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Book Review: Disunity in Christ

Portia was one of the first people I met when I started college. She was a sophomore with a welcoming attitude, eager to help the freshmen feel welcome. I sat next to her on the bus to band camp and as we chatted about our lives, church came up. When I told her I went to a United Methodist church she was delighted. “I go to an AME church – African Methodist Episcopal. We’re the same!”

Basically, I grew up in the white Methodist church and she grew up in the black Methodist church. Portia could have focused on the differences between us instead of finding our common ground. She chose to welcome me. Twenty years later I still love her for that. Continue reading “Book Review: Disunity in Christ”

Helping from Weakness

Life is hard right now. In early October my dear mom died.Stained glass window

Last spring we found out she had cancer and that her time with us was limited. Even so her death is a shock. I feel sad, angry, confused, disoriented. Sometimes disconnected, like a leaf that’s fallen from the tree but not yet landed on the ground

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I was feeling screwed up and lonely and aimless yesterday, so I decided to walk to Starbucks. Continue reading “Helping from Weakness”

How Loving My Kids Teaches Me to Love My Neighbor

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4

My middle son was barely 7 years old, at the kitchen table eating string cheese and crackers, when he saw the newspaper’s front page photo of President Obama, eyes downcast. “Mom, why is the president sad?”

That was July 2013 and the president looked sad because a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of killing Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. obama-sad-face-450x278

I took a deep breath and asked God to help me speak the truth in love about race & violence. I am white and my son is black. Like Obama, he was born to a white mother and black father and is growing up in a white family.

It was a stressful conversation. I wanted to be honest but not explain more than he needed to know. I’d explain a little bit and let his questions guide us. Continue reading “How Loving My Kids Teaches Me to Love My Neighbor”

In the News: The Church at Work in Chicago

high-fives-at-oglesby“The children entered the school to cheers and salutes. Every stairwell and entrance was flanked by men, from the basement to the third floor. The men cheered and high-fived students, and before the day was over more than 100 men agreed to volunteer monthly for a literacy program called Real Men Read and to be mentors at Oglesby.”

In this commentary for the Chicago Tribune, Rev. Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, tells how 300 men showed up on the first day of school at an elementary school on the south side to cheer for and encourage students.

300! Men! To cheer for them!

This is the church at work, the body of Christ at work in the world to love the children.

Several people came together, doing the work God set before them, for this to happen.

The principal of Oglesby had a vision of how her school could be. She prayed about it. She told her pastor about it. She asked for help.

The pastor supported the principal, recognized her vision, and shared it with the church. The pastor invested himself and invited the church to join him. “I called for men… to join me at Oglesby on the morning of Sept. 6,” he writes.

The church and the community responded. “Almost 300 men, most from Trinity United Church of Christ on the Far South Side, stood with members of the Black Star Project, Nation of Islam and teachers from Oglesby Elementary School in the Auburn Gresham community.”

God bless it. How can our churches work together in our community to be the body of Christ in the world?

Four Steps to Helping Your Community

Do you ever wonder what you can do to make a difference in your community? As in, what action can you take that will create positive change?

Step 1: Hang around some people.

People spending time together is the core of an essential resource for healthy communities. Sociologists call it social capital. Most people call it being involved, hanging out, serving, attending, joining.

community-working-togetherAny kind of activity people do together builds social connections. Having friends for dinner, going to church, voting, attending public meetings, chatting with neighbors.

Strong social capital in a community is connected with better life for everyone in that community. If lots of other people go to school board meetings and speak up for the needs of families, everyone in the community benefits from better schools — whether they attend meetings or not. Continue reading “Four Steps to Helping Your Community”

Offensive Equality

Recently one of the readings in church was the parable of the workers in the vineyard from the gospel of Matthew. It’s a story of the upside-down-ness of God’s kingdom, and I noticed something I’ve never thought about before. Equality is what gets everyone really angry.

Parable-of-Vineyard-Workers-Law-and-Grace-1-10-BT-fs2For the kingdom of heaven is like… Jesus begins. It’s like a business owner who goes out to hire workers for a day. He hires some guys and they agree to $100 for a day’s work.

Later that day, the business owner goes out and hires some more folks. Then later he does it again. Continue reading “Offensive Equality”

Listening In Waukegan

Waukegan FireworksFor the fourth of July, my family went to Waukegan to see the fireworks over Lake Michigan. We live in Gurnee and have always eavesdropped on Six Flags’ fireworks, watching from outside the park. This was our first time navigating an Independence Day crowd.

When we got there, we drove around to check out where we could park and wound up in a big, mostly empty lot. Someone else was unloading a folding chair and cooler from his truck, so my husband walked over to ask his advice about the parking.

Turns out we were in a fine spot.

Our new friend, a middle-aged white man, gathered all his stuff and walked up to our car to keep chatting. He told us he’s lived in Waukegan all his life, that there is “so much opportunity here,” that he went to Waukegan public schools and he loves his hometown. Continue reading “Listening In Waukegan”

What Does it Take to Change?

ShoesI’m trying to change. I’d rate my success as mediocre.

For the last decade or so I’ve been trying to become a runner. It’s a big change for me after a lifetime with the identity NOT ATHLETIC.

I played softball on my church youth group team because my dad was the coach. I watched the game from right field where I dropped my glove on the grass and made bracelets of clover.

I ran a mile in 6th grade for field day and vomited at the end.

I’ve tried several times to pick up running. I remember making a go of it in my early 30s and thinking maybe I’d run a marathon when I turned 40. I passed 40 in running shoes at a brisk walking pace. Continue reading “What Does it Take to Change?”

This is Good Government!

I was tempted to write the title of this post in ALL CAPS because  I am so proud to live in Lake County right now.

My county law enforcement and health agencies have accomplished something important together.

AWayOutLCThey have done it with justice, kindness, and humility.

The program, called A Way Out, makes police departments across the county safe places for people addicted to drugs to get help.

“Under a new program initiated across Lake County, those struggling with any type of addiction can walk into a police station and find help rather than handcuffs. Continue reading “This is Good Government!”