Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Changes and The End... For Now

This blog, as you know, has been pretty inactive over the past several months. My wife and I have been in a period of quite a bit of change and discernment. And I've found that when I must cut back, this is one of the first places I cut (telling, no?).

The fruit of our discernment are some pretty hefty changes: I have resigned as pastor of Olympic View Friends Church, effective June 30. In September I will begin a Ph. D. in Theology from the University of Birmingham Woodbrooke Quaker Studies Center (UK). My studies will be part-time, what the UB calls "split-location," meaning most of my research will be done from good 'ol Washington State while spending 6mos - 12mos in residency at the University over the course of the 6 years my research will likely take.

I am really excited about my upcoming studies, not just for the sake of doing more schooling alone - but because of the importance of my research matter. For several years I have felt that John Woolman has so much to offer the Church today. In seminary I wrote several papers on Woolman, I explored his impact and became impacted myself. I was within a hairs breath of applying to UB when I decided God was leading me in the direction of pastoral ministry. Over my past three years in pastoral ministry at Olympic View FC my interest in Woolman has solidified and matured in a way that it became clear now is the time to do this research. And that is what I am doing!

Specifically, my research will look at Woolman's theology. What spiritual resources were a part of Woolman's ethical decision making? How did Woolman come to the stance against slavery that he did, even when it meant going against the popular opinion of his own day? How did his Quaker heritage provide a foundation for his abolitionist theology? These questions and others are important to the way the Church today integrates social justice and theology, and the way the Church resists cultural assimilation.

Now, about this blog... Originally I created this blog to be a non-threatening discussion board for people in the Tacoma community. It turned into a forum for unprogrammed and semi-programmed and programmed Friends to interact, share perspectives, and learn from one another. I am keenly interested in facilitating this kind of discussion because, for one, it speaks to the integrity with which Friends can be called peacemakers. I hope that my studies at UB will keep this bridge-building work squarely in front of me as I interact with Friends from all over the globe. However, for me, this blog's importance has come to an end. I won't delete it as so many people have made valuable contributions that are worth re-reading. However, I will not be posting any longer and in the meantime will be contemplating if blogging is a valuable thing for me to do, and if so, what form it should take.

So, this is The End... For Now.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Joy to the (green) World

As I sit at my desk, with Christmas music streaming from pandora.com, I can't help but think of the mystery of the incarnation. The incarnation is a wonderous statement of the mystery of Christ - that the Son of God took on human form and while being the fullness of God became also the fullness of humanity.

The incarnation comes to me with special meaning in the weeks leading up to Christmas - the incarnation is hope and life. As God became human and dwelt in human circumstance so the life and destiny of humanity is redemption and a shared life with God.

There is no more profound statement of God's determination to be our God then the birth of Christ, and no where do humans feel the calling of the Sacred then in the responsibility and challenge of God taking on human form.

Much of my life is spent trying to act like a god - exploiting my brothers and sisters, discarding what I do not want, consuming what I do not need. What a far cry this is from God who became human.

The message of Ruah Swennerfelt and Louis Cox and the ministry of care for the earth is poignant at this time in history. As Friends our testimony of simplicity is crucial in ways that the first generation of Quakers could never have seen. Particularly, the 18th Century Quaker John Woolman saw that the desire for material excess was a root in the evil done to others, but also did spiritual harm to the one living in excess. Today, we know that the exploitation of others and the harm done to God's creation is systemic and multi-generational. We know that the net harm done through pollution and selfish, unsustainable living is greater then other generations knew because science today has put a thermometer in the earth's mouth and we know it is sick.

This Christmas let's honor and steward all of God's creation with the same dignity that God showed it in the incarnation we celebrate.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Earthcare Witness

The public is invited to meet Quaker “EarthPeace” activists Ruah Swennerfelt and Louis Cox on Sunday, December 16th at the Olympic View Friends Church. Ruah and Louis will teach Sunday School at 9:45am and give the sermon during meeting for worship which begins at 10:45am. The purpose of their visit is to show how the prophetic witness of John Woolman (an 18th century Quaker who spoke out against slavery) is relevant to the work that Friends are being called to today.

