Dianne Glave: Ministry & Church

Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Aldersgate: Holy Spirit Theology in the UK

In a few weeks, I will be ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church, and there is a connection to Aldersgate Day which falls on May 24 this year. We will remember the day in worship on Sunday, May 22, 2016.

Part of my long spiritual journey through time was a trip through place to the UK, which included a stop at Aldersgate in London in April 2016. Many visiting London may not see Aldersgate as a critical destination but United Methodists visit the location as part of a Methodist pilgrimage.

It was at Aldersgate in 1738, that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodism, experienced the Holy Spirit. Wesley described his transformation:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

During my brief time at Aldersgate, I reflected on how the Holy Spirit is central to my theology and experience.

Photos Dianne Glave

Video by Jeffrey A. Vanderhoff

Edited by William Jacka

Grace in the City of Coventry, UK

4/20/16

Grace . . . Coventry Cathedral . . . A Stranger . . . Pizza . . . Love

In the City of Coventry, I hadn’t planned to be on the lookout for grace, for love. Yet I witnessed and experienced many manifestations of love: God’s love and the love humanity has for one another.

Coventry Cathedral is a place of forgiveness. I think one of the most profound ways to express love is through forgiveness expressed at the cathedral. In World War II, the Germans bombed the city destroying much of the cathedral. The remnant of the old cathedral remains with a second newer building added. The new building is a reminder that love and forgiveness is possible even when we are destructive symbolized by the remains of the old bombed cathedral.

I also experienced grace seated during the litany in the new cathedral. A man asked if he could sit next to me. The old Dianne would have looked around and said, “There are 40 other empty seats back there. Use one of them.” Instead, I said yes as I sat uncomfortably next to a strange man. Almost immediately, I began to think differently: he might be the sort who doesn’t like to sit alone in church. At the end of a brief litany, I was about to speak to him and he was gone. Rather than thinking I was so kind, I realize the man showed me grace sitting with me during a brief service sharing sacred time.

Later, some of us went to lunch in the Coventry City Center. We had more than enough, sharing our food. Towards the end of the meal I bought a pizza, which I offered to my traveling companions. As we were leaving, a man with a long scar down his face came to our table assuring us he was not a drug addict but needed help. A member of the group was about to grab the last slice but instead offered it to the stranger. He gladly took it. Grace . . . Love.

“The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation” that we read responsively draws from scripture bringing together the various strands of the day: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgive you.” That’s grace. That’s love.

Photos by Dianne Glave

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Black Churches and a New Generation of Protest: New York Times Opinion Page

Black Churches and a New Generation of Protest: New York Times Opinion Page

Saving People and the Environment

Dianne D. Glave

Dianne D. Glave, the pastor of Crafton United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh, Pa., is the author of “Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage” and a co-editor, with Mark Stoll, of “To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History.”

Decorative Crosses: Right or Wrong?

The cross was something literal, something tangible on which Jesus was nailed, crucified. I imagine it was rough and splintered. Perhaps some of those splinters pressed into his flesh as he dragged the cross up to the hill called Golgotha outside of Jerusalem in Israel. He died on that wooden cross.

That first cross on which Jesus died, has been reinterpreted based on culture, time, and place. It has become symbolic. Constantine, a 4th Century Roman emperor who first institutionalized Christianity through government, used the Chi Rho symbol, a variation on the cross on the shields of his soldiers. The cross combined with the shield might have been seen as a dual defense, spiritual and physical, against enemies. Even though the Chi Rho doesn’t look much like a cross it represents the crucifixion of Jesus and Christ’s importance among Christians concerning  forgiveness of sin. The lettering was of ancient Greek origin, a  blending of Christianity as a religion in Greco-Roman culture. Throughout history, people created other variations on the cross including the Anglican Canterbury  and Celtic crosses. In these and other variations, there was a syncretic overlay of cultural symbols with Christianity represented by  the wooden cross on which Jesus sacrificed his life for humanity.

Fast forward to the twentieth century. Christians around the world continue to use the symbol of the cross as a reminder of Christ: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.“(I John 2:2, Bible, New International Version)

Personally, I have a number of crosses. Two crosses are on my wall in my living room. One is of Mexican design with a flower painted on the cross. I purchased the other cross in New Orleans. I also have two pieces of jewelry fashioned in the shape of the cross. When I was a teen, my mother gave me a gold cross to wear on a chain around my neck. The second cross is silver: I purchased it at the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The cross is based on a design used inside this Catholic church.

