This Messed Up Glorious Church

Put a good book in my hands, a gorgeous summer day, my patio and a Starbucks Refresher or iced tea and I am one happy camper. However this summer, I have not been able to read on my patio as much as I have wanted. That is what I get for being such a crazy traveler this summer. However I wouldn’t give up those trips for anything. So this past week I have been making up for lost time! Friday I finished the book “Orphan Train” that I sadly began last May.

Saturday morning, I picked up the next book on my pile “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church” by Rachel Held Evans. And my friends, I devoured this book. I read it in three days. Rachel’s words are words that all of us need to hear. She reminds us of the gift of God’s grace and the beauty of this glorious yet sometimes messed up church.

Church is the place where we can experience that grace, but church is more than a church building. Church is everywhere where”two or three are gathered in Christ’s name.” Church is where we experience loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. Church is every bit of it grace. Rachel captures it best when she writes:

Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near, when a meal, a story, a song, an apology, and even a failure is made holy by the presence of Jesus among us and within us. Church was alive and well long before we came up with the words relevant and missional, and church will go on long after the grass grows through our cathedral floors. The holy Trinity doesn’t need our permission to carry on in their endlessly resourceful work of making all things new. That we are invited to catch even a glimpse of the splendor is grace. All of it, every breath and every second, is grace.” (Searching For Sunday, Rachel Held Evans; P. 113)

Oh how true my friends. We are all invited to experience the gift of God’s grace. God’s grace is eucharisto and has a way of always getting through. God’s grace is always always enough! It is a gift of healing and reconciliation for all of God’s people; saints and sinners alike.

“But our God is in the business of transforming ordinary things into holy things, scraps of food into feasts and empty purification vessels into fountains of fine wine. This God God knows his way around the world, so there’s no need to fear, no need to withhold, no need to stake a claim. There’s always enough—just taste and see. There’s always and ever enough. (Searching, Rachel Held Evans, P. 157).”

The gift is that church is the one place where God invites all of us to come to the table. Church is the place where we can share in our “me toos.” Church is the place where we can come and know that we are imperfect people loved by a perfect God. And as imperfect people, we are going to stumble along the way. We are going to disagree. We are going to have to ask for God’s forgiveness. We are going to have to pick ourselves, dust ourselves off and continue to journey along. We are going to have to be continually reminded of who and whose we are.

And as God’s beloved children, we are always invited to the table; called to ‘taste and see’ what Christ has done for us. It is our call as Christ’s disciples to invite others to that table as well; to know that this table is for all of us with all of our brokenness to come and REMEMBER all Christ has done for us. I realize that is not an easy call for any of us, but that is the beauty of God’s grace, God calls us to show God’s love to one another. And in this book, Rachel continually reminds us of this glorious messed up church whose doors are open to all of God’s people.

And even still, the kingdom of God remains a mystery just beyond our grasp. It is here, and not yet, present and still to come. Consummation, whatever that means, awaits us. Until then, all we have are metaphors. All we have are almosts and not quites and wayside shrines. All we have are imperfect people in an imperfect world doing their best to produce outward signs of inward grace and stumbling along the way. All we have is this church–this lousy, screwed-up, glorious church–which by God’s grace is enough. (Searching for Sunday, P. 256)

And to that my friends, I simply say AMEN!

I am linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story and Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart.


Jesus Was All About Love!

We are all sinful beings…that is part of our human nature.

However my hope and prayer is that we can choose love over hate, life over death, etc! I understand that not all of us agree about what the President said today about gay marriage! The truth is that we aren’t all going to agree on a lot of things! (I am one who definetely agrees with the President!) However I understand where those of you who don’t agree with him are coming from!

But what makes me sad is that some people choose to call us “Bible-thumpers” etc because of what the President said. Boy that is not the case at all! I don’t know what God will say when we get to heaven and he declares his thoughts…but what I do know is that God is all about GRACE! God is about forgiveness! God is about love! Jesus tells us “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus was the one who reached out to outcasts and sinners. Jesus wasn’t afraid to go away from what the norm was.

Three years ago the church body of which I belong made a huge decision and it has not been an easy road since that decision was made(But I am so happy they made that decision!) I have several friends who are living in committeed relationships and who am I to say that they shouldnt be allowed to marry etc!They are some of the most loving and caring people I know!

