Deacon’s Corner

One Way to Know Ourselves Better

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid:  Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name: through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Advent, Christmas, and our end-of-year reflections create a fruitful time for “cleansing our thoughts,” as led by our Loving God.  And in today’s world of strife and divisions that create stumbling blocks in our families, our civic life, and even in our church, we deeply need a “reset,” a Sabbath rest, an opportunity for fresh perspective.

Toward that end, I offer a resource and a challenge to each of us, beginning with myself:

Resource:  I’ve come upon a book that is helping me to open my eyes to my own behavior.  I heartily recommend it to you: Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, by Carol Tarvis and Elliot Aronson.  It’s not new (2007), and you may have read it before, but it’s definitely worth a re-read.  There are multiple E-books and hard copies in Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah County libraries, as well as at your favorite independent booksellers and of course Kindle, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.*

The two psychologists who wrote this book bring in research that shows we all – ALL – are wired to justify ourselves even when we are engaged in unhealthy and sometimes immoral behavior.  We ALL routinely give ourselves slack for the things we do that aren’t right, while withholding that same grace from others.  The book is accessible, honest, informative, and yet hopeful.

NOW HERE’S THE CHALLENGE! As I read one example after another in this book of self-excuse and justification from politicians, institutions, or family interactions, I am tempted over and over to put a name and face of my own “enemies” in each example.  Yes, I think, isn’t that just like THAT PERSON OVER THERE?  And I start to feel smug about myself and my “rightness” ☹.  I have to keep telling myself, this is only useful if I learn to be transparent about my OWN behavior instead of using it as another club against public figures or folks I know.  I truly believe this practice could be one way, among many, that the Holy Spirit can help us to be one body even in our differences.

I challenge myself and anyone reading this book to receptively read it for how each of us can become more aware of our own thinking, our own behavior, and even our own sins.  I know God will pour out blessings for us as we strive to truly keep our hearts open to God and one another.

Deacon Linda

* If you want to read this but can’t find a library copy and money is tight for you, please contact me at deacon@ccparish.org and I will get one to you.

Convention is Almost Here!

The delegates and clergy are ready to go, but YOU still have a chance to do something wonderful for God’s people in need:

(1)   Underwear: we don’t think about it a lot, but if you’re a woman without stable housing or otherwise struggling, the panty donations given out regularly at RAHAB’S SISTERS (most Friday evenings at SS Peter & Paul) make a huge and very practical difference.  The Diocesan Convention is hosting a “Bring Your Undies” collection.  Please donate packages of panties, any size, OR cash for Lori Dierckes or Deacon Linda to purchase them by Wednesday!!

(2)   There’s always room for a few more BASKETS at the fabulous raffle/auction run by the Commission on Poverty and Homelessness.  There are always a variety of big and little baskets on offer: fancy food items; picnic baskets; craft or sewing supplies; books; “spa” packages – your imagination is the only limit!  Lori Dierckes has generously agreed to help collect money for a basket she can shop for and take to the convention.  Contact Lori or Deacon Linda with questions or to donate.  Remember, the money collected at this event funds the grants that the Commission distributes to churches to be used for projects that serve those who need our help!

Different Meanings for October 8th…

When your deacon was a little girl (long, long ago), we got a holiday from school on what was called “Columbus Day.” We colored or cut out pictures of Indians, settlers, Pilgrims, and the like; we decorated our classrooms with autumn themes. It never occurred to me – or probably my teachers – that we were celebrating the time when some of our ancestors took over a place where other peoples had lived and thrived for centuries before.

Today’s descendants of those indigenous people, of course, have long understood what really happened before and after 1492. As I, slowly and belatedly, learn more about Native American history, I wonder how I’d feel if “explorers” from, say, Saskatchewan, Canada – to use a light-hearted example – were to come to Portland, announce they’d just “discovered” it and us, and henceforth let us know that all of Portland’s laws, lifestyles, and infrastructure were wrong and that they had the right to change them all to a more enlightened system. (With, of course, the enforcement power of the Mounties and religious authorization from the United Church of Canada. . . .) You get my point.

