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Showing posts from 2017

alter.

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We are coming of age.
My classmates, my colleagues, my peers.
We are naming things that need to be named and elbowing our way into the public square. We are getting published and giving Ted Talks and recording albums.

We grew up on the sidelines while fundamental Christian voices dominate the public square, but we've been tagging in for about a decade now. So many people do not have language for their theology and theology for their values. And that's on us. It is practiced and gifted and sung and spoken and prayed and confessed in our Sanctuaries, but it is missing in bookstores and on radio stations that sell mostly damnation, emotional highs, and self-help.

I am soaking in the work of my generation's Christian leaders: children's books, memoirs, devotionals, articles, poetry, music, spoken word, and visual art. There's good stuff out there!

Here's one more log on the Holy Spirit's bonfire.  I've been writing and storytelling and praying with three fa…

public vulnerability.

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I met with parents of confirmation students last night. They asked how to engage scripture so that we hear the call to the public square and know where to show up. I blabbed on for awhile and I'm not sure I said anything of great use in that moment. A day later, I'm still thinking about that question and more practical ideas have been swimming by my brain.

1. Fail hard. You won't always be in the right place at the right time. Prophetic, active, embodied faith requires practice and risk and looking a fool most of the time. And that's okay. There are no Division 1 scholarships on the line here. Like St. Daniel the Tiger says, "Keep on trying - you'll get beh-et-ter."

2. Focus in. Choose a few issues that matter deeply to you. Spend time learning about the intersections of that issue - the demographics most affected, the funding barriers, the stereotypes, and the people already showing up and being loud. You can't save the whole world and fight every f…

complicated.

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He was the first person who told me I'd become a pastor someday.

I was 12 and it came across as a cheap insult. I hated him for it because I'd never seen or heard a female pastor and thought that meant I would have to imitate men instead of being myself.  But I also loved him for it because I knew he meant to get me dreaming big about my faith and vocation. He was a great pastor and mentor. I can still remember him standing on the stretch of sidewalk between the race track and the sanctuary, his alb blowing in the ocean breeze. He greeted everyone by name and handshake, personable and intensely funny.

He stayed in good touch with our family after we moved back to Minnesota and would visit from time to time. He corresponded with me and my brothers through snail mail, cheering us on while we grew up.

But in college I got a strange farewell email and then news that there was a warrant out for his arrest. For more than a dozen years he'd been manipulating family systems and se…

Naaman.

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Cain.

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Now when Adam and Eve knew each other, she conceived and bore a son they named Cain, which means the sum of what they made and had (to produce). Cain was a farmer who cared for the land and his brother Abel watched over the flocks of animals. When the young men made sacrifices to God, Abel's was regarded but Cain's was not received with the same appreciation. 

When you are named for what you produce, your output can become confused with your identity. God's silence was deafening and unbearable for Cain. The scriptures say his countenance fell. Composure and mental stability were lost without praise for his harvest.

It was enough to unravel his sense of self, his loyalty to kin, his faith in God, and his stewardship of creation. While Cain knew how to produce and strive, he did not know how to feel or fail. And so, he began to live and act out of his mind. He lured his brother to the fields and murdered him in a jealous rage. As Abel's blood soaked into the earth, Cain li…

red lantern.

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We woke up to more tragedy today. Bullets rained down on concert goers in Las Vegas last night. It's a new layer of raw disbelief and painful grief for this country. We are on fire and flooded. Some lack clean drinking water and others are strung out on opioids. Kneeling is seen as an assault on patriotism while white supremacy by torchlight is called complicated. We are simultaneously isolated and at each other's throats. Lord, have mercy.

I am a person who feels things. I feel the weight of PTSD renewed in a political climate that validates rape culture. I feel the responsibility that comes with privilege as a middle class, straight, white person. I feel the stress of parenthood in a social moment that aches for a new generation equipped with courage, empathy, and kindness. I feel the power and urgency of the gospel so that I often sound idealistic because I am - I believe in the Kingdom of God in our midst. It's annoying and exhausting and awesome.

