Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Disorder – Sunday

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Disorder this week. Jesus insisted that every person was a beloved child of God. He disrupted the status quo. I like to have things orderly. I’m uncomfortable with the Holy Spirit blowing through the world creating disorder. We all find ways to be hateful to people who are different from us. It can be disruptive when we decide to love instead of hate. When the Spirit blows, it changes our lives. When Jesus’ disorder sounds like a relief, then, things begin to change. We forgive other people and we forgive ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit!

1.  Try to remember that each person you encounter this week is a child of God, holy and beloved. It’s hard to remember this for people who a basically unlovable. But I’m called to do it!

2.  Notice this week when you’re inclined to judge. Try leaning into curiosity instead. Ask “Why?” Ask “What if…?” Wonder about the other person’s pain.

3. Do one thing every day this week that makes you uncomfortable. As an introvert, socializing with other people always makes me uncomfortable, particularly if I have to do it too long. But today I offered to take a little boy (about 2-years-old) for a walk during lunch because his parents were obviously stressed, and he was obviously bored. I usually shy away from inserting myself into situations like that, but he enjoyed walking to the end of the pier, and looking at the water and the boats, and the jellyfish, and the other fish. Who knows what kind of mischief I’ll get into the rest of the week.


2017 Intentions – June

As I said here, I dumped my original Star Word in favor of COURAGE.

These are my intentions for the year. Let’s see how I’m doing showing COURAGE in each case.

I will resist hatred, prejudice, and evil, and speak out against all of them when I see/hear them.

  • I will resist evil, hatred, and reactionary government by signing up with Wall of Us. Each week you will receive a list of four actions you can take by writing to your elected representatives to ensure your values are being considered by the government. Some are local, some are state, and some are national. Often you will receive suggestions of products to boycott or hatred to call out.
    • I’ve consistently made phone calls – either in support of my representatives positions or to encourage them to speak out. I have both US Senators’ and my Representative’s number saved in my phone and I call, at least, weekly.
    • I’m still calling. Right now, I’m focusing on LGBT rights, global warming, and immigrant rights.
  • I’ve signed up with People Power – a grassroots organizing effort backed by the ACLU.
    • I’m on the local leadership team for People Power in Tacoma
    • I have attended a City Council meeting where they were discussing eliminating fossil fuels from our port.
    • I’ve added my neighborhood council meeting to my calendar and will try to attend.
    • I attended a Washington Won’t Discriminate training, and will be working to bring Trans-101 training to groups I can influence. I also signed this letter as Vice-Moderator of Olympia Presbytery.
  • I visited Gog-li-hi-te Wetlands at the Port of Tacoma and learned about reclamation efforts in the area. Birds and wildlife are thriving there. This is the site of an old town dump in the tide flats and it is amazing! That area was reclaimed only 5 years ago.

I will exercise regularly and eat good, healthy food.

  • I will try to get 10,000 steps a day – so far, so good, for the most part.
  • I will log my food every day (and no cheating)  – I have lost the weight I put on since the first of last May. That includes the weight I gained while traveling to see the Alabama Watters and at General Assembly. Next milestone will be when I get back to where I was when we returned from our big 50th Anniversary trip in November 2015.
  • I will cook most of the food we eat from scratch, and will be careful of extra salt and additives in any packaged foods – check, check, and check.
    • I’ve also planted green beans and squash, and the green beans have sprouted.
    • I have planted the tomato and pepper plants. (That’s the first bloom on the tomatoes).
    •  I will continue to get Blue Apron meals whenever my schedule allows me time to prepare them. If you would like to try them, send me your email in a comment, and I’ll send you three free meals (I have at least 5 sets available).

I will make personal contact with at least half of the churches in the Presbytery.

  • I will meet the pastors for coffee and a “get-to-know-you” time. So far I’ve only connected at Presbytery meetings and events.
  • I continue to attend Leadership Council, and Administrative Council meetings, Trustee meetings, Taskforce for New Worshipping Communities meetings, and meetings of the Granting Team for distributing mission money to various churches.
  • I will try to meet with the sessions and invite more participation by Ruling Elders in Presbytery meetings and commissions and committees.
  • I’m working on getting some money from the Leadership Council to subscribe to Mission Insight for the Taskforce on New Worshipping Communities. We need demographic data to explore potential new church plants in underserved areas of the Presbytery.

I will work for more racial diversity and harmony in my city and church.

  • I will encourage a dialogue between Bethany and at least one historically Black congregation – no opportunities yet, but I’m working on it.
  • Our Interfaith Dialogue has continued through May. I have attended all four sessions, one at Bethany Presbyterian Church, one at Temple Beth-El, one at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and one hosted by the Mosque at the Library. We have studied how each religion thinks about Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohamed. In July we will meet with all the other faith communities for a picnic and also for a women’s tea.
  • I’m serving on the steering committee for the next Interfaith Women’s Conference sponsored by Associated Ministries.

I will pray for Big Al as he faces decreased mobility and increasing pain from his back problems. I will try to remember that he is hurting, and not push him to do more than he is comfortable doing – I’m doing pretty well with this one, but it means I often go places and do things that leave him at home alone.

  • Al felt well enough to visit the Tall Ships Festival with me and we enjoyed a day in the sun at the waterway in Tacoma.
  • We also got to see some of the Museum of Glass that is located right by the harbor.

Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Love

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Love this week. We began with a passage from the Song of Songs 2:8-13.

Listen! It’s my lover: here he comes now,
        leaping upon the mountains,
        bounding over the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
        or a young stag.
Here he stands now,
        outside our wall,
        peering through the windows,
        peeking through the lattices.

My lover spoke and said to me,
“Rise up, my dearest,
        my fairest, and go.
Here, the winter is past;
        the rains have come and gone.
Blossoms have appeared in the land;
        the season of singing has arrived,
        and the sound of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The green fruit is on the fig tree,
        and the grapevines in bloom are fragrant.
Rise up, my dearest,
        my fairest, and go.

For many centuries, the Song of Songs was one of the most read and studied books of the Bible. And then a puritanical streak appeared in Christianity, and it fell out of favor. It is a series of erotic love poems and never mentions God, but scholars and religious people studied it as a metaphor for God’s love for humanity, and, hopefully, humanity’s love for God and each other. What if we looked at the world and every person in it with the passionate eyes we use to look at our lover? How different would the world be then?

1.  Say “I love you” to someone very day this week. This will be really hard for me. My mother and father were very private, and rarely said “I love you”, so consequently I never developed the habit. I’m pleased to see that my children have both learned to say it regularly to their spouses. I think they learned it from them.

2.  Do one thing this week to express your love for someone in a physical, tangible way. This is right in my wheelhouse. I always resonated with the duet between Tevya and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. I don’t know whether Big Al understands that when I cook and wash clothes, and try not to nag him, I’m expressing my love for him, but I am. I have always believed that love isn’t a noun, it’s a verb. You can “act love” without feeling it, but if you practice it consistently, it will become a feeling.

3. Take time each day to look at your partner and see God in them. I see God in the way Big Al listens to me, and supports me as I flit around “doing good.” His love is my underpinning, and I rely on it as I rely on God’s love.