So for me the cross is many things: it is organic and symbolic: it reminds of my relationship with God and represents my faith. The cross is the incarnate–God is alive in my life–integrated in many cultures from Mexico to Africa. As a Christian African American woman, the cross reflects a long relationship with Christianity–some difficult as it was imposed and some uplifting as it was embraced. Whatever the arc, cultures have absorb Christianity creating many strands that remain sacred in living breathing, along with symbolic ways. And finally, the cross reminds of many places and experiences.

Ultimately, I don’t see  crosses as decorative but as a reminder of Christ dying on the cross, affirming my relationship with Him.

What do you think?

Seven: Deadly Sins Depicted on Film

I had forgotten the visually stunning “Seven” (1995) until I watched it again on the American Movie Classics (AMC) channel. The film’s stars are Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey.

The psychological thriller combines the genres of horror and film noir. The story-line focuses on a serial killer who murders based on the seven deadly sins of early Christian origin, which later evolved with Catholic theology and culture: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

Galatians 5:19-20a (King James Version, KJV) comes closest to the list of seven: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity,  idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger.” I often go back to the KJV for the poetry of it.

The Glow, the Shine: Local Pastor Licensing School

The Scripture Reading Comes From Exodus 34:29

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn’t know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God. (The Message)

Moses came down from Mount Sinai. He had the two tablets of the covenant in his hands. His face was shining because he had spoken with the Lord. But he didn’t realize it. (New International Version)

Our Beloved Leader and Facilitator!

I am moving to the end of Local Pastor Licensing School through the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist. At school, I learned much ranging from worship to administration.

Before arriving at Olmsted Manor Retreat Center in Ludlow, Pennsylvania, I looked at the syllabus. The thing that jumped out was we were in class for 12 1/2 hours per day for 11 days. The number 40 came to mind, which I often interpret as endurance during difficult times. Paraphrasing some scripture consider a few biblical examples:

  • It rained 40 days and nights when God cleansed the world with water, a global flood. (Genesis 7:12)
  • After the flood, Noah waited 40 days for the flood to subside. (Gen 8:6)
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-2)

Oh the 40 (days and nights) kept ringing in my head during school. Exhaustion crept up on me. I got cranky with my classmates who thankfully loved me despite of my human frailty.

It’s Day 9 and I think I’m feeling the glow, the shine. That’s not me: that’s the Holy Spirit.

Through the tough times, the 40 days, the 11 days, try to rest in the testing and growth.

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Photographs by Dianne Glave

Contemplative Living in Vacuuming

I am no doubt a Martha, a worker in the hive. Lately though, I have been reaching in for my inner-Mary.

Mary was the contemplative who reflected deeply unlike her sister Martha. Mary wanted to learn; she wanted to sit at Jesus’ feet and take in everything. (Luke 10:39, NRSV)

Barbara Brown Taylor brings the contemplative Mary into the twenty-first century in An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (2009) saying: “My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them. My life depends on ignoring all touted distinctions between the secular and the sacred, the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul.” (xv)

Her words popped for me remembering a few seconds during a walk across the Emory campus. It was about 8am. I stopped and looked to my right. Sunlight streamed, filtered down through the branches of giant trees on the edges of the quad. I had to take two steps back because that spot I had passed made the specks of dust in the light seem more sublime. The sunlight, the trees, the dust were and are there everyday, truly mundane, but in those seconds I entered sacred space directed by God by retracing my footsteps at a natural altar.

My seconds in sacred space and time got me thinking about Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854) as nature, something often taken for granted, as sublime means of contemplation. Thoreau says, “The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, and the note of the whip-poor-will is borne on the rippling wind from over the water. Sympathy with the fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet, like the lake, my serenity is rippled not ruffled.” (“Solitude“) Thoreau is not explicit in describing this scene as sacred but the images and tone feels like God is in the midst. Imagine the bullfrogs in nature as God’s celestial choir. The sound of the whip-poor-will and wind on the water are instruments accompanying the choir.

The ordinary become extraordinary–Mary listening to Jesus and Thoreau engaging with nature–all through the lens of the contemplative. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reiterates the blending of the secular and the secular, the common-place with the divine: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” (NRSV)

We can be intentional about contemplation through space and time of the simple things and moments around us. Don’t wait to walk into a church or temple to experience a second here and a moment there at the sacred altar of God, “the altar in the world.”

I took my own advice spending my morning in contemplation tidying up the downstairs. God was in the vacuuming.

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