Thursday, September 28, 2006

take comfort

"The church is never far from the insignificance of Jesus and his band of unimpressive followers. It is always setting out from the particular in the direction of God's incalculable gift of everything." (p.18)

from this book.

Monday, September 25, 2006

discerning vocation

I came across some good help this week in a book called, “The scope of our art: the vocation of the theological teacher” edited by L. Gregory Jones and Stephanie Paulsell. In a chapter written by Jones (Negotiating the Tensions, pp.209-224) he pulls together four quotes that, he says, helps one navigate one’s vocational choices. For your enlightenment, here they are….

“Something’s your vocation if it keeps making more of you.”
Gail Godwin, Evensong

“When Christ calls [someone], He bids him come and die.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

"The place God calls you is the place where you deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

“Do you want to make God laugh? Tell God your plans.”
Familiar Saying in Divinity School

Friday, September 22, 2006

America's smartest cities

Lexington made the top ten in this CNN brainiest cities list. education is no guarantee for wisdom but it's nice to see our home town ranked with the likes of 'real' (sexy?) cities such as Seattle, DC, and Boston.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The unexpected invitations of God

The book of Isaiah is full of good news. I know it is the book of a prophet calling for change and delivering condemnation and rebuke to God’s people, but it is one of my favorite. Through its passages, I find I can begin to hold together the nature of the omnipotent God of history and the vulnerable, incarnated Jesus. I love it because it reveals the kind of God I desire to follow and it is loaded with the hope of redemption and the promise of new places.

I think one of the most simple and profound declarations in Isaiah comes from these verses:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
” (Isa 55:8-9)

And these ways of God are unpredictable and unexpected. In the chapters surrounding this verse, the God of Israel beckons the barren woman, the thirsty and poor, the foreigner, and the eunuch. Restoration and healing are promised for each of these who the religious of Israel would forget. The woman who never bore a child is instructed to make lots of room for her descendants. The thirsty and the ones with no money are offered the richest of fare at no cost. For the foreigner, the invitation into the house of prayer and the dignity of belonging is secured. And the eunuch is guaranteed that which he could never obtain – an everlasting name. Certainly these are not the ways of this world I currently know.

As I wrestle with thoughts of global poverty, national policies, justice and the role of the church, and think through issues of local need and division among the rich and the poor in Lexington, and long for the promises of something different to be realized in our time, I don’t conclude much on my own. But, I lay my anxieties of all that is lacking at the feet of this God in Isaiah – the one with the righteous ways of love, the omnipotent agenda, and the strange preferences for the least.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

myles horton quote

a few years ago a dear friend introduced me to a man named myles horton - not in person, just through american history.

anyway, mr horton has become a hero for me and this brilliant quote came to me via sojomail ( )this morning.

If people have a position on something and you try to argue them into changing it, you're going to strengthen that position. If you want to change people's ideas, you shouldn't try to convince them intellectually. What you need to do is get them into a situation where they'll have to act on ideas, not argue about them.
- Myles Horton

serve god save the planet

Sherry just read this book. perhaps she will write a review sometime soon. i dipped into it (as i am want to do) and it looks fantastic. a voice from the heart of american evangelicalism speaking to issues of environmental (and other) justice. i have it on good authority that the author actually just moved to central Kentucky so i hope we can hear more from dr. sleeth.

check out the website ( and click on resources for some great ways to put legs on living justly. Posted by Picasa

distant clarity

i took this picture out the car window as we rolled along an obscure country road. i moved the camera with the car as i opened the shutter to get the "out of focus (foreground)/in focus (background) effect." kentucky is looking more and more beautiful to these foreign eyes. i like this picture because it makes me think about the eschaton - that place in the distance that we are headed toward, that place where the Kingdom comes in fullness, that place more clearly seen (at times) than the things right in front of us. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

in need of a mission fix?

The Missio Dei Conference in Nashville looks like a brilliant event. not sure if we can make it down though...anyone interested in car pooling from Lex?


The next GOCN conference might be a worthwhile event....better still, the "Mission and Biblical Interpretation: Toward a Missional Hermeneutic" experiment at the SBL conference looks fantastic.

