Friday, September 30, 2016

A Litany for Conversations on Stewardship of Money, Mission, and Media

What is below was used as part of closing liturgy for the recent Money, Mission, and Media Seminar, a collaborative and ecumenical conversation among ministry leaders in the PCUSA, ELCA, and more.  Details here.  Other Resources here. 


Voice 1: Creator and Sustainer of us all, you made goodness out of nothingness, breathed life into what was once dust, and invited us into your creative work of caring for and nurturing all creation. This story of collaborative care, creativity, and holy possibility binds us one to another.

Voice 2: Alongside the invitation you have extended over and over, you continue to call, equip, and empower us to tell the story of your love for all creation, in word, in image, in action.  

All: May we respond to your invitation with courage and imagination. May we respond to your generosity with generosity, giving of ourselves and our resources freely and without conditions.  

Voice 3: In the midst of frequent narratives of scarcity and perceived limitations, remind us of your call to abundant life and gratitude. Where we are shaken by despair and tempted to pursue self-preservation and isolation, turn our eyes and ears, open our hearts, to the concerns of our neighbors.

Voice 4: Re-frame how we understand money, investments, and invitations to give so we and those we lead can fully live into our call to serve with imagination and love. Where our imagination fails us, show us how all we have can be transformed into resurrection hope alongside our congregations and communities.

All: May we be faithful stewards as we work within economic systems, contextual leaders as we equip others to give in new and old ways, and creative collaborators with new and existing partners for ministry.

Voice 5: Inclusive and loving Christ, you broke conventional understandings of who is in and who is out. You viewed every place and each person as a channel of God’s grace and redemption. Help us to do the same.

Voice 6: In our own time and place, enable us to see local businesses, digital platforms, social networks, community parks, and various places beyond the walls of our church buildings as cathedrals in its fullest definition: sacred spaces for conversation and community-building.

All: May we be faithful servants to our neighbors outside the church walls: those in our neighborhoods, main streets, work places, schools, and all the “third places” in our midst.

Voice 7: Holy Spirit, you dwell within each of us and send us to be both a gathered and scattered people. When we limit your mission only to worship and not community engagement, reduce the gospel to well-crafted theological statements, and become comfortable with variations of privilege and power, confront our conscience and call us back to the vision you have for the world, for the Church, for us. .

Voice 8: Make us cultivators of community and gardeners of justice. Empower us to be agents of welcome and hosts of the stranger. Stir our hearts and minds to ask faithful questions as we extend solidarity alongside our local and distant neighbors.

All: May we listen to and uplift voices long silenced and those who have been marginalized for far too long. May we link arms and join the cause of those labeled least and last among us.

Voice 9: God who includes, who provides, who loves, who guides, who challenges, may our understanding of who you are and how you relate to us frame how we view and relate to one another.

Voice 10: Unify us amidst the divisiveness of both church and world, and guard us against confusing sameness with oneness.

All: May we be faithful stewards and caretakers of the varied gifts and stories, histories and cultures, ministry dreamers, and community leaders in our congregations and communities. May we listen and may we tell the story of how you are at work in the world with imagination and joy.

Voice 11: May we be faithful stewards of our money. Remind us that everything we have is a gift from you. Our money does not own us. Quiet the voices of scarcity and remind us of all the times you have provide for us. Give us the courage to practice unclenching our fists and give our money in ways that are creative, daring, and enlivening. Bless our gifts, multiply them, so that all may know your love for them and this world.

Voice 12: May we be faithful stewards of media. Remind us that the Good News is a story, a Story you have been writing since creation, a story of love, redemption, and reconciliation. Give us the skills or send us the right people to help us tell that story in word and in images, across contexts and platforms, with authenticity and love.

All: May we be faithful stewards of God’s mission in and for the world God so loves. May we encourage God’s people to live into their call as disciples who extend love and tell the story of the Gospel. Amen.

Written and Developed by Rev. Greg Klimovitz and Rev. Rebecca Blake, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Money, Mission, Media: The Beginnings of an On-Going (Ecumenical) Conversation

What would it look like to host a conversation on the varied intersections of stewardship and media and all things ministry in the twenty-first century?

How could we as Presbyterians and Lutherans model ecumenical collaboration critical for church witness in our local cities and neighborhoods?

