Wondering about the hummingbirds present throughout my blog?hummingbird Web LOGO point left

I’ve selected the hummingbird as a visual reminder of the way I choose to live my life both personally and in working with others. Native to North, South and Central America, hummingbirds have been referred to as New World birds and as might be expected have become associated with a number of symbolic and cultural meanings throughout the centuries.

With love, peace and joy in life as a common thread, the hummingbird is seen as adaptable and resilient due to its ability to tirelessly fly great distances relative to its physical size.

The hummingbird also carries with it the spiritual significance of resurrection. This comes as a result of the hibernation-like state it goes into at night only to return to life in the morning continuing its work of flitting from one nectar-filled flower to another spreading new life in its wake.

The hummingbird as a symbol can inspire us in many ways. To love and enjoy the sweetness of life; to remain persistent in pursuing our life passions; and to take comfort in knowing that not only can we be a part of bringing new life to others, it also awaits us at every turn.

Peace,  Leigh+

Religious Freedom or Discrimination??

As a member of the Christian denomination, the Episcopal Church, we begin worship with a gathering prayer called the Collect. In this past Sunday’s Collect  we acknowledged God’s teaching that whatever we do without love is worth nothing.

Someone please explain to me then how the legislation pertaining to religious freedom passed by the Arizona state legislature and awaiting the Governor’s final decision, is about love much less religion.

While I don’t hesitate to express my views in conversation with others, I don’t usually write publically about LGBT issues, yet this is something in which I choose not to remain silent. Some of you may interpret this as my preaching politics. Some of you may even agree with the proposed legislation in Arizona. Some of you may feel just as offended as I that a state government would propose what is in essence a (thinly) disguised Jim Crow law.

Some of you may be wondering how this personally affects me since I am not L, G, B, or T.  Many people I know though are. People I respect and care about. People I admire. People I know not to be any different from me other than their romantic relationships are (in general) with same sex individuals. And the truth is, discrimination in any form hurts everyone in one way or another.

Another reason I find this offensive is because it’s being done under the guise of religious freedom. The bill defines Exercise of Religion to mean “the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”

Religious or not. LGBT or not. If this wording doesn’t scare you, it should. Especially the last line, “whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” This sounds to me that it’s completely left up to individual interpretation and determination of what constitutes a religious belief.  In other words, one large blanketed excuse to discriminate.

Religion was used to keep blacks down pre-Civil Rights and now it’s being used to keep LGBT men and women down. What or who is next? Formed deeply in a Christian faith tradition (that’s what they do to us in seminary 😉 ), anything that’s done to oppress other people is not about love. I’m hard pressed to find any examples in scripture of Jesus either engaging in or supporting acts of oppression in the name of God.

Jesus doesn’t call us to condemn nor discriminate against others. Jesus calls us to spread the Good News and the Good News is about love, forgiveness and salvation.

So how is this related to my RV travels? One of the ways we are called to speak out in protest of this bill is through the act of boycott. Arizona is/was one of my travel destinations next winter. Beside the warm weather, it’s home to a number of friends of mine…a seemingly perfect place to go to escape the winter weather of northern IL.  Now what?

Florida is looking pretty good right now!hummingbird Web LOGO point left

Your well thought out comments are welcome with the exception of any hateful spewing or condemnation of others.

Choosing Life

Many of my friends from church have often heard me talk about a Bible commentary series entitled Feasting on the Word.  There are also daily meditation books based on this series entitled Daily Feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word.

Oftentimes when preparing a sermon, I come across bits and pieces from the commentaries that I can’t say any better than the author already has. So with that in mind, here is a selection from Brett Younger’s* homiletical perspective on the Book of Deuteronomy 30:15-20 in which Moses (before his death and subsequent transfer of leadership to Joshua) is laying out for the people what their options are as they prepare to enter the Promised Land, i.e. choosing life or choosing death.

(In my humble opinion) Brett’s words are relevant for all of us, church-going or not.

Choosing life means, “Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul. Give to the poor. Fight for justice. Care for the hurting. Treat others fairly. Share food with the hungry.

Learn things you have told yourself you would never learn. Enjoy simple things. Play with children. Laugh often, long, and loud. Cry when it is time to cry. Be patient with your own imperfections as well as the imperfections of others. Celebrate sex with the one to whom you have given your life. Surround yourself with what you love-whether it is family, friends, pets, music, nature or silence.

Walk around the block. Turn off the television. Get together with your friends. Invite a stranger to lunch or dinner. Clean out a drawer. Read a book of poetry. Quit doing what is not worth your time. Do something so someone else will not have to. Give money to a cause you care about. Stop arguing. Apologize to someone, even if it was mostly his/her fault. Forgive someone, even if he/she does not deserve it. Have patience. Stop having patience when it is time to tell the truth. Figure out what you hope for and live with that hope.”

And specifically for my church-going friends…”Worship with all your heart. Pray genuinely. Love your church. Believe that God loves you. Remember the stories of Jesus. See Christ in the people around you. Share God’s love with someone who has forgotten it. Delight in God’s good gifts. See that all of life is holy. Open your heart to the Spirit. Search for something deeper and better than your own comfort. Live in the joy beneath it all. Let God make your life wonderful!”

I will say it again; I couldn’t have said or summed it up any better. Thank you Brett Younger and Feasting on the Word.  

Peace, Leigh+

* Brett Younger is an Associate Professor of Preaching at the McAffee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA