Sunday, April 5, 2015

Femininity

A friend of mine is doing a research project on femininity and asked for stories, the following is mine:

When I was 5 years old, someone stole my hat on the playground, and a girl named Ethel Lucas punched the boy for me because I said I didn't believe in violence. The jokes about her having a crush on me and my own masculinity in many ways would be the inception of how I would identify myself and understand others throughout my life. I have never had close male friends or mentors, I have found my life surrounded by femininity and have found myself at home with my own.

I was born male, and in a lot of ways I fit that stereotype (athletics, slack clothing, hairy, etc.), but more often than not even my wife would say I am feminine. One friend even once used me when trying to explain the complexities of gender, sexuality, and relationships by saying “He's a lesbian feminine male.” I don't know if I'd go that far, but in spending a life with females has certainly impacted my world view.

There are great things that come with femininity (and I'm not talking nail polish, skirts, hair chalk, or heels – though I love those things). I love how the women of my life are able to be both strong and beautiful. I love how the feminine allows for claiming self identity. I love how femininity cannot be simply defined as it seems masculinity can be. I could go on and on, but I feel this space is best spent talking about some of the women who inspire me. There are three kinds of women who have influenced me most:

My mentors, Dr. RP, Colleen, Linda, Dorothy, Kat, and others are people who helped pave a path that has allowed me to do the things I do, and be the person I am. They all epitomize femininity, both because of how they carry themselves and because they can speak to the experiences of being a woman in a way that anyone can understand. They are those who will put me in my privileged place, reminding me how my feminine side may get me strange looks, and occasionally bad service, but that I'm still able to do things in ways that they aren't free to do.

My friends, “Sis” Michelle, Tot, Ethel, Anne, and others are those who have allowed me other the years to be feminine without questions. They are the ones who never (as far as I know) felt like I was around them as anything but a friend. They didn't treat me as a threat but rather let me join in the fun of painting nails, prom dress shopping, sleepovers, and other girly things. Without them, I would probably still be trying to be “manly” and wondering why I hated having to do things the way guys were doing them.

The third group of women who influence me are “My Girls.” “My Girls” are what I call the girls I work with, either through volleyball, musicals, or at church. Many of them are still minors, so I wont put their names in this, but they change me on a daily basis, they refuse to be defined by others or by the actions of others. The stories they tell me of things that have happened to them already in their young lives alone are reasons we should all be feminists, but how they maintain an elegance through their strength and their willingness to be weak with one another is inspirational. I remember when two of my girls were going to get married and one of their fathers had to quit his job for this to happen. The pain on her face when she told me was clear as day, but her dad came up and told her that he was not going to let anyone else define him and that he had learned that from watching her grow up. That is the core of femininity, it is the ability to be put together, beautiful, inspirational, all while being weak enough to ask for help.

I have been fortunate to not be locked into gender roles, girls like Ethel Lucas beating a boy up, Heather Sullivan pinning me up against a wall, Mini-me stepping in and doing my job as well as I ever could even though she was just 15, Brooke and Alex challenging the status quo and not taking no for an answer, Irene and Nat struggling with sexuality and taking the risk to ask the team to support them, Dr. R-P making choices that others would question but she knew were right for her, Nancy and Natalie being honest and raw about their experiences and letting others in while also saying No More and becoming voices that changed me and the world around them, Kat ever having fun while also standing for the equality of all even when it comes to being able to have fun, Michelle struggling through loss and faith along with me as two only children who became siblings, Anne never letting me go as friend even after I hurt her, Tot withstanding rumors to be my friend, Linda never taking no for an answer, Emma reminding everyone she was “a kid” when we all looked at her as an adult, Dorthy being the example of what a minister should be, Case dumping her date for me and then making me say I was sorry, Syd and Kris being willing to work to become what I saw in them but eventually choosing where their own limits were, and many others have defined the world for me. Just by being around these women, I have found the strength to wear nail polish to church, to stand beside them, and more than that behind them in the struggles that they are passionate about.

