Sermon: Be. Loved. Beloved.

peanuts 1“Be. Loved. Beloved.”

(January 13, 2013) Each one of us is unique, marked and known in our imperfections, scuffs, and rough places. And yet we are known and loved intimately by God, claimed and called God’s own. (Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)

The exercise I use in this sermon is a simple one to try on your own with a bag of peanuts (still in their shells), and has the added bonus of coming with a snack as long as you don’t have allergies. I first learned this at a mother-daughter seminar in my teens, when it was used to illustrate a parent’s love for a child. I have never forgotten that lesson. The seminar was hosted by Planned Parenthood, St. Johnsbury VT.

Sermon: The Power of Power

hand fist power“The Power of Power”

(January 6, 2013) In any given injustice or imbalance, one must always trace the power dynamic. Who has power? Who is being dis-empowered? Who is afraid of losing power? Who willingly relinquishes it? Jesus’ life is filled with the questions, and he calls us to think of true power very differently… (Matthew 2:1-12)

Martial Art and Spiritual Discipline

In honor of my belt test this evening, I’m reflecting on why I enjoy my new-found sport of Taekwondo. I started over the summer because, after months of watching Arianna do it, I thought it looked like fun. I’ve found it’s so much more than that.

I took dance lessons as a child and young woman, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was a great source of confidence and poise, and great exercise. At the same time, the world of dancing can be difficult for a young woman who is not exactly built like a ballerina. I loved it, but hated the competition aspects of it, and often felt entirely too tall, heavy, and curvy for the rest of the group.

Taekwondo is wonderfully inclusive of all body types and skill levels, and although there are opportunities for competition, one’s greatest competition is with oneself. Like dance, it is great exercise and promotes poise and confidence. Like dance it celebrates both the beauty and power of the human body.

But I’ve found a greater gift from Taekwondo. I’ve found spiritual disciplines.

Recieving my yellow stripeIn the context of Taekwondo, I also practice patience (never easy for me!), humility (have you met me? then you’ll know this is a challenge for me!), physical and mental discipline, times of silence and meditation, and a respect for my instructors and those with higher ranks that almost borders on– dare I say it– obedience. If you told me a year ago that I would bow to a person whenever I entered the gym, I’d have laughed at you. Now I happily do so out of respect for Masters Choi and Winters’ expertise and willingness to teach.

These concepts– patience, humility, discipline, meditation, and obedience– are also central to my faith as important spiritual practices, and yet, they have never come easily for me (not that they should). In fact, I’ve never felt that I made good progress in any of them, despite knowing their importance for me as both Christian and pastor. But in the practice of the Martial Art form, I have also found a spiritual element that strengthens my own personal spiritual journey and makes me, I believe, a better spiritual leader and spiritual person overall.