Online Stations of the Cross

This year, former FCCB intern Meredith Jackson, PSR student Emily Labrecque, my husband Jason and I decided to do something a little different for Good Friday. We’ve put together an online Stations of the Cross, as a way for people to engage in the day from their home or work. The Stations are designed to let you journey through 14 stations through music, video, art, poetry, and prayer. You can do it all in one sitting, or return to it throughout the day. Check it out, and let us know what you think, and feel free to pass it along!
https://sites.google.com/site/stations2014/

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Dissolving

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Read this article from Scientific American, shared from Michelle Cahill. At our last Gather, we talked about resurrection and what hope might look like in the face of death and a changing world. I’ve always thought I got the butterfly metaphor for metamorphosis and even resurrection. I guess I always thought that caterpillars just popped wings out and developed an exoskeleton. But I felt blown away when Michelle described that, for something to be born in as a new being, it first has to dissolve.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of resurrection as not just a revivification, but resurrection as a new thing, a new creation. For me, this notion frees me to not look for resurrection to be the return of something that already felt good and broken and safe, but that new possibility might look radically different; might be strange.

And this may lead me to keep my eyes open to resurrection in places I would never imagine; places beyond the familiar. And that, really, makes more sense to me for moving towards new life–to find it in new places.

 

Garden

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The Liturgists: Garden is an creative collaboration between the band Gungor, theologians Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans, and several others. Their “Garden” series is created for the Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter weekend. It’s so good and so rich I don’t know what to do with myself. I love the way doubt, hope, pain, and faith is all held in creative beauty and called holy.

We’ll be working with the “Sunday” monologue in Gather this week–go ahead and have a listen now as a preview!

 

Young adults at First Church this week:

Special Events:
April 13: Come eat and plan the Young Adult Service! Second Sunday lunch in Loper Chapel. Food provided! Lunch from 12-12:30, then you are welcome to stick around to help plan the 11:00 Young Adult Service on April 27! RSVP to kryan@fccb.org.

April 19: Holy Saturday Service in the Hall of Entrance to the Sanctuary. Benjamin Bigney, First Church young adult member, will be preaching. This will be geared towards young adults, but all are welcome. The evening light through the stained glass windows there is incredible. We will be sitting with the feeling of waiting and stillness between Cross and Resurrection. 7:30 PM.

Gather: How to Save a Life
Thursday April 10
7-8:30, meet in Small Assembly Hall (through “church office” doors on Channing Way)
In Thursday Gather this week, we’ll be engaging with the idea of resurrection, and how we have experienced new life and new possibilities.
Check out our Gather Blog for a few articles you can read beforehand. Conversation won’t be specifically around one post, but they will offer some awesome perspectives and questions on the topic.
Please RSVP for dinner to kryan@fccb.org!

Check Out:
Into the Wilderness, a pop-up spiritual community meeting during Lent. Headed by PSR seminarian Leslie Leasure, and co-sponsored by First Church. Contemplative worship Tuesdays in Lent from 6:30-7:30 PM in Loper Chapel.

Cosmic Mass in Oakland on May 25: it’s basically an interfaith worship service and dance party. There’s a DJ and sometimes a Rabbi doing Communion in Aramaic. Or things like that. More details coming soon.

Worship this Sunday, April 13:
This Sunday is Palm Sunday! First Church will have a parade between services complete with the infamous massive puppets. Young Adult Jorge Bautista will be preaching in the 9 AM, and Patricia de Jong will be preaching in the 11 AM.

Things to do Between Services at 10 AM:
Meet in the Middle inter-generational fellowship hour at 10:00, leading into the Palm Sunday Parade at 10:30.
FCCB Cafe in the Small Assembly: catch up with friends, or have breakfast with someone you don’t know yet.
The Cellar Thrift Shop is also open! So much cool stuff.

Ways to Give:
Hang out with Kids: Carolyn Ash, our Director of Children’s Ministries, is looking for folks to hang out with kids during the 11:00 service and help support the Sunday School leader. Email clash@fccb.org for more info.

Donate Food: Lenten Food Drive is happening now through Easter Sunday, April 20th. Bring in canned foods and non-perishables!

Build something with your own two hands: Rebuilding Together on April 19 and 26. Help rehabilitate the home of a person in need in the local community with First Church members! Contact Janet McDonald (janetmcdonald5000@sbcglobal.net) or Paul Chapman (pchapman5@gmail.com).
 

One of the most important things that I can almost never do.

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This is a powerful sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber, one of my favorite preachers these days. She speaks about death, resurrection, and broadening our vision beyond our disappointments.

My husband Jason often points out to me when I am “fretting.” This regularly looks like me trying to make sure I have managed every possible contingency for some situation or relationship so that there is as little likelihood of any adverse effect as possible. When I sit with what is behind the fretting, I think I am afraid of losing control of a situation. I get spiral-y about it: That if I don’t manage this now in this way, it will be even more difficult and uncomfortable to handle it later on.

I am always grateful for a call to not worry about controlling everything so much, which is what I hear out of this sermon. That I can’t know what I am attempting to control for, because I can only see so far, and so wide.

When I try to control everything, I am worried about what I might lose if I don’t have control. Would I lose this image of myself as independent if I have to borrow money from my parents? Would I lose the chance at a great job if I don’t maintain this relationship perfectly? It’s like I build this nest of things I can manage around me to protect me from the sucking vastness of ambiguity. I believe that being able to sit with ambiguity is crucial to most things in life–but it still scares the crap out of me.

The fascinating challenge I am coming to is: what would I worry about if I believe in a God in whom nothing, not even the finality of death, has the final word? This immensity of this notion is almost dizzying. That there is nothing that cannot be rebuilt in new ways, nothing that I can never come back from.

At On Tap last week, we talked about dry bones in Ezekiel 37 and resurrection. Someone pointed out that with resurrection, things don’t come back the exact same. New life is not just old life revived; it is something altogether new. It has new qualities, new textures, touches new places. How freeing it is to hope in a God who does not renew things in the image of what I would want to see again, but deals in spaces where we are surprised by joy.

This calls me to release some of that control, that fretting doesn’t get me anywhere because the most life-giving things in my life may not look the way I expected them to. And I’m terrible at not attempting to control things. Despite what I can aspire to, I still fear loss. But I can practice it, and hold those times when I am reminded to release that tight fist close. And, like anything practiced, it gets easier and more natural the more you do it.

So I’ll keep practicing.

 

A Cross Between Empowerment and Self-Giving

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Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico

 

This article by Jessica Parks, a grad student at Houston Baptist Seminary felt like the framing of a question I have batted around for years: where does the empowerment of feminism meet with the self-giving nature of the Christian life? More precisely, what does that look like in practice?

She refers in her article to Philippians 2:1-11 (copied below), where Paul encourages the Philippians to empty themselves in emulation of Jesus. Paul is suggesting here that when God became Jesus, that moment of incarnation is God giving up God’s power. And that Christians should emulate this action by giving up power that they have as well. This emulation of giving up power as demonstrated in incarnation and crucifixion is the “cruciformity” Parks is referring to.

This article brings up some great questions, including some of the assumptions she is working from.

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
    and gave him the name
    that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.