Thursday, December 10, 2009

printed in The Boise UCC Herald Dec 2009

There But By...

Tonight, there are people who will sleep in their own beds for the last night. There are people who are truly dependant on the kindness of friends and strangers. There are people with overflowing gifts of abundance to which society assigns no value.

There are also people, who are only just one paycheck away from the fate that awaits those I have spoken about above. Is it you? You don't think so? It *is* many of us. Don't fool yourself.

Am I my brother's keeper? ... Yes, I am my brother's keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by maudlin sentimentality, but by the higher duty I owe myself. It is when you have done your work honestly, when you have contributed your share to the common fund that you begin to live. Then, as Whitman said, you can take out your soul; you can commune with yourself; you can take a comrade by the hand and you can look into his soul and in that holy communion you live. And if you don't know what that is, or if you are not at least on the edge of it, it is denied you even to look into the Promised Land. - Eugene V. Debs, speech given at the founding of the Federal Council of Churches, Girard, Kansas, 1908

So what do you do? Greet them as you were greeting Christ. Let them know, you are there. Don't pick them up and carry them off. Don't try to fix them. Remember, they might not be broken. They may have lost many things but they have not lost their dignity or their sense of self. Be worthy of their trust. Live true to your word. Walk in faith that they may be guided to feel safe to ask of you anything they may need. Walk in faith that you will be able and ready to give to them what they ask.

We are a reflection of each other. Look deep into your brother's eyes. You will see yourself looking back at you.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Bear

Last week, if you remember, I told you I had lost the voices that live in my head that make me have something to add when I stand here before you. I want to announce that they are back. Sneaky little voices figured out that if they couldn’t talk to me while I was awake, they would wait until I was sleeping.

I know Dreams are controversial. Some say they are just your brains way of discharging and resetting itself for the next day. I agree with that. Dreams can be weird, scary, or funny. However, most of the time nonsensical and meaningless. I agree with that also. Nevertheless, sometimes, something connects, something makes you stop and pay attention. It stays with you. It has been over a week since I had this dream and it is still with me, speaking to me. That is how I know that this came from my voices and not just random electrical discharges. I want to share it with you so bear with me, no pun intended…

I dreamt: That I was walking in a valley of tall grass. The grass was silky and my bare feet weren’t bothered by ground below them. I knew I was supposed to be there, to be walking but I didn’t know why. The valley was void of other people. I was completely alone. It didn’t really seem to bother me, it was as if that is what I had always been doing and that was all I knew to do.

In the distance, I saw a bear. I wasn’t afraid of her so I approached her. She rose up on her hind legs to beckon me to come to her. When I got there she enveloped me in her arms. She standing 10 feet tall and me small in comparison. I disappeared in her hug as she wrapped her arms around me. I was suddenly surrounded by warm fur and I could her her heartbeat. I suddenly thought to myself, this is why I had been walking. I finally found whatever it was I was supposed to.

She pulled me away and motioned for me to follow her. She took me to her home. A huge warm cave, with a stream running through the back of the cave. We sat before a warm fire, ate berries and nuts, and drank from the stream until I was full and drowsy.

When night came she once again allowed me to curl up next to her, disappear inside of her as she would if she were protecting her own cub. We lay there, watching the stars move across the sky and the fire burn down to embers. Our heartbeats slowly became one rhythm and I drifted off to sleep knowing that I was finally home.

In the morning, we again ate and drank until we were full. She then moved to the front of the cave and motioned for me to come. I thought she wanted to show me something. But she motioned for me to leave. Lovingly, but firmly. I was stunned, I looked at her begging her not to make me, compassionate but firmly she motioned again for me to go. And so I did. Down from the mountain and back into that valley of silk grass. I began to walk, like I always had. I turned once to see her one more time but I had walked too far and she was out of sight. So I turned, and continued walking.

And so there ends my dream.
I began to mull it over the moment I woke up. It was too vivid to not mean anything to me. And so I began looking for the parallel in my life to this experience. I found 3 possible interpretations. I would like very much to share them with you.
We are all on our separate journey. We most times don’t know the where or the why’s of it. But we go, because, well that’s what we do.

