Friday, April 28, 2006


Eight hours.

I had studied for my math test for eight hours.

If I failed, I would need a miracle from God to pass my college basic math class.

Eight hours. I had studied for my math test for eight hours! And I indeed failed.

I was broken. In the darkness and quiet of the campus orchestra room, I did the only thing I had the strength to do. I cried out to God for understanding and strength. In that darkness and quiet, I heard a voice say, “Study, and trust me.”

For the next three weeks I studied fervently and trusted that the One who lead the Israelites out of Egypt would somehow help me pass math class.

Over Christmas break I learned via email that I had passed my college math class. In that moment God restored what was once broken, my spirit. I graduated that May 2003 with a BA in communication and a renewed sense of God’s loving, healing, caring presence.

by Laura S. Sommers, who can do no wrong in our books (but then, we failed math, too...)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

And They're Off!

And They're Off
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
We enjoyed a perfect day for taking a great bike trip to the Loveland Trail in Ohio.

Redtail Soaring

Redtail Soaring
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
We saw and heard some beautiful flora and fauna.

da Youth

da Youth
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
check out the faces of the right half of the crowd...what's up with that?

Irresponsible Cycling

Irresponsible Cycling
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
Not to name any names...

Flat Fixer

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
We had managed to unload our trucks and move the bikes to the trail head when we had our first (and only) flat!

Photo by Lydia

Jeff Street Youth Bike Trippin'

Originally uploaded by paynehollow.

Lydia Tagalong

Lydia Tagalong
Originally uploaded by paynehollow.
You could always tell when Lydia and Cindy were coming up behind you because you could hear Lydia's gleeful giggle.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Crit of Rome

Crit of Rome
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Easter monologue

And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull...And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots...And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads...Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him..." Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost...Now when the centurion... saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God."


Truly, this was the son of God.

But not of any gods that I know.

As a centurion, I know well of gods. I am aware of the Hebrew gods. Their “Conquering god of Israel, ever victorious in battle.” I’ve heard it from the lips of countless zealots as they lay dying in a pool of their own blood. I know, too, of the “gods” of the Pharisees – gods of their own making, it seems to me, to keep their fragile hold on what they perceive as power.

And I know of my gods. The gods of war! Of discipline! Of authority! Hail Caesar and the mighty Roman empire! Long may it...

But I’ve heard of this man, Jesus. Heard of his teachings – how he boldly, fearlessly confronted his own Jewish authorities and even Rome herself! I assumed with the authority with which he spoke, he must surely have a large army to back his words. An army soon to be destroyed, of course.

But, no. He confronted us all, questioned our authority – Caesar’s authority! All with the backing of a few swordless fools.


I could not understand.

Hearing his teachings – love your enemies, overcome evil with good, good news for the poor and outcast – hearing of these teachings and the conviction with which he spoke, then seeing his humble death tonight and the love in his eyes for his mother, his friends…for me!

I’ve seen many things working here at Golgotha, but never such love and forgiveness expressed towards me.

And I think I see, now.

Truly, this was the son of a strange god, a god that is real to him. Truly this was the son of the God.

And I, I am undone.


by Dan, who is well acquainted with being undone...

More Easter Balloonacy

Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Geri's Easter Reflection


Jesus has called us to be “light” in this often dim world in which we live. As I brainstormed illustrations of how we are to be light, I certainly landed on the more commonplace Christian churchy examples, you know, “It only takes a spark…;” “This little light of mine….”

I even thought for more than a few minutes about how a disco ball represents how Jeff Street is light. But I was afraid if I actually brought one in that on a day like our Easter Sunday celebration and with so many reformed Baptists, there would be too much dancing!

But then I settled unwaveringly on the way we at Jeff Street represent “light” as a Lite Brite.

