who held strictly to the Jewish law. They despised Rome’s leadership of their region. If he answers “Caesar” the Pharisees will accuse him of breaking the religious laws and denouncing the Great Commandments.
The Herodians, on the other hand, were Jews who supported the Roman Emperor or Caesar and their local leader, likely Herod Antipas. If Jesus answers “God”, the Herodians will accuse him of sedition—or trying to get people to rebel against the government. It’s a political question with political implications. Either way he answers riots would ensue. He’s between a rock and a hard place. It’s like they are asking him to choose which color blue is his favorite: Carolina or Duke, or whether he will vote for the liberal or the conservative. Neither answer will satisfy the whole crowd. He’s going to upset someone either way!
That’s when the remarkable happens. Jesus takes this difficult situation and turns it on its head. His answer “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” is radical. It moves the conversation in a totally new direction that allows Jesus to step out of the corner the Pharisees and Herodians had him backed into. He uses the contrast to answer their question, get out of the trap they set for him, and left his listeners amazed. The unexpected happened, and Jesus was able to show his listeners a radically different way that was neither a win nor loss for the two sides. It was a different way of thinking that they were not expecting. Jesus’ answer was seeking a different way of living. It is very much like the four young men in Greensboro who sat at a lunch counter and were able to change the world through non-violence. They sought a different way of living that we still see rippling through our world today.
The Isaiah text we heard this morning also presents a political message that is unexpected. This section of Isaiah was written when the Jews are being held captive in Babylon likely just before they were able to return to their homeland in Jerusalem. They are looking for God’s divine intervention to get them out of a very difficult situation—being slaves in a foreign land. The Prophet Isaiah is writing the words from God that Cyrus will be strengthened by God to be the one to deliver the people back to their homeland.
The interesting thing about Cyrus that the text does not make clear in this passage is exactly who Cyrus was. We know from history that Cyrus was the emperor, and not just any emperor, but the Emperor of Persia—or modern day Iran. He was very powerful and his empire was immense. He was not a Jew. He was a foreigner. It even says in verse 4 that “you do not acknowledge me” (NIV) or “you do not know me” (NRSV). Emperor Cyrus did not worship the God of the Jews, and yet God was able to use him to bring about God’s work. Cyrus is called God’s anointed, or Messiah in Hebrew, because he is accomplishing God’s work on earth. It is the only time in the whole of Scripture that a non-Jew is called a Messiah, and that title at the time carried a lot of social and political weight. (1)
God wants to bring about God’s kingdom on earth, and is willing to work through politics, society, leaders, and every day citizens like you and me to bring about a better, more kind, and more peaceful world. God worked through the prophets and leaders in Biblical times, and God worked through the life, death, and resurrection of God’s son Jesus Christ to teach us what heaven on earth might look like. And God continues to work in mysterious ways even today.
The world received word this past week about who the Nobel Peace Prize winners are for this year. One of these two individuals is Malala Yousafzai. She is Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for her fight for girls’ education and survived. Malala is a remarkable young woman, and the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner, who is seeking a different way in this world for the sake of the world. She shares the award with Indian children’s advocate Kailash Satyarthi, who works diligently to end child slave labor.
These two individuals are about as different as can be. They from countries that are often at odds with one another, they practice different religious—Malala is Muslim, while Kailash is Hindu, and they are young and old, female and male. And yet they will stand together and receive the Nobel Peace Prize together in December. In her speech after learning of her award, she thanked Allah, and promises to continue her work toward peace and education for all children in the world. I encourage you to watch her speech on Youtube this week. It is well-worth your time. She and Kailash have both invited their countries’ Prime Ministers to join them for the award ceremony and a time for these world leaders to speak to one another and work for a shared peace.
