Let’s Eat Some More

Supper Church Shoeboxes

We began Supper Church this past Wednesday. Pam made Vegetable Soup, Salad and three people brought a dessert. It was delicious. We then watched a slide show of pictures from this past church year. We saw pictures of Community Day, our Children’s Christmas Pageant, the Food Bank, our Midweek Meal group, and of course Supper Church. We saw lots of pictures. What picture came up the most?

Pictures of people eating.

Yeah, we’re Baptist. We like to eat. But it’s not just that. Table Fellowship goes a long way back in our Christian tradition. After all, Jesus spent a lot of time eating in the Bible. It was one of his favorite things to do. He ate on the hillside with the crowd-the crowd of 5,000 people Jesus fed with 3 loaves of bread and 2 fish. He liked to eat at Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ house to catch a break. He went to a wedding in the village of Cana and feasted alongside his disciples, his family, and the rest of the village. Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house to eat and Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Jesus also ate dinner at a Pharisee’s house. And before he died Jesus shared the Passover meal with the twelve disciples-Passover lamb and all.

Jesus liked to eat. He liked to eat with his friends. It was how he bonded with them. It was how he discipled them too. Jesus taught them by getting close to them. He taught them parables, sayings and performed miracles. All of these things are instructive, but having a close relationship with his disciples made all the difference. Knowing Jesus personally helped them understand his teachings and helped them follow his example.

The same is true for us. When we are eating we aren’t just putting food in our mouths. We’re talking, we’re visiting, and we’re actually discipling each other. When else are we going to talk about how things are going in our own lives? When else are we going to ask for advice? We can talk to each other other times of course-but there’s something intimate about sharing a meal together around the table.

Eating together might sound trivial but in a church it’s not. It’s vital. Table Fellowship makes a church, a church. We eat in the fellowship hall and we eat in the sanctuary each month for Holy Communion. The challenge for us is to take this one step further and eat in other places together. What if we invited other church members to our homes? What if we shared meals together at home? How would that affect our faith and our community?

Eating together-it’s what Jesus did and it’s what we should do too.

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A Little Faith

cross-picture

I’ve been pilfering through my books in the office lately and I’ve been drawn to my book about Julian of Norwich. It’s a big book of her writings, biographical information and commentary on her life. Who was she, was she married, what did her words mean-these are the questions the book addresses. It’s a big book and I’ve only read pieces of it.

The reason that I’ve been drawn to it is that she lived through chaos. She was living her life in the worst of times. She lived in England in the 1300s-the middle ages. The king was assassinated and so was an archbishop. There was a nation wide riot called the Peasants Rebellion and it was harshly suppressed. She lived through three sieges of the massive Pestilence (the Plague) that killed over half the population. She saw the beginning of the Hundred Years War between England and France. The Church-the only Church, came apart. At one point there were three men who claimed to be pope. And eventually the great schism came-the split between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The monasteries went from being places of sacrifice and devotion to places of England’s worst landlords. England had its first heretics during her lifetime.

Whew! That’s quite of list of things to live through. And through it all Julian had a optimistic theology. Her most famous saying is this, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”. Her deep trust in God isn’t dismissive and a big shrug of her shoulders as if to say, oh well, that’s life. No, these are words of boldness and faith. She believes that on the Great Final Day God’s Will shall ultimately be worked out in all of God’s creation. Her optimism is full of conviction and a solid faith. Her faith stands in defiance of the times. She believes that God is still working to that end-that all manner of thing shall be well, not because we’re going to go to heaven. No, but because God is still working in this world right now.

Julian’s words have been on my mind lately. Our world is in chaos right now. North Korea has performed yet another missile test. Charlottesville has been the site of violence and hatred. As we pick up the pieces from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma destroys the Caribbean islands and Hurricane Jose is right behind her. We have a very unpredictable President occupying the White House. Congress has been divided. The Church at large is threatening to tear itself apart because of homosexuality. And that’s on top of the stuff going on in our own individual lives. Many of us have faced grief, illness or know people who are going through it.

