If you know that God's love embraces all persons equally, no matter their gender, race, or sexual identity...
If you understand that faith is a matter of mind as well as heart, and that taking the Bible seriously means it cannot always be taken literally...
If, for you, diversity, tolerance, and inclusion are strengths to be taught...
If you believe that Christ calls us to be nothing less than global citizens, that the social expression of love is justice and that spiritual concerns are inseparable from a commitment to the natural world...
If you have wished for a more open and embracing community of faith to nurture your spirit and raise your children, and haven't yet found a place of belonging...
... then please know that Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ is the place for you.
In her lovely new book, “Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy,” Anne Lamott retells the story of a village in Senegal whose water supply had dried up. The women of the village, having seen a vision of a lake beneath the sand of their arid area, tried to convince the men to allow them to dig. After initial resistance the men relented, let go of their rigid gender roles, and allowed the women to dig (although the men were still skeptical).
[The women] dug deeper, and deeper. Deep is so un-American now, even radical. We live too often like water skeeters on the surface of the pond, dropping down for a quick bite of insect or e-mail. Deep is the realm of the soul. (p. 116)
They dug for a year, and did not lose hope. The women dug and dug, and now their villages – and 16 surrounding villages --are supplied with a well and a water system and irrigation for their crops. They began in a circle, seeking a solution and listening. “There is such a depth to listening, and an exchange, like an echo from inside a canyon....” (p. 113). And they ended in transformed roles, new expectations, and renewed, flourishing life.
Going deep is so difficult. Going deep is the only thing that will save us. There is such a temptation in our social media saturated world to skip along the surface of the pond, responding to every tweet, Instagram or snapchat, getting emotionally wrecked by the shallow but intense news. I am filled with gratitude for all the deep dives in our congregation: our Green Team, member care team, mission team, each deeply committed and grounded.
Something about the lectionary readings for the coming Sunday led me to thinking about the various ways in which we approach scripture. A few times in my ministry I’ve taught a course on “Ways to Study the Bible.” I’m not going to tackle that large subject in a single blog entry. My reflections did lead me to a favorite book in my personal library, Frederick Buechner’s Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale. Written in 1977, it is still one of the best books on the task of preaching I have ever read. It’s a bit lyrical at times, maybe even fantastical, and heavily thought-provoking and challenging at others.
Any attempt to summarize or offer a representative quotation is doomed to failure, but I’ll do it anyway. The following two quotes come close to the author’s own summary, in my opinion. (The book was written in an era when “man” was used to designate all humanity, male and female. I’ve not changed that wording from the original.)
“The Gospel is bad news before it is good news. It is the news that man is a sinner, to use the old word, that he is evil in the imagination of his heart, that when he looks in the mirror all in a lather what he sees is at least eight parts chicken, phony, slob. That is the tragedy. But it is also the news that he is loved anyway, cherished, forgiven, bleeding to be sure, but also bled for. That is the comedy. And yet, so what? So, what if even in his sin the slob is loved and forgiven when the very mark and substance of his sin and of his slobbery is that he keeps turning down the love and forgiveness because he either doesn’t believe them or doesn’t want them or just doesn’t give a damn? In answer, the news of the Gospel is that extraordinary things happen to him just as in fairy tales extraordinary things happen.”
I wouldn’t express some of the details in quite that way but I find it immensely helpful to think of the Gospel as tragedy, comedy, and fairy tale. It captures a lot of the way in which I experience the Gospel stories.
A concert to raise funds to replace the roof at Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ will be held in the church sanctuary. Dan's son Elliot will join them on piano as a guest artist.
Caminhos Cruzados means "cross roads" or "paths crossed" in Portuguese and several disparate musical traditions do just that in Caminhos Cruzados. The trio features renowned jazz guitarist Dan Balmer, acoustic guitarist Nat Hulskamp, who has backgrounds in Spanish flamenco and Middle Eastern music and internationally respected master percussionist from Ghana, Israel Annoh.
Dan Balmer (jazz guitar): Dan has long been considered one of the finest guitarists, composers, and educators in the Northwest. In 2009, Dan became one of only five musicians to be honored with membership in both The Oregon Music Hall of Fame and the Jazz Society of the Oregon Hall of Fame. In 2015, Dan continued his work with Les McCann and Javon Jackson, and also performed on the road with Dr. Lonnie Smith. From 2005-2009 Dan toured and recorded with two time Grammy Winner Diane Schuur, playing in over 15 countries and 60 cities. In his home town of Portland, Dan leads his own groups, plays twice a week with drummer Mel Brown, and is a first call sideman for many others. Dan has appeared on over 90 CDs including eight of his own which have received critical acclaim and international airplay. His music has been featured in movies and television shows both in the U.S. and overseas.
Nat Hulskamp (flamenco guitar) was born in Portland, OR. He began studying guitar with guitarist/composer Paul Chasman at age seventeen. He was soon introduced to flamenco guitar by Jose Solano. His interest in the influence of Arabic music on flamenco led him to study oud in Morocco. After returning to the US, he moved to Seattle to study ethnomusicology at the University of Washington. There he worked with the groups Carmona Flamenco, The Rez Quartet and others ranging in style from Hungarian Csardas and Gypsy swing to flamenco. In 2000 he co-founded the Vancouver, BC based Arabic/ flamenco group Aire with ney player and singer Emad Armoush. in 2012 Nat was awarded a grant from the RACC to study with flamenco giant Diego del Morao. This led to a collaboration in 2015 for his group Seffarine's debut CD with Diego del Morao, and living legend of flamenco vocals, Tomasa La Macanita called "De Fez a Jerez". He now resides in Portland, composing and performing with Caminhos Cruzados and Seffarine.
Israel Annoh is a renowned master percussionist originally from Ghana. He currently performs with Portland bands Caminhos Cruzados, Border Crossing, Michael Allan Harrison and Thara Memory. His style has its roots in Ghanaian and other West African music as well as jazz greats such as Max Roach, Cosy Cole, & Elvin Jones. He's played at the BBC studios in London, traveled through Africa, Europe, and the US. He's played with Highlife pioneer E.T. Mensah, Obo Addy, and the Ghana Broadcasting Orchestra.
“Focusing on what we’re eating allows us to reflect on where our food came from and how it’s nourishing our bodies, and to give thanks. To give thanks for our bodies, for the earth, for the farmer, for the whole web of life in which we live and move. It isn’t necessary for every meal to become a mystical experience. But any meal could.”
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On Sunday, March 19, the congregation of Kairos-Milwaukie UCC voted, by secret written ballot, to call the Rev. Jeanne Randall-Bodman as its Settled Pastor. The final tally was 65 in favour, with 1 abstention. Jeanne accepted the call gratefully and enthusiastically, affirmed by smiles and hugs all around.
This overwhelmingly-positive decision was especially meaningful given how important the former pastor was to the spirit and substance of the congregation. For not quite 40 years the Kairos part of the congregation wandered in the wilderness from building to building, following its pastor, Rick Skidmore.
When Kairos joined with the 100-year-old Milwaukie UCC, they kept Rick as pastor in defiance of the common practice of calling a new pastor for the blended congregations, and Rick was accepted by the combined congregations in an almost-seamless transition that has endured over a decade.