Archive for the ‘Kimberly Reisman’ Category

 

 

People have different ways of approaching reality. Some are analytical, reasoned, logical, etc. That’s not me. Not that I can’t be analytical, reasoned and logical. But those are deliberate disciplines that I practice; in contrast to my instinctive way of approaching the world which is through my feelings. I’m just a feeling kind of person.

Maybe too much sometimes. When people talk about having certain spiritual gifts I always say I have the spiritual gift of weeping – I cry at weddings and baptisms and movies. I can’t sing Charles Wesley’s And Can It Be without getting choked up. There’s just something about the words, “Amazing love! How can it be, that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” I’m not a very good singer, but I love to belt those words out. And then toward the end of the song when it says, “My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” I usually have to keep myself from jumping up and down during that verse.

Jumping up and down to Charles Wesley – go figure.

Not surprisingly, I resonate with Scriptures like Paul’s word in Romans 8 that God’s Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children; and with John Wesley’s experience of having his heart “strangely warmed.” That kind of gut oriented experience of the faith is foundational for me.

So one of the most disorienting moments of my ministry happened when I was approached by a young woman toward the end of a weekend of preaching who earnestly asked how she could really know that God loved her if she couldn’t feel it.

This was a Cornerstone Celebration weekend so she had heard me preach three times already and had been involved in my three-hour teaching session on sharing our faith. Now it was about 5 minutes before the last service was to start and she was desperate to know if what I’d been talking about all weekend long was really true.

Was it really true that God loved her enough to become human in Jesus; was it really true that God’s love for her was radical enough to involve passionate sacrifice. She was sure it was true for everyone else since they could feel it; but it couldn’t possibly be true for her because she couldn’t.

You’ve probably already guessed that I was getting all misty as my mind raced, searching for some way to respond. She continued that it wasn’t just about feeling God’s love. She couldn’t feel anything. Things had happened in her past and she had dealt with them by repressing, pushing down and blocking out any and all feeling within her. I have no feelings, she said and as I looked into her eyes, I believed her.

How is it that we come to know God’s love? Is it only when we feel God’s Spirit “bearing witness” with our spirit? Is it only when our hearts are “strangely warmed?” Is there more to it than that? If we’re not a “feeling kind of person,” does God not work in us and through us anyway?

I was really struggling as the woman patiently waited for my response. My heart was breaking and I was petrified that somehow I would compound her pain. That in my bumbling I would somehow contribute to her certainty that God couldn’t possibly love her since she wasn’t able to feel it.

Way back in the mid-400′s Patrick began preaching in Ireland. He traveled from settlement to settlement, staying with the people, loving them and working among them. Through his ministry, monastic communities sprang up. These communities were different from what we normally think of when we think of monastic communities where monks separated themselves from the rest of society for a life of solitude and prayer. These were communities of committed Christ followers who lived and worked together, sharing resources, love and life together. There were men and women, adults and kids; some were single, some were married, some had families – some were priests but most weren’t, and they were all together in community.

One of the things that made these communities so cool was the way they treated outsiders. There was always a gatekeeper – not to keep anybody out – but to be on duty all the time so that anyone who wanted to come in could come in – no matter what time of the day or night it was. If you visited the community the gate keeper would welcome you first and then call everyone to come greet you. The abbot or abbess (head of the community) would immediately come out to make sure you felt at home. It wouldn’t matter what people were doing, they would stop because making guests feel welcome was more important than anything else. Then they’d show you to the guest house – the best accommodations in the whole place. When it was time to eat, you’d eat at the head table with the abbot/abbess. It would be clear that you could stay as long as you wanted, but you were also free to leave at any time. You could eat with the community, work with the community, worship with the community – always welcome to share in everything about the community. If you stayed for a while they’d assign you a ‘soul friend’ to talk to – no agenda – just about whatever was on your mind. Eventually, if you continued to stay they’d talk to you about God’s love and offer you the opportunity to become more than a guest.

It was a slow process of revealing God’s love; a process that started with the concept of belonging and acceptance and moved only gradually toward commitment. It was a process that took time because it was about providing evidence of God’s love. Not evidence in the form of skilled argument or tight logic; not even the evidence of any specific feeling even though that was probably part of it for most people. It was the evidence of action – consistent actions of love, continued day in and day out – actions that made God’s love visible and tangible and real through the welcoming, caring, support and nurture of people. Evidence through action that people have value simply because they are.

