Category Archives: literature

Kristin Herdy’s Quest for the Holy Landfill

I’m an auntie! More on that later. On the way to and from the hospital to see my nephew, I drive along a country highway, dotted with several large estates and ranches.

What you notice as you pass are the iron gates, large houses, softly rolling green hills, cattle, pristine estate grounds and long drives, and the signs. Those houses all have signs up right now. STOP THE LANDFILL, they say. The signs are large, professional, and look costly.

I can’t help but think about the “sides” of this landfill issue. I wouldn’t want a landfill in my backyard, either. I wouldn’t want my groundwater potentially compromised by rainwater runoff over mounds of trash. I wouldn’t want the stench. On the other hand, landfills have to go somewhere, right?

Who should bear the brunt of the landfill?

Those who produce the most waste?

Those who can’t afford to stop the initiative?

Who deserves to live in a landfill-free environment?

Those who pay the most for their houses?

Those who bear the lion’s share of property taxes?

Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”

Reading those signs, I couldn’t help but feel that, as human beings, we know our waste, our excess, our sin, will come back to haunt us, but like the Pharisees, we also believe we can keep the facade looking clean and pristine and avoid the consequences.

We might try to hide it away in someone else’s area. We might try to slap a new coat of paint on it. We could rebrand and repackage it. We could recycle it or shoot it into space. We can’t seem to eliminate it, though, not through all our efforts.

No one wants a landfill in their backyard. No one wants to live in their own waste. No one wants the consequences of their sin to pile up and over their fences and spill into their flower beds.

If your sin were represented by a mound of trash… what is the capital of Assyria? how much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow? look! a baby!!!!

In other words, what absurd things do we do to avoid the punishment of our sin, instead of asking forgiveness and accepting the consequences?

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Diversity WhoDunIt

Each Monday this summer, I’m blogging Scott Williams’ book, Church Diversity, because I won the book from Michael Perkins’ blog and because I’m puzzled by the phenomenon of segregated Sundays.

As you know if you read here regularly at MessiahMom, I love a good mystery, especially old English country house mysteries by Agatha Christie or Georgette Heyer. In those formulaic mysteries, the body is found in a locked room, everyone present at the weekend party is a suspect, weapons abound, etc. The reader’s task is to discover WhoDunIt before the inspector or amateur sleuth in the novel.

As Scott Williams does in his 2nd chapter of Church Diversity, readers must also face the “brutal facts” of the case. If we are to solve the case of missing diversity, let’s look at those brutal facts.

*According to Mark DeYmaz, pastor of Mosaic, The Multi-Ethnic church, in his podcast, 92.5% of churches are segregated by race and class.

*Curtis DeYoung found that only about 5% of churches are fully integrated (meaning, made of up of ethnic groups that constitute more than 20% of the population of the largest ethnic group).

*Sociologist Michael Emerson found that non-denominational megachurches are much more likely to be racially diverse (and otherwise diverse) than smaller, tradition-bound congregations.

These are the facts of the case. Let’s look at our cast of suspects. People investigating church diversity often point to THESE to identify the cause. So, Who is Kaiser Soze?

Pastor: People like to blame the pastor when their church doesn’t look like they believe it should. Pastors are expected to welcome visitors and drop ’round member’s houses and make hospital visits and create, share and execute the vision of the church. Pressure much? No wonder pastor burnout is a problem!

Sure, Pastors can be a contributing factor in church diversity. Like attracts like. Is he or she reaching out to minorities and actively pursuing diversity? What about Staff?

Staff: Associate ministers, Music Directors, Youth Directors, Church Secretary, Custodial staff, Nursery Director… I’m not asking churches to make hiring or calling decisions based on race, but given that our communities are diverse, it would stand to reason that there would be SOME diversity on staff. That’s something to pray about, yes?At the same time, can we encourage a diverse congregation with the staff we have?

Ushers: Some day, I’ll write about how a rogue usher almost convinced me never to go back to my former church. Ushers are the front lines of greeting in many churches, but they might also be serving as gatekeepers to determine who is in and who is Auf Wiedersehen (pardon my Project Runway ref). For instance, there was the story of the special needs child whose family was escorted out on Easter Sunday, to help create a “distraction free” worship environment.

Congregation: Couldn’t the people in the pews be inviting a variety of their friends and neighbors to church? Shouldn’t the people in the pews have reason to believe their church is open and welcoming to all races, ages, economies, abilities, backgrounds… what about those sex offenders?

Honestly, and I’m about to ruin a great Christie novel for you, so, turn away if you don’t like spoilers… I think that lack of diversity in the church isn’t a matter of WhoDunIt, but, like Murder on the Orient Express, we have ALL contributed to the segregation of congregations across the nation.

Our weapons were apathy, omission, snide comments, cliquishness, nepotism, risk aversion, myopia and distrust. Those weapons are not God’s weapons, they belong to the enemy.

This week, I’m asking you to pray for our churches. Pray for a destruction of the weapons that are so easily available to us.

What weapons would you like to see destroyed?

What’s your favorite mystery novel?

Learning Among the Green

Growing up, my parents took us camping. I’m going out on a big, sturdy limb, here, to say that we went camping, not because my mom loved it, but because we could afford to take longer vacations that way, which Mom DID love!

I have yet to discover the appeal of camping, but since my last post on the subject, I’ve been digging again into As You Like It, and found something of note:

And this our life exempt from public haunt
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing.
I would not change it. – Act II, Scene 1

The scene is the Forest of Arden. Duke Senior and his Lords¬† live in exile like Robin Hood and his band of merry men. He doesn’t seem to mind not being courted and kissed-up-to though times are tough in the forest and food is scarce. He discovered that God speaks through his creation.

From the first Garden God planted (the first “Master Planned Community,” if you will), he has ordered nature to point to his glory. There are lessons in the green trees and the blue seas and birds and the bees.

I find that when I sit outside, like I did on the beach last weekend, or when I go for a walk to a mountain waterfall (my favorite para-camping activity), I can shut out the world of cell phones, email, annoying kids’ TV, toys with battery-powered sounds and just focus on what God has created, and that includes me.

The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those that dwell therein – Psalm 24:1

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I am a testament of God’s power and planning. I was created to reflect his glory more so than the birds of the air or lilies of the field. He created me to faith that can move the mountains into the sea. He also created Adam, and created me, to learn from his creation and care for it.

Hear the tongues in the trees that speak languages different from our own. Read the books in running brooks. Apply the sermons told upon the stones and look for the good in everything.

What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever visited? What lessons can you learn from nature?