Monday, November 17, 2014

Corporate 5 Days....Can It Happen?

Today was a good day.  Why you ask?  Step one of my "master plan" was put into real motion today.  Called to what we jokingly call the principal's office to discuss my future at work.  No trouble, all good.  Step one to opening the door to corporate 5 days a week is in the works!  YAY!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Plea For Ministry to All

“No Caste in the Church of God”
Gilbert Haven, The Methodist Episcopal Church
Adopted by the New England Conference. March 30th, 1867.

"Three years ago we admitted to our membership a well known and able minister of our church, whose services in the local ranks made him popular and believed in many of our churches. But solely on account of his complexion, he could not be received by the charge he was sent, which even complained that its character had been damaged by having his name, only, thus officially connected with its own. No complaint was made of his abilities, which were unquestioned, and which, under other circumstances, they would have been proud and glad to have enjoyed as their own. They revolted from him solely because of the color of his skin. We do not say this to condemn them, but as a necessary ground for our appeal. They will yet be proud of having this first official connection of any white church in America with a colored minister. May it soon be renewed…

…We ask for his return, pledging ourselves to go upon circuits with him, if in no other way the churches could be induced to accept him as a pastor.

But the time has come, in our judgement, when a yet more broad and just course should be pursued. We do not plead for this or any other brother in particular, but for all those whom God has called to his ministry; whom you would gladly recommend, and we would gladly admit to our Conference. We plead for risen and rising men of power, that are now shut out from the full exercise of divinely given endowments by the prevalence of this most unchristian prejudice. We entreat you to open your hearts and consent to the opening of your pulpits to their official ministrations.

Our reasons for this entreaty are manifold. Be pleased to listen to a few of them:
First, The Spirit of the age demands it of us. Everywhere the chains of caste are falling. In India and England, in the South and the North man is beginning to see “brother” written in the face of him whom he lately loathed, and his heart is yearning towards him…Shall not our churches in their sphere be equally faithful and progressive? Shall we keep up barriers that are everywhere else disappearing?

Second. But we should do this because of its relations to our political duties. Our State has long since abolished all distinctions among its citizens of color…The United States is becoming equally true to principle, and in her late acts has completely abolished the whole iniquity of caste from national legislation. Shall the church wear these chains after the State has dropped them from her limbs? Shall she presume to look a minister of Christ in the face and reject him as her pastor, when the world around her will readily make him, its representative? If we would have any direct and ecclesiastical share in this divine work, we must hasten to avow our victory over this sin; our readiness to treat all of God’s ministers and people as one with us and one in the Lord.

Third. This is especially needed in view of our consistency as well as our relation to the work elsewhere. As a Conference, upheld, we rejoice to say, by our churches, for more than a generation we have plead with the church and the nation to abolish this iniquity of slavery. We have been in a minority often, and long, but have suffered and served till the church and the nation obeyed the voice of God and proclaimed his law. To-day we have been equally earnest in imploring the church to disregard all distinctions among her members and ministers based on color; to abolish separate Conferences, schools and churches; to fully and faithfully recognize and act up to the most evident will of God written in his word, in the hearts of his disciples, in the history of his church…

Fourth. But, lastly, the Spirit of God demands that we do this duty because of the brethren whom he has called to his ministry, and the souls he has filled with his salvation. They are trammeled and oppressed by our unbrotherliness…Put yourself in the place of these brethren. Bear their burdens in your feelings, thankful that you may thus fulfill the law of love. How would you feel if having been called of God to preach, knowing that it was not from men nor by men, but from the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, if when you begin to fulfill your ministry, multitudes of your brethren, church upon churches should look with loathing upon you because of certain characteristics give you by God?…Such has been, such is their condition. So have they been hated and cast out by their brethren. So have their hearts been riven with anguish unutterable. The times of our ignorance God hardly winked at. Our dread chastisement was its legitimate punishment; and now every ear hears him call us everywhere to repent. Will you enable us to show our repentance by hastening to do the most just and brotherly work of welcoming all these ministers as our own believed kindred, like Christ himself, of our own body, of our flesh, of our bones? Will you assure our Presiding Elders that you are willing to accept brethren of this hue as your pastors? Ministers of talent, attainments and piety are waiting the opening of this door.

