Monthly Archives: March 2015

Faces and names

So you’ve been talking with or saying hello to that person at church for months, or years, and you appreciate the relationship.  There’s just one thing slightly uncomfortable about it.  You have no clue what their name is, and now it’s to the point where it’s embarrassing to ask.  I know this about you because many of you have mentioned to me that you regularly have this experience.

We put a high value on being community for each other, and we are blessed with enough of us hanging around in this congregation that it’s hard to remember names of more than just a close circle of relationships.

You are not alone – and now help is on the way : )

In the spirit of building community, Gwen has been working hard to assemble a new CMC picture directory – with names!  It is completed and is waiting in your church mailbox.  If you don’t have a mailbox, or didn’t even know such a thing exists, you can pick up a directory in the foyer.

Lent is winding down, but one more option for a Lenten discipline is to get to know some of those names that have escaped you thus far.  While we’re at it, how cool would it be if everyone worked at getting to know the names of all the children in the congregation?  Being called by name by non-family adults has been shown to have a direct impact on children’s sense of well-being.  A next step could be getting to know the names of people 70 and over.  We have some amazing ‘mature’ adults in this congregation with rich life experiences.  If remembering names come hard for you, feel free to remind others of your name.

We can do it!

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Saint Patrick

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s day.  I neglected to wear green, but no one pinched me.  Like St. Valentine’s Day, or Christmas and Saint Nicholas, the lives of these saints are something akin to the background radiation from the big bang – still there if you really look for it, but certainly not the first thing you think of when you look around at what things have become.  Green beer, for example.

St. Patrick lived in fifth century Britain and served as a slave in Ireland for six years, returning later in life to be the first bring the gospel to Ireland.  Two cool things about the Irish Christian tradition that St. Patrick initiated:

+ Ireland adopted Christianity while maintaining its reverence for creation from its pagan past.  It’s a positive example of Christianity bringing its unique contribution to a people, without a colonial effect of obliterating the traditional culture.  Celtic spirituality has undergone resurgence of late as its love for the goodness and beauty of life has connected with people seeking a world-affirming faith.  Many of our liturgies from this year’s Lent have been drawn from the Celtic Iona Community.

+ Irish Christian monks had a major influence on the preservation of classical and ancient Christian texts for the Western world.  Thomas Cahill tells this story in his book with a long subtitle, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.  Basically, while the Roman world was falling apart, Irish monks on that isolated island were safely and lovingly studying and copying texts that were then newly available to ravaged Europe when political stability returned.  Cahill goes so far as to suggest that without the Irish, and the love for literacy that St. Patrick brought to them, many of these texts would have been lost.

Cheers for earthy spirituality and saving good literature.  Thanks Pat.

Our Hymnal Worship Book contains a text attributed to St. Patrick (HWB 442).  The second verse says:

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ in quiet,

Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

No future tense = a better future?

Phloem and Xylem: No future tense = a better future?

11 March 2015

Today I am in the Bluffton/Pandora area for a CDC pastors meeting and some work with the Ministerial Committee.  On the drive up here I listened to the TED Radio Hour episode “The Money Paradox.”  One of the featured speakers, Keith Chen, talked about his research on the relationship between financial savings practices and language.  As it turns out, people whose primary language does not differentiate between the present and future tense have a much higher (consistently 20-30%) savings rate than those whose language does.  English, for example, has a future tense: “I will drive home this afternoon and will see my children.”  Chinese and Finnish are examples of languages that don’t have a future tense.  “I drive home this afternoon and see my children.”  Chen’s theory is that, when it comes to how we manage our finances, there is a psychological advantage in not differentiating between the present self and the future self.  It’s the same self.  A related study through a financial counselor invited people to consider the percentage of their income they would like to set aside for retirement.  People in one group were given a worksheet which included a current picture of themselves in the corner.  The papers the other group received had a computer simulated picture of what the person might look like around retirement age.  Not surprisingly, the ones who were confronted with their future self in the present chose to save more.

One of the things I have enjoyed about this Lent theme, “Praying with Creation,” has been taking a deep time perspective of our relationship with the natural world.  We come from the primordial waters and Noah’s flood causes us to ponder the different extinction events that have occurred throughout history.  Earth and land have always been central to how we survive and thrive.  Cattle have not always been cattle, but once roamed wild.  I wonder what Mark will do this Sunday with serpents!  How we think about ourselves as creatures within time can have a profound impact on how we live in the present.  The New Testament seems intent on messing with out notions of time in declaring the Kingdom of God is here (the future is present), even as we remember the cross and resurrection as an ongoing present reality.  In light of this and the TED talk, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” the core of all biblical ethics, includes the future version of yourself and your neighbor, and even your neighbor who will be here long after you’re gone.