Sunday, April 26, 2009

Preparing to Ride:Well

It seems to me as if I decided quite suddenly that I am going dive in with all of my resources (physical, financial, time or otherwise) to become a cyclist. To take off on the journey of a lifetime as I prepare to ride my bicycle (which I did not even own until last week!) across the United States of America - 3172 miles in 8 weeks. Riding as many miles as 113 in a single day to make our way across, it will certainly prove to be an intense challenge unlike any I've experienced before, and yet I couldn't be more excited.

I'm excited because though this decision was unexpected by many (myself included), I have discovered I absolutely LOVE riding whenever I can. I'm excited because it is going to challenge me in diverse ways and will do so in intense and demanding ways. I am excited because my sacrifice this summer (physically and financially) are going to support people I have never met before. People who themselves are spending hours each day walking to get water that is killing them because though it is better than nothing at all, it is unsanitary and full of disease. I am excited because this is something I can do with a group of strangers (our team is 19 and I only know one other) who will soon become family, and together we will be caring for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world. We will be working together toward doing something Gregg talked about so much on last years's tour: loving people we have never met.

While I should be spending more time wrapping up the final papers to be written before completing a Master of Divinity Degree (graduation is 18 days and counting!), this is where most of my thoughts wonder to. What will the team be like? (will it prove more difficult b/c I know how amazing last year's team was? I don't want to compare them...) Who are the people the water and sanitation projects will reach? What are they doing right now? What about the folks we encounter on the road this summer? More than asking how we may affect them, I ponder the reverse of how my life will be different as a result of meeting them. I ask not with anxiety, but with excitement. Change is never easy, but I always walk away from experiences like this changed for the better (cue For Good from the Wicked soundtrack).

As I continue to prepare for this journey in just over 6 weeks, I couldn't be filled with a greater mix of emotions. Thankfully, the most abundant and overwhelming emotion is EXCITEMENT. I know that the money will work out (I'm a ways away, but its coming slow but sure - to donate visit my Ride:Well Cyclist Profile Page!), and though it seems to be coming slowly, I think I will be prepared (enough) physically as well. Prayer support is always welcome, now and throughout the summer. I hope you'll join me on the journey, track our journey, and if we come through your town, come out to an event and say hello! We will be posting updates, blogs and journals on the Ride:Well website all summer long.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed! Hallelujah!!! Hallelujah!!!

Easter - my favorite day of the year. The reason we Christians are Christians at all. The story that doesn't make any sense, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. The day Christ first appeared - first to women, lest we forget! - after being crucified and brutally murdered as he hung from the cross. Christ lives, Christ overcomes death, and today we celebrate that with great praise! Hallelujah!

The mystery of it all, the fact that it makes absolutely no sense, the fact that we can only begin to understand any of it through a process of anamnesis (bringing events of the past into the present) as we recall Jesus' ministry and begin to remember what he was talking about when he said things like that he would "rebuild the temple in three days..." It is a story that God alone could tell. A story that is so ridiculous and so unimaginable and so unreal that I can't help but to believe and entrust my life to it.

For that, I am thankful, and today, we celebrate all that this encompasses. Praise be to God. Hallelujah!! Amen.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Continuing the Journey of Holy Week

Holy Thursday. A journey to the garden, a night we are called to be watchful and prayerful in preparation of what is yet to come. Tonight's service was a journey and included a journey outside to "pray in the garden" while we sang together: "Guide my feet, while I run race, for I don't want to run this race in vain."

I pray that tonight, and for the continued path on which I will travel beyond this week. I pray that as I remember vividly from my journey to Jerusalem not long ago the path on which Jesus walked and the garden in which he prayed on that night. They were so different then than now, but they are imprinted images all the same, and they shift my reality of how I am able to see and understand this story.

Holy Week is my favorite time (albeit the most difficult) of the entire church year: a week in which we are called more than any other to be attentive, worshipful, prayerful, and reflective both in our own 'gardens,' and together, in community, as we gather for several days to pray and meditate.

Our final song in worship tonight was a Taize song that keeps running through my head, a prayer I carry with me and invite you to boldly pray as well in the midst of this night of preparation...

Stay With Me.
Remain Here with Me.
Watch, and Pray.
Watch and Pray.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ten Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is "Wrong"

In the midst of ongoing wars, tragedies, hardships and harsh weather creating unforgivable circumstances, this week we also have reason to celebrate.

Yes, it is Holy Week. In the church, we anticipate this week as one of the busiest weeks. We even ask people to come to church THREE TIMES the same week! For a journey that is a long, difficult one as we remember life, suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Then we come to Sunday morning, and the sun rises, and we have all the reason in the world to celebrate! For we will cheer together the unbelievable, unfathomable event that "Christ has Risen! Christ has Risen Indeed!"

... but we aren't there just yet. we must walk the walk before we can celebrate...

That, my friends, is not the reason I call us to celebrate on this day (the time has not yet come). Instead, I celebrate huge victories in the United States. Specifically, victories in Iowa and Vermont. This week, Iowa and Vermont doubled the number of states (adding to Connecticut and Massachusetts) who now have laws on the books legalizing same-sex marriage. I congratulate these two states (specifically proud of Iowa, a place that will always be home to me) on this incredible step forward, and hope other states will soon follow (NH, NY, NJ, and ME all have upcoming votes).

As a Christian (not, "even" as a Christian, but ESPECIALLY as a Christian), my heart could not be more joy-filled, though we certainly have a long way to go. Though it is a bit snide, I would like to re-post here something posted by a friend via Facebook: I hope you too will see the real truths in each of these statements.

Ten Reasons Why Gay Marriage is "Wrong"

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Brittany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans