Sunday, October 31, 2010

Purple People of the Promise

This month I wrote my church newsletter article on the bullying that has made the news recently. I felt the need to share it more broadly, so here it is:

Purple People of the Promise

I write this Placard article with a purple pen in a purple notebook wearing a purple shirt on a day when our nation has been encouraged to show PURPLE in support of all the bullied teens who have reached the point where they feel suicide to be their only option. This purple day was inspired by the teen suicide deaths—those many that made the news and those (far more) that did not—in September and October. Clearly, this is a topic that touches the core of my being.
            I have had Plymouth members ask, “what can we do?” both to help stop the bullying that breaks down kids’ spirits and to support young people who experience bullying. It is such a multi-faceted problem that we often feel helpless—particularly if we aren’t parents, schoolteachers or counselors. But I believe we are more than any of those individual caregivers: we are the Church. We are a community of love and faith and dedication, and we are intentionally intergenerational. We can care for our kids.
            As an Open & Affirming congregation, we have covenanted to enact a radical welcome to all who have experienced “second class” humanity—including children and youth. But what does that mean for us, and how can we live into it to be partners against the hurtfulness of society?
            Each and every member of Plymouth has covenanted with each and every baptized child’s parent to “accept…responsibility as vehicles of grace to guide them by word and example into the fullest life of which you and they are capable,” and then we pray together: “May they develop trustful and responsible relationships with others and may they grow in their acceptance of themselves as unique and vital persons.” Practically speaking, how do we live into this promise that we—older and younger, parent and “extended faith family”—have made to our kids and youth?
            By living our love for them in word and action. That looks like children’s Bibles in the pews and activities for them to read and color during worship so they can be with us, among us in all their squirming, crying, or bored energy! They are a part of our worshipping community. And it goes further than their presence (seen, but…)—it includes their participation in the passing of the peace and the prayers of the people. It’s their inclusion as ushers and liturgists and special music. But even more significant, it is our participation in their lives, not just their participation in our life!
            It means saying YES when asked to give 3 hours (1 hour each over 3 Sundays) to share the gift of your love for them in a Sunday School Workshop—by dressing up as Abraham and anointing their foreheads with oil to show how very special each one is, or by baking hamantaschen with them while teaching the story of Esther’s choice to use her power to help people and Haman’s choice to use his power to make himself look better and to hurt others! It means saying YES when another adult is needed for a middle school event. It means knowing their names and chatting with them over coffee hour cookies—no matter how many they’ve grabbed from the plate. What a perfect opportunity to talk about your mutual love for Oreos! It’s your presence in their lives that reveals God’s love through you and this community.
            Every adult in this congregation has a commitment to every child and teen present, to help him know he is special and loved. To let her know she is not just the “future of the church,” but a vital part of it now. YES! I am passionate about our youth and kids and their spiritual lives. Jesus himself said, “let them come to me, and do not hinder them.” You never know which teen with 10 cookies has been bullied and needs to be seen as a whole, beloved person.  You never know which kid in the pew next to you has been bullying others on the school bus and also needs to be seen as a whole, beloved person. Your presence and revelation of God’s love matters to them—it matters to all our kids.
            In passionate love for this purple promise,
                         Rev. Pink Dragon




Friday, October 15, 2010

Connecting

Friday Five: Connecting

RGBP's Jan writes: I am currently reading Bowling Alone by 
Robert D. Putnam, where he explores the changes in community 
in the USA in the 20th Century. He explains how communities, 
people, and especially children function better when they live 
where there is high social capital. Basically, it means that 
"relationships matter."

We all know this because Christianity (and other religions) 
emphasize the Golden RuleAll things whatsoever ye would 
that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law 
and the prophets. Matthew 7:1

So here are some questions to ponder for this Friday Five about 
connecting with:

1. Self: Who was your hero/heroine when you were about 
ten years old? My ministers have always been heroes to me. 
I'd look up to each of them in a different way (I can't recall who was the 
minister at that particular time). A close second was probably Madonna 
;-P.

2. Family: Who are you most like? Who is most like you?
Yesterday I was leading a Q&A following a presentation, and I heard 
myself use a phrase that'd never before come from my mouth except 
to tease my father for starting every explanation with it: 
"Well, I'll tell ya...". I had to call and tell him of my slip :). Having said 
that, I acknowledge that my mother and I are most alike--my partner 
tells me I sound more and more like her each day. We're also 
*extremely* different!
3. Friends: How do you stay in touch? I wish I were better at staying 
in touch! My m.o. is to not talk for way too long, then get together a 
couple times each year to catch up. Every once in a while we'll email 
or send a letter, but otherwise... :(
4. Neighborhood, community: What are ways you like to be 
involved? Caf├ęs!! I love to to be present in gathering places 
where people meet and connect and move on into their days. 
Especially places where I can become a regular (Norm!) and 
always see new people.

5. Job/church: Do you see a need that will help in developing 
connections? Deep, long-lasting spiritual practices would be a 
great addition. I'd love to help people create community around 
particular styles of prayer, meditation, reading, etc. We do a little bit, 
and the opportunities are growing. Helping people recognize their 
need for these connections--that's my challenge!

Bonus link: Cheers Theme Song

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Fall Word Association Friday Five

A Fall Word Association Friday Five

(SingingOwl says...) Hello
everyone! The Canadian
geese are excited, forming
up and practicing,
encouraging each other with
honking, the Wisconsin
fall color is at peak where I
am, and in Kohl's Dept.
Store the Christmas
decorations are up. Yep,
Fall is here. It's my
turn to do the Rev Gal Blog Pals
Friday Five. It has been a while
since we did one of these word association Friday FIves, so here goes,
with an autumnal theme. I know, fall is one way on this side of the world
and different in other places, but please bear with me as I post words
that say FALL--at least where I am.

Give us the the first word that comes to mind (you know how that works, right?)
and then add a little something about why, or how or what.
Well, it seems my answers are all typical.... oh well!

1. Pumpkins - gooey (of course, because sticking your hand inside when carving a jack-o-lantern! I can never decide if I love the feeling or hate it... until it has dried on my fingers---uck!)

2. Campfire - smell (as in the wonderful smell of woodsmoke -- today would be a perfect campfire day)

3. Apples - crunch (yum!)


4. Color - orange (even though I live in Colorado where the Aspen all turn yellow, the only color for the season is orange... pumpkins & halloween)

5. Halloween - costumes (mostly of the headless, goblin-y, blood-sucking sort... fairy princesses never seemed right for the holiday)
And since it is REV Gals and their Pals, here is the bonus question, sort of a serious one:

What does the following passage from Daniel 2 make you think about?

"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
Wisdom and power are his...
He changes times and seasons."

My first thought upon reading this was to recall the familiar passage from Ecclesiastes: to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Some wisdom that I always need to remember. 

Thanks for a great F5!