Our Left Handed Baby

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When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

Rumi

The three year long gestation finally resulted in a birth – Left Hand Community Church – the life I’ve been coddling and ogling over for these long months. Saturday night we experienced our first service. As we witnessed the equally feared and anticipated moment, the Spirit was palpable. No words can describe the unfurled hope and generosity enveloping us each in the moment. We did it.

I am overcome with gratitude at our first showing. With a full sanctuary we celebrated the reality of an inclusive, affirming congregation in Boulder County. CENTRAL Longmont, a Presbyterian congregation, has welcomed us into their arms, into the fold of their space and their hearts. We have been honored to occupy their building and to offer our shared community a heartfelt expression of abundant acceptance.

I gave my first full length sermon. It felt as natural as anything else I’ve done in my life – a little bit nerve-wracking – but I was filled with anticipation and joy to share a message of generous love to my friends, family, and all those in between. I was honored to speak my story, to identify the breadcrumbs that lined my oft-assumed nonsensical path.

Never have I been called to anything of this magnitude before. The metaphor of birth is apt and complete, for this is the most akin thing to birth I’ve done since delivering my three babies into the world. And this past Saturday all we had to do was examine and count fingers and toes, we didn’t have to run diagnostic tests or fear for the viability of this Left-Handed life. We were carried, which is the only way I can describe it. All the things fell into place with a few minor, inconsequential details to work out.

I am hopeful for the life of church in America. I am excited for the new iteration of progressive Christian churches that seek to create space for the Spirit to breathe new life. I am thrilled to be on the front lines of this movement, to witness a small but mighty group of pastors and congregants who know that love is our primary task and witness to the presence of God. I am honored to be serving my community where all manner of persons may lead and teach, where we discuss matters that matter.

I dreamed of this three years ago and I will continue to dream of who we will be.  But today I want to celebrate, I want to own and recognize the remarkable beauty of this life. I want to recognize our becoming, knowing there will be bumps down the road – it’s the church for goodness sake – but today I am resting and inhaling the gratitude and exhaling the hope.

After this past year of defeat upon defeat, of witnessing the underbelly of this nation and experiencing grave disappointment in our churches and leaders, I believe I can safely say a new day is on the horizon. A new hope is being birthed. We get to witness new life.  We get to watch a new movement sweep this country and I am thrilled to be part of it.

A message of hope and inclusion, of welcome and renewal. We are not in this work to fix anyone. We are in this to love everyone, to remember our job is to bring relief to one another, and God’s job is to transform lives.

But, as I shared in my sermon, we must remain humble. We must remember to attribute credit where credit is due. We must remember from where we came. What often starts as a beautiful expression, a life-giving expression, can quickly be used to oppress some and empower others. I wonder if it is our human condition. I don’t know, but I do know I’d rather continue to ask questions than assume answers. While this tends to be an uncomfortable space, dwelling in tension, I think this is where we are to remain. When we are satisfied for too long, we stagnate. It is important to find rest, to renew, to celebrate success, and relish good work, but it is more important to grow and stretch and build and resist.

I am grateful for this new baby church body. I can’t wait to watch us grow up, to see what we will do, and I am resting from the three years of labor as I relish in this birth.

Soon we will be running to keep up with our ambling toddler, trying to anticipate the needs of each new stage. But until then, I am amazed and honored and deeply, deeply humbled.

Check us out at www.lefthandchurch.org

Do What You Do.

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“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
Dorothy Day

I’m not sure how I feel about this 2018 new year. While I’m not a huge celebrator of the holiday, I do hold the typical excitement for repurposing and reorganizing, for embarking upon new goals, for seeking ways to spend my time and/or money with greater intentionality. I don’t prefer to stray too far from my physical routine of sleep/awake cycles so partying long into the night is not something I ever choose to do with abandon. I do wish I had this skill, but alas, I do not. I am, at 45 years of age, coming to terms with the fact that I am just not that exciting.

