Life along the Mississippi
This Sunday, April 23rd, at 4pm at Spirit of Hope, our Max Wojtanowicz, with musical accompaniment by our Minister of Music Jerry Rubino, will be performing his original piece “Ball: A Musical Tribute to My Lost Testicle.” If you missed it last summer at the Minnesota Fringe, here’s another chance to see it!
Max made this little trailer to explain why he decided to share his story.
by Veronica Jacobsen, SoH Office Manager
Allow me, for a moment, to tell you about a TV show that premiered last Fall that I am totally head over heels in love with: The Good Place. Without giving too much away, in the very first episode you start to realize that the story will center on a character dropped into a setting in which he or she does not belong. Hilarity ensues, because, well, it is a sitcom.
And allow me, for a moment, to tell you about one of the life-changing podcasts I started listening to at the end of last year, The Hilarious World of Depression. In this locally-produced podcast, John Moe talks with very famous and marginally famous funny people about the intersection of comedy and mental illness. These are discussions with people who are well-liked for their talents, yet choose to reveal to the world that, despite the witty exterior, they don’t feel like they fit in. If you’re interested in either one of those things, or if you like people in general, give this podcast a whirl.
I didn’t come here to talk about these things, but rather, to provide some background.
For this entire Lenten season, the Spirit of Hope community has been reflecting on the book, “Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics” By Eric Elnes. It was a slim read, and an easily digestible one at that. Week by week, we, the staff at Spirit of Hope, have lovingly (and I use that word in all seriousness) tried to set up an experience for people who come Wednesday nights to break bread, share a meal, reflect, and commune with each other. In a lot of ways, it was a way for staff to create a space to welcome you, to guide you, and to challenge you. I hope you’ve felt that care and attention if you’ve attended. If you haven’t–I’m deeply sorry that our attempts at hospitality missed their marks.
Anyway, this week we close out Lent by talking about being misfits. If you’re a misfit, you know that not fitting in is HARD. If you aren’t a misfit, please know that those of us who don’t fit in with the rest of you fight the stress and pressure of being atypical every day.
I know I’m “just an Office Manager” here. Before that, I was “just a doula”. And before that, I was “just an administrative assistant”. But one thing that I’ve always grappled with is that my brain does not stop asking questions. Ever. If I need to understand how something works, I figure it out. If my brain starts to work on a solution to a problem, even a minor one, I work to find the answers. And to top it all off, I’ve learned that the way my brain works makes for a very, very strong justice bias. So yes, I hold those around me accountable. I work to make sure people are following the letter of the law. No, I don’t want to be a lawyer, but I’ll play one on TV after I stay at a Holiday Inn Express.
I am a misfit. After some odd number of years I won’t reveal, I’m really working on coming into being as my own confident person. I thank my therapist, my husband, and strong women for carrying me and supporting me as I’ve worked to find my own distinct (and very loud) voice. But my experience as a misfit notwithstanding, there are some things I want you to contemplate:
At the beginning of this year, I worked to find an appropriate way to label myself. I didn’t want it to be about what I do, but rather about who I am right now. Eventually, I settled on “Dreamer. Builder. Nerd.” And you know what? I still really like it. The people that I want to get it will, and those who I don’t, won’t. I’m starting to own the fact that my brain works the way it does, that it’s not like a normal brain, and that’s OK. I am a nerd who likes to dive deep, figure things out without being asked to, and then fix things so they work. It’s my bliss.
During this Holy Week, I challenge you to welcome the misfits. Welcome those who defy all societal norms and talk to the woman at the well at noon. Welcome those who take time to wash the feet of those who are, by some arbitrary and patriarchal standard, of “lower station.” Welcome those who have different ideas, new takes on the world– after all, in a Christian Tradition rooted in the ideas and teachings of (sadly) men who didn’t fit in within the confines of a Christian Church Framework—if we can’t welcome and celebrate the Misfit– then why are we even here?
After all, Jesus was a man who died, was buried, and ROSE FROM THE DEAD. Who even does that? I’ll tell you…..
“Called out to larger life” Pastor Jeff Hansen
“Seeing is believing…seeing is believing” Pastor Jeff Hansen
Maybe you can help me…
I’m wondering how something like sanctuary can become a dirty word (after all, it has more than 4 letters), a controversial subject, a threatening idea that elicits threats from others?
The “sacred space” in our church building is called “the sanctuary”; just so you know, I think all space and place is sacred since it’s all God’s, but that is another discussion for another time. It is where we gather for worship, where we sing and pray and share scripture and communion. It isn’t the only place where we do such things, but it is designed and designated for them. You may have come into that space or one like it yourself seeking sanctuary – a time and place apart from the vexing things in your life. Isn’t it good to have such a space and place available?
