Monday, January 26, 2009

Texas Bound

Tomorrow morning, I fly to San Antonio, Texas for the APCE (Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators) 2009 Annual Conference. I'm so excited! I've never been to Texas, except for layovers in the Dallas & Houston airports. We're staying at the Crowne Plaza Riverwalk & the events are located all over the city. My friend Kristin is going as well & thank goodness we're on the same flight. We'll each be working in the exhibit hall - I'm representing CTS at the PCUSA Seminaries booth & Kristin is at the Young Adult Volunteer booth - taking workshops, listening to plenaries, & enjoying good worship services. This year, I am co-teaching a workshop on Work Camp Ministry with my dad. Also, we're going done early to enjoy San Antonio. I hope to catch up with my friend Rachel, who moved to San Antonio a couple of years ago & we've not seen each other for a long time. It should be a great trip & much needed break before spring semester starts next Monday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Change Has Arrived

Today marks an incredible day in our country's history. We witnessed long standing barriers come crashing to the ground. I was in awe today, watching the inauguration with some of my favorite friends & professors from CTS, crowded into our student lounge, hanging on every word spoken in his address. We cheered, we cried, we experienced it together- all of us. It didn't matter what color of our skin, our background, nothing mattered. Except the mere fact that we shared a moment of profound importance. I will never forget where I was when I witnessed Barack Obama take the oath of office as our 44th President.

I was also moved by Rev. Joseph Lowry's benediction. Here it is, courtesy of the Federal News Service:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
REV. LOWERY: Say amen –
REV. LOWERY: — and amen.
AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

I echo that. Amen, Amen, Amen.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Peace, peace, where there is no peace

I took to the streets today. This isn't something I normally do, but it felt right. I walked the streets of downtown Atlanta, surrounded by men, women, and children- those who want an end to the violence in Gaza and Israel. It was powerful. It was uncomfortable. It was liberating. I wanted to do more than blog and pray for peace, but also march for peace. While I didn't agree with all of the signs & chants around me, the greater purpose of giving voice to peace was present.

I'm still processing it all. More to come.

Friday, January 09, 2009

When Will it End?

The fighting in Israel & Gaza must end. It is so painful to hear day after day stories of war. I often wonder if it will ever end. Both sides have been fighting for so long, I am not even sure they even know what they are fighting about anymore. Rockets are flying, homes & business are going up in flames, people are dying. Every single day. When will it end?

I pray for peace. I pray for hope. I pray for people who just want to live their lives without fear. I continue to pray.

I read some interesting posts about the Israel/Gaza war recently & I invite you to read them too. The first is a blog, written by two people - one in Gaza & one in Israel. It is a powerful witness of hope and peace. (thanks to Kerri for the link)

The second is a post by our PCUSA moderator, Bruce Reyes-Chow - a prayer for people in Gaza, but also a link to a letter written by the stated clerk, Gradye Parsons.

Pray for peace. Pray for hope. Pray for all people.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Return from Sabbath

I've been away for about a month now. My semester ended on Dec 12th & I headed home to Tennessee for about two weeks of Sabbath rest. It was just what I needed after this incredibly stressful semester, filled with many ups and downs.

After my much needed rest, I went to Maryland to visit friends from my time there last year. It was exactly what I needed in order to gain some much needed perspective. I found myself very grateful for my year in this particular church- they loved & nurtured me. They see in me passion for ministry and know that I am called by God. There have been many times along this seminary journey when I felt so lost and filled with doubt. Sitting in the sanctuary for two Sundays, hearing the familar liturgy & two amazing sermons, looking around at all of the faces of those I love, it clicked. I was able to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt recharged and renewed for these final months of seminary.

I am reminded of the long, winding journey I've been on & of the people who walked with me on different parts of it. I am so thankful for each & every one of them. I would not be at this point without them.

Now, I am back at the seminary, taking a two week class with my fellow seniors. It is called Integrations & we're talking about ministry & leadership. Especially taking stock of where we are & where we imagine we are headed post-graduation. Although many people often don't care for this course, I think it might be the best class I take at CTS. I'm at a point in my life where I need to take this time to reflect & gather strength for the next steps in my journey.

Thanks be to God for time, for friends, for mentors, for reflection, and for study.