Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Life is a whirlwind these days - but in a great way

Seminary has been demanding and delightful these past three Saturdays.
Serious and subtly life-altering already. Giving me answers to questions I didn't know I needed to be asking about the history of the church and the trinity and why those ancient buildings are called basilicas and cathedrals. Who know? Certainly I did not.

I am taking two classes. One is The History of Christianity 1 - from the days of the apostles through the Reformation. The other is The Christian Life - which parallels the timetable of the history class and considers the faith practices and rules of living that faith communities have practiced over the history of the Christian church. A lot of reading and writing.

But if you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you know I am a geek. I love to read and write and so seminary is going to be a gift I give to myself - before I get to give the gifts gained to others. A dear friend of mine recently told me to study hard, to read and write well, to do everything I need to do to prepare to serve all the people that God will bring my way, all the people I will meet and serve. I love her perspective - this is a time of training and preparation that I get to go through in order to be better equipped to love and support and learn in future places and times of ministry.

One of the gifts you all have given me, Linda K most recently, is the support and kindness and encouragement that reminds me that I am already doing work to serve others. I am already praying and teaching and listening to stories and telling stories and asking questions and learning more about what needs to be done to bring justice and peace to more people and places and communities here in Charlotte and elsewhere.

Last Thursday, our church welcomed Dr Cornel West to speak, to challenge us, to move us, to make us laugh, to make us think, to push us out onto the front lines of the battle for justice. The title of the talk was - Justice: What Love Looks Like in Public. We can say everything we want about racism and inequality and injustice, but we must act. The skewed economic situation in our country and in our world, the segregation of people by race and socio-economic status, the gross inequality in our schools, the high percentage of people is "a moral disgrace" and "spiritually obscene."

The question is, knowing all that we know now, how now will we live?

What will we do? What will I do? (I guess that's more than one question...)

I had the honor of participating with Dr West and my senior pastor, Pen Peery, during the time of question and answers following the talk. Here is a link to our church website and a video of the talk and conversation we had. Make yourself some tea and grab a few cookies to dunk into the tea. It's long. But oh so good.

Briefly, our photo will serve as the profile photo for the church's Facebook page.
It was a glorious night. Such an honor to meet Dr West.
Sitting with him at the end felt like a conversations with a friend
while others watched, listened, and contributed questions to ask my friend.

He talked about individuals and churches and all the rest of us being on fire for justice and integrity.
Not being driven or motivated by buying and selling and status and position, but rather by love and justice.

I came away asking - Where am I using my energy and my resources?
Where is my anger and indignation at suffering and evil?
What I say matters much less than what I do.
He gave us much to consider - and showed us how much we need to do.

Towards the end of our conversation, he said, "The fight for justice is not a fad or a fashion. It is a way of life."

What a powerful challenge to not go back to being "well adjusted to injustice." We are outraged when tragedies happen - Sandy Hook and Ferguson and Baltimore and Hurricane Katrina and Mother Emanuel Church. We get upset - and rightfully so. We ask for help to understand our nation's horrific history of homicide and racism and inequity. But then we go back to our regularly scheduled consumerism and self-promotion and forget that so many still suffer and will continue to suffer until we, until I am willing to stand up, to speak up, and to change my way of life. For good.

In the meantime -
My daughter comes home from college for her fall break this weekend.
I have to write a paper on Communion before Saturday morning.
Tomorrow is the day I welcome guests to our Loaves and Fishes pantry.
There is another We Walk Together Charlotte walk tomorrow morning.

I am excited about our upcoming Fall Fest @ First. It will take place on October 18th, 4-6 pm at First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. Please join us for food trucks, pumpkin decoration, face painting, music by Tyrone Jefferson and A Sign of the Times. Bring canned food to donate to a local food pantry. We will create a book of prayers and messages of support and hope for Mother Emanuel AME Zion Church in Charleston where those nine church members were killed by a visitor. I recently found out that he had visited the church and attended Bible studies there several times. That fateful night back in June was not his first visit. He was welcomed by his hated victims; he almost couldn't go through with it, he said, because they were so kind to him. We cannot forget those who still mourn - and we hope our small and imperfect efforts will show them that they have not been forgotten.

For now, however, I need to get some sleep.

Life is a whirlwind these days - but in a great way.
Thanks be to God.

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