Growing up, my brother and I had a Lite Brite. I do remember that when our parents would have a dinner party with friends or family, I would sometimes retreat to my room and make a Lite Brite picture and then put it on display for all to see. The clown picture was my favorite, and I was sad to see it’s not included in these new high-tech looking flat-screen laptop versions.

Anyway, the one thing that I didn’t like about my Lite Brite were those blank opaque black pages. Hasbro, the Lite Brite maker, calls them “free form” sheets, but to me they were frighteningly too random.

You see, as a child (and I’m still working on it 40 years later), the only verse in the Bible I seemed to take literally was in Matthew 5, the “Love your enemies” passage. And while that concept is difficult enough, the verse that stuck with me was “Be ye perfect as God is perfect.”


So the color-coded patterned dots on the Lite Brite pictures that were provided were very comforting for me. I couldn’t go wrong; would never end up with a picture that was unrecognizable to the party guests. Yeah, that’s right…I would despair if I colored outside the lines, too. Sad, I know.

But as my theology has, thankfully, become more “free form,” not following the patterns of how I might have been taught earlier in life, I have come to see this community and how we practice being Light in this world like those random patterns on a blank black free form Lite Brite page. Of course, there is a constant source of the actual light which makes the colored pegs glow, which we could define as Jesus or at least the ways in which we strive to be like he was, all justice-seeking and loving and all.

Lite Brite’s don’t plug in anymore; they operate on batteries, so I guess you could say that the steadiness of the glowing picture is more vulnerable today than in the past, and perhaps that does describe the church’s impact in today’s world. But just think about how we as faith community come together--all different colors in a random design, all over the place, no rhyme or reason sometimes…all of us just here, letting the source of light flow through our translucent colors; and depending on the pictures we choose to make, some shining brighter than others at times.

I think it’s why many of us have found a way to be a peg in this picture at Jeff Street, rather than fitting in a prescribed pattern of practicing our faith. I have come to believe this free form way makes a much more beautiful picture!


By Geri, who is, if not perfect, pretty darned close...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Thanks, Katie! And HAPPY EASTER!!

Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Katie, who is a Menno Corps participant this year, has graced Jeff Street in many ways, not the least of which are the two magnificent pieces of artwork shown below.

Thanks Katie!

Serpent and Dove

Serpent and Dove
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Batik Artwork

Batik Artwork
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.


Balloon Chaos
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Easter at Jeff Street is always vibrant. Christ is risen, indeed!

Dan, Anette, Michelle and friends...

Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Hanae and Sara B

Hanae SaraB
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Be Ye VERY Angry...

Otter Creek '97
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Be ye angry...

"...If you lessen your anger at the structures of power, you lower your love for the victims of power." William Sloan Coffin

I agree with this so very much. There are those Christian peacemakers who believe that nonviolence entails never getting angry. I think that’s a load of *&^%#@! and always have.

Jesus clearly got angry on several occasions. Paul tells us “in your anger, sin not.” And before anyone quotes Matt 5:21-26 at me, I remind you that Greek verb tense is a continual action so that a better translation would be, “[I]f you hold on to anger with your brother [or sister], you will be liable to judgment.” Nursing anger and resentment can lead to sin. That was God’s message to Cain—not that his anger was already sinful, but that it was an opportunity for sin, crouching like a lion, to have him. Cain failed to listen and murdered his brother, Abel. The sad story of the world continues on from there. The purpose of Matt. 5:21-26 is not to present a legalistic standard to which none can attain, refraining from all anger, but to present us with a working mechanism to keep this from becoming an opportunity for our own crouching lions—we go to the brother or sister and we talk—even interrupting worship to do so.

At the other end of the spectrum is the pop psychology popular in many churches that emotions are neutral, of no moral consequence. It is how we act on emotions that is moral or immoral. I think that’s just as bogus. As Fr. Simon Harak, S.J. (now on staff at War Resisters’ League) points out in his powerful book, Virtuous Passions, our moral character includes our passions, our emotions.