What does the church look like to those outside the church who aren’t welcomed? Do you think they feel love or hate, life or death? I’m pretty sure they have a hard time coming because they don’t see love, they see hate and they don’t see life, they see death! That makes me so utterly terribly SAD!

I’m sad that we can’t agree to disagree and respect each other. What I do know though is that…


“Jesus Loves Me This I Know, For the Bible Tells Me So!”

God Is So Good!

God is so good!
God is so good!
God is so good!

All week we have been interviewing our Confirmands about their faith papers. We have been asking them, “What/Who is the church?” A lot of the times they will say the church is the building but the truth is the church is everywhere that two or three are gathered in God’s holy name! This has become more evident than ever today as Good News has been delivered to a dear friend and colleague. We have been wearing yellow in support of the type of cancer she was diagnosed with. We have been praying constantly since the news was delivered. And then this news today…In the words of another friend, I am utterly speechless! God does hear our prayers especially when so many are praying! I cant even seem to put into words how awesome and awe-some this news is! God truly is good…and amazing! God thank you for bring us hopeful and hope-filled news today!

Thanks Be To God!

How, Why and When Did I Become A Church Nerd?

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I am an ELCA Lutheran especially this past week as I have watched (via the Internet live feed) our national church gather in Orlando. When I first started watching the live feed, I found myself confessing to my friends that I truly am a church geek but then I thought to myself, “Why in the world am I a church geek and when did I become one?” And to be honest, I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened but what I can pinpoint is when I truly heard my call to serve God in this larger church known as the ELCA!

You see like most people seminary was NEVER in the books for me. It was the last thing I saw myself doing but little did I know that the Holy Spirit would show me differently. As a high school senior, living in small town ND, I was working at our local theatre a couple nights a week. But as I prepared to go off to college, I found myself looking for something that would pay me a little more substantially and that I would enjoy. My uncle suggested I go work at a local ELCA bible camp. I thought what the heck and decided to apply. The interview was the WORST interview of my life……I seriously dont think I looked at the interviewer once but rather looked the whole time at the table. However he decided to give me a chance and I went to work at that Bible camp less than 24 hours after I graduated high school. During the course of the summer, I found myself truly opening up about my mom’s struggle with a mental illness! (She had a nervous breakdown right after my sister was born when I was about three years old) After that summer, I went to college and then that next summer came to work at camp again. In the middle of the summer, we were doing mid-summer evals and the camp director told me he didnt think that I would make it last summer but he hired me thinking he would take me as long as he could take me. Then he proceeded to tell me that he couldnt get rid of me! I worked at that camp for approximately 7 summers!

After college, I always thought I would be a journalist but working at camp changed that for me. I went with a friend to tour a seminary. When I got there and stepped foot onto WTS’s campus, I felt God calling me there. I knew I wasnt called to be a pastor but felt called to be a part of this wider church and wasnt sure how that would unfold. After starting seminary, I found myself reading a book titled, “From Word to Sacrament.” As I read that book, certain phrases jumped off the page at me, “bridging church and world” “word and service” etc. Suddenly I knew that God was calling me to this new roster that I was reading about: Diaconal Ministry! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God was calling me to wash the feet of all God’s people including people like my own mother who daily struggle with this illness!

This past April I celebrated the 5th anniversary of my consecration as a Diaconal Minister! And that my friends is when I think I truly became a church nerd! It is when I finally saw myself not just as one person but a person who truly could and can make a difference not just in the church building but outside the church walls as well.

I find myself continuing to watch the online feed because I feel it is important for me to listen and ponder what the future of this church looks like. Like Reformer Martin Luther, I find myself wondering how we can reform this church in the midst of this world and context. I find myself continuing to watch because these issues are important to me and to those I care about.

I find myself watching because it makes me feel like I am a part of this national church even though I am not a delegate to the gathering in Orlando!

But most importantly, I find myself watching because we all have been freed in Christ to Serve! Praise be to God! (Sorry for the long length of this blog entry.)

All A Twitter About Being A Pebble in the Shoe of the Church and Living Lutheran

My mind is full of a scattering of thoughts today!

