This issue of Soundings includes:
Letters from friends, report from the Life Story Class and the Race and Diversity conversation
Tuesdays, June 24–July 29—School of Christian Living (see story).
SCHOOL OF CHRISTIAN LIVING, SUMMER 2008
David Lloyd writes—The School of Christian Living will sponsor a six-week class, "Spiritual Growth through Cinema," beginning on June 24, under the leadership of Kevin Barwick and David Lloyd. We will view and discuss scenes in six modern films that illustrate challenges to Christians in our spiritual development. Bring a brown-bag supper; class will start promptly at 7 p.m. and continue to 9:30. Popcorn will be provided! Advance signups are not required—come for as many weeks as you can.
SUMMARY OF DIALOGUE ON RACE AND DIVERSITY
Sandra Miller writes—For those of you who were present May 18 for the sermon, which dealt with race and diversity, the following will be a reminder of the questions and thoughts we came up with during our Third Sunday dialogue after the service. For those of you who couldn’t stay but are interested in joining the conversation, this will give you some idea of what is present in the minds of those who came that will inform some of our future conversations. They are presented here in the order they were offered by the participants:
What are the perspectives from the media that influence us, and how can we deal with that?
What are our different perspectives in this community of communities?
What do our different experiences mean in relation to our perspectives?
How can we nurture our individual and communal perspectives?
How do we overcome ingrained fear?
We are spiritual beings—what is needed to believe we are loved and can
love? Love in action.
What is our responsibility for action, and how do we apply objective measures to gauge those actions?
Why did God make us different?
How can we bring our gifts of deep listening to one another to grow into hearing our communal stories?
Transformation comes from the renewal of the mind.
We treasure our differences but not our sameness.
Please look for the announcement of the next discussion.
Also, Judy Lantz sends a follow-up email to the sermon:
Sandra, thank you for pulling all the information together. There is a book I recommend having to do with Rev. T’s sharing at the meeting. The book is "Journey of Souls, Case Studies of Life Between Lives" by Michael Newton, 13th printing 2002, ISBN 1-56718-485-5 (pbk.) I was unsure if Christian scholars would embrace this concept. It’s pretty unusual but really speaks to me.
REFLECTION FROM CELEBRATION CIRCLE: THE LECTIONARY AT SEEKERS
Celebration Circle, the worship and liturgy mission group, writes—The lectionary readings for each season are listed on a bulletin insert during the first several Sundays of any season. At Seekers, we use the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), a three-year cycle of weekly lections used to varying degrees by the vast majority of mainline Protestant churches in Canada and the United States. Seekers Church, in using the RCL, thus identifies itself with the larger Body of Christ. The lectionary readings also provide a common biblical focus for reflection within our community, making it possible for each of us to work with the same passages during the week, knowing that these passages will also be part of the shared Word the following Sunday. This unifying quality of the lectionary is particularly important to Seekers worship because, with our open pulpit, we usually have a different person preaching each Sunday. This much welcome diversity in hearing the Word is balanced by the lectionary.
The RCL is built around the seasons of the Church Year and includes four lections for each Sunday, as well as additional readings for major feast days. During most of the year, the lections are a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, a Psalm, a reading from the Epistles, and a Gospel reading. During the season of Easter, the Hebrew Scriptures lection is usually replaced with one from the Acts of the Apostles. The lections from the Hebrew Scriptures are sometimes chosen from the Apocrypha. During Advent and Easter, all the lections are thematically linked. For the rest of the liturgical year, the Psalm is a response to the Hebrew Scripture lection, and the Epistle and Gospel are thematically independent.
Celebration Circle welcomes your thoughts and suggestions about our use of the lectionary at Seekers, as well as regarding any other aspect of our worship life.
A LETTER FROM TRISH NEMORE ON THEIR CURRENT TRIP
Musings on our trip west, at Day 13. Bloomfield, New Mexico. Ashy colored rock with not a hint of vegetation.
If you asked me what the highlight of the trip is so far, I’d say our fabulous visit with Sonya the first and second days. She was in terrific spirits and we were in the middle of wonderful conversation within a nanosecond of walking in her door.
