Category: Prophetic People

The End of Lent | We Don’t Go Back to Regular Life. We Move Forward in the Newness of Christ.

The End of Lent | We Don’t Go Back to Regular Life. We Move Forward in the Newness of Christ.

By Ashley Whitham

At the beginning of Lent, I shared in a “Coffeeshop Conversations” worship with some friends about our Lent journeys. At the end, I was lamenting that I didn’t know what to give up, because the thought of trying to track an addition or subtraction from my daily life would likely add to my personal anxiety. That was when I decided I would give up my anxiety for Lent – a tall order, I recognize, but an honest attempt would be made. My friend, Naomi, challenged me: giving up anxiety would leave space in my life for something – what could it be? I answered that I knew the right answer was courage, but I also knew how very difficult it would be for me to put that into actual practice during Lent.

Now, it’s Holy Week. Our Lent journey is coming to a close. Did I leave my anxiety behind and find new courage? No. At least, not completely. I did have moments when I was reminded of my Lenten decision, and thought about what it would be like to choose courage. Sometimes I did. But what I mostly got out of Lent this year was a self-awareness. In those moments of anxiety, I paid better attention to what was triggering those feelings, and why I was having that reaction.

I have got to have the fastest voice of self-doubt in all of humanity. I was in shock at how quickly a sharp voice in my brain could tell me, “Not you.” I would watch a lovely, empowering TikTok video of someone saying, “You are worth it!” And as I smiled at the thought of ‘being worth’ whatever ‘it’ is, that voice simultaneously said, “Not you.” Or a message of body positivity that a friend would share on Facebook, saying that, “You are beautiful as you are.” For a second, my heart would sing, “Am I beautiful?” Then just as quickly, that voice would say, “They’re talking about someone else. Not you.” Or whenever my son tells me that I should find a boy or girl to date, because he wants to make sure there’s someone who loves me so that I’m not lonely when he’s not home. I know, he’s the sweetest. While I struggle to say out loud, “Thank you, baby. I’ll do that when I’m ready,” that voice in my head is saying, “There’s too much to ‘fix’ before someone can love you. There’s too much to ‘fix’ before you can be happy. The ‘you’ you are now is not acceptable. Not you.”

I have spent more than 10 years preaching about the equal worth of all persons before a loving God. I have spent more than 10 years proclaiming that part of the instructions to love your neighbor as yourself has to start with loving yourself. I have spent more than 10 years teaching girls and women to love and accept themselves as they are. I have spent more than 10 years encouraging people to be authentically themselves because they are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of their Creator!

And never did I once think that included me.

As my self-awareness during Lent grew, I realized two things:
1. I don’t know how to turn that voice off.
2. I want to be happy now.

Yes, I have moments of joy and glee during my daily life. I’ve got two amazing kids, and there’s a lot of humor in our home. We have fun together. I love to laugh and giggle. I am happy sometimes. But being happy with myself is different. Being comfortable with who I am is not something I have ever accomplished. It has always been, “I’ll be happy when…” and, of course, those things never happened. Or when they did happen, they didn’t make me any happier with myself. Even when there were times that I felt like I was acting fully myself, in the moment, expressing my thoughts uninhibited, momentarily unaware of my anxieties about social awkwardness or about my physical body… that tends to come crashing down around me when I say something wrong, or snort too loud, or knock over my cup. And I always interpreted those moments as ‘great forces of the universe’ putting me into check; a system of balances, as it were. I can never fully be myself, because then the pendulum would swing the other way and I would create chaos or disruption for others, or bring negative attention to myself.

As I’ve noticed these troubling things about myself, and knowing Lent is coming to an end, I wonder what is to become of me after Easter. Do I welcome my anxiety back? Do I continue to listen to that stupidly quick voice in my head? Do I continue to hold myself back from being myself? Lent is a season of transformation; it is a cocoon time. If I just go back to the way I’ve always been, what was the point of Lent? Christ welcomes us at the tomb on Easter morning, and instructs us to go out into the world a new person.

