Tuesday, July 31, 2012

introducing new justice interns!

Introducing our justice interns: 2012-2013 Seattle UCC Young Adult Service Community

Transform your life... Transform the world!

United Church of Christ Young Adult Service Communities (Ages 21-30)

We welcome our inaugural team of Justice Interns to Seattle on September 4, 2012, as they begin their 2012-2013 year of service!

Community Living
Interns live in community with each other at All Pilgrims
UCC/DoC Church on Capitol Hill and develop relationships
with their host congregation, local community, and YASC
Groups in other locations.

Justice Leaders development - in the UCC
Integrate congregational life and mission/justice advocacy.
Develop servant leadership skills in year-long course for
Justice Leaders, at Keystone UCC in Wallingford, alongside
members & friends of Seattle UCC churches.

Hands-on Justice Advocacy work at Seattle
Work to foster systemic change for our most vulnerable and
excluded people, by serving 32 hours/week in an advocacy
organization that mobilizes folks to action.

Faith Conversations
Study progressive Christian values, nonviolence, and
community organizing. Reflect on radical hospitality,
vocational discernment, and a call to a life of faith-based
justice work. Grow the vision of a church engaged in God's
prophetic and healing work in the world.

Justice Interns will join the life and leadership each week at 3 of our Seattle churches:
Keystone UCC: www.keystoneseattle.org/ All Pilgrims UCC/DoC: www.allpilgrims.org/
Plymouth UCC: www.plymouthchurchseattle.org/

