Live Into That Calling

 Living Stones 

At start of spring I open a trench / in the ground. I put into it
the winter's accumulation of paper, / pages I do not want to read
again, useless words, fragments, / errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the sun, growth of the ground, / finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then, / and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins: that I have not been happy / enough, considering my good luck;
have listened to too much noise; / have been inattentive to wonders;
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse / of mind and body, I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark, / the deathless earth. Beneath that seal
the old escapes into the new.
          —“A Purification” by Wendell Berry
          As we continue in this Lenten season, I want to remind you again (and again) that you are Beloved.  Deeply beloved.  No matter what.  Even when we miss the mark and have to turn around, retrace our steps, and try again. . . .  Our God is a God of second chances (and third and fourth chances).  Our God is a God of transformation—constantly working—as Wendell Berry says—to allow the old to escape into the new.  Our God never gives up on loving us.  Each one of us—a unique child of God—is beloved.
          And as beloved children of God, we are each one called to love our world, our neighbors, the people we meet, people we never meet, strangers, friends, people who are different from us, and all of creation.  Yet, sometimes, I know, it feels difficult to live into that calling.  How do we love and hold onto the values of our faith when there is so much animosity, hostility, bigotry, and fear swimming around us?
          I certainly do not know all the answers.  But I would like to suggest a few possibilities:
1)    Make time and space for God to speak to you. You are God’s Beloved, and God wants to be in conversation with you. It may be in silence, a piece of music, among redwood trees, driving in traffic, in focused prayer and meditation.  However it happens, talk to God, and allow God to speak back to you.  Pray for our community, nation, and our nation’s leaders. Pray about what you are called to do in this time and place.  Creating a daily spiritual practice is an act of love and social justice.
2)    Practice self-care.  God does not want you, Beloved, to be stressed out or burnt out. Do things that energize you and give life to your spirit.  Take care of yourself, especially when you get triggered or anxious. Unplug from social media if you get overwhelmed. Find someone to listen to you. Spend intentional time with friends.  Give yourself permission to grieve. Eat healthy food, enjoy the arts, get some exercise, read or listen to good books, spend time in nature, get enough sleep, come to worship.
3)    Remember you are not alone.  Identify your support system (friends, family, therapists, spiritual directors, members of FCCV).  Place yourself in community and spend time in life-giving conversations. Come to church and church-sponsored events.  Make an appointment with Pastor Christy.  Ask one of our Elders for prayer. Remember you are beloved.
4)    Read books that inspire you. Poetry. Fiction. History. Theology. Biographies. Ways to work for justice. Maybe we can compile a list as a congregation?  Ask for recommendations.  Share suggestions. We all have something to learn. We all have room to grow.
5)    Exercise a “hermeneutic of suspicion.”  Be careful of fake news and “alternative facts” that masquerade as truth. Critical thinking is a form of love.  Question what you read and what you hear. What are the motivations of your sources?  What is the story underneath the story? Who is being helped by this decision?  Who is being hurt? Dig for the truth. Rely on trusted and reliable news sources that publish facts (examples include: New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The New Yorker, and Washington Post). 
6)    Connect social, political, and economic realities with your faith.  There are some wonderful print and online resources that can help with this.  Sojourners is an excellent, inspiring, interfaith resource. The Christian Science Monitor, Religion News Service, and the blog of John Pavlovitz are also thought-provoking places to consider.
7)    Support organizations that share the FCCV values of belovedness, inclusivity, and justice for all of God’s children. Each month, our church contributes a portion of our budget to support a local, national, or international organization that aids and empowers vulnerable populations. You might also consider giving these organizations additional support or suggesting other organizations that do this work for us to support. Some of these organizations include the Rainbow Community Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Week of Compassion, Planned Parenthood, the Sparrow Project, the Human Rights Campaign, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
8)    Contact your state and national representatives and senators. Make your presence and opinions known.  Identify yourself as a Christian and as a member of the First Christian Church (DOC) of Vallejo when you contact them. You can find the contact info for your national leadership here: (type in your zip code). Find our Senators at  You can also contact specific representatives and senators who are not from our area when they do or support something that violates your values. (Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have been good candidates recently. Jack Dalrymple, the Governor of North Dakota, is another to contact about the Dakota Access Pipeline). Write out a script and call. Send postcards. Send emails. Leave messages.  Even when love and justice experience a setback, every call helps. Act out of love.  Live into your faith.
9)    Work for social justice.  Consider signing up for (or downloading) one of the apps or services that will guide you in ways to take action for justice. There are many good ones.  Some examples include: 1.  will send you concrete things to do each week to resist injustice.  2. Daily Action Alerts  will send you one thing you can do each day.  3. will provide you with phone numbers and scripts to use to call Representatives and Senators about important issues.  4. will educate you, help you get organized, and show you ways to take action.
10)          Seriously consider what God is calling you to do.  Are you being called to protest, write letters, run for elected office, get involved in Common Ground (our local, faith-based community organizing effort), attend Vallejo City Council meetings, learn more, call your senators and representatives, lead a group at church on a particular social justice topic? Talk to God about it and see what newness emerges. . . .  I look forward to hearing about it!

See you in church,