The thing is that I never heard things in gendered tones growing up. I know they were said, and I'm sure there were people then and still are people who see me with my hair, painted nails, all female friends, ability to walk in heels, focus on issues of equality, and the ilk and make judgments about my gender roles or sexuality. Yet, it has always been just me being me, I'm the guy who had a girl (or 3 or 4 over time) fight his fights as a kid, who often hates his gender, who never really understood (due to asperger's syndrome and experience in part I'm sure) why any of it mattered. Of course, now due to all the women listed above and many many more I know it does matter, because for most being seen as feminine has contentions of weakness, of others expectations, of objectification, and of all types of inequality. Feminine may not be any of that to me, but until it isn't any of that to anyone, it's all the more important to claim it and work to change the world's view on it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

10 Commandments

In an effort to both talk about God's law and biblical interpretation, the 10 commandments were taken to their logical inverse and then back.  Here is the "final" interpretation:
1. Place the purpose of the creator above all else
2. Do not limit who God is or what God does
3. God can only be used for love and to build up
4. Honor God and care for Self
5. Pay attention to those who care about you
6. Don't Kill Anyone PERIOD
7. Think about others first
8. Give freely
9. Love and Care for others according to their needs/desires
10. Be who you were created to be, not anyone else.

I think maybe I'll try to live by them a bit. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Blessing for Supply Pastor Leaving

From Psalm 145: The Lord is loving to everyone; God's compassion is over all God's works. All your works praise you, O Lord, and your faithful servants bless you. We thank you God for your goodness and loving kindness as seen through Clark's time with us here at HVPC. Through our partnership, for the Spirit that has empowered us to witness and we give you praise. Praise for the the Good News Clark has proclaimed through his leadership, care and support. We now send him forth with our blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace both this day and forever. Amen and Godspeed.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ash Wednesday Prayer Stations:



Lint or Lent?

When you hear the word lent what comes to mind?
Many people don’t know the difference…LINT OR LENT?
Is it something in your belly button or your dryer?
What about a season of the church year designed to bring you closer to Jesus?

Use this lint brush as a prayer of confession…
God removes the “lint, -
The junk that is stuck to us…
The sin that so easily entangles us…

As you roll the lint brush over your clothes talk to God about the Lint, the junk, in your life you need him to remove.

Ask God to show you any lint that is blocking your relationship with him as you roll the lint brush on your shirt/ jeans, picture the junk being removed.

And know that God loves you and forgives you.



Locked Away

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
(Isaiah 61:1)

Moments after the very beginning, we locked ourselves away. We were not fooled or tricked, no one pushed us in and slammed the door behind us, nor were we forced. By our own accord we entered the cell, locked the bars and threw the keys far beyond our own reach. In search of what we thought was freedom, we entered captivity. Another day, another lock, as hope and life slip away together and we realize that under our own strength there is no possibility of escape.

Write down your personal burdens on a slip of paper and place your that paper into a jar with others and close it back off, a reminder of how we keep these things locked away, but also a reminder that we are one among many, in a community able to share our burdens









A Desert Place

As you begin your Lenten journey, wash your hands in the bowl of sand as an act of repentance.  This is a reminder of the wilderness where Jesus spent his forty days of fasting and prayer.
Talk to God about where you are and where you want to be in the next few weeks before Easter.

Now wash your hands in the bowl of water and allow God to refresh you and allow the Living Water to encourage you as you journey with Jesus during the days before Easter.
YOU ARE CLEAN…YOU ARE LOVED…YOU ARE FORGIVEN





Letting Go
Take a Nail and write on it your initials or name.
Consider the things that you have done that may have hurt God or others over the past year. 
Place the nail into the loaf of bread as a reminder of these things, but also be at peace, for Jesus himself has already said “It Is Finished” 
Repent, Turn Away, Let Go, and Be at Peace in God’s Grace.















Words of Lent

We are called to bring Christ to all the world. Think about words that describe how you can bring the things of God to the world and add them to the puzzle, If you can't find a place your words will fit, start a new puzzle, and see if someone later can make a connection between them.

Read over the puzzles before you leave and pray over the things that we as a community hope for.



Light of the World

Jesus knew what it was like to be an outcast, to be at risk, to be an outsider, to struggle in a world where powers rage. These struggles are all over the world. Take a sticker and place it on the map in a place where you know people need peace and prayer.