To learn more, contact: Lauren Cannon, Associate Pastor Keystone UCC, Seattle lauren.cannon@keystoneseattle.org 206-632-6021 www.keystoneseattle.org Seattle regional director YASC www.ucc.org/volunteer

~~~~~ Introducing our inaugural 2012-2013 team:

Jenn Hagedorn, from our own Pacific Northwest Conference UCC, will be interning with The Church Council of Greater Seattle: http://www.thechurchcouncil.org/ and serving at Plymouth UCC: http://plymouthchurchseattle.org/
My name is Jenn Hagedorn and I am so looking forwarding to the upcoming year as a part of the YASC program! I graduated from Western Washington University in 2011 with a BA in Human Services and Rehabilitation. This broad degree allowed me to experience working with non-profits, especially within the field of public health, and solidified my desire to work within the non-profit sector. I
Welcome 2012-2013 Justice Interns
recently returned from living in Ghana for eight months, where I volunteered with various government and non-governmental organizations doing health outreach and education. As a child that grew up in the UCC, I know that I was blessed to be in an environment that instilled the importance of justice and equality. These are the values that have shaped who I am, and have opened so many doors in my life. I see the YASC program as a perfect opportunity to give back to the broader UCC community, while also deepening my own faith and continuing on my spiritual path.

Marianne Haney, originally from West Seattle and Puyallup, will be interning with Puget Sound Sage: http://www.pugetsoundsage.org/ and serving at All Pilgrims UCC/DoC:
My name is Marianne Haney and I will be one of the interns for this upcoming 2012-2013 year of service. There are three main reasons I applied for a YASC
position. The first being that I will be graduating from AmeriCorps NCCC on July 19th after 10 months of traveling and serving communities throughout the Pacific Region. I had the opportunity to work for 4 specific nonprofit organizations throughout my year of service. I realized that I want to continue in the nonprofit sector and wanted to do this in the city that I was raised in. Second, I wanted to work on becoming a leader in my community and continue to grow in all areas. Third, I wanted to be connected to a church to some degree and have the chance to be surrounded by religious leaders. I am originally from West Seattle, but spent most of my high school years in Puyallup, Washington. I was in my second year of college for Criminal Psychology before I dropped out to join AmeriCorps. I was adopted at the age of 3 by my amazing parents Richard & Martha. I love to learn different languages and experience new cultures and philosophies on life. I am 5’5, just turned 21, athletic, love to play video games, love to be involved in church activities, and love meeting new people. I love Russian and Indian food; I like to go out, like the outdoors, and trying new things. I can’t wait to meet all of the people I will be working with.

Steven Boyles, a leader from the Ohio UCC Conference, will be interning with The Faith Action Network: http://fanwa.org/ and serving at Keystone UCC: www.keystoneseattle.org/

Hi, my name is Stephen Boyles, and I'm a native of Kent, Ohio, a city just outside of the Cleveland area. I recently graduated from Heidelberg University, where I majored in Political Science and Minored in Religion. Heidelberg is a UCC affiliated school, and it's where I learned about the YASC service opportunity from my campus minister. I've had a very exciting spiritual journey so far, and I'm incredibly excited to continue with that same spirit of service in Seattle in this upcoming YASC year.

Kathryn Murdock, from our own Pacific Northwest Conference UCC, will be interning at the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness: http://www.homelessinfo.org/ and serving at Keystone UCC: www.keystoneseattle.org/
Kathryn Murdock is a recent graduate of the University of Puget Sound where she majored in foreign language international affairs and minored in music. She is a native of Seattle and grew up at University Congregational UCC where she first learned the importance of social and economic justice. Kathryn is very excited to begin the YASC program where she will have the opportunity to connect her interest in improving social and economic justice with her work in a non-profit at the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.

As we prepare to accompany our 2012-2013 Justice Interns along their year, we celebrate their courage and their call to this commitment!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Inconceivable Prophets" sermon

Keystone Church UCC

“Inconceivable Prophets”
Sermon on Mark 6: 1-13
6th Sunday After Pentecost
Keystone United Church of Christ
Lauren Cannon
I was recently in Ohio visiting with my partner Mike’s family.  They have been living and working in Cleveland, East Cleveland, West Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Akron, Kent- you name it- around the greater Cleveland area- a long time.  This visit, I admit, we were focused on some celebrations, and did not speak this time of the oft debated departure of the great basketball athlete LeBraun James, who left his home town Cleveland Cavaliers to head to the Miami Heat, but under immense scrutiny.  Many devoted fans in Cleveland, still hungry for a championship, were apparently furious with his choice, saying the way he left was indignant and insulting.  Meanwhile LeBraun James pleaded that it was hard to leave his lifelong home town, but he hoped his ‘real’ fans would support him in his new town of Miami!  In this current story, both fans and superstar seem to be in almost the dramatic opposite roles of the elements from our old biblical story that we have today from our Gospel of Mark, where Jesus is rejected by his home town of Nazareth.  For Le Braun James, the one rising to fame from the hometown, it was his city that shook off the dust, and said we will move on... One lifelong Cleveland Cavaliers fan Matt was quoted saying:  “It’s OK.  (Forget) him.  We will move on as always.  Just can’t believe he is so cold hearted.” [ESPN Chicago.]
