My Ethos

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

ancient-architecture-art-784668 (2)

There will be some changes I’ll be announcing on here in the near future, but for the time being, I thought I would post something about who I am at my spiritual core:

I believe in the full humanity and dignity of all people – no matter their race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status and country of origin, marital status, and ability.  And I believe that in each of those defining characteristics there are people who are privileged and people who aren’t.  To me, Jesus would have stood up for and next to the people who were not the privileged ones and challenged the privileged to see their place in the systems of oppression.  

All of us are children of God and made in the image of God.  And we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

So if you see me post an article or write a blog post or preach a sermon and you may not agree with my perspective, please know that I’m approaching the subject from the perspective that I want all people to understand that all people are equally made in the image of God.  I will stand up against unjust systems by writing or attending rallies.  From pulpits, however, I will not preach partisan politics.  Instead, I will approach current day happenings through the lens of the gospels and the prophets.  And in this day and age, that may seem more political than it should.  For many of us, this is how we feel we are faithful to God.

Love is sounding more radical by the day…

It won’t be easy, and I encourage you to call me or visit with me to try and understand why I have approached the topic as I have.  But I hope that we will grow through the process of conversation.

May we all be blessed as we muddle through these sacred conversations on love, justice and peace.  Amen.

Advertisements

A Lament and Words of Hope for Syria

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_7689

Samer Daboul, photographer, Syria

Syria- my heart breaks for your health. Your own leaders feel your value is minimal. Powers-that-be across the planet forget that you are children of God.

Like the Syrophoenician woman and her child, they deserve crumbs too. They deserve more than crumbs.

Jesus came to see this. May the Powers-that-be see the people as fully human- as needing more than crumbs. May they see that these children of God crave more than just remnants of goodness found scattered between the shells of bombs and under clouds of poison. May their own leaders see that their lungs need to feel the clean air of the Spirit and not the toxic gasses of hate.

God will call us over and over again to turn our swords into plowshares, our bombs into cornerstones, our guns into farms. God is calling us now to forget the muscle memories of violence and myths of war as a natural means of achieving peace.

May we cease the creation of warheads and build houses of tranquility and prosperity for refugees seeking God’s love and peace.

May we as people of earth, as persons all created in the image of God and as companions on the journeys around the sun gather together to pray, to send energy, to share love with our siblings in Syria.

Pre-Dawn Birds

Tags

, , , , , ,

IMG_7396

When the birds stir around 3:30am
and continue their song for the hours before dawn,
their chirps claim the portion of the night as theirs.

Night is nearly dropping beneath the horizon as morning creeps onto the scene.

The robin’s song swells,
accompany us across the threshold from night to day
even as we remain in slumber.

Their rejoicing feels a bit optimistic
even more than many of us are ready to hear this day.

Are prepared for the upbeat tune prior to the sun’s arrival?
Bring us the soothing cooing of the doves instead.

May the birds be a companion on our journeys-
no matter how strong their voices remain
and even as we try to get back to sleep.

*****

Note: My goal is to write a poem each day of this official poetry month. Some will be featured here.

An Easter Sunday Communion Liturgy

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

bread

SERVICE OF COMMUNION

Invitation
One: On this day, we celebrate the risen Christ
Many: On this day, we celebrate resurrection in our lives.
One: On this day, we embrace the grace which reaches from the tomb.
Many: On this day, we embrace faith by committing to love in action.
One: On this day, we shout Hallelujah!
Many: On this day we shout, Christ is risen!  Alleluia!

Prayer of Communion
One: It is through our neighbors and creation that we see the rising of Christ, O God.

Creator of Our Earth: We celebrate the shifting of seasons from one to the next.  As the earth sheds its snow, it begins to drink in the warm rains and creation comes alive once again.

And so in this spirit of brightness and life, we celebrate.  We celebrate the risen Christ in our midst.  We celebrate the table in which we can join together with friends and strangers, loved ones and enemies.

Through this meal which has stood the test of time, we covenant to love you, God.   We covenant to love as Jesus the Christ loved us- loving our neighbors as ourselves.  Through a simple meal of grain and grape, we, your children, unite.

As we enter this season of Easter, we ask that the warm winds of the Spirit encircle this table and accompany us on our journey.  May this Spirit help us to recognize the Christ-presence in our midst.  May the Spirit open our souls in order for us to see humanity, God and creation through the eyes of Jesus.

It was Jesus who introduced this meal to his followers.  Even though Jesus knew he would be betrayed and deserted by those at this supper, he still continued to join them at the table, sharing time and space with whom he grew closest.

As the night lengthened, Jesus took a simple portion of bread.  He blessed it and broke it, and shared it with the disciples.  He urged them: Remember me.

Afterwards, Jesus took the cup.  During his blessing, Jesus reminded them how he would go to the ends of the earth in his love for them.

Today, we celebrate this earth-shaking love of Jesus – a love that sent him to the cross and a love that lives eternally with us, encouraging us to live a resurrected life.

The Bread of Life and the Cup of the Covenant: Gifts to unite the Body of Christ.

