Leaving room

A good friend shared a Ted talk with me this week, and I finally had time to listen to it this morning. I am posting it here in hopes that in hearing, you will be moved to love others in a way that is authentic and open. If you have been rejected, know that you are beloved- Deeply, and completely-you are so, so loved.

May we people who can extend Divine love to all- a love that loves people for who they are, and leaves room for who they may become.

Pjp

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Another way

This past Sunday, we celebrated Epiphany. In the Christian tradition, it is the day that we observe the Magi (the wise ones from the East, basis of the song “we three kings) meeting the Holy Family and witnessing the fulfillment of the prophesy written long before, and a day when we celebrate the light and love of Christ being manifested to people app offer the world. At the end of the story for the day, it is stated that the Magi journeyed back to their Homeland by another way.

I preached about how, in Christ, we are offered the freedom to choose a different way, a way marked by peace, inclusion, love, hope and abundance. And since then, i haven’t been able to shake the question of “how can the church choose a different way?”

It is no secret that church, religion, and Christianity have played a large part in the pain and wounds of many, and sadly- inclusion, love, and welcome have not been high on the list of characteristics. Most often we hear of judgement, stringent rules and a clear picture of who is in and who is “out”.

As a pastor, someone who loves Jesus and works to love all of God’s people, I have been struggling with church lately, asking myself: “how can you, Pepa, be part of the solution instead of perpetuating the problem?” And the truth is, I don’t know. I work daily to love people, to preach with conviction and emphasizing the welcome and inclusion of all, and yet, it doesn’t feel like enough. So I am asking, what can I, and what can we, do to help the church do better? How can we help all people have clear access to the message that they are deeply, and unquestionably loved by their Creator?

This is what I am wrestling with now, and I am clear, that like the Magi, it is time to journey another way together- a way that shines the Light to all, and invites others to see the Light within themselves.

May we be led by the Light of the world, and live faithfully with love, peace, joy and hope.

Pjp

The sea is calling…

Last year I began having coaching conversations with a friend and mentor of mine. In these conversations it became clear that my relationship with water was much more significant than I had ever realized. Water, and more specifically, the shore line, has become a metaphor for so much in my life. The shoreline is where I go when my life feels out of control, or hard. It is where I go to seek clarity and comfort, and where I go to rest and discern when I know a hard decision is ahead. My friend suggested that the shoreline is also a place of invitation, an invitation to change, to progress, to renewal, to hope. So often, my time by the water has been quiet, marked by tears, prayer, and long periods of sitting. However, my friend suggested that the next time I was near water, I do something to ritualize the end of one chapter of my life, and the starting of the next- do something to claim the event, to mark the time…mostly, he suggested that I don’t just sit by the water- he challenged me to GO IN.

It makes me giggle to think about how often I have sat by the water, but not actually gone in. I’ve gone to the beach countless times and come away ignoring the invitation of the water, and looking back, it is hard not to wonder what I have missed by sitting on the shore.

Back in November, we went to Maui, and as part of the trip we decided to go snorkeling. Now, I have gone snorkeling before, but usually I start at the shore and ease in. With this excursion, we took a boat out to open water, and jumped in. No ease, no waiting, just jumping in.

The first time I slid into the water I was reminded of how much I love the ocean- the feeling of weightlessness, and the feeling of something being much bigger than me. This body of water teaming with life and movement, and yet, for our ears, it is quiet. I swam around and truly enjoyed myself- grateful for the chance to be IN water. We got back on the boat and went to a different location, a location that promised turtles and other sea-life, and as I prepared to hop back in the water, I felt a twinge of hesitation. I wasn’t sure why, but the movement of the people around me, and the urging of others to hurry up and get in gave me no time to over think, so into the water I went.  As soon as I got in the water, below me I saw a manta raw flying through the water. It swam about 10 feet below me and I immediately became aware of the fact that there were things in the water that were dangerous to me, I had to focus on my breathing a bit more, and remind myself that there were professionals around, making sure we were safe. And after my anxiety subsided, I  settled in and was captivated by the manta ray. Its coloring, its grace, and it’s illusiveness…then, as quickly as it was there, it was gone.

There were turtle sightings near by, so I swam over to get a glimpse, and about 5 minutes later, below me was the manta ray again. Twice more the manta ray emerged below me, including coming closer to the surface as I got back on the boat. It felt as if it was dancing with me, inviting me to join it in the grace-filled movement that being under water provides. As we headed back to shore on the boat, I realized I would have missed all of that if I hadn’t actually gotten in the water. Point taken, universe!

I wonder sometimes what else we miss when we stand at the shoreline of life. Recently I was introduced to Kevin Garcia’s Podcast A Tiny Revolution and in the episode I happened upon, he was talking with an author about embracing who we are and who God has created us to be…and the fact that God delights in us, not in spite of who we are and what we have done, but BECAUSE of who we are. He asserted that Jesus embodies a “because of” kind of love and acceptance.

