A Place at the Table

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There is a place at the table for everyone.  Whether your table is set for one or 25, may your table be filled with food, joy, and hope.

(Thanks to AJ Simmons for the art.)

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Come, You Thankful People Come

AJ Simmons drew the Broad Bay Church under the rainbow, the rainbow that scripture tells us was placed in the sky to remind God not to destroy the earth.   The rainbow is a reminder that God’s love shines on people some consider to be outcasts.

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AJ shows the people, almost larger than life.  I am grateful to be part of a church where the people stand outside the church looking outward.

For the last 6 months, we’ve raised money to maintain the church steeple and to make the building safe, flexible and accessible.   But like this picture, the focus is the people and the rainbow.   Happy Thanksgiving.

(For more information on the capital campaign visit:  Broadbaychurch.org)

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Kavannah/Ford: Children are Watching Us

For many, painful personal issues regarding assault, sexuality, alcohol and drugs have risen to the surface.  I pray for all who remember trauma this day.  There are plenty of youth who are witnessing or participating in parties with alcohol and drugs, who have or will experience sexual assault.   I assume those youth have or will show up in church or in our families.

Our response around kitchen tables, in schools, and in church will impact whether youth come forward in hard times.  Will youth involved in actions that hurt another, reach out and share his/her regret?   Will youth who were hurt, trust that adults will hear the story, and listen with love and wisdom?

How can we respond now, in ways that invite youth to reflect with us about the issues that trouble them?   The door is open.  Can we help one another acknowledge the pain we have caused and the pain we have endured?

 

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In praise of poetry and art

On Sunday, poet Elizabeth Meade, recited several of her poems in worship.  A hush fell upon the congregation as she shared these words.

Way of Small Warriors

I want to be like grass
growing through cracks in the concrete
reaching for the light,
even
when sitting in darkness.
by Elizabeth Meade

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Konni Wells illustrated the poem.

I weep with love for all the times we are like grass pushing up the concrete.

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Joy by Trudi Hodgkins

On Sunday, Trudi Hodgkins shared these words as she lit the candle of Joy.  I love that so many are creating their own art and poetry for worship.   Later she sent this photo taken from her deck as the sun rose over Clary Lake.

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It’s a joy to see the sunrise
With God’s colors draping the heavens
In glorious tones as they rush
To light the day.

It’s a joy to sing the songs of praise
Learned as a little girl in Sunday School ,
And later in ‘big girl’ choirs.

It’s a joy to enter this holy place,
To see and touch and feel the warmth,
To hear the heartbeat of a loving community.

It’s a joy to see the wizened old cat,
As she stretches and folds herself elegantly into my lap,
Purring her heart out with a melody of her own making.

It’s a joy to see my friends
Who give me the gift of their smiles,
Their constancy, their lovingness.

It’s a joy to assemble with my family,
The picnics, the gatherings, the sharing of life doings,
The soft – and loud – moments.

It’s a joy to have memories of kindly, good folk,
Related or not,
Now here with me only in my heart and mind,
But forever so.

It’s a joy to be in love
With my place here on earth, figuratively and literally,
Surrounded by God’s creatures
And all of the minutia of nature that
Inspires and enriches.

Sadnesses will ever come and go,
For such comes to her or him who has had much
While truly living, engaging with life
And those who swirl within it.

It’s a joy to love it all:
The good, the bad and the ugly teach us —
Teach us that the sorrows only manifest themselves
After we have tasted the delights.

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“Do I have to believe in Christianity to be a member of the church?”

Let’s turn the question around.  The church should be a place where the deepest spiritual yearnings of people are touched.  The church should be a home for our questions, our hurts, our yearnings, our tears, and our love; the church should be a place where we glimpse God in the midst of our day to day lives.   The church should be a sanctuary.