Perhaps, the bear came to to me as a manifestation of God’s love.
A reminder, of the great love, the great comfort in which God extended to each of us. He fed me, warmed, and comforted me. He slaked my thirst. Held me until we became one heartbeat. But in the morning, he expected me to continue on. That I still did have a journey and although I didn’t want to go because I felt I was home, he knew it wasn’t time for me to come home. I needed to finish whatever the heck I was I was doing.

Perhaps, the bear represented our church.
Again, a reminder of the great comfort this church, our church extends to each of us that comes here thirsty for comfort and warmth. That we as a church are that bear, we should aspire emulate that bear. Fold each other into our church. Be sure to offer the hospitality, find the needs of one another and of our visitors and offer sanctuary, no matter for how short of a time it is, from the journey each of us are on. So as we walk the next 6 days of our lives, we remember vividly the comfort and are sustained.
Perhaps, the bear represents each one of us as individuals.
Oooh, this is the hard one for me because it is no longer God taking care of me, its no long the church taking care of each other as a group. Now, its just me. Do I extend the comfort and the safety of the bear to those I deal with in my 6 days of walking in my journey? After my needs have been met here on my 7th day? Do I make sure that people know there is a safe place with me, no matter the reason they need one? Do I encourage them to continue on, give them courage to continue with the knowledge that there will always be a safe place, a loving place with me, when their journey has been long and arduous, or disappointing or faith breaking? Am I doing that? I don't know, I hope so. I know I will continue to try to do better.

So ends my speculation over what my voices brought to me last Sunday night.
Please join me in the Call to Worship…

Call to Worship
We gather in the Spirit of God,
Many people with a common purpose,
To live the way of God in our lives and world.

Teach Me Wisdom

The Spirit of Wisdom surrounds us
Filling us with knowledge of God’s will
And shaping our hearts into the very heart of God

Teach Me Wisdom

Come, and practice wisdom ways
In this sacred community
That knows and wills the righteousness of God.

Teach Me Wisdom 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Silent Voices

I started a 240 hour externship at the pharmacy at a local hospital last week. I have spent the entire week trying to learn new rhythms, new personalities and panicked that I might kill a patient with the wrong drugs.

Unfortunately, all the voices in my head that usually live and talk to me all week have been silent. Probably thinking that if I did kill a patient, they would go with me to prison. Daunting for them, I am sure. I hope they come back. Its only been a week, but I miss them terribly.

Unfortunately, or fortunately I suppose depending on your opinion, I have no extra thoughts to add today.

But it always humbles me to stand before all of my beloved friends and call us to worship, please join me…

Call to Worship

We gather as a human community,
Ordinary in all things yet extraordinary in this:

In God’s Spirit, we become the Body of Christ.

We are trades people and artisans,
Teachers and lawyers, board members and directors,
Farmers and health workers,
Parents, children, siblings, and partners.

In God’s Spirit, we become the Body of Christ.

We bring a variety of expressions,
Ethnicities, tradition, orientations, backgrounds.

In God’s Spirit, we become the Body of Christ.

We delight in one another, work together,
Disagree at times, and support each other always.

In God’s Spirit, we become the Body of Christ.

Let us worship God.


I wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who gave their time, energy and money to create such a wonderful experience for so many kids last week.

On Monday, there was just a big group of kids, coming from every place conceivable on earth. All with different stories and experiences. Most of them strangers to each other.

Friday when I came to pick up my girls, I walked into the church to the most beautiful sight and to one of the most incredible sounds I have ever experienced.

To the sight- I saw that same group of little strangers from Monday but they had been transformed into a community. It only took one week. I think that speaks to the power of our natural desire to belong.

To the sound- Well it sounded like a lot of things to me in a very short time.

It was 4:30 in the afternoon, I heard - NOISE.

I walked to entrance of the fellowship hall and heard - DRUMS.

