Monday, January 26, 2009

Join the Living in Congregations magazine

Uprising, the all-night interactive Easter vigil we threw last year is explained in the latest Alban Institute's* Congregations magazine.

A few years ago at an Episcopal Easter vigil I noticed that something was missing. Someone, actually. No teenagers were present and only a few people in their twenties or thirties were in the gathered congregation of about 80—and that included me. I remember thinking, How sad, because this is the most creative, sensual service we’ve got going.

That experience re-sparked questions that I, and many others, ponder: What would it take to make the stories and rituals of our tradition meaningful to our rising generations? And how can we share the gifts of our faith with others who would never, ever, dare set foot inside a church?

A deep consideration of those questions led my partner and me to form an organization called Join the Living, whose broad mission is to connect our next generations with spiritual practices and community. In the spring of 2008 we hosted our first collaborative experiment: an all-night interactive Easter vigil in the desert of southern Arizona. We called it Uprising, a celebration of the force of life that cannot be stopped.

Continue reading here.

*The Alban Institute was founded in 1974 as a major resource for American congregations facing the challenges of a changing society. Alban stands at the forefront of knowledge and experience regarding congregational vitality and positive trends across denominations and faith traditions. Our work is helping shape the strong congregations of tomorrow.

Flash Mob at the Cathedral

At St. Paul's Cathedral in London Everyone brought a walkman along and at 18:46 pressed play and danced. I just love this particular flash mob scene. The Spirit is alive and kicking it outside the cathedral at least.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Upcoming Tucson Events Worth Noting

A lecture by a leading Jewish scholar and a Hootnanny for peace are two out of the ordinary events happening January 25 & 26 in Tucson. We were excited to hear about them and plan to attend. Just wanted to pass the news on to Tucson folks.

First up is Amy-Jill Levine. Dr. Levine is Jewish and writes and lectures about Jesus. I heard her speak once in seminary and was blown away by her insights. This is an incredible opportunity to hear her in person.

Jesus: The Misunderstood Jew
Special Lecture by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine

Amy-Jill Levine Jesus: The Misunderstood Jew
Date: Monday - January 26, 2009
Time: 7:00PM
The Tucson Jewish Community Center

Jesus of Nazareth followed the Torah of Moses, found inspiration in the Prophets of Israel, and offered a teaching that some Jewish men and women found compelling. Yet too often Christians and Jews incorrectly regard Jesus as rejecting Judaism. Prof. Levine' lecture will explore her recent research on this historical Jesus and his portrayal in the earliest sources. She will explain how understanding Jesus in his Jewish context can bring new meaning to his parables, his politics, and his piety. At the same time, this new understanding can offer new a path for Jewish-Christian relations.

Amy-Jill Levine is the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Department of Religious Studies & Graduate Department of Religion. This lecture is sponsored by Arizona Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Arizona.

Hootnanny for Peace
Jews, Muslims, and Christians eating and singing together

A Multi-faith Folk Festival
Date: Sunday - January 25, 2009
Time: 6:00PM
St. Francis in the Foothills Methodist Church, 4625 E River Road

Jews, Muslims and Christians, will gather together to sing folk songs, peace songs, and oldies by Judy Collins, Peter Paul and Mary, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seager and The Weavers. Added to this will be Jewish Folk songs, and Sufi Dancing. Those gathered will also eat and pray together. Are these not the ingredients for creating Peace on Earth?

The evening starts with a Pot Luck dinner at 6 pm.

Organizers have asked that if your last name begins with
A-J: Bring a Main Dish for eight.
K-Q: Bring a Salad for eight.
R-Z: Bring a Dessert for eight.

Members of the Tucson Mosque will teach dancing. Three folk groups will lead the singing, which starts at 6:45 pm.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Community in the neighborhood

Loss is everywhere it seems lately. Jobs, retirement savings, houses.

Community helps make the sting not hurt quite so bad. Just today an older neighbor and her dog came over to visit our dogs at the Howard House. She said she hadn't been feeling too well. "Sometimes it seems life is slipping away from me," she said. But the sunshine and conversation we shared in the backyard made her feel a little better, she said.

And then as I walked her back to her house since she was feeling a little wobbly, we met two other neighbors we didn't know. Walking with dogs always helps with these connections it seems. We admired our new acquaintance's beautiful, shiny white hair. Learned her accent was Russian, that her husband had died just three years ago, and she'd recently lost her house in a fraud case. And then she and her son walked on with us. Soon we were sitting in another backyard. More connections were made. Conversation and fresh oranges from trees planted by our neighbor years ago were shared. I'm sure we'll all visit with one another again soon. This is what neighborhoods are for. And I'm grateful for my neighbors who shared the gift of community and presence with me today.