Monday, September 23, 2013

Summary of Sabbatical conversations - #1 – Wednesday, September 18. I. As we introduced ourselves the question was asked – What brought you to Three Crosses? Below are the responses: • Relationship with someone who was attending • Web site • Looking for a spiritual community • It was affiliated with a denomination of my past: Methodist and UCC • In search of community – yoga, it was in my neighborhood • Open and Affirming • Mission – outreach to the community • Progressive Theology • Spirituality – potential musical group – small groups The question was raised if we are intentionally promoting these “portals” in our ads and web site? It is a good question concerning, are we intentionally declaring who we are? II. What are some of the core values that you would name at Three Crosses? • Welcoming • Progressive theology – non creedal – no one image our idea of God prevails • Human interactions (relationships) are important • The atmosphere is not “churchie” as defined by old models of church – the environment is relaxed and casual, informal • Social Justice is important • We do social action, both as a congregation and support members who are actively engaged in social justice • The environment is celebratory – living into joy, not shame • God is experienced in the relationships we build • Education – about issues impacting our world, God and how we relate to both • No shame theology. The question was then asked about “how would a visitor see these values being lived in the community?” • There was an immediate conversation stirred about the name of Three Crosses and how for people with no religious lingo or experience could find the name very off-putting, scary and never attend to see the community at work. • Fellowship is an important part of our worship life • We are traditional in some elements of our worship, but non-traditional in others – we use inclusive language. • We relay that we are a place that allows people to be on their spiritual quest rather than conform to a particular spirituality • We are Open and Affirming Questions that surface that could use more conversation: Do we boldly and intentionally claim who we are as a community with a progressive theology – does our web site unashamedly proclaim our progressiveness? How much do we interact with our immediate community and invite them into partnerships with us – life the Old Town Triangle Association, Menomonee Club, Deborah’s Place, Clayton Homes, Buddhist Temple, St. Michaels, etc….. How are we intentionally inviting people to come to Three Crosses including our friends, co-workers, and neighbors?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My ponderings on Syria

As I write this blog post, I am aware of the challenging and complicated political issues within Syria. From what I read and hear, there is no question that President Assad’s regime has been brutal to the citizens of Syria and this brutality needs to be addressed by the world community. Standards of respect for human dignity and decency need to be upheld. The killing of citizens needs to end. These horrific actions against humanity cannot be ignored, whether they are done by Assad’s army or the rebels. Syria is a complex and complicated political reality, and of course resolution to this violence involves more than Syria. And yes, the choices the world has in responding are also complicated and complex. As I think about Sunday’s Gospel text (Luke 14: 25-33) I cannot help but think about how complicated and complex following in the ways of God have always been. This text lays out that following in the ways of God are risky and requires pondering deeply, conventional convictions that might seduce us to seeing the world through old patterns of behaving. It seems that the text is saying that there are no easy roads to follow; no pathway that does not include risk, rethinking, courage and imaginative thinking. And yet, we do have choices in how we behave. Bombing Syria as a “first step” in ending the abuse there seems counter intuitive. Have the more difficult pathways of diplomacy been traveled. Will more violence breed more violence? I am holding the world and the United States’ political leaders in my prayers, as they ponder making more war. I pray the peacemakers will emerge that will point toward the pathways toward peace. John

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I am back....

I am back from my sabbatical travels. I am still on the sabbatical journey - still processing the things that I encountered and discovered - but I am physically back in the office, starting today. So far it has been a great journey - and I expect the journey to continue as we talk about your discoveries and experiences while I was away and mix those learning in with my own. Our conversations will begin on Wednesday evenings, September 18 @ 7:00 pm. Too, I am grateful to the congregation for the time away and for all the congregations along the journey that showed Barry and me hospitality when we visited. I am looking forward to this Sunday, where I will give you some glimpse into my journey as we share in a Pot Luck welcome back. This welcome back is not only for me, but a welcome back to all of us – a welcome back to the ebb and flow of the fall. Also it is Communion Sunday - a time to celebrate the kind of community we are called to be, one with an open table for all to share in a taste of the Spirit’s love and mercy. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.