Distribution of Elements

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Through this space and time together today, we celebrate the covenant that ties us with God, Jesus the Christ, our neighbors and creation.  Thank you, Divine Crafter of the Table, for fashioning us a holy meal unites us with the Body of Christ.  Send us into the world resurrected, refreshed and ready to share Christ’s unconditional love.  Amen.

 

Written by Rev. Michelle L. Torigian.  Please feel free to use in your faith communities with attribution.

A Prayer for the Many Marching for Our Lives

Tags

, , , , , ,

IMG_7231

Graphic from the United Church of Christ. Visit https://g.co/kgs/zZ7AGY

God whose Justice moves in marches across our land:

Bless the feet, the wheelchairs, the strollers, the bicycles, the scooters and any other mode of movement our neighbors use to pray along the way.

Bless the young people leading this movement. Their courage and their power shines a light to the future and where we are all called to follow.

Bless the adults who recognize the power and voice of our children, and who hold the concerns of our youth in sacred spaces.

God, we know that people want to hold onto their rights. But all of us want to hold on to our lives. May we place our power in you instead of weapons. May we acknowledge the full humanity of each person who abides among us.

Amen.

 

A Liturgy for John 3

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

glass.jpgCALL TO WORSHIP
One: As we bask in the steadfast love of God,
Many: Let us share this love with our neighbors.
One: As we stand in the light of God,
Many: Let us embrace this light and shine it everywhere
One: As we grow with the grace of God,
Let us share the Good News of this grace in all times and spaces.

OPENING PRAYER 
Eternal Source of Light and Love, may we grow with your presence. May we know that with your light we are able to see paths of hope ahead of us. Through your love, we realize that we never travel alone. In this season of wilderness, may the glimmer of your light continue to shine on our road, and may your love warm us in frigid moments. Amen.

PRAYER FOR RECONCILIATION (unison)
God we are addicted to condemnation. Whether it’s criticizing our neighbors for how they look or attacking who they are, we like to categorize them as “other.”  We banish our neighbors to their own exile. During this season of Lent, may we reflect on the ways we condemn others. May we find ways to understand their struggles before judging them. May we build relationships with people who are not like us. We pray this in the name of Jesus the Christ, the one who taught us how to love unconditionally. Amen.

Moment of Silent Reflection

ASSURANCE OF GRACE
One:    God knows our hearts, and God knows that each day we experience salvation in new ways. Let us not only hear the good news of God’s grace but embrace it and share it with others. Amen!    

All:                  Amen!  Thanks be to God!

INVITATION TO OFFERING 
One:    Through this season of Lent, we not only grow spiritually as individuals, but we see how God is calling us to grow with our neighbors. In a spirit of unity, let us share our treasures and talents with God, neighbor, community and Church.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION (unison)
Eternal Source of Light and Love, we give thanks for the gifts you bestow upon us. We are grateful that you call us to use these gifts to build a just-filled world. May your spirit embolden us to use these gifts to bring more love into our communities. Amen.

To the Students

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_7092.JPG

Dear Students,

Some of you have been told that you will be reprimanded if you walk out in protest over gun safety and legislation. Some of you will still walk out- risking your reputations and your futures in the process.

And for that, I support you.

I support your concern that you do not want to die in a mass shooting.

I support your frustrations that the powers that be are not doing enough to protect your safety.

I support your sadness that has fallen over you as your adult leaders lack support for your voice.

As a faith leader, I have to attest that part of our sacred texts include prophets who spoke out against injustices. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophets called out the powers that be for treating their people and the strangers in their land as less than human.

In the New Testament, Jesus turned over tables when seeing injustices in the Temple. He wasn’t afraid to voice what he believed. That Divine Courage is what I hope to grow into as time passes.

Many of you have that same strength for risking everything you have over this issue. I don’t think I even have this much courage most of the time. So I commend you, students in my area. I send you love as you make the decisions. I send prayers of strength as you face the punishment.

You are shining a light that seems to be missing in our world. Please continue.

We will die without it.

*****

As always, my post is my opinion and does not represent any organization with which I am associated.

It’s a Tough Time to Be in the Pulpit

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

pulpit 2

Theologian Karl Barth claimed “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”  Each week, many of us preachers adhere to this advice.  We review the Scripture which we have chosen (often from the lectionary), attempt to understand it from the context in which it was written, and then apply the text to today’s world.

Unfortunately, I find it more and more difficult to hold the Bible in one and the newspaper in the other.  Engaging in this practice requires me to address the world today.  And often the lectionary texts with which we are preaching feature Jesus radically attempting to change the world.

For instance, this week’s text featured Jesus turning over tables in the Temple.  Jesus is protesting the powers-that-be and the corrupt commerce practices of the time.  And he doesn’t just voice his concern but decides to physically disrupt the exploitive dealings.  Like I mentioned in my sermon this Sunday: it’s interesting that we criticize people who are protesting today and yet we don’t criticize Jesus for protesting very radically during his time…

As I hold Biblical texts like this alongside recent events, I cannot ignore the speeches and marches by students who are standing against gun violence and for gun control.  I cannot dismiss protestors who see a members of the community unjustly targeted by community authorities.  I cannot forget the women who are speaking out against sexual abuse and harassment.

