upper room daily devotions

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Carrie Newcomer at The Well on May 12

Grammy winning artist Carrie Newcomer comes to Queen Anne UMC's "The Well, a gathering place for conversation" on May 12. At 2 PM she leads a workshop called "Our Lives as Sacred Story." At 7:30 PM she performs a concert. Both in the sanctuary. All are welcome (the workshop is capped at 30 people).

In "Our Lives as Sacred Story" (2-4 PM) Carrie invites participants to explore and honor the depth, grace, and wonder of their personal stories. The workshop uses conversation, exploratory writing, group and individual experiences designed to facilitate a spiritual framing of daily life. It is a safe and encouraging workshop. Whether you have a history of writing or whether you are interested in exploring new ways to tell your spiritual story, you will find this workshop welcoming. Reserve your place now. The workshop is limited to 30 people. It, like the concert is free, with a suggested donation of $10.

In the evening concert (7:30-9:00 PM), Carrie, her guitar, and her musical partner Gary will use music to open up the sacredness of the world. Described by Barbara Kingsolver as "poet, storyteller, snake-charmer, good neighbor, friend and lover, minister of the wide-eyed gospel of hope and grace" as well as being labeled "a soaring songstress" by Billboard, Carrie won a Grammy for her song "I Should've Known Better" recorded by Nickel Creek. She has toured with Alison Krauss and collaborated with Mary Chapin Carpenter. In 2009 and 2011, Carie was invited to tour India as a cultural ambassador for the American Embassy. Her most recent recording is called "Everything is Everywhere" and features the master of the Indian classical sarod Amjad Ali Khan. She is currently collaborating with Parker Palmer in retreats based on his book "Healing the Heart of Democracy." The concert is free with ticket required for admission and a suggested $10 donation.

For either the concert or the workshop, please email thewellqueenanne@gmail.com or call at 206-282-4307.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley Vist to Queen Anne UMC

On April 24, Queen Anne UMC's new ministry "The Well, a gathering place for conversation" was honored to welcome Cornel West and Tavis Smiley. At lunch, they spoke about their new book "The Rich and the Rest of Us: a Poverty  Manifesto." About 130 of Seattle (and the surrounding area's) religious and community leaders, activists for justice, and witnesses for compassion came together. We were Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and secular humanists. Our creeds and beliefs may differ, but our passion for justice is shared.

For a limited time - only one week - audio of the talk will be on Queen Anne UMC's website. If you want to hear what Tavis Smiley and Cornel West had to say, listen before the audio is taken down.

Personally, it was such a treat to welcome Cornel West back to a church I'm serving. And, it was a real pleasure to meet Tavis Smiley. Gracious men with prophetic words.

Queen Anne UMC is a tiny neighborhood church. We are not a cathedral, a mega-church, or even a large downtown church. We are tucked away on Queen Anne hill - just up the hill from downtown Seattle. We don't have a parking lot. We aren't on a bus line. We are one of thousands upon thousands of small neighborhood churches that dot neighborhoods across this country. We do have a beautiful worship space, dedicated members, and a desire to offer God's grace to the larger community. That is what gave birth to our new minsitry "The Well." Designed as an intimate space for big conversation, national (and even international) speakers, leaders, scientists, poets, dreamers, and scholars are coming to this church tucked away on a hill, and they are leading us in ongoing dialogue about faith, mind, body, and community. We are happy to be able to share a little piece of our experience with any who would like to join us.

Here's a link to the audio from Tuesday's talks. Thank you, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West. Stay strong!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"The Well, a gathering place for conversation" Welcomes Robert V Taylor

Robert V Taylor spoke with KUOW's Steve Scher about his new book "A New Way to Be Human." His segment begins about minute 21. Take a listen.
He will be joining us at The Well on April 18 at 6:30. Come join us.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Prayer for 4-15-12

God of Life and Love, with joy we celebrate the season of our Lord's resurrection. By the grace of Christ among us, fill us with the breath of your peace, touch us with the wounds of the world, feed us with Christ's humility, bind us together in love and community, and bathe us in your warm light. Open us to your presence around us that we, like Thomas, may declare, "My Lord and my God." And, in the mystery of your "eighth day," make us a new creation, raised with Christ, alive in your most precious world. We pray with the confidence of Thomas. Amen.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Robert V Taylor, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Carrie Newcomer, John Dominic Crossan, Kathleen Norris, and One Little Church

Queen Anne United Methodist Church has started a new ministry called "The Well, a gathering place for conversation." Born out of a belief that a more just and compassionate society is made when we engage in dialogue over time and in community, "The Well, a gathering place for conversation" aspires to facilitate such conversation.

The ministry began with a small, four-week Bible study led by Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson.

It continues on April 18 with a dialogue with Robert V Taylor about his new book "A New Way to Be Human." Please reserve your tickets now. 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM.

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West will join invited guests for a private lunch to discuss justice and community. They will be in town promoting their new book "The Rich and the Rest of Us: a poverty manifesto."

Record unemployment and rampant corporate avarice, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunities in a paralyzed nation—these are the realities of America, land of the free and home of the new middle class poor. Award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation’s leading public intellectuals, take on the “p” word—poverty. They challenge all Americans to re-examine their assumptions about poverty in America—what it really is and how to eradicate it.

Pick up your tickets to see them during the evening of April 24 at the Neptune theater in Seattle.

