First off, I'd like to explain a little of what I'd like to do here, and why I want to do it.
I started this blog as a way to communicate with the Minnesota UCC (United Church of Christ) community while I was in Grand Rapids as a delegate to General Synod 27. The theme was Experience the Immersion, and I certainly did!* During that time I came to terms with my identity as a Christian and took a few huge steps in my journey to be open and honest about my faith with those around me. I come from a Congregational background of believing that "they will know we are Christians by our Love" but always moved and informed by the words carved into my church's pulpit - "I am not ashamed of the Gospel"
Now, like many of you, I am a very busy person. To get you up to date, this spring I have been working (at a UMC church as secretary), interning (at a local production company), going to school (studying film editing) and trying to fit church (CE committee) and fun (karaoke!) in, too. Don't get me wrong, I really like to be busy. But it seems that often the thing I let go first is Worship. And yes, this means not going to church and sleeping in sometimes, but it also refers to the kind of worship I want to do everyday. Taking the time to watch my cat as she rolls on the warm concrete of a sunny day. Making sure to listen between the lines when someone says they are doing well. Being present and recognizing the holy in all its varied forms.
It hit me that I was ignoring this piece of my life when I thought, "I can't give something up for lent! I don't have the time!"
um... wait, what?
But honestly, I think it was true. I was in head space to recognize the silliness of that, but not to address it.
Well, now we're approaching the Third Sunday in Easter, and I'm starting my OWN Lent.
Which reminds me... what does Lent actually mean?!
(in the Christian religion) an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches.
hmmm. and the origin is "spring"? That seems a little literal, and I'm not much for literal.
So, what is spring? Spring is a time of change, rebirth. We have had our time of WAITING in Advent, and it seems to me that Lent is our first introduction into a time of DOING. Jesus goes on a journey, he is tempted, he resists, he teaches, people learn, he is betrayed, he forgives. These are all actions, and though Lent can feel sad, it is not the sadness that encourages us to stay in bed and do nothing. Rather it is the sadness that encourages us to actively seek out joy.
So, I'm going to start my own Lent today. Here are the things I am taking on and giving up. Some may seem silly and not spiritual, but, like, giving up chocolate never seemed spiritual to me, so I guess we're even:
1)No playing computer games- used to play Sudoko occasionally as a way to clear my head, has recently become a way for me to avoid work (I will allow myself some Sudoku and crossword puzzles out of the newspaper, because I do like exercising my brain that way)
2)Blog everyday- I want to try this as a spiritual practice. I may not blog here everyday, but I will try to say where I've posted and make the connection to my personal journey when I do.
3)Do my best to say "Your Welcome" instead of "No problem" - it's a thing I do and it annoys me.
4)Smile at someone everyday and look cashier's in the eyes- that last part may sound weird, but the two go hand in hand for me. I'm rather shy and often try and avoid recognizing others, which is not only just rude, but I think not very Christian.
I think that's it. I'll let you know if I add anything, and how it's all going. And just because it goes along with the post title, and because it's on my Lent Easter 2009 mix...
*read my old posts about General Synod if you're interested. I will also be going back in 2011 to Tampa, which I am super excited about!
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I'm back at home, sitting on my bed, cuddling with my kitty... but I'm also missing Synod.
I know I should have posted something before regarding this morning's vote on the Unified Governance Resolution, but I feel less and less sure of what really happened. What I do know is that many feelings were hurt, and not just the feelings of those in opposition or partial opposition to the resolution.
At the time I was thinking, "Shouldn't we, the UCC of all churches, be able to trust each other to stand up for the rights and interests of all?" In other words, "Why can't we all just get along!?"
Unfortunately, there followed a conversation for me with another young person who's language and attitude displayed a clear lack of understanding, or even respect, of the grievances brought forth by the opposition, who were mainly People of Color. We have a long way to go in our search for true social justice and the end of racism, but I believe that if we keep our hearts on Jesus and our minds on Justice, we will some day reach a place of peace.
If you want the full story and to make your own opinions, which I encourage, go to ucc.org. (note: I'm actually posting this link even though the Monday video is not up yet. I'm guessing whoever you are that you aren't desperate to watch it on Tuesday at 10:30pm!)
You can also find all sorts of great videos on the website, including the Wrap up presentation.
This truly was such a transformative experience for me, and I hope that whoever you, and why-ever you may be reading this blog, that you get to participate in something as spiritually fulfilling for you someday.
Thank you for sticking with me. May God bless you and keep you in the palm of Her hand
And remember - "Never place a period where God has placed a comma"
Words can hardly express...
I'm at the airport now, waiting for my flight home (by way of Milwaukee). I had to leave the plenary early, which was too bad, but I only missed one and a half resolutions and one was recommended no action by the committee who looked at it. The other was an important one, in my opinion, about encouraging diversity training in public schools. There was some opposition from those that wanted the LGBT concerns kept out. After some discussion, the vote was called, which meant we had to vote on whether the discussion should continue or not.