Thankful for those who were elected to be voting delegates at this year’s ELCA Churchwide Assembly but also wishing I was there too! I never realized how much my life has become about technology. I’ve considered myself a pretty technically savy person but as of late, I’ve realized how much more I am becoming ingrained in this technology. Internet, Twitter, Facebook, a Kindle, Blogging and the list goes on and on. Last night I found myself tweeting while watching the live stream of the ELCA churchwide assembly. Today I got up early (way early for me) to watch the live stream. Then this afternoon as I worked on stuff in my office, I found myself once again follow along on the Tweeter feed and following along/participating in the Bible Study as well. (I really should have been working on/finishing my sermon for Sunday!)It amazes me how much technology is playing into our world. No wonder this generation is so ingrained by technology. I still am not sure how I feel about technology in general; is it good or is it bad? But what I have come to realize is that it can be helpful. I am excited that even though Im not at the CWA11 I can tweet and follow along with those that are there and those that are also following on the Twitter feed. Makes me feel like a little part of me is part of what is happening in Orlando as well.

“Sometimes you just have to be a pebble in the shoe of the church!” This statement is a statement a friend shared awhile back and it makes me smile because I think it encompasses my call to “diakonia.” Sometimes, ok most of the time, I feel like Im such a stickler, pain in the butt, etc but what I’ve come to realize is that if Im not going to stand up for myself, other rostered leaders and the lay leaders of this church, who will? I understand that when guiding documents were created etc they were created with certain things in mind but like our culture, I believe the culture of the church has changed as well. Therefore I believe it is time to change the language. So for all my dear friends and colleagues in Christ who understand where Im coming from, Im sticking to my guns, “Sometimes you just have to be the pebble in the shoe of the church!”

What does it mean to “Live Lutheran?” I love that the assembly has been showing videos answering this question. They all have been fantastic and make me smile! It also has gotten me thinking about what it means for me to “Live Lutheran?” For me, Living Lutheran is living out my call to diakonia; my call to wash the feet of all God’s people. Living Lutheran is telling all to come to the living water. Living Lutheran is helping all God’s people see what it means to share his love with the world and to see how beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News. Living Lutheran is about grace, faith, hope, and the promise of the Resurrection. For in the words of WND Synod Bishop Mark Narum, We are an Easter People or in the words of Haitian Pastor Josephus Livenson Lauvanus, “We will not be defined by rubble, because we are a people of the Restoration.” In the words of the ELCA CWA11 theme, Living Lutheran is about being “Freed in Christ to Serve”; freed in Christ to serve the neighbor!!

A More Expansive and Inclusive Church

WOW!!! What can I say? The PCUSA (Presbyterian Church of the USA) now too has voted to openly allow LGTB individuals to be ordained in their church. They are now added to the growing number of mainline Protestant churches who are now allowing for LGBT individuals to be ordained in their churches! The largest—the Methodist church—is still arguing over this issue! My first response to hearing this news was “Praise be to God!” As an ELCA Lutheran, I have seen how the ELCA has struggled tremendously over this issue. However I believe that in the long-run we will be blessed by this decision. I have many friends who left seminary because they felt turned away and not welcomed. I was saddened by that because most of them have wonderful gifts for ministry and churches were missing out because they couldnt call these individuals. As I read the article posted on the NY Times, what I read was many of the feelings that were expressed and felt after the 2009 decision at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. (You can find the article here:The PCUSA Now Has Joined the ELCA and Other Protestant Churches on this Big Decision!)And yes, there are still remnents of that decision; people who still disagree and/or will never agree with what happened. And I understand where these invididuals are coming from. In fact, some of them are people I highly respect and value their opinion. However I can’t help but wonder what God or Jesus would say in the midst of all of this. As a woman called to pick up her basin and towel, I am called to pick up my basin and towel and serve all God’s people; no matter who that person is! For me, that is a essential to my call in this church! I know the PCUSA will go through some of the struggles we have been through over the last two years but in the end, I cant help but think that this will make us stronger. As I watch these events, I can’t help but realize that we are being called more and more every day to be a more expansive and inclusive church! What a gift that will be to us and the world! Praise be to God!

Teaching Confirmation

Sometimes I enjoy teaching Confirmation so much, and other times it can be such a task. Today was a great night. I had so much fun teaching my 7th graders and their mentors about the Apostles’ Creed. I played Agapes’ song “I believe.” Just a good night. I hope I can be this excited about teaching all the time. I also hope that I make a difference when I teach. Other than that, not much, enjoying the Peoples Choice Awards which I recorded, then off to bed after reading a little on my Kindle. Such a great Christmas present. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!