I read her autobiography, I Am Malala, over the summer, and was just continually amazed her prophetic words of wisdom, courage, justice, peace, and desire for education. I highly recommend the book both to learn about this remarkable 17-year-old and also to understand much about the history and culture of Pakistan, since it plays a role in our current events today. I truly believe she is one like Emperor Cyrus whom God is using to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth, whether she knows or acknowledges it. She is seeking a different way in our world, and refused to sit in the corner silently. She desires to be a politician and work for peace when she is older, and that’s one political commercial I look forward to watching.
Here are some words from Malala herself that she shared this past week (in an email to followers of her Malala Fund). She said,
“Today, I was honoured to learn I will receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
I am proud I am the first young person and first Pakistani to win this prize. It is an honour I share with Kailash Satyarthi– a hero in the fight for children globally. More than ever, our world needs more heroes like Kailash.
I believe the Nobel committee didn’t give this award to me. I believe they have done this because they believe education is the best weapon through which we can fight poverty, ignorance and terrorism. …
The road to education, peace and equality is very long. But I know millions of children are walking beside me. If we go together, we will achieve our goals and we will complete our journey. We have to walk together.
I am honoured to walk this road with Kailash. I am honoured to walk it with you.
With Gratitude and Hope,
May we all continue to seek a different way like Jesus, like Cyrus, and like Malala today. May we follow the Spirit’s mysterious work among us that leads us to find ways to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth—a Kingdom of peace and justice. A Kingdom of different ways that we can imagine—a Kingdom that don’t leave us stranded in the corner but instead allows us to find common ground to work together for love. A Kingdom that is based on love of God, love of One Another, and love of Ourselves. May we unite our hearts and seek a different way together. Amen.
(1)Jay Emerson Johnson, “Isaiah 45:1-7 Theological Perspective” in Feasting on the Word, Proper 24, pg. 170.
Final Sermon at RMC
Trinity Sunday, Year A
It is quite fitting that today’s Scripture readings are final words. These are the assigned passages for Trinity Sunday, as they both offer blessings or benedictions in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The passage in Matthew occurs after the Resurrection and gives us the final words that Jesus shared with his disciples in Galilee as he sent them out to carry on His mission in the world. In the passage from 2nd Corinthians, we hear Paul’s final words to the gathered community in Corinth.
These benedictions in Matthew and 2nd Corinthians are good words, exactly what bene-diction means–good words. Benedictions are words shared with people to affirm, encourage, and challenge those listening. Benedictions are words that send us out into the world to follow the Triune God’s leading. We think of Benedictions coming at the end of a worship gathering to send those gathered out to live God’s love in the world, but they can come at any point in the gathering, and they can come in many different circumstances. Good words are always appropriate, and they serve as reminders for us of the relationship we have with the Triune God and the relationships we have with gathered community where we are hearing these good words.
With today being Father’s Day, we are likely thinking about relationships we have with our own fathers or father-figures who have played important roles in our lives. It’s a day to think about all kinds of relationships, whether they are with family, friends, or those in our community. With today also being Trinity Sunday, we are invited to think about the relationship we have with God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I also am drawn to think about my relationship with this community where I have been called by God to serve over the past three years.
As I’ve thought about good words and the relationship I have with this community, I thought it might be fun to offer my own good words–my own benediction– to the church in Raleigh. I begin by offering my thanks to Brother Paul for providing a template in his second letter to the Corinthians.
So here goes:
Sister Suzanne, a servant of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the church of God that is in Raleigh, including all the saints throughout the Triangle:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
As I go on from this place to further service to the Moravian Church and the ministry of parenthood, Steve, my partner in ministry, and I “walk by faith, not by sight” confident that God is working for Good in all places and through all things.  We are excited about the ministries to which we have been called, and give thanks for all that you have done for us and with us in this ministry we have all shared together here in this place.
As we have been in relationship with you in this wonderful community, we give thanks that we all have grown together in our faith and devotion to Christ. Through these relationships, we have seen glimpses of God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven, knowing that it is God that is at work in and through us.