And yet, here we are in congregations which hold a variety of views.  As pastors, we are called to be prophetic, addressing the injustices of our time and pointing out in scripture where the prophets spoke out against gaps in the system.  Yet we must walk the fine line between being prophetic and pastoral, praying and searching for the best words to use and hoping that we present the issue with the appropriate amount of pressure for our particular congregations.

During my 45ish years, I’ve never seen so much division in our society based on political and theological beliefs.  As the Church, I believe we are called to find common ground between all of us and continue to converse on these subjects…

…But I must admit that on some Sunday mornings – when the text offers a prophetic tone and the issues of today are calling us to address – all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and stay in bed.  I do not want to be the one who stirs the pot.  The simplicity of brunch with friends or sleeping until 11am would be delightful.  And somehow, God has called many of us pastors to lead the conversation.  God has called all of us to leave our homes on Sunday morning to wrestle together – no matter how liberal or conservative our politics or who we voted for in 2016.

So let’s join together in this uncomfortably holy space- ready to experience God in the chaos of this time.  As we pastors approach the pulpit, we may have dry mouths or racing hearts as we wonder how our message will be received.  We realize that our message may infuriate some.  We understand that we are called to take up the cross and follow Jesus into the depths of radical love.  But know that we are trying to be as faithful as possible to God in this 2018 world, loving our congregations as we fulfill our callings.

A Prayer for Fear of Flying

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

IMG_7020

God of the seas and lands and skies
Today I am soaring in the air to my destination
Excited for my adventures at the end of this flight…

But…

As you well know, I have a fear of flying.
Bumps along the way concern me.
Are we ok? I ponder this in my mind-
And sometimes I ask the flight attendant.

What is that noise? Is that normal?

We are so high up!

I wish I had more control…

Oh, the turbulence will come if I fly often
And just like life, none of us can avoid it.
Roll with it, I say to myself,
But the nerves in my gut are screaming with fear.

God who soars with me,
Give me the courage to keep flying.
May my anxiety rest as the sky’s potholes keep the aircraft hopping.
May I learn to release control to you and he universe,
And may my adventures upon landing be ones where I see your presence.
Amen.

1 Corinthians 13 for Me

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

In an effort to promote an authentic and healthy love of self as many of us fail to do, I’ve taken 1 Corinthians 13 and made it into a statement that a person can speak to themselves.

*****

SONY DSC

I could speak or write brilliantly in the language of humans and heavenly beings, but let’s be honest – if I do not have love for myself, all my words are just a bunch of noise.

And if I seek justice and peace for the world, and understand all and know all, and if I have an amazing faith on paper, which may look like I could move mountains,
ALL OF THIS…
But
do NOT love myself – you know, the unconditional way that God loves me –
my work is empty… even hypocritical.

If I give away all I own to appear as a fabulous philanthropist,
and if I dress up my body so that I may boast that I look young or hot,
but do not have genuine self-love of my essence and soul, I gain nothing.

Loving myself through all my errors takes patience.
Loving myself means that I am required to be kind to myself.

Healthy love of self doesn’t mean that I’m envious of others (which I am quite often).
It does not allow me to brag over and over of my accomplishments or become arrogant and rude to prove that I am better than others.

Love of self absolutely can not be shadowed in shallowness,
and it requires me to reflect when I’m irritable or resentful of someone else’s accomplishments or celebrations.

This unconditional love does not allow me to rejoice when someone else errs, and it leaves no space for me to berate myself when I make a mistake.

It rejoices in what is best for everyone.

In order for my soul to thrive, true love of self will seek help when life is harsh.
It believes that anything is possible.
It continues to hope for all things
It endures when love seems present no where else.

Authentic love for myself is meant to be permanent and eternal.

But as for the work I do, it will eventually come to an end as my body ages or my mind falls away.
As for the brilliant language that I write or speak- it’s all going to cease.
As for knowledge that I possess here on this side of heaven, it will come to an end.

Let’s face it, now I see myself and God and others only in part. All I do will always fall short because of that partial view I have.
But when the complete comes somewhere on that side of heaven, the partial will come to an end.
The complete view of me and God and others and the universe will be all I can see.

I remember when I was a teen. I spoke like a teen, and I thought like a teen.
I reasoned like a teen.
I was disgusted by myself the way a teen would be.
Since becoming an adult,
I’ve been working on not to look at myself the same way I did at 14.

For I must remember that I see myself in a dim, cloudy, foggy mirror.
But someday, somewhere I will see the true view of my face and heart and soul.
For I must remember that right now I only myself in part-
But at some point I will know fully, even as God knows and loves me fully.

When nothing goes right and the world seems hopeless and I’m thinking so little of myself, I must remember that these three pieces are my foundation:
faith, hope, and love.

And even when faith in myself weakens and hope for the future wanes, God’s authentic, unconditional love for me will guide me back to where I need to be.