March 24, 2016
We have named the week between Palm Sunday and easter Jesus week. All weeks can be holy, and this week we focus on Jesus. I made a conscious decision to NOT hold commemorative services at the standard times. (Don’t come to church on Thursday night for communion!)
In an effort to engage a wider variety of ages in Jesus week, we have organized different events. Tuesday had a mourning into morning concert and conversation to talk about new life emerging from the winters of our lives. Wednesday afternoon I spoke with our children’s choir. They participated in a great conversation about Jesus and really resonated with who Jesus is to us. That evening 22 youth youth prayed for a half hour in the basement. Candles were employed and we did not burn the church down! Friday has a common simple meal of bread and soup where we talk of humanity’s ability to betray Christ.
Because these are new attempts at engagement in faith, they will be amended as we consider this type of opportunity to grow more faith in God. I have been encouraged by the conversations that have taken place during Jesus week 2016.
Select blog entries from days gone by:
January 21, 2016
While I am usually working with many different people, Wednesdays I typically get to see a wide age range. This past Wednesday morning, I hosted a concert in which Tana played piano and sang. As the concert was in the morning, it was attended by people who were free at that time. In the afternoon, I walk our children’s choir from school to church. They are considerably younger than the concert attendees. Both groups seemed to enjoy the music offered by Tana. I typically meet with the confirmation class on Wednesdays. Various people are always finding there way into church.
Our church is fortunate not only to have every decade of age represented, but we have a similar variety of opinions on most topics. In a time when conversation becomes more shrill because we can’t figure out how to converse with someone else with whom we may not agree, in our church, we have the opportunity to speak with people who do not share our age, race, nor outlook. We can practice sharing time with someone not like us in an effort to meet and receive others well.
If you are not as fortunate as me in your work, come to church and sit at the little tables, or go talk to someone with whom you may not be so familiar. Be neighborly with the next generation. You may not only learn tolerance but may also learn something new!
January 10th, 2016
Wow! Am I the most inconsistent blogger in the webosphere?
I had hoped that I would be able to let you peer into some of the “other” work that I do on our behalf. Clearly, that “other” work stepped up its game and I was less willing to write it out here. Time constrains as well as frees. I am planning on picketing myself with placards that read “FREE TIME!” That way I may free up some time to write more here.
I am pleased about the shifts occurring in the obvious work of the church. Sunday morning will often have people helping who can vote in church, but not in a general election in our country. Not only do we have young people, but we have young people who like to be in church.
Tana and Pat continue to expand music offerings in and around the church. Because Tana is more available here, Pat has been able to take on some guest “organ-izing” at other churches, thus spreading our musical abilities around town.
If you see me picketing myself, offer me some encouragement. I feel as if I can win this one against management. Its the people’s time!
November 5, 2015
As the day’s darkness increases, so does a sense of despair from those who feel that darkness more palpably. The church receives more calls for help this season. This year, it is our turn to take Crete Cares calls for the community. Crete cares does two things: offers assistance for utilities or rent, or food or gas and distributes food for Christmas meals. The clergy in town are actively engaged in both right now. Part of my work is to change the way we distribute the food boxes. We are asking people who receive the boxes to pick them up, if they can. This requires that we change the place where we distribute. A couple of the clergy in town have toured some facilities. We have decided on using the elementary school for the packing and distributing of the food boxes to help people that need a boost this time of year.
Though my work increases not just with respect to holidays this time of year but also dealing with darkness in its many forms, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you know someone that needs help. It is not useful nor necessary that people suffer alone
September 28, 2015
The smallest of seeds, that has since flourished into my vocation, was planted in me while I attended Doane college. It did not germinate for decades, but was present, none- the -less. Our church relationship with Doane College has always been important. As an Alumni of Doane, I stay in touch with the activity and direction more than I would as merely a community member and church member. Recently I have been engaged with conversations around a new inter-faith building and program centered at Doane. I have attended meetings with Jaque Carter, Karla Cooper, several students and Doane Trustees. A small committee has been started and I sit on that committee. My interest in this project is to remind Doane and Crete that we are an institution founded by pioneers proclaiming their faith in God through Christ. In that proclamation, Doane College was founded by members of our church.
Interfaith conversation is very important in our day and age. Learning about other faiths is vitally important to the well being of our world. Reaching out in understanding is not a thing to be feared but embraced. It is a part of our heritage in Crete.
Reaching out in earnest hope of understanding is a part of how we not only understand our faith, but illustrate its power. My role in this development is to remind us that we follow Christ in such a way that removes fear. Our church has a statement that expresses our desire to extend the reach of Christ. I hope that any inter-faith program or building understands that we, through our faith in Christ, host the opportunity to diminish fear and increase understanding; that it is our strong relationship with Christ that allows us to be bold in our many relationships in the world and faithfully hospitable with the world. Reaching out in faith will not present us with the worry that we will become Hindu, but instead employs our faith in Christ as we welcome conversations that breeds understanding.
August 17, 2015
The joyous and spontaneous applause that burst forth in worship on August 16 when David Ajak and his family arrived was inspirational. The work and journey behind David’s ability to be in the United States and now the work and journey behind the arrival of his family does not begin to suggest how arduous this has been. South Sudan, the country where David and Rochelle come from, is still in the midst of civil war. It is still very difficult to emigrate from that dangerous place.
David’s family entered our worship space at the time when we were speaking about the story of Ruth. Ruth is the story of an immigrant who had suffered hardship and found blessing in a land of wealth. She was not Hebrew, but was the great-grandmother to King David. To learn more about Ruth, read this. Ruth not only survived, but thrived from the leftovers of abundance.
We are that place. We are a place of abundance that can share leftovers.
Our church takes an active role in immigration. We have hosted several Immigration101 sessions. We host Immigration Law lawyers who are able to answer important questions from worried residents. We host ESL classes. Sharon Crouse has become a legal expert in helping Maria and Donel Donis make their way through the morass of laws and large fees needed to attain citizenship.
I have been stunned to find out that the wait time in line for people wanting to emigrate from some Central American countries to the United States can be 75 years. There is no government assistance for immigration services here. The program is run by fees paid by the applicant, often thousands of dollars. Over 40 percent of undocumented people here are formerly documented people, in typically good paying jobs or graduate schools, that have simply overstayed their visas. I could go on.
I attend meetings about immigration and inclusion because it seems important for us to know what is happening as we try to build better community in Crete. In most of the meetings that I attend, we are the best represented church in our community. I am not the only person from our church represented in these meetings.
There seems to be no immediate answers available in trying to make our government’s system more responsive to gleaning real need and winnowing worrisome elements out with a more effective and timely process. In the mean time, I will continue to help us host open discussions about immigration and inclusion and joyously applaud when small steps make for big moves in assisting people and communities thrive.