Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Living Forward, Understanding Backwards

I'm sitting at home today, working from home, listening to records I haven't listened to for 40 years. My daughter has never seen records, nor seen me listen to them. But she knows some of the songs which I have sung to her from Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel. If you are my age or older, you know the sweet sound of a record, on a turntable, with hisses and pops and a certain "physicality to it all", not a digital download.
The songs bring back memories. Songs and smells, like almost nothing else, have the power to evoke the past. I can see myself, my room, the house where I lived 40 years ago as Joni Mitchell sings on the record above.
As human beings, we live forward. But we understand backward....its true with faith too. Events take on different meaning(s) as we age.
I suppose that is grace, that meaning can change, and that meaning can come to us over all those years, through the gift of memory, through the gift of the physicality of the world.
Pastor Jeff

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Falling Upward + For those in the second half of life

The following is a meditation I received last week by Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan in Albuquerque. Perhaps it will speak to you as it did to me.



Remember this: no one can keep you from the second half of life except yourself. Nothing can inhibit your second journey except your own lack of courage, patience, and imagination. Your second journey is all yours to walk or to avoid. My conviction is that some falling apart of the first journey is necessary for this to happen, so do not waste a moment of time lamenting poor parenting, lost jobs, failed relationships, physical handicaps, gender identity, economic poverty, or even the tragedy of any kind of abuse. Pain is part of the deal. If you don’t walk into the second half of your own life, it is you who do not want it. God will always give you exactly what you truly want and desire. So make sure you desire, desire deeply, desire yourself, desire God, and desire everything good, true, and beautiful.
God’s grace is sufficient for the journey!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hidden Roots, Hidden Connections

These are some Aspens near my home, on Iron Mountain. Populus tremuloides....trembling poplars. I love the sound the leaves make in the wind. The largest living organism in the world is found near Fish Lake, Utah. It is a community of Aspens.  Aspens are all connected undersground. The connections are mysterious and complex. They look like individual trees, but they are not.

Just so the church. We are part of a community that is mysterious and complex, and as Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us, it is also a gift.

Congregations, like Aspens and Aspen Groves, wax and wane, grow and decline. Either way, God is present. Who is to know what the Spirit is doing?

Community, like Aspen trees, can grace our lives.  May it be so.

Pastor Jeffrey Louden

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bread for the Body and Soul

A Wind River Early Morning this past month
Photo by Jeffrey Louden

This coming Sunday the Gospel is about bread. Bread is both literal and metaphoric, i.e. we all need bread to sustain us, the bread made from wheat and the bread of human community, the bread of grace. Bread gives hope. Its texture and substance sustain a community. Communities, even St. Matthew's, need fresh bread. Not the white flimsy Wonder Bread made, but homemade bread, with body and taste, kneaded with love.

I spent the past month in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming, from where some of my bread has come the last fourteen years. I worked for 30 days on an expedition in the wilderness with eleven strangers as an instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School. We persevered, saw beautiful country, completed the expedition successfully. We performed one evacuation. We lived simply. It was bread for my body and soul.

See you Sunday, as we continue our expedition of faith. May you have the bread you need and enough to share with others who are hungry too.


Pastor Jeffrey Louden