Well, but then there was the stunningly beautiful drive through Great Smokey Mountain National Park in late afternoon, followed by a lovely walk on the Iconoluftee River, the place where I first allowed myself to live into being on vacation. And then there was listening to music on Beale Street in Memphis, where I allowed myself to be surrounded by blues that my mind was telling me were being played too loud but that I let myself be immersed in anyway. And loved it.
But the next day, we walked a half-mile scale model of Old Man River (the lower Mississippi) from Cairo, IL, to the Gulf of Mexico, embedded in concrete at the Mud Island River Walk and Museum on the Mississippi in Memphis. That was mind-blowing; totally cool. I was jumping from west to east somewhere around Vicksburg and fell and stubbed my toe, but that was a small price to pay for such an experience. Definitely do it if you get to Memphis.
Visits with friends all along the way have been so precious—we’ve seen Julie Summers, who lived with us for a few months several times (and worshipped at Seekers), Elma Holder, a dear friend whom I’ve known for years through work, Jewel Williams, the sister of my DC boss, Chip, and an accomplished jeweler and African Art collector, and former Seeker Phoebe Girard and her husband, David Anderson, in Santa Fe. Phoebe took us to Museum Hill where we sat on the plaza, ate yummy food and talked forever—missing visiting the museums, all of which look fabulous. Do that if you are in Santa Fe.
Climbing to Chimney Rock at Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch was also pretty darn cool—our most vigorous exercise of the trip and one that pooped us out for the rest of the day, but well worth the climb for the fun and for the panoramic view.
Ah, but then there was the amazing experience of the ruin of Pueblo Bonita and the view of Fajata Butte at Chaco Canyon. We could not see the stunning sun dagger on Fajata Butte, where the ancient Chacoans demonstrated their incredibly advanced understanding of the movements of the sun and moon, because it has eroded away over the years and no longer exists. Thank heaven for modern technology and the fact that the Solstice Project made a film of it before it disintegrated!
Here we are at Bloomfield, on our way to Canyon De Chelly. See you all in a few weeks!—Love from Trish and Pat
Jeannine Caracciolo sends an e-mail: Author Michael Pollan has recently described eating as "our most profound engagement with the natural world." Indeed, through food, we are irrevocably attached to the natural environment. The odd thing is that, by habit, we rarely realize this, and collectively, our lack of awareness has given us a distorted view of our place as humans within the larger world. With the supermarket nearby, we live with a detached assurance that our stomachs will always be full, even as industrial farms severely degrade soils, consume enormous amounts of fossil fuels, pollute waters with excess nitrogen and toxins, abuse animals, and inadvertently spur pests and microbes to alarming potencies.
One thing we can do is to try cutting back or cutting out meat for 30 days and see how it feels. Here is a website that will give you email recipes and encouragement:
LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA
Kathy Tobias writes—Dear friends, You may be hearing about the situation in South Africa, where xenophobia toward foreigners who compete for jobs, etc. (why does this sound familiar?), is causing an upsurge in violent deaths. Here are two emails, one from my friend Grace Sicwebo in Winterveldt and one from Harriet Taylor at Ministry of Money about Alan Storey’s efforts to reach out to the refugees. Please keep South Africa and our friends there in your prayers and respond as you see fit. For those who might wish to contribute we may need to discuss the best method…
Kathy! Wish I was younger and could jump up and down. Hearing from you is the best thing that’s happened, I even had tears in my eyes….The unrest in the country is building a lot of tension. It feels like the old apartheid days, though it is not everywhere but in certain parts of the country, I can tell you it weighs heavily on ones shoulders….Love, Grace
This letter from Alan came this morning. I thought I should pass it on to all who have experienced Alan in his Manna and Mercy retreat. Whether or not we can contribute to this worthy cause, we can certainly pray for the refugees and for the church which serves them. If you wish to contribute, I suggest mailing a bank check to Alan at the address below. (We wired his honorarium after he was here and it took almost a month for it to arrive in his account!)
