A Testimony of the Unknown: The Future Faith for Me

EDIT: I asked my pastor yesterday, and realized all beliefs are welcome, including Arminian. I even asked my pastor if she was Calvinist, and she said no!! She said she follows mostly Wesleyan beliefs, and that she takes comfort from each church in Christianity – United Methodist, Presbyterian, all. I misunderstood everything for York FCC! As always, I am always learning. I took out the wrong parts about my church in this essay.

Hi everyone,
I just wanted to share a small testimony of my future in faith:

While I don’t know what the future holds, I know Christ holds me in his arms.

Just this past year, I’ve moved away from works and grace theology (Catholicism-like theology) to just being saved by grace. I’ve also moved from my sacred Unitarian faith, which made me feel alienated from all other Christians, to the Trinitarian faith. There are still some days that I struggle with the Trinity, I just know that I have to press on and continue to believe. I can do this.

Now, what does the future hold? While I am and always be Arminian in faith, I’ve been looking at Calvinism. I’m still hung up on certain things, such as God ordaining the Holocaust and pain and death. I mean, even Jesus cried at Lazarus’ funeral. Although, a Calvinist could argue that Lazarus died to give God the glory (by resurrecting him). So, I’m not sure. I just don’t see anything glorious about the Holocaust happening, and the rape and murder of women of genocide in Africa. People are endowed with freedom of will, and there are times when we really screw up and abuse our free will.

I’m kind of looking for a happy medium, where God ordains all things, but also allows for freedom of will and apostasy. I know, multiple times, the Old Testament tells us of a God that ordains both good and punishment, but I know from my OT classes that that was the Jewish people’s way of understanding their situations and pains. Unlike what literal biblical studies tells us, the Bible wasn’t written by 40 men, but hundreds of authors who struggled with the terrible things that happened to them. I bet most of the Bible was written in hindsight, not by current events.

Alleluia and Amen.

Love, Leigh Todd

Life Update: Between Christmas & Epiphany

Our Christmas tree this year!

Hi everyone!

Sorry I’ve been away for so long – I’ve mostly been updating Instagram and Twitter, and enjoying work and end-of-year stuff!

Fall semester has just ended, and I hope my grades were B- or above! I really struggled with when to do homework (like having a homework schedule that works with my work schedule), and getting better at writing. I mostly skimmed most of my readings, but I’ve always been really good at skimming (plus tips from professors!), so that works.

Nebraska is full-swing into Winter, and I am NOT enjoying it. It’s not as bad as Minnesota winters, but the arctic wind is TERRIBLE! It rained all day at work yesterday as I was pushing carts, and I was soaked to the core. We had a mini-blizzard today, with lots of snow. The snowfall wasn’t too bad, but the wind, my Lord, is terrible. Jacob and I just walked a few feet from our apartment to North Casey’s, and I could hardly breathe in any air – it was so cold and windy!

Although this was a rough beginning of a semester and the weather is a pain, I’m just glad how much I’ve progressed this year. First, I graduated from college, a feat I had wished for so long. Second, I got an apartment lease with MY name on it – that’s a big deal for me. With an old eviction on my record, it’s been nice moving forward and being an ADULT. With me taking two classes this Spring, and then three every semester until graduation, I’m hoping to pay my rent with school loans until I graduate and become a pastor/chaplain. Although I will have a lot of loans to pay off, I’m hoping that and care payments will be the only bills I owe. I am certainly doing this adult thing!

With church, I’m still a part of Disciples of Christ, and I really enjoy the traditions, although I’m looking for more High Church (more liturgy) than what I get at First Christian in Aurora. So, my sister will revisit FCC in Lincoln sometime soon! They actually use the lectionary, pass the peace/great your neighbor, and all that. Aurora is a little two low church for me. I’m also hoping there will be more diversity of biblical interpretations at FCC-Lincoln than at Aurora. I can’t wait to attend their Sunday School!

