Saturday, April 30, 2005

Retreat Time

Dear and gentle friends and readers,

I will be at a retreat center for a week, starting tomorrow afternoon. A beautiful place called Simpsonwood. The husband and children will be on their own, hence I am planning meals and what not for them today. I don't know if there is internet connectivity -- their phones are down today because of the storms yesterday. So I may be posting, I may not.

I will miss reading and posting, but will be back next Saturday for certain.


Friday Random 10, on Saturday

1. O tu suavissima virga, Sequentia, Canticles Of Ecstasy
2. The Fjords Of Oslo, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, Little Worlds
3. Sounding Joy 391, Sacred Harp, Sounding Joy
4. When You Give, Mark Schultz,, Mark Schultz
5. Never Alone, Vince Gil,l Souvenirs
6. Search Me and Know Me, Michael Card, The Ancient Faith
7. Storms In Africa, Enya, Watermark
8. Introït, Choeur de la Chapelle Hofburg, Chants grégoriens
9. Savior, Like a Shepherd, 4HIM , Hymns
10. The Lucky One, Alison Krauss & Union Station, New Favorite

My Observations

Yes, this is written in "seminary-speak," but I hope they will be useful and not too horribly boring. Suggestions welcome.

Some Observations about Televised Religion:

I have a very, very small sample size that is statistically insignificant. That being said, I cannot draw true conclusions, but hypothesize on what I observed.

Religion on Television can be broken into several categories.
1. Televised worship services from mainline denominations.
2. Televised worship services from non-denominational churches.
3. Televised worship services from Mega-churches (over 2000 in attendance).
4. Televised worship experiences, that are held to be broadcast – these include an audience, not a true congregation. Sometimes they are ticketed events.
5. Mainline preachers preaching to a camera.
6. Non-denominational preachers preaching to a camera.
7. Denominational (mainline) talk shows.
8. Non-denominational talk shows.
9. Made for television movies.

This discussion will not take in account talk shows or made for television movies.

If we take the Nicean Creed and the traditional confessions of the faith to be normative for orthodoxy, then the theologies of the sermons televised can be categorized as orthodox or non-orthodox. (We will avoid language or “good theology” or “bad theology” in this discussion.)

Of the programming watched, the televised programs from mainline denominations were analyzed and their theologies would be considered orthodox by this viewer. When considering a “worship experience,” none of the programming observed of these types had staged worship experiences (total watched 24.) They also did not have cameras that were mobile; most were fixed cameras within an ordinary church space. The sermons that were televised in front of a camera without a congregation where done in a low budget television studio, dressed to resemble an office or home. There were little to no pleas for money, except for the usual “tithes and offerings” of a normal worship service, or offers to purchase tapes of the programming at a reasonable price. Of the programming considered, not necessarily watched, only one was from a "crusade" in which the preacher was from a mainline denomination (Billy Graham, Baptist). There was no Catholic programming observed.

Of the programming watched that was non-denominational, there was much more variety. Almost all (excluding two) of the Mega churches watched were non-denominational. All of the staged worship experiences with an audience observed were non-denominational. 74% of these non-denominational programs had recognizable un-orthodox theologies. These included non-Trinitarian thought, Gnosticism, Montanism, Monophysitism, Apollinarianism, Donatism, Monarchianism, Pelagianism, Socinianism, problems with soteriology, and prosperity theology among others. Because of the small sample size, this figure cannot be determinative, however it is sufficient to show a trend.

The non-denominational programming was much more likely to have a preacher whose ordination status is indeterminable, sermons with no discernable form or structure, sermons that included no illustrations, sermons with proof-texting of the Bible, sermons with no challenge for true Christian discipleship, more likely to include pleas for money and more likely to specifically mention politics. The non-denominational programming ranged from engaging and orthodox to offensive (to this listener) and extremely unorthodox. It seemed that the further the preacher was from day to day pastoring of a flesh and blood congregation with which the preacher had an ongoing, authentic relationship, the further their theologies drifted. Also, the mainline programming remained much more orthodox in their thinking. Perhaps having a higher power -- a Board of Ordained Ministry, a Bishop, a Synod, a Conference, an Association -- to hold the preacher accountable for their teachings helped the preacher maintain integrity to the Gospel and the orthodox teachings of the Church universal.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Catblogging

I have finished my televangelists paper. I'm letting my observations stew around in my brain for a while before I write an analysis. It was shocking the amount of bad theology... But not all televised stuff is bad. More later.

