Change: Thoughts on Our Call to Action

      My first time in as UMC service, I sat in the front row to make an announcement (Yepp. I was kind of in AP Methodism, once they got me in the door they let me do all kinds of stuff) and we started to pray and I frantically looked for the little step to kneel on. Maybe there just wasn’t one in the front row? I turned around extremely awkwardly and saw that no one was kneeling…uhm, okay…? I opened up the hymnal and the songs we sang had NO Latin in them. Pastor Sarah said “The lord be with you!” and everyone SAID  “And Also with you.” …they didn’t SING it. I was still searching for the statue of St. Mary and waiting for communion when the service had ended. I was uneasy. I was confused. I was lost. And I really didn’t think I was happy about it.

       That was roughly four years ago. Since then I have gone through confirmation in the UMC with my little brother, I have been to Glen Lake Camp, read sermons and journals by John Wesley, joined the Student Leadership Team, perfected my Cross-and-Flame doodle, been church creeping, preached in the church, addressed the Annual Conference, became a certified lay speaker, seen the movie Wesley, been called a “Methodork”, been adopted by my Preacher Mama Sarah Miller, become best friends with kids that Grace and Love just drip off of everywhere they go and in the end I finally realized my call into the Methodist  ministry.  4 years ago, if you had told me that ANY of those things were going to happen, I would’ve told you that you were wrong and I didn’t want anything in my life to change. Because change is hard. And there is very often an easy option.

     This morning, I sat in a Board of Laity meeting. Bishop Mike Lowry (another person I wouldn’t have ever thought I would be hanging out with on the weekends.) gave a report on a Call To Action. We talked about the 4 focuses the things vital churches do and how to equip our churches to build these things. We talked about strong and widespread lay leadership, passionate and inpisring preaching, multimedia in worship, building small groups, and different ways to reach the younger generation. All those wonderful things that are so hard to do but so hard NOT to do, too. Because if we don’t do those things, what are we going to do to stay alive?

      When you’re in school, stuff changes all the time. You learn new ways to do math or write and at first it’s scary. Cursive was terrifying. I remember thinking “Whoa…whoa…whoa…HOLD UP! THESE are letters? And you want me to write them…without picking up my pen…huh?” I don’t want to talk about dimensional analysis, because I’m still grieving over that change from Chem 1 last year. Having to do ANYTHING a different way is hard and scary and sometimes it’s sad, too. But now I love cursive. it’s faster and it’s gorgeous and it’s fun.

       Our church is changing. The church has always been changing and will always be changing, but right now it’s extremely visible. Lyrics are scrolling on screens on the walls, videos supplement sermons, things are not the same. Some of us see this and we are over the moon for the wonderful ministry that is happening and some of us are apprehensive. Some of us are scared. Some of us this is hard for. On November 13, things are going to change. no matter what is actually decided, things will be changing in our conference over the next year.

   We might fail. But, as the Bishop pointed out to us today, as United Methodists, our theology is grace-based and we believe that things are alright even when they go wrong, that anything can become pleasing to God especially with a little work. Besides, what did we ever learn from smooth-sailing? The greatest things that we LEARN about how to do things is by finding out how NOT to do them. So if we find things that don’t work in our experimentation in the coming years, we will be better for our struggles-not worse.

   I’m going to be around in this church for quite awhile. I’m in the generation  that is going to have to take over the church someday and that is scary, too. So if you are looking at the changes in the conference and in church in general, and you’re scared then listen to what I have to say.

      Thanks.

      Thank you for making the sacrifices necessary for our church to grow and sustain itself so that when I grow up I will have a place to feel God and to help others do the same. Thank you for enduring scary changes. Thank you for letting me sing my songs that aren’t even in the hymnal. Thank you for putting the words on the walls. Thank you for working so hard to make our conference work. Thank you for giving me a place where I could change and for changing that place so that it will always be there for me.

     It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be scary. And, even for me, it’s going to be sad. We’re all going to need to take some time to get acclimated to whatever change comes along. And we might need to grieve over some of the things that are going to happen during this change.  But good things are coming, Central Texas, and the best of all is that God is with us.

Redefine. (Part II)

      My Bible study group (aka my wonderful favorites at SSUMC) is currently split boys and girls doing a book study. The girls are reading Redfining Beautiful.

