Monday, October 31, 2005

Go Google Yourself

Have you ever tried googling yourself? It seems to me to be a 21st century version of "this is your life." When you google yourself, or yahoo yourself, or *insert favorite search engine here* yourself, you get to see what about you is floating around in the cyber space. If you disappeared off the planet tomorrow, taking with you all paper records and such, this would be what was left to remember you by.

When I googled myself, I found that every single link where my name came up had something to do with religion. Either it was something from St. Andrews, the church I interned at, something from seminary, from the presbyterian group I belonged to in college, or something from General Assembly when I was a Youth Advisory Delegate (in fact, the very first link that popped up was my YAD profile which included perhaps the worst picture taken of me ever - don't give into temptation and look unless you're looking for a Halloween scare!).

My first thought was "sheesh, I need to get more of a life." All people will know me for is what I do in the church or church-related organizations... what about my academic prowess, or my devotion to music, or my ability to host a good shinding, or my love of reading, or my general joyful (and sometimes silly) way of being? What about these things, huh?

Well, Amy, you may certainly say, it's not as though Google is the end all and be all of your existence - even if you and all physical traces of you were disappeared off this earth, we'll stick around to tell about your obsession with music and your occasional smarty pants moment, and definintely your enthusiastic self. That's one of the great things about friends and family - they'll remember you and all that made you - even the things you wish they wouldn't!

Still, even if all that was left of me were these googled links, I suppose it wouldn't be so bad. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches and one could do worse than be remembered for her work for and love of God.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yippy Skippy!

I passed! I passed!

On Tuesday I passed my presbytery exam and am feeling rather joyous about it. I was so blessed and honored to see many of you there and to know that those who couldn't be there were thinking about me. All your prayers and well wishes are probably why the moment I stepped in the pulpit, I was as calm as can be.

Now that I'm officially official, I feel great. Even though I've been here for two months, there has been this small part of me that wasn't here. I didn't want to feel completely at home yet because there was a slim possibility that this wouldn't be my home after all. And now that possibility is no more and I know beyond any doubts that this is my place, this is my home. And that feels really good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

somewhere over the rainbow

It's no secret that I hate to fly. I have an irrational fear of flying - as in telling me it's safer to be on a plane than in a car does me no good because I'm irrational - and even though I used to fly all the time (I was on over a dozen planes this summer alone) I get frightened. I've made my peace with God several times over - sometimes several times on just one flight - and I've even been known to make out a will or go over any thoughts I might have for a memorial service with people before I get on a plane. Melodramatic? Sure, but remember that key word, irrational.

I visited my sister and family this weekend (it was her senior recital) and so I got to fly on a plane. And it wasn't just any plane - it was a LITTLE plane. As in 50 seater, as in you get to feel the bumps in the air so much better, as in Amy's least favorite make of her least favorite mode of transportation. The flight over to Chicago was okay - I found myself sitting next to a woman who is a Methodist pastor in South Carolina and so I was distracted by talking shop. The flight on the way back, however... "Just a little turbulence" the captain says. HAH! I felt like I was traveling down a gravel road in an old pickup with no shocks. This camper was not happy.

About 10 minutes into the flight I looked out the window and noticed something interesting. I could see the shadow of the plane on the clouds below us - that wasn't unusal - but I saw something else. Around the shadow of our plane was a circular rainbow. I'd never seen anything like it. This rainbow didn't disappear in a few moments like other rainbows I've seen from planes - it stayed in sight, stayed around our plane's shadow, for a long time. In fact, it wasn't until we had finally cleared the turbulence, about 20 minutes later, that the rainbow disappeared from sight.

Now I'm sure someone well-versed in the sciences could talk to me about the sun's position and the clouds and whatever else would explain my rainbow. But that's not important to me. What is important is that when I was scared I was given a sign of hope. I didn't look at this rainbow surrounding my plane's shadow and think - well, that's a sure sign we're going not going to crash - I looked at it and thought: hey God, thanks. Thanks for reminding me that no matter what, no matter what scares me, no matter if this plane makes it to Dulles or not, you're with me, always with me.

I know that - I feel that - I live that truth - that God is always there... but sometimes it's nice to have a reminder.

Monday, October 03, 2005

What is prayer?

For some of us prayer consists of a few words we say before dinners, before going to bed, before tests. For some of us prayer means long periods of conversation with the Almighty. For some of us prayer is taking small moments of silence during our day.

Prayer can be many things. Our Directory for Worship from our church’s constitution recognizes prayer as speech, song, silence, dance, art, and so much more. There are so many ways in which we may pray; the important thing is that we do pray. Bur that can be more challenging than it sounds. Prayer doesn’t always make it in to our daily schedules and sometimes we don’t even know what to pray for.

I’m going to let you in on a secret, something I didn’t learn until my second year of seminary: prayer is work. Seriously! For some people it comes easier than others but all of us will experience periods when prayer is just not something we take time to do, or know how to do, or have the desire to do. But even when we cannot find the strength or passion to pray, we can pray for that strength, that passion.

During the next few weeks in the life of the church we are focusing on our growth in faith, including inner growth. I encourage each of you to think about your prayer life. Think about how you can deepen, strengthen your relationship with God. Consider setting apart time each day to spend with God. Even if you cannot find words to express yourself, you can listen in the silence for the voice of God.

You may also consider joining a prayer group. Starting in this month, we are forming prayer groups for those interested. If you do have an interest in joining a group that meets regularly, either to pray for specific people and places or to explore different styles of prayer, please let me know.

John Calvin, that illustrious theologian we Presbyterians love so much, called prayer the chief act of faith. It is at the heart of our worship, the heart of who we are as the people of God. I pray that each of us would find our own hearts filled with the love of the one to whom we pray.