Posts Tagged ‘Doctrine’

Where Are You?

October 15, 2015

I walked away from the meeting feeling as good as I have in a long time. My friend asked me, “So, this journey you have been on, how are you, where are you?” I had to pause for a moment before I responded. Over the many months, and to a large degree over the past several weeks I have been on what I consider an inward journey; inward into my past, my future, and finally my present.

There is so much to consider about what I, what we, experience in the past that shapes and molds who we become in positive and negative ways. And to come to the realization that just a blip on the screen of one’s life can effect so much, can open one’s eyes to a clarity and vision that grounds one in who, whose, what, and why they are.

There is so much in our world that can seem so broken. So much to worry about, fight against, stand up to, and speak out against. It is often difficult, I think, in our current reality to get to the important, deeper, and more life giving issues than in this soundbite world we live in.

There is so much attention focused on “what is in it for me” rather than making this world a better place in which to live for “all” of us. Depending on what side of the political and or religious fence one is on determines where we stand on so many issues, but really not “issues,” we are affecting people’s lives and livelihoods.

Prepare here for personal, religious, political perspective rant. Too many lives and livelihoods are threatened in our country, in our world today.

The lives and livelihoods of persons, female persons, who want to access quality healthcare, prescriptions, abortion care, care that should be provided and decided between them and their doctors, and in clinics that shouldn’t subjected to false accusations and edited videos, government should not be making these decisions for women and their doctors.

The lives and livelihoods of parents and children who want a more safe and sane world, more safe and sane educational experiences, without having to worry about whether some unlicensed, untrained, unregistered individual is going to walk into the room with a gun with intent to do harm.

The lives and livelihoods of immigrants and their children and whether they are going to have a chance at education, food, medical care, and the opportunity to become citizens without the fear of deportation and inhumane treatment.

The lives and livelihoods of young black men and women, parents and children alike, who have to worry about being targeted and profiled unjustly putting their lives and livelihoods at risk.

The lives and livelihoods of the poor, middle class, working poor whose incomes and resources are continued to be mocked and swallowed up by the greedy and those who lack compassion.

The lives and livelihoods of those religious who simply want to practice their faith in peace but are besieged by protest, threat, suspicion, lies, and bigotry in a nation founded on freedom of religion.

The lives and livelihoods of those who simply want to embrace the same rights and freedoms as the rest of us, marry the ones they love, buy their houses, file their taxes, care for one another and visit one another when they are sick, and share the same protections under the law that my wife and I have.

The lives and livelihoods of all of us, when science is ignored and denied while glaciers melt, anomaly weather patterns create floods, droughts, and super storms that threaten life as we know it.

There is so very much wrong in our world, in our country, in our government, in our churches today. And I believe we are charged with the continued work of trying to make it a better place, for all of us, all of us.

All of this being said, I had a bit of a revelation along this journey I have been on over the last many months and last few weeks. Life is too short. Life is too short to get bogged down in what is wrong with the world. Life is too short to get caught up in a soundbite world that is more interested in shallow fear of the other, fear of new things, than it is in the weightier matters of the common good for all. Life is too short to focus on sensationalized headlines rather than substantive information and education. Whether it be in the halls of government or the sanctuaries of the church, life is too short to bicker about who is in and who is out, who is worthy and who is not, what I want to your exclusion, or who deserves and who is undeserving. Life is too short not to embrace the world, the whole of it and tell it, “I love you, and deep down inside … you are good; Good I Tell You!

With all of this preceding pondering, I can say I walked away from my meeting as good as I have been in a long time. “Where are you?” he asked. “I’m right here.” I replied. “Right here, in as good a place as I have been for a long time, here in this moment.” Life is too short to let the past continue to obscure and blur my vision. Life is too short to worry about the future. Life is too short to live anywhere but right here, in this moment.

My calling by the Spirit of the Divine as a politically active pastor, clergy, advocate, voice, thorn in the side, and nervous prophet is no less important to me, I would venture to say it is now even more so now. My encounters with the Divine contine to bring me peace, nurture, and connection. My calling is within and outside the halls of the church. Within to continue to challenge the status quo, to continue to look for where God is doing a new thing. My studies, I pray, will bring new revelations and understandings of what it means to follow The Way. Progressive and compassionate theologies grounded in love of God, neighbor, and self, not focused on fear and sacrifice. And that Spirit calls me to be a voice, presence, and advocate of social justice not only within the church but in the halls of government as well. Our Gospel is a Social Gospel and without the Social Gospel there is no Gospel at all.

I still intend on changing the world, even if it is just my little corner of it, moment by ticking moment. My renewed vision of the present moment has clarified for me my vision of the task that lies before me. Life is too short to sit idly by and watch as injustice after injustice diminishes and belittles the lives and livelihoods of too many women, men, and children.

I am no longer governed by fear, but am led and guided by, immersed in the love of the Divine, a love that I believe we are all immersed and connected within. This love of God is a love from which nothing, no thing, not one thing, can ever separate any of us … in each eternal moment, we are loved, period! I am here, right here, and present in as good a place as I have been for a long time. I am not going away or shrinking back, the moment before us is huge, but we will persevere, we will see the day, when Love will, Love does, when Love Wins!

Just a long process of pondering along the Journey of the Way… the Way of Light, Life, and Love.



The Cone!

May 19, 2014


He was limping around before we had gone out for dinner with friends last Friday evening. He had done it before, we think the way he runs on the rocks around the perimeter of the house in the backyard he had bruised a pad on his foot. The last time it happened after a few days he was fine. I thought it was the same thing so really did not give him much sympathy.

