Monday, May 21, 2012

House: The End

Hoisted on my own petard! Or…be careful what you say because it can come back to bite you…

I’m pretty sure there must be something “off” within me, something that makes me mourn a completely made-up, make-believe work of entertainment fiction coming to an end. For the past 8 years, Hugh Laurie has entertained us as Dr. House, the “everyone lies,” pain-pill popping, pain in the butt, arrogant physician on the television series, “House.”

I’ve watched it off and on for a few years. Over the last two years, though, this has been the ONLY show I watch and something I share with my youngest son. Even when he was off at school or I had meetings, it was dvr’d and we caught up. Together.

Maybe what I miss is knowing that we had that in common. Maybe what I miss is watching the recorded shows and him telling me when not to watch. And then, when I could watch again. Maybe what I miss is the drama, the arrogance, the philosophy and the psychology of all the characters, including the guests who had the misfortune of strange illnesses that could only be solved after numerous attempts and a final “a-ha!” moment by Greg House.

But my “petard” (what on earth is that, anyway?) is that I have long been an advocate of change. Yet, here I am, annoyed and disappointed that change has invaded my peaceful existence. Change has impacted my life and bled over into my relationship with my son.

Or not. If I could handle being all grown up for a minute, I might recognize the gift of this show and the connection it gave me with my son. If I could act like an adult, I might celebrate and give thanks for two years of normalcy in a period of marked instability.

Change can be incredibly good. I know this because I have lived through it. I’ve even lived through good change that I did not initiate. So, my grown-up, adult voice wants to say thank you for a great run, a great opportunity to share something (even something as banal as a television series) with a child I care so deeply for….while my inner child would love to throw a tantrum and say, “No! I’m not ready for this to end!”

And it ends with Guy Lombardo…

Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think

Allll-rightey then. Bring on the change. I’ll enjoy myself and trust that this change will lead to something else I don’t necessarily want to let go of…

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To Love or To Judge...That is the Question

In a lot of ways, I could say it doesn’t matter. My “job” doesn’t depend on one outcome or the other. But my heart…my faith…yeah, it matters.

On Thursday, May 3, at General Conference in Tampa, Florida, an amendment was offered to a petition that has appeared at at least the last 2 General Conferences…and likely extends further back than that. It is a petition to change the language in our Book of Discipline and our Social Principles with regards to our view on homosexuality.

Yes, it is a highly-charged, much conflicted issue. We have a handful of Scripture passages from an ancient society on one hand…and a whole lot of interpretation of teachings on love and acceptance on the other. (Already you can see my bias. I admit it.)

Here’s my stance. God doesn’t need me to judge. Our Scriptures even tell us not to judge, that that is God’s role not ours. Period. God, in both the Hebrew Scriptures (it made the Top Ten!) and the New Testament, calls me to love. Love God, love my neighbor, love myself. I figure (my interpretation) that I am called to simply love and not judge.

However, the UMC, through the Book of Discipline and Social Principles states something along the lines of homosexuality being incompatible with God’s will.

I just don’t know that to be true. Yes, I know there are passages of scripture that support this. Just as I know there are passages that warn against judging and call each one of us to love each other.

I’m not God (thank God – and you should, too!). I leave all these details in God’s hands. Instead, I rely on the mandate that I am called to love. Not question. Not interrogate. Not sit as judge and jury for the Almighty. I have one purpose and that is to love all that God has created.

My very first funeral to officiate occurred when I was a candidate for ordained ministry in the UMC. It was for a friend who died of complications from AIDS. Yes, he was gay. He was in a monogamous relationship for many years. Before he died, he was on hospice care and I spent a great deal of time with him, his partner, and their friends. Initially, I was greeted with animosity and distrust from his friends, as many of them had been turned away from the church – whatever denomination. The stories they shared of their experiences were simply heartbreaking. We have no right to treat one another that way.

This “issue” – if you want to call it that – will come up again, at General Conference 2016, I have no doubt. Isn’t it time for us to stop worrying about what God thinks about homosexuality and start focusing on what God might think about our selective love?

You don’t have to agree with me. But I think you do have to figure out for yourself what God means, what Christ means, when you and I are called to love unconditionally.

Church: Noun or Verb?

You just never know what will spark a conversation.

I am so privileged to serve a historic congregation. We worship in a building that was constructed in 1893 (at least, our traditional services are held in this building). We recently sent off our pipe organ for restoration – an addition that was installed in 1909.  There are so many stories to be told about the people who sacrificed and worked to make our current facilities possible.

And, at times, I feel like an ungrateful child. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE this building. I LOVE the architecture and the stained glass windows and the wooden pews and the cool seats in the balcony with the hat racks under the seats. But…

Aren’t we more than a building? Isn’t church supposed to be a verb? A way of living that mirrors the kingdom of God?