It's time for Friday Catblogging. Here's a picture of my girls trying to get snuggle time in --they are getting so very big that they don't fit in my lap anymore. Little kitty decided she wanted in on the action and so perched on top of Chaos. She's sitting on my shoulder right now -- this cat loves to perch on things.....

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

An example -- I've done 6 and have 6 to go.

Title: Sermon preached on XXXXXXXX entitled “God Wants you to be Healed”, in XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX by XXXXXXX, using the texts Luke 6:17-19, Acts 10:38. This sermon watched on April 20, 2005 on the website XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Preacher--denomination, age, ethnicity, gender, ordination status: XXXXXXX is a non-denominational preacher, a African-American male who is approximately 45 years old. He is trained in Educational Therapy and has an honorary doctorate from Oral Roberts University, awarded in 1998.

Central point or purpose of the sermon: “God loves you too much for Him to let you walk away from here in the same mess you walked in.” “Tonight those unclean spirits will leave you.” “God will heal you because he loves you.” Certain sicknesses and disease are caused by unclean spirits, such as depression and being tormented in your mind, as well as some blood diseases and infirmities of the physical body. God anointed Jesus with burden removing and yoke destroying power. Anointing is a smearing on or foreshadowing of power. God will anoint you. Sickness is a curse that you should not have to put up with. Healing is good and sickness is bad. Jesus is still here and is still doing good, healing all who are oppressed and harassed by the devil. The reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit is healing. John 17 says that God loves you as He loves Jesus. Therefore, God will heal you. Your healing will take your faith. If you want a genuine healing you have to have enough faith. The sermon, while grounded in scripture and expositional in form, did not have much structure. There was aphorisms, call and response, and high emotion. There was a commercial for a tape set called “The Promise of Healing” in the middle and at the end of the sermon. This is a prime example of prosperity theology and works righteousness, which I find distasteful and fallacious. The good news that was being proclaimed was “God loves you and wants you to be healed” but I didn’t see it being worked out in the theology nor did I see a challenge for transformation.

Treatment of biblical text: XXXXXXXX used several different translations interpreting the text phrase by phrase, occasionally word by word. There was little context for the scriptures read (i.e. the two verses from Luke were not placed in context, placing it right after the naming of the 12 disciples and right before the beatitudes in Luke in the Sermon on the Plain.) There was little to no true exegetical work and he used other translations to gain more understanding of a particular phrase or word and occasionally looked at the Greek and Hebrew. In the end analysis, it was eisegetical rather than exegetical.

One (1) illustration/image in the sermon. Give your estimation of the effectiveness in supporting the text. There were few true illustrations or even metaphors or analogies. He contrasted the supernatural with the spectacular. He did use colorful language such as “there are no angels looking for Tylenol in heaven” and “Jesus is a doctor who has never lost a case.” “Hallelujah! You hear the word and you feel invincible.” He used the analogy of cleaning the body to the cleansing of the soul. All in all, his illustrations were not particularly effective.

Gender/age/culture/class/race/God talk inclusivity in language/illustrations: XXXXXX used almost exclusively masculine language when speaking about God. His language for people was neutral in regards to gender, age, culture, race and class which is appropriate considering the diverse makeup of the congregation.

Attire—robe, suit, jewelry, etc. [appearance]: XXXXXXXXX wore a very nice three-piece grey suit and a light purple tie. He had a handkerchief in his suit pocket. The pulpit was traditional in size and shape, however it was a marbleized purple in color with a large gold Bible embossed on the front. The choir was attired in purple robes and the aisle was carpeted in purple. The congregation is very large, multi-cultural, and multi-racial.

Presence--bodily engagement-use of hands, carriage, posture, mobility, distinctive mannerisms and idiosyncrasies: XXXXXXXXX moved around quite a bit. The chancel area appears to be much like a stage and it appeared that he tried to engage with the listeners by moving from behind the pulpit. He gestures strongly with his hands. He repeatedly moved back to the pulpit to read from the Bible. He tends to stand with one hand on his hip, leaning on the pulpit. He repeated phrases like “Hallelujah,” “Amen,” “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Preaching Voice--diction, clarity, volume, projection: XXXXXXXXX’s voice is a deep and resonant voice, well trained for his purposes. He uses it effectively to evoke emotional response. The volume was adequate for the purpose and overall suitable for a preacher. His voice production was excellent, with rooted deep breathing; his vocal placement was helpful for communication. He could improve his tall, round sounds by opening his mouth a little more. His diction is average and could be improved, especially his final consonants. His facial expressions were appropriate for the message. His phrasing and pauses suited the organization of his thought. His voice was pitched very naturally and he varied his pitch, rate, volume and inflection to reflect the content of the verse he was examining. In fact, he was able to use his voice very hypnotically, bringing about consent and agreement even when what he was saying created cognitive dissonance.

