Monday, December 17, 2012

Responding to those who experience grief

Walnut United Methodist Church and Preschool 12-17-2012
Dear Parents and Friends,
The recent tragedy in New Town Connecticut can evoke powerful emotions in us, especially grief and empathy for the families whose children and adults were victims of the shooting. As Christians, we are prompted by the Holy Spirit to respond in some way, and sometimes it is confusing to know exactly what to do or say in these very emotional laden situations. Grief is a powerful emotion we all experience and sometimes an event like this can spark memories of our own losses and we relive the emotions of grief and longing we experienced. I want to offer to you some steps dos and don’ts when it comes to responding to those in grief, I serve as Hospice chaplain and the advice I found from Ashley Davis Bush, the author of “Transcending Loss” is helpful to understand how we can respond. I remain as always available to you if you would like to talk about your feelings, and questions. –Pastor Steve
1. Don't Ignore Their Situation
Don't avoid someone or not acknowledge their loss because you don't know what to say or because you don't want to upset them. By ignoring their experience, you make them feel as if their loss doesn't matter.
Do Say Instead:
"I can't imagine what you're going through but I am so sorry for your loss."
"I am heartbroken for you."
Acknowledge their loss. If you knew the person who died, share a story about them. Grievers love to share memories and hear stories about their dear ones. If they happen to cry in your presence, that is perfectly okay! Tears are a natural way to move emotion through the body.
2. Don't Minimize or Deny Their Pain
Don't Say:
"At least you had ____ years together," or "At least they're not suffering anymore."
Either of these comments may be true, but they minimize the loss and implicitly suggest that the griever shouldn't be grieving.
"It was God's will"
(Pastor Steve: God brings resurrection to death, and grief, so we can be confident that God is there to help. However, God intends for us to have long and healthy lives, to fully embrace the gift of life, I believe God mourns with us and provides relief to the grief)
This is not the time for a theological discussion. In general, this comment does not help grievers feel better.
"He/She is in a better place now."
Perhaps... But this doesn't address the griever's loss.
"You can have other children... get remarried... You have other siblings."
These comments imply that people are replaceable, which they are not.
"Time heals all wounds."
Actually, time alone does not heal. Time plus active grief work does lead to a kind of "healing," but the loss will still be a lifelong aspect to their lives now.
Do Say Instead:
"You must miss him so much."
"It is devastating to lose a loved one."
"I can't imagine how painful it must be to lose someone you love so much."
You don't want to try to minimize their loss. You can't take away their pain. Instead, use words that validate and empathize with their pain.
3. Don't Offer Vague Attempts to Help
Don't Say:
"Let me know if I can help."
While polite, this response puts the burden of action on the griever.
"Call me if you'd like to talk."
Grievers rarely have the energy to reach out. Don't put the burden on them to call you.
(Pastor Steve: I also respect the person’s boundaries, to allow them the time and space to grief and process the loss)
Do or Say Something Concrete Instead:
"I'll call you tomorrow and we can talk if you feel up to it."
"Here is a frozen casserole to take the pressure off of dinner tomorrow night."
Just show up with a basket of cookies, a homemade dinner or a bouquet of flowers. Or show up and wash their car, mow their lawn or take care of their kids for an evening. Also call and just check in, letting them know that you're thinking about them. If they don't return your calls, don't take it personally. Some people will want a friend to listen and others would prefer to retreat. Still others may prefer the anonymity of an online support group. Either way, reach out and then respect their wishes.
4. Don't Expect Them to "Get Over It" or "Be Their Old Selves"
Don't Say:
"Isn't it time that you move on, get over this, quit wallowing?"
Grief has no time line. It's not a two-week, two-month, or even two-year process. Closure is a myth. In fact, grief is a lifelong process and is not something that you get over. Grievers must learn to live with loss and integrate it into their new experience of the world.
"When will you be your old self again?"
The answer is "never." After a major loss, an individual is irrevocably changed. Understand that they are going through a process of intense growth and change. Be patient as they discover who they are.
(Pastor Steve: Sometimes the person has a hard time on the anniversary of the death, or on a holiday that reminds us of the loss, it is important to honor a person’s decision to spend the day reflecting and honoring the loved one)
Do Say Instead:
"I know that you move forward with your dear one's love ever present in your heart."
Just because the physical form of the person has died, does not mean that the relationship has died. A new relationship is emerging, based on love and memory and spirit. Honor the fact that they will have a continuing bond with their loved one.
"I know that you're becoming a new person and I'm here for you as you grow." How they interact with the world is different now. They are growing and you want to support that process.
Know that if your heart is open, you will find words and deeds of compassion. And when words are simply inadequate, the healing power of a heartfelt HUG cannot be underestimated.
(Pastor Steve: It is okay to feel uncomfortable and at a loss, it is important to take time to ask God for wisdom and direction to how you can respond. Also, the focus is primarily on the others feelings, so it is good to have someone to bounce ideas off and feelings you have because you want to be open to the other person, and taking care of yourself allows you to be available to them. Too many times people who are good intentioned will unload their problems on the other person because they are not aware of their own grief. Talking to a pastor or counselor about your loss is important to the healing process.
God does give us the gift of feeling compassion for others in crisis. So it is only a matter of using that gift in a way that helps the other heal. This sometimes means we have to put our own emotions on hold as we listen and support the other person. But putting on hold does not mean we ignore or deny our emotions, rather finding an appropriate place and time to process what is going on in us is important work we are all called to do. Blessings, Pastor Steve)