Will you respond to this request of God, spoken in your conscience, spoken by his angel in the ear of all his churches, and invite them to come in? So doing, the Master who is with them will enter as never before into our temples and hearts…"

A different time.  Different situation. Yet strikenly similar and resonates today. UMC, end your prejudice and bigotry. Change the Discipline.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

45 Days Until Christmas

It is so hard to believe that Christmas is just a month and a half away.  2 weeks from now is Thanksgiving.  Good news, Thanksgiving week I have 2 days off (that makes a 4 day weekend), then I work for 2 weeks and have a week off (still have 1 week of vacation left and will spend it at Lake Lure, NC), then after returning to work on Dec. 22, I work a 3 day week, then the next week a 4 day week.  Not bad.  All total, between now and the end of the year I have 10 extra days off!  YAY!!!!!

On the other side of the coin, my GI issues continue.  I've seen doctors about it and have a diagnosis and treatment.  I guess that actually qualifies as good news too.  I've felt better the last couple of weeks since taking the new medication.  That should qualify for a yay too, so YAY!!!!!  Work has been good as well, although slower than I like as it can make for long days.  I also made decisions about some of the things that have been causing me stress and have eliminated what I can.  Progress, right?  YAY!!!!!  Now I just need the self motivation to start working out again.  How did I do it last year?  Was it just wanting to not be fat that did it?  Should I just start eating a lot more and put some pounds back on so I can self motivate?  I think that might be a little on the counterproductive side of the coin.

I went to see the mother-in-law last weekend and had a very nice visit.  We sat and talked for hours and hours after lunch (and during lunch).  I stayed until after dinner and then made my trek back to Durham.

My Twitter feed has been on fire since the "Finding Our Way" webcast.  I've made lots of new FB friends and gotten a lot more Twitter followers.  Nice to know that there are people out there that share some of the same opinions and thought processes about topics that matter to me.

My real question of the night is this...."Do I put up the Christmas decorations, even the limited version that I did last year, this year?"  Anyone that knows me well knows that I hate putting up a Christmas tree.  That was a Joe thing.  That is why we always had 2 trees.  He loved the trees.  My feeling is that it just takes too much time and effort.  Especially on the taking down end.  Last year I just put up the metal "Cary tree" that we bought 10 years ago.  It comes in 4 pieces and takes 10 minutes to put up.  I put one tea light on each "branch" and called it a day.  Very simple, but was the best I could do given the circumstances.  I put the other decorations around the house, like I always have done.  So do I make myself put the Cary tree up?  It's pretty, but AARRRRRGH....I'm lazy and not motivated.  Can someone send me some Christmas spirit??  If that's asking too much, how about some Thanksgiving spirit?  I could probably work with that.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Family redefined - Luke 8

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21 NRSV)

When I read Jesus’ words in Luke 8 about his mother and brothers, I think Wow, harsh.  That is not typically what you say when your family shows up.  How do you feel if your family shows up unannounced?  Over the years mine learned simply not to.  Most of us would overreact in some way, but we expect more from Jesus.  He seems to dismiss them outright.
But I think what Jesus is really doing is redefining the word family.  He says to the crowd my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it. Those who are part of God’s family are related in a deeper way than those in our earthly families.  This idea about family continues later in Luke 8 when a woman touches the wings of Jesus’ garment.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48 NRSV)  He also changes her name from woman in verse 43 and 47 to daughter in verse 48.  She was no longer an anonymous woman in the crowd. When Jesus addresses her she becomes daughter.  She becomes a relative!  No longer a generic woman, but a specific daughter.

I wonder when we see people do we see generic people? Or can we challenge ourselves to look deeper?  What if we began to see the people around us as sons and daughters of God no matter what their circumstances are?  Would that not make for a more familial society in general? 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Odd Assortment of Happenings Last Week

Normally the week of Halloween is filled with ghosts and goblins but this year there were a few other oddities thrown in.  I had to go out a couple of nights just to check and make sure there wasn't a full moon.  Any excuse for the behavior of some people and for what was extraordinary occurrences that I witnessed.

Oddly freakish behavior was limited to a couple of co-workers.  Mind you it isn't that strange for my co-works to exhibit behavior that I find odd.  But yet, I'm taken aback when it happens.  Maybe they do it on purpose just to see how well I handle it.  I'm sure they were surprised this week when I did not handle it well at all.  We all have our limits.
That's me and a co-worker on Friday for Halloween.  We came as "Comfortable".  I must say I could get used to working in pajamas.