Would it be possible to host a conversation that would at least acknowledge, if not reduce, the anxiety that surrounds new media and the here-to-stay digital world?

Dare we suggest the possibility of stewardship and digital platforms for generosity and community formation as sacramental, means to encounter God's grace and proclaim the gospel?

As local PCUSA and ELCA ministers, we raised these questions and more to one another over coffee and the occasional beer. We also knew these were questions others in our synod, presbytery, and related congregations were asking.

So, with the respective support of our communities, we recruited voices in the church who are exploring the edges of ministry in a digital world, Adam Copeland, Mihee Kim-Kort, and Keith Anderson, pulled together a panel of practitioners for a fishbowl discussion, and launched #MoneyMissionMedia: Insights & Strategies for 21st Century Ministry.  Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia even graciously offered to host.

We initially targeted 75 conversation partners across both the local ELCA Synod and the Presbytery of Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, over 200 showed up.

I learned much. What I most valued was the praxis of ecumenical collaboration that continues to deconstruct any territorialism that impinges upon our larger Christian witness in and for the world. Even more, the conversations were raw, honest, deeply theological, and rooted in a commitment to contextualized expressions of the gospel.

As our Presbytery's own Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace noted in the opening remarks, "We are indeed in a new Pentecost moment."

May the church dare embrace it.

Here are a few resources from the gathering:

My tweets from that day.
Summary article from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod (ELCA)
Adam Copeland Presentation (Facebook Live)
Mihee Kim-Kort Presentation (Facebook Live)
Fishbowl Conversation with Local Practitioners (Facebook Live)
Keith Anderson Presentation (Facebook Live)
Closing Liturgy

Article by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA

Related post:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Turn and Wonder: On Our Kids Beginning Kindergarten

Every morning, as I watch our #Twinado walk from car to school entrance, I am reminded of just how many hours they will spend with classmates and educators. 

2,400 days and 16,758 hours to be exact- not including snow days, sick days, and early dismissals. 

Then, as I drive away, I say a few prayers. I also give a wave and drop a word of thanks to those faculty standing at the crosswalk who make sure our kids are safe and have the space to learn and grow into the people they were created to be. I even fight a few tears, reminded both how quickly time has gone and how much of parenting involves entrusting our children to the love and care of others.

This last part is especially difficult. 

So I pray again and again that God’s Spirit would hover over the sacred chaos of their education years. 

Turn and Wonder

You turn and you wonder
what might lay ahead
in the classroom
bus ride home 

16,758 hours of possibility
to learn
to discover
to fear
to struggle
to encounter others

Each day a canvas
each moment a drop of paint
bright colors
dark shadows 
a gallery in the making
who you are and yet to be

You are loved
to love
we say as you walk out the door
into the care of others
sisters and brothers 
new friends and neighbors

Ask questions
then ask another 
each mystery not to be solved
a nudge forward
to what has yet to be uncovered

You are not alone
will not define you
you were made in an image
unable to be assessed

Remember this 
when you see her seated next to you
gain a glimpse of the child alone
could be you
looking for a friend 
welcome and belonging 

You are just beginning
faster than we imagined
more brilliant than we could have hoped
unfinished still

Turn and wonder again
each day  
every day
You were created for this
for tomorrow

and every day to come.

Friday, August 26, 2016

#PresbyIntersect Goes Lectionary in Ordinary Time: Storified Conversation on Intersection of Luke, Hebrews, and Jeremiah

Over the last eight weeks or so, there has been a group of Presby nerds, ministry practitioners, ecumenical leaders, and a mosaic of faithful people eager to engage in conversations related to the intersection of faith, life, church, and where and how the church is called to bear witness in the midst of an increasingly polarized world.

#Presbyintersect is the room where it is happening and foodie photos are on the house.

In recent weeks, #presbyintersect has engaged topics that range from the reality of police brutality to trauma informed ministry of presence, power dynamics in church and society to fishbowl conversations with allies, advocates, and activists. This week, Fernando Rodriguez QuiƱones and I facilitated conversations on the Revised Common Lectionary for this 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Spirit did not disappoint, as Jeremiah, Hebrews, and the Gospel of Luke provided more than enough intersectional conversations that hinged on the living and active word.

For those of you looking for a quick wrap-up of the conversation, check out this week's Storify. Then join us next Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. EST.  I may even post a picture of a good drink on the house.