The minutes were passing faster than I wanted them to. I could tell the worship leaders were ready to get started but couldn’t since the woman and I were standing front and center in the sanctuary. I asked her why she came to this particular church. She said that the people were kind to her and took her in when she returned to town after a long absence. In the few years since she’d been back, they’d consistently helped her and her children. Over and over they had been there for her even in really difficult times. It was kind of like they had made space – just for her.

That’s how you know.

 

The Christmas season often brings home to me how much larger Truth is than what I can carry or contain….

 

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Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind -

 

 

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (John 1:14, The Message)

 

 

One of my favorite Christmas songs isn’t a hymn – or likely even a song that most people know. It’s Come Darkness, Come Light by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

 

John Wesley talked about assurance – that sense of peace that comes when we realize the depth of God’s love for us. That’s a concept that I sometimes struggle with. I know it in my head – I’m just not always able to consistently connect it to my heart. But this song – poetry really – enables me to connect head and heart. It helps me realize just how wide and how deep God’s love for me really is. It helps me realize that no matter what state I may find myself – broken or whole, doubting or sure – I can come to the door of the stable…

 

Come Darkness, Come Light

Mary Chapin Carpenter

 

Come darkness, come light
Come new star, shining bright
Come love to this world tonight
Alleluia

Come broken, come whole
Come wounded in your soul
Come anyway that you know
Alleluia

There’s a humble stable and a light within
There’s an angel hovering
and three wise men
Today a baby’s born in Bethlehem
Alleluia

Come doubting, come sure
Come fearful to this door
Come see what love is for
Alleluia

Come running, come walking slow
Come weary on your broken road
Come see Him and shed your heavy load
Alleluia

There’s a humble stable and a light within
There’s an angel hovering
and three wise men
Today a Baby’s born in Bethlehem
Alleluia

Come darkness, come light
Come new star shining bright
Come love to this world tonight
Alleluia

 

This Christmas I’m on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth, asking him to strengthen you (and me) by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength. It’s my desire that Christ will live in you (and in me) as we open the door and invite him in. And I’m asking him that with both feet planted firmly on love, we’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. (adapted from Ephesians 3:14-19, The Message)

 

Peace, love and joy to you this Christmas.

 

 

 

Because this week comes to a close with the winter solstice – the longest night of the year (December 21), Robert Frost’s classic Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening seemed an appropriate choice to start us off.

For me, Advent marks the beginning of a journey, and not one that ends on December 25…

 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds’ the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

 

Yesterday’s RethinkChurch word for its photo-a-day Advent journey was wisdom (December 8). That reminded me of my Grandma Corie – not necessarily well-educated, but a wise, wise, woman. It also reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago.

 

Her Hands
Kimberly Dunnam Reisman

 

Cora Eliza Dunnam
Grandma Corie
Co-Bell

Wrinkled hands
grasp my own
squeezing her message of love.

So wrinkled,
the skin
standing up like a bridge
when pinched lightly
by a small child
engrossed in the game
that is being played
on the bridges.

But soft, those hands,
not the softness of youth
but the softness of age,
like my favorite shoe
whose leather is pliant
and wraps comfortably
around my foot.

The softness is not weakness,
for the hands are strong,
strengthened by years
of toting water
to the shotgun house
from the spring
at the bottom of the hill.

Hands,
strong enough
to tote the water,
yet tender enough
to cuddle
the tiny, new baby,
born not three hours
after the last buckets
had been brought up
from the spring.

Old hands now,
but still wearing
the ring
given by the young hand
of a beloved shipbuilder.
Old hands,
still loving that shipbuilder,
and five children,
and eleven grandchildren,
and ten great-grandchildren.

Old hands,
yellowed with age
like the pages
of the bible they hold,
smelling of snuff
and kitchen,
gently stroking
the smooth, leather cover,
offering a prayer,
the words wrinkled with use
yet soft and tender,
like the hands.

 

Cora Eliza Malone Dunnam ~ Co-Bell, circa 1980

Cora Eliza Malone Dunnam ~ Co-Bell, circa 1980

 

 

 

 

 

RethinkChurch has a great way to be a bit more deliberate about your Advent practice this year – by participating in their photo-a-day project. I’m a little late to the game, but thought I’d give it a try. Can’t catch up on the all that I’ve missed but thought I try for December 2 and today (December 4). More to follow…

 

December 2 – Bound…

M/H Colorado

 

December 4 – Time…

IMG_0138

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was an English major in college, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read poetry on a regular basis. Then I had the opportunity to be with Ellsworth Kalas for a few days and he reawakened my love for it. Such a wise man….

