Snowflakes under a microscope and the design of the creator

Against my dog’s black fur this morning, I saw white tiny round flakes, newly fallen from the sky. The first flakes I’ve spotted so far since the season’s turning.

 Nothing significant. Snow flakes, nonetheless. 

Each year, I don’t really know why, at the first snow fall, I always hear whispers of God’s newness. I get emotional. I almost cried this morning… The dog noticed the little flakes too. He loves the snow. Okay, it really wasn’t even a “snow fall.” Just some flakes.

There’s nothing shocking about snow in Minnesota. By the time Spring gets here, we’re all groaning and sick of it. And I may tire of it much quicker this year being a new home owner with snow shovelling responsibilities. Our leaves haven’t turned colors yet, many trees are still green and holding on. But the time is coming, and I will welcome it.

I need the four seasons that we get in MN. For some reason, it’s important to my spiritual heath (which includes emotional health). I need the frost of winter. I need the heat of summer. When you look at a snowflake under a mircroscope, you see this intricate design. I’m not a scientist; I’m a theologian. So I can’t talk to you about molecules or whatnot, but I can talk about creation and new birth. About plan and design, about chaos and pain. About God’s goodness and sometimes when God seems to turn his back on us. If we could zoom way out, we might see a white covered earth in snowfall. If we could zoom way in, we might see little details, tiny designs, perfectly symmetrical patterns. 

So let it snow. Lord let me give thanks. Let me see the details and let me see the big picture. Help me not fear the cold that is coming. Be with me. Amen.


Why I’ll let my fundamentalism help me teach Lutherans the Bible

ImageThe Holy Bible. The Holy Scriptures. The book. God’s word. Doesn’t it seem like entire civilizations have risen and fallen over someone’s holy book? In the current gov’t shutdown, Christians on “both sides” are trying to throw verses over the fence at one another. Don’t you see what “God’s Word” says??

So I teach teens during Sunday School now. (Notice how i phrasedthat? I teach people, not “Sunday School.”) And my one main thing this year, beyond getting to know the kids, was to open that book. Even if I have to drag the books out of the cabinet every single week, frustrated because they either don’t own one or wouldn’t remember to bring them if they did (frustrated, because I was a stellar Bible nerd in fundamentalism where eveyrone brought their huge marked-up Bibles every week, even the children, and you felt so freaking special if yours had tons of highlighting and notes in the margins. I swear, I’d write stupid notes in the margins just to have them there. Is it special if EVERYTHING is underlined?? But whatever…) I cart the Bibles out, and we manage to spend the 5-15 minutes it takes for these kids to look up one verse (okay i’m exaggerating) because they’ve never had to open one before or learn what chapters and verses are or what books are from what half of it… But we’re doing it. 

And I have heard from the mouths of these students several times already (we are only mid-way through October!) how confusing the Bible is. What is confusing? I ask. “All of it,” they answer. When I ask them specifically what, they can’t tell me. So we break it down into parts (the exact way i DON’T want to do it) and I spoon feed them grace and words of truth. And that again just feels like the clergy telling the laity what to believe… and we’re back to the Reformation all over again. I don’t want to tell them what to think, see, feel, and believe about the Bible. I want them to read it! But we have to start somewhere. Grr.

It is confusing. It’s confusing to me how we run stewardship appeals and capital campaigns and have steeples and choir robes and it’s all because of someone’s opinion on this library of letters and historical accounts and people have fought world wars over it and here we have a few generations of Lutheran kids who don’t know jack about it. We either revere it so much that we make it a law to die by, or we revere it so much that we never touch it. Ever.

This rant is a prayer. I have not and will not let go of all of my fundamentalistic (did I just make that word up) beliefs. I believe the spoken word transforms hardened hearts. I believe we all need to carry that grace to one another. I pray we do. I pray we’re brave enough not to read it to them, but to read it with them. We must… even if that sounds like law. We must.

Shin Splints and Other High School Nightmares from gym class

As I was driving to work today, I saw a few teen guys running down the sidewalk in what appeared to be school uniform gym outfits. They were happy. They looked like they were conquering the world, and indeed I did discover it was a high school gym class because I saw the teacher (we’ll call him Mr. Clipboard) pointing the way for the next students in the herd to follow suit.

The next group of runners were striving. You could see they were also good runners. Not as good as the first several guys but real good. Doing fine. Then you had some not so good runners, and then some guys that may have wanted to do okay but you could see were totally out of shape, and then finally there were guys towards the end of that pack who were basically mocking the exercise and then you had the females…

I’m not sure if they started way after the guys or if those guys who were in the lead were just way awesome, but the girls were also in sort of packs like that. The way more awesome runners in the front and then the girls who were probably hoping to die anytime soon towards the back.

You’ve been there, you already know what I’m talking about.

I was one of those no-way-in-heck runners in gym class, way in the back of the line. Probably the only people behind me were the mockers who could care less. Lungs bursting with super amounts of pain. Shins splinting (is that what they call it?) and my red face strained, hating life… Nothing about it was good. I could see the students who were finished glowing and gleaming already having passed the finish mark and I am barely rounding corner number one. Dude. Sucks.

I will never be able to personally identify with the best athletes at the top of the class. Many of them can’t identify me and my brain smarts, and that’s okay. As I said, today I was on my way to work, and I work full time at a church “doing” ministry and as I pulled into the parking lot, all I could think about was giving thanks that those stupid school days are over.

In a few hours, Confirmation students will jam my church. They’ll come in many doors. They’ll arrive in different states of energy. They’ll do their thing here for an hour, some willingly, some REALLY not willingly. Some of them are way into the Bible and God-topics. And of course, some really are not. Some are straining and some are training and some are just mocking it. I pray for grace and mercy and peace here. That I could be a good coach with a Clipboard, pointing the way around the corner, to Christ and to Community. I think all these students are looking for that.