I have to find a way to leave my insecurities in that tomb. I have to find a way to silence that voice. I have to find a way to be happy with who I am now. Easter is not the day we all go back to normal. Easter is the day we move forward, a new beginning. Christ didn’t leave the tomb and tell his disciples, “Let’s get back to Galilee.” Christ died and came back new, leaving the wrappings of his death in the tomb. So what will be different for you on Easter? What do you need to leave in the tomb?

I know that voice is gonna be with me for awhile longer, and I know my anxieties will never leave me completely. But that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna keep working on it. It’ll never get better if I keep on as I have been, so I’m gonna try something new. I’m gonna try to find ways to tell myself that I am worthy, and loved, and acceptable just as I am. And I’m gonna get myself a pretty dress that looks like I love my body (even though I don’t feel it yet). I’m not gonna keep hiding myself from the world because of my anxiety. I’ve got to keep choosing courage.

I cannot say, “Not All Christians”

I cannot say, “Not All Christians”

By Ashley Whitham

On social media these days, I see a lot of people angry and hurting from interactions with Christians. Some of it stems from childhood, some more recent. Hate-filled comments online cursing strangers to hell and denouncing their lives as sinful leaves a bad taste in just about everyone’s mouth. And when I see the videos of people crying because they don’t understand why a ‘Christian’ would tell them their life isn’t worth living, I cry, too. And I desperately want to be the ‘good Christian’ that can show them love and encouragement. But every time I want to write, “But not all Christians are like that! I accept and love you as you are!” I can’t.

If you’ve not been aware of the ‘Not all men’ arguments, let me catch you up. Women and men have been more upfront with discussing the ways that men make others feel unsafe, unloved, unworthy; and there are men who are offended by these statements and reply back with, “Not all men.” This is not a new argument, but has been making the online rounds for many years. And while it is true that not all men attack or abuse women (emotionally, physically, etc.), the ‘not all men’ argument is not allowed. Someone who is vulnerable cannot always tell who is going to abuse them and who is not. Just because someone says, “I’m a nice guy,” doesn’t mean anything. Unfortunately, people lie, manipulate, cheat, etc. And yes, all this goes for women as well. And yes, women can also be the abusers in a relationship. And we shouldn’t leave out non-binary, either.

So yes, I acknowledge that even though there are male abusers, that does not mean all men abuse. But here’s the problem with the ‘not all men’ argument: it distracts. Instead of talking about the ways in which women feel unsafe, the ‘offended nice man’ makes the argument all about him. And we’re no longer talking about the problems of abuse, but the hurt ego of the men who don’t want to included in the statement. So while the man who says, “But not me!” may be accurate in that he’s never physically abused a woman, by taking away the conversation and the woman’s power she held in sharing her story, the ‘nice guy’ is now hurting the woman, and any other woman who could have been empowered in hearing the story. While it may feel awkward, uncomfortable, maybe even hurtful to the man hearing it, it would be more helpful to say, “I hear you,” or, “Thank you for sharing your story,” rather than, “Not all men.”

So what do I do when I hear a gay man share about being muttered at in a coffeeshop, “God hates fags”? Or when a single mom with tattoos talks about the blond, upstanding woman who tells her, “Repent from being a whore or you’re going to hell”? Or when a veteran who lost his hearing is told on TikTok, “God is punishing you by making you deaf… Repent and you’ll be able to hear again”? I am so offended by this hate that is spewed in the name of my God. This does not reflect how my church and my church family believes or behaves. It is because of my Christian love that I see the worth in them. I want to scream, “THEY DON’T SPEAK FOR GOD OR ME!” I want to write, “Not all Christians are like that! I’m not like that!” But I realized that I can’t. I can’t write, “Not all Christians,” because then I’m taking away from their story. I’m not honoring the pain that they’re going through – the VERY REAL pain inflicted on them by people who claim to believe the same way I do. If someone shared about being attacked by a Christian, and then is attacked by more Christians, saying, “Don’t lump me in with them,” that is not loving or healing – that is increasing the pain. We cannot say, “Not All Christians,” because we are inflicting further pain on the victim.

