Friday, June 5, 2009


hey folks. is looking better and better and now is my new blogging home. if you are still following me here, please change my address in your reader and keep up with me there...

i just posted on how i hope to get back into painting and would love your feedback.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


this weekend, i graduate from seminary. i am growing up and moving on, in many ways, by staying where i am. i am not changing addresses. i am not finding new job (yet). i even still have to take classes until the end of 2009.

the biggest change: realizing i want to be an artist.

to the rest of the world, this may not come as a shock. i was an art major in college. i have a BFA. i enjoy painting with kids. i carry colored pencils in my purse more often than i carry lip gloss. but, i always just thought it was who i was--not something i did, especially not to make a living.

but as i grow, one of the major things i have learned in seminary is that i want to make a living doing things that i believe in, and love. and if that is the case, art will always be a part of making a living.

i keep running into emotions around the changes that are happening that i do not expect. fear is the biggest. i am afraid i cannot make money making art. i am afraid i will fail before i even try. this fear is so palpable, i am fighting to keep it from tying me down, paralyzing me, and restricting me from even trying.

and so i will try. this is step one. i am moving my blog over to, which will also include an online portfolio, and links to an shop that is under construction.

this is an experiment in a life of minstry, service and art. can I integrate the parts of myself into a creative life that serves the world? simple as it sounds, this is the sincere question that will drive this experiement in my life. the least i can do is try.

and fyi... is still underconstruction. by the end of the week, i hope to have the kinks worked out and an shop up and running. we shall see.

Monday, May 4, 2009

intimate moments in public

this morning while frantically filing my gas tank, late as usual, two cop cars pull into the gas station behind an innocuous looking four door. in the short time that it took my car to suck down a few gallons of gas, the two cops had two young men out of the car, cuffed and were patting them down.

i felt like a peeping tom. here were these young men, probably not more that a handful of years younger than me, being restrained. in a exceptionally basic way, their freedom to move was being denied. and once cuffed, an authority was touching and feeling them. touches that in another context would be considered intimate, but because of uniforms, restraints, hardware and context, are extremely public.

my read on this is scene is colored by too many lenses to name. my own context. i have only been in a car that was pulled over once, and i was not the driver. i am white, and have lived in cities where that seriously drives down the likelihood that cops look twice at you. yet, i am the child of a lawyer who was sure to teach his children their rights at the hands of authority, and how to play the game if pulled over. and in oakland, not a few miles from where a traffic stop took a fatal turn in march, i cannot imagine being a cop in this city and not confronting that reality everyday. nor can i imagine being a young man cuffed in this city, knowing the history, and the fate of the shooter in that incident. these are only the beginnings of the forces at work as that cop rolled up the young man's sleeve and enclosed his wrists in steel.

what feels private is public, and so i turned away, tucked my chin down, replaced the gas pump and drove to holy hill.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

to keep from eating paint.

i recently tweeted that i want to paint so badly i can taste it. i didn't realize how that sounded until four or five replies that made don't-eat-paint jokes. but, i have found in my deep desire recently to draw more, paint more, and devote my time to these creative and seemingly earthly pursuits that i am starting to make art in unexpected places. i wonder if people presbytery meetings and at chapel services and classes on theodicy are put off or confused by my art making during these solemn and sacred events. i hope not. i hope they realize that it is my way to connect to the Divine and those around me, and that i finally feel comfortable enough (or desperate enough) to make art in a public spaces where that is not generally done.

above, my prayer for the presbytery meeting last week, coming out of the worship experience that surrounded the vote on constitutional amendments, in particular a reading of Ephesians 4:1-6.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ephesians 1 a la abbykk

yesterday i preached on ephesians 1 at mbcc. the translation we are using for this series on ephesians is the translation i completed during my greek intensive in january with the help of dr. polly coote. below is the translation of the first chapter, the questions i asked mbcc, and some form of the thoughts i tried to share. it's the outline of what i worked with, but for anyone who has been a part of a worship where the sermon involves discussion, what i start with or expect is never exactly what happens. its beauty is in the unpredictability and the places where wisdom surprises us.


Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to the ones who are in Ephesus and the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace for you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God the father of the Lord of us, Jesus Christ, the one who blesses us with each spiritual blessing in the heavenly things in Christ.

As God chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, for us to be holy and blameless in front of him in love, predestining us for the purpose of adoption by means of Jesus Christ into him, according to the favor of his will, for glorious praise of his grace, which favored us in the beloved.

In whom we have the redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of the transgressions because of the wealth of his grace, which God made abound for us in all wisdom and in understanding, making known to us the mystery of his will according to his pleasure, which he planned by it, for the purpose of the arrangement of the completion of times, all things to sum themselves up in Christ, on the heavens and on the earth in him.

In whom we were called, predestined, according to the will of the one doing everything, according to the resolution of his will, in order for us to be in glorious praise of him, the ones who have hoped before in Christ.