We returned home from dinner and “Hop-a-long” was still limping around, but then I noticed the hole. My first thought was that someone had somehow shot him through our back fence. Moz had a hole in his front leg. I went to him and knelt down and gently picked up his leg in my hand to take a look only to discover blood all over my hand. I got him to lay down and discovered a large deep gash under his leg into his side, in his “leg pit” if you will.

We took him to the pet ER where they put him under and stitched him up and placed the dreaded “cone of shame” around his neck. He was going to be fine, but he was pretty pitiful looking with the large cone around his head, they had to use a large one because of his big neck.

Moz really struggled with the cone. He could not see and as a result would run into things and that was only if he held his head high enough so the cone did not get it stuck on the floor. He would just sit and stare dejectedly off into some kind of nothingness. When we put him to bed he would not lay down he just sat with his head down and sang a sad, sad song all night long. The cone is supposed to be for his own good so he will not lick at or pull his stitches out, but it is a sad affair.

Saturday morning I took him out in the yard to do his duty. He just sat in the grass and stared at the fence. Finally I unhooked his collar and pulled the cone off. He immediately stood up, walked over and did his “jobs” and walked back to the door to the house. We went inside and he laid down on the living room floor and went to sleep. He was free at last. A friend suggested rather than the cone we roll a towel and wrap it around his neck. It was a wonderful idea. It still protected his wounds but gave him more comfort and freedom to move around.

Life and faith can feel like that at times. We can get so caught up and bogged down in the way we have always thought, believed, the way we have always done things it can be like a cone around our heads. Our vision is limited; life and faith can become a burdensome yoke of dogma, doctrine, laws, rules, and restrictions that choke the joy of the unconditional love of God in Christ out of our lives, our faith, out of the church.

College Hill UMC has a long tradition of rethinking, reconsidering; striking out on new paths to discover here the Spirit might be doing a new thing. I believe we are as a religion and as a denomination right in the middle of such things today. There are those who find comfort in the old laws and restrictions and there are others who feel some of those tired laws and restrictions are burdensome and vision limiting. There is something to be said about beliefs that bind us together; there is also something to be said about finding new ways and expressions that enhance to freedom of the faith rather than continuing to restrict the Spirit.

I continue to wrestle in the tension of things of tradition that may be valuable and the things of tradition that are a “cone” around the neck, blinding, awkward, unhelpful, and burdensome. But I, and I pray we, continue to journey, continue to wrestle with and seek to know where the Spirit of Love will lead and what God may be doing new in our midst. May we stay awake to the freshness of grace and the newness of the Kindom that is still becoming in our midst. May we throw off those burdensome restrictions and embrace fully the freedom Love gives.

It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.

Peace and Light on Your Journey,
Pastor Kent



Pushing the Limits

July 30, 2012

Well, time for another Simeon/fence story. I have been able to train Simeon to come out the front door of the house, down the steps, and go directly up the driveway into backyard. I have even been able to get to the point where I do not even get off the front porch myself, I just step out and say, “Go!” and away he goes to his backyard playground.

That being said, there has been a couple of times when TruDee has let him out that he went directly across the barrier to the front yard with not even a flinch of recognition he has crossed the boundary. And just the other day he had gone to the backyard and was coming back and saw the neighbor dogs were out and ran fun throttle through the boundary without so much as a hesitation. He was not going there to cause any trouble, as I have said in the past every sentient being exists for the sole purpose of playing with Simeon; he simply cannot imagine any other purpose for their existence. He does not understand the boundaries we have tried to set are for his own safety and our sanity. Obviously my work is not done.

There are times in my journey of life and faith I resemble my dog. I know where the boundaries are, I know the rules and laws that exist to keep me safe and try to honor them when I know they are there for that purpose. But then sometimes I feel the need to break free, if the boundary and wall is unjust or antiquated and challenging the existence of the boundary is not only necessary but the right thing to do.

These kinds of laws, rules, doctrines, and boundaries exist not only in our society and culture with our legal system but within the church as well. In our society and church today we have laws and boundaries that are unjust and I believe need to be addressed, challenged, and sometimes even broken. Civil rights around same gender marriage, or women’s rights regarding reproductive health and equal pay for equal work, access to adequate healthcare for everyone, environmental care, sustainable energy, poverty, immigration, and collective bargaining, suffice to say the list is long and arduous.

I am reminded of Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” I believe that applies not only to the laws of the land but the laws of the church. And it takes perspicacity to weigh the cost of the decision to challenge and which ones are worthy of the “battle” so to speak or the consequence of the action. There are times when approaching the edge needs to be done with great caution and care. There are times when approaching the edge one simply needs to breakaway knowing we are going not only where the Spirit leads, but where the Spirit is already present.

I suspect with all the training and years to come Simeon will continue to push the limits of the rules and limits I try to place upon him, rarely comfortable in the status quo. May I always be attuned to his willingness to push the limit, and may I learn something from his willingness to keep it ever before him. I am so grateful to be a part of a community of faith that is willing to examine the status quo and speak to and challenge injustice in whatever forms they present themselves. And I encourage us to do even more, speak even more, stand even more as we continue to be Wise in the Ways of the Spirit, Bold in the Ways of Justice, and Graceful in Relationship with All Creation!

It is one of the many ways we seek to be faithful to the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the family. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church.
Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.