Monday, June 25, 2018

how you feel sometimes

sometimes
returning home
feels like
swallowing sand,
while a faint moon
rises early
during the afternoon light,
hiding herself in plain sight
as just another cloud;
sometimes the traffic is flowing
while the heart is ebbing;
sometimes the horizon is apparent
but the future unclear;
sometimes the hand
right next to you
reaches over gently,
trying to bridge the void;
sometimes you feel alone
in the company of others,
passing cars,
confused amid construction,
eastbound,
glancing rearview,
trying to make sense of what has happened,
looking back to make sense of what is to come,
what will catch up to you,
like the certainty of dusk,
making peace with what cannot be changed,
praying for what can.

……………….

how you feel sometimes
by troy cady
for a friend






Saturday, June 23, 2018

VIII. God's Pregnancy

VIII. God’s Pregnancy
by Troy Cady

“History is cosmic pregnancy.” -Peter Kreeft

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth…” -The apostle Paul

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” -Jesus of Nazareth


I believe authentic ministry is an exercise in hope—and the first principle of hope is that we hope because God hopes.
The Bible uses the image of pregnancy to describe God’s hope. It is one of the portions of Scripture that troubles some Christians because it portrays God in feminine terms: God has a womb.
I think it is a beautiful image.

………………………….

            The image of a pregnant God accounts for much of the human experience: joy in the midst of pain, patience in waiting, growth and nurture, immanence and transcendence.
            It accounts for the feeling of hearing God’s voice as if from the inside. It is both strange and wonderful that maybe God’s voice is hard for us to understand not because God is so far away but because God is very close. God speaks but we have little capacity to understand what she is saying. God sings and the song gladdens our hearts inexplicably but we have yet to learn the song. Our songs are only imperfect copies of God-song. Comparatively, our songs are just mute potentialities.
            We can be certain of this: God’s voice will be clearer when the new birth happens, when we grow till the life She is giving us is sustained in us. God is patient, confident in the expectation that, in time, we will develop sight, the ability to hear, to grasp, to move…till we have a heart that beats strongly, lungs that breath deeply, mouths that take nourishment and learn to savor, throats to swallow and a chest rising and falling in rhythm.

…………………..

            My calling involves reminding others of these truths, that pain may last for a night but joy comes in the morning. If we feel pain momentarily, it is a comfort that we do not suffer alone. It is a comfort to me that our pain is not equivalent to God’s. God may be able to endure the pain better than us because God knows what is happening, what will emerge—but God’s pain is greater than ours, not less. When we suffer, God suffers more.

………………..

            My calling involves reminding others that whatever God makes is beautiful, bears the marks of God, resembles God.
            Each creation God brings forth is unique. I believe that a world of infinite variety could only be made by an infinite God, whose creativity can never be exhausted.
            I believe that God made our bodies and notices that the body is good. My calling involves reminding others to be good to the body, because the body is good.

……………………

            My calling is to help others be aware that God is closer than we think. There is no place we can go that God is not present. We are like pre-born babies in God’s womb. The Person all around knows us better than we know ourselves, loves us like no other. God is for us, not against us. God delights in us, sings over us, is expectant.

……………………..

            The specific voice of my calling is a voice of joy, a voice that sounds like play. Whatever God makes, God makes freely because of joy. Whatever God makes is a work that is more like play than work; it is a restful work.
            God makes freely so we who are made in God’s image are free to be ourselves, free to create, free to attach and detach. It is a strange paradox that only by clinging to God closely do we find the deepest freedom.
            God’s pregnancy is no trial to God. God’s endures because of joy. God embraces and awaits embrace, anticipates deeper communion with us. She smiles when She thinks of all the play we shall enjoy with Her. I smile, too, and want everyone to know Her joy.  
            Ministry is an exercise in hope because God is pregnant. We don’t know precisely what God will bring to life, what grows inside, but we know what comes forth will be good, beautiful and destined for joy.



Friday, June 22, 2018

melania's coat

She said,
“i know how to
keep myself warm
in Texas—
this jacket will do it.

“of course,
the fake news media
will misconstrue,
I REALLY DON’T  CARE,
DO U?

“they leave me cold
in my tight white jeans
so i’ll stoke
the fire higher—
i know how to
keep myself warm.

“look at me
in my sunglasses;
i’m so (b)right
it’s blinding.
I REALLY DON’T CARE,
DO U?”



Selah.



i saw someone else there
in Texas.
He was poor and naked.
He was there.
With the children.
Blessing them.