Link to Article:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jesus is the Prince of Peace yet I wonder how the season of Christmas reflects this? If I read my inbox messages, the message is more about spending to show your love. I am spending time to reflect and soak in the peace of Christ, but it is not easy, cause there are so many pressures to run around and fulfill the expectations of others. I treasure my relationships with others, even now, especially now, and so I have decided to not go crazy this year in getting ready for Christmas. How about you? How is your wellbeing, are you frazzled or soaking up the gift of Jesus? Are you rushing about or taking time to value your relationships with others?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Deepening our Faith
For me it takes work to avoid falling into the spending craziness of the holiday shopping season.Instead, I want to deepen my faith, to understand in new ways the gift of Jesus Christ for the world. So instead of writing about all the craziness, let me say a few words about how I am attempting to deepen my relationship to Christ. I avoid watching t.v. there are many good things about the message of the t.v. shows this time of year, but for me I pick very carefully what I watch. I get easily overwhelmed with too much stimuli, so for me to choose to be quiet, and enjoy the quiet whenever and wherever I can. This means I do not keep a running soundtrack of christmas music either, but choose instead to go to live performances of music, which are much more meaningful, especially the sacred music written with the goal of deepening our faith in Christ. I consider these art dates, which connects my creative self with the Great Creator.
Second, I say no. I really appreciate all the events that happen this time of year, but I cannot be present at them all. So I pick and choose. I do not mean to hurt anyones feelings, but saying no to every event helps me appreciate the ones I say yes to even more. There are some I have to do, like sing the Messiah, cause I just have to, but there are other events like meetings which are important but can function just fine without me for this month.
Third, I plan ahead, I start planning for worship back in September, and this year added a retreat to plan the year back in October. This way I can focus on worship themes for Advent in a more restful time, rather than waiting to the last minute. I know this sounds simple, but for me it is a radical change cause I usually like to get wait to the week before to plan worship. But this year, I chose the theme and resources far ahead and it is easy to make changes, but I feel a lot less panic!
Fourth, do not read the sale circulars every week! There is so much on sale, so much offered, so many deals, I can get overwhelmed. Now I am thinking more about what the person would like and then go and find the best deal, rather than finding a great deal and then finding a person who would like it!
You may have other ideas, and I will keep adding as the season rolls round, I welcome your feedback!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Put your oxygen masks on first!

So you are on a flight and the stewardess or steward remind you that disaster can strike and so to be prepared, make sure you put on your oxygen mask first and then assist others who may need help. I do not like to think of the possibility that the plane might have difficulties with cabin pressure or air pockets, but the reality that the better prepared you are and the more familiar you are with the steps to take in case of an emergency, the better you can manage if one occurs.
The second part of putting your mask on first, means that you won't pass out trying to help someone, who won't be able to help you, cause they will be focused on getting oxygen for themselves and must rely on others to do so.
We all have a concern for those in need, those who are vulnerable, and need our assistance. Those of us in the helping professions, often give of our time and effort so unselfishly that often folks experience compassion fatigue.
Also, we all are dependent on others, for health care, for services, sometimes we are more vulnerable than we like to admit, and sometimes we notice when those we are dependent on become tired, or burned out, or in need of a break.
Taking care of ourselves does not mean ignoring the needs of others. It means to keep ourselves in the best shape, mentally, spiritually, physically, we can so we can care for others. It is okay to neglect our selves for a short while, but unless we recharge our well being, we will find our efforts do not as effective or as caring as we intended.
I have learned this the hard way when it comes to physical exercise. When I went to my doctor's appointment over the summer, I got a wake up call, if I did not take better care of my body, I would continue to have health issues that would keep me from caring for others because I would be so involved in trying to survive through ailments that would result because of my lifestyle.
So I changed and now I have been practicing a different healthy lifestyle in my exercise and eating patterns, I find I have more energy and a renewed sense of optimism. God loves us and wants us to be healthy, so we can bring health to a hurting world, will you join me in practicing healthy practices so you too can care for a world that needs healing?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cafeteria Workers

