Archive for December, 2010

A Christmas Composter Litany

// December 31st, 2010 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

We watch for signs of Emmanuel born again in our world

In the humble song of a few kindred souls gathered together,
In the fragrance of a pine tree

In the soft flicker of candles

And in the age-old story of a child born in a stable and laid in a manger…

We build a ring of quiet around ourselves these twelve holy days

Mindful of own transformation

The composter is our nest.

We climb inside and feel the heat of new life in the making

We offer all that we are to be made whole. Amen.

Christmas Cramps

// December 30th, 2010 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

Twelve is completeness: twelve inches in a foot, twelve disciples, twelve houses in the zodiac, twelve to a dozen, and twelve jurors in the box. We need all twelve days of Christmas to make meaning out of the intimacy of Christmas Eve — that moment where our vulnerability and God’s vulnerability co-mingle. We need time to digest, to marinate in mystery, to integrate our experience of ‘out-of-time-ness’ into regular time, ordinary time, quotidian time.

Ideally Christmas is a season, not just a day, but most of us don’t get much of a holiday after the holidays. And this gives us a big cramp. A psychic rupture. Something akin to what happens when you go swimming too soon after a big meal.

This rupture is felt not only on the individual level but also in our social world. It is one of the many reasons people don’t like Christmas.

Consequently, it is subversive to claim some time to lounge with community and to hang out with the ineffable during these twelve holy days and starry nights. And I suggest we all do it. So this Sunday morning we are going to enjoy some easy time together: singing favorite Christmas hymns, lighting candles, sipping hot cocoa and a take-away!

We are going to enjoy some easy time together this Sunday : singing favorite hymns, lighting candles, sipping hot cocoa and a meditation on the twelve days of Christmas (with a take-away!) Join us 11AM ish at Kidd Spings Rec Center. 711 W. Canty

And next Thursday, Jan 6 everyone is invited to our CitC Epiphany Wine-Tasting/Crown-Making Party. Epiphany is a three-fold celebration: the arrival of the Magi, Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan, and his first miracle of turning water to wine. Lori is leading us in a wine tasting of Epiphany-themed varieties and Teri is organizing crafts and tasty vittles. Not into wine? Come create a crown or doorway blessing for your home. All are welcome! Horsey House, 830 N. Bishop Ave

(Interested in contributing a bottle of wine for the tasting? They are available at Whole Foods and World Market. email churchinthecliff@gmail.com and I’ll send you a pic of the label.)

Also, save the date. Saturday Jan 15 in the morning the CitC board is going to lead us in a pilgrimage to check out three potential new spaces for our worship given the renovation of Kidd Springs in 2011. More details to come!

**Grateful to Chris Hill’s Holidays and Holy Nights for aid in this reflection (and Stephanie for gifting me the book)

Christmastide at CitC

// December 28th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

This is the season when our vulnerability meets God’s vulnerability. We wrap a ring of quiet around ourselves, so that we might hear the tinkling bells of eternity slipping into our time… We light our Christ candle and say again to our weary selves and our love-sick world that God is with us.

Join us this Sunday for worship full of candle light and old familiers and next Thurs at our Epiphany partay to live into the twelve holy days and twelve starry nights of Christmas. 

 Thurs Jan 6 Epiphany Wine-Tasting and Crown-Making Party. 6:30pm Christmastide is the hammock which catches you if you fall off the Cliff on the evening of the 25.th Remember we are gifted with twelve holy days and twelve starry nights in which to celebrate Emmanuel, or God with us. Round out the season at our Epiphany party with Lori, our resident Sommelier, and explore some Ephiphany-themed wines (all under $15!) and/or make some special crafts to take home (crowns, doorway blessings etc). Horsey House, 830 N. Bishop Ave.

Nothing is Wasted: Advent and Christmastide at Church in the Cliff

What does a composter have to do with Advent? This is the season of holy and growing darkness, of darkness that is alive! Advent darkness holds a lot inside, like rich back dirt. The liturgical color, deep blue/black, has a velvety depth and reminds us that dark can be a color of its own. And that God is at work in the dark. And we wait in this season for the Christ Child but also we wait and watch for our own transformation: trusting that nothing in our lives is ever wasted. God can recycle our failures and hold our sadness, grief, and confusion. We are installing our composter into a little enclosed garden by the west entrance to the Kidd Springs Recreation Center. (No we don’t have official permission, per se, but how much trouble can we get into for donating a composter to a garden?) All are invited to collect your veggie scraps, egg shells, and coffee/tea grinds during Advent and drop them off in the composter on your way to worship. 11:08 am. 711 W. Canty

Red and Green Washing

// December 17th, 2010 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

Happy third week of Advent! Last night Richie took the kiddos to Grammy’s for pot-roast to give me time to write our meditation. And I sat there and the words did not come. Fatigue was a fog and I chased the muse down several lonely allies before finally giving up and doing some yoga.
 