When times are normal, one’s natural response in this season is to reflect upon the past year’s accomplishments and mishaps while anticipating new accomplishments and mitigating new mishaps in the upcoming year.

But this 2018 feels different doesn’t it? There is some collateral damage that has yet to be resolved. We are still dwelling in weird and scary times. Our nation is not in a better place when one looks to Washington. And for me, my greatest collateral damage, I lost my ability to dream. My year wasn’t horrible and I never lost sight of how fortunate I am, but I lost my levity, my dreaming. Our collective ignorance innocence was stolen wasn’t it? For those of us that claim Christianity it’s been a whopper – none of us could have predicted the bafflement and betrayal we would experience from the church bodies that raised and reared us as their own. The costs are staggering.

This deep toll on my spirit sent me inward toward 2017’s end. I pulled away from social media, deactivating my Twitter account. I am not designed to know this much information, to have this much commentary, to feel this much angst for all the suffering across the globe. No longer could I sacrifice my sanity or my presence on the altar of “remaining informed”. Instead I had to rely upon trusted friends and family to keep me abreast.

And sure enough, come New Year’s Eve, I rediscovered my ability to dream. This 1965 brick ranch has been used hard after four-and-a-half years of ownership and my favorite room still needed a fresh personal touch. And so I rolled and splattered color on the walls while Eric relocated the television and its myriad of cords and accessories. We rearranged furniture and pictures while chattering and laughing, relearning the rhythms of mundanity and physical labor. My spirit came back, I returned to me – doing what I do – making my home safe and inviting for all of us, myself included.

And this is the hope I hold for 2018. A reinvigoration, a return to doing what we do. Instead of preoccupying ourselves with the craziness that will not end, what if we take our news in doses and focus upon caring for our bodies and souls again? What if we take care of our families, neighbors, communities? What if the nuttiness of Washington is not priority but relegated to background noise? What if we detach ourselves from our laptops and phones when we get those telltale physical signs – the heaviness between the eyes alongside the restlessness and simultaneous ache for hope?

Some could claim this is a privileged position, one which I recognize and agree. Yet, our sanity and effectiveness might depend upon our ability to unplug.

I am all about being informed. I want to be a global citizen, but my mobilization occurs here, in my body, my home, my immediate community. I want to make the business of being a good neighbor, a loving partner, an attentive parent, a concerned friend, a committed citizen, a purposeful pastor my priority. My heart must continue to break for the injustices and suffering around the world, yet how can I be effective there when  things here are not as they should be?

I’m convinced it’s all about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Our energy and compassion here translates to energy and compassion there. Loaves and fishes. It’s all about the offering, the trusting. When we move forward in the confidence of our responsibility, here, now, we change the world.

I bring my loaves and fishes to the table, to the place where multiplication happens, where miracles occur and I offer my limited resources, my paltry understanding, my hunger, fatigue, and grief, my shaky joy. I bring my body and soul, believing and accepting to the core of who I am that I am beloved by the God that made me in Her image. I am cherished, held, invited to rest upon Her breast and receive. The holy ground of my fear – not a terrified fear, but a reverent fear – this holy ground is the soil of my community, the soil of my home, the ground upon which I see this world of mine. I remove my shoes for this holy ground might swallow me up if I am not humble.

As a pastor, as we bring a new expression of God’s love to our community, I tread with humility and reverence for this task. Christianity in this nation has done lasting and horrific damage – not just in recent months but over centuries. We as Christians have grave responsibilities that must never be taken lightly. The work of dismantling white supremacy, the world of restoring dignity to women, the world of affirming and honoring the lives of our LGBTQ+ communities, the work of defending our vulnerable immigrants and their families, the work of loving our least of these – all of this is our call. Here. And the task is massive. Yet, we carry our humble lunch to the feet of Jesus. Imploring, uncertain, resolute resistance.

And we plod forth confident in Love. Love for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our towns. For we are standing on holy ground, doing what we do, here, now.