Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Brady Bunch, Christ Followers

Sometimes, we need a little humor. Today I preached my last sermon after seven years of serving as lay pastor to my congregation. What was I going to say? My daughter suggested I think of my retiring (to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing full-time) like the end of sitcom, maybe Cheers, since our church is small and everybody does know your name. I thought about it, and The Brady Bunch came to mind, specifically, "Here's the story, of a man named Brady." I thought about the Bible and what it's the story of. So, here, to lighten the mood of a tearful farewell, and with apologies to any Brady, living or dead, and understanding that I've taken great liberties by abridging almost all of scripture, is my new hit song, "God's Story!"

God’s Story
Sung to the theme of the Brady Bunch

Here’s the story of the baby Moses
Found in the Nile and raised in Pharaoh’s house
He led his people from slavery through the Red Sea
And wrote God’s ten big rules

It’s the story of God’s son Jesus
who spoke and healed throughout Galilee
He was crucified yet rose from the Grave
To save us all from sin

And later Paul who had once persecuted Christians
found his life turned upside down by a vision
He wrote the letters we now read in the Bible
That’s the way we all became Christ followers

Christ Followers, Christ Followers,
That’s the way we became Christ followers

Monday, June 07, 2010

Forging Ahead

"Forging Ahead" appears in the Upper Room book, Rhythm and Fire.

I wrote this poem seven years ago, the last time our church was in transition, as a thank you to Rev. Tarah Trueblood and in recognition of the difficult work she undertook in her first pastorate. It seems appropriate, as my congregation faces another transition with my retirement from pastoral ministry to focus on my MFA. A new configuration for ministry in Boulder Creek is still being dreamed up and formed, and it's stretching folks.

Forging Ahead

We’re all being hammered down
smashed flat, quivering red and molten
like silver in refiner’s fire

We’re all being punched and pushed
squashed, spun, dizzy and thrown
like clay on potter’s wheel

Maybe we should’ve kept our mouths shut
kept our noses in our books
kept our hands in the dishwater
kept our feet on the gas pedal
kept our lives settled, stable
and possibly, doubtfully, content

But we had to do it, look up from
our circumscribed lives
remove our rose colored glasses
pry our fingers from their death grip
around familiar’s throat
and belt out those words

Melt me, Mold me

Who would’ve known asking for God
would be this messy, this ugly
leaving us purple and bruised
dumped into the unknown
Who would’ve known we’re not in control

Whether we like it or not
whether we admit it or not
God always had hands all over us
fingers poking and prodding
hot breath in our faces
whispering, shouting
when we lost attention

You’re Mine

So there we were and here we are
forging ahead sharpening our trust
kneading our faith

How else are we going to become silver forks
spearing meaty portions of justice for the poor
How else are we going to become cooking pots
steaming with hope to feed the hungry

How else are we going to rise up and follow
telling our stories of transformation
from mound of slimy clay to communion cup
from chunk of ore to steeple bell

How else are we going to stare straight
into the world’s face
shift our weight in the Creator’s palm
and cry

Fill me, Use me

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Business of Memory

I just finished reading The Business of Memory for my MFA program. Amazed by the sacred gift and curse, burden and blessing of memory and what the writers in that anthology brought to the page.

My annotation is filled to overflowing with quotes. My own thoughts in this last paragraph:

As writers, we access and use memory for a purpose. We delve, finding scraps and snippets to assemble and reassemble, leading us into narrative. We engage, explore, and extrapolate from image, nuance, and feeling into language, word, sentence, paragraph. We create with material that we may have indeed created ourselves without consciously knowing it. We commit to the page, trusting as much as we are able, our memories to have retained the essence, the truth of our experience, if not the actual facts.