Others have and do come at times when conditions in their lives are hard, crazy, overwhelming–even dangerous. They are looking for a place where they can breathe and breathe easy, at least for a while, without fear or threat. To seek and find sanctuary is to be safe. That is a basic need and desire.
To offer sanctuary is to provide a place for another where she won’t be harmed, where he won’t be hauled away. The people who hid Jews from Nazis during World War II were providing sanctuary, despite the risk involved. The people who hid and helped escaping slaves make their way to freedom were giving sanctuary. The Fugitive Slave Acts made it illegal to aid slaves who’d escaped. Slaves were the property of their “masters” and were to be returned to them. To aid them was to risk fines and jail time. Yet people continued to feed them, house them, and assist those who were fleeing to a place where they would have more rights than they did as enslaved people . Eventually the law changed, and the sanctuary-providers became heroes, the people who were on the right side of history. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?
There was a period of time during the 1980s when people were coming from Central America seeking sanctuary. Their countries were being ripped apart by civil war. Brutal governments were “disappearing” their own citizens, the ones who opposed or questioned them. When several nuns were raped and murdered by soldiers in El Salvador, our country began to wake up to find that we were complicit in the crimes of these repressive regimes. Once again, those providing sanctuary were on the right side of history. Some of these people found sanctuary in churches. Some even landed in the Twin Cities.
Right now there are people coming here from several violence-ridden Central American countries, seeking safety, sanctuary. Many of them are children. (The immigrant crisis having to do with Syrian refugees is another facet of this issue, though they are vetted and not told where they are going until they get on the plane.) Parts of our government don’t want them here, and the rumblings are that anyone providing sanctuary to such people will be on the wrong side of the law and may pay a price.
I have been told I should give the new President a chance. With all due respect, this is not about the President. It’s about us. Whoever he or she is, the question remains, what should the people of Christ do? Where should the church be on this question? If indeed these sisters and brothers need a safe place, can we turn them away and still claim to be the people of Christ, whatever the law or government says? Do we not answer to a higher authority? We have a cross on our building. Is that simply decoration or does it mean something? Do we understand and are we also willing to pay the price that comes with being Jesus’ sisters and brothers – to all our sisters and brothers, regardless?
“A Call for Biblical Obediance” Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert
“A moment of clarity, that leads to…” (What/who goes up…) Pastor Jeff Hansen
Hey, ya got a minute?
I heard a “blast from the past” last week. “Take the Long Way Home” by the group Supertramp was playing as I shopped in a store. You know how music can sometimes transport you to another place and time? You hear the tune, the words, and without any effort or thought you’re back in the setting where that song made its impression on and in your brain. Music can be a time machine.
The song I mentioned is from the late 70’s. I was just out of college, living and going to seminary in New Brighton, working as youth director at Messiah United Methodist Church in Plymouth, and also “doing time” on the morning cleaning crew at Dayton’s in Rosedale (5:45-10:30 a.m. Monday through Friday! Ugh!)
Being a new resident in the Twin Cities and especially fresh to the east side, I often got lost (no GPS-ing in those days!), went west when I needed to go east, south when I should have been going north, took County Road C when my destination was on County Road B, that sort of thing. And often I did it with a friend/roommate or two in the car at the time. The aforementioned Supertramp song seemed to come on the radio often when we were trying to figure out where we were and which way to go…so we would sing along loudly to our theme song, which became, “Take the Wrong Way Home!” It was perfect. And funny. And stress-relieving. And now it is one of my fondest memories of that time.
In Lent this year we’re going to do what the song, as adapted, suggests – we’re going to “take the wrong way home.”
For our Wednesday evening gatherings (beginning with soup, bread, and bars at 5:30) we will use the book, Gifts of the Dark Wood, Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics (and Other Wanderers) . In that book
Eric Elnes leads us into those places we generally would not choose to go, but often find ourselves anyway, places of emptiness, darkness, failure, lost-ness. And he will help us to find there good things that we would not necessarily expect. As he says, “According to the ancients, you don’t need to be a saint or spiritual master to experience profound awakening. You don’t even have to be ‘above average.’ All you really need to be is struggling.”
Have you ever been there? Are you there now? Think you might be sometime in the future? Know someone who is? If you said yes to any of those questions, you might find real value in this year’s Lenten adventure. So, why don’t you plan on coming? You can even buy a copy of the book at church ($13) and get ready – to get lost – with your sisters and brothers! Come on. Let’s “take the wrong way home” together. It’ll be fun. Well, it will a little bit of fun, but not too much. It is Lent after all. Though we could give up being gloomy and glum for the season.
Looking forward to getting lost with you.