Oh, goodness, how I’m letting dust settle on my blog. My writing efforts have had to be laid aside for a bit due to relocation events: yes, my little family purchased a house and moved two miles outside of the ‘berg to “snooty wine country” (a.k.a. Dundee). Boxes abound, an eleven-month old finds a wealth of things he shouldn’t get into, and somehow my time is occupied with things other than blogging.
A friend sent me an email:
Greetings. Just a quick question, or in honesty your response to a premise. I suspect that most of the reasons the “missing generation” is indeed missing from organized religion are the same reasons the masses aren’t interested in church. Any thoughts?
I have some thoughts, but they’re packed away with my missing salad bowl. I thought that calling on the collective wisdom of my readers would provide a much more deep, varied, and probably coherant response.
So, what’s your take? Is it a generational thing? An “everybody got their somethin'” thang? Bueller? Bueller?
My friend, a delightful and wonderful and warm and eloquent new friend, Marta, has a blog. She has a knack of playing with words that is fantastic, and her view of the world is unique (something I so appreciate – there really does have to be a better name for Stay At Home Mom). Go: read her blog: leave her comments – you know you want to. ðŸ™‚
Man, it’s hard to walk the fine line of “appropriate” community interaction and bonding. Much of our society is independent – nuclear – solitary: not wanting to commit to the time, effort, and self-sacrifice it takes to be part of a community.
And then there’s this: Gahbunga, a new site that allows you to take a picture of a person with your cell phone and send it to your online community to rate whether someone is “hot or not”. Because Lord knows that a) physical attributes are a *definite* determination of whether someone is “worthwhile” or not, and 2) you should never act without the superficial input of your community.
I’ve played stupid games like that before: the “your team” game (if you see an “interesting” looking person, you lean over to your friend and tell them that the unfortunate soul is on your friend’s “team”. The goal is to fill your friend’s team with all sort of unlucky folks). Except we didn’t invest hours and dollars into it – just some laughs.
Bleck. When has “community building” gone too far?
Whenever someone asks what church is to me, I have three images:
- After service gathering times at Boise Friends Church. Church was ìokayî: I spent most of my time studying the music in the hymnal and reading the shortest books in the Bible (Jonah and Esther). But after church, I didnít have to be quiet and sit still: I could run amuck in all the classrooms and in the social hall and sanctuary and balcony (oooh, the balcony – where sound equipment was kept that was a big no-no to touch . . .but we did anyway: shhhh – donít tell). Kids were given lethal doses of sugar cookies and red Kool-Aid, and parents told them anything they wanted to hear as long as they could carry on a conversation with their friends (many a Going Out To Eat Sunday Lunch occurred from those times). All the adults took responsibility for all the kids, and all the kids acted like we were siblings. Potlucks were the best: a good Sunday had us going home two or three hours after the service concluded.
- Saturdays on the clock tower lawn at the beginning of Yearly Meeting (an annual gathering of Quakers affiliated with the Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends Churches): while the main focus of the week is to do business, I have always loved the bi-product of being in community. I get to see friends, whoíve become like family, whoíve journeyed with me since I was a tantrum-throwing tyke to becoming a (not quite as frequently tantrum-throwing) young adult. That first Saturday is a play day: ministries set out displays, folks wander in to register, teens whoíve been on summer mission trips reunite with friends and family. Coming from a very small family, I imagine itís what family reunions are like – running around to see everyone, chatting with everyone, catching up, getting hugs and countless greetings of ìHow ya been?!!î.
- An intergenerational small group experience that I participated in with my husband. It was one of the first things Iíve done where I felt accepted into the church as an adult. We shared our journeys – good times and bad -, worshiped, encountered God, and connected as we went about the daily walk of our lives. Instead of talking about God, we talked to God – kinda nice to be more practical than theoretical.
This week as Iíve been doing my Examen, I have another image to add to my collection: this last Christmas Day service at Newberg Friends. See, we generally have three services, but this Christmas we had one (partly because three Christmas Eve services were given the night before, and partly because it was the funky ìshould we/shouldnít we have service with Christmas falling on a Sundayî thing): and MAN – was it packed! Initially I wasnít going to go: lifeís been a tornado, and adding one more event would just send me flying to Oz with Dorothy. But my in-laws requested that we attend church on Sunday, and no matter how many hints I dropped that it wouldnít be convenient, they simply smiled and acted as though they had no idea what I was alluding to. And Iím actually glad they didnít budge.
Christmas Eve was less than extraordinary (service without nursery care for a family of an energetic, extroverted moveríníshaker toddler does not lend to a ìSilent Nightî atmosphere); but Christmas Day had beloved and sainted nursery workers, so I could actually be present during the service.
And how interesting it is to see the three services combine. Normally I sit in my balcony spot, seeing about half of the church. With all the exits and the balcony and the odd angles of the sanctuary, itís easy to not know that someone attends NFC – even if they go to your service! But this time I sat in a little different spot, as did most people. Folks couldnít stop looking around, smiling at each other and waving. Warmness and familiarity filled the air, blossoming even more as we entered into the real reason we were there – worship.
