Pastor’s Prose

Clare’s Corner

To view 2019 year’s prose click here
To view 2018 year’s prose click here
To view 2017 year’s prose click here

2020 Mar 2 – 9

Good Monday Dear Ones,

I had the privilege of being asked to co-facilitate an anti-racism workshop this past weekend in Yonkers New York, with a Sacred Conversations colleague Rev Kris Watson. The group was a Climate Extinction activists from all over NYC, who came willing to work. Specifically, integrating the intersectionality of racism and the catastrophic environmental conditions under which we find ourselves these days. To be clear, these conversations can be overwhelming at best and devastatingly hopeless at worst.

Except for this:
Over the course of these 2 days, two seemingly separate groups of social justice activists found each other and agreed to work together for the sake of all. Out of this workshop plans are already in the works to have another gathering with more CE folx to get them on board. The members of this group have asked for monthly check ins to make sure they are holding themselves accountable in checking their racism and being more inclusive in their work. They have also paired with one another to continue their studies. Kris and I have also covenanted to be more conscientious in our congregations with regard to climate changes and the ways in which our churches can become more intentional about doing our parts to literally save this planet.

This collaboration links three communities–2000 miles apart–in the work to which we are all called: Co-Creating the world our Beloved has envisioned for all of us. And in this type of collaboration is what reminds us that the Hope we so desperately seek lies within each of us to realize.

Peace, Clare


Feb 24 – Mar 1

Dear Ones,

We begin the season of Lent this week, a time of introspection, reflection and a sacred opportunity to return to our Beloved. Historically, the church has focused on the toxic emphasis of the ‘sinfulness of humanity’, diverting us from the invitation to embrace ‘right relationship’ with our God. You have no doubt read the following piece in previous offerings. I leave it here again as an important reminder of how to enter this season…

Beloved Is Where We Begin Jan Richardson

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” —Matthew 3: 17

If you would enter into the wilderness,
do not begin without a blessing.
Do not leave without hearing who you are:
Beloved, named by the One who has traveled this path before you.
Do not go without letting it echo in your ears,
and if you find it is hard to let it into your heart, do not despair.
That is what this journey is for.
I cannot promise this blessing will free you from danger,
from fear,
from hunger or thirst,
from the scorching of sun or the fall of the night.
But I can tell you that on this path there will be help.
I can tell you that on this way there will be rest.
I can tell you that you will know the strange graces
that come to our aid only on a road such as this,
that fly to meet us bearing comfort and strength,
that come alongside us for no other cause
than to lean themselves toward our ear
and with their curious insistence whisper our name:
Beloved.
Beloved.
Beloved

Peace, Clare


Feb 17 – 24

“The primary importance of human relationships seems to be lost as individuals are rendered less-than because of race, gender, and sexual orientation. In the first-century church, would anyone dare admit that they were contributing to the problems Matthew wrote to address? It is easy to look at the problems and name them as the fault of others, but the bigger challenge comes when we dare to find ourselves in the midst and ask how am I contributing to the problem? Or, how can I bring difference to what I observe around me?” (Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson)

Good Monday Dear Ones,

I have been pondering this notion of “right relationship” since we met yesterday. Ironically, the cliché often used to describe our relationships keeps coming into my head: ‘It’s complicated’. As such, we could spend hours, days, and years trying to fully define it, make it happen, and then we would have to do it all again! And as church, this is exactly what we should be doing.

Lets’ simplify this. How about we begin where it all begins? “You shall love your God with your whole being and love your neighbor as you [should] love yourself”. This ‘simple’ statement is the cornerstone to what it means to be in right relationships. Truly choosing to Love God calls us to be in right relationship with the Divine: talking with, crying with, lamenting with, celebrating with, being angry with, seeking guidance from, and trusting in. Loving your neighbor also demands us to be in right relationship: treating neighbor/creation as God would treat them, respecting, honoring, holding accountable, desiring flourishing for and working to assure this can happen, and seeking justice when it doesn’t. And the most difficult right relationship demands Love of self: talking with, crying with, lamenting with, celebrating with, being angry with, seeking guidance from, and trusting in, respecting, honoring, holding accountable, desiring flourishing for and working to assure this can happen, and seeking justice when it doesn’t. We can’t just choose which of these precepts to follow, by the way—leaving one out to focus on the other.

In this dualistic world, I would contend that each one of these mandates cannot be possible without the one which precedes it and the one which follows. See? Simple.

This is a lifelong venture. Every day we should ask ourselves “How am I realizing this commandment today? And in what ways have I failed to do so?” Every day, we ask. And every day we commit to try again.

Peace, Clare


Feb 10 – 17

Good Morning Dear Ones,

Next week’s gospel reading will continue our conversation on the meaning of “Restoration”–what it means and how we do it. But before we get there, I have some homework for you–and yes I will be referring to this on Sunday.

