We shout crucify…

Reading the passion

You realize

We continue to fashion

Ways to crucify

Jesus

Over and over again

In our history there

Isn’t one point when

We stopped hurting

The poorest among we,

We elect power grabbing

Leaders who continue

To hurt thee,

Jesus

In children with poisonous water

Chemicals, bombs, refusal

To feed and serve those we deem

Do not deserve

We kill you again and again

Oh God

We never stop our

Evil actions

Oppressing black family

Drawing factions

Stealing and poisoning land

Belonging to first nations

We let money drive us

Greed rule us

Satan enters us

We kiss our Lord with worship

And tonight he breathes no more…

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Response to the protest signs in the 2014 July 4th Parade in Miller, SD

This year, I have spent most of my summer in Miller, enjoying the company of my parents and allowing them time to bond with my children before we leave for my year long internship in Denver.  I had the privilege to witness the Fourth of July parade this year, and the floats, the cars, tractors and other altogether awesome vehicles and livestock that went by were wonderful – and my children would like to thank you all for the abundance of candy!
 
However, many of you noticed, as I did, a pair of gentlemen carrying signs purporting to know what “real Christians” would or would not do – and as Christian and future minister, I felt like responding to their charges with my own beliefs – though I would imagine most of you already know what I’m going to say…
 
American Christianity is NOT a “Big, Fat, Joke.”  Maybe it’s not perfect, but it is not a joke!
 
Real Christians do and have gone to war – for centuries.  War is not fun, and we have more and more disagreements about it’s purpose and necessity – but going to war does NOT erase your Christianity.
 
Divorce is a painful thing that was spoken against in the Bible.  However, God would NEVER want someone to be trapped in a marriage that was abusive and unhealthy – and the abundance of Grace we are offered by God can take care of the rest.
 
Christian women can be meek and modestly dressed, or they could be like me – Loud, outspoken, full of God’s love, and into fashion that doesn’t hide the fact that I’m a woman.  Women are not property, they are loved children of God, just like every man!
 
And perhaps what I feel most strongly about – God does NOT hate this world.  God created this world, and when it disappointed God, he sent his only son to die, so we might be saved.  God weeps when we do wrong, but God very much loves this world, and all creation.
 
Lastly – in America, those men were exercising their rights to share their thoughts, and doing it in a way that was fully in line with their (and even my) religious beliefs.  It’s incredibly ironic that they have this freedom because of those who went to war…
 
 I hope that any annoyance you might have felt was mild and short-lived, and that you know in your hearts that a real Christian is not a pretty picture of a perfect human, but a real person like you and me.
 

How many are my foes

I have shared with a few of you that due to a poor grade last semester (amongst many good grades and having a baby, mind you) I am on academic probation.  While I feel strongly this is a message from God to say “SLOW DOWN, STEF”, I’m frustrated that things are changing in my pastoral journey’s timeline.  I know things will work out and this is all for the best – and I’m quite sure that things had to get this official to actually get me to listen to the message – but this is a tough pill to swallow.

For years, when I wanted to overload it was no problem.  As a mother and wife, I need to look at things a little differently.  Overloading doesn’t just affect me.

 I look to others for help with self care, and will work on allowing myself the Grace promised to us through Jesus.  Thanks be to God for allowing me the space to change my way of life to a healthier pace.   

 

Psalm 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”[b]

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+3&version=NIV

 

Little Miss Sassypants…

Luke 3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

We preachers use the phrase, “wrestling with the text” when we are talking about finding meaning and diving into our sermons.  Wrestling doesn’t begin to describe how I’ve felt approaching this text.  It was more like a knock down drag out.  Now I’m not a preacher who always adheres to strictly biblical education, and in fact, I stray a bit from the text when I have a pressing message that I feel the text gives me – some feel I might be straying too far.

