Monthly Archives: January 2017

Prayers, Presence, Walks and Marches

I woke up early this morning. I was going to walk or “wog” in the “Battle of the Bean.” This 5K race supports the ministry of Mead’s Corner the coffee shop that is an outreach of the church I serve First United Methodist in downtown Wichita, Kansas. Before I got out of bed, I said my prayers. First I prayed for our new president Donald Trump. Then I prayed for our nation and prayed for many people I care about.

Not that it matters, but I did a personal best on the 5K at 44:30.8. My husband and I enjoyed the race and the energy and helping out a good cause.

20170121_075643Following the race I went home, changed clothes and got in the car with my twin sister and friend and husband and headed over to the Women’s March.

20170121_093953I will be honest, I thought long and hard about whether or not I would go. When the march was announced in Washington, D.C. I was asked if I was going and I said no. It was a long way away, it would be expensive and I wasn’t sure what my presence would add.

Then a march was announced for Topeka, again, I had not planned on going because I had the 5K in the morning and I knew I couldn’t get there in time. Then they announced a march in Wichita. This gave me pause. What reason could I give for going or not going?

The truth is, that I have it pretty good. I am in a place in my life that frankly I never imagined I would be. I am a senior pastor in a historic downtown church. There have not traditionally been many senior pastors that are women, although they are becoming more prevalent. My life is secure. I have health insurance, although like many it went up dramatically for 2017 (60%). I can afford to pay for it. In some ways I could be the poster child for women’s equality.

That is not my whole story, however. I could be a poster child for other things: being raised for five years by a single mom and grandparents and being a recipient of what was then called Aid to Dependent Children and a medical card. I could be a poster child for being sexually harassed by my superiors and not reporting it for fear I would lose my job and not be able to be a pastor, something I was called to do and be. I could be a poster child for women who have been raped in college or anywhere and not reporting for fear of not being believed (actually both the sexual harassment and rape were shared but I was told that it would be his word against mine and there wasn’t any point in reporting it.)

So I marched today for those who could not or those who have not yet seen that equality and justice is possible. I marched today, because I don’t want to go back to where there is an open season on women to be groped and to be raped and to be abused and told to just get over it. I don’t want to go back to when I knew what it was like to be voiceless and powerless and afraid.

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The truth be told, I didn’t agree with every sign I saw, or every part of every speech that was shared. I didn’t need to. I needed to stand up and be counted. I also don’t believe in violence. I was particularly grateful there was none in Wichita, not that I expected it. Parents with children, young people, old people with gray hair and wrinkles, women and men gathered and the mood was amazing.

One of the gifts of being part of this country is our right to assemble, our freedom of religion and our freedom of speech. Disagreement is not only necessary, it helps us move in new directions. I know this will sound somewhat shocking, but I don’t need everyone to believe the way I believe. Christians do NOT agree on many things…not the least of which is who to vote for in any given election. Christians don’t agree on baptism, on women in ministry or other doctrinal issues. Jewish people also don’t agree on every doctrinal issues, nor do Muslims or any other religion. In this country, we are free to worship or not in the way we see fit. We are free to assemble and protest and march in order to change the things we feel need changing. We are free to write, to speak and to post what we believe even if others do not.

I prayed for President Trump this morning, because that is what Christians do, he is the president of the United States. I prayed for our government because that is what Christians do. I stood up for those less fortunate, the ones who are afraid and the weak, because that is also what Christians do. I believe deeply that I am part of a long line of those who have worked for justice, for equality and for the hope and promise that all people deserve the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There have been many who have gone before me, my attendance today honors their sacrifice and commitment to building a better world. I attended today for those who come after me, that the time will come sooner, rather than later, when the reign of God, which promises hope, love, joy and justice will be made real.

So today, I prayed and walked. I marched and was present and accounted for. I know that not everyone will think that was important, some will disagree. I honor that disagreement. I also honor those who work tirelessly for peace, for justice for all people. I want to be part of a loving movement which provides safety for the most vulnerable, justice for the oppressed, equality for all people. I want my words and actions to match what I say I believe. As a Christian, I long to live as Jesus did, not only proclaiming good news, but working in ways to change the world….into a world of peace, of grace and of justice.

