Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Take Church to a Friend Day - December 6

On Sunday, December 6, there will be no music from the Church Keys at the Westside JCC. There will be no muffins, no sweet tea and no preaching. There will be no Thadito's, no Tiny Thad's - nada.

On Sunday, December 6, we're attempting something completely counter-cultural to the religious establishment, revolutionary, even. The results will be some love spread and some differences made and there will be some great stories to tell.

On Sunday, December 6, we're taking church to a friend.

We're not going to meet at our regularly scheduled time of ten o'clock. Instead, we're going to put our love where our mouths are and take the love of Jesus to the streets!

A common practice in the wider church has always been to designate one Sunday a year, or month, as the day when we bring a friend to church. The idea was that if you bring a friend, perhaps they'll like church and want to join. Well, at Thad's there are no 'members' per se, so one can't 'join' since we're all of us, already 'in.' And, the point is not to add numbers to the Thad's community, just for the sake of adding numbers.

The point is to reach out to someone you haven't seen in a while, maybe even someone with whom you've had a falling-out. The point is to connect with the folks you love. The point is to take some of the love-spreading, difference-making we do at Thad's out into the world, in the spirit of being Monday - Saturday followers of Jesus who worship on Sunday.

And, the point is to start in your own life, in your own relationships, with those you love.

We've been talking about this 'Homework' for the last two weeks now, and the discussion around the HW has been deep and good. Folks have been offering their ideas, their advice on what NOT to do (like proselytizing or preaching) and telling their stories.

Folks have talked about going to lunch with a friend they haven't seen in a while, or going to visit a relative in a nursing home. Someone mentioned that they're going to spend much-needed play time with their kids.

There are no rules. The only thing to remember is to share some of the love you experience at Thad's with someone 'out there.' You may not even utter the words "Jesus" or "God" at all in the conversations you have.

This post is an opportunity to share your ideas, your thoughts and maybe even fears about this adventure in love-spreading, difference-making.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"How do you get out of that dark place when you find yourself there?"

Ian asked an important question Sunday, toward the end of our discussion. We had some answers for him then, but I think it's a question we all ask -- at least from time to time -- and a question for which we probably can all use suggestions. So, we would like to open a thread here and invite everyone to share both their answers to the question and their need for answers to similar questions of their own. . . .

Let me start: Since I don't seem to be able really to "give it up" if I tell myself that's what I should do, my own favorite strategy is to go do something that has nothing to do with what's making me bleak -- to focus my conscious mind on something else that has nice, defined parameters. Hopefully, then, my wiser self can let the worrisome thing go and listen to things I can't hear if I'm fretting. Do something someone else needs; cooking something that contains lots of veggies in very small dice; tackle the treadmill as if it might actually take me somewhere. I've done 'em all; sometimes to better effect than others.

But enough about me. What do you do to get unstuck? And/or where are you stuck that the rest of us can help you with? Sometimes just knowing we are with you may help all by itself.

Click on comments below and chime on in!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Home is Where Our Family Is

When I was a kid, my family moved a lot. Not military brat or Foreign Service a lot; but more than I would have chosen if anyone had actually asked me.

And we never moved into a house that looked the way it looked on the Sunday afternoon when my sister and I first met it. In fact, family legend reports that the first time I had dinner at the grown up dining room table I began the conversation by announcing we should move the kitchen to the garage and the powder room to the basement. So central was the constant re-design of our homes to the Roeder lifestyle.

And why would I share this information with you? Because I know just what it’s like to know that we are moving and not have any idea what it’s going to be like when we get there.

It’s gonna look different; it’s gonna smell different; it’s gonna sound different. It’s gonna BE different.

Since I don’t do fairy tales, I’m not going to tell you that I loved every house we moved into, or that every move was immediately comfortable. I didn’t, and it wasn’t.

But every one of the moves I made as a kid had a really important ending: whatever new walls had popped up, whatever weird new plants appeared in the garden, the small band of colorful characters that was my family was always there together, discovering what worked and what needed more changes to make the life we shared.