I scanned the new little community looking for my girls and heard - RHYTHM

Then something happened to me. I closed my eyes, rested my head on the wall, and relaxed. The NOISE, the DRUMS, the RHYTHM, all the same sound, surrounded me and found its way inside me. I suddenly became part of the whole. My mind was calmed and my body was alive. Smile on my face and tears finding their way down my cheeks. (thank goodness nobody noticed that part, I can hear it now, “oh noooo there she goes again!) But in this moment I heard - PRAYER

I also felt JOY. I felt it in every cell of my body.

So again, I thank you for the week you gave my children and for the moment, that incredible moment on a hot, stressful Friday afternoon that you gave me.

Call to Worship

Here we see the richness of God’s love made real in the gifts of friendship, grace, food, and faith.

God’s presence keeps us going and gives us more than we need.

Come closer, search deeply, expect to receive daily bread - and then some.

God makes a place for all and gives to all with generous abundance.

Let us live with hope and trust in God

and worship abundantly.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Here is the church, here is the steeple...

Today I want us all to do something together. We all did it when we were young. It will bring a smile to your face. I learned it in Sunday school back in the day.

Do, "this is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people!

I look up and see this beautiful and extremely original building. I am confess that when people ask me what church I go to and what it looks like, I constantly call it the circus tent. It delights me every week that I pull up and park. I am always in awe when I sit down and allow my eyes to follow the curve of the ceiling to the top. (I have even learned how to turn on the ceiling fan, however I was sworn to secrecy.) This is a beautiful building. But when I look out toward you, I see your beautiful, loving faces; I look into your welcoming eyes, that is when I see the church, my church, our church.

Church isn’t where you meet. Church isn’t a building. Church is what you do. Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s not go to Church, let’s be the Church.
~Bridget Willard~

Join me in the Call to Worship

Spirit God is not confined to church spires
and pipe organs, but Spirit makes a home
within and through all.

Come Build a Church

Spirit God is not confined to church spires
and pipe organs, but Spirit makes a home
within and through all.

Come Build a Church

The brick and mortar of church buildings
cannot contain the sacredness of the Living
God but the flesh and bone of gathered
community is made sacred by God's presence
among us.

Come Build a Church


Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

When my 17 year old daughter was a toddler, we had a nightly routine. I would sing You Are My Sunshine to her as I tucked her and all her favorite stuffed animals down into her bed.

As I would leave the room I would say, “Good night” and she would answer back, “good night”. I would say, “See you in the morning” and she would answer back, “See you in the morning”. “Sweet dreams”, “sweet dreams” she would say. “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” and finally “God bless” as I would turn off the light.

We did this every night.

One night as we started our routine. She stopped me and asked what did it all mean? Why do we say this every night? I thought about it a minute and said, “well we have been doing it every night for so long that I haven’t thought about it”.

I sat down on her bed and said, “I say, “Good Night” because I really want you to have a peaceful, comfortable night’s sleep” I say “see you in the morning” because I will really be happy to see you in the morning so we can start our day. I say “Sweet Dreams” because good dreams are always the best and I want you to have them. I say “don’t let the bed bugs bite because… well because that’s what my mother used to tell me.” She panicked at this point and made me prove that there weren’t really bugs in her bed. Once convinced she asked “when you were little, did you have bugs in your bed?” I said, “No, I didn’t either.” “Well,” she said, “Maybe when you say “God Bless” it scares them away!” Toddlers are always so insightful.

Please join me in the call to worship.

Call to Worship

Here is an ordinary table,

Familiar and worn with use,
Come, look beyond the grains of wood
And sense the power it holds
To feed, unite, and create a holy communing.

May we glimpse godly wisdom that is beyond ordinary sight.
(light a candle)

Here is a pulpit, holding stories of faith,
Perhaps grown ordinary with repetition.
Come, hear anew the sacred words
And listen between the lines.
For the calling and sending, teaching and healing.
(light a candle)

May we glimpse godly wisdom that is beyond ordinary sight.

