The Relevancy of Love

Posted January 14, 2011 by rhythmsaudrey
Categories: Uncategorized

I’ve been doing a lot of reading, lately, about the future of the Church…everything from sociological studies ( the latest of which claims that while Americans are the most religious culture, that they also exaggerate their actual church attendance by 40%…)… to optimistic tomes with titles like “The Next Christians,” and “Church in the Inventive Age…” to re-reading old favorites with less optimistic titles like “Why the CHurch Must Change or Die.”

As a pastor, I’m concerned about how to care for my congregations in the age of dwindling cultural enthusiasm for the Church… and how to continue the good ministry that we are doing… with fewer and fewer resources.  

 As a Rector, I am wondering how we can continue to operate with our big  budget deficits… and how we can make ourselves attractive to newcomers…  

but as a Priest… I am absolutely clear that the Sacraments will continue to nourish and nurture us with God’s great Love and Grace as long as we seek them out.

So- here’s the question:  I think that you parents of Rhythms of Grace kids know, too, the inherent value and relevancy of God’s Love.  The Church just happens to be the pathway to access that love, sacramentally.  Is that right?  Why DO we bring our kids to Church?

I hope that at Rhythms of Grace that you feel loved, accepted and cared for.  EVEN MORE- I hope that you claim this worship experience as YOUR OWN… as something that is not done FOR or TO you.. but as something in which you are an essential and organic part.

How DO you feel? Share some ideas here.. or on our new trial message board at www.rhythms-of-grace.proboards.com

Love,

Audrey

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Belonging… is it a ‘phase?’

Posted January 13, 2011 by rhythmsaudrey
Categories: Uncategorized

This week I am going to blog everyday … ( Wed to Wed) and see how it goes for our on-line community.

We’ve been chatting about ‘belonging’ and how it relates to our status as Christians… (this all started when we explored the story of Jesus’ baptism).

In 2000, Robert Putnam published a book titled Bowling Alone.  His premise, based on a lot of sociological research, was that Americans were becoming increasingly disconnected from each other dues to shifts in family, work and societal structures and mechanics.  At the time that his book came out, I was a  mother of three young children and full time graduate student up to my ears in PTAs, swim clubs, parents’ groups, the Christian Education Committee at my church, a liasion to the Board of Ed for the Elementary School,  part of a worship team at Div School, in a group for Group Spiritual Direction… I was up to my ears in groups and well- practiced at the Art of Belonging.  I couldn’t grasp what Putnam was saying.

I think  in our culture ( or at least my white, middle-class suburban world… ) that Belonging is, partly, a Stage of Life.

We see it in the Church.  Young parents join church when they have an infant to baptize, they hang in there- often as vital and enthusiastic leaders- through their children’s Confirmation… and then, some begin to drift away as their children, too, move away from the Church.  

At Rhythms of Grace, we have not yet experiened much ‘drift.’  We are too young.  Our founding member- 7 years old when we began- is now 14… but he seems to be going strong.  He and his dad find something valuable about their particiaption in our program.

How do all of you see the concept of  ‘belonging?’  What kind of commitments have you made to particualr groups?  Why some… and not others?  Are you bowling alone… or on our team?

This I do  know- no matter where we are.. how often we show up… or which church’s door we darken… we always belong to God.  Not in a suffocating, controlling way… but in the gentlest, most loving, protective embrace.  For that, I am grateful.

The Value in Belonging

Posted January 12, 2011 by rhythmsaudrey
Categories: Uncategorized

In our January lesson at Rhythms of Grace, we have been talking about the Baptism of Jesus.

In our modern baptismal rite, we consider that one of the ‘benefits’ of baptism is the joining of a community… in a broad, theological sense, the Body of Christ… and in a more parochial sense, a  church community.

Many years ago I was an intern chaplain at a local hospital.  I was eager and anxious to care for my patient’s spiritual needs.  One man who was a long-term patient in the oncology unit asked me if I would baptize him;  he wanted to give himself to the Lord.

I talked with him at length about his faith and his illness and his fears… and we decided, together, that baptism was a good idea.

I shared this good news with a fellow-intern and we hurried down to the Chapel to get the things that we would need for the service. ( Of course, all it really takes is a dixie cup of water and the verbal formula :”I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit..”. but we were new at this and wanted all the trimmings.)  In our trip to the Chapel, we were waylaid by a senior staff member chaplain.  As we explained, breathless, about our Mission in the Name of Christ, the chaplain’s brow grew more furrowed and his face took on a shade of grey.  “No, you’re not,” was his three word response regarding our mission.