I bet several of you are tired too. And in a fog. And like Rosetta have the sniffles. And maybe, like me, you feel a light (or heavy) mist of anxiety that settles on you in unexpected moments. Anxiety about not being able to do all that you have to do, or at least not being able to do it well. Or anxiety about holiday gatherings, or weeks without childcare, or more serious health concerns for yourself or dear ones.
 
And all of this anxiety-mist, which honestly is a part of every season of life, just feels awful in front of the backdrop of a culture that has totally flip-flopped the energy of the season. There is no space for the Advent practices of stripping down and searching the soul. Anxiety-mist might not feel so out of place in a season with this muted palette. But instead we are all surrounded by Christmas on steroids, a culture engrossed in the practice of “Red and Green Washing.”
 
Green-Washing” describes the co-opting of environmental values for material gain such as when a company only slightly tweaks a production process, or changes their packaging and then markets the product like crazy as ecolicious and earthy-friendly. Red and Green Washing likewise appropriates the values which this season cultivates in the human imagination– a desire for abiding joy and intimacy with God – and employs them in the pursuit of profit or a trumped up sense of nostalgia.
 
So how do we wipe off our Red and Green-hosed environment and begin to sit with things the color they really are? Mindful consumption helps, such as buying fair trade products or gifts out of recycled materials. This simple act of protest illuminates the world we want to see born on Christmas morning.
 
Choosing to move at a slower pace can help too– such as opting out of events that are stressful (which is not always an option, I know) and instead adding in a time of silence at home with a lit candle or a simple meal with a friend.
 
Sometimes it helps me to just be honest about the disconnect between how I want to feel (full of energy, clear-hearted, hopeful) and how I actually do feel (grouchy, disquieted, or anxious). When I own the gap between these two spaces it puts me in touch with my own longing-and that, ironically, is a very Advent emotion.
 
Lastly, rest in the liturgical calendar and its detachment from secular time-keeping. Christmastide is the hammock which catches you if you fall off the Cliff on the evening of the 25.thRemember we are gifted with twelve holy days and twelve starry nights in which to celebrate Emmanuel, or God with us. Look for ways to enjoy them, even as those around you lament over-eating and over-spending. And plan to top off Christmastide with an Epiphany party on Jan 6. (More to come on CitC Epiphany Party/Winetasting with Lori, our resident Sommelier!)
 
And if you are tired of having to try so hard just to stay “in the mood” for Christmas– know that God hears your frustration. That is the beauty of the incarnation– God gets this whole human deal! And trust that this same God, our cosmic composter, can take whatever we have to offer: whether it be a heart full of longing or good cheer, and turn it for the good.
 
Peace of the Season,
 
Courtney
PS 7pm tonight, come learn about sustainable building at the Gobs of Cob party (details below!)
PPS Join me in celebrating Lauren and her work with the Refugee Writers Project featured on the front page of the Dallas Morning News. Check it out!
Community Events
 
Dec 22 CitC Christmas Eve and Electronic Recycling Service 7pm
 
Scott and Lisa host our Christmas Eve gathering. (We know it’s a little early but some peeps are going out of town.) Join us for a simple service, meal, and candles. And bring your unwanted electronics– printers, cell phones, whatever you’ve got! We’ll recycle them. Children welcome! 221 S. Edgefield Ave
 
All throughout Advent you will find our CitC composter in the small garden by west entrance to Kidd Springs Rec Center. Drop off your veggie scraps and coffee grounds and come worship with us! 11:08 am. 711 W. Canty

Composting Bad Theology

// December 8th, 2010 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff, Uncategorized

Dear friends,
 
So one of my favorite Buddhist meditations instructs the practitioner to meditate on your own corpse. How’s that for a non-cute and sentimental Advent reflection! There are a lot of Zen koans telling students to go and sit in graveyards and hang out in other liminal places. What is this about? I think it relativizes the one who is meditating. It puts our life and our life’s work in perspective. It reminds us that the big Silence is at the beginning and end of our lives and we move and breathe always in this ‘in between’ space.
 