He saw her grand entrance,
wearing that coat.

He said,
“If anyone asks
to take your coat,
give your cloak as well.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.”

But she loved that coat.
So, she looked at the Naked man,
through those sunglasses,
and just said,
“I REALLY DON’T CARE,
DO U?”

She wore that coat
with pride
in Texas.
She stoked
the fire
higher.
She was cold
there in the heat.

Selah.

As she took her leave,
the poor man remained,
in the naked cold,
warming the weeping children
with his own Body.
He answered her question
in no uncertain terms;
he had no coat to give,
so he gave himself.

Selah.

………………

melania’s coat
by troy cady
for the children,
cold and alone





Wednesday, June 20, 2018

what "ministry" means to me

On Saturday, a two-year process will come to an end: the denomination for which I serve will confer ordination credentials on me. Many people have asked me what I plan to do with these credentials. The short (unspectacular) answer is: what I’ve been doing already—trying to help people as best I know how (with the gifts God has given me) to live in accordance with the gifts God has given them. 

As I’ve had the privilege of devoting most of my vocational energy to what many call “ministry,” I’ve tried to remind myself along the way that I’m just a fellow traveler. God calls every Christian to ministry and my role is to support whoever crosses my path in their ministry, wherever they work and carry out the affairs of their day to day life. Ministry can happen anywhere. Sometimes, in fact, I think the way we structure and conceive of “church” can actually get in the way of the kind of ministry God wants to do through his people. My role is to help people identify their unique ministry and empower them to pursue it joyfully, playfully.

Still, people think of me as a “pastor.” The word means “shepherd” and it carries the image of “leadership.” Leadership is a loaded word, no matter the context; sadly, the church is one context where leadership can sometimes be more about control than freedom.

“Pastor” is also a loaded word. Many people think of a pastor as someone who does ministry for the church; such a notion, I feel, has little scriptural merit. Ministry does not belong to a “pastor” (in the traditional sense). Ministry belongs to everyone; we all have a role to play. Anyone can be a pastor; all it takes is a willingness to receive with joy the gift of pastoring that God has given you and to bless others with your gift.

…………….

Ministry is about gratitude, first and foremost. We don’t make it; we receive it. It’s God’s. God is just gracious enough to include us in the work of blessing.

Ministry is not a career. You don’t craft ministry the way one crafts a career. You listen and respond humbly. Pride has no place in authentic ministry. When pride takes over, ministry becomes a career.

……………..

In ministry, I experience a humbling exchange: the King’s Child becomes a Servant so a servant like me can become the King’s child.

The best way for me to serve others is to remember…I’m just a child. This childlikeness forms the core of God’s call to me. He calls me just to be a child.

…………….

As a child, I don’t have to worry about how the Father is going to provide. Each day he just asks me to look to him for my daily bread; he tells me not to worry about tomorrow—he will meet my needs in a timely fashion.

As a child, I don’t have to worry about being “good enough” for the Father. He loves me just because he is loving, not because of anything I do or don’t do. I know that when I fail, he is gracious and forgiving, ever hopeful…seeing the best in me.

As a child, I bear the image of the Father and the Father never wants me to forget it. To grow is to resemble him more and more so others can see his likeness through my life, not just on the surface—but right to the heart.

Truth be told, I am just the chief of sinners and am only worthy to be called God’s servant—but, by the wonderful exchange of Jesus, he invites me to be his child.

What does it mean for me to be called a “pastor” by others? Just this: I’m not worthy to be called a pastor; I’m just God’s child…and such is God’s invitation for everyone, if we will just humbly accept it.

Father, just help me be your child and may everyone I meet understand more and more how very much you love them.



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

questions

In my work as a pastor, I often wonder: “What’s it all about, anyway? Does the church still matter? If so, why? To what end do we serve? If this strange community called ‘the church’ is to be any earthly good, what kinds of questions might be crucial for us to consider?”

Below, I offer some initial thoughts on this by way of posing some questions. Maybe something in here will inspire my fellow Christians to go deeper in our experience of faith. The questions I’ve thought of so far are:

What is our pattern of living? How are we attuning our steps to God’s rhythms?

What new work is God already doing in which we can participate gratefully?

How are we being sent-to-be-present?

How am I being a good listener and a good neighbor?

How am I practicing hospitality? How am I practicing gratitude?

How might God use me to invite others to follow Jesus?

With whom do I share genuine spiritual companionship? How are we being family to one another?

How are we demonstrating the ministry of reconciliation?