So, the “conversation spark” recently had something to do with the tradition…the sameness, the history. I get that, I really do. I am the first to say, “Yes” let’s do the Gloria Patri and the Doxology and the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed. I grew up with this stuff and it somehow screams “church” to me when we do it. I mean that in a good way.

But…what is really happening when we gather on Sunday mornings for worship? Are we paying homage to a historical building, enjoying the beauty of this now nearly ancient structure? Or, are we gathering to celebrate the living God among us?

My life has taken so many detours and wild turns, albeit most of them once I accepted the call to ministry (which leads to a whole other train of thought…)…I’ve been the girl who was on top of the world, unshakeable, successful. And I’ve been the girl who could do no more than fall to her knees.

I learned a lot more on my knees.

Whether we sing the Gloria Patri with glorious sunshine streaming through the gorgeous stained glass windows or not…we are simply children of God, called to love one another without judgment. We aren’t in charge, aren’t in control, aren’t leading the way…we simply respond to what God is doing with joy and good humor.

Surely there was laughter in our tradition. There has certainly been much in my life, mucked up though it may be. We aren’t a building, beautiful though it is. We are a people, beautiful and “very good” in God’s eyes. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It Is a Small World...after all

There’s a ride at Disneyland (that would be the California one…) designed for smaller children that plays an unforgettable song. I’m guessing you know which one I’m talking about. I think it was the only ride my oldest actually enjoyed when I took him there a few months before he turned 4. Mickey Mouse really is a 6-ft giant rat when you’re still a little person…

Since moving to Georgetown almost a year ago, I have had all kinds of “It’s a Small World” experiences. I’ve run into former neighbors from Victoria. One of our church members is the daughter of my second-grade teacher from Victoria. And then there are all these other connections.

One member has a son who serves as a neighboring County Commissioner and a family friend knows him…another member ran for representative back when Victoria and Williamson County were in the same district and campaigned in Victoria (they know some of the people I know of…let’s just say we didn’t run in the same circles).

Today, though, I went to visit a member in an Austin hospital. Another one of those “It’s a Small World” things because a former uncle (translation: the ex’s uncle) was in the same hospital. This uncle and his wife (it gets confusing so just play along) were absolutely the kindest people. And, oh my, could he barbecue! He ran a catering business for a long time, even catered my wedding.

I stopped to visit, re-introduced myself (he had had major surgery the day before) and we chatted for a few minutes. He told me he missed me and to tell the boys hello for him. I have no idea where those goofy tears came from…but, wow, that meant so much to me.

And so I am reminded that we do indeed live in a very small world. God allows us to connect in so many interesting ways. While I may have preferred to avoid some of those “growing experiences,” I am so grateful for the people I have encountered, the ones who have touched my life in such meaningful ways.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Over the past week, I have done some extraordinary chapter closing. I sold my house in Fort Worth last Friday. I nodded my head as the one-year anniversary of the big D passed yesterday. And, today, I bought a car.

I’m trying really hard not to be too excited about the car. But looking back…yeah, I am excited and it’s just going to have to be ok. A little over 2 years ago, I got to experience my first repossession (not an adventure I recommend). It was just the tip of the iceberg as far as the extent of debt stupidity I found myself swimming in as he-who-shall-not-be-named became the incarcerated one. Again, another adventure I advise against…

God is good and so is family. Dad had been on the look-out for a minivan (don’t ask) and found one about the time Wells Fargo needed to relieve me of my current ride. I guess I’ll never know if he really wanted the minivan he got or if he settled for it to be able to pass along their older car. Either would have made him happy so I will be happy about it, too.

It’s been a great car and I can’t tell you how grateful I have been to have it. It celebrated its 10-year birthday and kept going beyond the 125,000-mile mark. But it was showing signs of its advanced years. The engine light was just one of the quirky little personality traits. (Seriously, I had it checked, several times). And, it got to be a bit funny when I filled the tank and spent the first ¼ tank playing the you’ve got gas/the tank is empty game, complete with the dinging bell. In other words, this car had character.

However, I have to admit that each time I got on the highway, I prayed. And prayed that it would take me where I was headed without any problems.

Selling the house was another God-thing and I remain incredibly grateful. I decided it was time to replace the adventure car. Enter the new (to me) Volkswagen Jetta. It’s a 2009 with 40,000 miles…with a small down payment, I am finally rebuilding my credit. (Although, I’m not sure if Dave Ramsey would pat me on the back…)

So, yeah, I had fun driving my new ride home. And, yeah, I had a moment of sadness, thinking about how proud Dad was of that old car, how thrilled he was to be able to pass it on to me when I really, really needed it. Then I realized how much fun he would have had playing with all the gadgets on my “new” VW….

I’m excited about it…and Dad would have loved to drive it, too.