Friday, June 26, 2015

Try Pie congratulates a graduate!

Congratulations to Aquayla, one of the five original Try Pie teens,  for her high school graduation this Spring and for her full-time work at a care facility in our community!   When asked what job skills she gained in Try Pie that she has taken into her new job,  Aquayla mentioned, “I learned how important a smile is and to always be honest and responsible.”

Aquayla also shared that financial lessons taught in Try Pie were critically important for her.  “I learned how to budget, save money, and give back to the community.  I’m currently working with one of our Try Pie adults to set up a plan for my paychecks at this new job.” 

Cooperation skills were also another take-away for Aquayla.   “I learned a bit more about how to cooperate with people when you might not all agree.”  She mentioned that having a good attitude goes a long way in preventing potential conflicts. 

Another highlight during Aquayla’s time with Try Pie is that she got to take her first flight on an airplane to Hartford, CT, to attend a CCDA intensive on “Listening to the Community” that was being facilitated by Laura Hoy.  Laura certainly appreciated the companionship and assistance that Aquayla provided on the trip, and Aquayla got to learn more about the philosophy of Christian Community Development. 

What did Aquayla love most about Try Pie?  “I loved that it’s a business but that we also formed a close bond with one another. “  And of course, making and eating her favorite kind of pie- PECAN- was also a sweet experience! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Church at her best

Two days ago, tragedy struck in our church family.  One of our young families was traveling on vacation in Florida when a pick-up going eastbound began to hydroplane and crossed the median hitting the Bartlett's SUV that was going westbound on the interstate.  Ben (husband and father) and two of their three children, Charlie and Bailey, died at the scene, and Erin (wife/mother) and their youngest daughter, Kaia, survived the crash and were taken to the hospital in Tallahassee.  

As both Ben and Erin's parents, and Erin's sister, Brooke, began the journey to get to Tallahassee from Iowa, the fact is, that Erin, who had minor injuries, was likely going to be alone for the next 24 hours at the hospital with Kaia, who was banged up pretty seriously and who would need surgery on both of her hands/wrists.  As the church community back home began to meet and grieve and pray, we asked God to bring His saints in Tallahassee around Erin and Kaia and to minister to them in the midst of such unspeakable pain and loss. 

I just read this facebook message posted from Bill, Brooke's husband:

Text I just got from Brooke-

"I have met the hands and feet of Jesus today, and heard about even more. Heading with one right now to the Verizon store. A local church has "adopted" Erin and Kaia and our family."

Another recent update I read reports this church giving "extravagant care" to Erin and Kaia and the family.  

Yay, Church!  How beautiful are the hands and feet of Jesus! Thank you so much to our brothers and sisters in Christ in Tallahassee, Florida, for reaching out in such a great time of need with the love and comfort and tenderness and generosity of Jesus. This is the Church at her best!

Just received one more update from Dave, who is in Tallahassee now with Erin and Kaia: 

Hank is a deacon at Celebration Baptist Church. God prompted him to follow up on the story he saw in the media about the wreck on I10. God led him to Orchard's website and he heard God say, "Celebration Church needs to adopt this young mom and her daughter." They have gone above and beyond to care for Erin and Kaia. There are so many stuffed animals in the room, Dave knows now why he brought the van down and didn't fly. 

They are also serving Erin in some amazing, personal ways like providing clothing, food, spiritual encouragement, transportation and retrieving personal items from the vehicle. Their lead pastor, Dave Emmert stopped by and met Dave as well.  He was very encouraged by their presence. Thank you God for such an awesome answer to our prayers and thank you for these great people of Celebration Baptist Church.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

a must read

I've been thinking lately about how a church that's 'missional' doesn't always translate into a church that's about justice.  I've been considering writing some words about my experiences in 'missional' and 'justice', but before I do,  read this from Ann Voskamp:

"When You're Kinda Weary of All the Injustices"

Monday, June 8, 2015

the jericho walk

In response to a great deal of violence in Waterloo over the past year, local black pastors have organized a series of peace walks, and they invited the community to join them over a period of seven Sunday evenings so that we together might implore God to move and to break down walls of evil, hopelessness, violence, racism, injustice, and disunity in our community.  

The seven walks are modeled after the Israelites' seven days of marching around Jericho, and they are silent walks, patterned after Joshua's instructions to "not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout..” (Joshua 6:10)

I've been a part of two of the four walks that have occurred; both have been in different neighborhoods that have had multiple incidents of violence.

A few of my observations and impressions from these walks:

*It's been so good and is so needed to have a diverse showing at these walks. Young, old, multi-ethnic, multiple churches represented.

*Union Missionary Baptist's drill team marches in the lead with only the sound of a drum beat to guide the group.  The nearly 200 walkers line up in rows of about 10 people across and hold hands as the group walks through the neighborhood in silence.

*The silence is so powerful.  Many neighbors look out doors and windows or come out to witness the march.  Because of the silence, I am able to really look and see neighbors, see the neighborhood, pray for and consider the possibility of a different future for our community.  Because of the hand-holding, I am able to feel the power of oneness; the power of joining with.