Beneath the impatience with the slow service
In the University Cafeteria
Lies a deeper impatience of the workers who
have few rights
Laboring to work, to be respected by their efforts
Despite indifference of their managers.
Who would like to turn them into machines
void of human demands for safety, hassle free environment,
A voice who finds a compassionate listener.

Beneath my disappointment with the room of my hotel not being cleaned
in time for my nap,
Lies a deeper disappointment in these workers who labor long hours
And could be fined at my hint of a problem
By those who could easily investigate allegations and deepen their fairness or not.
Who instead disperse with women who do not play their games.
Disappointing sisters, mother's women with their crass comments, beating them up with their words of cruel teasing.
Beneath my need for power to live a privileged life, as the coal mine diggers who risk their lives for a the profit of globalized businesses, who have an unending hunger for power and profit, investing little back into the communities they rape of resources and labor.
Beneath the status quo their thousands of voices crying out for respect, and fairness, equality and justice but are we willing to listen or go on overwhelmed with the responsibility we have to fight for transformation?
SPM 10-18-12

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The End is Near!!

No, I am not talking about the end of the world, I am talking about the end of the year, after Labor Day the retail industry starts they're marketing campaigns to help us spend our money for Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas. So I am thinking now about how to manage my finances and time in what is traditionally a very busy time of year for pastors. I can imagine this Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas spending season is very busy for you too. So what can we do now to help us prepare? I am going to start by thinking about what my priorities are, what really needs to be done, and what do I need to do to prepare for these events? What is my budget for these holidays? And what can I do to make sure I do not miss the meaning of each event, to remember the Saints, to give Thanks for the blessings of my life, and prepare my heart and soul for a new birth of faith? Maybe asking the questions of those who I share these days with is the best starting point, what do we want to happen, what do want to give, what do we want to receive? I know if I wait too much longer to start asking these questions, setting the priorities, before I know it I will be stressed out, tired, and broke by the end of the year! How about you?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Starting back

Starting back to work after a vacation week I feel energetic, omptomistic even, the mail is light, the emails are abundant the sermon needs to be worked, the worship crafted. I want to continue this feeling of being a part of creation, and am afraid I will submit to the conflicting demands of life and lose the peace now reestablished after a time of rest.
I wonder what causes me to fall down the pit of chaos when I am so firmly determined not to be? I would guess not being aware of the forces of doubt, despair, violence, that cause me to lose my connection to the Creator.
So to activily create, to create space, to create art, to create quiet, to create worship, to create, to create, to create is the force that helps me stay sane.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A day in the life of a pastor

Tuesday: the weather bug warns of severe hot weather until Friday, and right now I am comfortable in my home working on worship for Sunday, knowing there is a million things I should be doing since I was on vacation last week and the emails are building up and I feel like the house needs some attention, and what about those visits I have been meaning to do or the phone calls I need to make, and this is after I sat for 5 hours going through all the invitations, and check ins, and announcements from the week away that came through one sort of mail or another,and my daughter is still waiting for us to figure out how to get her back to work and the other is worried about her job, and my wife has a million things to do as well, and so writing seems just so time wasting when I need to check off my to do list those things pressing down...
Okay, it is okay God is holding me, I can see the future just ahead, and I will get there in one piece, once I breathe, once I allow for the Spirit, once I trust.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Writing consistently is a practice I am still getting used to. I realize I have not posted for a bit, and so it is time. I wonder if you too have practices that you want to do in your life, but changing your routine to include these new habits takes more time than you realize? God calls me to new ways of living all the time, but I often dig in and resist, even when I know there is a reason for changing. I continue on my self destructive ways even when I see these ways do not serve me. I wonder if it is true for you to? The good news is that Jesus is the Lord of resurrection, and even when we do not have the energy or the vision or the will to "do a new thing", when we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can be surprised what we have the energy to do.
So the habit that remains the most important is to keep open to the Spirit and how God is moving in the day. Staying open to the the Spirit requires me to observe with my soul, not just with my eyes! So for today, I pledge I will leave room in my busy schedule to listen and respond! How about you?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Living with God