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A day of ordinary in the New Year

I write this on the 9th day of Christmas and and the second day of 2017. The last of the company left mid-afternoon yesterday. I miss them, the ones that left mid-week and the ones just yesterday. There never seems to be enough time to do everything and say everything. The moments are so fleeting and yet so appreciated. 

I, as usual, took few pictures. I mean to, I really do, but in the midst of playing and walking and laughing and just being together, I forget. I did some important ones, four generations with Andrew’s mom who is 96 and one never knows when there will be another chance to have family around her for a picture. I took a few pictures of food, as is my habit, maybe because it doesn’t move quickly. 

The house is incredibly quiet. I miss the laughter, the conversation and even the shouts when small fights would break out in the midst of playing children. I don’t mind the quiet actually, it helps me re-image in my minds eye the last week-drinking coffee, eating meals, playing games, Pokémon walk, a trip to the zoo, our boxing day open house filled with friends old and new, watching movies, opening gifts and toasting to a new year.

So on this second day of the new year, I am doing ordinary things. Washing bedding from 8 beds and I am not half done. Washing towels, from lots of showers and baths, folding laundry, putting away dishes and tidying up. If truth be told I am not much of a housekeeper, I would much rather do other things. Today, it feels right to just slowly put the house back in order. None of the decorations are coming down yet as it is only the ninth day of Christmas and I refuse to rush the end of the season. I am, however, not putting the Christmas pillows back on the beds as they will soon need to be packed up.

On this ordinary day, doing ordinary everyday things (as noted in this Carried Newcomer song), I am pondering what this year will mean. I look back at last year and am so astounded and perplexed and amazed at what the year brought. I moved into a new church appointment, I was shocked by the bitterness and hatred that unfolded in the political process and I was blessed by so many things. Truly 2016 was a year of ups and downs, but really in many ways pretty ordinary. Every year of my life has been filled with joy and sorrow, love and laughter, tears and grief, times of anxiety and times of hope. 

I guess as the days of Christmas wind down I must admit that each year I long that somehow this Christmas will truly change the world and move it from darkness to light, from oppression to justice, from hate to love, from bigotry to equality. I know that it is probably naive and silly, but I long for a time when there are more stories of hope and love and justice and peace than there are of hatred and violence and terrorist attacks and war. In the midst of ordinary moments these longings are pondered in the midst of folding laundry, making beds and cleaning up the debris. 

William Auden in his poem For the Time Being, speaks to some of that longing. A pdf copy of part of the poem is found at this website http://www.cynthiadavisauthor.com/Auden,%20Oratorio.pdf. A couple of the lines state, “Once again, as in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed to do more than entertain it as an agreeable Possibility…to those who have seen the Child, however dimly, however incredulously, the Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all…Remembering the stable where once in our lives Everything became a You and nothing became an It.”

I re-read this poem each year, praying that the Time Being will change, and someday everyone will be a YOU and no one will be an IT. When the world returns to ordinary, I can choose to remember, I can choose to do more than entertain the Possibility that the world can be different, I can choose to be part of an ordinary everyday way of living that will change the world, just as God chose to change the world through a tiny infant, born to pretty ordinary everyday people.

So, in the words of the poet, “In the meantime There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair, Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance.” Laundry to washed, folded and put away, beds to made, dishes to wash and a few dinners and meals to cook for Andrew before my vacation is over. A few days left to celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, God-with-us, before the season of Epiphany and “ordinary time” return to the church calendar.

I will use my ordinary, everyday life to give witness to God’s love and grace in this time and space and place. I only have ordinary everyday minutes in which to love, to serve, to hope and offer hope and to live out my faith in the God who graces our lives in the ordinary, the birth of a child, an ordinary family and out of those things, come hope, faith and a vision of a new day and age of peace, justice and righteousness. So…in the time beings I re-affirm the words of Howard Thurman on this ordinary 2nd day of 2017 and 9th day of Christmas:

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