What would you modify or omit? I would omit the majority of the sermon. In fact, I don’t know if there is anything that I would use of this sermon. There were no interesting illustrations, no calls to action, no good metaphors, no interesting insights into difficult text. The best use of this sermon would be as a bad example.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Langston Hughes and televangelists

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

---Langston Hughes

Listen, Christ,
You did alright in your day, I reckon—
But that day's gone now.
They ghosted you up a swell story, too,
Called it Bible--
But it's dead now.
The popes and the preachers’ve
Made too much money from it.
They've sold you to too many.

---Langston Hughes

Somehow my research into televangelists reminded me of these two poems. The first is a mother's recounting to her son of the pain and suffering of a common black woman's life. This is the realist talking -- a person who knows the trials and travails of poverty and discrimination. These seem to be the people that televangelists appeal to.

The second echoes my feeling this afternoon after watching a few hours of TBN and others. Is this the same Jesus that I proclaim? I almost don't recognize Him. I didn't see an aesthetic Jewish rabbi. I didn't see Gibson's suffering Christ. I saw the "Jesus as my friend and buddy" and a lot of prosperity theology. I saw a lot of Montanism. I didn't see much realy exegesis. I didn't hear any "pick up your cross." No costly discipleship, no sanctification. Cheap grace offered for only $19.95. It was more disturbing than I thought it would be. The cheapening of salvation. Glitz and glitter instead of the refiner's fire and pure gold. Maybe I am being harsh -- I feel bemused.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Tired, but in the Home Stretch

One week of school left this semester. I've no finals. Thank you God. One week of school, then a week at a conference and then nothing for a while. This pace is exhausting. I've racoon eyes today and my brain feels like it's bruised or like it's a piece of chewing gum with no flavor left. It was a 15 or 16 hour day yesterday (again). And I was supposed to sit with a family while the mom was in surgery this morning, but someone else is going instead. Thank you God.

A couple of papers left and one sermon. And it's over until September. One paper has to include observations of Televangelists. That's going to hurt my already bruised brain, but it must be done. So for the next few hours I will be watching TBN. If I disappear, call for a search and rescue party. Jan Crouch, here I come.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Chaos and Entropy want Friday cat blogging, so here it is.
This is a picture of Daddy with kitty, mac and kid in lap. It gets a little crowded.

Trinity A, May 22, 2005 -- Dramatic Reading

After several requests, here is the dramatic reading from class using John 1 and Genesis 1. This would be appropriate at Trinity A, which is May 22, 2005, Easter Vigil ABC, Baptism B, Christmas Eve ABC, Christmas 2A, 2B or 2C. I like it particularly on Trinity, since it weaves the triune nature of God into one reading. One person at the Pulpit, one at Lecturn works well. Practice is essential. If time is of essence, it can be shortened from the end of the first day, marked with an asterisk to the second asterisk. Enjoy!

Voice 1 : In the beginning God (beat)

Voice 2 : In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God

Unison : In the beginning
Voice 1 : (no pause) God created

Unison : the heavens and the earth.

Voice 2: Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Voice 1: Now the earth was formless and empty,

Unison : (staggered ) darkness
Voice 1 : was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was

Unison : light.

Voice 2 : In him was life, and that life was the light (beat)

Voice 1 : light

Voice 2 : of men.

Voice 1 : God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the

Unison : (staggered )darkness.

Voice 2 : The light shines in the

Unison : (staggered ) darkness,

Voice 2: but the darkness (beat)

Voice 1 : darkness

Voice 2: has not understood it.

Voice 1 : God called the light "day," and the

Unison : (staggered) darkness

Voice 1: he called "night." And there was evening,

Voice 2: and there was morning

*Unison: --the first day.(pause)

Voice 1 : So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.

Voice 2: There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.

Voice 1: And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Voice 2: And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.

Voice 1 : And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.

Voice 2: He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

Unison : And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.

Voice 1: And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth."

Voice 2 : And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.