8 minutes

PLEASE go and watch this 8 minute video. 8 minutes of your time is all i ask and then you can have the rest of the day to yourself. this issue isn't going away. (click on the video on the right)

GreenCity Meeting

This event might be worth our time...if you go can you blog us a report please.
1st Green City Town Meeting
Global Warming: Lexington and the Future
Date: Thursday, Sept. 21st 2006, 7pm-9pm
Location: Kentucky Theater
Sponsored by (GL PodCast)

Purpose: Explain national scientific consensus that there is Global Warming caused by human use of fossil fuels and discuss the consequences for future generations. Highlight what our community is doing now and what opportunities may exist for Lexington in the future. Invite community discussion, suggestions and provide feedback. Provide news media (including invited representatives from local College and High School newspapers) with digital press kit including information graphics and references.

Moderator: Tom Marten Editor in Chief, BizLex (w/Podcast)
Mayor Teresa Isaac
Charlie Milward (Bluegrass Partnership for Green Community)
Patty Draus (CoolCities Program)
Jonathan Miller (Kentucky Treasurer)
Veronica Judy-Cecil (Ben Chandler’s Representitive)
Interfaith Alliance
Scott Smith (Lexington Environmental Engineer, Chief of Staff the Kentucky Environment and Public Protect Cabinet 2004- 2006, Acting Executive Director of Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission 2005- 2006 )

Agenda: 2 Hours.
1st Hour Presentation, 2nd Hour community input, next step discussions.
A. Introduction:Micheal Jonathan Song. GreenLex Introduction and Science of Global Warming charts.
B. What is being done in Lexington:US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.Bluegrass Partnership for Green Community.CoolCities and other programs.
C. Lexington’s Future:Interfaith AllianceJonathan Miller Kentucky State Treasurer (Global warming and green jobs) Scott Smith (Lexington’s economic and ecologic sustainable growth) Ben Chandler's Representative
D. What can I do? and NEW site tools and features including Bluegrass Energy & GreenLiving NEW Online Directory.
E. Open DisscusionQ&A with Q&A Panel.“Next Steps” Discussion and Summary.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Saw Jesus, Wish I Hadn't

I did see Jesus yesterday morning. I ran into the High Street House on my way out of town. I was meeting my Jodie in Nashville and I wanted to hurry. Jesus came in looking for me, yelling. HELLO? he announced as he walked through the front door. I heard him before I saw him. HELLO? he said as I tried to answer him. And there he was before me, mucous in his moustache, dirty clothes, smelling bad, incoherent. Here is my response:
Me: Hey man, I really need to get going.
Jesus (a little put out): Hey...can't I tell you what happened?
Me: No, friend (I think I really said "friend"!); I don't have time this morning.
Jesus: Gimmie a dollar for the bus.
Me: Come out on the porch and we'll talk about it (so tricksy, terrible).
Jesus (walking past me): Man, I need a ride.
Me: I'm not going to do that right now (locking the door).
Jesus: Gimmie a dollar, then.
Me: I wouldn't feel good about that.
Jesus: Man, you wanna fight?
Me: Not really.
Jesus: Man...fuck you.
Me: Bye.
It breaks my heart to see it on a page, on a screen. I realized as soon as I was safely in the car who the man was. His benediction was tragic, but this is pretty much what my actions had been saying to him as I removed him, as I moved past him.
It is doubly terrible when I consider that, given the chance, I am not sure what I would do differently. I still don't think it is good or right, but I don't know what to do about it. I'm afraid that I resist and resent Jesus on a regular basis. He gets in my way and I do my best to move past him. I am so sorry, Jesus. And I am so sorry, community. Please forgive me.

Butterfly and Diamonds

One Makes the Difference
with Julia Butterfly Hill (author of The Legacy of Luna)
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
7:00pm, Lexington Public Library, 140 East Main Street
Free and Open to the Public

This special evening explores our Power to Change the World and spotlights local efforts to protect our environment and better our community.Tree-sitter Julia Butterfly Hill is the author of “The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods,” and “One Makes the Difference: Inspiring Actions That Change Our World”. Julia achieved world wide recognition for her two-year long tree-sit protecting the California redwoods. She returned to the international spotlight last June when she joined fellow activists Joan Baez and Daryl Hannah in tree-sitting to protect a group of South Central Los Angeles farmers from eviction.
For more information or 502-897-2721

Film Screening: Black Diamonds
Sponsored by: UK Appalachian Studies Program
9/27/2006, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Location: Taylor Education Building
Ticket Info: Free
Appalachian Studies presents, Black Diamonds: Mountaintop Removal and the Fight for Coalfield Justice.

