This one puts my whole life in focus.
This one really resonates with me as “strong” tends to be an adjective that’s often been ascribed to me throughout my life. Only those very close to me are aware of my inherent weakness (though it shows more and more as I get older.) Rather I’ve found courage because there was no other option. In doing so I learnt how to lean heavily.
Great faith in a weak structure will collapse but weak faith in a strong structure will stand.
Verses 1-10 are so uplifting. Here, finally, is an unequivocal expression of faith. Interesting that Jesus does not ask Zaccheus for all, as he did with the rich young man, when Zaccheus offers half.
What follows in verses 11-27 is a really ugly version of the Parable of the Talents. When we teach on this we usually use the version in Matthew 25. Even though the punishment here is to be hacked in pieces (Old Testament style punishment) whereas in Matthew the punishment is eternal–being cast into the outer darkness (New Testament style). Take your pick. I’d go for the hacking.
One of the comments that frequently comes up in bible study is from Christians who distinguish between “the Old Testament God” and “the New Testament God”. The new one being much more loving, warm and fuzzy.
I always spout off at this point. Do you know how lame you sound? Did you miss that there is only one God? ONE GOD.
If there is only one thing I am sure of, a place in my heart that is untouched by doubt, it is that God became a man. We know him. His name is Jesus. Forget the virgin birth stuff. Son is a metaphor. ONE GOD.
This is me.
July 26th, 2015
This is a memory game I sometimes play. I used to play it a lot when I was younger. Then I could remember vast stretches of time in detail. Now I’m challenging myself with remembering everything that happened in a day.
5:30am Out of bed. Shower & bathroom stuff. Coffee. Got dressed. Took daily meds. Researched a new, suggested med but rejected it based on side effects. Checked Facebook as I had a difficult day yesterday and had to make some amends for forgetting that people online are people. Continue reading
Where light is like darkness…why does this resonate? Let’s take the scientific approach: it resonates because it’s in me. I recognize myself in Job’s words. An emptiness; a sorrow with no bottom is a quality of the experience of grief. This is not self-pity. Just an assessment. My faith tells me that in all I feel God is with me, feeling it with me. But where is God? Although I don’t feel him he is not absent. I can’t explain that; I feel it.
When my Dad died it was nothing like this. I hated my Dad all my life, and he never had a moment for me. He was cold, sometimes cruel. Hostile, negative, a racist and a lecher.
Until he had a stroke in 2006 at age 82 and lost his ability to speak, which he never regained. Partly because he refused to work with any of the speech therapists. But he was already on the way to dementia by then. I was 54. God forgive me, I wouldn’t wish it on him, but once he lost the ability to speak we got along just fine. In fact, I found out that I loved him. Just because he was Dad. And because he couldn’t hurt me anymore – he was too weak.
When all the hostility, negativity, racism and lewdness couldn’t come out of him (in the form of words), I could spend the whole day with him and he couldn’t screw it up. We we’re friends. I took care of him until he died of dementia in 2008, a prolonged, miserable death.
I remember the time I came into his room at the nursing home and his face just lit up, he was so happy to see me. And I remember thinking, I’ve never seen that before in my life. Usually when I came into his presence he simply didn’t notice. It felt good.
When he died, I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel pain or regret. That was seven years ago, and I’ve never felt that something was missing from my life. This begs the question of how different this is from my present grief. After all, that is my reality. In sharing it, someone will identify, they will see themselves in my words. God will hear it, and he’ll be there with me.
And that’s the core of my faith. God does not seem that interested in taking away the things that hurt me. By contrast, he seems extremely interested in taking away the things in me that hurt other people. He never seems to lose interest in that.
But he does participate. What I feel, he feels. He became a man – kind of a death for God, if you think about it – so that he would know what it was like to be me. In this way, he dies for me, and takes away my sins. This is my understanding, and this is what Christ means to me.
This is an expanded rewrite of Guiding Principles posted on May 27th.
Here are some of the principles, thoughts and learnings from our collective experience with art ministry projects.