So as we enter this season of Advent, here is a bit of poetry to start the week….

 

BE STILL IN HASTE (Wendall Barry)

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first

 

Thanks also to Jason Vickers for reminding me of the wonderful Wendall Barry…

One of my responsibilities in the United Methodist Church is to serve on the General Conference Standing Committee for Central Conference Matters. Essentially, that group deals with issues facing the UM church outside of the United States.

In 2012 the General Conference referred the task of creating a “global Book of Discipline” to the StCCCM. As we began to tackle that project during our meeting in September, we realized just how massive it is – and probably more importantly, just how complex, convoluted, and in many ways unmanageable our current Discipline really is.

The whole project of a global Book of Discipline begs the question, what does it mean to be a global church? What binds us together across cultures and geography? And therein lies the rub. I’m not sure we know. I’m not even sure we know what binds us together across the various cultures and geography of the United States, let alone Europe, Africa or the Philippines.

Throughout the StCCCM meeting, my mind kept returning to another of my responsibilities in ministry – serving on the World Methodist Council. Now there’s a global body – over 80 different churches (denominations) representing over 80.5 million people, on every continent across the entire planet (well, maybe not Antarctica), all sharing a common Wesleyan heritage.

As I thought about these parallel and intertwined groups – the UMC and the WMC – I was reminded of the Imperatives of World Methodist Evangelism, which the WMC recently agreed was a good summation of what binds us together as a global body:

 

Imperatives of World Methodist Evangelism: “Reason for the Hope within Us” (1 Peter 3.15)

In the context of a global contemporary culture, it is imperative that “the people called Methodists” be bound by a recognition that we are a movement of missionary people called by God, who in Himself is missionary. We are called to join with Him in His global mission to the whole of creation. Therefore it is incumbent upon us, as World Methodists, to revisit and restate in clearly articulate terms that which binds us together:

1) The Centrality of Jesus Christ in Reconciling the World to God

  • We have confidence in and a passion for the Gospel and we affirm its urgency.
  • We hold Jesus Christ central in everything and emphasize that He is Lord and Savior.
  • We lift up the importance of “conversion to Jesus Christ” and of faithfully making disciples throughout the world. (2 Corinthians 5.18-19; 1 Corinthians 9.16)

2) Connectivity

  • As Methodists we are one people in all the world, connected through our Wesleyan heritage as well as through being part of one Church, holy and apostolic.
  • We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ’s Commission to His Church to preach the gospel and to make disciples of all nations is the supreme business of the church.
  • In this spirit we are sent to serve others and together to engage in world mission and evangelism. (Matthew 28.19)

3) Salvation for all

  • Today more than ever, identifying needs and addressing them are crucial if we are to faithfully proclaim the Gospel and spread Scriptural holiness throughout the world.
  • We affirm the “Four-alls of Methodism” as being distinctive: All need to be saved. All can be saved. All can know that they are saved. All can be saved to the uttermost. (Mark 16.15; Ephesians 2.8; 2 Corinthians 5.14-15; 1 Timothy 2.3-4; Hebrews 7.25)

4) Openness to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit moves all over the world.
  • The Holy Spirit gave birth the Church.
  • The Holy Spirit continues to empower the Church to grow through witness and ministry in the world.
  • Wherever a church is open to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, it is alive and vibrant in faith, hope and witness. (Acts 1.8; Romans 12.6-8; 1 Corinthians 12.8-11)

5) Every Christian is called to witness to the good news of Christ Jesus.

  • This witness is incarnational.
  • The Church as a community of faith is the witness of Christ in the world.
  • Each Christian is called to witness for Christ in the situation in which one lives.
  • Church leaders are to equip, empower and enable members to understand the context for witness.
  • This understanding helps believers to be confident and competent to share their faith through word, deed and sign. (Luke 4.18-19; Acts 1.8; Romans 15.18-19)

about-portrait6) Evangelism grounded in Scripture and Prayer.

  • Evangelism is grounded in the Holy Bible, the foundation for doctrine, teaching, preaching and practice.
  • Evangelism is also grounded in prayer, both personal and corporate. (Ephesians 6.18-19; Colossians 4.2-4)

 

If this can bind a global body of over 80 diverse denominations (and you only need to look at the difference between the Methodist Church of Nigeria and the Uniting Church of Australia to see how diverse it is), might it be a start in thinking about what binds our single denomination? Maybe we’ll surprise ourselves and find we actually agree.

