Loaves and Love

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We paid off the new church.

We got a new pastor.

The newly paid off church almost burned up in a wildfire.

The new pastor had to be threatened to put down the garden hose and leave the church in the face of the wildfire.

For your personal edification, I asked my dad (He Who Used To Work For A Bishop) if there was any official protocol for evacuating a church in the event of a wildfire.

“Take Jesus and go.”

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Father Freddy is from Columbia and he has his English in such a way that he knows the words, but he sometimes says them in the order of the Spanish in his head. This is not the way we speak them. It is so much better.

Today the reading was about the loaves and the fishes, which is propitious because next week is VBS and it’s all about encountering Jesus and one of the focus stories is loaves and fishes. So when Father got up to preach, I snuggled down into the pew to listen.

It was beautiful. He talked about how the little boy in the scripture brought what he had, which was not much. He gave it willingly though and Jesus took it, blessed him and made it BIG. Five thousand people big—well, scripture says men, so if they had wives and kids with them, it was even bigger than that.

Jesus fed them all til they were full.

Father said if we could just be like that little boy, and bring our love to Jesus, he will make it big. Even if we don’t know how our little love could be enough. Jesus knows.

I was super on board with this. Yes. YES. Father is using metaphor. The loaves and fishes are a metaphor for the love we have for others. And if we bring that love to Jesus, he will bless us and make it BIG. Awesome. I am SO using that at VBS.

And then, a little voice inside my head wondered if maybe Father should have explained the metaphor better because you know, not everyone is a used-to-be English teacher.

I started thinking how I would make that connection for the kids at VBS, maybe a giant math equation with a loaf and a fish and an equal sign to a heart…

And then it hit me. He’s not saying love. The whole time, he’s not saying love.

He’s saying LOAF.

The English teaching in me went down screaming, because she doesn’t like to be wrong. The rest of me laughed all the way to Communion.

I mean, it still works. Bring your loaf, which by your very willingness to bring it, shows your love. Jesus will multiply it and use it to feed others. But for reals—the story has stood the test of time. It doesn’t need improvement.

Just better listening skills.

Welcome, Father Freddy. I promise to try harder.

 

 

 

 

The Church needs to BE CHURCH

 

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A few weeks ago, Glennon of Momastery announced that she is in a relationship with international soccer super star Abby Wambach.

Since Glennon writes from a (fairly fluid) Christian perspective, this caused somewhat of a ruckus. Glennon’s announcement follows on the heels-ish of Jen Hatmaker’s statement in support of gay marriage last Spring. The Christian right is a wee bit peeved at the Christian everyone else. Articles about false prophets and cafeteria theology abound.

Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Melton are not preachers.

They have built faith support communities online and in packed hall after packed hall, but they have never claimed to be building church.

Do some people go to church on their social media? Yes, yes they do. I agree with folks that this is a problem.

But whose problem?

We just elected a man who flies publicly and proudly in the face of Gospel values. And 90% of our church leadership either stayed silent or supported him. By “our church leadership” I mean all the churches, not just mine.

It was incredibly short-sighted. I don’t go to church at Momastery, but I regularly read the comments and so I know, there is a bloc of Christian mamas out there and we are AWAKE.

We raised $1 million dollars in 31 hours, at $25 per person—that’s 40,000 individual donations, in 31 hours—to help Syrian refugees in Europe. We didn’t care what the candidates or our preachers were saying about Muslim refugees. We saw starving children and we moved.

These same sister mamas filled arena after arena last year for Women of Faith. We brought our children to Christian concert tours, like Toby Mac’s Hits Deep tour, and sponsored other mamas’ children through charities like World Vision and Food for the Hungry.

Accuse us of cafeteria theology all you want, but we’re not overly concerned with theology. We want Gospel. We want boots-on-the-ground faith that walks the talk. We hunger for Jesus, and we bring our time, talent and treasure to the table.

Theology is important. But we’re on the move and bursting with a desire to shine a light in the dark. So if you really want us to listen to your sermon on the Ten Commandments you have to show us you know that Jesus linked them inextricably to the Beatitudes at the Sermon on the Mount, and you better be able to walk and talk.

But if you want us to sit and git your latest rant on abortion, immigration, gay marriage, liberals, etc, we’re not coming. Our babies are going to be grown-ups any second now and the world is not ready for them yet. There’s work to do.

We’ll come to church, but you have to BE CHURCH. Otherwise, the world is bleeding and we’re in charge of bandages.

When Children Fight in Church

Saturday night at church, Gabe and Kate had a fight over whose foot could rest on the bottom of the leg of the kneeler. Not on the kneeler—the kneeler was up. And there was six good feet of folded kneeler available for foot-resting. They were fighting over the 2 inch rubber square on the bottom of the kneeler leg that was sticking up in the air.

First Gabe claimed it. Then he picked his foot up to scratch his ankle and Kate stuck her foot on it. He nudged her foot off. She nudged his foot off. He nudged harder. She kicked. Nudge. Kick. Nudge. Kick. All while staring straight ahead like they weren’t breaking all the rules.

I tsked. I threw the warning brows and whispered “Cut. It. Out.” Gabe shoved her leg, which made her yelp. The lady in front of us turned around. And I had a choice.

Smile and lie: “The children are on a special antibiotic that makes them twitch.”

Laugh sarcastically: “Only my kids would be possessed by the devil at Mass.”

Ignore her, take my children firmly in hand and bring the thunder, Mass or no Mass.

I lied.

Not really. But I wanted to. Instead, I leaned across all three kids, fixed Shea with a baleful stare and hissed “Your children are not behaving in Mass!”

There are lots of upsides here. I pass the buck. The kids know what’s up when my voice gets hissy. And with luck the lady in front of us thinks I’m the stepmother, not the birthmother, of the hooligans.

If I was a different kind of mom, I would have seized on the helicopter solution immediately, and instructed Father after Mass that he simply must remove those pesky rubber squares.

But since I’m me, my kids were treated to the scariest of all mom walks: the high-heeled beeline to the car, a frightened child dragging along in each hand. The one where no one talks and all you can hear is the staccato click-click-click of boot heels hitting the pavement.

Just another peaceful trip to Mass.

Tell me this happens to you. That your kids, who behave seven times out of ten, pick the worst places to shake it out. And in the midst of it you want to pause and shout to the crowd (why is there always a crowd?) “I swear I have taught them behave! We have rules and boundaries and consequences! We even enforce them regularly! I promise!”

And if it doesn’t happen to you, for the love of goodness, share the secret.