Then, on May 12, Grammy winning recording artist Carrie Newcomer will join us to lead a workshop called "Our Lives as Sacred Story" and perform an evening concert. Described by Barbara Kingsolver as a "poet, storyteller, snake-charmer, good neighbor, friend and lover, minister of the wide-eyed gospel of hope and grace" as well as by Rolling Stone, "a voice as rich as Godiva chocolate," Carrie Newcomer may be a name you don't know, but it is one that you should know. She has toured with Alison Krauss Europe and she wrote the song Grammy winning song "I Should've Known Better," which was recorded by Nickel Creek. Her most recent album is "Everything is Everywhere," recorded with master of the Indian classical sarod Amjad Ali Khan and it benefits the Interfaith Hunger Initiative. She is currently collaborating with Parker Palmer in concert and retreats based on his book "Healing the Heart of Democracy."

Her workshop is limited to 30 people. Reserve your place now. Also, reserve a ticket for her concert at 7:30 PM on May 12.

Over Memorial Day weekend, John Dominic Crossan will be on site to lead conversations about parables and the kingdom. He will preach Pentecost Sunday as well.

We begin June with Kathleen Norris on June 6.

The whole year is lined up with recording artists, poets, scientists, dreamers, law makers, activists, Bible scholars, educators, and theologians.

But, in the end, the conversation is only as rich as the questions of the people who show up. The core of this ministry is that it is "intimate space, big conversation." Bring your whole selves and engage with your neighbor in struggling for a more just and compassionate world.

And, the conversation is just getting started.

For more information, please check out our website.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Why Zimmerman's Account Doesn't Matter

Since everybody in the country has weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case, I thought I would throw in my opinion, ill-formed as it is, from nothing but news accounts. Doesn't that make you want to read this? But, given the debate around race that this has sparked, with today's anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and with this week marking the most holy week on the Christian calendar, I thought I would toss in a very simple contribution to this national dialogue: I don't care whether Zimmerman's account is 100% true; he deserves to be arrested and prosecuted. And, this is why.

He called 911, informed him of the situation, and was told not to pursue the "suspicious" person...and he did.

End of story.

So, let's back up: What made Trayvon "suspicious" in the first place? What made Zimmerman say "the guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something?" Well, it was raining...and he was walking...yes, walking. And, according to Zimmerman, "looking at houses."

I walk in my neighborhood and look at houses all the time. I live in Seattle, so I definitely walk in the rain - a lot. I look at people's gardens, check out their houses - their colors, their paint selections, whether they are having any work done. I have never been stopped by the police for doing this, even while wearing a hooded rain coat. Why? What makes Trayvon different from me? I'm a white woman. He was a six foot tall black young man.

I've been around long enough to know that if I were to be stopped, all I would have to do is smile and say "hi" and ask how the police officer is doing. Nice. Friendly. All good. If I were stopped by a neighbor, all I would have to say is, "I live around the corner. It's nice to meet you." And, that would be that. Why? I am a white woman.

Trayvon didn't have this chance. His neighbor didn't say, "Hi! I haven't met you before. I live around the corner. Did you just move here?" No. Zimmerman called the police. While not a polite thing to do just because someone is walking in the neighborhood, it is not a criminal thing to do. But, it set into motion events that would end in the death of a teenager.

After Zimmerman has some back and forth with dispatch and does a lot of staring at Trayvon, Trayvon gets scared and runs away on the advice of his girlfriend. What does Zimmerman do? He goes after him. This is the key part. He goes after him. He pursues him. And, he does so in defiance of the police dispatcher. "Are you following him?" "Yeah," says Zimmerman. Dispatch: "Ok, we don't need you to do that." Zimmerman: "Ok." And, yet, he continues to pursue him.

Flash forward.

Enhanced video released today indicates that Zimmerman did have wounds to his head. How did those come about? What constitutes self-defense?

If a guy is walking down the street and I decide to follow him, can I shoot him because he looks mean? What if he stops and looks in some windows? Can I shoot him? What if I am following him and he decides to run away from me and I run after him and he gets upset and turns back to confront me? Can I shoot him and it be self-defense? It seems to me that in every one of these cases, I am the aggressor. He is the one acting in self-defense. I don't care how weird, suspicious, or mean he looks, I am the one acting. He is responding.

So, without knowing anything else..even taking Zimmerman fully at his word...it doesn't matter. Maybe Trayvon, all of a sudden, on the way home from buying a soda and some candy decided to turn into a thief. He decided on this rainy night to try his hand at breaking and entering even though he had never done that before. He just up and wanted to become a burglar. Let's say that's all true (although I don't believe it for a second). Let's say that Trayvon ran and eventually turned around and challenged Zimmerman. Let's say that he even threw the first punch. It all comes down to this to me: He was chased. He was pursued. He was acting in self defense.

On this day when I wish I could celebrate that the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision had come to pass - that vision of a different world in which people were judged on the content of the character - I cannot. Women are murdered for wearing an hijab. Boys are shot for wearing a hoodie. And countless people are stopped for "walking while black" and the "fortunate" ones are the ones who get to go home humiliated and infuriated. This is not King's dream.

In this week when I wish I could celebrate an Easter with no Good Friday - that is, I wish that I could celebrate living fully in God's reign - a reign of peace, justice, and compassion, I cannot. We continue to crucify the peaceful and the weak, the least and the last, the marginalized and the poor. We live in a world too full of Good Fridays and too few Easter moments. This Holy Week we read of children tortured by their governments (Syria), women murdered for their religion (Shaima Alawadi), boys killed in their own gated communities, and police officers shot 28 times by their fellow officers. It doesn't matter to me if these folks broke the law or not, none of them deserves what happened to them. And, that, is the depth of the lament in Good Friday. Good Friday is not a remembrance of the execution of one man 2000 years ago, it is an entering in to the ways in which we still kill the divine and sacred among us every single day.

So, I don't care if Zimmerman's account is factual or not, it simply doesn't matter.

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