    Find a quiet place for a minute or 10. Make yourself comfortable. Grab a journal or make mental notes so you can ace the exam on Sunday. Breath. Ready?
    What are you hiding from in those dark places where light is not welcome?
    What are you afraid you will find?
    Or that others might see?
    What keeps you from shining that light so that you can see yourself?
    What “flavor” are you? Sweet, bland, sour, salty, bitter, savory…
    Why?
    How would you like to be seen and ‘tasted’ (experienced) in this world?
    What does it mean that no matter your answers to all of these questions, our Beloved sees you as light and love?
    And lastly, how does the last question make you feel?

PS–you can’t mess this homework up

Peace, Clare


Feb 3 – 10

Beloved Is Where We Begin by Jan Richardson

If you would enter into the wilderness,
do not begin without a blessing.
Do not leave without hearing who you are:
Beloved,
named by the One
who has traveled this path before you.
Do not go without letting it
echo in your ears,
and if you find it is hard to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what this journey is for.
I cannot promise this blessing
will free you from danger,
from fear,
from hunger or thirst,
from the scorching of sun
or the fall of the night.
But I can tell you that on this path there will be help.
I can tell you that on this way
there will be rest.
I can tell you
that you will know the strange graces
that come to our aid only on a road such as this,
that fly to meet us bearing comfort and strength,
that come alongside us for no other cause
than to lean themselves toward our ear
and with their curious insistence whisper our name:
Beloved, Beloved, Beloved.

Shared by Pastor Clare


Jan 27 – Feb 3

“If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Good Morning Church!

What an exciting day yesterday was! It was wonderful to have so many folks show up for our meeting, especially those who are not yet partners. Thanks, you all for your interest and support of Vista Grande.

Often it may be difficult to recognize what seems to be the mundane work of a church to also be the work of our Beloved. After all, we don’t typically read stories of Jesus and his disciple planning out a budget for the upcoming year of ministry, do we?! One could certainly argue that Luke’s follow up to his gospel, Acts, does it fair share of talking about those folks, specifically women in the early church, who provided means and money towards the mission. We wouldn’t be where we are now had that now happened. Still, sometimes it is difficult to make the connection between church business and the business of church.

Bonhoeffer’s statement above articulates both. The business of church is to care for those in need, stand up for those who are oppressed, respond to a community in crisis, and seek justice for all. You know, the work of a Disciple, the ‘Mission’, (one might say mission statement) of the church. But there is also the church business, the work of planning ahead, preparing, preventing the crisis if at all possible. This is the role of the Prophet, the vision of the church (again, one might say Vision Statement), the big picture view of what is, what might be, and what can be. Do you see what a difference it is to see and understand all of what we do through a theological lens? In other words, through the lens which reflects the imagination of the vision of God? Suddenly, every aspect of what we do becomes ministry. Every activity, every committee, every song we sing, every bill we have to pay, every repair we have to make, becomes a sacred act of ministry. How fortunate are we that we can participate in the overarching life of this church in a way that can recognize our priority to BE THE CHURCH?! You have made this happen! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Beloved people!

Peace, Clare


Jan 20 – 27

Good Morning Dear Ones,

As I write this I am trying to map out my day. I have a lot to do today in terms of worship planning for the next weeks and months and with regard to the upcoming SC2ER programming. I put this day aside to get a good handle on some work things. Of course, the MLK breakfast is this am at CC and I am without a ticket–not a bad thing at all: it sold out in 3 days! And there is a march at 10 AM and I am still debating whether to attend. I am sitting in the tension of how much I can do and how I should do it!!

And isn’t this always true? When we are called to do the work of the church, and to getting involved in Justice work there is always something to do. I think our tendency is to think we are supposed to do it all ourselves which is, at the very least, incredibly overwhelming. Often, rather than take on something we dismiss it all, believing that our contribution is useless. And truthfully, if we all let that direct us, nothing would ever get done!

The stories of Jesus calling followers-disciples-reminds us that we are not supposed to do this work alone. He had the wisdom to surround himself with those who could take on some of the work. They were not always passive followers though! They argued, questioned, pushed back, rested, prayed, ran away, came back, and started over. This is the nature of discipleship. And while we are called to be in it together, remember: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” (Talmud)

Remember, Vista Grande has a Just Peace Church ministry team. This is a way to get involved in justice work with a community of disciples! If you are interested get in touch with Kayan Cross for details!

Peace, Clare


Jan 13 – 20

Dear Beloved Community,

I will be the first to admit that it is often difficult to trust that we are truly Beloved by our Creator and as such we find it difficult to love our whole selves. And then even if we do accept and love our entire being, we often do not take care of ourselves as is necessary to flourish.

