Posts Tagged With: excellent

Being Excellent, resistance edition

When I worked at camp, you could quickly tell the returning staff from the new staff each summer by how our boss’s wife’s requests were responded to.
New staff were often confused and uncertain of what to do when this smart and assertive woman who was not part of the staff made a request or comment. Which is very understandable. Camp is an odd workplace in that we all lived there–alongside the director’s family who lived there year round.
Experienced staff, those of us who had acclimated to how the domestic and professional rubbed against each other, depended on each other, knew that our boss’s wife was very important to us, to our work, and to how we’d live this summer.
Because her happiness was important to her husband, our boss. Because our boss’s happiness improved our lives. But mostly because community isn’t about hierarchy, it’s about everyone’s safety and happiness.

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nasty: adjective 1. highly accomplished, fierce, unwilling to be walked upon, up to the task of changing the world.  (With thanks to my tribe of clergy women)

Yesterday I walked my dog. Wrote. Knitted. Avoided Facebook. I worked on my sermon. I toasted the resistance with a nasty woman cocktail. I donated to Planned Parenthood because they’ll need the support.

How to face yesterday and the four years it inaugurated has been on my mind for awhile. And what I did, it’s remarkably similar in action, though not tone, to what I would’ve done if Mrs Clinton has won.

Yesterday I sunk into what I love about myself and my life.  I practiced being excellent at who I am and what I do.

Because the work of justice and love I was vowed to in my baptism, it continues either way. Just as it has through President Obama’s administration. It gets harder, a lot harder, but the need to proclaim and practice the equality of God’s children, all of God’s children, remains.

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“It’s never been more important to be good at what we do.”
I’ve had this line, written by Aaron Sorkin and used in The West Wing and Studio 60, running in my head since early November.

I went to bed November 8 sure that Trump would be the President Elect. I went to bed scared and woke to horror and terror with and for women, immigrants, people of colour, people with chronic illness and disability, LGBTQ+, for so many of my friends and family, for so many beloved children of God.

We who believe that the government should protect women, people of colour, people with chronic illness and disability, LGBTQ+, and immigrants have reasons to grieve. Our country voted against us and our interests.

It is hard to not be with my country right now. My privilege of living in a country where there is nearly universal access to healthcare, where we can at last begin to discuss and respond to the centuries of aggression by settlers against indigenous peoples, where I have a very good chance of remaining for the rest of my life feels amazing and sad.

The world might be scarier, might be becoming infinitely dangerous for people who have long lived on the margins of safety, but being Christian has never meant living in safety. It’s never meant living in a world with just and reasonable governments. It’s never been about seeking power or acting out of fear or anger.
I’ve been thinking about the power hungry government that crucified Jesus and martyred so many Christians. I’ve been thinking about the fruits of the spirit. Love joy peace patience kindness goodness and self-control. Paul wrote that against these things there is no law.
From Corrie Ten Boom who went to Ravensbuck Concentration Camp for loving her Jewish neighbours to those arrested for feeding the homeless a few days ago, we know Paul was occasionally wrong.
And, by their witness and the witness of the great cloud of saints, we know the importance of practicing the fruits of the spirit anyways.

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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ~ Audre Lorde (more on the source of this quote here.)

I settled on my tasks yesterday because these next years are going to require the best of each of us. And this is who I am. A priest, a wife, an ex-pat in love with both her countries, a dog owner, a writer, a knitter. These are the things that fill my life and activate and enable my resistance. Today  I continue the work of taking care of my chronically ill female self, of all the parts of my self that my country, and sometimes my family, acquaintances, and church would prefer if they were less liberal, less ill, less female, less vocal.

These next four years matter. To country and economics, but even more to neighbours and friends. Because love and justice are defined by  those who receive our actions.
Take care of yourself. Take care of your neighbours. Practice the fruits of the spirit. Remember to look after everyone’s safety and happiness. Make space in your community and life for those our culture and politics would rather not exist.

Great and amazing things may be required of us in the years ahead. It’s okay. We’ve done them before and, yes, we can do them again.

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”
Gal 5:22-23

“It’s never been more important to be good at what we do.”

It’s time to be excellent.
Yes, we can.

Categories: My Life, writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Whatever is Excellent

I’ve just started my new position as rector of St Peter’s in Edmonton. (Six weeks in, so everyone still thinks I’m new. A year from now, church members will still understand that I’m new.)

As with most new clergy, I’m frequently asked one question. “How are you going to save the Church?”

People don’t actually say that. I hear it underneath the questions they voice: “How old is your congregation?…What can you do to bring in young people?” “Are you worried about the budget?” “Churches, well mainline Protestant Churches, are shrinking, why do you think that is?” “Do you think the Church is still relevant to people today?”
“How are you going to save the Church?”

I don’t think they like my answer.

There is the snarky, true, answer. I am not going to save the Church. As with the rest of the world, Jesus Christ has, is, will save the Church. (Often from the Church.)

I believe that. I don’t say that.
I don’t say that these questions, especially about young people, often have me imagining a white panel van, ‘Church’ emblazoned on the side, waiting for the correct candy.

I point out that the fears about the downfall of the Church and the Gospel are unfounded. Both have survived and flourished through far more.
I assure them that I don’t have a three or five or seven point plan.
People hang on with me through those.

I go on to say that we need to learn what we believe and articulate it excellently. We need to discern what the mission of this parish is and engage excellently in it.
This is where, I suspect, I lose people. No one has told me I am crazy, my idea doomed, and left abruptly. I think they are too polite. This is where I get the sense that they understand that my not-a-plan would really benefit from a plan.

After all, isn’t this what the Church does? Seek out new members? Because we need more people and more money, (two phrases for the same problem). Or at least new Christians (who will tithe!)?

If I were worried about saving the Church, and the young people, and the money, I’m relatively sure that’s still the wrong approach.

Jesus Christ, through his ministry and his resurrection, has, is, will save the Church.
Jesus Christ, through his ministry and his resurrection, has, is, will save the World.

In the midst of Jesus’s work, we are to think and do whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)

This is not finding young people, growing the Church, or fixing the budget. The Church’s mission is not youth and money. The Church’s mission is the living and the proclamation of the Gospel (two phrases for the same thing).

We as people and we as the Church occasionally manage to do whatever is excellent.

More often I find that we get distracted. The budget needs fixing, someone dies, our community is fighting, we have doubts, we have debts, the music program has fallen apart, we are old, we are tired. We are no longer being excellent. We are hoping for a three point plan to save the Church.

I want to work on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, that’s what I want to be about.

And then tell people about it.

Categories: Church | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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