There is an entire library of blog posts I could write about that, but what I want to focus on here is that during this conversation, Kevin mentioned the song “Oceans” by Hillsong. This is a song that is sung in a lot of churches, and can be heard frequently played on Christian Radio stations. It is a beautiful song that offers a prayer as the bridge- the prayer says “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the water, wherever you would lead me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith with be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” Kevin talked about how this prayer is really revolutionary. In my opinion it is right up there with the whole “thy will be done” part of the Lord’s prayer. And, Kevin pointed out, it reclaims that truth that while there may be churches, institutions, people, places that don’t want us, there is a GOD who very much wants us, loves us, and hopes to be in relationship with us. We just need to get in the water- trusting that God will be with us, and show us things beyond what we could even imagine. A Holy Adventure.

And if that podcast wasn’t reminder enough for me to look at the shoreline of my life and take steps toward getting in the water, today I began reading a book about leadership and the ways that the church is in need of new models that will embrace the past, but also challenge the institution to take steps forward. The book starts with a story from the Midrash, interpretive stories not found in Biblical texts, but that offer rich connections and illuminations to the Hebrew scriptures. This story added context to the story of the Israelites as they came to the banks of the Red Sea during the Exodus. It tells of the leaders being anxious about what to do- faced with death if they lead their people into the water, and faced with death if they did not find a way to escape the Egyptians closing in behind them. The leaders were talking and talking, and nothing was changing or getting done, so the Midrash tells of one leader remembering the promises of God to Moses- the promises of deliverance and protection- and with great faith in those promises- this leader began to walk into the water. Up to his ankles, his calves, his waist, his chest, and just about the time that his nose would have gone under water, the waters parted and the way was made clear. The way was made clear, and God’s promises were fulfilled, once someone was willing to get in the water.

It feels like the universe is inviting me into the water- maybe to remember my baptism- maybe to remember the promises God has made to me and the world- or maybe to see a new way, or new things, that I can’t imagine on my own. I am not sure what is ahead, and I have lots of questions with very few answers, but I know it feels like my time on the shore is ending, and the call forward is into the water. I am excited and nervous about this- mostly because it is a lot of unknowns, and will require a lot of waiting (and wading),  but the beauty of the water is that it always finds the shore again. So while I venture out of my comfort zone and follow the call to take steps toward swimming, I am comforted knowing the shore is never far, at least not today.

So friends, who wants to go swimming?

Peace to you all, today.

pjp

 

 

 

 

Setting intention for the New Year

With the start of a new year, I like to look back on the year past and take stock. I like to look back and identify moments of joy, moments where I learned something, moments of growth and moments of gratitude….and let me tell ya, 2018 was chock full of a lot of moments.

2018 was, for me, a year of continuing to get to know myself, and re-discovering and exploring everything else along the way. And while a lot of things that I thought would be with me forever have fallen by the way-side, there are things that have been steadfast and these things have helped me re-frame so much of my life and my relationships, and in many ways- these things have helped shift my priorities and sense of call…So going into 2019- here are things I am hopeful for:

  • I want to write more…I want to continue to write here, and to produce content that is edifying to readers…and I also want to begin work on a book. So I am hopeful that with some of the resources and classes I will be taking, a book might be born.
  • I want to connect with people more- so I am planning on being more intentional about calling folks- not for any particular reason, but just to be in relationship.
  • I want to give light and energy to projects that have been on my mind and heart for a long time and put the work in to see what is possible- so…more to come on that!
  • I am hopeful to continue to live fully into who God has created me to be, and to more fully accept that God has created me (and all of us) and declared us VERY good. I am hopeful in doing this, I will love others better.
  • I am hopeful to work with others to continue to create space for people to have hard conversations. I want to create safe space to help people share their stories, and find community.
  • I am hopeful to continue working to help others see the Image of God in themselves, and all people- especially the people that tend to be cast as “other” or “less than”
  • I hope to read more, and listen to more podcasts- I find that in doing that, my love of learning is nurtured…so if you have recommendations, please leave them in the comments!
  • I hope to continue building a life of travel, adventure and love with Kelli and our friends- 2018 was good to us, and 2019 is already shaping up to be amazing! I can’t wait!
  • I hope to purge a lot of the things that no longer bring value or service to my life- clothes, shoes, books (I know…), things, clutter, and I hope to create new healthy habits.
  • I hope to continue to actively practice gratitude. Each day in 2018, I spent a few moments to write down 3 things I was grateful for that day- It was an incredible practice and reminded me of joy on the hard days. I will continue that practice. I will also continue to practice gratitude to my body by taking care of it.
  • I hope to keep stepping out of my comfort zone, to practice trusting God and others, and to follow the call that God has put on my heart to love and serve others.

There is much to celebrate in 2018, and much to look forward to in 2019- and I would love to hear from you. What do you hope for in 2019? What would you love to see explored here, in this space, in 2019?

With love, joy and wishes for an amazing year ahead- and deep gratitude for the time you’ve spent reading my thoughts in 2018- cheers y’all!

pjp