[Letter from Alan] Hi everyone—You are surely aware of the xenophobic attacks that have spread through many of our communities in Gauteng over the last 10 days. One area close to Calvary is Ivory Park–Kanana section, where violence has left 5 people killed and many more beaten, traumatised and hundreds fleeing from their homes—many of which have been burnt to the ground. We have also had volunteers of one of the soup kitchens connected to Calvary threatening to stop feeding foreigners—we continue to do so but people are very angry and truth be told most of the foreigners are chased away before we even arrive to feed. We have direct contact with around 400 displaced people staying at the Rabi Ridge police station. With others we are helping to provide food and clothing and blankets etc. If you are willing and able to assist with a donation, please bring whatever you have to Calvary in Midrand or make a financial donation straight into our account using the reference Refugee. I guarantee you that every cent will go to where it is supposed to go and all donations will be accounted for. The situation on the ground is frighteningly desperate.
Bank: Standard Bank; Account Name: Calvary Methodist Church; Account Number: 202 539 962; Branch: Midrand (00 11 55); Reference: Refugee
Thank you, Alan
The Rev. Alan Storey, Calvary Methodist Church–Midrand, PO Box 277, Halfway House 1685, Midrand Gauteng, South Africa
SPRING SCL—LIFE STORY CLASS
Jacqie Wallen reports on an SCL class: Those of us who participated in the School of Christian Living Life Story class last term ended with a group writing exercise in which we told the story of our class in an unusual way. The first person wrote 3 sentences about the class then folded the paper over so only the last sentence showed. The next person, with only the previous person’s last sentence to go on, wrote another three sentences, folding the paper again so only their last sentence showed. And so on, until everyone had written three sentences. Those of us who had played this writing game before agreed that we had never seen such a coherent, cohesive story emerge from this technique. The class indeed told their story as one. Here is the story we wrote:
The life story class met together every week for 6 weeks to experiment with different ways of telling their stories. One of the first things we did was to pick several photographs from the vast array on the table and tell our life as a fairy tale. Most of us used the photos to illustrate a hidden aspect of their personality or a dream about who they wish they were. Both the dark and the light times in our lives came out in the telling of our stories. More than anything, I liked hearing from people in other mission groups and from people I didn’t have the opportunity to spend time with before. I was humbled as I heard one person talk about following her call even when it was at some great cost. I felt that we were able to tell our stories from such a variety of different styles and lives. They emerged from us, and we laughed sometimes and sighed with empathy other times. We sometimes sat around a big table and tossed our thoughts out like brightly colored balls, and other times there was respectful silence after someone had shared. The richness was deep whether in the laughter or the tears or the perplexity or the aha’s. Of course, there’s so much left. As we come toward the end of our time together, the good news is that we can continue these stories and be changed in the process. The process opened up each individual and made of the group an open and cohesive organism. Much lighter and brighter than therapy. Much sharing both with myself and with the class. Good discussion in the group and in twos. Trust. That was certainly the funniest moment—when people discovered that telling their stories to each other could be hilarious, scary, challenging, fascinating, arresting. We ended up feeling closer to each other in the sharing. The end. Amen.
QUILT EXHIBITIONS BY MARGRETA SILVERSTONE
Margreta has two exhibitions, current or upcoming:
First: Margreta Silverstone: Recent Quilts. Dadian Gallery, the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion, Wesley Theological Seminary, 4500 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016. (202) 885-8608. May 27 to July 25, 2008. Reception for the artist, Thursday, June 26, 2008, 5:00 to 7:00pm.
Please note: Dadian Gallery Summer Hours are 11:00am to 4:00pm except holidays, and by appointment.
And then: Margreta will have pieces in the Uhuru Quilter’s Guild 2008 Quilt show, "Hanging By a Thread, III." June 28, 2008, 10:00 am–5:00 pm, Lake Arbor Elementary School, 10205 Lake Arbor Way, Mitchellville, Maryland. Admission: $6.00.
SEEKERS SERMONS IN MAY
May 11—"Burn in Me Your Love"—the Artists Mission Group of Seekers. Rather than a more traditional sermon, we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit with personal stories offered by members of the Artists Group in the style of InterPlay, with full participation by the community throughout our worship time together.
May 4—Worship in the style of Taize (led by Glen Yakushiji). Sprinkled like living water throughout the calendar and liturgical year, Seekers celebrates the Divine Mystery in a Taize style of service. This Sunday we held such a service, filled with the sounds of silence, chanting, prayers of the community, sharing Communion, and hearing the word of God.