Other than that, I’m really hoping to get my own car this spring and get my license. This is all very exciting. I’m hoping to get a Volkswagen Beetle with my income taxes!

That’s it! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love, Leigh Todd

Life Update: Starting Seminary

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York High School Marching Band at Yorkfest!

Hi everyone!  I know I’ve been posting a lot of my sermons and testimonies instead of life updates, so here is an update!

I started Seminary last Tuesday.  I was really nervous about video-conferencing my classes and making sure I got the readings done this past week, but I did it!  I’ve officially completed week 1 of graduate school, and am now embarking on my second week this Tuesday.  I LOVE my Religious and Theological Interpretation class, and am already enjoying my Intro to Theology.  I’m somewhat enjoying my Intro to the Old Testament class, although I feel like the professor is pushing her interpretation of the Bible on us as the most correct way.  This professor is very disorganized (her Moodle page is a disaster).  But, I will not judge this class by one week.  Once I get the hang of reading the Moodle page/syllabus, and I get used to her style of teaching, I know the class will become easier.  There’s always one class that is daunting in the beginning!

Also, this weekend was Yorkfest. Here, businesses paraded through downtown and marching bands from various high schools competed against each other.  My youngest brother, Dane, marched this Saturday.  My family cheered him on and the rest of York’s marching band.  It was all very exciting, even if it took a while!

Then this past Sunday, instead of going to a church that I feel doesn’t accept me, I went to a very liberal United Methodist church here in York.  Here, they don’t follow creeds and welcome all biblical interpretations and sexual orientations and genders!  When I went to church at First UMC this past Sunday, I felt so loved and cherished.  Even though the music was trinitarian, when I mentioned that I was a Unitarian, they said “Welcome!!”  I was elated to just feel welcomed and not judged for how I view the Bible.  All means All at this church.  I’m still hoping to attend First Christian Church in Lincoln sometime starting this semester or next semester, as I am still a Disciple of Christ, but I’m going to enjoy being at this church until then.

[Also, I loved and missed the call and response that this church does, such as “Lord, hear our prayer,” because I haven’t experienced that in a LONG TIME!  I also loved really worshiping Jesus this Sunday, as worshiping Jesus gives glory to the Father! I really missed modern Christian music, as York’s FCC uses early 20th century music that doesn’t seem to touch my heart.]

As for other parts of my life, I was denied Medicaid and immediate enrollment for Nebraska’s healthcare marketplace, so on Thursday I’m going to ask for 32 hours a week at orientation (I’m going to work at Walmart!) so that I can apply for health insurance from them.  I pray and hope that this can happen, and that I can finally get Jacob and I health insurance, even if the premium comes out of my paycheck every other week.  I would love your prayers on this matter, as well as us getting an apartment soon when my sister’s lease ends in the beginning of October. Please, send all prayers and good vibes for these matters.

Thanks for reading my life update!

Alleluia.

Thanks,
Leigh Todd

Nebraskan Life: Church

Hi everyone,

Thanks for visiting my blog.

I’ll just start by updating how the Nebraskan life is going, although it can be summed up in one word: boring.  Unlike Minneapolis, where you can just walk down the street and find something exciting to do, you’ve got to make times fun.  Whether that’ll be a barbecue or going to a coffee shop, you’ve got to make things exciting (that’s why I wonder if everyone just drinks around here).

I still don’t regret moving back to my home state.  In fact, I feel more comfortable.  I’m reminded, being back here, of what I fight for: rights for everyone, whether they be LGBTQ+, women, people of lower education/lower economic status, etc.   Being back home and being a progressive Christian in Nebraska is tough, though.  Even my sister reminded me that being a liberal Christian, who for one doesn’t believe in the Trinity, will be tougher before it gets better.  I’m not looking forward to the rough journey ahead.  I’m not really in the mood to create my own church, as that is painstakingly difficult and I don’t feel trained yet to build my own church.  But, with none of the churches around York welcoming of non-trinitarians in speech or sermons, I’m not sure what else to do.  I’ve been thinking of quitting church for a while until I can travel to Lincoln and attend First Christian Church (a welcoming of all church) there.  As I said, I don’t quite feel equipped to stand up and give sermons and lead hymns.

