Thursday, June 28, 2012
My father used to sit on the end of my bed and animatedly read stories to me before our prayers and goodnight kisses. I remember those tales vividly because they permanently infected my imagination and informed my faith. I carry Lewis Carroll’s magic with me from his masterpieces, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. “Beware the Jabberwok my friend, the jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!” and “Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,” and “But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” I hold onto the belief that God’s heavenly Kingdom is like the magical, but dangerous, land at the bottom of the rabbit’s hole and on the other side of the mirror. I instinctively know that playing with language is good for your health, and I believe that it is especially important to imagine different ways of seeing the world around us. Did my father’s theatric reading teach me this? Or was it Lewis Carroll’s artistry? Or maybe it was my young imagination, coupled with the power of words. Throughout Pentecost we have the opportunity to hear some incredible stories from First and Second Samuel. One of the highlights of our Revised Common Lectionary is the continuity of story-line running through our Sunday lessons from Hebrew Scripture. This summer we will hear of the kingships of Saul and David, of the dangers of power and the depth of love binding David and Jonathan; of the horrors of war and of David’s shattering grief when he loses a favorite child. These stories are part of our heritage and had a huge effect on the writers of the New Testament. I invite you all to listen on Sunday, as these stories are read from the lectern, and let them play with your imagination. Maybe they will trouble and fascinate you. Maybe they will haunt you. Maybe they will guide you back to your family bible. Maybe you will read them to your children.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
I grew up in southern California where I had a favorite climbing tree right across the street from my front yard. In its branches I felt invisible, light as a feather, and wise. I looked down on unsuspecting neighbors and pretended I didn't hear my mother calling me in for dinner. I climbed the tree with such confidence and familiarity that it was like sliding effortlessly up into the clouds. I took a favorite book with me and read, undisturbed, for hours. I gained perspective on my life, escaped from doing my chores, and treasured the nuances of life in a tree. As I write this I am gazing across the yard to Zion Church. My new home in the Rectory gives me a perspective of the church that reminds me of being in my tree. I watch the setting sun radiate light onto the bell tower and I see stars beckoning me to travel beyond the rooflines. Day after tomorrow is Ascension Day, when Jesus departs from his friends in order to complete and fulfill his mission with us. I try to see things, every now and then, as he must have when he left his dearest friends for the last time. How little they understood of all he told them. How desperately they needed to see things from his perspective. From above we all look so lovable, and so capable of loving. He shows us the way. He beckons us to rise above it all, pause for a moment and gain perspective on our simple lives. From above it looks doable. Why must we make things so complicated?
Prayer Space: As I unpack boxes and sort through hangers, wadded-up newspaper and bubble wrap I find gratitude continually bubbling up in my heart. The people of Zion have enveloped me in a cloud of hospitality and gracious good will that is both heartfelt and ebullient. Thank you to all of you who are welcoming me so heartily to your home at Zion. It is so good to feel welcome after being so recently uprooted from my home in Augusta, GA. After packing boxes for over a month I finally got to the point where I had to pack up my prayer space for the move up north. It was only then that I began to feel anxious and without an anchor. I am used to having a prayer space in my home, where I know I can go to sit in quiet and hear the voice of God breaking through all my business and routine. I pray more regularly and effectively when I have a designated time and place to say my prayers. I fill this space with items that remind me of Christ and why I turn to him for guidance. I have a comfortable chair (an old rocker) with a cushion for my back and a blanket for my knees. I keep my favorite meditation and prayer books near at hand. In fact I have so many favorites that I need a small bookcase in my prayer spot. I have a candle, so that I can light my own "light of Christ". I have a Buddhist prayer bell (brought to my family from a cousin living in Nepal), and icons I "wrote" in a Russian iconography workshop. Light is important to me, so I sit near a window. This prayer space is where I let God knit me together and unravel the mistakes. Without it I feel a bit lost. I find myself looking around for where I might find it again. My new home in the rectory is beautifully furnished and lovingly cleaned and curtained. It is now ready for my prayer space, as soon as God and I figure out where it is going to be. Where is your place for prayer? Do you feel safe there? How do you let your family know that you need to go there? When will you create one? "For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him." (Ps 62:6a)
Dear People of Zion, It is with much joy that I write to you from my home in Augusta, GA. We have all been on a long journey, trusting that the search process would eventually come to an end, and that the Holy Spirit would guide our hearts and minds to choose unhurriedly and wisely. Our hard work culminated in an extended interview process where your search committee and vestry believed they were being guided by the Holy Spirit to call me as your new Priest-in-Charge. They were not alone in this feeling. I, too, believed that God was gently pushing me into embracing this new ministry with all of you. We are now, finally, entering the borderlands together. The moment we all agreed to begin this new ministry together we took a communal step into a new territory. This place has been called by many names - the borderlands, a threshold, a liminal place - with expectations, language, and behaviors that make us all very aware that we are not in Kansas anymore. What makes this time and place so very special is the knowledge that God desires nothing more than that we should get to know each other. Simply that. I told both the vestry and the search committee that the key to the future of Zion lies in the stories of your shared past. My job, in this new borderland, is to listen to your stories and get to know you. I cannot do my ministry without knowing who I am ministering with. And yes, you read that correctly. We are all called to be the ministers and missioners of the Word of God. Your job is to remember why you came to Zion, why you stayed, what you love, or loved, most about this parish, and what your dreams are for the future. We will remain in these borderlands of story-telling, dream-sharing, and communal worship and praise until God nudges us to begin using our gifts to spread the Gospel. I pray that God will guide us, care for us, and fill us with peace as we step into this threshold together and make a new community. In Christ, Magdalene+