Archive for July, 2010

Spaghetti Monsters

// July 21st, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

Maybe you are familiar with this paradigm:
Unquestioning Believers (in Jesus Christ as Savior) are number one,
Doubters and Sometime Questioners of Faith are in second place,
and the Poor Souls who claim an agnostic or atheist identity and/or who choose to live their lives outside of the church are on the bottom. They are losing the race of life, they have fallen off the stairway to heaven, they are quite simply, lost.
This structure in my professional, pastoral perspective is Lame-o. Please quote me.
And hurtful too. Hurtful to those labeled as being on the outside, for sure, but also hurtful to those who get to continue to live in a space of thinking they have it all figured out. I can’t find room for mystery, for breath, for movement in a paradigm that celebrates having all the answers. 
What a gift to have members of our community who either currently claim the role or have long-time experience as dissenters. They remind us that our God-talk matters. That our truth claims should be invitations, not battering rams. That our lives, not only our words, should bear evidence to the living Spirit of God.
This week we continue with our summer series on ‘Filling the Church-Shaped Hole.’ So far we have heard stories from Baptists, Church of Christers, Quakers, and Methodists in our midst reflecting on what they love from their traditions, what they leave behind, and what kind of church they hope we grow into. This week we open space for those in our community whose stories don’t fit neatly into a denominational category.
We have struggled to find a title for this week. So far I have been calling it Agnostic/Atheist/Unchurched/and Over Church (as in “I’m so over that”) Sunday. While it may be awkwardly named, I find it a refreshing space.
Our church-building project need not be threatened by questions or anger or doubt or confusion. God doesn’t buy into tidy categories.  Indeed, I’m not even so comfortable with the idea that some people are ‘agnostic’ and other people ‘believers.’ I think we all entertain doubt and hard, unanswerable questions. Thankfully some folks are comfortable talking about their uncertainty about God. They help all of us to develop a robust vocabulary to talk about the edges of faith and those spaces of deep unknowing.
Join us tonight for spaghetti (Paul’s tribute to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and all good religious satire) and stories. 108 S. Rosemont Ave. 6:30pm  Drinks, Dessert and Dinero welcome. 214 233 4605 with any questions! Please come on Sunday to hear testimonies from Paul and Dixon.
Joy and all good things,
PS Also please join us after church this Sunday at Rebel’s house (2610 Hood St. Dallas TX 75219) for a potluck hosted by the New Orleans Mission Team. We will share photos, stories and our gratitude for the church’s support of our recent trip to the Lower 9.

Coming Undone for Jesus

// July 14th, 2010 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

We are back from our first ever all-ages mission trip to New Orleans led by Chloe Clark-Soles. I feel the need for a religious expletive here, like an Amen or Hallelujah! There were a lot of variables that could have not gone well as our group travelled to a new city with two pregnant women and one two year old in high summer. But the work at All Souls Episcopal Church/Community Center was provocative and engaging, the children beautiful, the story of Katrina and the flood heartbreaking, and the resilience of the people we met inspiring. And we all kept our health and our wits about us for the most part. Oh yeah, and the food was really good. And the live music was really really good.

The highlight of the trip for me was Friday afternoon when we participated in a mini gospel concert led by a group of New Orleans musicians who teach music to children over the summer. They brought kiddos from another community center to mingle with our All Souls kiddos and led them in selections both groups had previously prepared. Picture sixty kiddos from poor neighborhoods — who have probably seen a lot of hard stuff and been relocated two or three times because of Katrina — singing their guts out. Singing their souls out. Singing their story. And singing an old favorite, “If anybody asks you who I am, tell them I am a child of God.” I felt like I had been properly churched!
Thank you also to the broader Church in the Cliff community who supported us with financial donations and prayers. We were all overwhelmed by the generosity of the community and felt so blessed for the support which enabled us to travel and buy necessary supplies for the camp and our work day and still leave a significant contribution in the All Souls collection plate.
I invite everyone to join us tonight for pizza and our first pass at telling the story. 6:30 Casa Semrad. 108 S. Rosemont. Bring $5, drinks, dessert and/or salad to share. 214. 233 4605 with any questions. Joy to you this beautiful summer day,
PS This week we are easing back into our summer series ‘Filling the Church-Shaped Hole’ with Methodist/Mainline Sunday. Wes and Mikal will be sharing testimonies so please join us. Wondering what aMainline Christianis? Click on Wikipedia link here. 

Thank you to Chloe, Ross, Mikal, Paul, Aleah, Iris, Rebel, Kristin, Cara, and Perl for your open hearts and active engagement. I think we are all still digesting and integrating what we experienced. Many of us came home from New Orleans both energized and feeling kind of ‘undone’ — a common side effect of a trip outside of one’s comfort zone. It takes a while to put the pieces back together. And they never quite go back in the same way, which is a gift of the encounter.