- The work must be tied to the liturgy, season or holiday.
- The space inside our church is dramatically large, so when it comes to the scale of a project, you almost can’t be too assertive. Think big. Ten foot wide mobiles, eight foot wide wall hangings, eighteen foot banners are not too big for our space.
- In designing a space, keep the eye moving UP, always.
- It’s not about you.
- It’s all about you (the committee). Maintain spiritual grounding through prayer, open discussion and love for each other. This is more important than the results of your work.
Establishing a Committee for Art Ministry
When I was first formulating the idea, and when it was approved by Session, it was announced in the various church information channels, of course. But I didn’t do a “call for volunteers” which I find is rarely an effective way to gain support for a project. I did targeted recruiting; I walked up to two or three people who I knew had the necessary talent and skills and made a personal appeal for them to join. One was a fabric artist and clothing designer, and one was a mechanical engineer who could work creatively in almost any medium. Four years later, they still form the backbone of the committee.
We didn’t know at first what we would need, never having done this before. We got an initial grant from Session of $2500 for the year. We always keep an eye on cost, and we are all good shoppers, as well as recyclers. Since we buy material in bulk we shop the internet where we get the best deals. Scrounged materials (a great deal of cardboard is discarded by the company I work for) are also used. Material sources are listed in the Sources:Materials section.
- Make a schedule and keep to it. Our schedule is 7:00-9:00pm every Monday night, with additional day-long workshops added for major installations such as Advent or Lent.
- Figure that any work is going to take a lot longer than you think, from two to ten times longer.
- Brainstorm, share ideas, use scripture and the internet as resources.
- Research what other artists in this genre have done, and see what other churches are doing.
- Keep everyone busy. Our worst problem is when we have more hands than work to keep them busy.
- Keep an eye on newcomers and remember this is a training exercise. You, the experienced member, are responsible
for welcoming them and guiding them throughout the process.
- Share food. Share fellowship. Go on road trips. Be honest with each other.
- Enjoy the ride. If it’s a chore you’re not doing it right.
Who is this Manual for?
This is primarily for the members of FPCH who follow in the work of art ministry. It will make an attempt to catalog and explain and provide instruction in the workings of the structures and major installations. Perhaps it will also serve as inspiration for those in other churches who would like to start their own AM group. Hopefully it will be useful to any size church in illustrating possibilities for ministry and outlining some of the technical issues we faced and how we addressed them.
I’ll also share some of the major learnings of the AM committee from its inception in summer 2011 until the present. At this writing, summer 2015, we have been in practice for four years. Feel free to post, comment or ask questions on our blog, bibleinayearfpch.org. Or show up in person at an Art Ministry Monday night workshop if you just want to see how things work.
When I started the Art Ministry at First Presbyterian four years ago, the church was in need of healing. Perhaps it was given to us in response to that need. Since then it has attracted numerous members – young families in particular have been uniformly vocal in their support and enthusiasm for this arm of worship.
Working on the Pastor Nominating Committee gave me a unique look at the role Art Ministry played in our church’s future. Almost every worthwhile candidate we interviewed pointed to the art ministry as one of the things that attracted them to our church.
What congregants see are the installations. What we see, first, is the infrastructure. The hanging systems, the pulleys and reels, the hidden components built into walls and floor and roof, that are designed to carry and display a variety of design elements – banners, fabrics, wall mounts, sashes, mobiles, three dimensional artwork. They are designed to be changeable and adaptable to new versions and new forms being created over the years.
I have never given any thought to legacy until now. And I realize that the structures we have put in place will be in use for as long as this church stands. 50, 100 years, who knows? After we’re dead, the members of this church will be benefiting from our work.
For Pentecost this year, we went over the top. Half a dozen of us labored for days to bring this installation into being. We painted, sewed, carried, climbed, drilled, sawed. We ate pizza and took breaks with Laurel and Hardy. Most importantly, we prayed together. We are a small group, a family, not just a goal-oriented committee. We take care of each other. And our family model, just like Jesus’, is adoption.