The film explores West Virginia surface mining and mountaintop removal practices and how they affect the land and the people. Following the screening, Catherine Pancake will discuss her film with the audience.
Contact: Kate Black (859)-257-4207

Friday, September 15, 2006

The parable of the persistent farmer

I thought this story, sent to me by a friend, was pretty funny. Persistence is an important thing....

88-year-old farmer fathers a son

An 88-year-old Indian farmer has become one of the oldest men ever to become a dad.
Virmaram Jat has been trying for a son for 60 years.
The mother is his third wife Gammo Devi, 45 years his junior.
Virmaram, who already has a daughter of 16, lives in a remote mud hut in India with his family and tends cattle, goats and camels.
According to the Sun he said: "I am a farmer with simple needs. I have intercourse daily and the best time is between 2am and 4am.
"I will try to have more children. It is up to God whether he blesses me. I don't want to live for 100 years but my desire is that as long as I live, I enjoy my sexual life."
Virmaram's 85-year-old first wife, who still lives with him, helped choose the mum and assisted at the birth.
His nephew, 60, has vowed to raise the boy when he dies.
The world's oldest recorded dad was Aussie Les Colley, who was 92.

Our identity in a life of mission with God

From the text “Constants in Context, A Theology of Mission for Today” by Bevans and Schroeder, I found timely insight and meaning for our community as we come together around new liturgy and worship as one group from two this Sunday. Not only that, it never hurts to be reminded of the missionary nature of the church. In this excerpt, they quote from a document from the Orthodox Church called “Go Forth in Peace.”

Bevans and Schroeder write:
“This identity as members of Christ’s body and sharers in God’s communal life is renewed and re-created as the church celebrates the liturgy, particularly as it celebrates the Eucharist. As Christians participate in the communal prayer, singing and ritual action, and as they experience their unity through the communion of the one bread and one cup, they are caught up anew in God’s life and life giving. As the document “Go Forth in Peace” puts it:

‘The liturgy is not an escape from life, but a continuous transformation of life according to the prototype of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Spirit…The liturgy does not end when the Eucharistic assembly disperses. “Let us go forth in peace”; the dismissal is a sending off of every believer to mission in the world where he or she lives and works, and of the whole community into the world, to witness by what they are that the kingdom is coming.’”

human trafficking mixes with Lexington

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Goodbyes from an intersection.....

This is a poem from our brother Dan as he continues his quest to find the beauty of Jesus in all things, especially in the forsaken places and moments.

Goodbyes from an Intersection

In the distance, I could see your face.
That marbled look of cold years and hard work made me think back to the time you shared a cracked sliver of your life with me.

How the dreadful passing of time runs its course at its own speed and slamming on the breaks only equals the amount of time between the breath you take and the whisper I hear.

On the ground I could see the remnant of my tears, pooling in the indentions left from your feet, and I could mark the number of shoe prints in the mud until they disappeared in your stone cold stare.

In the moment taken for a merry go round to come full circle, I could see your face, warm and serene against the pillow; your hands folded neatly upon your chest, just a body returned to the mud your shoes used to steal.

Dan Lowe

Monday, September 11, 2006

The power of memory

Today is a day that our nation has set aside to remember the tragic events of September 11 2001. On this day of remembrance, reflection, and shared memories I thought that I would share a Dostoevsky quote that I found in a newsletter from our friends Oliver & Amanda Rimes at the Woodcrest Bruderhof Community. The quote is embedded in a short essay on children that exhorts all of us to give to every child the love, security, and sense of positive belonging that they need. Given our current situation in the world, and the cycles of violence that we seem unable (or unwilling)to break, I thought that this might be a good reminder to all of us to focus our attention upon creating some good memories for ALL CHILDREN, whether they be jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or born again pagans. Sometimes I feel like it is a lot easier for us to hold onto or nurture the bad memories than it is to join together in creating good ones that are ultimately stronger than the bad.

"There is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about education. But some good, sacred memory preserved from childhood-that is perhaps the best education. For if a man has only one good memory left in his heart, even that may keep him from evil......And if he carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe for the end of his days (Fyodor Dostoevsky)."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Dan's Reflections.....