As Brother Paul said so eloquently, “For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as [servants] for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” 
I have taken this opportunity to think back over the three years we have been together serving Christ in this community, and many memories bring me great joy and thankfulness–many things fill our clay jars! There are many gifts that God has given to this community, and there are too many memories and too many people to name here!
There are many great memories of seeing Christ in the faces of those around us. I’ve seen Christ in the faces of those we’ve served while shaking hands and offering greetings in line at the Men’s Shelter. Clothing and toiletries, care and love are passed out month after month thanks to your donations. I saw Christ as I watched this community shower love on a family that showed up for worship off the street on a hot day last summer. Then we continued the hospitality to these angels in our midst as they were treated to lunch and a hotel room for the night.
I saw Christ while sitting under the big maple tree last summer at Mission Camp in Sparta. We were on our lunch break and Richard led our work team and homeowner in worship with his guitar. I also saw Christ at work in the sweet potato field as we gleaned. We had fun while helping feed our neighbors and live out our Biblical mandate.
I have been continually amazed at the generosity and care I have seen poured out here in the name of love and friendship. Whether it was an impromptu cookout to celebrate our relationship with our friends from our sister church in Costa Rica or the many, many volunteers who give so generously of their time to support mission endeavors–either through travel, donations or fundraising, I have been continually amazed at the generosity present among God’s people here.
It is a good thing when older generations pass along the faith to younger generations. Whether it is crafting for a good cause like the Blanket Bee or workshops preparing for Candle Tea, new people are introduced to the crafts traditions and stories of our faith. The Preschool is living out our Moravian heritage of education in wonderful ways. Whether it is candle making with Preschool parents or celebrating a Graduation Lovefeast in a very Moravian style, we are sharing who we are with the greater community. I give thanks for the visionaries who worked to bring the Preschool to fruition and those who will shape it in the future.
It is a blessing to learn together. Whether it is wandering the fields of Bethabara with the Confirmation class or sharing life together through small group discussions, you are forming and reforming community grounded in Christ. Mission trips provide great opportunities to learn together. I have learned so much about noticing the small details and beauty of God’s creation while listening to Kelsey’s stories about the latest “God Weed” she saw on the worksite at Mission Camp. Mission Trips share skills as everyone learns together. I remember how excited I was to learn from my fearless teacher Marty about how to finish handrails for stairs by adding pickets. I still smile thinking about when I overheard how excited Elliot at being able to finally stay up all night on the BBQ cooking crew learning skills from the masters. Watching the generations learn and explore together at the Putzing Adventures is a way to learn together and celebrate the life of the church.
Speaking of celebrating the rhythm of the church year, there are a myriad of ways that you mark the special holy-days in the life of the church. Advent wreath lightings, Christmas Around the World with the children, Ash Wednesday services, Lenten Faire, Easter rounds with the Band, Sunrise service and the customary Krispy Kreme run afterwards–these traditions gather us as a community in faith and shape our living to be more and more in synch with the larger story of Scripture. Grinning with glee, this past Good Friday I saw Georgia and her dad Wayne arrive to reset the putz during the service so it would be ready to tell the story of Good Friday as everyone left that day. A tradition is passed on to another generation lives out the rhythm yet again.
I give thanks that this community has fun together. You support one another both inside and outside the walls of this building. From movie nights to Race for the Cure, people gather to enjoy one another’s company. What a blessing to have the Relay for Life team win best Team Spirit together for the first time as a team, and for both the Race and Relay teams had so much fun they did it again the following year. From attending dance concerts, sporting events, plays and music concerts, you care for and love one another and show it in tangible ways! You have also cared for me, and I am truly grateful! From notes and emails to spam, mustard and marshmallows in my lovefeast buns, you make me smile and I give thanks every time I think of you.
It is a blessing for a church to be willing to share the resources available with those outside the community, and this congregation does that very well! The Flower Shuttle continues to blossom, and through sometimes growing pains are felt, this church is generous to allow the facilities to be shared. The Preschool, Blood Drives and our friends from Brundi worshiping with us are further examples of this stewardship of resources.
