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Wayfarer access_time 42:20

Living Our Questions - Episode 77

On this episode of Wayfarer, we'll hear stories from Deborah Alexander and a song from Raleigh Kincaid.

I grew up just south of Lexington in Richmond, Kentucky. In high school I remember swearing that when I got out, I would never live in this town again. So, of course, now we live thirty seconds from where I grew up—I timed it.

Like most high schoolers, I was often bored, and so one Saturday I decided to take a drive. I went to Tates Creek Road in Richmond and turned right and kept on going. I rolled down the windows, put on my favorite Kansas tape, and drove. In a little while, the road ended fairly abruptly at the river. I was about to turn around, but a man waved me forward onto a ferry. Being the polite and respectful highschooler that I was, I did what he said. I drove onto the Valley View Ferry and went across the river.

I had never been this far out Tates Creek Road before and had never been on a ferry either, but I figured I knew the way back and would be fine. I kept on going, and eventually realized I was in Lexington. Tates Creek turned into High Street, and finally, after actually getting nowhere, I decided to turn around. Though I was never really lost, for most of the trip I didn’t know where I was.

That feels a lot like life to me. We are often unable to suss out our precise location in the grand scheme of things. We may have a general idea of our direction, but what’s around the bend is impossible to know for sure. And though we may know the way back home, it will be different when we return—and so will we.

Often the best we can do is offer a holy guess at what road we might take and see where it leads. After all, is it the path we take or the way we walk the path that matters most?

Wayfarer access_time 31:56

Simple Transformations - Episode 75

Today we’ll hear a story from Erika Webb and music from the Sanctuary Choir, including the anthem from last Sunday's service with Quinn Chapel A.M.E.

Each year just before Lent, we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday. In other traditions, Transfiguration Sunday comes on the second Sunday of Lent. But either way, there’s a connection between the season of Lent and this mysterious story of Jesus’ mountaintop experience with his inner circle. So today, we’re going to contemplate this mystifying story.

During this season of retreat and letting go, it’s good to remember that we’re looking forward to something beautiful--transformation. It's a reorientation of our maps, a reorganization of our belongings, a reinvigoration of our stride as we travel the way of Jesus.

Sometimes transformation may happen in quiet and solitude. Other times it may happen with good friends. And while some transformations may take place in prayer closets, many may find transformation on sidewalks, or wooded paths, or even rush hour traffic. Some folks have bright and shining moments of epiphany, but I have a feeling that most of us have our revelations more slowly, over years or decades.

There is no formula for transformation. There is no procedure for renewal. There is no recipe, except maybe love and patience. Maybe the best we can do is put ourselves in places where we might connect with the Divine, and give ourselves a little grace to exist. Maybe we might encounter the Spirit of God in the stillness of the morning, or in the smile of a friend, in the awkward hellos of a stranger, in the sharing of a meal, in tears of grief, in making a sandwich for someone who's hungry, in painting a picture, or knitting, or reading a poem, or even dancing.

And just maybe that grace that we experience will boil over into a gratitude and a love that in turn transforms the world around us.

Wayfarer access_time 31:38

Cleaning House - Episode 74

This week we'll hear a story from Rachel Childress and music from Raleigh Kincaid. It’s week 3 of our lenten journey.

I didn't grow up observing Lent, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate this season more. For brooding, artsy-fartsy types like me, it fits. It’s nice to have a time of year when I can be “contemplative” rather than just plain moody.

I used to see Lent as constriction—a shoring up of our moralities and behavior. But more and more, I see Lent as a widening. It’s about exploring our interior landscapes, not navel-gazing. It’s about making room, not austerity. It’s about release, not constriction. It’s about reconnecting with the Source of life, not about disconnecting from all enjoyment.

I still have this tendency to think that God wants some proof of my allegiance—that somehow God is not satisfied with me as I am. And so I can tend to turn Lent into another way that I have to prove myself to be worthy of Grace, to be worth saving. But that is not the purpose of this season. God is not looking for proof of our worthiness. God is not keeping notes on if we prayed enough or if we used our “driving words” on the way home from work.

God is whispering to us, calling us out into the wide open spaces, leading us into fields of grace, pointing us to where the waving wheat of gratitude sways, inviting us to find the streams of fresh clear water that spring up in the most unexpected places.

Who knows what goodness may be born in our hearts when we make room for love to flower there, when we make room for life to grow and thrive? Who knows? There may be less room for some things, but I don’t think we’ll miss them.

