Several things collided this week to create a sermon. One was the ever-wise Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney writing about David and Bathsheba. (If you don’t read her work, you should. Stop reading this and go read Dr. Gafney. Just go.) Ok, I am assuming if you’re reading this then you’ve already read what Dr. […]
I feel like I preach this gospel every time I return from vacation, but guys: Vacation is a WONDERFUL thing. This year, I broke my own precedent and took 6 days off of work after General Convention. 6 days where I could just sleep, knit, watch British murder mysteries, and sleep some more. (And also […]
I am well and truly back from General Convention now. I have taken enough naps, petted my cats enough, knit enough, and reflected enough to be back from the headspace of 10 frantic days in Austin. I always approach General Convention with the same sense of creeping dread. “Oh dear God, this will be awful. […]
Over 30 people representing more than fifteen communities visited St. Francis House this past Saturday for Thrive, an annual gathering of children’s, youth, and young adult ministry leaders from across the Diocese of Milwaukee. The goal of this summer gathering is to connect leaders, build bridges from our the areas where we spend our time (for example, junior high Sunday school) to consider where students come to us from and where they go next in order to be present to the whole of a student’s lifelong formation, and resource each other, firmly convinced that the wisdom is in the room.
This year’s guest speaker was Melissa Droessler, founding co-director at Isthmus Montessori Academy and Isthmus Montessori Academy Public. She engaged us with dynamic teaching and conversation around the four planes of human development and talked with us about preparation of environment and ourselves.
Wonderfully, we are developing a strong network of folks with a heart for children and youth and formation in the Church. If you would like to learn more or become a part of this network, please send me a note to let me know.
What follows are some photos from the day, a note from an attendee, and some resources that came up in the course of the afternoon session. I hope they are helpful to you! We are already making initial plans for next year’s gathering. If you would like to receive info about that event, send me a note at the above link.
Very best, and God’s good peace,
|The welcome table!|
|Deanna Clement leads the gathering in music at our opening worship.|
|Singing the psalms.|
|Melissa Droessler was a source of encouragement and challenge.|
|Among those folks who registered, we had 18 first-time
participants this year and 7 returning.
|Attendees were lay and clergy, volunteer and paid, representing
more than 15 different churches across southern Wisconsin.
|More of the gathering.|
|One of the attendees and I wore the same clothes, accidentally.
In such situations, I am told that a photo is required.
From an Attendee…
is, what happens when one has no more to write? Do I put the pen down or – and what is worse? -risk flagrant frivolity? Ten pages full of practice signatures anticipating future relevance. But what, in the absence of something clear to say, are the alt…
It’s odd, sometimes, to see the ways that life may form apparent coincidences. At times, I want to be like Morpheus from The Matrix and assert that there is no such thing as coincidence, only providence. And me being me, I might say only Divine Pr…
Beginning a new job carries with it many firsts: first paycheck, first vestry meeting to lead, first major decision, etc. Most of these get covered in seminary, or at least a nice pamphlet from Forward Movement or the Alban Institute. (Tips: only change things you really have to at first. This should never include […]
Okay, so: storytime. But at the risk of killing the story, let me give you some background.
What I have discovered while training with the Army is that structures that the Army builds are uses are very functional, but seldom are pretty. In fact, there are very few beautiful things when one is training with the Army. Things tend towards function and uniformity, which makes sense, because it’s the Army and that’s kinda what we do most of the time. When you go downrange and into the trees, maybe you could look toward the foliage for something beautiful, but more than likely you will be counseled to smell the roses later, if any drill sergeant finds out what you are doing.
Here’s where the story starts:
I don’t remember how far into training I was that I finally wrote to my wife and told her that we were going to go look at beautiful things when I got home. But I did write that and we did go find beautiful things when I was done. We went to the Como Conservatory in St. Paul. Took plenty of time in the greenhouse, and the zen garden, we walked through the Como Zoo that day, too. But what especially held my attention that day was looking at the bonsai trees.
|This coin is actually available from the Daily Stoic|
What I anticipate is that, since this is bonsai and a part of the Japanese Garden at Como Conservatory, there was no small measure of yin and yang intended with this. But more of what I was struck by was the Western concept of momento mori, or “Remember your death.” I think momento mori is something used by teenagers when they’re trying to be edgy and goth, but more to my point, I think it is better suited to remind us that none of us gets out of this life alive. And, at times, it may be the case that you carry around a totem to remind yourself of this idea. And in fact, whomever began training this tree decided that the tree would be wound around the sign of its death.
I had something of a visceral reaction to this tree. The placard said that it’s and Eastern White Cedar, which I like (cedar always seems to have some kind of gravitas to it). But more specifically, bonsai is always intentional. And so when someone decided to build new life on a previous death experience, that’s resurrection if I’ve ever heard of it.
There was another tree in the bonsai display that I also want to tell you about, dear readers. I don’t know whether this one was actually in training as a bonsai, but it was in with all the other bonsais, so therefor I’m going to tell you about it. This one seemed to do nothing but proclaim death and resurrection, on more than one level.
This tree was never supposed to grow. I mean, that’s what usually happens when something is irradiated. The camphor tree that gave the seed that this one sprouted from stood about a half a mile from ground zero in Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. I can’t imagine what kind of obliteration that tree was surrounded by. And really, the fact that the tree gave viable seeds after that is astounding enough. But as if to make death and resurrection all the more real, there are seeds of friendship and cooperation between Nagasaki and Saint Paul; they are sister cities.
I mean, why should any city in Japan work with another in the US? Obliterating someone with nuclear weapons has the ability to drive a wedge between people. But nonetheless, here in front of me, was a tree that’s parent should have died, in a city where it’s seed should never have been given as a gift. And yet.
I made a joke the other week that the only thing that has changed for my preaching during the Trump Administration has been that I can no longer write sermons prior to Fridays. Nowadays, enough horror will occur later in the week that people need to hear it addressed. This week, with the several high-profile […]