I want to believe I’m different. I want to believe the Community of Christ is different. But I cannot let myself be offended for being lumped under the same Christian umbrella as ‘those other’ people. I cannot make it about how there are different branches of the theology tree, and those Christians don’t speak for all Christians. They are hurting, and do not need a history lesson. What I can do: I can share my love for them. I can share the pain that I feel with them. I can sit with them and remind them that this person’s words do not define them. I can use my belief in the worth of all persons to support them while they move through the healing process.

And don’t get me started on people who say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”…

Lament #5

Lament #5

Submitted by Steve Pomeroy

O God of the disconnected, how easy it is to withdraw, to restrict our safe space, to limit our vision, to decide not to see.  Why do we do that, God?  Why do I do that, God?  Why have you created us in the greatness of freedom and allowed us to become chained with the need to be safe?  Why have you endowed us with the spirit of adventure that calls us to new journeys, but let us be fearful of risking so many first steps?

Embolden us, God – embolden me, God – to escape the entanglements of the safety nets we have created.  Help us to reach for your heavens and make them the stuff of our earth.  Amen.

How to Write a Lament

Lament #4

Lament #4

Submitted by Susan Gregory

Creator of All,

I am SO concerned and horrified by the events happening in Gaza and Israel. So many innocent lives are being shattered. So many are dying. God, this cannot be your will. How long will you just be an observer?

My prayerful request is that your Holy Spirit touch the decision makers in such a powerful way that they cannot resist. That they will stop the hostilities and take steps to permanent peace.

Lord, you have intervened before with warring nations. You empowered the women of Liberia to bring peace. Please don’t wait so long this time to touch hearts and transform the warriors into literal peacemakers.

How to Write a Lament

Lament #3

Lament #3

Submitted by Barbara Wilson

Infinite Spaciousness,

Within You all is possible – and is already happening.
At all times I am being acted upon by Your Will – by Your Divine Plan.

I hear the frustration, even more, the defeat and emptiness in the voices of Your children who appear to be beyond hope.
Yet they reach out to me for help – scarce believing.

Help me help them. Show me the way.  I know that You prepared the way even before they called.

Help me lay aside my past conditionings so that I can fully respond to Your Will now.
That Your Will be done.  That Your Will be accomplished in their lives.

I now release all into Your care and keeping, knowing that You Hear, You Know, You Care, You are at Work.  Thank you, it is done.

How to Write a Lament

Lament #2

Lament #2

Submitted by Ashley Whitham

Mama God,

the One who holds me in Her arms when life is too much;
the One who wipes away the tears from my face and kisses my forehead;
the One who knows my pain before I speak it aloud;
the One who is my companion when I am lonely;

We are loose, lost, disconnected.

So many of Your children have been without the fellowship of each other for so long.
We are social creatures, as You made us to be, longing for community.

Be so obviously present for those waiting to rejoin community.
Please send Your Holy Spirit to guide our pastors and leaders as we rediscovery felloship.

Mama God, You are the eternal demonstration of community. I rely on Your example as we move forward.

How to Write a Lament

Prayer of Lament

Prayer of Lament

Submitted by Ron Harmon

O great disruptor of the status quo,

Why do the voices of those who preach division and fear seem to drown out the voices of inclusion and hope?

Why does justice seem to illude those places in our world where your people call out for release?

Why are those of us who claim to follow you often so slow to respond?

God break into our complacency,

Disrupt our isolation with the voices of those who yearn for a different tomorrow.

Help us to see what we have not been able to see,

To hear what we have not been able to hear.

