Friday, August 23, 2013

a day in the lfe of...

I am getting a good glimpse into the life of young families these days. Up at 3:00 am with a two year old, assuring her that everyone is ok and that it is not yet time to get out of bed. Then up at 5:30 am with a two year old that just cannot sleep any longer no matter how much you try to convince her that it is still dark outside. Breakfast is on the go between getting ready for school, packing lunches and coaxing a two year old that she needs to get out of her PJs and dressed for the day. Everyone is out the door at 7:15 am for work and day care. When everyone gets home at 6:00 pm, there is dinner to prepare for family members who are famished from the day’s work and play. After a few moments over dinner (that came from a cookbook titled, Healthy Meals in 20 Minutes) there is some playtime with Daddy and Mommy, a walk for the dog, then it is bath time and everyone is off to bed to start the day again in the morning. (After writing this I had to go and take a nap, I am exhausted. I did not mention how the mounds of laundry, cutting the grass, cleaning the house finds time to fit into this schedule.) In the midst of this schedule, which I don’t think is unique, I am asking myself; how does the church’s activities best fit into this schedule? How can the church provide a place of rest and give people a place where they can experience the spirit of God in the midst of the day-to-day schedules that capture so much of our energy. This is the reality of today’s world into which the church must find itself offering the healing grace of God’s love. The church should not be asking for people to conform their schedules to the church’s but rather how does the church offer moments of reflections on the things of God that conforms to these busy and often sleep deprived schedules. I also know that all of us have schedule that are often consuming, leaving the church in today's world with the same questions around its relevance in our time. Perhaps Diana Butler Bass is on to something in her contemplation chapter?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Circle of Mercy - a peace church

Diana Butler Bass quotes Parker Palmer in her chapter on healing saying: “The gift we receive on the inner journey is the insight that the universe is working together for good…The structure of reality is not the structure of a battle…harmony is more fundamental than warfare in the nature of reality.” With that quote lodged in my mind, Barry and I will be visiting a “peace church” here in Asheville tomorrow. The service is a 5:30 and is followed by a potluck meal shared by the community. From what I read on their web-site, this church works to embody the reality of God's yearning for peace in the world. Their statement about their commitments is found at their web link: Their statement is a compelling commitment to being agents of healing in the world. It will be interesting to see in person how they live out this counter-cultural witness here in Asheville and who is coming to be a part of this community. In a part of the world that is saturated with guns, their counter witness itself is an act of courage. Circle of Mercy (even the name stirs up imagine of healing) is a congregation that is affiliated with the Alliance of Baptist and the United Church of Christ. Their website is:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What I learned at Seeds of Peace Camp

Last week, one child I encountered was my best teacher. This child was one who I least expected to be excited about the Seeds of Peace Camp at Land of the Sky UCC Church was a rough and tumble, hair in shambles child, who was thin as a rail, but looked as tough as nails. When I first encountered him in music, he popped out of the crowd of kids as a child who I labeled as someone who was not going to enjoy singing our cute little songs. He just did not look the angelic choir child type. It was to my great surprise on the second day of music, he said, “this is really a lot of fun, I love our camp, playing with all my friends, singing and hearing stories about God.” It was at that point that I said to myself; “see John, you cannot, dismiss anyone; everyone is full of possibilities, inquisitivenesses and surprises and each person is unique in their spiritual journey. The week at the camp was filled with amazing energy and as we mixed fun games, cute songs, playtime, craft making and adults providing yummy snacks, the children who attended Seeds of Peace Camp were exposed to the presence of God through these encounters. For this age group there were no attempts to systematically build a theology of God, but to let their experience inform them as to the vast array of emotions and experiences that go into fueling our spiritual pilgrimage and concepts of God. One never knows how this experience will ultimately be integrated into their image of God and life philosophy. But as a fellow traveler, it is not the task of any of us to produce cookie cutter “people of faith” but to let the experience do its own work. And thus in the long run we will all be more authentic in our faith and more invested in its implications for adding meaning to our lives. This is what I learned at Seeds of Peace Camp.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Seeds of Peace Camp - day one! Asheville, NC

43 energetic children – arrived this morning – all full of the range of human emotions that make us human. There were those who were so excited to be there; you could see the glow on their faces, while others were clinging to the shadow of their mothers. Music class started things off. It is hard to be bluegrassy at 9:15 am, but I pulled it off. The violin rang out, bouncing off the concrete floors of the fellowship hall. The children sang out with great, robust voices. One mother told me how excited her 5 and 7 year olds were that a violin was there. They both started lessons this year. Great joy filled the room – and I was able to hit all the notes in perfect voice. What fun. About mid-morning, or first boo-boo happened – a 5 year old boy who was on the shy side had just begun to get warmed up to his group. In one of our transition moments, going from story time to arts and crafts, he fell on the sidewalk, putting scratches on both knees. Blood was shed, but not a tear. I was the one who rushed to get the first aid kit and patched up his knees and spirit. As I wiped off the blood, and carefully placed on the band aids, I thought, this is the task of the church in today’s world, offering comfort, healing to folk in times when we are bruised and scratched by life. Because of the knees, he missed most of the craft time, so I asked him if he wanted me to do his craft project – he said yes. I can tell you one thing, he may go home today with scratched knees, but he also goes home with the camp’s best, glitter and sequenced filled tree. None could compare. By the end of the day, he was back to running and playing as if nothing had happened. It is remarkable how the human spirit rebounds with a community that loves, mends and supports each other. Tonight I am headed to “Moral Monday” in Asheville. Thousands are expected to be there to protest North Carolina’s political march to the right. I go to that rally, with tomorrow’s Seeds of Peace Camp songs spinning in my head, one being “We are marching in the light of God, we are marching in the Light of God….”