Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sprucing Up

When I lived in Boston, I worked for an organization that had converted an old house to offices and meeting space. I loved that building, for it represented a job that I loved, working with people I loved, all of us trying to make the world a better place. I worked there for four years, so I really came to feel at home in the space. I didn't notice little chips in the paint or a few stray papers or a dusty bookcase - most of the time, none of that really registered with me.

After I moved to Texas for seminary, I went back to visit Boston, and I dropped in on my old workplace. Just around the time I was leaving, a new Executive Director had come on board, and there were some other staff shifts as well. I still remember the jolt of walking into that building - this time almost as a newcomer - and seeing that the space had been transformed. There was a new coat of paint, the clutter (which I hadn't noticed - but I sure noticed its absence!) was gone, even the lighting seemed different! All of the sudden, I saw the place in a new light, not only as my previous, comforting "home away from home," but also now as a space that any newcomer could walk in and feel immediately welcomed.

When I drove up to the church yesterday, I saw that lots of sprucing up is going on outside, too! Danny Fox and family, as well as many other helpful folks, are working hard to beautify our property. For those of us who have been here a while, this beautiful church building feels like a home away from home, and we may not have noticed the old vines and overgrown shrubbery and worn paint. But looking at it again with fresh eyes, I can see that this "sprucing up" will not only make the place more welcoming and inviting to newcomers, but it will also help us all see it anew. When you drive up this Sunday and each Sunday this summer, I hope you'll take a fresh look at our community space and help us continue to enhance its beauty, to help us continue to extend God's extravagant welcome.

Have a wonderful weekend - looking forward to seeing you soon!


Texts for this Sunday:
Psalm 30
Mark 5:21-43

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Soul Food....Summer Reads

My mother believed that God spoke to her through books - always sent the right one and the right time in her life. She called books "Soul Food" and taught me to see all the ways that my life is enriched and my faith is deepened through reading - the Bible, devotionals, theology, history and even mysteries or science fiction.

This summer, I hope all of you will choose at least one book that is "Soul Food" for you - something that will nourish your faith and help you to grow as a Christian and as a part of this community of Christians. Manda & I are developing a list that we'll share with all of you soon - a glimpse of our own versions of "Soul Food". And, we'll begin with a couple that we strongly recommend:
       "The Heart of Christianity" by Marcus Borg - while not a new book, it is a very important one for all 21st Century Christians.
       "Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son" by Anne Lamott an inspirational reflection on parenting and grand-parenting, by one of my favorite lay theologians.

       "Growing an Engaged Church: How to Stop 'Doing Church' and Start Being the Church Again" by Albert L. Winseman 

And, Of course, a bit of poetry - 

        "Thrall: Poems" by Natasha Trethewey" - our nation's newest Poet Laureate 

Happy reading, Happy growing - Laura Lee

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A chance to lie down in green pastures...

Last week I attended a conference for clergy in the United Church of Christ who are in our 20s and 30s. We had workshops and sessions with a hip hop artist who works with youth at Riverside Church in NYC, with a UCC pastor in Boston who does justice work with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, and with minister in a UCC church who blogs about various ministerial things, including attire and fashion! I spent time with colleagues from all over the Northeast (and some from farther away), and I had an opportunity to see some of my long-time friends from Boston.

During one of our worship services, we focused on the theme of the conference, "Shepherding the Shepherd." This week, I'd like to invite you to share in some of the experience we had. We had an opportunity to reflect on our own experiences and to share with others. So I hope you can find some time this week to do the same. Find a friend or family member and read the 23rd Psalm and John 21:15-17 together. Then discuss these questions:

- God makes me lie down in green pastures. What does that green meadow look like for you?
- Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." What food do YOU need in order to be able to feed others?
- Who in your life has been or is a leader/mentor/shepherd to you?
- Reflect a bit on where God has shepherded you - where in your life do you experience a cup overflowing? Where do you notice goodness and mercy?

I hope you'll leave a comment on the blog and let us all know if you had any new insights. And I hope that this week, you feel loved and cared for by the Good Shepherd.

Many blessings,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"It's Your Party!"

When I was a child, I always had 'backyard' birthday parties (early September in Georgia). And, I had to work very hard to help my Mother for these momentous events! Each year, my responsibilities increased, so that by the time I was 7, I had to make the guest list, make the invitations, help make the decorations, plan the activities, help make the cake, set the tables, greet everyone as they came and thank them all for coming as they left, help clean up and then,  write thank you notes for all of the gifts I received! One year, I complained about all of the work - after all, it was my birthday party. And, my Mom said, "You're right. It is your party. You are the hostess and you need to provide a great party for your friends to help you celebrate your birthday!"

What I clearly didn't realize then, was that she was using my parties to teach me the skills of hospitality, manners and welcome.

On Saturday, June 16th, FCC will be hosting a really big party - a Strawberry Festival - to support Feed My Starving Children. When our Church Council agreed to host the FMSC event for 2012, we certainly anticipated working hard to generate generous financial contributions from our church members & friends. We also agreed to host this 3rd annual event to use our resources to help it grow as a community-wide event with lots of ongoing support. This Strawberry Festival is a wonderful chance for us to invite all kinds of people to come, learn about FMSC, help feed starving children and become potential supporters in the years to come.

So, with amazing leadership from Marcie Bishop, Toni Sacco, Pam Swieringa, Diane Shafer, Jeanne Yarussi, Jean Wentworth, Cindy Marschner, Joyce Billing and Amy Stoll + Women's Ministry folks.....We're going to have a wonderful party - Our Party. This means we need lots and lots of you to pitch in and help out - with set-up, booth staffing, food serving, clean-up and all kinds of things. Please sign-up or say 'Yes' if someone calls you - an hour or two will make a difference! You will help feed a lot of children - And, as my Mom said, after all, "It's Your Party!"

Blessings Always - Laura Lee

PS - You'll have a lot of fun, too!!