Grant us courage to encounter the suffering,

Speak disruptive truth,

Envision your alternative future,

And live your alternative future into being.

We trust that your purposes continue to unfold.

We are grateful you continue to nudge us into the future.


How to Write a Lament

Writing a Lament

Writing a Lament

Submitted by Larry McGuire

Reflective Practice Writing or Creating a Lament

“Our only hope is to march ourselves to the throne of God and in loud lament cry out the pain that lives in our souls.” Ann Weems

Take some time and reflect on how the last week (or a time frame of your choice) has been for you. Make note of the emotions you have been feeling during this time. Reflect on a particular situation in your community or in our world that has been causing you concern, pain or anxiety. As you identify the situation, take time to move through the elements of creating a lament that addresses the situation on your heart.

An alternative to inspire you is to take the passage from Isaiah 58 (The Message) and write or create your response to how the Spirit is inviting you to make your community livable again?

With a piece of paper, a pen, markers (you choose), invite God’s presence and follow the steps outlined below. You can create your lament as an individual or as a community:

  1. Address God: What are words or images that capture how you call out to God?
    Sometimes it’s in familiar words like loving presence or eternal One. Sometimes it’s
    simply God.
  2. A Complaint or Protest: Tell God what is wrong. Does God seem distant or
    detached? What is your observation of God in the situation?
  3. A Petition: Tell God what you want God to do about it. How do you want God to
    respond? How are you feeling led to respond?
  4. A Resolution and Expression of Trust: Recall truths about God’s character and
    God’s actions in the past.

Note: If you feel like you would rather draw your lament or inspiration from scripture, then
use your creativity to give expression through images. This is a practice to allow you to
express your rage, your desire, and your trust in God’s presence within you, around you,
and ahead of you.

As you practice writing or creating a lament to God, you might reflect on:

  1. What was it like writing or creating a prayer of Lament? Was it difficult to lament or
    cry out to God? Why do you think this was?
  2. What were you feeling as you were engaging in this practice?

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Mission Center Online Conference 2020: Claiming Our Prophetic Voice

Mission Center Online Conference 2020: Claiming Our Prophetic Voice

Mission Center Conference will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7th this year, via Zoom. As your Mission Center Leadership Team discussed the options, we agreed that thanks to our many worship and fellowship opportunities offered over Zoom since the pandemic began 6 months ago, our mission center is adept and familiar enough with this platform to successfully conduct the necessary business of the mission center this way.  We will be exploring different voting applications and tools, and will provide training prior to Conference on how to use them. Another significant change to this year’s Conference is that we will move to a Non-Delegate Conference, meaning all members in good standing may attend and may vote on the business presented.  This decision has been approved by our Field Apostle Ron Harmon and the First Presidency, due to the special circumstances resulting from the pandemic.  

Our Conference theme this year is “Claiming Our Prophetic Voice.” It may sound cliché at this point, but we are in unprecedented times and face an uncertain and unknown future. We have talked and explored for the last several years about what it means to be a prophetic church in the 21st century, and now find ourselves with unlimited opportunities to truly experiment with and practice becoming something NEW.  In order to move into the future, we must not shy away from the opportunities on our doorstep in favor of “returning to normal!” NOW is the perfect moment to step into a new expression of our calling, with faith that our identity as a prophetic people is shaped and guided by the Holy Spirit.   

There will be online training for voters to learn to use the voting app effectively, and how we will use zoom for our business meeting. All registered voters should plan to attend one of the training sessions November 3rd or 5th, 1pm or 7pm (PT).

Saturday’s Conference schedule will include a Business Orientation Session in the morning, followed by a lunch break, and our Business Session in the afternoon. The Business Session will include sustaining of Mission Center officers and committees, approval of the 2021 Budget and at least 1 resolution for consideration. More details will be available here on NewsBriefs in the coming weeks. We hope to also include a Saturday evening fellowship opportunity such as another Talent Show. On Sunday, Nov. 8th, we will offer a worship service featuring Apostle Ron Harmon as our speaker.    