This Sunday I gave my congregation two questions to chew on this week. So for those of you who were away or in another place of worship here goes:
One: Are there places we are resisting God's activity in our lives?
Two: Is there some opportunity we feel God might be inviting us to, or some challenge God may be setting for us that we find difficult to embrace or entertain?
These questions were on the Working Preacher's Blog post.
I am inviting us to look at our responses and discern how God may be working in your life this week.
For me, as I begin this new year as the pastor of the Walnut United Methodist Church, I am looking for places that God is calling me to. This means I making changes to how I spend time, where I go to meet new people, and how to care for the present needs of the congregation. I am committed to being fully present to the Spirit as it guides me, and I confess the fear I feel about stepping out into the week determined to change what is keeping me from God's mission.
How about with you? What questions are you asking, and what answers come to you? Let's continue to dialogue.Pastor STeve

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strong Opinions

I am returning from a trip to visit family and do a bit of tourism in Boston. I am glad to be home in California after sleeping in 5 different beds, spending too much money, and experiencing the stress of travel. I am still digesting the trip and wonder what the universe was teaching me about my family, about my life, about my call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I am aware of the strong opinions of others, and how these opinions translate into the lifestyle of these opinionated people. If a particular wrong has been done upon them, it is interesting how some learn from this and move on, and others hold onto the hurt and blame the other for all the wrongs of their lives, how it would have been so much better if the other had not done the harmful act.
Divorce has impacted my family in countless ways, and I find it troubling that events of 12 years ago still have not been resolved, or healed, so the hurt continues. I wonder have I held onto hurt from my life in a way that keeps me from moving forward? Do I still act like a victim? I notice watching basketball there are players who argue with the Ref's about every foul they receive. There are others who accept responsibility and move on. Do I accept my responsibility, without, dwelling indefinitely on it? Or do I wallow in self pity, and feel powerless to change? Or do I take responsibility, pray for guidance and act courageously to change? Thirdly, perhaps is to not accept any responsibility and put the blame on others. I guess I do all three, as I encounter the choices I make, and live by the choices others make as well.
I have witnessed the sadness of when the past has not been healed, so the present is poisoned by bitterness and blame. It all starts with examining my opinions, and making sure I leave room for the Spirit to work in me to change my attitude from blame to acceptance,learning to live in a fractured world.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day poem

For Mother's Day a Poem for my wife:

From Generation to Generation

Love pours forth
from one pool to another
bringing refreshment
for weary souls.

A mother's caring hands
scoop up the living water
So all her children
can drink deeply.
She trusts in God's love
to refill her heart,
So she can dip and drink
again and again,
As the world learns to provide
a safe haven for all God's children.

SPM 5/13/12

Friday, April 20, 2012

This week I have spent time in the community, networking with business people, listening to their hopes and dreams for their lives, as well as hearing some of the challenges. I am working in fact from a coffee shop, which is full of people meeting together, getting coffee, and working like me on their laptops. I have learned that the culture of discovering new places to meet, to shop, to go to church has changed. Instead of people dropping in, they often find you by a link to a subject they are interested in. For example, someone researching homelessness, might find a post by a pastor talking about how their church is responding to the issue. Based on that article they go to the church website and then read the mission statement, basic theological information and where the church is located. If that church feels like a match for what they are looking for, then they might call, or drop by to see what is going on.
What this means for us as a church is for us to invest more effort in establishing an on-line presence, and invest in this form of evangelism. It also means we have to do what we say we are doing, and as a church need to practice what we preach. People want to invest in a genuine, authentic, and meaningful community. So it starts with each of us in the church to make sure we are being who we say we are.
Otherwise people will look elsewhere. That's the challenge, that is the opportunity,
Pastor Steve
Walnut United Methodist Church
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter all over again!

