Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blog worth checking out below

Hi all - below is a link to a blog by a non-denominational pastor, Greg Boyd, about the tornado that hit Minneapolis during the ELCA's deliberations about human sexuality.

People interpreted that tornado in every way possible, from 'God was angry' to... 'the Holy Spirit descended in a powerful way.'

I appreciated Pastor Boyd's perspective and thought I'd pass it along. Let me know what you think.

Peace, Pr Sarah

Sunday, August 23, 2009

From Bishop Hanson re: the assembly

Hi - as promised in church, I'm posting the link to Bishop Hanson's address to the church at the end of the conversations and decisions about how our church understands human sexuality, esp as it influences fitness for leadership in the church.

I found Bishop Hanson's presence throughout the assembly remarkably pastoral and caring. (I watched much of the gathering online at

I encourage you to watch his message.

Also, a member of our congregation was a delegate at the assembly and she blogged about it. Her blog, as her vote, represents her views and opinions and is not meant to represent of our congregation which is varied on this issue. I found her blog to be wise and faithful reading that helped me understand what went on for our church last week. I encourage you to read that as well by clicking here.

Peace and joy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

thankfully, we don't have ballots with chads

Just a quick report: the Sexuality Statement passed by the narrowest of margins. Literally. One vote. This statement required a 2/3 majority. The numbers were 338 against, 676 for.

I heard from Katie, the member of Prince of Peace who is at the assembly. She said that it was emotional all the way around.

This was not a policy vote, those come tomorrow as a series of resolutions based on the statement. There will be updates and more extensive commentary online by tomorrow, as well as portions of the plenary session that led up to the vote there too:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

elca lgbt...lmi?

Hi - I just tuned into the ELCA livestream of the Churchwide gathering and my ears are glad to hear us not talking about sexuality or who we will and won't ordain and who we will or will not have full communion with...but about the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.

Not that those other issues aren't important, they are. They even got us mention on the front web page of the Post (We Lutherans don't make it there too often.)

But boy, is it nice to see that we're putting some focus on helping people outside of our church. How I WISH that the thing that got us front page notice was what we've done to stop Malaria or other forms of poverty.

While we have these careful conversations about justice and community within our congregations and denominations, we are still at work to herald peace, healing and wholeness to this world. Hopefully some of the resolutions that come out of this assembly will help us refocus on those in need and help us move past what has been a necessary issue of justice, but is most certainly not our focus.

Follow the assembly at

Friday, August 14, 2009

First Fruits

Our Fruitful Field is living up to its name!

Peg just picked up our recent harvest to take to Gaithersburg Help. It's great to imagine that along with the boxes and cans of pre-packaged food, a G-burg Help client might be able to enjoy a nice salad or make salsa with fresh tomatos tonight. Thanks Peg.

We gave 3 different kinds of tomatoes, peppers, beans and carrots. More tomatoes and beans await harvest in the next few weeks, maybe a final round of lettuce and spinach, and the potatoes being grown off-site.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just do something

I've recently been in a "get things done" mode. My collection of open loops had become a tangled knot; with the Sr Pastor of our church on sabbatical, I just have to be more efficient; and in a recent conference on leadership, I was struck by how efficient good pastors need to be.

To reorganize my whole life (hah!) I've gotten the classic "Getting Things Done" (David Allen) and I love the ideas. Even if I can't quite get the book done - I'm on pg 67, it's already changed the way I work and I have high hopes.

I was in this get things done mode, when, browsing around Barnes and Noble's religion section, I was drawn to a book called "Just Do Something." It's a little book by reformed pastor Kevin DeYoung about "how to make a decision without dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, open doors, random bible verses, casting lots, liver shivers, writing in the sky, etc."

A lifetime waffler, I was hooked by the title. I've spent my share of energy asking that God's will be revealed in a way I can read clearly like a burning bush. I believe I might finally be figuring out that if I do chance to see a burning bush I should probably just call the fire department.

I read the book in one day.