In Portland and numerous other cities and states in the U.S., the second Monday in October is known instead as Indigenous People’s Day – a small symbolic step that may help to remind us of the long history of our land and its people from centuries before European conquest. I include a few links below if you’d care to explore them.

Here’s a fascinating site-in-progress working towards showing locations of indigenous lands and treaties worldwide: https://native-land.ca/; its blog is here. Many churches in North America are using resources like this to acknowledge that we stand on land where indigenous people lived long before our arrival.

Clackamas County is the home for Red Lodge Transition Services, a Native American led organization that provides culturally-focused programs for women releasing from jail, prison, or treatment. The work done at Red Lodge is truly impressive; check out their website linked above or their Facebook page.

For those who like to learn context, here’s the background of the “Doctrine of Discovery” (which was the supposed legal basis for the “rights” of European travelers to claim the lands of others). The Wikipedia article notes, “During the General Convention of the Episcopal Church conducted on 8–17 August 2009, the bishops of the church adopted a resolution officially repudiating the discovery doctrine” (emphasis mine)

For the week beginning Sunday, September 23, 2018
The reading from the book of James this Sunday begins, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.” As we all strive to walk together toward this goal, I offer you some news and opportunities that I’ve found this week.
Feel free to tell me about what you’ve found. And may our loving God bless and be with you as you pray, reflect, and act.

Deacon Linda

  •  “Lakeridge High freshman Claire Sarnowski is teaming up with state Sen. Rob Wagner and Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener to tackle an issue that’s especially important to all three of them: mandating Holocaust education in Oregon.” {Lake Oswego Review, 09/19/18}
    I found this article well worth reading in its entirety! Community members (including Christ Church folks who are interested in supporting these efforts prompted by a local teen!) may attend; the testimony is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25th at the State Capitol. Those who cannot attend may submit their own testimonies to Sen.RobWagner@oregonlegislature.gov.
  •  {Note also: if you’re in Salem that day, there is a rally at the State Capitol steps from 11am – 1pm on Sept. 25th, sponsored by Lift Every Voice Oregon, urging the ban of assault weapons. Rally attendees may meet in Portland at Augustana Lutheran Church at 8:30 a.m. for carpooling.}
  • You may want to save the date Thursday, October 11 for a Rahab’s Sisters fundraiser! This non-profit creates community through radical hospitality with those identifying as women who are marginalized by poverty, houselessness, sex work, violence, or substance abuse. Learn more and register here.

Deacon’s Corner

          Being a Church for Others

In his book Crazy Christians, our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry writes, “Jesus calls and challenges those of us who would follow in his footsteps to be a people and a community reaching out above and beyond our own self-interest.  Jesus said, ‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom of many’ (Matthew 20:28).  Jesus is calling us to follow in his footsteps by being a Church for others.”

What can it be like to be “a Church for others”?  There are many ways, including prayer and service within the church – and as a deacon, I’m called to remind us of ways we can interact with and learn about and grow to support others out in the world, beyond our doors.  To that end, I’m going to post bits of news in this place that you’re invited to explore in the attitude of concern for our larger community.  Some of these may strike a chord for you; others may not be your cup of tea — and that’s OK.

  • Issues of immigration, detainment of refugees, and separation of families may be on your heart. I recommend a look at the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice website (http://imirj.org/), where information on the organization and their planned actions can be found.
  • If you are concerned about the proliferation of assault weapons, take a look at Lift Every Voice Oregon, https://www.lifteveryvoiceoregon.com/. One upcoming action is a rally in Salem on the Capitol steps — September 25th at 11 a.m. – to promote policies that reduce assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.  Other news and activities can be found at that site.
  • Finally, for this entry, The Guardian media’s latest “Long Read” article examines “voluntourism and its sometimes unexpected consequences. A quote: “If the church in the US would simply tithe, with just half that increase in giving, you could feed, clothe and medically treat the entire developing world,” says Daryl Fulp, an American missionary who works with disabled children in Guatemala.”  The entire article is at this link.

Feel free to contact me at deacon@ccparish.org if you want to pass along other opportunities to serve the world in Christ’s name! – Deacon Linda