What a time of great worship and joy the Easter season brings. I am grateful for the season of celebration after Lent. Our church begins with Holy Humor Sunday, and my favorite joke was about a pastor speaking to a group of second graders about resurrection. After reading from scripture one of the class asked:"What did Jesus say when he rose up out of the grave?". The pastor explained that the scripture does not record his words, but a little girl spoke up, " I know what he said when he rose up, Ta Da!". Humor helps me in times of sorrow to balance the grief, in times of seriousness to allow for the spirit to work, it times of joy to share laughter with others. Easter is all about joy, celebrating, the great gift of resurrection with the world. Dear Jesus, I celebrate the great gift of resurrection, hope that never ends. As I encounter life's challenges may I turn to you again and again to be filled with your love. Thank you for those who help me laugh and play even in the most serious moments. Amen

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Loss as a part of life

Our family has been mourning the loss of a loved one, Lil, who died two weeks ago. Lil came to live with us when the A.L.S. became too much for her to handle on her own. In the last eight months, we cared for her physical needs and surrounded her with love. The Citrus Valley Hospice team supported her and us, and our church families blessed us with prayer and strength. As I look back, I can't help to wonder if we did enough, or if there were other ways we could of made her more comfortable. This is normal in the mourning process, you perhaps have had the same kind of thoughts when you have experienced a death in your own family. Of course we could of done better given more resources, more time, more energy, however at the time we were doing the best we could, given our human imperfection. I am glad to have had the time with Lil, of how she allowed us to care for her, how we were surprised by joy in the most unexpected times. She called me her LVN in training when I would reposition her in bed so she could rest more comfortably. She would always remember to thank us, and tell us she loved us, no matter how she was feeling. It was hard to watch her body give out bit by bit, and be helpless to stop it, only provide temporary relief. I know I am forever changed by the experience, and only now can I begin to express what I feel. Without the strength of God, of our family and friends, I am not sure how I or our family could of cared for Lil, so I give thanks. I also send prayers to all of you who are caring for someone, it is not a task for the timid or the fearful. It takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage. The good news is we are never alone: God dwells with us and in us. Thank you God for your presence in my life, help me to embody your compassion so that I may care tremendously for myself, and others. Amen

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pioneers and Imagination

I am watching the program "All Creatures Great and Small" on my Kindle Fire. This program has been a favorite of mine for years, and it is fun to watch them again. James Herriot reports on the doctors of his times who have frustrations. These very caring professionals and they wished they could prevent the illnesses they saw impacting the lives of the people they served. As science improved the veterinarians were able to offer new therapy's, and interventions that improved the lives of the farmers and the animals they raised. I see a similar frustration with those of us who have special needs children, we are trying to find ways that work for our children, therapy,surgical intervention, prescriptions , etc. We are all pioneers, learning and trying and failing and sometimes succeeding, so that those who follow us will benefit from our knowledge. The key I think is to keep using our greatest gift, our creative selves. I believe we need to use our imaginations to create new strategy's that will perhaps succeed, perhaps fail, but will lead to breakthroughs. That is why support groups, both on line and in person, are helpful. For my family, members of the 18th Chromosome Society are chromosome imagineers, working to bring into the world of our beloved ones hope and joy, ways for them to live as happily as possible. This is not easy work, it is not always appreciated, but I firmly believe it will make a difference, so as Dory says" Just keep swimming, swimming". Love to all,Steve

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take Time to Be Holy

I love some of the hymns that I grew up singing, like Take Time to Be Holy, vs two is " Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; spend much time in secret with Jesus alone. By looking to Jesus, like him thou shalt be, thy friends in thy conduct his likeness shall see" ( UMH 395). As I begin the Lenten journey, taking the time to be holy means taking time to repent, to reflect and to serve.
I need to repent of those habits and attitudes that keep me from being like Jesus in thought and deed. I am not proud of those times I have acted out of selfishness, or fear, I am not happy when I do the exact opposite of what I set out to do, now is the time to be honest with myself so I can be honest in my confession.
Reflect, or connect with God is important because the world rushes on. I am often caught up in the business of the work of the church, I forget about the connection I have with God. Our church is following the Cup of our Life book by Joyce Rupp and she says, " Some days I go zooming along checking off all the 'stuff' I have on my 'to do list' and I totally forget that I am the home of God".(p.28, The Cup of our Life, Ave Maria Press, 1997) Lastly, serve, to put into practice what I discern from my prayers. Often it is the hardest step, but Jesus left the desert and served the needs of his community, so shall I with God's help.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The beginning of Lent

Fasting has been a part of the preparation of Lent ever since the early church days. The scripture reminds us that "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished." (Matthew 4:1-2) Later Jesus gives instructions on how to fast, "And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites... but when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret..." Matthew 6:16ff.
In college, we always observed a fast day on Ash Wednesday, and would donate what we would spend on food to missions,at the Ash Wednesday service we would share a meal and break the fast together. I remember how I looked forward to that meal after going all day without anything but water to drink or eat. I was reminded of how so many do not have enough to eat, and so by giving up my meals, I could offer them a small solution to their eating.
As we turn to the season of lent, I invite you to fast, perhaps going one day a week for the 40 days of lent without food, to deepen your spiritual connection to Jesus. You may not be able to go without food for that long, but perhaps you could fast from meat or some other food that would give you a sense that you were sacrificing.
We will be focusing on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, how we should act, what we should do, to remain faithful. Perhaps fasting is one way you can add to your life that will bring new understanding of the call of God.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again!

