A Message from Our Kahu

“Honoring the Missionaries” “I shall cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” (Ezekiel 37:5)   It was on this week 200 years ago that the first Christian missionaries landed in Hawaii. By the end of the year, there were mission stations in Kailua-Kona, Honolulu, and Waimea (Kauai). They arrived during a time of novel viruses and horrific epidemics. In the short span of just over 40 years before their arrival on March 30, 1820, the population of Hawaiian people had decreased by more than a half. By the end of the century, the population of Hawaiians was only 5-10 percent what it had been when Captain James Cook arrived in 1778. In my online message this past week, I talked about the book I wrote, The Volcano Is Our Home: Nine Generations of a Hawaiian Family on Kilauea Volcano, which tells the story of the Hawaii from 1756 to modern day through the eyes of my Hawaiian ancestors and family. Throughout my research for the book, I tried to constantly imagine what it would be like to have so many people die in these islands. In my writing, I tried to put myself in the shoes of my ancestors who survived dreadful decades of epidemics—one after another for over 100 years. The example of many of the missionaries of the time gave me hope—especially the doctors. In my research for my book and in the reading I have done since moving back to Hawaii in 2014, I have been greatly inspired by the physicians and their wives who left comfortable lives and promising careers in the United States to sail...

A Message from Our Kahu

“Community and Sanctuary” In the Lord you are light. Live as children of light. Ephesians 5:8   In my online message this past week, I talked about the importance of community and how we are still a strong community of faith even when we are not physically together. All of the key ingredients of community still apply today, although they look quite different because we have to do them differently. I offered these thoughts about community during these days of isolation and social distancing: Community is about showing up as we are and knowing there is a place where we are loved and accepted as we are. We can still show up as we are—as we watch the online worship service and as we call to check in on church members. Community is about sharing a common purpose. We still share the same purpose of sharing the love of God with one another and the world as the body of Jesus Christ. Community is about sharing our stories and our beliefs and perceptions with one another in honest and nonjudgmental ways. We will continue sharing our stories, beliefs and perceptions with one another—just not in person. Community is about asking for help when we need it. I urge you to ask for help from me, our Deacons, our Council members, and anyone else in the church who can help you. Community is about being honest and transparent. We need each other to be honest and transparent with one another—now more than ever. I also talked about the importance of sanctuary. In his book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old, Parker Palmer writes about about...

A Message from Our Kahu

“Treasures in Clay Jars” We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God…. 2 Corinthians 4:7   On Sunday, I talked about what it means to be baffled—something we all feel at times and have probably been feeling a lot lately. In his book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old, Parker Palmer talks about bafflement in terms of vocation and calling. Although we normally crave certainty and wisdom when it comes to what God has placed us here on Earth to do, we usually don’t really know the details of our journey until we actually come upon them. God has certainly not been very clear with me about the upcoming particulars of my journey, but one thing I have discovered is that God keeps showing up! Whether I am walking with confidence, carefully putting one foot in front of the other, or stumbling over my own two feet, I find that God is present wherever I land. During these uncertain and baffling times of new territory for our church, community, nation and world, I urge you to look for the ways that God shows up wherever you are. The Apostle Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in Corinth about the light of God that shines in the darkness, even shining in our hearts when even they seem dark. Indeed, God shows up in all of our dark places. Paul went on to write, “We have this treasure in clay jars.” God is the treasure and we are the clay jars (also translated...

A Message from Our Kahu

“Getting Real with Yourself” On Sunday, I talked about chapter 3 of Parker Palmer’s recent book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old. The chapter is titled “Getting Real with Yourself,” and it challenges us to let go of illusions about ourselves and to show up as we are. As we continue our Lenten journey, I invited people to consider this question: “Am I being the person God created me to be?” I closed my message by reading some quotes from chapter 3 and invited each person to sit quietly with each question and to ask what might need to happen in order to see oneself, God, and the world around us with greater clarity. Here are some of those quotes (with the page number in parentheses, in case you have the book and would like to read more): The spiritual journey is an endless process of engaging life as it is, stripping away our illusions about ourselves, our world, and the relationship of the two, moving closer to reality as we do. (54) All forms of contemplation share the same goal: to help us see through the deceptions of self and world in order to get in touch with what Howard Thurman called “the sound of the genuine.” (57) [Quoting Thomas Merton] The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. (60) I can’t imagine a sadder way to die than with the sense that I never showed up here on earth as my God-given self. (64) True self is the self with which we arrive on earth, the self that simply wants us...

A Message from Our Kahu

“The Dance of the Generations”   On Sunday, I talked about chapter 2 of Parker Palmer’s recent book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old. The chapter was about how the “older” generations relate to the “younger” ones. Palmer suggests that we stop using the metaphor “passing the baton” from one generation to the next—and I agree with him. The baton metaphor implies competition which suggests winners and losers. It also implies giving up when older folks say, “I’ve done my part and now I’m done.” Finally, it implies a failure to accept responsibility, as if we can tell younger folks that it is up to them to clean up the mess we have made. Instead, Palmer suggests two other more helpful metaphors: music and dance. Imagine an orchestra where older and more experienced musicians are making beautiful music with younger and newer players. Imagine a dance where people of all ages are joyfully dancing together. (If that is a stretch for you, see the beginning of my sermon where I talk about my niece’s recent wedding reception in California.) Both of these visions more accurately describe a community of God’s grace and the world we can create together. Palmer also talks about the importance of facing up to our failures and telling the stories of our failures across the generations. He tells us in the book that young people often feel like failures, and hearing the stories of failure in people they look up to can bring great hope. There is grace found in the vulnerability of honest storytelling. Grace is also found whenever people...

A Message from Our Kahu

“Grace, Gravity & Getting Old” This week we celebrate the first Sunday in Lent, the six-week period before Easter when we spend time in intentional reflection. As our guide I have chosen Parker Palmer’s recent book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old. It is a delightful book for all ages as we consider how we live during the span of our lives. The book will guide us into living more fully in our own devotional lives and with others. On Ash Wednesday as I shared with the congregation a story from Chapter 1 about a 16-month-old toddler by the name of Maya, whose mother had this to say about her: “My daughter is on the brink of everything.” She said that Maya approaches life with only one expectation: “Delight me.” As he approached his 80th birthday, Parker Palmer wrote that he wants to be like little Maya. He wants to have only one expectation: delight. But rather than saying to the world, “Delight me,” Palmer places the request on himself: to have delight in the gift of life and to be grateful. Ash Wednesday is a reminder that none of us knows how many days we have left on this Earth. And yet, every single day that we do have, we can delight in the gift of life and be grateful! This Sunday, I will focus on Chapter 2, “The Dance of the Generations.” We will give thanks to God for young and old alike—and all who are in between! We will look at some new metaphors in how old and young might live better together and relate with more...