I was serious when I suggested that New Year’s resolutions can often come from a place of judgement thereby setting us up for a sense of failure when we cannot reach those goals. However, there are certainly some things we can do which are more in keeping with self-care, not predicated on some cultural expectations.

Here are a few ideas to help give yourselves some long overdue and perhaps, avoided self-care.

  • Intentionally set aside some prayer/meditation time each day to help with centering yourself.
  • Exercise by doing an activity that lifts your spirit but does not demand weight loss or muscle gain! (You can do the other too, as long as you can eliminate the judgment)
  • Connect with nature. Allow yourself a few minutes each day to contemplate, walk, hike, sit, take in your surroundings. Breath, look, listen, and breath again.
  • Take a bath, candles, scents, music, etc.
  • Read a book you’ve been putting off.
  • Allow yourself to be creative, in whatever medium, without judgment.
  • Speak your truth. Don’t be afraid to trust your heart and mind.
  • Practice forgiveness. Allow yourself to no longer be bound to suffering imposed by others.
  • Laugh more! Expose yourself to things that bring you joy!
  • Honor the sacred. Find God in the everyday places.

And there are so many more ways to let yourself be present and loving to you. Start here. Enjoy the journey. Replenish and renew. And know you are so Loved!

Peace, Clare


Jan 6 – 13

Happy New Year! Here are John Dorhauer’s Top 10 list of hopeful resolutions for the world in 2020.
John Dorhauer is the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.

Happy New Year!

I am not really one who takes new year’s resolutions all that seriously. What I have taken to, instead of promises to myself to change behaviors that I will return to within weeks, is using the turn of the new year to remind myself what I want to spend my life’s energy on.

So, here is my top ten list of commitments to change the world for the common good.

  1. Love More: This isn’t #10 because it’s the least important. I wanted this to be first because it grounds all other options. More love. More stories of love. More actions that emanate from love. Just more love.
  2. More family: I have a family that doesn’t see me as much as they should. Time with them restores my soul. My job gets in the way. This year, more family. More mom; more grandchildren. More Mimi. More family.
  3. Vote: The UCC will again run the Our Faith Our Vote campaign, reminding people of faith that when we vote we do so to support the poor, the vulnerable, the oppressed, the earth, peace, justice – and so many other important matters.
  4. The Earth: Our mother is sick. We are the cause. Only we can heal her, and by doing so we will heal ourselves. Without this commitment to change, we will continue to witness disaster after disaster, destruction after destruction.
  5. White Privilege: We start with teaching white people how their privilege manifests itself. Won’t be easy – because most of us are in complete denial about it. After that, we learn new behaviors that emerge from nothing but that love for all I talked about earlier.
  6. Reparations: We must repair the damage. This won’t be easy. The damage has been inflicted for 400 years on this soil. It will take more than the transfer of and access to wealth and power – but it has to include that. And the Church has a role here. We can’t ask the nation and those who inhabit it to do something we have not done ourselves.
  7. Welcome the stranger: Yes, this is about immigrant and refugee justice. But also remember the stranger you meet on the street each day. Practice a spirit of welcome to all whom you meet. Let that spirit infuse you. When we all do that there will be no need for a wall.
  8. Smile: Tikh Nhat Han once wrote: “Sometimes, my joy is the source of my smile. At other times, my smile is the source of my joy.” Choose joy. Cultivate it. Smile more often. Let that be the greeting you offer those around you. It makes a difference.
  9. Peace: War must end. We aren’t throwing rocks and hurling insults at each other anymore. Drones, chemical weapons, and nuclear arsenals now give us the capacity to end life as we know it without discrimination. All die in this new wave of hatred of the other. Time to unlearn the ways of war.
  10. Quiet: We all need more time in silence. No noise. No distractions. No wandering thoughts about impending anxiety. Soul time. Silent time. A quieting of mind, body, and spirit that refreshes us. More of this.

May this year bring you new joy, and advance the causes of peace and justice as we travel together Into the Mystic.


Dec 30,2019 – Jan 6

I HAD PLANNED

Shared from The United Church of Christ daily devotions.

Written by Talitha Arnold

King David rose to his feet and said, “I had planned to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord … and I made preparations for building.” – 1 Chronicles 28:2 (NRSV)

King David had great plans, but God had other plans. The one thing he wanted most—building the Temple—he had to leave for his son Solomon.

David’s story is a good one for this year’s final days. What plans did you have for 2019? What do you need to let go of?

As the year draws to a close, a prayer by Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, written shortly before his assassination in 1980, offers this insight:

“It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.”

“We plant the seeds that one day will grow,” Romero continued. “We lay foundations that will need further development. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning … an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.”

“We may never see the end results,” Romero concluded, “but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.”