I have just returned from vacation time, and now am preparing for Lent. As I return to the work of the Walnut United Methodist Church, I am aware of how important the folks who work so hard to run the church, make sure the business is being taken care of, who sing every week in the choir etc. etc.! I serve as Pastor, with those who have dedicated their time and energy mostly on a volunteer basis to serve God. I am reminded of hiking with my fellow Boy Scouts back a few years ago. We were backpacking, and each of us took turns taking the lead. When it came my time, I set the pace I was comfortable with, but soon there came a shout from in back of me, the rest of the group was falling further and further behind. I had set a brisk pace but forgot to check to make sure everyone was still with me. So, our Troop leader talked to me about making sure when I lead a hike the rest of the people are following.
Today I am appreciative of those who lead and those who follow, and especially those who teach others how to lead effectively. I am also appreciative for God's leadership, who goes with me wherever the trail might lead.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rev, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

I was privileged to attend Boston University School of Theology for my training for ministry. I value the education I received and the experience of being in Boston, it is a great city rich with tradition and culture. I was able to take a course on the life and ministry of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who studied for his doctorate at the same school I was attending. Dr. Cartwright who taught the course had marched with Dr. King, and had a personal relationship with him. We visited the special collections section of the Library which contained items donated by the family of Dr. King, notes from speeches, telephone message pads, books , etc. This helped me to see Dr. King, as a man dedicated to God even in the face of such adversity.
From the very beginning, Rev. King saw the possibility of a kind of community that transcended "our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation," not as a far fetched ideal, but something that could be created right now in history. Dr. King walked, preached, boycotted, went to jail, endured threats on his life because he believed with all his heart and soul in the vision of a completely integrated society. A "Beloved community" of love and justice. For him this was the ideal expression of what God intended for the human race.
Unfortunately, we have not reached that ideal, there is still so much work to be done, so many walls to tear down that separate us, that oppress us. For me this means seeing each person as a child of God, beloved and precious. I may disagree with their politics, or with their actions, but to love one another as God calls us, this will lead to a beloved community becoming a reality.
This week let us renew the effort to become a beloved community where all persons are included, where love and justice prevail, and our children will thrive.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homeless and Cooperation

Today I went to a coordinating meeting for those organizations that meet the needs of the homeless in our part of the world. For me it was interesting to see the different agencies and what issues are important to each of them. The common theme was that homelessness is getting worse. For Example, veterans are becoming homeless faster than any other veterans of the past. Supporting our troops means getting together to see how we can help them adjust to life back here at home. It means bringing all our best knowledge, our best ideas, our best compassion for those who have served our country.
Churches have a big role to play, and it is time to stop arguing about who has the best church, and start finding ways to work together to meet the needs of the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, to name just a few who really need our help. And this starts with me, it starts with you. Just for today, think about how to bridge the divide between churches and synagogues, and temples etc. Let's find ways to agree to disagree about theology, and get on with changing the world.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Journey continues

As I begin the new year, I am taking time to rest from the end of the year celebrations and obligations. I have been asked by many, "How was your holidays?" It is hard for me to put into words everything that was a part of my experience of the holidays, and so I usually say, "I am recovering from Post Traumatic Christmas Syndrome!" But this tongue in cheek comment does injustice to all that happened, and what I took away from the events of December. As I take these few moments to reflect, I am grateful for the joy I experienced, the celebration of Christ's birth, the welcoming of new members, the food, the worship, seeing family, and friends, all of this added richness and depth to my life. I have a renewed sense of what is important, my relationship to God, to my fellow humans, and also my four legged friends. I also have taken the time to evaluate what I need to keep doing and what I can let go of as I continue the journey into 2012. Now I am looking at what goals I have for this year, stay tuned for more discussion of this process and please accept my thanks for reading this blog, and responding to it, I treasure your thoughts!
-Pastor STeve