Spirit Alive: A Special Post-Inauguration Edition

Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and beyond.
January 25, 2017

A Special Post-Inauguration Edition

These past several days have been significant for a number of reasons. So even though I've already posted a Spirit Alive for this week, I would be remiss, as the Mission and Ministry Coordinator of the annual conference, if I did not comment on this week's inauguration and the events that have taken place since then. Clearly, our nation has been impacted by this time of transition and by the protests that have followed, as tens of thousands have taken to the streets. I believe that these events will continue to touch us all in profound and lasting ways. They also remind us that we are a divided people, even as we honor the peaceful transition of political power.

With this in mind, I'd like to share several reflections that I hope will be of use in your ministry as you respond in your own way to what has happened in our country in recent months.

1. With Heart, Soul, and Mind: Grounding Our Work in Prayer

As I talk with people and listen to the news, it is clear that all is not well socially, politically, and spiritually in the land. As a person of faith, I have deep concerns. But during times such as this, the church has a significant role to play in our communities as a place of gathering, a place of conversation, a place of mutual respect and understanding, a place that speaks out against injustice and that advocates peace, compassion, and love....and the church is to be a place of healing, hope, reconciliation, and redemption.
For me this all begins from a place of silence, listening, and prayer. After I marched through the city of Portland with approximately 100,000 others on Saturday, I sat down and wrote these words. It felt like it was a good place to begin: 

Most Holy One, we come to you humbled by the reality that while we have been made in your sacred image, neither our life together nor our treatment of your creation reflects the spirit of the “better angels” that you have placed within us. For this, we ask for your forgiveness.

And so we come to you now in these troubled times, just as millions of others have over the centuries, asking for your understanding, seeking your guidance, and hoping that we may in some small way embody your spirit in the world. We desire to reflect the image you placed within us when you first created life, set it in motion, and called it ”good.” But we also know that, from the very beginning, we have rebelled against that very “goodness.”
So we ask:                            
  • How do you want us to tend your garden?
  • How do you want us to treat one another?
  • How do you want us to receive those who are strangers or are different from us?
  • How do you want us to behave as your children?
We know that you have revealed the answers to these questions countless times before, but clearly we have lost our way and need to be reminded yet again.
Holy One, please speak to us now. We need to listen. We need to hear your voice. We need to remember that without you, we tend to think that we are in charge…and then lose our way in the process.


Gracious God, we want to draw nearer to you. We want to feel your spirit at work within us. We want to be our best selves. We want to live with one another in a whole, inclusive, and loving way, so that peace, justice, and harmony will replace hatred, revenge, and bitterness. Yet we realize that we need to speak out from the very depths of our being, when your sacred values and holy intentions are compromised by selfishness, greed, and injustice.
So we turn to you and ask you to guide us now. In your Holy name we pray. Amen.


 2. Signs of Life: 100,000 Marchers Can Teach You a Lot About the Nature of Community

Marching with 100,000 people of all ages is an amazing experience. It is filled with wonderful conversation, a lively spirit, and a powerful sense of hope and community. Here are a few pictures from the January 21st demonstration in Portland, Oregon.

And while I was marching I saw many "signs of life"... in terms of the people who came...from parents with their babies to senior citizens, who had been to many marches before...and in terms of "signs of life" that were reflected in the posters that people brought with them.

Among others signs that I saw were ones that said:

"I march to show my daughters the power of love."
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.- Martin Luther King"

"In our America, love wins."

It was amazing to see so many personal, handwritten signs of all types, seeking to make their voice heard that day.

 3. Food for the Soul: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Last fall I read a wonderful novel written by Sunil Yapa entitled Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. It is about the World Trade Organization protests that took place in Seattle in November 1999, involving over 40,000 people. While that event turned violent and at times ugly, in contrast to this weekend's large and non-violent demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, this novel helps the reader grapple with the lives and fates of seven people, who are changed forever as a result of their life-altering encounter with each other in 1999.
As the book jacket says: "In this raw and breathtaking novel, Yapa marries a deep rage with a deep humanity. In doing so he casts an unflinching eye on the nature and limits of compassion, and on the heartbreaking difference between what is right and what is possible." Yapa brings a unique perspective to his writing as a biracial son of a Sri Lankan father and a mother from Montana, and he has lived in many places around the world, including Greece, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, China, India, London, Montreal, and New York City.
I think you'll find this to be a most interesting read.

Let us walk in the light of God's love,
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It seeks to identify where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities. Check out past editions, or subscribe to the email list.


Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org