I know going to church is good for you, but when you’re sitting in the back of the pews wrestling with the trinitarian sermon when you KNOW you don’t believe it, it’s hard.  It just doesn’t fit.  Church, as of late, feels less and less welcoming each time I attend it.

I feel like I don’t fit into any church, though.  Even though I can check out other Arminian churches, such as Catholic, Methodist, and Churches of Christ, none of them give me the freedom to not believe in the Trinity.  None offer me the grace to teach my future children my faith.  So, I’m thinking of giving up church for a while until I can attend First Christian in Lincoln.  Who knows.  I’m still waiting to hear back from their pastor on if I’m welcomed or not, though!

I ask for your prayers on this matter.

Alleluia and Amen.

Proper 10: Peer Pressure and Me

IMG_20180715_102805283Every time I attend church, I find myself thinking three things:

  1. Do I miss my old church(es)?
  2. Should I force myself to believe in the Trinity/how do I reconcile my Unitarian beliefs with the Trinity?
  3. How would I modernize this church/sermon/message?  How would I make it my own?

I thought of these three things while attending church this morning, at First Christian Church of York.  I’m still missing the structure and holy communion at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, but I can’t reconcile my Unitarian/Works+grace beliefs with the Lutheran faith.  I’ve thought about attending the Saturday services at FELC here in York, so we’ll see how that goes.  I miss celebrating Holy Communion as the literal body and blood of Christ – I don’t know why this is so important, but it is.  And in a small way, I miss infant baptisms.

As for trying to convince myself to believe in the Trinity, its not working so well.  I know what I believe, and while God coming to earth in the body of a baby to reconcile us to himself sounds very convincing, I know the Unitarian truth.  I do believe in God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to convince myself to believe in God the Son again after reading the Gospels.  Having read that Jesus prayed to our Father in Heaven makes me dream of going back to the Mormon church, so that I can at least believe in both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  Then, at least I could believe in both works and grace.  Ughhh.

Lastly, I wonder how I could modernize my current church/my future church/or at least the message of Christ.  First Christian is very conservative, which is something I’m very worried about if I decide to make this place my Home Church.  I’ve heard good things about First Evangelical Lutheran Church, such as them reading progressive books by progressive female preachers.  Ugh.  Did I make the right decision in not believing in the Trinity and just grace, and leaving my old stomping grounds?  I feel a whole lot of regret right now.

How could i modernize this church?  How could I modernize its message for people of my generation?  Take peer pressure, for example.  This was our message from the Lectionary today, and I have been feeling a whole lot of peer pressure to conform in this church.  There was even a snippet in the bulletin about not conforming to this world.  Oy vey!  Doesn’t that sound fundamentalist?  I want something more progressive!  I want to talk about water conservation, taking care of our planet as stewards by God.  I want to talk about not giving into peer pressure of older generations to stay back and do nothing against oppressive societies.  DO NOT GIVE INTO THE PEER PRESSURE.  Be bold.  Care for the earth.  Care for our queer siblings of creation and of Christ.  Care for the immigrants.  Care for the vulnerable, the least of these, whether they are of the earth, of another nation, or just down the street from us.  Care, my friends.  Do not cave into the fundamentalist, white Christianity where one only focuses on personal piety.  Yes, be holy.  But don’t forget to fight the oppressive systems. (I’m more of a person to focus much more on social holiness as I don’t buy into the American ideal of personal holiness).  Let’s be socially holy people.  Christ said that if we only care about the outside of the bowl, but don’t wash the inside of the bowl, then we are nothing.  Focusing on one thing negates from social holiness.  How we treat people matters, even the point of judgement and Eternal Life (Matthew 25).

Alleluia and Amen.

-Leigh