Wayfarer access_time 31:40

The Child Within - Episode 73

In this episode of Wayfarer we'll hear a story from Gerard Howell and music from Jane Tatum.

It's week two of Lent. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, this journey uncovers things I’d rather let lie. When we venture out into the wilderness, into these quiet spaces, we encounter old ghosts, wounds that still haven’t healed, guilt over things left undone and shame for our hurtful words.

Sometimes, even Jesus looks strange--muddied with old images of God formed in fear-steeped traditions, covered with vestiges of a great vengeful eye watching intently for any misstep, tainted with the amalgamation of perfectionistic parenting, power-hungry preachers, and embedded moralities that shame any variance.

Sometimes when I try to enter into silence and contemplation, I worry about what I’ll find. Who will I meet? Will it be that vengeful God that still haunts me from long ago? The one that constantly threatened punishment? Will it be the God that demands perfect obedience without question? Will it be the God that is ashamed of me and cannot look upon my sinfulness?

Our anxieties can sometimes make it hard to see what God is really doing. And in the end, it must come down to faith. Who is this God we seek?

As we look, at the story of the woman at the well, we find a God who is not ashamed of our bad reputations or our social status. We find a God who doesn’t demand perfection or look for ways to punish. Rather, we find a generous God who goes way out of the way to meet with someone on the margins. This God opens up the past in a way that is healing and transformative--embracing all of us, and welcoming us into a generous communion.

I hope you see that God that knows you fully and loves you completely, not in spite of your shortcomings, but because you are beloved.

Wayfarer access_time 18:07

A Radical Welcome - Episode - 44

Not too long ago at Central, we had some signs printed that you may have seen. These green, blue, and orange signs have the words “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in Spanish, Arabic, and English. This program was started at Immanuel Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, VA in 2015 as a way to fulfill their church motto, “Real people following Jesus’ radical call to love and service.”Lots of folks from Central took these signs and put them up. We’ve got more on the way, so don’t worry if you missed it. Today, we'll listen to a story from the Gabbard's about an encounter they had because of one of these signs they placed in their yard. Our acts of light and kindness won’t always engender positive responses, but sometimes they do. And we can cherish these times and be reminded that no matter what we experience, there are folks who need to see these words of welcome.So, it seems to me that a skillful practice is to try to untangle the outcomes we may get from our acts of kindness, from the acts and from our own identities. We are inspired to share welcome and love with others because of the life and message of Jesus. And Jesus was not always met with glowing responses of gratitude. Like in our scripture passage this week, Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus was full of misunderstandings. The beauty of the call of Jesus is that we are already accepted and welcomed as we are. So no matter responses we get from others, be they positive or negative, we can trust that we are already welcomed into grace. Already welcomed into love. Already welcomed into the life of Christ. We can be grateful and inspired when we see that love reflected in others, and we can find hope and courage to continue when we find resistance. Because the smile of God is on us. God is for us.  Thanks also to Jane Tatum for sharing her music with us.  Write your own beatitude and call it in so we can use it in a future episode. Just leave a message at (859) 813-0150. 

Wayfarer access_time 19:01

Trust Me - Episode 41

This week, we’re thinking about unlearning worry. If you’re like me, that just raised your anxiety a few notches. Now I’m worried about the fact that I worry so much, and I feel a vicious cycle forming. This week we’re looking at the story of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus in John chapter 3. I feel for Nicodemus. He's obviously not understanding what Jesus is saying. Honestly, I’m scratching my head too. But maybe Jesus’ words are just as much about the effect as the content here. Maybe the confusion they create is, in fact, the point. Maybe Jesus is inviting faith. Maybe Jesus is inviting belief. Maybe Jesus is saying, trust me. And then at the end, He tells us why. “I’m not here to judge and blame and label. I’m here because of love. I’m here to redeem. I’m here to save. And you’re not going to understand this mystery. You’re not going to be able to own this and appropriate it for your own agendas. No, it’s much too slippery for that. This is good news. Really good news. Relax. I’m here. I’ll meet with you in the dead of night. I’ll meet with you in the day. I’ll meet with you if you get it and I’ll meet with you if you’re lost as can be. And you’ll be all of those things."So, today, we’re going to spend some time with this passage of scripture in lectio divina. We’re going to let it work on us, and as we often say in worship at Central, work its way into us.  Thanks also to Jane Tatum for sharing her music with us.

Central Baptist Church