And so too with our Thad’s family: we don’t yet know what our new home will feel like, or smell like, or sound like. But we’re all gonna be there together – adding stuff, moving stuff, doing what we need to do to build our tent on our field of hope.

Come dream with us, and play with us, and share this new experience with us.

Every Sunday starting June 6 at 10 a.m.:

5870 W Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90036 Map

See y’all!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

“Taking Chance” A Lenten Parable from HBO

Readers’ Advisory – Reading someone else’s writing about a poem is never safe. What the writer thinks is there is likely to be different from what you think is there. And make no mistake: TAKING CHANCE is a poem. A mesmerizing little film that runs just over an hour with the thinnest of story lines but the thickness of premium ice cream and as many facets as a well cut diamond.

At its simplest, this film is the story of a Marine Colonel who, frustrated with his role as a desk jockey, volunteers to escort the body of PFC Chance Phelps, a young Marine who has been killed in Iraq, home to his family.

At its core, the film is also a profound illustration of the miracle that can happen when a person takes to heart the words of Ian’s wonderful song, “There’s a Black Wind blowing across this land . . . . Reach out and take somebody’s hand.”

Against all protocol – “officers are not generally assigned to escort PFCs” the Colonel is told – this man asks for the job and discovers that he has asked for it for “wrong” reasons. The Colonel has focused on this particular young Marine believing that he will be returning the body to his own hometown. Does he think he will be making his own journey home? It turns out, however, that Chance was recruited in the Colonel’s hometown, but that his family is actually in a small town in another State.

Nevertheless, the Colonel undertakes his task with absolute vigilance. He begins by checking with the Dover mortuary staff to make sure that Chance has been dressed in the correct dress uniform carrying all of the medals the young man has earned. He has been told that he is not to let go of the bag holding Chance’s personal effects until he gives it to the family, and he refuses to relinquish it at airport security. He is told he is responsible for the soldier until they arrive at the destination mortuary and not only does he check to ensure that the correct box is loaded and unloaded at each transfer, but he chooses to sleep by its side in a warehouse during the overnight layover at the Minneapolis airport.

No over-the-top stereotypes here: the Colonel takes every action with the deliberateness of a priest kissing his stole at the highest of Masses.

Along the way he, and we, meet an amazing array of people who choose, each in his or her own way, to participate in the young Marine’s journey home. Once they reach Chance’s hometown, the Colonel has no responsibilities other than the delivery of the personal effects, but he meets and chooses to participate with a remarkable community that has dedicated itself to events surrounding the homecoming and burial.

I’ve left more out of this telling than I have put in, but nothing I could write could really capture thie extraordinary experience I had watching this film. Based on the Colonel’s journal of his trip, it is a stately riff on teamwork, ritual, and community. And, to me, it is the story of one man’s surprising redefinition of what matters – and of his reconnection to his own soul.

The events of TAKING CHANCE began over Easter weekend of 2004; watching it will probably become part of my own Easter tradition. It may not become part of yours, but I urge you to see it and discover for yourself what it says to you.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pregnancy is the new Lent!

Jimmy's sermon yesterday and and the discussion after really had me cracking up. I have been racking my brain about what I should "give up" for lent, something that would bring me closer to God. people talked about giving up drinking, sugar or worrying (good luck!), I thought hold it. I am a walking poster for lent. At 8 1/2 months pregnant I have given up many things, drinking, eating too much sugar, and recently bending down to pick something up! Pregnancy has slowed me down. I can't walk too far, go too far, busy myself with too many things...instead I am reflective, taking care of myself, and napping! all things I would NEVER do unless I was carrying a child!!

Being pregnant has brought me closer to God. I am relying on him more to take care of me, thinking about all the things I am grateful for, and hopeful for my baby girl on the way. There's a lot of trust going on between me and the big man right now. I am "listening up", I am not distracted. I am connected to God, I think he designed it this way!