That vote was close, so close that they had to do an actual count of yea vs. nay. I had time to vote on that, but then we had to leave, so I didn't get to vote on the actual resolution :(
But, I asked my friend Nick to text me when the vote was taken, and about halfway to the airport I got a text saying, "Vote passed." Yay!
As my fellow delegate and cab sharer and I were discussing, I shared my feeling that I can't wait for Tampa in 2011. Even though I fell into the groove by the end of the first night - making friends, finding my way around, and meeting up with fellow MN delegates - it will be nice to have a better idea of what to expect coming in so I am free to fully enjoy myself!
So many good memories, but here are a few to leave you with:
- Karaoke on the last night with a bunch of UCC YA's - including a stirring rendition of Joy To The World!
- "Carbon Neutral is death" - MN Delegate and Scientist, Phil
- Karen S-S's way of expressing confusion and frustration at the same time
- Al T's smile and humor
- My awesome roommate Jennifer and our illuminating talks - it was a blessing to have a roommate who was willing to put up with my late nights, blogging and mess!
- Abby and Jake - both with their inspirational personalities
- My new MN Conf. friends Nick, David and James
Yikes! I have so much more, but my flight is boarding! I'll try to edit this later, or at least post more!
Monday, June 29, 2009
I just realized that I never told you about the Sacred Conversations on Race or the rest of what I did on Sunday before the meeting!
Sacred Conversations on Race was an opportunity for us to go to various workshops such as Race and Daily Life, Race and Immigration, and Race and The New Generation.
I went to Race and LGBT, where we heard from a gay Episcopal minister who works at PSR (sorry, his name is escaping me). He spoke about a lot of the ways in which race, religion and sexual orientation intersect. After his lecture we had Q & A and then split up. First we split in to groups of 2
side note: the woman I sat with, totally by chance, is the successor to my current Pastor at a church in California! General Synod has been filled with these kinds of connections.
After the groups of 2, we moved to groups of 4 and then 6-8. In the groups we discussed why we had chosen to come to this Conversation and what reached out to us from the lecture and Q & A.
It was so wonderful to have this open, loving, safe space to talk about our fears and confusion surrounding the homophobia in communities of People of Color, and the racism in LGBT communities. I feel like this is one of the greatest gifts I will bring home with me, and hope that the resolution for Sacred Conversation's on Race is passed so more people within our denomination will have a chance to experience this transformative dialog.
After lunch with a new friend at a great Asian Restaurant (just finished my Tempura for lunch today), I met up with a family I met at a music festival two years ago and who I haven't seen since then! They are from Kalamazoo and were there as visitors. It was fun to see them, ad hear about their congregation, which had as many parallels as differences to my own local church.
Good afternoon from beautiful Grand Rapids Michigan!
Today we had a breakfast caucus for the Minnesota delegates, where we all shared our committee experiences. It was a blessing to hear that so many of us had swift deliberations and would have the morning free today.
Also a blessing to find out which of our delegates were on the Single Governance resolution. This is a resolution about restructuring the governance at the National Setting of the UCC, and there is a lot of controversy surrounding the decision. I am happy to report that our two delegates are two women whom I have come to know over the weekend as very intelligent, thoughtful and strong women, and I am so lad they are representing us on this committee. I know they are opening their hearts and minds to all the ways that God is moving through us during this process.
I was also able to meet Wade Zick (sp? sorry), our conference's Youth and Young Adult Ministries guy. He spoke with us about what the youth had been doing at Synod, which includes a lot of service projects along with some concerts, and -- my favorite -- a "Theological viewing of Transformers"!! (I definitely would have rather been there then in plenary!)
After our meeting those of us who still had resolutions to work on went to those meetings. For my roommate Jennifer and I, the free time allowed us to work on our sermon and sleep, respectively! In fact, I just woke up not long ago!
This afternoon we have more plenary, including the Block A and B reports, which I think may include my committee's resolutions!
Tonight we have another plenary after dinner. Then it's time to Party in Karen Smith- Sellers room! ... until 11 when the neighbors have us kicked out. Then it's on to Rumors for Karaoke in honor of my new friend Jake's 21st birthday!
Glad I got some sleep...
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Well, I had a very productive night; our group decided to go ahead with both our resolutions, releasing us from a meeting tomorrow!
We had a little difficulty moving past semantics, but as the daughter of an English major, I understand the importance of words.
Unfortunately, I still have a 6:30am caucus with the other Minnesota Delegates, so no sleeping in for me...but possibly a nap :)
I have heard from people on the Eugenics, NAFTA and Constitutional Changes committees, and they were all able to adjourn as well! Of course, all of us were and are praying for Group 6 - the Single Governance Group - that they may have open hearts and minds, knowing that we are all sisters and brothers in the body of Christ - and I hope you will pray for them as well.
The Single Governance Issue is the BIG issue this Synod. I think this provides us with the opportunity to encourage our congregations to become more involved in, and more aware of, UCC polity, and my hope is that no matter what the outcome this week, it will at least enlighten us all on the way our denomination is run.
Possible blog in the morning after caucus, so stay tuned; it's not like I'll have anything else to do!