Rev. John Dorhauer, President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ affirmed the fact that people are seeking and melding a variety of spiritual paths–yoga, meditation, Jesus, Buddha, and church.   The melding of a variety of spiritual traditions is nothing new. In the southwest, Native American symbols made their way into Christian churches.  In Europe, pagan practices made their way into our Christmas traditions.  We’ve always merged sacred symbols and practices.

The church is a place where the stories of the Hebrew Bible and of Jesus are shared. The church is a place where we come together and try to live out the ancient commandment to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.

The church is a place where the stranger is welcomed, the child is loved, and our gifts are nurtured.

“Do I have to believe in Christianity to be a member of the church?”

If you have found a home in the Broad Bay Church, you can be a member.  If something good and holy and special happens to you as you participate in this place—in worship, in talking to others, in mission projects–and you want to be part of that in a deeper way, you can join this church. This is a church that welcomes your questions, your wisdom, your tears, and your laughter.  If Broad Bay is a place you want to be, join us.

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Cutting Paper Dolls: Building for Ministry

file-6My grandfather used the expression, “cutting paper dolls” which referred to a process which was a cross between planning and dreaming. One could “cut paper dolls” without yet committing oneself to anything; it was a way to ask questions and dream of a trip or life change.  At the end of the process, a decision would be made to go forward or not. If the idea was a bust or it never happened or morphed into something else, that was fine.  New adventures always started with cutting paper dolls.

Since Broad Bay voted to hire Barba and Wheelock, the building committee (Jonathan Clowes, Brian Scheuzger (co-chairs), Maryann Guernsey, Kathy Osborne, Linda Brandt, Joe Russano, and myself) has been “cutting paper dolls.” Material from last year’s church meetings was complied. People were interviewed regarding the use of every room in the building and the results sent to Barba and Wheelock. The building committee met with Nancy Barba and John Turk for a spirited conversation about their initial drawings and Broad Bay’s core mission; changes were made.  Second and third drafts were reviewed and after more conversations about who we are, additional changes were requested.

Throughout the process, the building committee focused on the core mission of the church, asking what God is calling us to be and do. I’m excited. The committee is listening hard to one another, especially where we offer differing perspectives. With the guidance and questions of good design professionals, ideas keep improving and our thinking about Broad Bay’s mission gets sharper.

Broad Bay Church moved to 941 Main Street fifteen years ago and our roots in the community have deepened. For example: backpacks to the Miller school, concerts, weekly AA meetings, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) clinics, funerals, dinners, restorative justice circles.  We partner with other organizations and offer the use of the building to community groups.

I have stood outside before a funeral or concert and tried to tactfully guide people to the ramp; At every service and event, I hold my breath as I watch people go up and down the stairs.  I have waited and prayed while the ambulance is summoned after accidental falls and have witnessed too many other near misses. Every time I experience the bathroom under the stairs, I am both grateful for my flexibility and marvel at that unique space. (Yes, I am willing to give that up!)  Daily asthma medication helps me to breath in the basement while others have chosen to avoid the space entirely. Some struggle to prepare food and clean up in the kitchen.

Our identity and mission focus is clear. We are rooted in the community, engage community partnerships, and welcome a diverse group of people into our midst. Outside, our walkway, bench, Anticipate Miracles boulder, and Help Yourself Shelf reflect those commitments. The building committee, under the guidance of Barba and Wheelock has worked to be sure that both the inside and outside feel and function of the building reflects our mission. A building which is inviting, safe, accessible and flexible could expand our community partnerships while demonstrating God’s extravagant welcome.

The architectural drawings are on the way to a cost estimator who will add numbers  to the project.

On Wednesday night, October 18, at 6:30 pm the building committee invites you to join them in “cutting paper dolls.” Nancy Barba, architect, will join us to share the results of the collaboration between the building committee and her firm.

Whatever we decide to do in terms of repairs and renovations to the building, I am convinced that the process of working closely with such a competent design firm has been worth it. I’ve sensed the Spirit in the process of “cutting paper dolls” as the building committee has focused on our core mission and dared to dream beyond what is to what could be.

God is still speaking.

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