Offer prayers for all the places and people of the world.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ash Wednesday Service



WELCOME/INVITATION TO A HOLY LENT
Leader: Peace be with you.
People: And also with you.
From our book of common worship:
Friends in Christ, every year at the time of the Christian Passover we celebrate our redemption through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent is a time to prepare for this celebration and to renew our life in the paschal mystery. We begin this holy season by acknowledging our need for repentance, and for the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I invite you, therefore, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.

OPENING PRAYER
Almighty and merciful God, you hate nothing that you have made and forgive the sins of all who are desire it; create in us new and humble hearts, so that when we turn to you we may receive your full and perfect forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.                  

TIME OF REFLECTIVE SILENCE (with selections from Joel 2) **Spoken by unseen voice**
(Silence)
Joel 2:1
(Silence)
Joel 2:12-13
(Silence)
Joel 2:15-16
(Silence)
Joel 2:17

LITANY OF CONFESSION
Leader: We have not loved you with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven. Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.
Leader: We have been deaf to your call to serve. We have been unfaithful, proud, and hypocritical. Christ have mercy.
People: Christ have mercy.
Leader: We have been self-centered, and have taken advantage of others. Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.
Leader: We have been envious of those more fortunate than ourselves. Christ have mercy.
People: Christ have mercy.
Leader: We have loved worldly goods and comforts too much. We have been dishonest in daily life and work. Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.
Leader: We have neglected prayer and worship, and have failed to commend the faith that is in us. Christ have mercy.
People: Christ have mercy.
Leader: We have been blind to human need and suffering, and indifferent to injustice and cruelty. Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.
Leader: We have thought uncharitably about others, and we have been prejudiced towards those who differ from us. Christ have mercy.
People: Christ have mercy.
Leader: We have wasted and polluted your creation, and lacked concern for those who come after us. Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.
ALL: Merciful God, we have sinned in what we have thought and said, in the wrong we have done and in the good we have not done. Our sin is found in ignorance, in weakness, in our own deliberate fault. We are filled with sorrow so we repent and turn to you. Forgive us and renew our call to work for the glory of your grace. Amen.  

NOTHING CAN TROUBLE (Hymn 820, Acapella)

IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Loving God, you create us from the dust of the earth; may these ashes be for us a sign of our penitence and our mortality, and a reminder that our life is lived eternally only in living for Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Please come forward and receive the ashes.
Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

LITANY OF ASSURANCE AND SIGNS OF GRACE
Leader: In our deepest darkness, God beckons us, calling us to peace, to quietness, to wholeness.
People: The world around us is filled with coldness, fear and restlessness.
Leader: It is of our creation, via greed, hatred, envy, all things broken and selfish.
People: Take us and heal us of every evil. Bring us back into the closeness of your embrace, O God.
Leader: Your cleansing love, O God, purifies, restores us with warmth and rest
People: In our night we hear God call, offering love and strength and forgiveness.
Leader: With God we need not fear, hate, nor control. Let us walk in the light of God.
ALL: Amen.

REMEMBERENCE OF BAPTISM
The grace of god that overcomes all things and is symbolized in our baptism.  So you are now invited to come forward and remember your baptism and receive the water of grace.
Repent and believe the Good News: God is making all things whole.

LITANY OF FAITH
Leader: The end is God’s and the beginning is God’s.
People: The storm is God’s and the peace is God’s.
Leader: The depths are God’s and the heights are God’s.
People: The dark is God’s and the light is God’s.
Leader: For all times, all things and all creation belong to God.
People: Travel with God towards the end from the beginning.
Leader: Walk with the God who is your salvation.
People: Continue with God through the storm and the peace.
Leader: Walk with the God who is your deliverance.
People: Wander with God across the depths and the heights.
Leader: Walk with the God who is your restoration.
People: Tarry with God in the dark and the light.
Leader: Walk with the God who is your assurance;
People: For all times, all things and all creation belong to God.
ALL: Amen.

BENEDICTION
Go with God’s grace, in the name of Christ, with the power of the spirit to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.