...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, May 8, 2014

God's Love Doesn't Shame

A stained glass of Thomas and Jesus, Jn.20
I think if more people were willing to treat beliefs as beliefs instead of facts, it would make talking with each other easier... I guess I’d just like Christians and church leaders to be more honest…with everyone. Stop treating faith as a fact. Call it hope. Call it confidence, not certainty.” Matt Casper,  Jim and Casper Go to Church.

Picture it now: Thomas asks the risen Jesus for a sign, a clue as to Jesus' identity. Just as surely as Jesus was known in the breaking of the bread (Luke 23), Jesus is known by the wounds of his execution at the hands of the Romans eight days earlier. (John 20) 

What if Jesus had bullied or shamed Thomas, his own disciple, by discounting both him and his search for the honest truth? The ugly reality is that churches are susceptible of being as shame- based as any family, organization, or individual. If we can see ourselves, our family, or our church in these characteristics, it may be time start moving from shame-based to grace-based behaviors.   

Even if we grew up being shamed for who we were, for having the feelings and thoughts and behaviors we had,  the good news is that it's possible to identify the places in our lives where we can change and choose to live by grace. We don't have to live by what our shame says we are.  

Because works- righteousness is a shame-based theology (we're not good enough or worthy to receive God's free acceptance of us), then I really wonder how many who say we have accepted Christ have also accepted ourselves? Is this self acceptance embedded all the way to our psyches, our spirits, our bodies, not just our heads, not just "deciding" for Jesus in one moment? 

I don't and cannot believe Jesus shattered a shame-based sacrificial system in order to create another one! I believe that we're still wrestling with the fact that Jesus died to show us that the true nature of God is love. Jesus didn't die to buy off an angry God. Our sin killed Jesus. This is what was at stake in Jesus' death: not God's rage but rather, God's love and grace, mercy and compassion. 

Jesus, in the suffering he endured to his death, showed us that God is love. (I John 4:19) That's not shaming, but freeing, now and forever, from our sick slavery to shame, sin, and death.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

Peace and Serenity Are Possible

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid." John 14:27  I've said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” John 16:32-33        
What would it mean to receive Christ's peace?

It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” John 20:19

Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” John 20:27

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. AA

We're a multitasking culture. And the addiction to fidgeting with many things challenges our brains and can jeopardize our physical safety. In a quiet moment alone, we may be especially confronted with the cacophony of our own racing thoughts. We can't run away from ourselves, no matter how good at avoidance we may be. The most popular post on this blog is on multitasking as the new ADD.  

But while solitude can nurture and strengthen us if we let it, isolation is a captivity all its own. Isolation seems to have been a real temptation for the disciples in the post Easter narrative of John. After running scared, they were in hiding behind "locked doors." The natural response to fear is usually to run and hide.

I love the lyrics from Elton John's Weight of the World. The chorus speaks of breaking out of the walls and locked doors we have created throughout our lives. The challenge of the second half of life is to let those walls come down, to be more available to ourselves.

I'm weary and I'm staying up late
And the rain hits my roof so hard
You know I'm no longer thirty these days
I'm happy to play one or two hands of cards

And the weight of the world is off my back
When we fell, we got up
And crawled out the cracks
Excuse me if I take some comfort in that
Happy today, happy to play
With the weight of the world off my back   

Jesus always seems to show up, even through the locked doors behind which I'm hiding! In John 3 and 4, Jesus enters into the shame of a Nicodemus and a nameless Samaritan woman. For Nicodemus, it was fear of being found out: he was a leading teacher and yet was coming to Jesus with total lack of answers about spiritual life with God. For the Samaritan woman, it was the addictive pattern of the past and another toxic relationship in a continuing cycle of brief and broken ones.

How many times have I hid behind fear and shame? The result is more fear and shame- and isolation. Step #2 admits that our way of fixing things causes more, not less, pain. Into the mess that we created, Jesus Christ speaks his peace. The Spirit is breathed on the disciples, and even as the wind moves across the waters of Genesis 1, so are we are recreated in the presence of the living Christ. We are set free.

Joy, peace and serenity follow as we're called not to stay behind the walls, but sent and empowered to live beyond them: After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” John 20:23


Friday, April 25, 2014

Wake Up to Freedom

If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its subsequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God's help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelve Step ourselves into emotional sobriety.  Excerpt from Bill W.'s Letter on Emotional Sobriety

A few years ago, Alone with the Alone became the basis for a year long retreat. Here's what the author, Jesuit George Maloney, has to say about Jesus' freedom, the key to our freedom:
Being loved = being free to accept & share our unique gifts

The freedom of Jesus cannot be understood except in light of the infinite love of the Father that was constantly poured into his heart: "I am in the Father and Father is in me." (John 14:11). "In his body lives the fullness of divinity" Colossians 2:9, since the Father continually pours into his being the gift of himself in the Spirit of love. Joy, ecstasy, peace and happiness pour over Jesus as he not only receives the Father as gift but he becomes a gift, freely given back in self-surrendering love to the Father. Jesus constantly was wrapped in the loving presence of his Father who poured his Spirit of love into Jesus' being. With joyful response Jesus delighted to love...

We can choose to live consciously- in a God-infused world. And if Jesus' gift was total self- giving love with himself and the Father and Holy Spirit, then why should we not draw continually on the same love that is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that is given to us? 

Follow by Email

Why Clergyspirit?

My Photo
Houston, Texas, United States
Welcome! I serve Chapelwood, a United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. Clergy are frequently present for others, but no one can offer what we don't have.. That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

Making Good Decisions

Prayer of Discernment

By our own reason and strength, Lord, we cannot find our way. There are too many paths and we do not know where they will lead us. Show us the way, Jesus. You know our path and our way home. Amen.

The Moravian Daily Texts 2011

Democracy Now!