Friday, January 31, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Hero

It's Friday again and that time to join with voices and writers and dreamers to take five minutes and write.  There is no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying, no second-guessing, only writing.  For Five Minutes.  Read more about Five Minute Friday at Lisa Jo Baker's Blog:


As I gather my thoughts and swiftly move my fingers bringing words to life, I give thanks for the one who first shared the dream with me.  As I wonder what stories to tell and what words breathe life into my story, I pause to recall the one who first told me of a greater story than my own.  From journals and scraps of paper, from drawings and stories, from essays and poems, the words were always wrapped in love.  The words were inspired by the one who was there when my first word echoed in this world.  

I write to make sense of my world and to work my way though my thoughts, hopes, dreams and challenges.  I write because I was gifted from an early age with the knowledge that words matter.  I write because of the love from a mother to a daughter.  

In my closet I have a box of all the journals and stories and writings that I created.  Some for school and some for the pure joy of bringing words to life.  It's a collection of words and drawings and the love of telling a story.  I have some of my mother's writings, too.  And together, that box holds a treasure of memories and hope.  For between that box of writings and a blank page waiting for a story to be told, the voice of my mother, my hero, reaches from the page to encourage me: Keep writing, your words do matter.     

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You Want Me to Follow You Where?

"Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."

Not words to be taken lightly, that's for sure.

Little did I know three years ago where those words, "Follow me," would lead me.  For it was three years ago that I came to preach these words for the first time to the people of Christ and Trinity Lutheran Church in Sedalia, Missouri.  And it was three years ago that those same words were words spoken to me.

Living in the state of Missouri was not on my radar.  I had only visited the state once before my initial interviews.  Of course I had heard of Mark Twain and Hannibal and the famous arch.  Still, Missouri was a bit foreign to me, a bit far from family and friends, and a bit unknown.  Yet the words of Jesus called, "Follow me."

And there I was being voted on by the people of Christ and Trinity to be their pastor.  To enter into relationship with them.  To hear their stories.  To tell God's story.  To offer forgiveness.  To ask for forgiveness.  To baptize.  To share bread and wine.  To laugh and to cry.  To sing and to dance.

Follow me.

On this particular Sunday, I was to preach in worship and to meet the people.  I remember the faces and the feelings and the nerves.  I remember the children and their notes of welcome.

"Dear Pastor Kim, We all have hope you will like our church."  

"We love you."  

Notes of hope and notes of promise.  Notes that no matter whether I was their pastor or not, no matter how flat my sermon fell, or how many names I forgot, no matter how much uncertainty there was, they still loved me.  Already.

Follow me, Jesus says.  And come to experience this love that existed before you were born.  Follow me to share that love, to proclaim the good news, to heal and to forgive.  Follow me.

Three years ago I had no idea where this journey, this call, would lead.  And now three years later I still am unsure of where God is calling each of us.  I trust only in the promise that I am loved.  The people I serve are loved.  The community is loved.  And that the world outside our doors is still in desperate need of hearing these words of love and hope.  And so, together, we share God's word and the example of Jesus.

Three years into this call and I'm aware of the fluid nature of community.  People I met three years ago, people who welcomed and taught and loved me, have moved on for work or have entered the church triumphant.  And there are people who have become a part of this community just in these last three years.  There are people, like me, who are learning and sharing about this Jesus and this call with new friends and new family.

Three years have gone by and Missouri is no longer unknown to me.  Now the state of Missouri, Sedalia and Christ and Trinity, paint a picture of God's work in the world.  A picture of God's call in the lives of God's people.  A people full of love and ready to share that love with the world.  A people who say to friends and enemies and strangers, "We love you."  People who work together to follow God's call.


Friday, January 24, 2014

The Peace of a Two-Year-Old

Hadley reaches out his hand, looks his neighbor in the eye, and says, "Peace be with you." 

Sounds like any Sunday morning at Christ and Trinity during the passing of the peace, but for two-year-old Hadley, saying, "Peace be with you," doesn't only occur at church but also with his classmates at preschool.  Hadley extends his hand and offers the words, "Peace be with you" to his preschool friends.     

Peace be with you.   

For Hadley going to church and being the church are one and the same.  From Hadley, a young theologian, we learn and see and experience the power of words, the power of touch, and the power of community.  Wherever we are.