How on earth did Julian of Norwich say those words in her lifetime? How can we find that sense of peace in ours? I think right now that we all need a little faith-a little faith in God’s power, a little faith in the goodness of humanity and a little faith in ourselves that we can do things to make things better. Just a little faith. Right now that’s hard enough. It’s easy to give in to despair, to wonder at the evil in the world and forget about the goodness. But there is still goodness because of God.

All we need is a little faith.

(Info taken from my book-The Complete Julian of Norwich, Paraclete Press, 2009)

 

The Spirit of Community Day

Community Day

We ate, we danced, we played bingo, and we ate some more. All of this happens each year at North Garden’s Community Day. The North Garden Area Community Churches organize the event each year. Each year we have a big party and invite our neighbors. What can be better?

Community Day is one of the biggest events of the year and for good reason. It’s not just about the food and fun-it’s about coming together as a community. It’s also about Christian hospitality-welcoming everyone not because we expect anything back, but because we love them. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

As Christians we are supposed to welcome people into our lives not because we expect something back, but because we love them. This is a hard thing sometimes. When was the last time you asked someone over for dinner? When was the last time you stopped to have coffee with a good friend? When was the last time you really talked to your neighbors instead of just waving at them?

Making time to do this is hard, but it’s worth it. We are supposed to practice hospitality just as Jesus did. He was welcoming to the children who came to spend time with him. He sat and listened to the Samaritan Woman at the well. He invited the twelve disciples to follow him and spend three years with him. Jesus made people a priority and we should do the same.

How are you loving your neighbors? How can we keep the spirit of Community Day with us all year long?

Let’s Do it Again

Red Hill School Supplies

I had the best moment on Monday. I went to Red Hill Elementary School’s office and said, “I’m from Mooreland Baptist Church and we collected school supplies for you”. The secretary and the preschool teacher were excited. Really? That’s awesome! Thank you so much!

Before I left they said thank you again. It really helps. I felt like Santa Claus. It was awesome. These extra school supplies are so helpful because Red Hill has an extra forty students this year because Yancey Elementary School has been closed. Every little bit helps with the big transition.

Donating school supplies is a small thing, but it meets a very specific need. Public School teachers aren’t paid enough. Public Schools don’t have big budgets for extra school supplies and teachers sometimes pay for extra school supplies out of pocket. There are families in our community that need a little extra help with school supplies. Our donation helped meet a specific need in our community. It makes a difference.

We want our community to know that we care. We want our community to know that we are listening to their needs and trying to respond. We want our community to know that we care about them, because God cares about them. We want to love our neighbors. And that means knowing what the needs are and responding the best way we can.

How else can we support our community? How can Mooreland Baptist Church make things better for North Garden? These are good questions to ponder and think about as we begin our new church year. The last thing we need is another program, another Bible Study or another something for us. We need to look beyond ourselves and listen. Where is God leading us to serve in our community?

 

Jillian’s Thoughts

It seems to me that we have forgotten to see each other as human. We saw this over the weekend here in Charlottesville, a town that I have come to know and love for the past six years. We have forgotten to see each other as human and neighbors.

I don’t say this from a place of high moral standing. I may be a member of the clergy, but this weekend I cannot sit on the high moral standing of the clergy. It’s because I am too angry, too exhausted, and too upset. My town has been invaded by white supremacists twice this summer. Twice. They invaded my town. They stood beside the very library where I take my sweet daughter every two weeks to check out Clifford books. These demonstrations happened near the place where I get my hair cut by Packmo, every eight weeks. These demonstrations happened near the Children’s Museum where I take my daughter. There’s my favorite yarn store very close by.

I say all these things as a white woman with a lot of privilege. I’m only complaining about the library I couldn’t go to, and the hair cut place. They aren’t protesting and getting in my face. I’m not a problem in their view. But my minority neighbors are, and they suffer more than I do when these things happen.