Yes, I still worry, get cranky, and emotional, but the truth is I have to rely on God right now. Pregnancy is a very "Out of control state" and I am a very 'In control" person. This may be the perfect exercise for a type A-er like me!

After I have the baby I will probably go back to my old ways, but I am hoping I can remember how it feels to have nine (really ten people) months of lent. I highly recommend it.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Giving it up

Not too long ago, I was talking to a friend about Lent and he commented that he doesn’t generally give up favorite foods and such by way of observance. Although I may be in the running as the world’s least observant person about almost everything, I do try. And I got to wondering why. . . .

It’s not as though it’s a habit I was forced to get into as a child: my family didn't share the practice, and probably thought I was more than a little nuts.

But I think it is about habit. I think I generally do a lot of things without thinking; I think maybe most of us do. But I also know that having a relationship – with my friends, my colleagues, or with God – requires thought. Thoughtfulness. Mindfullness, if I may borrow a word from the remarkable Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh. Not the kind of routinized behavior that we repeat over and over again, whether it is accomplishing what we intend or not.

One of the things I learned when I quit smoking several life times ago (before a smoker had to leave the building to have a smoke) is that the act of NOT lighting a cigarette – NOT taking a cigarette from the pack, NOT lighting a match, and NOT putting the match to the end of the cigarette and inhaling – left me a little chunk of time I didn’t quite know how to handle. I had to stop and THINK about it.

And thinking about it often taught me that what I really needed or wanted was not the cigarette but a little break from whatever I was doing. Like most people I started to fill that time with gum and life savers; but I learned quickly that a little walk, a quick call to a friend, even turning my attention to a different task for a while, filled the space and got me past the desire for the cigarette.

I only quit smoking once, but even more importantly I learned the value of giving something up: it makes me think about what I really need when I am about to do what I usually do without thinking. And I am reminded how often what I need is a few deep breaths, a little walk, a quiet moment to remember to “give it up” in our more profound sense.

Some days I completely fail at this discipline. But I try, really try, to pay attention to what STUFF has made me turn to my habitual “easy outs.” And I try, really try, to gather that up at the end of each day and add to my prayers and meditations those issues that are always so much bigger than whether or not I had a pretzel I had planned to forgo.

It’s Ash Wednesday night and I have already collected a little pile of habits not yet broken this Lent, and some much bigger things to think about. I can only wonder what I will learn from them. . . .

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The End of Days – When Everything Will Be Fixed, Right?

Jimmy’s teaching and our dialogue this past Sunday got me to thinking about how impatient we are to have things Fixed – and how we seem so often to think, or at least behave as if we think, that there is some magical RIGHT answer. If only we could discern it . . . .

It’s especially easy to be impatient these days, when so many people are confronted by so much in the economy of the World that is genuinely scary. A magical reversal of fortune has a huge visceral appeal. Couldn’t someone please make that happen?

But I also got to thinking about what it means to be Fixed, and was reminded of an old song: “Soon you'll attain the stability you strive for/in the only way that it's granted/in a place among the fossils of our time.” Not the most famous of Jefferson Airplane’s lyrics perhaps, but thought-provoking nonetheless.

When we hope for something to get Fixed, we usually have one Fixed Image in our minds. But think of all the fables that have evolved over the centuries to illustrate the adage, “Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.” And in our scientific age we even have a formal name for it: The Law of Unintended Consequences.

But, for better or for worse, “Life is Change; how it differs from the rocks.” We know this is true in the World, and if our fleeting glimpses of the Kingdom suggest anything, it seems to me that they suggest that stasis doesn’t play a big role in It, either.

If that’s true, then maybe a really important step toward living the Kingdom life is not only to be on the lookout for the “Something Good [that] This Way Comes” as Jakob Dylan tells us, but also to remember that each thing (good or bad) is but a beginning.

Trading in our hope for the End of Days – or more immediately, Three (easy) Wishes – for real attention and very deep patience promises a lot of disequilibrium. But maybe we really do have to abandon Terra Firma, at least in our minds, if we want to reach the Kingdom.