Love, Unexpected

Reprinted from Original

Article dated 2-12-14

The airport was crowded, flights were delayed, and everything was beginning to annoy me.  Too loud – too long – too uncomfortable — no end in sight.  A family with a little boy about 3 or 4 years old squeezed in next to me, and I swear I actually sighed to myself as I imagined another few hours of squirmy, fussy energy, invading my space.  (I know – what a grump.  But there it is.)

The little boy asked his mom if he could go over to the window to watch the airplanes.  The window, about 50 feet away, was within easy sightline, so she said yes, and he happily ran over to peer out to the runway.  After about 45 seconds, he turned, looked back at his mother, and shouted at the top is his voice:  “Mommy, I love you!”    She smiled and said, “I love you, too!” as he came running back for a hug.  After a moment or two in her arms, he returned to the window, only to turn around again, and again in a surprisingly loud voice, proclaim his love.  She laughed a little, slightly embarrassed, as he charged back for a quick hug, then returned to the window.  After the third “Mommy, I love you!!”, she replied:  “I love you, too, but you need to use a quieter voice.”  He looked puzzled, shrugged, and then shouted: “But Mommy, I really love you!”

By this time, everyone around was smiling.  We met each others eyes knowingly, older people recalling children and grandchildren whose love had once been that obvious and un-self-conscious,  younger people perhaps remembering a time when they had felt safe enough to love someone with their whole heart.  “I remember that age,” I confided to my nearest neighbor (a stranger).  “You have kids?” he asked.  “Two – almost grown,” I replied.  “Wow, it goes fast, doesn’t it?” he said.  “I’ve got three kids…”  and so it went.  I saw a picture of someone’s favorite niece’s newborn, and heard about a wedding coming up for another traveler.  Soon, the little boy was back with his mom for good, playing with something from his backpack, completely unaware of the effect he’d had on the people around him.   It was still a long wait, and the airport was still crowded and loud, but it wasn’t uncomfortable anymore.

Love comes in unexpected packages.  Valentine’s Day carries so many cultural expectations and so much commercial hype, and it focuses so exclusively on romantic love, that we can forget how big Love really is.  It’s as big as a jumbo jet – as an airport waiting room – as a three year olds loudest voice.  It’s so big it can connect strangers and create communities.  And it is so big that it never goes away—even when our attention wanders or our hope wavers, Love is still there.

“Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God.” 

(1 John 4:7)

If you don’t remember anything else about love and life this Valentine’s Day, remember this:

you are loved, really loved.

Shout it, share it, pass it on.

Thanks be to God

Kim

 

 

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Ash Wednesday Symbol

 

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transfiguration

Oh, What a Covenant!

Sunday’s service and installation was a wonderful affirmation for me. Thank you for your warm welcome and the beautiful journal.   At the beginning of the installation portion of the service, Rev. Heather Weidemann, Moderator of the Golden Gate Association, explained the basics of what it is to be in a four-way covenant. Since some of you were not able to attend, I thought I would follow up with what being in a four-way covenant means to me.

Covenant In the United Church of Christ  is one of the cornerstones of our denomination. It means we recognize and value that we are in relationship with God, and with one another. When we join a church, we are agreeing to be in covenant and that we recognize that together we try to reach out to and serve those in need. Together, we do our best to see and respond to the injustices in the world. Together, we explore what it means to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Together, we open our door to those who are seeking. These are not just platitudes to make our church sound cozy, but rather show us how Jesus’ teachings can become our internal compass so that we can walk the path of discipleship with love. The journey is seldom easy, but the way is made clearer because we do not go alone.  We have one another. Even in those times when all we can do is pray, hopefully we remember we do not pray alone.

God calls us into these covenants. They are not contractual; there is no quid pro quo.  As a minister ordained by the UCC to serve in a specialized ministry, the UCC asks that I also be a member of a local church.  One of the main reasons for this request is to help those serving in specialized ministries stay connected. These connections help us to maintain healthy boundaries and gives us a way to replenish our spiritual wells with worship and friendship. The four way covenant that was officially put into place Sunday night includes First Church, the Golden Gate Association, SpiritCare Ministry to Seniors, and me.  Because First Church extended a hand of friendship to me years ago, and because of your ongoing gracious support of the ministry, some of this covenant has been in place for awhile.  The new piece for me is being in relationship with the Golden Gate Association, but I have already attended an installation and two ecclesiastical councils as a member of First Church.  I promise to continue to serve with you to the best of my capabilities.  Please know I do so gratefully.  I may periodically falter, but I know that with you, I am more whole.