I wish I could say that I condemn all the violence on both sides. I cannot say that with my whole heart. I’m too angry. I’m too cranky. I can only see the counter-protestors as human. Our town has been invaded twice by white supremacists. It has been a lot to bear. The urge to grab your pitchfork and protect your town is very strong. It’s understandable. I’ve felt it too. I also feel the need to remind folks that not everyone is a Christian and believes in non-violence. We cannot hold other people to a standard they may or may not believe in.

As for the white supremacists, I abhor what they stand for and what they have done. I am more than happy to point fingers at them. But even for all their vile words, deeds and torches in hand-they are still just human. They are still people after all. And I am trying to remind myself of that. I am trying to tell myself that these people believe evil things and do evil things, but they weren’t created that way. They weren’t born to hate. Someone taught them that. They learned it. And I do believe with all my heart that there is goodness in them. I pray that they will return to that goodness and let go of their hate.

It’s easy to point fingers and say what a mess, especially when it isn’t your town. It’s easy to stay above the mess and make proclamations about non violence. But I feel like that’s the above the ground approach. I’m here on the ground and all I see are humans giving into their brokenness. I see humans spewing hatred that someone taught them. I see humans grabbing their proverbial pitchforks and protecting their town. I also see clergy trying to bring peace to a chaotic day. I also see faithful Christians praying, singing and walking together. The church showed up last week and on Saturday, like we were supposed to.

There are a lot of things that need to be talked about as a result of Saturday. We need to talk about race and and how awkward it is to talk about race. We need to talk about where we’ve been-slavery, Jim Crow and recent events. We need to talk about different faith traditions, especially the Muslim tradition, so we can better understand each other.

There’s a lot to talk about, but we first need to see each other as human. And that might mean we need to be more understanding and more forgiving. And after the events over the weekend, the forgiving part is going to be the hardest.

 

 

 

 

Growing Season

Cucumbers

I love this time of year. August is a time of new possibilities, planning, and seeing where God will lead. It’s also a time of year to wrap up the summer, or in church calendar terms-growing season. Officially, the church calendar calls this time of year Ordinary Time. Or another official term would be the Sundays after Pentecost. These are boring terms in my opinion. It’s growing season. Let’s call it that.

We call this time of year Ordinary Time, the Sundays after Pentecost, or growing season, because there aren’t any sacred holidays to prepare for. Easter is over. Pentecost is over. Christmas is a long way off. This is the time of year that we can let our faith blossom. It’s a time of year to take what we’ve learned and do something with it. It’s also a time of year to look at other stories of the Bible.

This summer we looked at Creation. We had a sermon series called: Celebrating and Honoring God’s Creation. We looked at stories that aren’t associated with holidays. We learned about creation, stewardship, gratitude, and the promise that earth is still under construction. It was fun and a different way to look at some familiar stories.

Summer is also a time of Sabbath and travel. We get away from home, have fun with our families and come back ready to begin again. Sometimes our faith grows more when we are resting because thoughts, ideas and stories have time to marinate. We have time to ruminate on them and try to figure out what they mean to us.

Summer is also a time of hard work. It’s a time to cut hay. It’s a time to weed the garden. It’s a time to pick, freeze and can our garden’s bounty. It’s a time to bear the heat and get it all done.

As a church we are finishing up the summer. Soon we will be coming back from vacations and settling in for the fall. We are putting together a budget. We are signing up for teacher positions and committees. We’ll be nominating deacons. The church will begin a new church year with a new budget and new officers. The church will begin it’s work anew.

But before we all get into it, let’s remember how we’ve grown this summer. What have you grown in your life? Some of you are actually growing produce and raising cattle. This year I’ve been growing weeds-people sized weeds. What else have you been growing-love for your neighbor? Have you been growing in your prayer life? Have you grown because you’ve taken a vacation or a good long Sabbath? And what will you do with the things you have grown?