I am finding myself reflecting this week, in random moments while driving or doing laundry or wherever, on what is happening in our composter which we reinstalled in the little garden by the Kidd Springs rec center on Sunday. What is in there? Dried leaves gathered at CliffFest. Scraps of paper which we collected from the community, the Emerging Christianity Conference and Sunday’s worship: bits of bad theology people want to leave behind, as well as wounds, fears and anything else people wanted to toss in there. We promised to turn it into something good for them.
 
That’s a pretty important promise. So we added eggshells and grapefruit rinds and tea leaves and apple cores on Sunday and turned it around a few times. I hope you will add more. (Here are guidelines on what to compost)
 
I find it comforting to think of people’s bad theology getting all soggy and beginning to rot. Of wounds getting wet and fears starting to smell putrid. And of all of it heating up in the winter sun in that black tumbler. On its way to becoming something else.
 
One of the prayers from the new Common Prayer book we discussed last week has a line about how touching humus, the end product of composting, makes us more human. That keeps cycling through my thoughts as well. Let us make some humus together, some life-force for the soil, and let us meditate on holy and warm darkness this week. Darkness that is wet and fully of possibility, like a womb.
 
The world is full of little mantras: Nothing is Wasted, Humus makes us Human. What are your mantras or centering prayers this week? I think the Spirit is always gifting us with ways to connect to this moment and to our small place in the cosmic picture.
 
Now, that would be a place to land but maybe it is too simple a stopping point. Because this week I am also reflecting on Genny’s comment on Sunday about how we should be careful exhorting each other to self-empty as part of our practice. Or at minimum we should qualify that statement.
 
She is right; there is good self-emptying and bad self-emptying. Stated differently, there are likely seasons of self-emptying and seasons when we need to be filled anew. Seasons to break down our inner scraps and seasons to apply rich, delicious-smelling compost to the base of our tender shoots. Both practices are knitted together, two halves of a whole.
 
But it is critical that you know which season you are in. Often I think the people who need to be filled up by the church are the ones who hear the self-emptying message. And those whose egos need to be broken down a bit only meditate on how God can make them feel good.
 
So my prayer for us this week is that we can be a community of discernment. That we can help each other settle in on our spiritual work this season of preparation-whether it be a time to strip away or a time to build up or likely, a time to do a bit of both.
 
I look forward to continuing to walk with you all.
 
Peace and all the good,
 
Courtney
 
PS. I’m looking forward to smores and a lesson from Jen on what’s in and what’s out of the blue bin, tonight! 7pm. 214.233-4605 for directions or info!

Community Events
 
TONIGHT! Recycling Party, 7pm
 
Not sure if plastic number 7 is recyclable? Looking for places to return plastic bags? Wonder what to do with lids? Jen Mauldin, certified green architect and lovely human, is hosting a party to answer all questions about the blue bin. Come to learn what’s in and what’s out. (And get the chance to create a Christmas ornament out of recycled paper!) Dress warm, bring chocolate for smores, and drinks to share!
 
Dec 15 Gobs of Cob Party, 7pm
 
Catalina and Luis host and direct Art of Peace, a home-based learning community for young children in the heart of Oak Cliff. They are designing and building a sustainable classroom in their backyard using a very old method of building with earth. Cob is quite similar to adobe, but instead of creating uniform blocks cob is normally applied by hand in large gobs (or cobs) which can be tossed from one person to another during the building process. Sound fun? Come to share a meal and get intimate with some cob. 432 Marshalldell Ave
 
Dec 22 CitC Christmas Eve and Electronic Recycling Service 7pm
 
Scott and Lisa host our Christmas Eve gathering. (We know it’s a little early but some peeps are going out of town.) Join us for a simple service, meal, and candles. And bring your unwanted electronics– printers, cell phones, whatever you’ve got! We’ll recycle them. Children welcome! 221 S. Edgefield Ave
 
All throughout Advent you will find our CitC composter in the small garden by west entrance to Kidd Springs Rec Center. Drop off your veggie scraps and coffee grounds and come worship with us! 11:08 am. 711 W. Canty
 

Church in the Cliff Board   
Ross Prater, Moderator
Damon Petite, Treasurer
Kristin Schutz, Clerk
James Fairchild, Trustee
Stephanie Maxson, Trustee

Please contact Kristin Schutz, clerk at kristinl.schutz@gmail.com or moderator Ross Prater, at pprate@verizon.net with any questions or feedback.