“What?!?!”

“One must always be baptized into a community.  To whom will you report this baptism?”

We were dumbfounded.  Shocked.  Disappointed.  Angry and embarrassed.

It was my job to go back to this man and tell him what had transpired.

He took it well, and we prayed together.

He died three days later.

NOW…. what would I have done today nearly a decade later? Not sure.  These days I am under vows of obedience to my Bishop to perform my ministry in keeping with the canons of the Church.

This is a long digression, but a good story I think, that gets us thinking about the value of belonging.

When we are baptized, we join the Body of Christ.

When we are baptized, we also join one branch of the Christian Family Tree.

Rhythms of Grace serves families who have not been comfortable worshipping in a traditional church setting. 

How do you feel about ‘belonging’ to our community at Rhythms of Grace?

What sense of ‘membership’ is important to you in the other areas of your life?

Share your ideas here.  What you share might be a blessing for another.

YOU CAN ALSO FIND THIS POST ON OUR TRIAL MESSAGE BOARD AT WWW.RHYTHMS-OF-GRACE.PROBOARDS.COM  YOU CAN GO THERE TO RECORD YOUR ANSWERS, TOO.

THANKS.

 

About that new format

Posted January 11, 2011 by rhythmsaudrey
Categories: Uncategorized

There’s a new format for a limited time to spark discussion among parents, volunteers and caregivers at Rhythms of Grace: it’s located at http://www.rhythms-of-grace.proboards.com It is free and easy to use. Log on and tell us what you think!

Trying Another Format

Posted January 11, 2011 by rhythmsaudrey
Categories: Uncategorized

I love to blog.

I have this blog … and another one for my musings ( www.joyfulstruggle.wordpress.com)

But… it is not clear to me if all of YOU love to blog.

I am hoping to get some conversation going among Rhythms of Grace parents, volunteers and other friends on the materials that we cover in our worship sessions…. a way of extending the lesson on an adult level… digging deeper into the material and allowing for conversation on the way the lessons touch our lives as parents and caregivers of children on the Autism Spectrum.  BUT:  I’m getting plenty of hits, but not a lot of conversation.

There’s a new place to check in on Rhythms of Grace… in a new format… for a limited time.  I am trying a Message Board.

It is located at www.rhythms-of-grace.proboards.com  Check it out.  Join the conversation.  Tell me if you like the idea of chatting… or would prefer to read blog.  

Your ideas are important.  Thanks for sharing them.

Audrey

A Splash of Water…

Posted January 5, 2011 by rhythmsaudrey
Categories: Uncategorized

… is all it took for the heavens to open, for a dove to descend, and God’s voice to be heard: “This is my Son, the beloved.  In Him, I am well pleased.”

There is some debate in theological circles about who heard that voice… was it only Jesus who heard it ( like a child at a school play sharing a private hug with a parent who whispers in their ear: “I’m soooo proud of you…”)…. or was it broadcast for all to hear ( like a crowd that cheers when a soccer ball makes its way into the net?)

“In him, I am well pleased.”  It’s a lovely message.

How do you affirm your children?

How do you show them or tell them that they are “be-loved”… and that, in them, you are “well pleased?’

Should kids receive lots and lots of affirmation?  Some might say that our kids today are spoiled that way.

Do differently-abled kids or kids on the Spectrum  need a different kind or measure of praise?

What works?  What is frustrating for you, parents?

Please post a reply because what you share here may be a blessing for others.

More to come on the topic of Baptism and Jesus and Church and YOU!

The Other Side of Christmas

Posted December 31, 2010 by rhythmsaudrey
Categories: Uncategorized

So… how was yours?

Ours was just about as I had imagined:  late church, up early to head back to church, late brunch, lots of presents ( an embarrassment of presents, really… not so many next year, remind me), and a big dinner that featured my favorite food groups:  wine, sugar, carbs, red meat and chocolate. 

It was a feast day, for sure… in many ways.

As I write this… and think about how our family celebrates… I realize that it is very predictable.  Right down to who will sit where in the living room during present-opening, what tablecloth we will use for dinner, and what kind of cookies will be on the dessert platter.

What is it like for families with children whose behaviour is, maybe, not so predictable?  For kids who are sensitive to the sounds, tastes and textures of a holiday that only comes around once a year?  For kids who might not relish a living room full of distant cousins… or car rides to homes of relatives whom they only see every so often?

How was it for you?

Where were the struggles?

And, better yet, where was the JOY?

Share with us.

What you post here may be a blessing for another.

Merry Christmas. ( It is Christmas, after all, for 6 more days!)

Audrey