Though our relationship changes as my time here as your Associate Pastor comes to an end, I will always hold you in my heart with much love. I continually give thanks for you. I also pray that you continue to grow in your relationship with Christ and commitment to live in such a way as to bring God’s kingdom to earth here in this little corner of the world.
Now follow the leading of the Spirit in all you do. Test everything to be sure it is from God. Do not be fearful in sharing God’s love with everyone you meet. Kind words and caring actions speak volumes. Live as though others will ask why you are living the way you do so that you can invite them to know the God who calls us to live lives of love. Ask tough questions. Wrestle with what it means to be Moravians in the Triangle in the 21st Century. What is it that God is calling you to do. Where is God sending you?
Strive for understanding–especially of those most different than you. Dig deeper to know God more. Reach out farther into the community to make God’s kingdom more visible around you. Take risks to share God’s love in new ways. “I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.”  And I know the good work that God is doing here will continue as you listen together for where God is leading and sending you.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”  Amen.
 adapted from 2 Cor. 1:1-2
 2 Cor. 5:7
 2 Cor. 4:5-7
 2 Cor. 7:16
 2 Cor. 13:11-13
I received this prayer in an email today from MINemergent, a publication of Emergent Village.
A lenten prayer
Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ indwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with your presence
so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work.
William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)
(American author, educator, motivational speaker)
Sermon for 3/20/11
“Earthly Things” “Heavenly Things”
As a kid, I loved Sesame Street. In fact, I still like Sesame Street, and have an ongoing affinity for anything Muppets. Kermit has always been my favorite.
This loveable green frog hails from a swamp, where he had thousands of tadpole siblings, and has gone on to made it big in Hollywood as a movie star, or so his biography reads.  As one of the most famous Muppets, he is recognizable to many thanks to his famous song, “It’s not easy being green”, and he even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He’s also one of the most famous frogs in the world, at least I can’t think of any other well-known frogs. Frogs are amphibians since they are born in the water as tadpoles and then transform into land animals as they mature. So not only is Kermit one of the most famous frogs in the world, he might just be the most famous amphibian in the world as well. Hold this thought; we’ll come back to this again in a moment.
A verse from today’s Gospel reading from John might just be one of the most famous Bible passages in the world as well. The title “John 3:16” is seen on billboards along the road, printed on signs people hold up at stadiums, and even seen painted on people’s faces. It’s a verse I remember having to memorize as a kid in Sunday School … “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believe in him may not parish but have eternal life.” This is a good verse to remember, but let’s spend a few minutes looking into the passage that surrounds it to better understand the context and what Jesus is sharing with us.
The passage from Johns’ Gospel that we heard today tells the story of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and leader of the Jews. He travels to Jesus to ask questions of the great teacher (Rabbi in Hebrew). It’s a passage of questions and answers, though the answers seem to not be what Nicodemus was expecting to hear.
Lent is a season that invites us to ask questions. Questions about God and questions about ourselves. Frederick Buechner writes, “After being baptized by John in the Jordan, Jesus went off alone in the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it means to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.”  As I’ve contemplated this well known passage, I’ve heard this conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus to be one that asks questions about what it means to be a Christian–a follower of Jesus. Jesus hears Nicodemus’ question about how Jesus can do the signs from God and answers it by telling him what it means to enter the Kingdom of God and be a follower of God? What does it mean to be ourselves, now that we’ve encountered Jesus? Nicodemus is asking this kind of question, and from his response, the answer was not one he was expected or fully understood.
Jesus’ answer invites Nicodemus, and all of us as well, to become people who are open to the work of the Spirit to be born from above– to be born of both water and Spirit. It is an invitation to become people who are open to the work of God in and through our lives.  It is an invitation to become Kingdom of God people; people who live both earthly and heavenly lives; people who are always watching for God’s presence in the world, and when they see the effects of the Spirit at work, want to show others where God is at work around us.