How am I allowing children to help me be a child-at-heart? How am I creating a welcome place in my heart for my own weakness and the weaknesses of others? How am I practicing playfulness?

How am I learning from others who have gained hard-earned wisdom?

How are we worshipping collectively and personally?

How are we feeding on God’s Word and praying?

In what ways am I dying to sin, walking in the power of the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit? How are we doing this collectively?

How may my sexuality serve as an image of God’s pleasure, goodness and freedom?

How are we embodying the Lord’s Prayer in our everyday life?

How is our intellectual life being sanctified; what do we believe and what are we learning about God, Church and world?

How are my words being sanctified? Do I practice silence regularly?

How do I just let myself be loved by God? Am I able to just rest? Is it hard for me to receive grace?

How is God making me a servant?

Do I know how God has gifted me to bless the Church and be a redemptive presence in the world?

Do I know I have the capacity to be an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, or Teacher? If so, how do I exercise my gifts? (See Ephesians 4:11-13)

How am I exercising creativity and generosity?

How are we caring for “the least of these” and working for justice?

How am I caring for creation, including my own body?

How are we being blessed by (and blessing) the nations?

How are we being formed to resemble Jesus?

…………..

I wonder, which question is most important for you right now?



Sunday, May 13, 2018

this is my mom



This is my mom. She lives in a rural community in Wisconsin. I called her today to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She worked last night taking care of others who, for various reasons, are unable to take care of themselves. Her workplace looks like a house but it’s really a special care facility. She’ll work tonight, too. Her shift starts at 8 and ends tomorrow morning.

She’s a trained hairdresser, so she does the hair of the residents when it’s needed. Among other responsibilities, she helps them get in and out of bed, cleans the house, and makes sure they are comfortable. In many ways, she mothers them—even though some of them may be older than her. I loved hearing about one resident they had some time ago who tended to be cranky or unresponsive to just about everyone, except Mom. I think it’s because this woman saw in my mom someone who can be tough and loving at the same time. One thing I admire about my mom is the way she can say something firm to you without hurting your feelings.

A couple years ago, another resident at the house also took a particular liking to my mom. This woman had trouble speaking, but Mom understood her. One of the favorite things she liked to do was just hold my mom’s hand.

My mom is a woman of simple belief. She’ll tell you she thinks you need God without any hesitation, without apology, just matter-of-fact. She might throw in a verse from the Bible because she trusts it. My mom is one of those you might hear say, “The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it.” I owe my belief today to my mom because when I was in middle school she took us to church three times a week: on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday night.

My mom isn’t perfect. She spent a number of years running from God. I think what I love most about her is her authenticity. What you see is what you get. She’s always happy to talk, she likes to cook, bake, garden and sew. She likes to get gifts and she loves to play games. She has a big laugh. Rarely have I heard her just faintly chuckle; she’s all in when she finds something funny.

When I called today she was over at her brother’s house. He’s married and they were expecting other family members to join them for dinner tonight. I called her cell phone and, when she answered it, she was outside picking rhubarb. She’s going to make rhubarb sauce and rhubarb pie with it later. When she told me that, I could almost taste it and my mouth began to water.

I wish I could sit down with her at dinner this week and just enjoy a piece of pie with her and play a game. I miss her and I love her.

I owe a lot to her. She shows me what perseverance looks like. She shows me how to find joy even when life throws you some hard turns. She demonstrates loyalty to family, to friends. Her beliefs are not prone to waver. She’s known to get her fingers dirty, to work hard with her hands. She gives strong hugs and she has cried a lot.

This is my mom and she’s part of me.

I thank God for you, Mom. Keep holding on to Jesus' hand.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

my soul. joy!

Will you share in my joy?
This afternoon I have hope.
My eyes moisten with tears,
life is sprouting,
death is not the finality we think,
resurrection is no dream—
I see hope in friendship,
I see grace in long shadows,
I hear a child’s laughter just a few houses down,
there have been birthdays lately
for kids and kids-at-heart,
souls especially beloved,
dear to me.

I remember and am remembered.
I see Jesus—mimicker of the Father—
in mimickers of the Son,
by the power of the Spirit.
I see the eternal in the present.
I taste love, the salt of sweat,
the sweetness of drink,
the staple of Bread.

God has lightened my load
by his humility, a burden to me
but not to him.
He has taken the weight
of these worries
and, in exchange,
given promise.

I will remember.
Tomorrow is today.


……………….

my soul. joy!
by troy cady