Every Sunday we come together and worship.  We come to offer forgiveness and to be forgiven.  We come to pray for others and for others to pray for us.  We come to taste and see and feel that the Lord is good.  We come to sing and to praise.  We come to share peace and to bless.  When we offer the peace of the Lord to our neighbors each week we do it knowing that it is God's peace that we offer.  Not ours.  We shake hands and say, "Peace" to people with whom we may disagree, to people we may not know, to people who may think and act differently than we do.  We offer peace not out of our own goodness but out of the goodness and grace of God.  And somehow, deep down, Hadley already knows that.  Hadley knows that this peace is something that he can't keep to just himself.  Hadley knows that the world needs to hear words of peace.  And Hadley teaches us that God's peace is not solely the property of Sunday morning worship.

This January I resolved to remember and say and believe that I am a child of God.  Loved.  Claimed.  Special.  Now, I learn from Hadley, and invite you to learn from him as well.  I invite you to reach out your hands, look your neighbor and strangers and enemies in the eye, and say, "Peace be with you."  I invite you to reach out your hands knowing that God's peace has already come to you. 

Come each week for worship and hear the words of peace that are for you.  Come to worship and share those words of comfort and hope.  And then offer the peace during worship and go out into the world with an outstretched arm knowing that a child leads the way. 

Peace be with you.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I feel like my younger self awaiting the first day back to school after the summer or a long winter break.

I am full of excitement.  Anticipation.  Hopefulness.  Just plan joy.

I've been out of school for a couple years now so I don't get that can't-wait-to-see-my-friends-it-seems-like-forever-even-though-it's-just-been-a-few-weeks-feeling.  But I do remember what I felt like on the eve of heading back to school.

I remember getting everything ready for school the night before.  The lunch packed.  The clothes picked out and laid on the dresser.  The backpack full and brimming with a schedule, books, assignments, a trapper keeper, the latest notes from friends.

I remember thinking about who would be in my classes and whether so and so would still be mad at each other.  I'd wonder if there would be a new student.  Or if someone would be sick.  And of course I'd think about the teachers and the homework.

I'm not going back to school but I am equally full of those same feelings: excitement, anticipation, hopefulness, joy.

For this Sunday I'm going back to church for worship.  Now I am a pastor and it's a part of my job to be there week after week.  I haven't been away from the church.  But here in Missouri we've dealt with some weather.

Cold temperatures.
Did I mention ice?

Since December 8th, there's been some sort of winter weather.  Even a little bit of precipitation causes fear and creates hazardous walking and driving conditions.  We've had church every week in December, but with the weather, Christmas and family travels, and the unfortunate low-attendance Sunday after Christmas, it seems like an eternity since we've all been together.  

And to top it off, on the first Sunday in January, the start to a new year, we had to cancel worship.  Cold weather, blowing snow, and ice aren't conducive for safe travel.  So the folks at Christ and Trinity missed spending the first Sunday of the new year together.  We missed communal worship.  We missed hearing one another's voices.  We missed the sharing of bread and wine.  We missed hearing that God declares all our sins forgiven.  We missed sharing the peace with one another.

I have checked the weather forecast for this coming Sunday.  All clear.  And that's why I feel like a child anticipating the coming together for worship.  I am hopeful and excited and downright joyful at the prospect of being together.  I seem to take for granted the gift of worship.  It's such a part of my routine and life that it's on automatic pilot.  Sunday comes and I go to church.  Sunday comes and we form the body of Christ together.  With our songs, our prayers, our warts and all.

And when I miss a Sunday I feel a bit disjointed.  I don't feel quite whole.  The rest of my week has a different rhythm to it.  I genuinely miss the off-key singing.  I miss the voices of children who rise above everyone else to pray the Lord's prayer.  I miss the questions and how do you dos.  I miss the anticipation that God will indeed break into our lives and offer radical hospitality and unrelenting forgiveness.  I miss the connections made between brothers and sisters in Christ.  I miss the surprises and interruptions.  I miss hearing that the bread and the wine, Christ's body and blood, are given for me.  And given for you.

Of course it's not that we haven't seen each other for youth activities and bible studies, and it's not that I can't pray and sing and offer peace when I'm outside the church building.  But there's something important in the act of coming together week after week on Sunday mornings.  There's the power in community - where two or more are gathered.  There's the power in knowing that from the youngest to the oldest, we believe in something greater than ourselves.  There's the power in celebrating the holy breaking into our ordinary, messy, and clumsy lives.

There's the power in knowing that our anticipation and joy and hopefulness is bound to the One who continually shows up in our lives to make us new and whole.  For this Sunday, I do know what I'll wear.  I'll have my bag packed and my thoughts in order.  I'll be downright joyful.  And maybe a little tired from lack of sleep.

