Sunday, June 20, 2010

Growing up: Genesis 28-33

June 20, 2010
Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu
Genesis 28-33 (Newell Summary/ Translation)
1 John 4:11-12; 20-21
Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us. Those who say, “I love God and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do no love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from Jesus is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
Who are you..who who who who? This week during youth week we have been exploring very important existential questions: Who am I? Who am I becoming?
Who am I? Well, I’m Chester. Such a maligned name raises eye-brows. And not just here in the US. It’s a cigarette brand in Guatemala, and, in Brasil what do you call a chicken crossed with a turkey? A Chester. Who am I? Let’s talk about occupation? A Presbyterian minister. What a conversation killer. “Oh that’s nice, Excuse me, I have to go the the restroom. See ya.” Who am I? Yesterday I tried to wear my hair in a different style from usual. “Chester, that hair do is not you.”
So, Who am I? I am cool, I’m a nerd. I am beautiful, I am ugly. I am legal, I’m illegal. I am smart I am dumb. I am a jock, I’m a member of glee...
What is our true identity? Who we are in community? Who we are in relation to the world, particularly people of a different faith? Who we are as part of God’s creation? What does it mean to be claimed as children of God? These are the themes we touched on this week…we’re going to need a few more weeks..
For some reason God put on my heart this story of Jacob as the lesson for today. Jacob knew what it meant to struggle with identity. Sibling rivalry. Who can relate? Parental pressure: Go lie to your dad and backstab your brother Jacob! “But mom”. You do what I say young man (reaching for her shoe). Living up to parents expectations. Who can relate? He struggled with his relationship with God. What did God want with him? What did God think of the things he had done? Ever considered these things?
Who was Jacob? And who was he becoming?
I wonder this about Ruby sometimes. My church tells me they can’t get enough Ruby stories. I think Phillip Newell is on to something when he says, when you look into the face of a newborn child you are looking into the face of God.
And it’s been easy to see that face of God in Ruby for most of her nearly 17 months of life. Her innocence and openness, curiosity and wonder. We were at a restaurant in April eating at a booth, and we were close to the end of our meal when another family came in with a little girl who also was sitting in high chair. Ruby saw her and demanded to be put down. (waving her arms). So we put her down, and she looked at the little girl, and picked up a crumb of cornbread off of her high chair and walked over to the girl with her arm extended, an offering of friendship to a stranger.
Is this how we are created? Is this how God desires us to be and act with others in the world?
So What happens? 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jesus Stops the Funeral 1 Kings 17 Luke 7

  Children's sermon
A tradition in Haiti with very small children is for parents or siblings to give them a slice of bread, then ask them to give back one bite, so that from a very early age they learn to share. When I was in Mexico, when someone had a pack of gum they would ask anyone near by them, even a stranger, if they wanted a piece, even if it meant giving out the last piece. In the story from the old testament today in 1 Kings.  A single mother is almost out of food, and Elijah, a man of God, was sent to her by God.  When he arrived to be with her, he asked her to share.  Well, you can imagine that since she was almost out of food, she wasn't all that willing to share anything.  But he assured her that by doing so, God would provide more food for her. So she did share, and God did provide more.  I think sometimes those who have a lot of things, have a harder time sharing than those who have very little.  But God rewards those who share, ensuring that they will always have enough.  I hope that you may be willing to share, some of a slice of bread, or some of your gum, or whatever you may have, if someone comes to you in need.  That person may have been sent by God....


Have any of you seen how high I toss Ruby Gene in the air?  I love it.  It's fun to do this during bell choir practice.  The bells are silenced, and the women gasp. And Ruby Gene is just smiling, as she flies through the air, arms outstretched and then I catch her. I've only dropped her a couple of times!  

We have a new trick: she's started taking a "swimming class" at the Chavez center. She floats around in the water and kicks looking for floating toys. I can really toss her high in the pool. I was enouraged by the instructor to dunk her.  To do this, he told me to wet her head, I felt like i was baptizing her, and then blow in her face so she closes her eyes, and then dunk her underwater! Just a few seconds, and then lift her out. Her eyes are squinting and she takes her hands and puts them at the back of her head and tries to peel the water off of her. After she orients herself, she smiles...and resumes her kicking and searching for floating toys. 

She is so trusting, I wonder if she has ever doubted us, if she even has the capacity not to trust...
But I know it won't be that way forever.  There be an incident--hearing Trasie and me in an arguement, or one of telling her no very sternly to not do something-- and a slight shift will occur..and she'll wonder, can I really trust my parents?  Are they really on my side?  

What about her experience of God? Being the preacher's kid, she will certainly get a lot of God talk. And I pray that one day early on she may embrace and hold onto GOd, in an innocent way.  
But what about when her preacher daddy does't practice what he preaches?  What about when the community of faith subjects her to an unreasonable standard because she's the preacher's kid...and she is judged unfairly?  A shift..a shattering...something goes wrong...will she trust God?

Friday, June 4, 2010

A day in the life - Friday June 4

The morning began with a 7 am jog with Brinca. I've lost a lot since the quadrathalon in February.  Scarfing down breakfast, before Ruby woke up, I watered the yard, checked email and got ready for the day.  Off to the Santa Fe High School Graduation.  Third year in a row someone from the church was graduating from that school.  James Rotunno. I tried to find his family, looking in the same area they had sat the year before for his older brother Gabe.  No luck. So I just took a vacant seat on the hot aluminum bleacher, thinking how much easier it was to navagate the scene without a 6 month old baby as I did the year before.   The man calling out the names of students was giving his best Michael Buffer  impersonation--why is this the predominate way to pronouce names at these kinds of events..?  The man in front of me, and anglo man, repeated several times to his family...just wait till they get to the "Ms"! commenting on some of the common names here in Northern New Mexico..."There are 11 Martinez!"

There were a few kids who were paraplegic that were part of the graduating class.  They scooted up the ramps and made there way across the stage. It was interesting to watch the adults who were part of the congratulating crew standing in robes, hats, and stoles, respond to these kids.  While they shook the hands of all the other kids who walked across, these paraplegic kids received a few pats, mostly waves, and some simple nods.  Why is it so hard to touch them like you did everyone else, I wondered?  One of the kids names was Miracle.  I wasn't sure if that was a boy or girl name....But I did see her after the event, she was a girl.  I wondered if miracle has been born without the ability to move most of her body; and what her attitude about her body was now in light of a radio program listened to this week on Speaking of Faith, on this very issue. I thought her name very profound; yes, she was a gift, a miracle in fact.

They made it to the R's, of which there were many more than I anticipated.  I texted James' mother: "Here he comes! Congrats!" I tried to make out which one he was from the bleachers...and did not see him.  Then all of a sudden they were on S's. Did I miss him? I checked the program. His name was listed?  I saw I had a message from Milee on my phone.  I left the noise and the reverberations of the voice of the wanna-be Mr. Buffer, and went to make a call.
"Hey Milee," I said to James' mother.  "I didn't see James."
"Yeah, I meant to call you," she said.  "James was hurt last night and he's in ER."
"What happened? Are you okay? Is he okay?"
"He's doing okay, he was stabbed four times at after an event at the high school last night."

James was okay, and even rallied enough to play in our final softball games this year.  But this has forever changed his life.   The knife blade came very close to doing serious damage to his lungs and his internal organs.  Fractions of inches...
We pray for him and for the young men involved in this incident.