    The book has a couple of awkward make-up metaphors for life, but I like it all the same. it talks a lot about being unique as a child of God and how Beautiful isn’t something we see at all, but it’s what He sees when He sees us. Tonight we talked about God, Dads, and boys. And how the three of them tie together.

    God. God loves you. Even if your hair doesn’t fall the same way everyday. Even if you forget to put on deodorant. Even if you’re just flat out weird (like you might point to your nose in reference to yourself, or you might laugh like a pterodactyl). One chapter is even called “Weird is Beautiful.” It’s almost funny how often we forget how much God really does love us. I think that’s why we remind those we love of our affection everytime we get off the phone or run to the grocery store-it’s just esay to forget. So in case you haven’t heard it today, I’m gonna tell you: God loves you. A lot. More. Than. You. Will. Ever. Truly. Know. Really.  Any time you feel any differently, it’s time to hear it again and redefine what you see when you think God.

     Dads. I love my dad. Not only that, but I really like me dad. He taught me how to not break a computer, how to be the best at garage sailing and made fun of everything in my life since the day I was born. I always kind of thought of my dad as not even part of the equation, but more of a page number. Extremely inexpendable, dependable, and often overlooked. It never really hit me until tonight that not everybody has an awesome dad like I do. I mean, I always knew. but it hadn’t ever hit me. So  that kind of redfined what it really means to have a super dad.

    Boys. We’ve pretty much established that boys are stupid and we should throw rocks at them. But beyond that, some boys aren’t the boys we need to be within rock throwing distance of. in the book, Jenna talks about how all she wanted was a boyfriend, and when she finally got this wonderful boyfriend, she dropped other things for him. But then he moved away. She was devastated and it took her years to realize that a boyfriend wasn’t what she needed during that time in her life. I think that’s kind of cool. because she was almost redfining her past. She was taking what had happened and finding the God in it, where she missed the God the first time around.

So, I like this book so far. And I’m really excited for the rest of our study. That’s the end of my cool story.

Redefine. (Part I)

     This summer I went on a CTCYM Combo Mission Trip. I walked out of there with a purple t-shirt, a swollen shoulder, and a new understanding of where I was supposed to be. it was kind of time for me to face things. As my new found sister of the soul, Alyssa, would say “I was just sitting there on mission trip, thinking: ‘what am i gonna do with my life? The only thing that makes me happy is Jesus!” or possibly: ‘I am settled on one thing. I’m going to be A UNITED METHODIST CLERGYWOMAN!!” When she says both those things, the words ring in a very glorious explosion of excitedness over life.

Letting go

    Redefinition is not an easy thing. We tend to try and renovate or remodel. Sometimes we reword or rethink or relocate or retreat when people start talking about redefinition. It’s scary to say “I’m going to let go.” Letting go is one of my biggest problems. It’s not so much accepting a call into ministry that is scary. It’s the letting go of everything that is NOT a call to ministry that is scary. It’s giving up my dream of majoring in bagpipe performance at Carnegie Melon and touring the world with a monkey on my shoulder. It’s the letting go of what I think I know or feel or think.

    I like to do everything. I like to be in charge. I like to know what’s going on. It’ really hard for me to let go of things and let other people take over them. It’s also really hard for me to not worry about things. It’s really, really, really hard for me to just generally loosen my grip. I get this feeling like as soon as I let go, things are going to get away from me. Like people are going to leave. Like I’m going to end up with all the things that are familar or controllable gone and I’ll be lost. Don’t even get me started on lost. The point is…I think it’s hard to let go.

Letting in

       Redefinition doesn’t stop at getting rid of things. Yu can’t just let go. There’s always something more. In this case, it’s the letting in. For me, this is about people. It was really hard for me to let people in on what God was doing in my life. It was hard to hear my name echoed through the speakers at Annual Conference as they all heard that I had felt a call into ministry…I hadn’t told anyone except Bishop Solomon whom I had talked with only minutes before. It was hard to tell my mom and dad. It was hard even to tell my wonderful fabulous beautiful favorite SLT friends. It was even hard to tell Ethan and Carly who both knew before Itold them.

     Letting in people, or love, or knowledge, or anything for that matter, is sometimes hard. You don’t know where that stuff has BEEN! To just open up you heart and hang a ‘welcome’ sign is tough. It’s like letting go all over again. you have to trust something bigger than yourself. Redefinition is a two-way street. You have to let go of what doesn’t make the Webster’s edition of your life, and beef up what’s left by letting better things inside.