Beyond Wood and Stone

Rev. Elisabeth's Cedar Park Blog site

Month: June 2016

What on earth is next?


Thearth-rat’s another way of asking “What future does God dream for this world?”  This was the topic for our second week in the D.Min programme at Luther Seminary.  Needless to say, such a question is especially ‘loaded’ this year with the freight of the shocking attack on LGBTQ party-goers in Orlando, the upcoming Presidential election in the US, not to mention the daunting refugee crisis facing the world, and the growing impact of humanly compounded global warming.  What a time to be asking  question, “What on earth is next!”  I remain in deeply in awe of and grateful for the extremely talented cohort members with whom I am studying. Thanks to them, the conversation was rigorous, and at times troubling, as you can imagine,  (which may explain why my Facebook posts were few last week!).

There are no simple answers, no one-size fits all solutions to the world’s crises and possibilities.  Except one:  God does have a Dream, and God does have a future for God’s creation, and for us as God’s people called to be blessing within this earth.  All we need to do now, is figure out just what our particular, peculiar gift is to this unfolding future!  And that’s where you come in, Cedar Parkers:  we get to figure this out together, in community, gathered in prayer, worship and exploration of the texts of Scripture and of our lives. What on earth is next is both in God’s hands, and ours, and that’s awe-inspiring, isn’t it?

Pride and the Passion of God

I thought I was going to write about “my week at Luther Seminary” in this post. I thought I would be waxing poetic and lyrical about a rich week of learning how to embody the lively Word, how to get in touch with a more gutsy (as in less cerebral) engagement with Scripture, Culture and context……..

But Orlando happened.  The US awoke this morning to yet another mass-shooting, this one compounded by the racial and gender politics that have this country gripped in fear. Despite this fear, a community of Minnesotans chose to go ahead anyway with their first “Pride Fest”, and I couldn’t imagine being in a better place today. (See this link: ) I can’t pretend to know enough  to speak to the details of this senseless, scandalous tragedy, but my guts know enough to write about what I do know:

I know that when God was creating, at the dawn of time, Ruach (the Spirit of God)  hovered over the chaos and, with a Word, God fashioned beauty, wonder, love, light.  And all that God created was and is beautiful in God’s delighted gaze.  All. Every sweet child, every grey hair of an ageing head, everyone. ALL.

God’s Pride in the manifold diversity of humanity is unabashed, bold, more proud than any Mama or Papa could ever be of their child.  God’s Pride includes my LGBTQ siblings. ALL.  God’s Pride includes every colour of skin,every expression of life affirming, heart enriching, earth-mending spirituality, faith, religion. ALL.  God’s Pride swells to see all who use their political power for the good of society, the good of the environment, the protection of the weak, the celebration of diversity, regardless of the name of a political party, the name on a ballot.

So, God’s Passion – God’s anguish, sadness, agony — is raw and all consuming tonight,  for wanton acts of terror break God’s heart.  Small-minded and small-hearted bigotry breaks God’s heart. Using tragedy to score political points breaks God’s heart.  The ascendancy of a tribal culture of fear breaks God’s heart.

Knowing this, I pray. I pray my own anguish and despair to a God who knows more than we ever shall, the depth of sorrow of a broken world.  I pray that my guts, and God’s passion will stir me and others to share in  God’s  Passion and Pride; to love what God loves, and to live loving as deeply as we can, for God’s sake.


When the Word won’t stay on the page

LS Banner 2

Luther Seminary D.Min Year 2

It’s so good to be back here at Luther Seminary in the Twin Cities! I get to reconnect with a bright, talented, diverse cohort of ministry colleagues, as we re-energize one another with wisdom, curiosity, and a common thirst for learning more about this strange and wonderful calling of congregational ministry. We have an amazing teaching faculty too, who love what they do, and love that we  are eager to learn with them. Don’t get me wrong, dear Cedar Parkers, I LOVE being your Minister, and that’s why I’m here; to quest for richer, deeper veins of wisdom that will help me live my call to serve God in the world with you as well as I can.  This month is about you as much as it’s about me.

So, if you’re interested, follow this blog for the duration of my second year residency. I’ll post twice each week, to try to give you a flavour of  what we’re up to, in courses titled “Preaching as the Proclaimed Word.”  and “Preaching Church into God’s Future”   ( I decided not to take the course on Psalms, but to carve new learning curves, even though I LOVE the psalms…. oh right, y’all knew that already!)

Today, I took a leaf out of Rev. Ron’s  book,  delivering a passage of Scripture learned by heart (you’ll get to experience this text with me in September, until then, it’s a secret!). What a tough discipline, what hard work, and what surprising graces eventually emerged from the learning, and the performing of it in a circle, each of us taking a different text and retelling the  Bible story from Genesis to Acts.  Most of us were new to this skill, very nervous about it, but at the end, we wanted to do it again!  Some highlights:  reimagining the impact of   “Jesus” teaching while cross-legged on the ground.Lee in Luke

That’s enough for today.

Meanwhile, please pray for me, for energy and health to thrive and learn. And, please know that I am praying for all of you, that God hold you all safe, and blessed until we are back together again.

Blessings abound!

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