Bless Your Weird Church

Bud and I walked this morning before the sun came up. Just one of those mornings when your eyes pop open and you know your brain is not interested in finding a way back to some odd dreamscape. It wasn’t exactly a crisp morning, too much humidity in eastern Kansas for there to be a crispness, but the quiet was more peaceful to my spirit than I imagined it would be. It’s been an interesting week. You know how they say sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug? Yeah, like that. The ups and downs of reality are always there, simply sometimes more extreme than others. Some of the bug moments I bring on myself – go figure.

The pain of the world and the world’s family I let rest on my shoulders a bit, and in the midst of the complexity and diverse voices from every corner, it’s difficult to navigate the path sometimes. It’s easy to get caught up in sound-bites that contain more and less truth, easy to simply decide no one is ever telling the truth from any corner, easy to decide that every undocumented child is living in a cage without their parents and easy to decide that no undocumented child has been ripped out of their parents’ arms forever. The truth is somewhere in the complexities of the middle, but we don’t have time or want to take the time or even know where to begin to research issues like this enough to know where the reality truly rests. I like the short-legged people who run around here during the week and on Sunday mornings. I like when they talk about stuff that has nothing to do with the subject at hand. I like when they feel so safe they erupt into fits of giggles when a natural bodily process lets loose a sound; I know, I know, we’re not supposed to encourage that laughter, but that’s why they have parents, so pastors can smile from a safe distance. So it’s hard for me to think about children who don’t have that safety, simply to be little and giggly and innocent.

There aren’t many people on the path before the sun comes up – a few runners and walkers intermittently. The vet doc has told me that Bud needs to not run with me on the path anymore. He’s 9, which is about 72 in human years. His hips and knees are having a few issues. He’s getting some plant based anti-inflammatories. They’re chewable. I mentioned to the vet I was having a little trouble with my elbow and my achilles – he quickly told me that if what I was suggesting was sharing Bud’s non-pharmaceutical meds, not so much. Can’t anything be simple?!? While we were walking we met a golden Husky with blue eyes and his human, and they were walking too. It sorta felt like meeting the canine version of Paul Newman back when he didn’t have salad dressing, you know, back in the Butch and Sundance days. His human had all matching workout clothes and the leash had a little headlamp on it. Bud’s human had on basically striped shorts and a purple tye-dyed t-shirt from a mission trip nearly a decade ago. Bud did have his K-State collar and matching leash, which he’s chewed on and ripped in several places. The Golden blue-eyed Paul Newman Husky and his human happened to be at the top of a hill on the path and we were walking at the bottom, so I suppose the feeling he was looking “down” on us was more geographical than social…

Today is my parents’ 64th wedding anniversary. That’s eight years older than I am and four years older than my sister, your welcome moom and dude – I know folks were wondering about the timing of all that. Anyway, that’s quite a while, when you think about it. And all those years have been spent in northwestern Kansas with the ups and downs of agriculture and the ups and downs of being a school secretary where your youngest didn’t always fit between the lines, let’s say. And the ups and downs (literally) of being a corporate pilot, and the ups and downs of back surgeries, and the ups and downs of retirement and keeping up with two grandsons and now three great-grandsons (none of them mine, just sayin’ *snort*). 64 years may be eight years older than me, but it’s eight years younger than their grand-dog, so there’s that.

As we got back home this morning, the sun was coming up. The clouds in the east didn’t allow for that peeking-over-the-horizon moment, but the pinks and pale blues made up for that, I think. And in a few minutes I’ll leave for Wichita and the Great Plains Annual Conference and somehow it feels a little bigger this year with what looms ahead for the denomination in the next year. We’ll still hear reports and consider legislation and folks will step up to microphones 1, 2, or 8 and announce their name, their church, their status as clergy or lay, and make points and ask questions and offer amendments, and well, simply do what we United Methodists do – it’s both comforting and discomforting at the same time, I guess, especially this year.

I’m going to include a “Prayer for the Church on Earth” written by Steve Garnass-Holmes with a nod to a colleague Shelly McNaughton-Lawrence who posted it on FB before she left for Conference this morning. I agree with her that it’s too timely and appropriate not to share widely:

God of mercy, we pray for the church,
and for all who have a love-hate relationship with you church.
We pray for our struggle to be faithful, and our failure to struggle.
God, it is your love, not our opinions, that unites us;
may we bear fruits of justice, not judgment;
may we let go of being right for being loving,
and work for the mending of the world.
We pray for those for whom the church is an unsafe place,
and those who return again and again
to make gentle this bruised community.
We pray for those who are oppressed by the church,
who are too queer or angry or hurting or black or visionary for us.
We pray for hearts to hear you Word beneath the roar of our fears.
We pray for eyes to see the path of humility, grace and surrender
so often obscured by our pride, dogma and domination.
We pray for the honesty to confess our greed, our violence,
our white supremacy, our complicity with war and poverty.
We pray for your breathing Spirit alive and afire among us,
your beating heart among us, your mercy and grace among us.
Burdened by power and privileges, we cry out for your Spirit:
awaken us. Heal us. Set us free. Help us follow Jesus.
Light our structures afire with your love. Burn our hearts.
Enflame our souls. Free our spirits to love outrageously,
to heal boldly, to confess and forgive with abandon,
to do justice with joy and hope and courage.
Make us people of mercy.
Give us faith to die, and die nobly,
and, gladly defiant of all that kills us,
to rise in your love, rise with grace, rise to serve,
to serve the lowly beautiful ones, your secret beloved ones,
our siblings, our strangers, our saviors, our Christ.
Bless your weird church, weirdest God, in the name of Jesus,
that we may be a blessing.
-June 13, 2018

Happy Anniversary Moom and Dude. And RIP 6/17 beautiful cousin Susan – I will celebrate and grieve and ask hard questions and think on the wonder of creation and see rainbows through tears and laugh at your silliness and be proud of your accomplishments and be humbled that I knew you and sit in a deep place that it’s been a year since we said good-bye and let you go in all faith. Your mom and dad and sis miss you like crazy and they’re doing alright. Peace.