Some thoughts on church,
and postmodernism,
and how it is that we find integrity and wholeness
in our varied forms of worship
and understandings of God.

An Entry Point

I've organized this blog chronologically from its inception, which is backwards from how most blogs are organized. Basically that means that the dates you see for each post to the right are imaginary. Don't worry about it. They show up in the right order...think of the "older posts" link as a "next" button.

And a BIG THANKS! to those who were willing to be interviewed, and who offered suggestions. You're really good sports, and I'm glad to know you (even though I've only ever really met Jay Voorhees, and I'm not sure that we did more than show up at the same seminar once).


Is the plural of Paradox, Paradise?

We have a visitor in the community for a few weeks, who comes into town to visit her mother, who is unable to attend worship with us anymore. She faithfully sits in her mother's church and listens to every sermon and every hymn and lets me know after the service how awful some of the hymns are: songs about blood and gore, Jesus' "precious bleeding side". She also critiques the sermons, which by some twist of fate and lectionary have centered on Luke each time she's been here. She doesn't agree with or believe a lot of what we do, but she's here anyway...something draws her here. That's a part of the essential paradox that is our faith. The Old Testament calls us to fulfill the law; Jesus says the Law is not as important as having a relationship with him. Our culture calls us to put ourselves first, because no one else will care for us like we will; our faith calls us to live for others, and put ourselves last. Many of Jesus' parables and the stories of his encounters during his ministry, and the stories of the early church in Acts, tell us about paradoxes: the disobedient leper who comes back to Jesus rather than go to the Temple is the most faithful, the stone that the builders reject becomes the cornerstone of our faith, we must be born seems like a huge part of my preaching and teaching is centered around unpacking the reality that we can't learn or earn our way into the Kingdom. And when I look back on what I've preached and taught, in the midst of all the paradoxes, I find consistency: God's desire for us, that we might be in relationship with God in Christ through the Spirit, and also with each other. So maybe Paradise is the plural, the sum, of all these paradoxes...the Kingdom of God, in all its paradoxical, eternal, now-and-not-yet, present and eschatological glory. A thought from Mother Theresa, who embodied paradox (much like John Wesley) in living out her faith, even when she didn't feel it:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway. People may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you've got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it is never between you and them anyway.

crossposted at Telling Stories and Learning Faith

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About Me

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I am a United Methodist (UM) pastor, married to a UM pastor, which makes life entertaining from time to time. I am a newly minted D. Min--yes, that's Rev. Dr. Anne, to you. I am a learner and teller of stories, looking at how we share faith and relationships. Any views I express here are not necessarily United Methodist views: they are mine.