This husband-and-wife team from Vermont is on a 1,400-mile journey by foot from Vancouver, British Columbia, to San Diego, California, visiting Quaker meetings and churches. They will discuss how caring for the earth is integral to Friends' long-standing testimonies for simplicity, integrity, peace, and equality. They will engage participants in exploring next steps that they can take personally and corporately to help transform attitudes toward the earth and all living things.

Woolman foresaw that strivings after ease, luxury, and outward greatness would bring about “great injury to succeeding ages,” not only in the form of physical suffering but in terms of spiritual impoverishment for the affluent. Woolman’s prophesy is clearly evident today in wars based on the unjust and unsustainable use of nonrenewable resources, as well as manifold social and ecological disruptions due to the combined effects of overconsumption and population pressures.

As part of their talk about John Woolman, Ruah and Louis will show how they try to practice what they preach: They live in a hand-built house that is heated and powered by the sun. They grow much of their own food and are part of an eat-local program to encourage people to give more support to local food growers and producers. They are active in their town’s sustainable living network to promote healthy community life as a key to lowering ecological impacts.

Ruah and Louis have participated in two extended walks in Vermont and Massachusetts to call attention to the growing crisis of harmful climate change. They are the staff of Quaker Earthcare Witness www.quakerearthcare.org, which is an organization devoted to demonstrating the many ways peace, justice, and ecological integrity are interrelated spiritually.

Follow their journey on their web site: www.peaceforearth.org

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Global People

Turning on the news can be a heart wrenching experience.

Recently a deadly cyclone slammed into Bangladesh. Political and social upheaval consumes Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Genocide continues in Darfur.

All of this news and the seeming inability of world leaders to do anything about it has a deadening, numbing effect on our hearts. We become used to global tragedies, and worse, some begin to think it is the way the world should be. While I long for the new Heaven and Earth promised in Revelation 21:1, I know that true faith means acknowledging that disaster and crisis are not God’s MO – and live accordingly today.

Christians all across the world, of every race, language, and people group, are linked by the one Spirit that dwells within us. All humanity bears the Seed of God waiting to sprout - and so we are global people. People of all nations stand shoulder to shoulder with each other in the midst of tragedy.

Fortunately, we in the Pacific Northwest live in a mild climate. However, this does not mean we can stand with scoffing indifference before those who live in hurricane threatened coast line, or among trees that the summer sun lights like a tinder box. No, the heart of God breaks for people of every nation and geography and so should ours. We have responsibility for, and stand in solidarity with, our brothers and sisters.

Holding places of crisis prayerfully as the community of faith is an appropriate response. As a wealthy nation, contributing financially to organizations like World Vision and Mennonite Disaster Services is another responsibility, with great biblical precedent. Paul traveled among the churches of Asia Minor collecting financial relief for the people of Jerusalem during a drought (see 1 Cor. 16).

Too often when the news of tragedy comes across my path I find myself saying, “whew, I’m glad I’m not them.” The truth is I hope that my heart breaks for all the things that break God’s heart. God does not discriminate between people and culture. So my prayer is that Friends will develop a global perspective, as people who stand in solidarity with pain and tragedy whether it is down the street or across the ocean.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tidbit to Ponder: Dependence on the Holy Spirit

Here are some thoughts for this weeks message:

"We have done a good job dealing with various tangible aspects of church life such as facilities and funding, but we are uncomfortable and inexperienced in dealing with the tough issue of being led by the Spirit in present times" (Treasure in Clay Jars, p. 122). How is our mission and faithfulness dependent on the Holy Spirit? Can "dependence" on the Holy Spirit become avoidance? Has God ever been so present with you, that you felt your life and existence to be an act of worship to God?