It was one of those beautiful days full of sunshine and I walked down the street to meet some friends for happy hour. It was a good day. A breezy, relaxed day. A day for friends.
As I walked down the sidewalk I came to a group of guys crowded together – the sort that could be described as “upstanding” looking, if we were going to use those empty kinds of descriptives – and they were laughing and having a good time. A day for friends, after all.
Wanting to move easily on my way, I quietly spoke as I came to them, “Excuse me.”
“Show us your tits and we’ll let you pass!” one of them shouted.
My shoulders tightened. I didn’t take a precious second to look to see who said it, but pushed through these laughing men surrounding me. Not stopping. Not looking. I just kept walking.
I just kept walking.
This memory came to me as I read the recently exposed words of one of our presidential candidates. Words that described harassment and assault with laughter and entitled bravado. Words of violence that were met with assured murmurs of agreement.
I’m writing because I know that I’m not the only one for whom those words will conjure up images and memories. I’m writing because I know that those words squeezed the breath from some lungs and tightened the shoulders of many – a painful reminder that in so many spaces and so many places, from streets to boardrooms, women are not safe. I’m writing because for some, they are living in those places and spaces in this very moment.
Beautiful daughter of God, you are created in the image of God – your laughter, your smile, your tenderness, your resilience, your joy, your sorrow. You move with God’s love and care on your shoulders. From the crown of your head – whether straight or curly, loc’d or buzzed – to the soles of your tired, weary feet, you are a blessing of God’s own making. You are God’s echo in the world.
You are like the women of Scripture. You are Hagar – who was cast out into the wilderness by her child’s father and whom God protected and promised to build nations from. You are Vashti – who told the most powerful leader in the land, “no” – and you are Esther – who took what little choice she had and gambled her life for others. You are the unnamed woman, outcast and alone, who took a risk, grabbed the garment of Jesus in the midst of a crowd, and was healed. You are Mary, who Christ called by name and made a first witness to God’s kingdom, before any other disciple.
You are beloved. While those words of violence are condemned or brushed aside as “locker room talk,” you may still be left with the memory of words spoken or actions done to you. I hope you know that those words and those actions are NOT okay. I hope you will know with stronger clarity and with greater conviction, that you are beloved. You are the image of the divine.
You are God’s echo in the world. An echo that drowns out all other taunts or threats or “locker room talk.” An echo that drowns out the foolish violent voices of rulers or rulers-to-be. You are God’s echo in the world. Sing.
From the pastor…
I have surprising and disappointing news for our Messiah community. Our Children’s Minister Michelle Miefert has resigned effective October 1, 2016. Though she has only been with us one year, she has already impacted our life together. Her task was to bring our preschool ministry and children’s ministry together,. She started us on that road. Preschool families have shown up in greater number to Messiah Night, Children’s Sunday, Breakfast with the Bunny and just yesterday at our Rally Day Picnic. We have more students from Messiah and more members on staff and as volunteers in our preschool. Michelle came to us when our preschool was healthy and the changes she has made in just one year leave it even healthier. Less changes had begun with our children’s ministry, but we were starting to see a new direction that welcomed families and encouraged their efforts to raise their children in faith. Everyone who encountered Michelle this year has been drawn in by her positive nature, smile, concern and love of children and families. She will be missed. Continue reading Children’s Minister Michelle Miefert is leaving us.
School begins for our children next week! Can you believe that? Where has this summer gone? Sign number 7461 that I am becoming an old man is that time seems to fly by (sign number 7460 is the hair I have to keep plucking from my ears, why does hair grow where I don’t need it and not…). In May, I was dreaming about a peaceful summer. I even suspended some meetings for June and July to help slow it down further. And yet, I have felt three steps behind since Memorial Day. Continue reading From the pastor…
Unfortunately, our worship attendance at Messiah has historically declined in the summertime, anywhere from 15 to 20%. This is not a unique problem for churches. Many combine or eliminate worship services because the trend in their congregations is even greater. It can cause a problem with the finances of a congregation, since it is the offering given in worship that provides the bulk of the funds that keep the ministries going. Continue reading Summer Worship and Ministry
From the pastor…
I had a good run this morning, but I still felt anxious and uneasy afterward. I had listened for my entire Monday morning run to the CBS show Face the Nation, podcast version. Now, I have a lot going on this week, so there could be multiple reasons why this run did not relax me, as most do. Still, I think I was put on edge by hearing interviewed all but two of the seven candidates running for president.
This presidential campaign season I am starting to wonder if I have let my interest get out of kilter. I am filling time in the car or on runs with endless pundits talking about this election, rather than listening to music or great storytelling shows like This American Life or Snap Judgment. My interest is not a civic virtue. I am not trying to decide on who to vote for in our own Ohio primary in March. I am transfixed at the spectacle of our brawling candidates. Like a traffic accident, I can’t seem to take my eyes off of it, hourly, daily, weekly.
I think it is hurting my spirit. There is wholeness in having balance in life. There is goodness in trying to see the world through eyes of faith, not Democratic or Republican eyes. I have enough information to be a good citizen of my country and cast my ballot. I need to move on now and fill my time better. Our lives can get distorted so easily by interests and passions that move us away from God rather than closer. This intense passion feels as though it might be distorting me.
How is your spirit doing? I hope you are filling this Lenten season with rituals, habits and interests that bring you closer to God’s hope for you, rather than further away. I hope the risen Christ is giving you eyes of faith to see the world. Pay attention this Lent to how you are feeling. Maybe, you need what I need, not to ignore the world, but to not the let world dominate our priorities or concerns. Peace, Pastor Karl
2015 has been an exciting year for Messiah.
We have welcomed great new staff people. A call committee worked diligently to find a new associate pastor. Messiah has benefitted from their hard work. I have been amazed at how well Pastor Liz has fit into our congregation and added to our life together already. Messiah has added a new full time Children’s Minister position to build more bridges between our Preschool and the church. Michelle Meifert has joined our staff and her hard work and great ideas have made the transition smoother than I would have imagined. I am excited for the possibilities in 2016 that come from these new opportunities. We added a quarter time position to our staff, Jim Diehm, to assist Pastor Liz with Confirmation and Teen ministry. Jim has been a key volunteer leader in this ministry for years, so it is no surprise he is already invaluable since he has shouldered even more responsibility. Continue reading From the pastor…