Peace Through Relationship

20150630_180713This week I went to a presentation put on by a group of 6 from the Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA who just got back from a trip to Namibia. It was a great presentation. The team showed a slideshow of the places that they visited, and talked about their impression of the country. The trips focus was on education, and they visited with schools, hospitals, churches, and bishops of the synods in Namibia.

20150630_193006 My biggest take away from the meeting was the discussion around what one of the bishops told the group. He told them that it is through relationship that peace is formed. He is an advocate for peace, and encouraged them to form relationships with others, and fight for the US to not be so quick to go to war. He said that when the US goes to war it makes other small countries uncomfortable and fear the US.

This idea of peace through relationship is really cool, and I know it is important to help with the turmoil that is happening in our country right now. I would like to challenge each of you to get to know someone from a race, gender, or religion you do not understand before you post or talk about the group in a negative way.race

It is only through relationship that peace will happen. I am not talking about a superficial friendship where you do not take the time to really get to know the person. This is about finding out what makes them tick without trying to change them. It is about being open to their ideas even if they are different than the way you understand the world. Once you really get to know a person who is truly different than you it helps you to be more compassionate toward all of humanity, so take the challenge!!

What my fall will look like

I have gotten my finalized schedule for the fall. This is the best part of the year. You get to sign up for classes, and get really excited about them. Then once the classes start you find that they are not exactly what you expected, but this is not always the case. There are times that a class really surprises you, and it is better than what you ever imagined. Here is my schedule.

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  • Living Traditions
    • A class about the Lutheran tradition and heritage. There is a special emphasis on Martin Luther. This will be a good class for me because I was not raised Lutheran, and do not know that much about Lutheran history. I also believe that history is important to have a better understanding of anything you want to understand better.
  • History of Christianity I
    • This history goes up to the late medieval period. This is my favorite period of Christian history, because I believe it is only through understanding the beginning that one can be a full understanding of how things are now. I hope to be able to read some of the works that were written during this period.
  • Intro to the Old Testament
    • Self explanatory. I am not sure how I feel about this class. The Old Testament is important, and I love to read and study all parts of it. It will be an interesting and enjoyable class.
  • Reading Congregations
    • Helps to build observation skills needed to lead a congregation. I think it will be fun to be able to observe congregations and assess them. This will give me a broader understanding of what it means to be Lutheran.
  • Mysticism & Social Change
    • This class looks at literature from activists from different cultures in order to help bring a holistic understanding to activism and ministerial work. This is an understanding that uses both head and body. This was my choice, and I am very excited to read about what different cultures and religions have to say about activism. This will give me a broader understanding of what activism means.

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Well, that is it, and it is enough. I have not taken 5 classes at one time.

The City of God

I had some charismatic friends pray over me one time when I was going on a mission trip. This trip was to a gathering of hippies in the middle of the national forest. It was a large gathering with many people there. When she prayed she said she got the words to the song “Hot Child in the City” by Nick Gilder. I was reminded of this prayer while I was walking among those I was ministering to that summer, and believed this is all that word was about, but as I was reading City of God: Faith in the Streets by Sara Miles, I began to wonder if my days of being the “Hot Child in the City” were not over.City

Miles describes heaven like a city. She uses the places in scripture that talk about heaven as the new Jerusalem, but the city that she envisions in hot and messy. In the introduction to the book she says, “In the city of God, a river of life flows from the single source of holiness, while a bent street tree, cracking open the sidewalk with its tough roots, offers its leaves for the healing of all the nations.” This is a reinterpretation of Revelation 22:1-2 where the evangelist talks about a river in the New Jerusalem lined with trees that give healing to the nations.

This is a vision of heaven that I can live with. I have a hard time when everything that is human is taken out of heaven because all that is human is evil. I do not see humanity as evil, and I see God as being there to heal all nations in the midst of our hurt and pain. It is in the midst of all of our problems that we need God the most, and this is where he is. In the middle of a city teeming with people who are hurting, and looking for hope.

This made me think that my days of being a “Hot Child in the City” were not over, and God has more work for me to do in the City of God.

The Eucharist

The Eucharist is one of the great traditions of the Christian church, and meaningful to many. While reading Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflections on Christianity in Africa I came across an understanding of the ritual that I have not heard, or do not remember being stressed in my American setting. How ever when I did a search on youtube I came across this song which sums it up.