In whom you all also after hearing the word of the truth, the good news of our salvation in whom, also after believing sealed by the holy spirit of the promise, which is the pledge of our inheritance, deliverance of possession, for praise of his glory.

On account of this, I too having heard of the faith of you in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the holy. I do not cease being thankful on behalf of you, remembering you in the time of my prayer. So that God of the Lord of us, Jesus Christ, the glorious father, may give you spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened to know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious possessions in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us, the faithful, according to the working of the might of his strength.

He worked in the Christ after raising him from the dead and seating him in at his right hand in the heavenly things, over every ruler and authority, earthly and heavenly power and every name being called not only in this age but also in the future; and God subordinated everything under his feet and he gave him as head of everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who is filling everything in everyway.

The Word of God.

Let us pray.

What words stood out to you in all of that?

Given it's reputation, predestination is very often on the top of that list for me.

What is predestination?

How do we think about it and associate in wider culture?


Together, let's reflect on what this passage in particular... not culture, not Calvin, not even other parts of the Bible... just this chapter of Ephesians... can tell us about predestination.

In Ephesians 1, we encounter the word in two places-

v. 5: "for the purpose of adoption"
If adoption is the purpose of predestination, how does that challenge your understanding of predestination? What difference does adoption make to predestination?

v. 10: paralleled with "called". The writer of Ephesians very often repeats synonyms or similar concepts to drive his point home.
What is call? What does an association with "call" tell us about what predestination is?

We also encounter God over as over as God the father (pardon the masculine language if that offends you.) throughout this chapter. But, the plans of a parent are different than the plans of a boss, for example. What does the metaphor of God as father tell us about predestination?

So, in your own words, how might you define or think about predestination based on this passage?

God's plan is for us to be adopted into God's family. For me, the heart of this concept of predestination is God choosing us to be brothers and sisters in Christ, receiving our inheritance through the Holy Spirit. Predestination is an understanding of God's hope and call for us to live in community as family. As siblings share, we share our inheritance of grace and the responsibility of God's work in the world. This does not have to imply that we have no control, simply that since the beginning of creation, God has reached out to adopt us, and God hopes we respond to that love. Over and over again, throughout the Biblical narrative, we see God choosing people--individuals and communities to be a part of the divine family. Often it is those least expected to be chosen. But, again and again, God chooses us with a love that is without boundaries.

God does not stop there. The author of Ephesians lists many of the fruits of our adoption, though often in vague language. We are redeemed and forgiven, our hearts are enlightened and we are humbled by Jesus. We are all a part of the body, with Christ as the head. But as with the adoption into a family, the process does not stop with the legal paperwork, it only begins. God's process is only at the beginning when we are adopted through Christ into God's family.

Ezekiel 36:24-28, is one of the many places that God is explained as choosing people, lays out many of the processes that are a part of the transformation that begins at our adoption. God gathers us, cleanses us, gives us a new heart and spirit. God will move us to follow the divine call and the divine ways. All of this is a part of the promise God makes when God adopts us. The process of faith that begins with Jesus is just that... a process. As we grow in our families, in our communities, in our relationships here with one another, we also grow in our relationship with God.

This process is difficult. Just as in families, we know that we are no only defined by our relationships, but by our entire history that we have lived together. Even when we recognize our adoption by God, we do not always recognize who are brothers and sisters are in that family. I went to the San Francisco Presbytery meeting this week, one of the denominational bodies that this congregation participates in. This is a body that knows consciously that it is the body of Christ and has covenanted to live as brothers and sisters in the family of God. And yet, when controversial issues, deeply held beliefs, and significant conflicts arise as they did this week, the body sometimes chooses not to engage. My biggest disappointment at the meeting was not that the issues were not decided how I hoped, but that the presbytery voted against talking in small groups about the difficult issue at hand. No one wanted to listen to each other. Everyone assumed they know what the other side would say and did not want to be open to be challenged, or to grow. In that moment, most of the presbytery refused to see that those they disagree with are just as much their brother or sister in Christ as those they agree with.

If there is time... move onto these questions. If not, skip to clip.

Using this metaphor and these scriptures, where we are all equal siblings under Jesus, how do we solve conflict? How did you and your siblings solve conflict? How should you have handled it? How do we love each other when we don't agree with someone else's choices or the direction they are headed in?

What do we do to keep living together in peace? How do we transform our own perspective so that we see our adversaries as brothers or sisters in Christ?

End with clip from the the Birdcage. This family sets aside differences to become family and act on behalf of the other, adopted into the same family whether you like it or not.

Let us pray.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Open to the holy spirit?

This evening was the SF Presbytery meeting. For all those non presby-geeks out there, I go because I enjoy the community. My membership is in Cincinnati, but I will not have a vote at Presbytery until (if and when) I am ordained. Then my membership will move to where I work.

On the docket tonight: a constitutional amendment (known as 08-B) that is making the presbytery rounds for approval. The amendment would remove and change the language that excludes GLBTQ people from ordination (as deacons, elders and ministers).