Please note that any congregations wishing to submit a resolution for consideration in our mission center, or a resolution to be approved for presentation to World Conference 2022, must be submitted no later than Oct. 10 (4 weeks prior to Conference) in order to be considered. (World Conference Resolutions must be submitted to The First Presidency no later than June 3, 2021.) 

The Saturday Bulletin will be provided electronically at least 2 weeks prior to Mission Center Conference. If any members need a printed copy, please contact your pastor or congregational communications coordinator to request this.  

Please check our weekly e-newsletter for updates! Thank you for your understanding of the many adjustments we must make this year due to the pandemic. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact any member of the Mission Center Leadership Team.

Creating a Prophet’s Playlist – Frustration

Creating a Prophet’s Playlist – Frustration

Have you ever listened to the same song for more than an hour? How about two? Currently, as I’m writing this, I’m nearly finished with hour three listening to the same song. I was up late, cleaning. (I’m a mom – it’s easier to clean when the kids aren’t actively making it dirty…) I started a youtube video while I cleaned, but just let it autoplay. I have no idea what route it took, because I missed a couple songs in the middle while I was vacuuming. But by the time I finished cleaning and sat back down, it was a reaction video to the song “The Sound of Silence” covered by Disturbed. It’s not a new song to me. I grew up listening to all sorts of folk music as well as music from the 1950’s and 60’s, including Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” But I had never heard this cover.

As the song played, it was immediately a Spirit-Filled Moment for me. I find the original song pleasant and fun to sing along to, but never have I felt moved by the Spirit when listening to the song. After the reaction video finished, I directly searched for the actual music video.

I was covered in goosebumps.

I cried. Hard.

I raised my left hand. NEVER HAVE I EVER naturally felt the urge to pentecostal-style raise my hand. It wasn’t until the end of the song that I looked at my hand in the air in shock (and WASP-y awkwardness).

I watched the again.

And then I started to get that itch that I’ve found something new and I needed to share it with someone. But this all started in the middle of the night, so I had no one to talk to. I turned, instead, back to reaction videos. And there are a ton available! Three hours later, I now know that there are a lot of opinionated people who seem to all really get something out of this video. People who were lifelong fans of the original and people who’d never heard of Paul Simon; nurses, metalheads, kpop fans, even pastors – all moved emotionally by this song. One woman (who had never heard the original) openly wept, and I cried with her. So I got my moment of communal connection, over and over again listening to this song.

Probably about an hour into this journey, Spirit-Filled Moment Level 2 happened. The lyric: “And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made…” abruptly resonated with my spirit differently. I have Moses on the brain because of an upcoming preaching assignment, and there was a sudden shift, like, the tenth time I heard him sing the line, and the neon god became a golden calf. At that point, I had to listen to the whole song over again… again… and I heard the pleas of the prophets. Paul Simon’s words: “Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might reach you.” Phew! Is that not the desperate cry of the prophet to a people who are lost?

Somewhere along the journey, I heard a comment that referred to the Simon and Garfunkel version as the original message of hope to the audience, trying to call attention and redirect everyone. While the Disturbed cover represents the anger from having the message ignored. This was Spirit-Filled Moment Level 3 for me. There have been many examples this year of the angry and unheard prophets. When protest marchers took to the streets all over the Northwest this year, it wasn’t new anger. It’s now reached such a depth of frustration; that these protests still continue to be necessary, because the root problems are still not being addressed.

This song is Moses breaking the first set of tablets. This is the O.T. prophet banging his head against the walls of Jerusalem because no one is listening. But what happens next? Does the angst or anger stop the prophet? Does this song end with defeat? No. The words of the prophets were still out there to be read. The words of the prophets were still being whispered into the world. Moses goes back up the mountain! The work of the prophet continues forever. Don’t let the frustration stop you from speaking your soul’s truth to the world.

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