As I have read this passage over and over, I notice that Jesus’ response to Nicodemus is not an either be born again or born from above, but a both/and. The word in Greek that is translated “born again” or “born from above” means both of these as well as “born anew”. It’s not either/or.  Scholars believe Jesus used this word for that very reason, though Nicodemus got stuck fixating on the one meaning he heard. Jesus also says we are to be born of water and Spirit. Not one or the other, but both. Jesus goes on to describe the movement and work of the Spirit in terms of the wind, since the Greek word can mean Spirit, wind, and breath. We know the wind is there and sense the movement of the wind in the same way we sense the movement of the Spirit. We may not see the Spirit visibly, but we know where the Spirit is at work blowing around us.
Born from above, born anew, born again… born of water and the Spirit… what is Jesus saying? What is he asking Nicodemus? As I mentioned a minute ago, I believe Jesus is inviting Nicodemus into the journey of discipleship to begin to see the Kingdom of God’s presence in his daily life. This journey is one that each of us is invited into as well. During Lent, it is good for us to explore this journey of discipleship because we must ask the tough questions about what it looks like to be a water and Spirit, born again-above-anew disciple. What does it look like to have one foot in the earthly things of life and the other stepping into the heavenly things of God and hold both of these together at the same time?
Jesus showed us this life in everything he did. He is the ultimate example of earthly-heavenly living. He is God-incarnate who came from heaven and became flesh and pitched his tent and moved into the Neighborhood as John 1 reminds us.  He is inviting each of us to try our best to live out his example in our own lives as well. Keep our eyes fixed on God and name where God is at work around us—focus on heavenly things and not neglect the earthly things as well. Live lives that are both-and—lives of water and Spirit. Live lives that make others stop and ask us why we are living that way, and we then have the wonderful opportunity to answer their questions and point out where we see God at work around us to identify God’s Kingdom here.
Maybe we can relate to Nicodemus, though. Maybe we are here in Lent asking these tough questions and are still not sure what Jesus means. How do we do that? How is it even possible? What does he mean be born of water and Spirit? How can we live lives on earth and in heaven at the same time? These may seem contradictory or paradoxical. As I thought about these questions this week, I wondered what examples we have where this type of living is possible, since it seems counter to our human understanding. Then it hit me. We are called to be amphibians.  Maybe everything I need to know I learned on Sesame Street, and maybe Kermit the Frog has something to teach us about being a disciple.
We are called to live lives of both water and Spirit. The word Amphibian in Greek means living on both sides of life and originally meant anything with two natures combined together.  This paradox of living in two worlds does exist in our world, and maybe Kermit can serve as a reminder for us that we are called to this life as well . As disciples, we are called to be amphibians and follow the moving of the wind, so to speak, and sense the Spirit, and so not stay comfortably in the swamp forever, but instead follow the path Jesus showed us and the Spirit sets before us, and grow into more and more mature amphibian disciples. We are called to be transformed—to take on this new heavenly, amphibious form as God transforms us into disciples with eyes and hearts for the work of God in our midst.
How might we live into our amphibian calling from Christ? How might we take this time during Lent to live into the earthly and heavenly worlds and follow the blowing of the Spirit in our daily lives? These Lenten days present us with an opportunity to focus our minds and hearts on God in ways that can help us remember God and seek to see the Spirit’s work in our lives. And hopefully by seeing God at work around us, we can continue to live into this dual-life as earthly and heavenly followers of Jesus, and help us to venture from the swamp into the Kingdom of God.
Maybe this earth and heaven connection involves us choosing to eat lunch with a colleague who’s been going through a rough time and offering a listening ear and even maybe a prayer for them as you look together to see where God is at work in their situation. Or maybe being an amphibian disciple involves sitting with someone on the bus on the way to or from school that looks lonely and in need of a friend. Maybe it involves listening to that voice inside encouraging you to visiting a shut-in you’ve been meaning to go see or making that phone call to an old friend to just to say hi and check in with them, or sending that get well or sympathy card that you’ve meant to send just to let someone know God cares and so do you.