This week I have rece…

careful | care full

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When men gather under the guise of clarifying scripture
     to confine the creative mercy of God
Careful.

When those inside the box make demands
     of those beyond plain categories
Careful.

When disciples draw lines in the sand
     assuming Jesus stands beside them in division
Careful.

When people of faith claim that scripture requires
     identity denied and justice misallocated
Careful.

When religious leaders corner a market on what is biblical
     contorting the beautiful mysteries of God's image
Careful.

When some in power demand that others without
     normalize as though dignity is a scarce or sly
Careful.



When God formed the first humans from dust and bone,
     images of God called very good, but not everything or perfection
Care Full.

When God worked for good through all kinds of
     broken and blessed relationships throughout scripture
Care Full.

When God moves through the timeless snares of sexual violence and economy
    to declare delight, value, and belonging…

the children.

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Last August I found myself in a conversation about race and skin color with my five year old. We were reading the children's book "The Skin You Live In", marveling at the many ways to be beautiful.  He asked why there are so many different colors of people. Probably because we have a very creative God who knows how to make beauty lots of different ways. We are all holy and worthy of the same love because we all look like God. 

I was so tempted to stop here, only describing the palate of color and not the weaponized brushes we've used to paint evil and division, the many ways we've always been at war with God's own image. But it was high time. If I protect my son from the truth about racism because I think he's too young, that's my privilege copping out. Every black and brown baby heading to Kindergarten would already know something about racism because their families don't have the luxury of putting it off.

Do you think God has a favorite color of …

shopping.

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I've been watching people church shop every Sunday for 11 years. So we'll call this "easily inspired fiction". 

You notice the parking signs for visitors the pollinator-friendly gardens baskets half filled for the food pantry the paint chipping on the widow sills the silk flowers on the bathroom counter.
It matters, the space that greets you  while you stomp snow from your feet or you move your sunglasses from your eyes atop your head. Do need to navigate hallways and offices or are you thrust nervously into a narrow narthex?
The hunt is on.
The people notice you with affection, warmth, and curiosity or desperation, skepticism, and fatigue or not at all.
Writing in a dusty guestbook would be like signing up for spam mail. The edge of your sticky name tag begins to curl, appalled by your shirt. You considered writing,  "Settle down, we're just visiting" or a pseudonym. 
Your children are sized up the nursery is eagerly suggested while they cling to your l…

collision.

Today was my ordination anniversary. It's a strange holiday that few in a pastor's life know how to celebrate, or if to celebrate at all.

Congratulations on your mystical promises!
Happy covenanting.
Proud of your weird call.
No one rocks a stole like you do.

I'm not sure what the right greeting card would say. Which reminds me that this vocation often implies solitude. We are set apart for something and it doesn't always make sense. And so I usually mark the occasion by taking myself out to a nice lunch or disappearing for some self-care at the salon or the gym.

This is the third year I have shared my anniversary with Solveig and Tove's baptism birthday. It's almost too cute, these vocations of pastor and mother mingling on the calendar. In real life, it's kind of a shit show. A real collision of sorts.

Yesterday we returned home from a state park family vacation where my motherhood cup had runneth over. I was itching to get back to work and a schedule, but re…

marked.

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Some of you know I just returned from ten days in Leipzig, Germany with a delegation of parish pastors in the Minneapolis Area Synod. Bishop Ann recruited this ragtag group of young clergy to help renew our partnership with the Lutheran Church in Leipzig. The potential for relationship and collaboration is great, especially as our countries face similar waves of conservative nationalism and refugee migration.

While I knew plenty of history about Germany related to the World Wars, I was less familiar with the GDR's communist regime and the church-ed Peaceful Revolution that crumbled a wall when I was in 5th grade. The pastors of Leipzig hosted us in their homes and congregations for part of this trip, which provided amble opportunity to learn their own stories. They were coming of age in the late 80s and early 90s, most of them 10 or 15 years older than me. Most of them grew up in Dresden and Leipzig, their families active members of congregations that participated in non-violent r…