Dan Lowe, one of our dear brothers in the JCLF, wanted me to post this reflection that he wrote:

Walking to Tolly Ho today, I realized something that had been stewing in me for the past few weeks. Having ventured into Lexington in order to visit with my friend Billy, I got my first taste of the streets of Lexington; this was almost three weeks ago. The experience didn't leave me; it didn't exactly scream out at me; it just sat, waiting, until I would visit its world again. I saw that world again, today. At the intersection of Avenue of Champions and S. Limestone, there are two worlds colliding with one another. The most obvious world is that of business shop owners, scantily clad college females, and the young men checking them out. Pizza shop, burger joint, night club; the makings of great college business and the drawing of young people. The other world isn't so obvious; it's a world of street walkers, of people who have become their own community, talking to themselves, a heart breaking sight indeed. Or there's Paul, one who converses with himself, whose bicycle is laden with all sorts of who knows what. There's the young man with a long black pony tail and what appeared to be a tooth or bone necklace around his neck sitting in front of the record store. He glanced up at us today and said hello. Or there's Junior who appears to have irritated a young metrosexual male and is being interviewed by the police because of it. Yet this world of homeless people, street folk, tramps, seems to be invisible to the college/business/everybody else world. And to me, it seems as though the invisible reality of very broken, vulnerable people are walking into the open, as though they have come from the darkness into the light. They've always been there; I just could not see them until now. And you know what the kicker is? I saw Jesus today in Phoenix park. I saw him in the eyes of a man named Dave who poured out words of love and thanks to Billy for all that Billy had done for him, the greatest thing seems to have been allowing him to sleep on the High Street front porch with his on and off girlfriend, Betty. Dave said a lot of things; most of those things I don't remember, but one thing that he said struck me to the very core of my person, especially when, later, the Holy Spirit challenged me on what I had heard. Dave said this, "You know, friends make you feel good; your enemies make you hurt." It was like one of those words folks just wait to hear from prophets and teachers; and here I was, talking to a homeless guy with very few teeth, speaking words of utter truth. Later, as Billy and I were closing our day, we were praying and I thought about Dave's words. As I thought, I wept for the friends that I have who live in Philadelphia (Shane Claiborne) or in a big black bus traversing the country (Psalters), or my friends Geoff and Sherry who will be leaving for Australia soon; you know, the people you rarely get to see but who you love with a love deeper than most others. And it was then that the Holy Spirit prompted me to pray that Jesus would make my embrace larger so that I might even embrace my enemies. May it be so; may Christ widen my embrace.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A convicting moment

Someone once said that husbands and wives often begin to think (and even look) more and more alike as the years go on. I'm not sure about the latter, but it was pretty amazing to be preparing this post about Thomas, only to find that my husband had just posted about him as well. I too was moved by his presence at our meeting this weekend. As Thomas snored, we joked about having one of the kids wake him up with a little rhyme. Then someone said, "No, he's probably tired from staying out all night on the streets. He needs this rest, let's let him be." I was reminded of how John, our housemate, was in the same predicament just before moving in with us. He'd come to the High Street House and sleep during the day, fortifying himself against the uncertain night to come.

Thanks to whomever reminded us that High Street is to be a refuge, a place of rest for those in need.

Awake thou that sleepest.......

Recently I've been reading through the 52 Standard Sermons of John and Charles Wesley (what I should have been doing in school). The Wesley brothers are very practical theologians who never let their listeners/readers simply reflect upon ideas about God, but are constantly challenging them to bring these ideas to life in fulfilling the two great commandments. The third sermon in the series is called "Awake Thou That Sleepest," and is based upon Ephesians 5:14. Like many of their sermons this one is directed just as much at people who self-identify as Christians as it is at those who have never heard the gospel. The sermon is a challenge to awaken from the spiritual complacency and satisfaction in which we so often live; it is an exhortation to awaken to renewed love of God and neighbor. These are things which I find very easy to neglect and this is why I was really intrigued and also shaken when Thomas decided to take a snooze during our Saturday evening fellowship meeting. As we opened up the scriptures and began to read together, my mind was immediately carried back to Charles Wesley's words as Thomas began to snore in the lounge chair behind me. It was a very powerful combination of sounds, words, and images. I heard God speaking to me in this moment. I thought about my life, I thought about our community, and I thought about Thomas'current situation. There were so many things rolled into this moment. There were no clear answers or solutions, just a call to awaken from my own slumber, call upon God, and be a part of helping to make our community a "city of refuge (which it certainly has been for me)." I would ask for your prayers as I continue discerning what this means. Thanks.....

Friday, September 01, 2006

Healthy Food, Local Farms Conference

There is a conference on October 28th @ Bellarmine University entitled Healthy Food, Local Farms. Wendell Berry will be there. Barbara Kingsolver is the keynote. The cost is $40. I will be attending, so if anyone wants to go, get registered on the web and ride over with me.