 

 

An Unbroken Line

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 | By Kimberly Reisman
Filed in: Kimberly Reisman, What's Your Next Step?

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The current conversations flying around the web in the United Methodist Church reminded me of a post I wrote last year. I pulled it out and gave it a bit of an update…

 

Last year I defended my thesis for my PhD at Durham University in England. It’s an event the British call a ‘viva’ and it’s a nerve-wracking several hours spent fielding what seem like endless questions from two examiners. As is required, neither of my examiners had ever seen my work before and my supervisor, David Wilkinson, was not allowed to be present. It was quite a solitary experience, but at the same time, in an intriguing kind of way, not.

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral

Immediately before the time of reckoning, David and I shared a coffee and then headed over to the Cathedral for a short time of quiet and prayer. As we sat in that amazing environment, David began casually, but eloquently, to remind me of the history of Durham University. Durham has been a seat of learning for over 1000 years beginning with the Venerable Bede, whose shrine was right behind us as we sat. The tradition of scholarship has continued in an unbroken line ever since, with each new scholar meeting with more experienced scholars to discuss their work. Even though he knew I was nervous and just a bit intimidated by the process, David emphasized that I should enjoy the viva, recognizing that what I was going to experience was much bigger than my thesis. The viva, as stressful as it may feel, was the entrance into a long tradition of scholarship, the doorway into a community stretching back over 1000 years.

After a brief time of prayer, we parted ways and I walked to Abbey House to meet my examiners. During the hours that followed, though I knew it was up to me alone to defend my work, I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t such a solitary experience. Even more to my surprise was the realization, about midway through, that I was actually enjoying myself; it was invigorating.

The memory of that experience, and more specifically of my conversation with David beforehand, has returned to me frequently – especially in the days since the United Methodist Council of Bishops met in North Carolina. It’s been a struggle not become absorbed in the difficulties facing the United Methodist Church. I’ve had to remind myself over and over that as Methodist Christians, we draw upon the insights of John Wesley (and Charles too), which is a wonderful thing. But that’s not who we follow. We follow Jesus Christ. Our tradition didn’t begin in the 18th century; it began in the first. Our creed isn’t the misnamed ‘Wesleyan Quadrilateral,’ it’s the Nicene.

about-portraitJust as my viva experience was bigger than my own thesis, we Methodist Christians are part of something much larger than our own history, much more foundational than any structure we might devise for our denomination, and deeper, more steadfast and enduring than any passing cultural norm could ever be. We are part of a magnificent Christian tapestry, woven from the threads of Scripture and a tradition stretching back over 2000 years. Our Methodist strands augment that tapestry, but not in the sense of adding something new or different. Those threads augment the tapestry by adding complementary colors to the already existing pattern. Some people describe it as following Jesus in the spirit of the Wesleys. In my family we call it being a Christian with a Wesleyan accent.

I have no doubt that as people who follow Jesus in the spirit of the Wesleys, we will survive our current challenges. What that will actually look like – I don’t know. But however things unfold, if we are faithful, what results will not happen because we will have created something new, but because we will have rediscovered the grand tapestry of Christian faith that is richer and more vibrant than our few threads alone.

Vital: Churches Changing Communities and the World

 

Jorge Acevedo

 

Lead Pastor ~ Grace Church in Southwest Florida

 

A Seminar for Laity and Clergy

 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Mt. Comfort United Methodist Church

3179 North 600 West (Mt. Comfort Rd) ~ Greenfield, IN 46140 ~ 317.894.8965

1/2 mile north of I-70 (Exit 96) on Mt. Comfort Road (600W) 

 

Jorge Acevedo

Jorge Acevedo

Have you heard of Jorge Acevedo? His multi-cultural, multi-site, mega-church in southwest Florida has done what the United Methodist Church has struggled to do: reach people. His book, Vital, was a suggested text before the 2012 General Conference, and is a pretty good read.

In just a couple of weeks, he’ll be coming to Indiana to lead a day-long seminar you don’t want to miss! The location is Mt. Comfort UMC, which is near Indianapolis.

The event is sponsored by the Indiana Conference Confessing Movement. For details and registration information, click here.

 

There are a lot of challenging things happening in the UMC right now; but there remains one thing I believe we can still all agree on – the importance of reaching out to others with the love of Jesus Christ. That’s exactly what Jorge Acevedo is doing in Southwest Florida. If you’re anywhere close, I hope you’ll make an effort to attend.