Sunday, January 27, 2008

Something old, something new

So we moved in November. New community. New neighborhood. We don't really know anyone here.

So we had to find a new church. I might have voiced before, I wasn't entirely unhappy about this change. I am not a church hopper, but I honestly was just okay with taking a different direction in church.

About a year and a half ago, I got all curious about Anabaptists. Then I got all curious about contemplatives and new Monastics and all my real closeness with God was happening in service opportunities. It was through those experiences my heart was changing, I was learning. Mostly because I didn't know what I was doing and so anything good I had to offer had to come from the Lord. And I knew and know I had/have a long way to go, but felt and feel that I really had found where my direction was.

So back to finding a new church. As fate would have it (or perhaps it was planned all along), we moved to Newberg. Initially we were going to move to another town where my job is, but all the houses there were insanely overpriced. We would have to move out of the city into the country into a smaller, less attractive, not well located home to afford this other town. Before that, we looked in many, many other towns. All had obstacles that were forbidding. Overpriced, poor, no homes or whatever. The final option was Newberg. And here we are, happy with where we landed.

So the first part of establishing our community and getting involved was to find a church to dig roots in.

Our first church was a foursquare church. It was like our other church in many ways.

But on the way to the foursquare church, the Friends church we passed seemed to always be hoppin. And since we were looking for something new, we gave it a try.

It is hard to explain why we liked it so much with out letting on a little about what we were trying to get away from. We had visited a church that honestly felt more like a Janet Jackson concert than a church. It was very dark with many TV screens and while the message was fine, the whole experience was so passive that it made me feel like I was in the audience, watching other people worshiping.

Since I got back from Russia, the American church I had to deal with more than anything. I felt like church was starting to look like 700 club. I couldn't not go. I didn't want to be critical. I just resigned myself to a church that was changing into something I didn't really like. Apparently there were small groups, but it was never clear how to become involved. Worship, opportunities to serve, the depth of teaching...I decided church was important, but not because it was necessarily edifying.

Both J and I have been happy with how this Friends church is meeting us right up to our every hope of what we could find in a church home. It is contemplative, it is relevant, it is open to voices from the congregation, it is service oriented. It didn't hurt either that a really nice couple opened their home to us.

I am excited about what we are going to be learning...we haven't settled on this one place yet, but it is a Friends church, Quaker. Hopefully they will invite us to their potlucks :o) (could they possibly be better than a Baptist potluck is for a starving college student?)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A new old concept

So, there are alot of ways that we are told in general how to approach diversity. We are supposed to celebrate it, and tolerate it and all these things we are supposed to do.

It is really important I guess...I was surprised at a parent conference to hear a colleague getting herself chewed a new one by a couple parents objecting to the word diversity, because it meant homosexuality (according to them) and so their kids were being taught to accept homosexuals.

Glad I wasn't on the receiving end for that one.

Learned from a colleague later that the town had passed some sort of legislation that made it illegal to be homosexual or some such thing. The state overturned it, but it still stands: the people in the town where I teach, they are anti-homosexual.

The new word I heard as pertaining to diversity was humility. I almost fell off my chair. Before, the highest anyone has reached has been "tolerance" which always left a sort of unpleasant taste in my mouth. It isn't exactly loving. I mean, I do more for my friends and neighbors than tolerate them. I hope anyway.

So this new word is exciting to me. It encompasses a more appropriate approach to our diverse communities. To me it says "How about, rather than merely tolerating people of diverse beliefs, backgrounds etc., we come to admit that it isn't really important what we think about them? How about we just be as we are supposed to be, which is loving our neighbor?"

Getting down to brass tacks, is our opinion really important? Could it be, especially as a follower of Christ, that we submit to something higher, like humility and that our response be closer to humility reflecting the biblical call that we are not to judge? We are however, called to be loving.

How does this look? Well it probably looks like what a lot of people already do, in that, we just go along, get along. What other people do in their lives is not our domain for judgment. It doesn't matter what we think of what they do. All we are called to do is to Love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That is it. And that means that this is how we feel in our hearts as isn't an act. Because everyone can tell if one is just trying very hard to do what one is told, but that isn't really how one feels.

I am sure I am hopelessly flawed, as I usually am when I feel like I have found something right. Feel free to gently enlighten me, or agree with me?