*The crowd gathers in the parking lot after the walk to hear the prayers of pastors, the pain of a community, and the promises of God.  This has been an important time of listening and to hear the longing for a vision beyond our current realities.  The way things are is not the way things have to be.  This is a phrase out of the book Reconciling All Things that I've been reading with a group.  I thought about this phrase and the Kingdom of God so much as I walked and listened last night.

*I thought about how a lot of people don't know what practical steps to take toward reconciliation and peace in the face of such huge problems in our community and world.  This is one such tangible way to listen, join with, and to pray and stand together in the ministry of reconciliation.  

Newspaper article here

The next Peace March is Sunday, June 14, starting at 7:30 p.m.  I will find out this week's location and mention it later this week on the blog.  


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

dorothy day

Whatever I had read as a child about the saints had thrilled me. I could see the nobility of giving one's life for the sick, the maimed, the leper. But there was another question in my mind. Why was so much done in remedying the evil instead of avoiding it in the first place? Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery?

-Dorothy Day

Thursday, May 21, 2015

His grace shall lead me

I don't feel like visiting her.  I watched her over the past year start to throw her life down the drain- again.  I watched Meth take control- again.  I watched her very wonderful husband need to walk away. I watched her neglect her girls. I peered into her drugged up life through her facebook posts.  I read the newspaper article of her arrest.  And I just feel mad, and hopeless, and done.  I don't feel like going to jail to visit her.  Even if she has hit the bottom and is repentant- again.  

And then Grace whispers to me.  And He reminds me of His presence in my straying.  His love for me in my rebellion.   His forgiveness and friendship in my sin.  His mercy and refusal to leave me behind.  His patience in my stubbornness.  Grace reminds me that He is not a limited set but an infinite source of love and kindness and hope. 

And because this is true for me, I will go visit her.  And I will testify to the good news of Christ's grace for us both. Amazing, amazing grace.  

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Romans 5:15

Monday, May 4, 2015

a step toward peace

I want to thank Reverend Whitfield and Mt. Carmel Baptist Church for extending blessing to the community yesterday.  Their invitation to pray over Waterloo’s law enforcement, their gesture of bringing people together in the spirit of peace, in the Spirit of Christ, felt like a little balm of Gilead being applied to some wounds that so desperately need healing.  

“There is a disconnect between our police department and especially the African American community.  We want Mt. Carmel to be the re-connect.  We want to show people we can work together.” 

Mayor Buck Clark thanked Mt. Carmel for welcoming The City with open arms, and he shared points from the morning’s sermon at Orchard Hill regarding blessing a broken world by turning our face toward people, offering grace, and bringing peace.

Police Chief Dan Trelka talked about our common enemy, Satan, who is hard at work in our community, nation, and world seeking to devour, divide, and destroy.   He addressed the crowd saying, “Well, we’re making Satan mad today.”  

Councilman Quentin Hart spoke to the congregation and reminded them that just as Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a day when his children wouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin, he reminded the congregation that neither do people want to be judged by the color of their uniform.

Reverend Whitfield invited Mayor Clark, Councilman Hart, and Chief Trelka, along with other officers and family members, to the front.  Deacons gathered around them, and the pastor prayed over them. 

Some of the officers left after that because they were on duty, but a few others stayed, and at one point in the morning, a deacon stood up, and spoke a powerful word to the officers remaining.  He talked about his favorite movie “Avatar”, and he looked intently at the officers, and said, “I see you.”  “I see you.”   He was speaking beyond the physical “seeing”.  He was in essence saying, 'I see your humanity.  I see the risks you take and the sacrifices you make.   I see your wounds.  I see your strength.  I see you.'

Whitfield used his message to communicate a strong both/and to those listening.  He discussed the reality of crime and needed accountability for criminal acts, but he also addressed a history that is littered with a long string of injustices that continue today.  He talked both of how these injustices can understandably bring people to such great anger, and yet he also talked about how Christians must respond so as not to sin in our anger.  He made three great points:

1.       He spoke about a godly anger that calls for justice but refuses to hate.  He shared from Hebrews 13:1:  Let brotherly love continue.  Whitfield talked about recognizing our differences but working from a common place…the fact that we have one common enemy and one common Savior.  If love is at work in us, we will become more sensitive to humanity, the suffering and pain, and human rights. 

2.       Reverend Whitfield’s second point:  Be careful how we respond to strangers.  We might be entertaining angels unaware.  He spoke about how we have deeply embedded stereotypes, assumptions, prejudices that often make us treat a person negatively.  We categorize people without really knowing them.  We need to be careful how we respond to strangers.   We need to respond to injustice by putting it in God’s hands and never, ever lose the capacity to love every single person. 

3.       And finally, Pastor Whitfield reminded us that we need to share the sorrow of victims.  Injustice leaves people wounded.  Can we bear the pain along with those who have been wounded?  We should galvanize our sympathy to work toward something good together.  

I was thankful Mt. Carmel friends extended an invitation to the community to worship with them yesterday, and I am grateful to have been present with them.    

Click here to read an article from our local newspaper.