Thank you.

Rev. Sue Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, 

 leaning on the everlasting arms.

Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,

leaning on the everlasting arms.     

 

 

 

From  “What a Covenant,”

Elisha A. Hoffman, 1887

 

 

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covenant

 

VULTURE CAPITALISM

This article was written nearly four years ago but the message is still clearly relevant.

VULTURE CAPITALISM

 Michael Piazza
President, Hope for Peace & Justice
January 23, 2012

Perhaps the best line that Rick Perry uttered during his doomed run for the presidency was when he described the way rival Mitt Romney made his millions as “vulture capitalism.” Obviously that wasn’t enough to save Rick nor doom Mitt, but it is a phrase that deserves to be preserved and unpacked.

A deeply devout couple I know has made their living in recent years as “day traders.” While I don’t really understand how it works, my understanding is that they invest based on how stocks will do every day. Although these devote Christians probably oppose gambling, they don’t consider what they do for a living to be unethical. Personally, I don’t think gambling is an ethical issue one way or the other, but I wish that our entire society would pause to reconsider the ethics of making money without producing anything of value to the rest of humanity.

Most Americans don’t begrudge the rich their wealth, but perhaps we should. Actually, what we should do is be more discerning. There is a portion of the wealthy that made their money by working hard, inventing something, or producing a “product.” The trouble is it is a VERY small portion of the wealthy that got their money this way. Beyond Silicon Valley, the overwhelming majority of the wealthy got their money the old fashioned way: they inherited it. Of course, like Mitt Romney, they may have taken the wealth they inherited and used it to make themselves wealthier, but few did it by investing in a making the world better or even employing more people (other than gardeners, maids, and drivers).

In this country, the wealthy get wealthier largely by manipulating their money with scant regard for how what they do impacts the world in which most people live. It is vulture capitalism.

Somehow the “Protestant work ethic” has sanctified the wealthy as if they have earned God’s approval. Perhaps some have, but we would build a better world if the average person was a little more discerning about how money is used to do good or ill.

Blessings, Michael

 

money

 

 

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rain blessings

LIGHT

Today as I walked up to the long term care home, I saw John sitting by the front windows.  Unless he is out for dialysis, that is generally where I can find him.  He waved, and I waved back. We then gathered with others for Bible study and conversation.  Wanda, who seldom speaks and when she does it is just above a whisper, surprised me when she began to sing “Jesus Loves Me,” in a beautiful soft gospel style.  Most of us could not resist joining in. A glorious sound emerged with Wanda in the lead. Afterwards, John added, “I have finally come to understand that what really matters is how I think about things. We here are survivors and we need to keep reminding ourselves of that. As it says in Matthew 5:16, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works.”

There are days when I worry that maybe I am just not a very good minister.  Today, I was reminded it has never been about me.  Blessed be.

~ Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough

 let your light shine

Today’s Newsletter HERE

ruth 90 B

 

OVERWHELM IT WITH LOVE

racism no more

It is time that we as human beings confront the darkness of racism and violence. As people of faith, as followers of Jesus, we must be the leaders of that confrontation.

As tragic as this rash of violence and racism has been, maybe it is turning out to be the light shined upon the darkness that we all need to look at, closely.  And to look at that darkness, education needs to change – race issues and history should be a normal part of every public education in this country. Equality, compassion, and reconciliation should be courses in every high school. Additionally, governmental funding of violence- namely war- should be decreased and funding of education should be greatly increased. College should not equal debt or poverty. At the root of violence and racism is a lack of knowing, a lack of education. Lack of understanding leads to fear, fear leads to hate. Hate to violence.

When was the last time you really examined public education and the curriculum taught there?  Church communities should be at the forefront of this movement- just as brave churches and denominations stepped forward on the LGTBQ equal rights, so should they be stepping up speaking out against war and corporate ownership of our world, economic disparities, and racism. To not talk about race actually worsens the problem.  It masks racial disparities and hinders social justice.

It is time for us all to confront the shadow side of being human which is afraid of that which is different and is afraid of losing its place in line. And to do that we need to look at it clearly, rather than turn away from it, pretending it isn’t real. We can then shine the light on it, and overwhelm it with love.

~ by ProgressiveChristianity.org

on August 26, 2015