Another interesting happening was on Saturday morning.  The UMC Connectional Table was having their conference on 'Human Sexuality and the Church" and it was being webcast.  If you read a couple of posts prior to this one, you may have read or viewed the video that I recorded and submitted.  Guess what?...they used it.  Actually it was first.  Now mind you, only 4 videos were submitted but still, I was pleased that they included it in their discussion.  It got my Twitter feed buzzing and I spent the better part of the day in discussion via Twitter & email with people from all over the US and world, answering and asking questions.  Most were just interested folks in the Twittersphere but a couple were from the UMNS and other UMC publications/news sources.  All in all it was an illuminating day.  But here's the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • The panel of Bishops somehow found ways of saying the same thing over and over without ever repeating the same phrases.  They are a talented group of intellectuals and have a good command of language.
  • Having a panel to discuss homosexuality and the Church with no LGBTQ representation is equivalent to a discussion of race with only white people present or women's issues by a panel of men.
  • Bishop Talbert is a GEM.
  • Waiting until 2016 for a decision is only going to exacerbate the problem.  There is tension and it will only get worse given the amount of time that will pass before Conference.
  • There are great division among us Methodists.  Twitter was lit up with vitriol from the conservative side of the Church.  
  • Divisions in the Church were apparent before the event began as three members of the group Love Prevails were prevented from entering the room where the webcast was taking place.
  • I didn't get an answer to my question as to why I should stay.

The fact that this conversation took place at all is miraculous.  The fact that people from all over the world were able to participate via the internet made it even more intriguing.  The fact that I took part both via the video and through Twitter is even more astounding to me.

One of the best recaps/analysis' of the panel was written by Cynthia B. Astle, "Hopeful Signs Emerge from Sexuality Panel" from United Methodist Insight.  Read full here    One of the more interesting items to come out of the panel is the realization that United Methodist Bishops have finally acknowledged that they disagree over the acceptability of homosexual practice as a legitimate expression of human sexuality.

I'm also considering attending the GCN (Gay Christian Network) Conference in Portland early next year.  I was contacted about it because of the video and am waiting to get some more information/details before I make a decision.  The person I spoke with, Rachel Evans, urged me to consider attending.  So I will.

If you did not watch the webcast, it will be posted as a podcast soon and be able to be viewed at any time.  Let me know if you are interested in listening/watching and I will let you know when it is available.  The four videos that were shown are all available on Youtube and can be viewed on the Connectional Table website.

Friday, October 10, 2014

NC's Ban On Same Sex Marriage Ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!!

Anyone with a minuscule amount of common sense knew this day would come in NC.  I wish I could say that I feel bad for the 1.3 million homophobic, bigoted, hateful residents of NC that voted YES to Amendment One in 2012, but I can't.  Those individuals (yes you Thom Tillis) chose hate and in the end, love has WON out.   Joe worked so hard for this back in 2012 even though he was undergoing chemo.  As I've said before, he would have chemo in the morning and demonstrate at the state legislature building in the afternoon.  It worried me so, but I was and still am so proud of him for being so dedicated to his convictions.   It came too late to help us, but regardless, WE WON, Baby!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Same Sex Marriage: WAKE UP UMC

"Same-sex couples are able to marry in 26 states, and will soon be free to marry in an additional 9. The marriage states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.  Additionally, because the Supreme Court denied review in a case seeking the freedom to marry, the freedom to marry will soon come to all states in the 4th, 10th, and 7th Circuits, including Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has also affirmed the freedom to marry, meaning that barring further action from defendants in Idaho, same-sex couples will soon be free to marry. The ruling would also be binding in Alaska, Arizona and Montana.  Marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in Arkansas and Michigan following court orders, but those orders are now either on hold or being challenged as they are considered by appellate courts."
This means that barring some unforeseen change, within a matter of weeks, same-sex marriage will be considered legal in 35 states & the District of Columbia.  Even without the above mentioned 9 that are coming, 26 of 50 states now recognize this fact.  That's more than 50% of the USA.  The tide is not only changing, it is high tide and rolling ashore!  Wake UP UMC!  Adapt or go the way of the dinosaur.  Your numbers are already dwindling to a desperately low number.  If you can't justify a change faithfully, religiously or through your narrow Biblical views, maybe looking at it economically is the best way to see it.  Like many if not most Christian denominations, you are dying on the vine.  Set yourself apart any way you can.  What do you really have to loose?  Reduced membership? It's already happening.  Reduced income/contributions?  It's already happening.  Bad press?  You've got that by the boat load!  It's 2014.  Act like it!
Joe- Look at me!  I'm political AND controversial!!!!  Well, maybe not that controversial, but I'm speaking up.  Silent no more.