Here is our ordinary community
Made of eccentrisities and imperfections.
Come, draw near to one another in spirit
And recognize the holy presence that makes
Us an extraordinary people
People of justice and love and good work.

(light a candle

May we glimpse godly wisdom that is beyond ordinary sight.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Youth Director Leaves Us for Seminary

Ryan is leaving us to continue on his journey. As I was up this morning looking for words of inspiration to send him on his way I realized that all the really good quotes I kept running across where Irish and Scottish. It got me to thinking, My ancestors came from Denmark, didn’t Danish people ever say anything clever? Did they just forget to write it down while they were busy helping settle South Africa? Tis something to ponder. And if anyone can find something inspirational from Denmark please email me…

But for now, Ryan

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Call to Worship

In the midst of life's chaos
at the heart of our discontent
within the fragments of human brokenness,
lives the healing presence of God.

Beyond our fears and misgivings,
before the excuses and doubting,
at home within the honest and vulnerable,
lives the healing power of God.

Come, let us not pretend we do not know these places,
let us not avoid what is most real.
For in the facing and the accepting,
lives the healing embrace of God.

In the Wake of the Tragic Lost of Our Beloved Pastor's Brother (June 21st 2009)

*I am standing on the sea shore,
A ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:

"She is gone."

Gone! Where?
Gone from my sight - that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says,

"She is gone",

There are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:

"There she comes"

- and that is dying. An horizon and just the limit of our sight.

Lift us up, Oh Lord, that we may see further.

Bishop Brent
1862 - 1926

Call to Worship

In a world that often causes us to be afraid…

We gather in the promise of god’s peace.
We come to be renewed by Christs love.
We open ourselves
To the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

During a time in history that often seems uncertain…

We gather in the promise of god’s peace.
We come to be renewed by Christs love.
We open ourselves
To the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

Living in the midst of great ecological change and challenge…

We gather in the promise of god’s peace.
We come to be renewed by Christs love.
We open ourselves
To the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

And trying to cope with the everyday stresses of modern life…

We gather in the promise of god’s peace.
We come to be renewed by Christs love.
We open ourselves
To the encouragement of the Holy Spirit

It's June! (sunday 14th, 2009)

The season of PRIDE and appreciation
Where the light shines late into the hour
illuminating even the darkest corners
Of overgrown and untended gardens.

We have woken, lifting our voice above a whisper
Silence no longer our companion
We will walk barefoot and dance to
The music which plays inside us
Its beckons us to follow, to reach out
And hold our beloved in the sunshine.

Call to Worship

As seed is scattered generously
In the hope of new growth,
So are we gathered,
Then sent by the generous and hopeful love of God.

And as plants take root deep within nourishing soils,
So are we invited
To find our lives in the very heart of God

Friends, be strengthened and encouraged
Let us open ourselves to the God
Who delights in our growth
As people of wisdom, spirit, and compassion.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


*lost my emotional hold today and began sobbing through the words i tried to say.

I usually try to come here each week and say something that i hope may touch your heart in some way. i am greatly honor to have the opportunity to do so. i am afraid however, that this week as i stand here... i have nothing.

I have walked with a heavy heart all week. Which is a bit ironic because i have been pondering on happiness this week. what it is, what it isn't and why wa all seem to be seeking it but never quite find it.

There is a quote from a character from The Hours. The Hours, if some of you haven't seen is a story about Virginia Woolf and several generations of interpretations of Virginia's work, Mrs. Dalloway. The character I quote is Clarrisa Vaugh.

Clarrisa says. "I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself, so THIS is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And course, there will always be more" she stops for a moment and then said, "It never occurred to me it wasn't the beginning. It WAS happiness, it was THAT moment, RIGHT THEN." (end of quote)

I relate to this very much. Sometimes we look in the wrong place for happiness. sometimes we think happiness should look differently than what it actually does. And we don't stop, RIGHT THEN, IN THE MOMENT to understand that this feeling no matter howo fleeting , IS happiness. It is a small gift which is complete with love and contentment and joy. And we should hold on to those times and keep them close to our hearts until the next unexpect moment arrives, filling us again with that sense of possibility of having everything just within our grasp...

