Friday, February 24, 2017

Love and Marriage

The most read newspaper article of 2016 was not anything political or about the election,
it was Alain de Botton's NYT article "Why you will marry the wrong person"

Krista Tippett has a discussion wth Alain in this podcast that is brilliant, funny and insightful.
I really encourage everyone in a relationship, or hoping to be in a relationship, to listen and learn.
My cheat sheet of insights:

+ we are all broken, and need to approach the other with that understanding

+ we naturally give children more benefit of the doubt -when one is fussy or says "I hate you", we ask ourselves if they are hungry or tired or had a bad day.  We need to approach our partner the same way

+We are all hard to live with (but most of us don't realize it)

+the mundane is the reality of lived love - who cleans the toilet is a service of love

+self-righteousness is an enemy of love.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What its like to be a pastor

Being a pastor is sometimes extremely lonely.  

You are taught in seminary:

Be professional
Don't bring your life into the pulpit (unless its a cute hokey story)
Don't cry
Don't show that you are struggling
Don't ask for help, prayers or support --
                            Pastors give those things, you don't ask for them.

The congregation needs to know you are strong
That you can be leaned on
That your family is a shining example of perfect love
That you have it all together
That you always know where God is and what God is saying
That you are there for them - the congregation - all the time.

This is what you are taught to believe it means to be a pastor.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Yoga & Christianity

Sue Debord is going to be doing chair yoga 10 AM & gentle yoga at 11 AM on Wednesdays

Some people struggle with the use of yoga by Christians.  They point to the fact that yoga is a practice of Hinduism and comes out of a different culture.  This is true.

However,  Christianity has a long history of integrating the symbols and practices of other religions into our practice.   Like a pendulum, Christians go back and forth between acceptance and rejection of borrowed practices.

The Puritan movement in the 1600's is when Christians started to reject traditions that were not Biblical, to seek a more "pure" Christianity.   This was just after the big split from the Roman Catholic Church so many of the traditions of catholicism were rejected: icons, incense, churches that were ornate with stained glass, the Rosary, clergy robes etc etc.   Puritan churches were simple, no instrumental music, no decorations, just preaching of the Word.

This impulse to go back to "pure" Christianity is still seen in many denominations and is the root compulsion at the center of those who reject Halloween, yoga, Christmas trees etc.

In the other direction, Christians have often accepted with curiosity and delight new practices and traditions of peoples that they lived amongst.  For example when Roman Christians entered into what is now Germany and encountered the winter solstice traditions that honored gods of light & life with cutting down and decorating of fir trees, the Christians embraced this tradition and incorporated it into our Christmas celebrations leading to Christmas trees.  When in Scandinavia, the tradition of counting down to the solstice with candles became our Advent wreath.  These traditions are not universal.  Christmas trees and Advent wreaths are not used by Christians in Ghana, China or Mexico because they are borrowed traditions from Northern European pagan culture.  Only when you live in a cold climate do these traditions speak to you and have meaning for you.

Christianity is a Middle Eastern religion, the traditions of Jesus and his followers were desert traditions:  washing feet, anointing with oil, dipping bread into wine.  But for Northern European Christians these traditions don't speak.  They are strange and uncomfortable.  So we discovered and borrowed and transformed other traditions so they spoke to us about Jesus's love.

This is what people are now doing with yoga.  Christian traditions of sitting and listening in church isn't speaking to some people anymore.  Yoga's movement, holding, stretching, breathing and finding balance is speaking to us in our modern culture.  The Holy Spirit is working in people through this practice.  So lets use it!  Lets connect with God in the ways that speak to us and call us to know Jesus' love.

What traditions speak to you?   What traditions have lost meaning over time?

What questions do you have about yoga?    Write in the comments!!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Marriage Pyramid

In doing research for my sermon this week I came across this really good article from Psychology Today.  It has a lot of great stuff in it about marriage and divorce.  One concept that was totally new to me was the Pyramid of Marital Needs.  I have never heard of this and it was one of those "why didn't I think of this?" moments that I thought I would share.

Safety = Mutual Trust, Honesty,
Kindness, providing for each others basic needs (shelter, food, etc)
freedom from fear of abuse

Love = Mutual affection, connection wanting the best for the other,
common interests, fun together

Esteem = personal self esteem in yourself and esteem from & for the spouse, mutual respect, common goals in life, working together

Actualization = supporting each other in reaching one's full potential, creativity, spirituality, discovery.

Unfortunately, there are way to many couples who don't even share the two foundational pieces of the pyramid - Safety and Love.  Safety, particularly freedom from abuse, is critical to moving up the pyramid.  You can't work on any other problem in marriage unless you have safety including mutual trust and honesty.  Love is also foundational, it is that feeling inside but also just sharing common interests and wanting the best for the other person.  When you honestly don't care what happens to the person then you should not be married to them.

Esteem and Actualization are growth areas that first require you to work on yourself before you can work on them as a couple.  You have to have self esteem before you can have esteem for your partner or for a co-worker.  I have seen many people ruin a relationship because they didn't have the self-esteem to stand side-by-side with their partner.  They wanted to be on top, or better than their partner and so when their partner got accolades then they were jealous, defensive and often brought their partner down.  You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else!

Actualization is one of the hardest areas and I think that it is the place where you see a couple go from and "ok" marriage to a truly "happy" marriage.  Actualization is reaching forward in life, trying new things, exploring new places, and having the freedom to make mistakes without fear of being ridiculed.  When a husband supports his wife in taking a new class, trying a new activity or going to a new place on her own without being insecure, then she can become the best "her" God made her to be.  And likewise with husbands.  Everyone needs to be able to pursue new things, and couples need to try new things together.  When we don't do this, the marriage may be ok but boring and not as fun. Its critical to be able to fail and know your spouse is there for you, and to give each other the freedom to grow without growing apart.

What area of the pyramid is solid in your marriage?
Which area needs work?