In our culture, sports heroes garner pride and are celebrated if they rise from humble origins.  But for Jesus, in his culture, if fame brought a change of ranks, it was viewed with suspicion.  He faced an embarrassing and painful situation in that those in Nazareth who knew him best, would not support him.  They did not have ears to hear his good news.  For us, this story presents a question about whether we can hear God amidst ordinary unlikely prophetic voices today.  Whether we have open eyes to see God in the unexpected people and places that bear wisdom for our day.
In our Gospel of Mark, this roadblock Jesus encounters in his home town seems to be a jolt.  Recall we have just come from the healing story where Jesus was able to spontaneously end the long suffering of a woman who was brave enough to reach out to him in a crowd and touch the hem of his garment.  Her faith made her well, for she had been bleeding for years upon years, but Jesus was at last able to restore her to balance.  And we have also come from the story of Jesus restoring Jairus’ daughter to life, from the edge of her death bed, astounding all comprehension.  This has emboldened people to follow Jesus as a healer who is clearly endowed with great power.  So Jesus’ reputation traveled well in advance of his arrival back to his home town of Nazareth, accompanied by his disciples.  And so the writer of Mark has us find him in the synagogue on the sabbath and teaching, as he has been doing, and at first people are amazed, as they have been in other towns.  But right away comes the skepticism.  The questioning begins.  
Folks begin to try to make sense of where he could have acquired these skills.  After all, how would an artisan, “teknon” in Greek, a wood worker or carpenter or stone worker, get so wise?  How would he have become so learned?  The  In Greco-Roman world, most of the population was illiterate, and so it was with Jesus...  and, in general, the great divide was between those who had to work with their hands, and those who did not [Dominic Crossan].  
Jesus family was not the lowest rung in this societal hierarchy, such as day laborers, but there was a clear sense that they were among the lower, as those doing building work in Galilee.  As a carpenter, Jesus was likely making wooden door frames and the like, but there would have been someone else was in charge an overall building construction.  These town folk in Nazareth still live among Jesus’ mother Mary, and Jesus’ siblings, and they even seem to be insulting Jesus in the way they speak of him.  They pose that he might possibly be illigitimate since it would be customary to identify him as “Jesus, son of Joseph,” according to who his father is.  But instead they say he is the son of Mary. 
And there was also the problem of culture: in an honor/shame society, it was an act of sheer arrogance for someone of Jesus' humble origins to speak out publicly. The villagers of Nazareth knew Jesus, and they thought him to be nothing particularly special. His family were ordinary folk. Jesus was a journeyman artisan at best, not a sage or dignitary, and his apparent ability to perform "deeds of power" like healings simply didn't add up. So these neighbors stumble, and "they take offense at him."  His hometown rejection is underway.  
Jesus then tells the disciples the proverb that “a prophet is never worthy in their home town...”, and Jesus finds he does not have power to offer the same magnitude of healings, as he could in other towns.  Watching this downturn, the disciples may in fact find that Jesus becomes especially real to them now: they can see he is a servant leader, who can indeed suffer in painful ordinary human ways.  Can be misunderstood, rejected, even as they know of his magnificence.  
So Jesus heads out to surrounding villages that may welcome him with a little more faith.  But the gospel here is also signaling a beginning of what will come to be a monumental expansion:   It is here, that Jesus bestows powers upon his disciples to be carriers of a message of hope.  He sends them two by two to other villages, with the ability to offer healings.  But first he instructs them:
‘Travel light, and land wherever people will have you.  Do not carry a knapsack.’  He distinguishes their mission as one that relies on the community, unlike the other traveling group of miracle workers called the Cynics.  When Cynics carried their backpacks- they symbolized that they carried their home with them; they conveyed they  were self sufficient.  Jesus, instead, instructed the disciples that they were to depend on those who would listen in each community.  We see here the beginnings how through time, each community, and each of us, in turn, are expected to carry the news that God’s healing can come from ordinary folks, if we but pause to listen.  And Jesus is clear to have the disciples go to the less-than-utmost-comfortable places.  “Stay in the place that opens the door to you-- don’t go looking for the best house.  And remember you are the message.” [The Message.]
Then, he also enforces the tough truth that the disciples have just seen him face on his home turf.  He empowers them for when they are not received well.  (It would have sounded a bit like:) “Dust off your feet, and move along-- for it is more important to reach those who really hunger for healing...” , and those who can hear that there is a new way to order lives, according to a loving God.
Today we ask ourselves the question this story prompts, “Who are the brave voices in our midst that may be the unlikely carriers of prophetic wisdom?”  Are we prone to be like the hometown crowd in Nazareth and miss out on the fullness of blessings that God might pour upon us?  They could not see Jesus as spiritual leader and thus they missed the amazing things God was doing in their midst.  They barricaded themselves. (At least at this point in the story!  Stay tuned: later in our church year, we will see that many of these same brothers and women appear again, as they have come to be followers trying to help Jesus, closer to the time he is to be killed.)  You know, there is a saying that “an expert is anyone who is 50 miles out of town... or 500 miles out of town....or at least, not from here!”  