Call to Worship

Before the mystery that is God,
and in the sacred presence of one another;
we gather in faith and celebrate
the embrace of God's love.

Known and called as Christ's friends,
and drawn to the vision of a new way for the world;
we gather in faith and celebrate
the embrace of God's love.

Filled with the Spirit of peace,
and reborn to share the joy of life;
we gather in faith and celebrate
the embrace of God's love.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dear God, a Silloquey? Really?

i saw this CtW and freaked out... i had no congregational participation. i told one of the worship team i was going to need Shakespeare tights and a valium.

Good Morning! No truer words have ever been spoken I think...

I woke up early this morning, not on purpose! But I found myself in a peacefully quiet house. As I walked into the living room, I was startled by the orange, golden glow coming through my front window. It had a gravity all its own. I let it pull me toward it. I was in my pj's I admit it, as I walked out my front door and into my driveway.

I stood there and tipped my head back and I let the sun pour over me. I could feel the heat radiate up from the concrete, into my feet and into my ankles.

I felt as if I had stumbled upon a secret celebration. One I hadn't known was going on until I stopped and paid attention. I stayed there for more than 5 minutes... joining in the celebrations of light and warmth and renewal.

As i ws coming to church i realized that there couldn't be anything better to have happen to me this morning. When I first read our Call to Worship it felt more like a Cheer leading to Worship but now I see it is really more like a Call to Celebrate.

Call to Worship

Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones (and flutes)
fill the air with praises to King God

Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
with everything living on earth joining in

Let ocean breakers call out, "Encore!"
And mountains harmonize the finale.

Come, sing to God a brand new song!


Gardens are like churches
Each flower raised up like a sacred prayer
Reaching for light and warmth and goodness...
Barefoot, I walk among them
Silently praying God sees me as well...

I used to live in a home with a wild English garden. A garden with roses and lupine and all various and sundry of flowers that I didnt' even know the name of.

A garden I planted, a garden I tended, and garden in which i found beauty and peace. I used to tell people that I didn't go to church because I talked to God in my garden. (that raised a few eyebrows from time to time)

Gardening to me has always been the epitome of faith and prayer and the visual manifestation of blessings which you are given because of your faith. Faith that the seeds which you planted early one October day would rise, would grow and bloom in beauty and celebration. Perhaps even that the seen itself knew you were praying for it to come.

I no longer live in that wild English garden. My life took me away from it. I have pined... But with new beginnings have all sorts of opportunities. I give thanks to God for giving me a new place to plant. I have faith that my seeds will rise, seeking light and warmth and goodness. And I barefoot, will join in their sacred prayer and the celebration when they bloom once again.

Call to Worship

Christ makes known to us the Living God and we belong to Christ forever
we are planted in God, growing in Christ, and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

Christ speaks words from God and we receive them and know the truth
we are planted in God, growing in Christ and bearing the fruit of the Spirit

Christ is glorified in us as we gather in unity from prayer and worship
we are planted in God, growing in Christ and bearing the fruit of the Spirit

Christ's Spirit is going out into the world and we follow as hearers of God's love.
we are planted in God, growing in Christ and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

Friday, May 29, 2009

This Blog Is...

a record of my ramblings which happen each week at the Boise UCC. i have been asked to do the Call to Worship every week. (add link to public speaking problems) and i ponder on monday and tuesday, how the CtW relates to me personally and perhaps how i can help it relate to others. the Boise UCC just began its new weekly Contemporary Services. we have a band. we have songs that do not come from dusty hymnals (no offense please traditionalists). we have a small growing group and i am honored each week to be part of something still in its infancy.

i want to record the CtW and my comments each week. inspiration is a wonderful, spiritual, magical, mysterious happening. i want to remember those moments. i want my children, to remember the things i spoke of in a little church on the North End of Boise when they were little. i want to remember that what once was a closed door with scary things behind it, now opened, is a priceless gift, to which i thank Mr. Westphal, my college teacher and God. in that order.