Iíve been hearing about Revolutionaries – the noticings of folks that the traditional model of church is crumbling. Many think it will reshape itself into simple or house church models. I definitely think thereís a place for that: I find that closeness, accountability, sense of being known in my small group. But if this happens and the larger gatherings fade away, part of me would grieve for the loss of these fellowship times – the coming together, not simply because weíre part of the same ìchurch clubî, but because weíve come together to praise, worship, adore, acknowledge, and encounter our Creator. Whereís the place for those types of gatherings? How can we come together as a large group, but still recognize that weíve got more work to do during the week than smiling at our neighbor? As the next generation steps up, what are these ìfamily reunionsî going to look like? How are they going to change? I do hope I donít still have to wear a name tag. . .
Every once in a while, after hearing countless hurricane disaster stories and Pat Robertson denuciations and pro-peace versus pro-war protests, it’s nice to read a story like this from the front page of the Oregonian. The pastor who officiated the wedding is none other than the clerk of the board that I’m on: his picture was in the paper and everything! I wonder if he read the Bible verses from his palm like he does in our meetings . . . . somehow I doubt. ðŸ™‚ ðŸ™‚
Itís so good to be writing again: lifeís been a swirl of events, but not always the yummy chocolate & vanilla frozen yogurt kind. Itís been good, but thereís been a decent amount of brain freeze going on as well.
Christmas time can be an over- or under-stimulating time of year: a high-tide or low-tide of events, a valley or mountain view of life, a wetlands or desert spiritual experience. In our Listening Life groups we practice tools for spiritual formation and discernment, one of those being a Prayer of Examen. Usually life is pretty rhythmic and I donít sense a good time to ìdig into my tool boxî to use a spiritual practice. But as Iím getting older and the ìmagicî of Christmas consumerism has lost its glow; as Iím creating Christmas traditions for my family, including teaching and guiding a Little One as to why we celebrate this time of year – bearded man coming down a chimney or baby savior in a manger or both; as Iím part of a nation thatís has a number of religious celebrations taking place at the same time so that highlighting one has become a social faux pas; as the major story in Christian circles has been ìto attend or not to attend (church on Christmas Sunday), that is the questionî, itís become really important to sit with the events of the past days (and weeks and months of preparing, if youíre a perfectionist/worrier like me), reflect, and converse with the Spirit about what just happened . . . if I can remember that far back. ðŸ™‚
Itís been said that insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different result. How many times do I do that with Christmas? It comes but once a year, and during that trip around the sun I forget the ìgood intentionsî I had of changing or of being different. But how can I be different if I havenít sat with what happened previously? Change is generally a process, and some intentional steps have to be taken to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
- What did I notice this past week?
- What was something new?
- What was something familiar?
- Were these good?
- What activities brought me closer to Godís heart?
- What activities took me away from Godís peace?
- Where did I encounter Christ?
Ah, God: may the dialogue begin!
So now we can study the Bible “while avoiding legal and religious disputes”. I remember getting picked on because I was a pacifist, and that was at a *Christian* school. But I’m sure it would be much different at a public school. Heh heh: oh, it is to laugh.
From a friend and fellow Board of Ev-er:
We are looking for a new host couple for the Friends House of Hope. This house is an outreach to women coming out of prison and or addictions.
The responsibilites are fairly simple- making sure rules are followed, shopping, organizing the chore list, receiving guests, and communicating with the project leadership team.
While it isn’t neccessary that we have someone who attends our church, we do desire that the host couple be mature Christians who desire to help these women at a spiritual level, someone who will pray with these women, and someone who can point them towards Jesus.
The pay is room and board, plus a stipend of a few hundred dollars a month. The perfect scenario would be to have an energetic retired couple who could take this project on as their ministry. Although we would like a committment of at least a couple of years, we would be open to a one year commitment.
Feel free to ask questions as needed!
Thanks for your prayers! Gar
Community Outreach Pastor
Hayden Lake Friends Church
251 W. Miles Ave.
Hayden, ID. 83835
A few years ago I found a great site for celebrating/contemplating/engaging in Advent. I know it’s way late in the season, but perhaps next year you can fully enjoy: Followingthestar.org.
In honor of the tide being Yule-ish, I believe it would be helpful and prudent to post some quick yummy recipes for those “drop-in” situations. Because I like doing things fast, these saving graces will be of a baked-and-small-and-circular in nature.
Here are some recipes that are sure to please:
In my family, the peanut butter is not to be ignored.
For a quick treat that’s salty and sweet: Candy-KISSed Twists from Hershey’s. It’s the efficient/lazy person’s chocolate-dipped pretzel. SO EASY. Use plain M&M’s with flavored kisses, or use plain kisses with peanut-butter M&M’s, or for a whole new take – rolos and pecans.
For a shortbread-ish type cookie: Holiday Snowball Cookies from VeryBestBaking.com. No soda or powder to worry with – just a real simple cookie. Use chocolate chips if you don’t have the shapes, or try using a mix of mint and chocolate chips. Tasty.
Many sites are highlighting some quality cookie recipes for this time of year. Check out:
So, there’s my Christmas present to you. Now, go: make people happy and chubby. If anyone needs to work off the pounds, I have a toddler I’ll gladly donate for you to chase.