Today our question just may be, “Do we want to be that community that sticks to our prevailing assumptions, and is perhaps not fully open to voices trying to speak?”  Do we seem to already know all too much about answers to our daunting  magnitude of challenges in these times (if anyone would just consult us!)  Do we already presume to know just what can or cannot heal the resource crises of our globe, about who can get us out of rapid climate change and extreme weather?  We know what what will stand in the way of eliminating the enormity of global poverty and rampant homelessness.  But then, what if God is all around us, speaking to us through the most unlikely people?
This year for the 4th of July, Mike and I did something a little bit different.  We were with a circle of friends, that decided to celebrate “interdependence day”, (as nerdy as that may sound...), it was indeed a lovely day, full of the usual delights of lazy barbecue and even a sunny croquet match, but somehow, gathering under the frame of celebrating interdependence made it all just feel a little bit different.  
One of the questions offered at the table after we had eaten, was from our friend who said he had become inspired by a group of young people, called “Generation Waking Up”, or “GenUp” for short.  Younger people setting out from all over the country, and connecting across the globe, using technology, to ignite a movement to bring about a thriving, sustainable, just world.  They are raising voices as a generation who pays tribute that indeed they have benefitted from the incredible fast technological advances of recent decades, that connect us all across the world instantly.  But they say they can also see that we have gone off the rails in terms of the pace of consumption of the planet’s resources, and that we cannot continue in these ways that create great discrepancies of wealth and of suffering.  They believe that current and coming generation of young adults have the passion and insight to help turn toward hopeful solutions that rely on a diversity of young voices as a strength.  [I commend to you a 9 minute video they released, as you find the address listed in your bulletin:  
At the July 4th table our friend said, “what if everywhere I went now, I distilled my work in to the most important and basic mission: to ensure that everyone on the planet has clean fresh water to drink.  That each has decent shelter.  That all could be fairly fed.”  It reminded me of our prayer we often lift around this communion table, as we will do this morning, as we break bread, “God move us toward your vision of the day when sharing by all will mean scarcity by none...”  What if this “Generation Waking Up” of young people can inspire that clarity and urgency across all of us? 
I found myself considering how young adults may become more of the prophetic teachers to all generations- if we but open our ears to hear.  And not to romanticize here, because in fact, this goes back to Jesus’ time...  Recall that Jesus was really a late teenager and then a young adult in his entire time of ministry.  He was dead by age 33...  Do we often picture him in our minds as a young adult?  We can also recall that  those who were called, and left their fishing nets and their families to follow him and become the disciples, they too were really a band of younger ones... All of them were what we would call young adults today- up through their twenties.  And perhaps very young fathers who left their growing families... And let’s note the courage of what would later come to be acknowledged as the women disciples.  They were alongside the disciples written about, getting the press.  These brave women surely would have raised eyebrows, to be independently traveling with this band of mobile missionaries...  In our minds, lets begin to truly hold them as young adults.
So if the old proverb is to continue, and no one can truly be a prophet in their own home town...  does that begin to point an opportunity back to US to shake that up a bit?  How will we listen to wise visions?  Do we want to be the town-folk that could not hear the prophetic teachings of the wise wanders, of our younger generation?  We don’t need to be...
I am inspired by our [Keystone] church to step forth recently to create and lead a new thing in our region in Seattle- and build our young adult service community.  We are creating a program for teaching and learning- that we will nurture, support, and guide, through this church.  And I am so humbled by your call to me, to help organize us all do that... and to pastor to our first group.
So perhaps, today’s message can be heard in a way that helps us get ready to shake off the dust where we may now need to...  will we have questions from the town-folk? 
-Why invest in young adults? aren’t they such a transient population? 
-Besides, they are never big givers to the church!  
-Do any even commit to any faith tradition? Denomination?  Committee work?
-And why would Keystone need another part time minister for a small church?
But instead, lets allow ourselves to imagine, what if the whole town of Nazareth got behind the youth group Jesus had pulled together?!....  
And what if we can be town folk who can help neighbors see that there might be a prophetic word to be heard, from a very very unlikely source.   As we leave this place today, and enter in to our week, may we be invited to walk around our days, with a little more willingness to see an unlikely teacher somewhere in our midst...
For there just may be some good news from the Gospel of Mark for you, for me, for our whole church, and for our wider body of Christ, because... let’s be honest... lets admit... ‘we’ do not strike a particularly imposing figure on the cultural landscape at present!   But as we open our ears anew, we too are inheritors--- are unlikely agents of God’s redemptive purpose.  We have the option today to embrace the news... this God we serve - has a mighty history - of accomplishing things through unconventional, unlikely, unexpected servants!  May we open ourselves to help it to always be so!