If I describe the torture of a child to you and the emotion you feel is glee or humor, something is seriously wrong with your moral character even if your actions are entirely appropriate. That’s where Bill Coffin, who passed yesterday evening, had it so very right. Anger and love, even nonviolent agape love, are not moral opposites. There is, in the words of a classic essay by Christian feminist ethicist Beverly Wildung Harrison, a role for “the power of anger in the work of love.” Our love for the victims of power, for the Abels of this world, SHOULD make us angry at the structures of power that victimized them.

The danger is real: Walter Wink constantly warns us of the danger of becoming that which we hate. But anger and hate are not the same thing. And we can (MUST!) love the perpetrators of evil (our enemies) even as we remain furious at their actions—and even more at the structures of injustice in which they are enmeshed. Redemption for oppressors cannot come with confronting their oppression and holding a mirror up to it. That, as folks like Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez and so many others knew, is the secret to active nonviolence.

People have told me that I am too angry about the lies which have mired us in a murderous war in Iraq, about the torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere; about the way the war machine is robbing the poor, robbing education, robbing the resources needed either to prevent a Katrina or rebuild afterward. I intend to stay angry because I dare not lessen my love for the victims.

I must remember to keep centered in prayer, including prayer for figureheads of the Powers and Authorities, and keep asking others to pray for me so that my anger does not lead to violence—of the spirit or otherwise. But to refuse to be angry is the way of apathy, the path to being co-opted.

Thank God for William Sloan Coffin who showed us how not to be complicit. May we enter the rest of this week of cross and resurrection by asking God to crucify our complacency and to resurrect in us and all the churches a spirit of nonviolent struggle for justice and peace. Following the Risen Lord, if that One be truly “this same Jesus” as the angels say in Acts 1 to the disciples, will involve close attention to the earthly Jesus—as far as the Gospels’ witness gives us that. So, we need to be angry at the things which made Jesus angry and to act on that anger in the same we he did—not in destructive patterns but in redemptive ones. But first we need to be saved from the false gospel of “niceness” that says that Christians never get angry. If war and torture and racism and the rape of the planet for oil companies and so much else doesn’t make us angry, are we even alive? Please God, bring us to live this Resurrection Sunday.


By Michael Westmoreland-White, who knows a bit about being angry

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Blurry Biker

Blurry Biker
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.

Practicing Resurrection

Are you kidding?
You gave up your car for Lent?
Are you crazy?

That's what people have been asking me. For the past five years, I have taken a Lenten vow to quit driving my car everywhere. I try to put more miles on my bike than my car. I do this for my health, the community's health, and the health of the world. People question my sanity, but as a chaplain at a mental hospital, I know the difference between "hearing voices" and "listening to a still, small voice."

Here is what I do: I fill up my tank on Ash Wednesday and try to make it all the way to Easter on one tank. I ride my bike to work as often as weather and schedule permit.

This annual experiment in reducing my fuel use increases my health, and the health of the world. My bike is much more than a way to get from point A to point B--it is nothing less than a vehicle of physical, spiritual, and
cultural transformation!

When I get up in the morning and throw my leg over my bike instead of turning the key in my car's ignition, I am aware of the good I am creating. The ride to work becomes a passionate means of connection to the cosmos. I'm not some religious zealot, treating my body with contempt either by indulgence or privation. I'm an instrument of peace, quietly spinning out healing strength into the universe. With every pedal stroke, I get closer to the Earth, and closer to resurrection. With each mile, I become more aware of the sacred around me, allowing it to pass through me and back into the world. What could be better than that?

Lent offers us a time to do things a little differently. Why not choose something that helps everyone?

As Wendell Berry has said:

As soon as the generals and politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

The Reverend David Dillard is a Psychiatric Chaplain at Central State Hospital in Louisville, and a member of the Jeff Street Baptist Community at Liberty

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Shelby Library

Shelby Library
Originally uploaded by jeffstreet1.