At first, I was deeply impressed with SF Presbytery for not only putting the votes on GA amendments in worship (book-ended by scripture and communion)... and with aiming for a process that humanized the conflicts and dissension within the presbytery by asking people to process and discuss in small groups (of voices they do not hear). But the first thing they voted on in regards to these issues was process and they voted to eliminate small group discussion... a sign to me that this presbytery is not interested in listening to each other.

The process agreed upon was a pre-selected panel of six (three in support, three opposing) followed by silence and a ballot vote. This is not the standard presbytery process (which includes open mic time and voice votes before ballots).

Four of six speakers on the panel were men, one was a person if color. More ministers than elders. Can we really talk about radical inclusion with integrity when that is the case?

Highlights of the speakers that stood out to me:

In support of the amendment, noted were places where biblical authority has come to new understandings... Slavery, women's leadership, inclusion of those with disabilities, interracial marriage. Grace filled understanding of moral evolution and interpretation of scripture is the example if Jesus himself.

Against amendment B, speaking to flaws in proposed amendment rather than inclusiveness of ordination. The words are not strong enough to be true to ordination vows. Reform as return, not progress.

An elder from MBCC spoke in favor of the amendment. He is our eldest elder and was amazing. He spoke about family, from his experience. He asked who is not here... something everyone else missed. He challenged the fairness of deciding this issue without being able to here from the GLBTQ folks who are a part of our communities. We don't let folks speak for themselves. He also noted the way that conflict is causing the church to lose credibility in wider society. (and made a slick Will and Grace reference).

Next person against framed the issue as not just about polity or theology but as deeply personal. He said after serious soul searching and he realized he must submit to authority of scripture around "God's design for human sexuality in the bible"... all of it.

Aside: I cannot buy, as a young woman, even a straight one, that the "scriptural" picture of sexuality is God's design for human sexuality. Scriptural understandings of human sexuality allow for the ownership of women in sexual relationships and polygamy. Our church does not pretend to practice a Scriptural understanding of sexuality... at least as far as I understand the Bible and the PC(USA) position.

I lost steam for taking notes by the last two speakers, but fear stood out for me, as did the assumption that ambiguity is always bad and painful.

Hymn sing while ballots are counted. Yes, no or abstain were the options.

Here is what amazes me about presbytery meetings. And perhaps this is my newness, my naivete, or maybe this is what we hope presbytery to be... but even having "lost," there were times in the process that I felt the Spirit, and that there seemed to be that sincere efforts at being the one body of Christ amidst a diversity of opinions.

That said, I was not as confident as some that SF would support the amendment, but I still thought "hey, with all these places like (insert presbytery you assume in more "conservative" than SF here) changing the spirits on minds on this amendment, SF will certainly go." Surprise!

And yet, I experience grace and support at presbytery. Even as a seminarian. Who is not under care here. Who doesn't go to the local Presbyterian seminary. I feel accepted and supported as a colleague by people I am proud to learn from. My experiences of fellowship at these presbytery mtgs. over the last eighteen months give me hope and enthusiasm for participating in such bodies in my future ministry... actively. engaged in the "institution." never expected that. never thought i would LIKE presbytery meetings. Surprise!

So, do we only "feel the Spirit" when we think we are going to win?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I have been trying to write this post for days. The good news: I have been to busy celebrating resurrection to write about it. The bad news: I have been too busy to reflect.

Over my kitchen sink hangs a photograph of resurrection- sunflowers growing on an abandoned lot that is home to a decaying church. It was a gift from it's artist, an man named Jimmy Heath who taught me what resurrection looks like in the world around us.

I met Jimmy first in high school when he came to talk to a group of us about his experiences and photos of the annual protest against the School of the Americas. I got to know him better in college, volunteering on a project for him at his Center for Community Photography in Over the Rhine, in Cincinnati.

Jimmy's story is an amazing story that brings me to my knees. He came to Cincinnati homeless and addicted. He resurrected at the Drop-inn Center, developing his photography and passion for community. I didn't know Jimmy at the depths, on the cross. I knew the risen Jimmy, who gave neighborhood kids their first art experiences, who was humbled by the power of expression, who shared what he had as a community leader. As the editor of Street Vibes, he taught me to look for the voice of the people society tries to hide everywhere I go.

I found out on Maundy Thursday, in the emotional throes of Holy Week that Jimmy died in 2007, almost 18 months ago, and I didn't know.

By way of a friend, I heard the Rev. Lynice Pinkard say that resurrection is life from loss. The loss of an active faith community inspired new plant life to bloom in the neighborhood. In Jimmy, the loss if so much in his life was transformed into leadership and vision for a community.

As I have tried to live at the mouth of the tomb this week, it is through witnessing the resurrection if Christ reflected in the resurrection in the world- like Jimmy- that give me the hope, the courage, the passion, and the vision will need to live a minstry of resurrection.

In memory of Jimmy Heath and all he gave to the world. I hope some day I can honor his legacy.