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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, December 10, 2012

 The woman in this picture is Dorothy Day. A leading social activist in her day, there is a movement to get her canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. I hope she makes it.

Although I have a a sort of fascination with the canonization of  people into saints (Remember, the difference between a saint and an angel is that a saint--at one time--had a body. Angels never had one.). Last week people all across Facebook were posting memes of Saint Nicholas, and I love remembering that kind of stuff, even with the "ho,ho, homousios" jokes. (There's a real Wikipedia search for you!)

Last night on Darkwood Brew we had a guest who reminded me a lot of a Protestant Dorothy Day. Her name is Donnna Schaper, and she is a pastor at the famous Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Known as a contemplative activist, she does a lot in helping people, and more so helping people of faith learn to live in ways that share God's love and mercy with all people. Like Dorothy Day, Rev. Schaper does her faith in an active way.

Look at those pictures of Day above. This is not a saint who worries about what she looks like. She is in working clothes, a bandana around her head, hands and face that show she is not afraid to get down and dirty with the people of the world. She did not change the world by writing laws, changing policies, or sitting in a office, or sitting in a sanctuary. She was out in the streets, putting in real time, effort, and sweat into making people's lives better. Making our world a little more like how God wants it to be. She was an activist.

Although I have some of the sympathies of a Dorothy Day or a Donna Schaper, I learned early on that my sweet spot was not in the kind of activism lived out by people like them. My sweet spot was somewhere else...and after all these years I am not sure where. It does seem like I have tried them all. What I do is teach. But I wonder where I will teach next? I done all the usual spots for teachers of theology--classrooms, pulpits, lecture halls--but none of them completely satisfy me.

When I had the Prairie Table ministry up in Bismarck, ND, I taught a group of teenagers (aged 13-15) in my living room once a month. There was something fascinating about that set-up for teaching the Christian faith. I think what I liked most was seeing youth, in an environment they could trust, explore who they are as children of God, and trying to make a difference.

And that's probably where I have the most sympathy with great people of the faith like a Dorothy Day. I imagine all she did, she did because God had called her to be the person to make a difference in someone's life. So she did as best as she knew how. And now, years later, we are thinking that kind of work is worthy of sainthood. But I wonder if she ever did? I bet not. I bet she thought she was doing it because it was right, it was just, it was what God would want. And when you do that, well, that's what all saints do.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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