So when I sat down to take a good look at this text, I thought, this time, I’m going to be DEEPLY embedded in the text.  I read it.  I poured over it.  I examined it.  I read it again because I was confused.  Are you kidding me, Luke?  Tetrarch?  What the what?  So I hit up Google.  First site is Wikipedia- it (and I quote!) says “Tetrarch may refer to:” and then offers a list.  REALLY??  Definition says that it’s a ruler of a portion of a country – makes sense, but I’m not sure how important I find this information when interpreting.

I notice they say this particular rule has been for 15 years.  The articles I read speak of the rule of Tiberius Ceaser as particularly harsh – and that this might make the people of that time less concerned with spiritual well being than just plain surviving.  This becomes important in a few minutes.

We are then offered the fact that John the Baptist, son of Zechariah (and Elizabeth thankyouverymuch) has heard the word of God in the wilderness.  We then hear the prophecy, which is almost identical to Isaiah 40:1-3 (I won’t bore you by reading the subtle differences.  I’m sure Rolf Jacobson and David Fredrickson could argue why they are super different, but let’s just say for now, they’re the same!)

So this prophecy is there, why?  Is it telling us that John is saying the quote inside the quote?  Is it just telling us that these prophets of the Israelites are legit?  That John is legit?  Can that really be all I’m supposed to figure out with this passage?  I choose to say no.  (A yes would just make me cranky at this point, and that’s not terribly productive.)

So John is in the wilderness.  Wilderness is important – in chapter 4, Jesus will be sent there to be tested for 40 days, but it doesn’t seem like John is being tested.  I’m drawn to this idea that John not just hears the word of God, but he hears it in the wilderness.

John the Baptist is described very interestingly in the Bible.  In my class on Mark we talked about him wearing crazy furs, which wasn’t normal even for his time, and eating locusts and honey.  In this passage, we learn about John hearing the word of God in the wilderness.  Using that emphasis seems to set him apart – he was maybe a loner, definitely strange, and probably sharp tongued.

Ok, so not probably, definitely.  Later on He calls people seeking him out “vipers.”  This is my kind of guy.   To have license to not only have strong opinions, but to offer them very freely, without remorse (or at least we aren’t told of remorse).

Being in the wilderness, dressing oddly, eating bugs and telling people some super blunt things paints this John as a loner.  It might have been hard to be him – in fact I’m sure it was!  I’m guessing for a long time people told him how weird/wrong he was about life, and now all of the sudden they are swarming him for help with their salvation – that’s probably why he calls them vipers!  We see evidence of this when he says in verse 7, “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  As if to say, you poops, NOW you believe me?:)

So if you remember, we heard that Tiberius was a harsh ruler, people were probably having a hard time in daily life because of that, yes?  This same article asserts that a prophet that was so different as John was needed to reach the people.

What does a proclaimer of faith in the present time look like to you?  They probably have a  nice white robe, or a shirt with a collar for many of us.  They are probably dressed nicely, not in expensive clothes, but dressy, “respectable.”  But I’m reminded of preachers like Nadia Bolz-Weber and her fabulous tattoos and I think, I wish I was brave enough to have so many tattoos, and I also think, she looks significantly different than a traditional view of a pastor.  For one thing, she’s a chick!  For another, she swears.  My hero.  She’s incredibly real, and very sarcastic – she even has a blog entitled the Sarcastic Lutheran.

I think we need to remind ourselves that proclaimers of the Gospel, not just us in the pulpit on Sunday’s but ALL God’s children, need to find their unique voices in order to spread the salvation offered to us by Christ, and the love and peace that news brings.  Some of us do this in a traditional manner.  Some of us do this with beautifully detailed biblical study and education.  Some of us do this by dressing in costume and putting on a show.  Some of us do it by sharing music.  Some of us do this with emblazoned passion and earnestness.  Some of us do it by being little miss Sassypants.

Whatever your method, own it.  God made John very purposefully as a unique individual who played an important role in many faith lives.  You might not have historical books written about you, or even have a famous blog, but you impact people.  You are unique in God’s eyes, and you make the story come to life for those people you touch.  Be your wild, hairy, locust-eating self, and baby, people will listen!