For my Lenten discipline this year, I chose to take on the practice of looking for God each day and then blogging about it. It is often simple things that make me stop and notice the Spirit moving by me like the wind. It often has come in conversations with friends or a picnic lunch with the MYF youth last Sunday on a beautiful spring day. I saw the Spirit at work in the Bear Cub scouts and Parents that I spent time with last Tuesday as they worked to complete their “God and Me” program. By looking for these “Holy in the Ordinary” moments , I hope and pray that God is working in me to make me more amphibious. I believe it is true, and I look forward to Easter and the chance to look back over my 40 days of Lent and see how God has been moving in my life. If you haven’t chosen a Lenten Discipline yet, or you are willing to make room in your day, I invite you to join me. Tell a friend where you’ve seen God during the day or post it as a comment on my blog–you can find a link in my email signature—LivingOnEmmausAve.wordpress.com.
Let’s watch and look, and together see how Jesus is leading us to become more and more amphibious this Lent. It’s not easy being Green, Kermit reminds us, but by the end of his song, he decides that being green isn’t so bad after all. Maybe Lent will help us feel the same about being disciples who are on a journey to discover more and more how to live earthly and heavenly lives, it’s not easy, but it’s not so bad after all. In fact, maybe being amphibious it’s the only way we can live.
 Frederick Buechner, Whistling In The Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary (NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993) 82.
 Deborah J. Kapp, “Pastoral Perspective” in Feasting On The Word, Year A, Vol. 2, eds. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010) 70.
 The word in Greek is anothen. Translators choose on or the other since English doesn’t have an equivalent word that carries all of these meanings. Karoline M. Lewis “Exegetical Perspective” in Feasting On The Word, Year A, Vol. 2, eds. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010) 71.
 John 1:14 The Message Translation
 “Sermon Fodder” by Lindy Black, http://web.me.com/lindyblack/Sermon_Fodder/Lectionary/Entries/2011/3/20_LENT_2A.html
 Ann Weems, “Holy In The Ordinary”, Kneeling In Jerusalem (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1992) 13. This is the Poem that inspired my Lenten Practice this year.
Today I spent the morning at church participating in and co-facilitating our 2011 Planning Process. The conversation went well in our Mission Group, and many ideas were tossed around and recorded. The thing that struck me particularly was how, when the 3 groups were sharing together in the Sanctuary at the end, there was much synergy of ideas. I find this to be true evidence of the Spirit’s work in our process. There were ideas that other groups mentioned that we had also talked about, and it’s always nice to see that we were discerning the Spirit’s movements, even when we might not have been keenly aware of it! Wahoo, yeah Spirit at work!
Friday evening Steve and I went to join 8 of our MYF youth from Church, one Mom, one boyfriend, and another friend for dinner at Chick-Fil-A in Cary, and the on to Green Hope High School to see Jud in his school’s musical “Once Upon This Island”. Jud is one of our youth at church, and when the group of youth invited Steve and I to go, we were excited to get to spend time with them and show Jud our support.
I didn’t know the story beforehand. It’s a fairytale/fable from Haiti that is an adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” The Haitian peasant girl cares for and befriends the French Colonial and saves his life. They fall in love, but he is betrothed to another woman, and ends up marrying her. The peasant girl is so distraught she dies and becomes a Tree in his garden that watches over his family. It has a happy ending, and is an interesting look at cultural and societal rules in a culture that is not familiar to many Americans. The high schoolers did a fabulous job. It was beautifully done and carried a beautiful message.
I was also touched by the group of 8 from my church that wanted to attend in support of their friend. Way to go Rachel, Kelsey, Kaitlyn, Ana, Alicia, Nicole, Hannah, Adam, and Vikki (the “mom taxi” who made it possible!) This is the spirit of true Christian Community, and I am proud to know these youth! They make my heart smile, and I’m sure God’s smiling too! =)