Please note; I don't exactly recommend this book. It made me roll my eyes and pull out my theological filter. God's a "he"; people are "men"; and the Christian discipleship is a bit homogeneous and cleancut in a way that isn't true to my form.
He nearly lost me altogether when, in a section on marriage, he assumes that women pursue careers because they haven't gotten married. As a woman who broke off an engagement at the same time she chose to pursue a call to ministry, lines like "young women are going along with their career path because marriage doesn't seem imminent" are just a bit, uh, behind the times.

But the book's premise - that we in the "tinker generation" (thank you Robert Wuthnow) spend too much time looking for THE path to our happiness, tinkering around with decisions, careers, relationships, locations, looking for God's will, strikes a chord. Instead, DeYoung says, we should commit. Make it your life goal to love God and then "just do something." This, he says, is the faithful life.

DeYoung criticises those of us who "overspiritualize" decisions - even life-changing decisions like work and marriage. I do think these are spiritual decisions and I have high regard for the practices of Christian discernment, patience, prayer, and waiting.
But I agree that some of us who search for the spirit to work before we get our feet dirty should remember Jesus isn't looking for clean feet to wash.
From DeYoung:

"Passivity is a plague among Christians. It's not just that we don't do anything; it's that we feel spiritual for not doing anything. We imagine that our inactivity is patience and sensitivity to God's leading. At times it may be; but it's also quite possible we are just lazy...No doubt, selfish ambition is a danger for Christians, but so is complacency, listless wandering, and passivity that pawns itself off as spirituality. Perhaps our passivity is not so much waiting on God as it is an expression of the fear of man (sic); the love of the praise of man (sic), and disbelief in God's providence.
So, I've been making decisions. Starting small. When I get stuck in the inevitable rut of what to do next, I hear a little voice say "just do something." Make the bed, take the dog for a walk, write a letter, wash the dishes, send that email, buy that book, throw it out. Just do Something. And I've been amazed at the energy that flows from these decisions. And now, I've decided to just publish this with no more tinkering. Check "update blog" off my list.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Come home.

Hi - In the last 6 weeks I've been gone more than here. Workcamp took me to NY with the youth, then to South Carolina for a family reunion (read more below). A week at church and I was off to Minnesota and Wisconsin for a friend's wedding and to soak in the lake country at my parents' cabin. Wrapped it up with a conference on young clergy leadership. I'm back now, and back to blogging.

At the leadership conference, an ice-breaker was "what would be the title of your autobiography." Mine would be something about home. Coming home, being at home, feels like home. I love the prodigal son, coming home.

When I was in the Peace Corps, my father sent me a tape of his barbershop quartet singing "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is who are weary come home." I wanted to come home often, but home came to me.

I wrestle with the theme of home because I've had lots of them, and in having lots of them, I've risked having none.

It used to be that when I was home in MN, I felt restless and torn between wanting to be there and wanting to flee. I think it's because I didn't have a home of my own. But God gave me a home, or at least a sense of place in the world. That helps me be at home everywhere, even at home:

4425 in Robbinsdale, where my folks have lived since I was 9 mos old; their cabin in the lake country of MN; skipping rocks with my nephew; meeting up with the sibs for happy hour; joy at celebrating a best friend's wedding; fireworks on an old neighbor's lawn; welcoming an old friend's new daughter into the world; church at Peace Lutheran, Mo synod. This life is rich. And I know home.

As I biked around on my last day before getting back to the office, reacquainting myself with my home in Maryland, I was overcome with gratitude for all of these homes.

The first day back at church, someone in need of help paying the rent came to my office. In that week 3 different people contacted our church in need of housing help. People in our midst are in the swing of such difficult transitions that home feels far away.

There's a bumper sticker that advocates for the homeless often sport that reads "Jesus was homeless." There's a contrasting sentiment that Jesus had homes everywhere. Probably what he had was a sense of home, of place, of family, of belonging, that followed him everywhere and allowed him to make a home wherever he was.

People need homes. Physical, spiritual, emotional. Homes.

Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling oh sinner, come home.

Ten for Ten. Ten reasons it's great to be a pastor, in celebration of my 10 year anniversary of ordination.

I'm in there somewhere. I was ordained at Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington DC on November 10, 2007, ten years ago today. ...