In the book, Mercy Oduyoye says, “From the perspective of Africa, an interpretation of the Eucharist that highlights the aspect of sacrifice is one that will touch people’s spirituality in such a way as to affect their lives.” When I have heard about sacrifice in the past it was how one should sacrifice for the sake of Christ, but she is talking about living in solidarity not doing things you really do not want to do, but are told you should.

Oduyoye goes on to say that sacrifice is “the way to replace charity with justice.” This is a different kind of sacrifice than I usually hear in relation to the Eucharist. Usually it is about the sacrifice of Christ, and not our sacrifice for others. (It is important to mention that I am not talking about living with abuse and calling it sacrifice.) There are those who tell people they need to sacrifice, and by that they mean they need to accept abuse. This is not the sacrifice I am talking about. The sacrifice I am talking about is a sacrifice that will help those in poverty get the human rights they need and deserve. It is not about abuse, but moving from charity to justice. This is done by sacrificing for others.

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In 1 Corinthians 11 the Corinthians are told they need to think of each other when they come to the Lord’s Supper. Those with privilege were eating all of the food before the others could get there. “Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves.” (11:28-29) Is saying that they need to consider how they are treating each other before they partake of the Table. Just like Oduyoye says in her theology.
The next time you come to the Lord’s Table remember that there are people all around the world standing right beside you.

Summer Reading

After graduating, my days have been spent catching up on blogs and reading. John believes I have not left the study mode. This might be true, but it is more than that. I have so many books I have not been able to read because I was reading other good books for my classes. Now is my time to catch up! These are books that I haveSummer Reading wanted to read for years, and books from classes I only had time to skim because of all the other homework I needed to do. Yes, there is a long list, and I am sure I will not get through all of them this summer. I have tried to get through the list for the last four summers, but the list just seems to grow. This means that I need to set my goal a little lower this year so I can at least feel that I have accomplished it. There are four of the must read books, and the ones that I will get through for sure.

Revelation of Love by Julian of Norwich translated by John Skinner: This book was given to me by a friend g years ago, and has been setting in my book shelf. I came across it while looking for summer reading, and felt this was the time to read it. Julian of Norwich was born in 1373. She is one of the Christian mystics, and has the honor of being the oldest known English author that was a woman. Her book is written in short chapters. This makes it perfect for a daily devotional. I am really enjoying it, and will post more about this book later.

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott: I love Anne Lamott, and it has been way too long since I have read one of her books. I read an article she wrote for a class last semester, and remembered how much I love her wit. I just had to read one of her books this summer, and since I have three of them on my book shelf I picked the one that looked the most interesting.

Hear and Knowing: Theological Reflections on Christianity in Africa by Mercy A. Oduyoye: I read one of her books for my Liberation Theology class last year, and this a book for my Global Christianity class. I fell in love with Oduyoye, and of the books by her I read last year this is the one that I felt I did not get as much time with as I would like, so I chose to reread it.

Church Refugees

Church Refugees: Sociologists reveal why  people are DONE with Church but not Their Faith by Josh Packard, PH.D. and Ashleigh Hope: This book just came out June 1st. I just had to read it! I read everything that I can find on the “nones” or “church refugees”. It is one of my favorite things to study, and when I discovered this book I just had to read it. It went on my summer reading list for sure.

This is enough for now, and as I read these books I will post my thoughts about them. There are others that have been added to the list, but these are enough for right now.

New Blog Theme

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I know it has been some time since I have posted. I have been busy with school, work, and family. I am starting on the next stage of my journey, and thought it was about time for me to rejuvenate my blog. I will be using a new theme. The blog will be about my life. Here is an update on what has been going on with me while I was absent:

I will be attending PLTS in the fall. This will be my first year on the road to get my Master’s of Divinity (MDiv), and eventually becoming an ordained minister of the ELCA.

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This blog is dedicated to my friends and family who have been so supportive of me on my journey. They have been great at helping me out, and giving me the encouragement that I needed to make it this far.

My journey started with TCC where I got my Associate of Arts degree. Then I went on to PLU where I got a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Religion and minoring in Greek and Anthropology. This has been a long journey, and is not over yet.

I will be completing the first year at PLTS online, so I will still be in Washington for another year.

Life is an adventure.