And most of all I look forward to being surrounded by the Body of Christ.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Five Minute Friday: See

It's that time again.  One week has passed and in the midst of email writing, journaling, reading, sermonating, and reflecting, it's time for Five Minute Friday.  Thanks to Lisa-Jo Baker and her blog:

It's that time to join with others from across the US to turn off the inner critique, doubts, and the fear and to just write.  So here it goes:


My dog and I seem to have an affinity for the same view in the house.  We both find ourselves gazing out the back sliding door.  Whether it's raining.  Or snowing.  Or sunny.  Or a so-cold-you-can-barely manage-to-run-from-your-car-and-back kind of day.  

We both look out and take in the beauty of our home.  

Our dining room table has doubled as the work table.  Amid our table cloth and fading flowers and unopened mail, I turn to my right and am blinded by the light of day.  During the summer the neighbor works in the garden.  The corn grows and grows.  In the fall the neighborhood's leaves find their way into our yard.  And then comes the burning of the leaves and the haze that covers the town.  The snow and ice have come now since winter.  

And I continue to look out.  

Yet, some things remain the same.  The church steeple and cross stand tall - a beacon of hope and life.  The  random cats still manage to find their way to our yard and torment the dog.  I hear the church bells toll at 8 and noon and again at 6.  The children come to the playground.  

I look out and I see a neighborhood.  Our neighborhood.  Our home.  

I see a life brimming with holiness.    

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Fight

Fight.  It’s my first five-minute Friday and it feels as if this whole writing thing has been a fight.  I’ve read and I’ve read and I’ve talked and talked about writing.  I want to write.  I like to write.  I need to write.  It’s a fight with my own sense of perfection and to be liked to actually put the words on paper. 

The raw, honest words. 

So for months I’ve been following the five minute Friday and reading the words and thinking in my head of what I would write if I actually did participate in five-minute Friday.  Of course I had great imagery and language and stories to share, but only in my head.  Never put down in words.  But today at the start of a new year and the hope and possibility to come, I decide to write. 

It’s a cold, dark January Friday.  The day has come and gone.  The night stretches into the darkness.  The stars creeping out.  And I’ve given up the fight with myself.  Today I join the five minute Friday club.  Today I write for five minutes straight and wonder what will emerge.  Today for five minutes, at the computer, at night, I let my fingers move and my soul do the searching.  It feels good to know I’m writing with a host of saints, women, near and far.  I write and I know that I am not alone.  I write and I know that words bring each of us together. 

In the beginning was the Word and that Word will be with me till the end.  That Word binds each of us in community.  That Word is my source of hope and my inspiration to know that no matter what I write or how much I write, the Word will still be with me.   And for that I say, Amen.    


Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Year in Words

With the start of a new year there are plenty of ways to recount the last year.  

I've been thinking of how to recount this last year for myself.  Highlights would include:  finally living in the same state as my husband, Stephen, as well as Stephen's graduation, ordination, and installation.  Settling into life in a town of 1,000.  A new dog.  Deeper relationships with the community I serve.  Lots of walking.  Lots of reading and writing.  The red rocks of Sedona.

But, mainly, I keep going back to words.  All the writing I've done personally and professionally.  I can recount the handwritten journal pages, the scraps of paper with quotes and motivational phrases, the blog entries, the newsletter articles, the emails, the handwritten notes, the sermons, the to-do lists, the cards, the bible studies, and some more sermons.

Words have defined how I share my story and how I share God's story with the community I serve.  Words have reminded me that I do have a story to tell and that the story is continually being rewritten and reworked.  Words have flowed, and words have eluded me.  The words have startled me and the words have comforted me.  The power of the words, the power of my own thoughts, have been a source of both hope and pain.

In the words of others, either strangers or friends, I've found solace.  I've been reminded that when one writes, one writes to make sense of the world in which we all live.  We write from a common center, a core rooted in love and grace.  A core that resonates deep within the rhythm of the earth.  And it is in these words that I have hope in the stories that still yearn to be told.  The stories that echo for justice.  The stories that can only be told once one goes through the darkness and into the light.  Stories that aren't always pretty or neat, but stories that teach us to listen more deeply.  Stories that change the world.

So, it's a new year and I'm grateful for words.  Grateful for the inspiration to keep writing and stringing together words to make sense of my life and this life of faith.  I'm thankful for the words that were sung and spoken and prayed to me that resonate deep within.  I'm thankful for the words that come to me from within when I have no words to utter.

And yet, most importantly, I look to the Word that was in the beginning.  The Word that came into being so that all words would know the light.  For in the beginning was the Word.  And the Word was with God.  And the Word was God.

It is this Word that I dwell in and it is this Word that dwells in me.