Voice 1 : And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Voice 2 : He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

Voice 1 : Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Voice 2: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

Voice 1 : God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

Unison: And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. (beat)

*Unison : The Word

Voice 2: became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Voice 1 : In the beginning God (pause)

Voice 2 : In the beginning was

Unsion : the Word,

Voice 2: and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God

Unison : In the beginning

Chicken Salad Sandwiches Recipe

1 small can Mandarin oranges, drained
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup grapes, split in half
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup celery
1/2 to 1 cup mayo (homemade is really nice -- so is Blue Plate)
2 to 3 cups Rosemary Chicken* (leftovers)
salt and pepper to taste
(optional -- choose one, but not all.)
dash of poppy seeds
dash of curry powder (not too much)
dash of nutmeg

Place in bowl. Mix. Yum.

Rosemary Chicken
several breasts of chicken
FRESH rosemary, chopped and crushed slightly (1 to 2 cups)
pepper and salt
olive oil

coat chicken with olive oil. Flatten chicken slightly and coat with rosemary. Zest and juice lemon. Add lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bake for at least an hour at 325. The rosemary should be tender. Serve with lemon and/or rosemary rice and reserve leftovers for chicken salad.

And now...

for something completely different.

Have you seen this? Holy Toast!
The Bread of Life? I will now have the image in-grained in my head. Should we rise to the occasion? Will this provide the yeast our loafing kneads? Has the church gone a-rye? Will this subject ever grow stale? Shall we just roll on? Isn't this really crummy?

A very wonderful site: Sites Unseen done by friends of Marla and Jamie (Hi guys!). It's so very cool -- 3000+ sites about Jesus stuff.

More about chicken salad sandwiches.

Gramps on Reverend Mother’s blog commented:
I think that lots of mature people have sub-clinical but significant anxiety and depression. We are anxious because our future seems scary and out of our control. We are depressed because many of our hopes and personal aspirations have been crushed by time and reality. Our response is to become rigid and globally negative. We withdraw into our increasingly narrow comfort zone and we are critical of anyone who forces us to deal with change. Our internal distress is high but because we want to be perceived as nice people, we express our unhappiness in small nastiness about unimportant things.

I am just bemused and amused. I think of it as a gift I can give to them when I deliberately "mess up" and then watch them fuss. =o) (This was a joke. Just in case someone didn't realize that.)

I try to understand these women. These are the invisible women -- older ones put out to pasture, with no purpose. They are disenfranchised and feeling worthless. We have come to an understanding – I listen to them, they tell me how to make the sandwiches.

Miss Betsey Sue* used to teach the 4 year old Sunday School. She started to have problems with her arthritis and vision. Some of the younger people to “help out” took over her class – she was displaced. Miss Mary Lou* loves to make crocheted do-ma-hickies. She was told that they “don’t sell” at the Fall Festival and we don’t need any this year. She entered a severe depression. Miss Martha Blue* used to take care of her older relatives, visiting the nursing homes to brighten others up; now she can’t drive and she has lost all purpose. There are dozens of stories from these ladies – maybe a group of 20 or so, whose families have grown up and moved away and they are alone in their widowhood. They used to be leaders of the church when they were younger, but now most of the members don’t even know their names. As women grow older, they lose that “sex appeal” that some get their self-esteems from, they lose the perception of competence, they lose their positions of authority, they lose purpose. This sounds patronizing to a certain degree, but they remind me of that song from “Music Man”:

Alma- Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little,
cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more

Alma and Ethel- Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little,
talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more

All the ladies- Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little,
talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more

And of course I am always incredibly self aware (sarcasm, just in case you didn’t notice.) I was chewed out by an older lady earlier this year for “not noticing” her anymore. She had been sniping about the flowers – the ones on the right-hand side were pastels and the ones on the left were warm autumn colors – and she wanted to gripe about it. I realized that she wasn’t really upset about the flowers. I asked it her if there was anything else bothering her. She wanted to know if I was mad at her or if she had offended me – I just had relegated her to the “not useful to me right now” pile and I really was ignoring her. It really was my problem. I now deliberately look each of these ladies in the eye every time I see them and say “good morning” and call them by name. I also make it a point to shake their hand or hug them for physical contact. Some still resist, but most respond wonderfully. I now have dozens of crocheted do-ma-hickies in my house, 5 different chicken salad recipies, people to go visit with me when I do the hospital visits, I get lots of homemade baked goods (really good for the weight control program!) and babysitters (which I usually don't use for long periods of time). Some (note not all, some still have a prejudice towards male pastors) Some consider me “their” pastor. I consider that an honor.

I have been reading a lot about the hidden aggression of middle school girls. They are told they cannot be physically aggressive like the boys at this age, so they learn some really devious methods of aggression. I am seeing parallels in these older women. Why are they aggressive? Because they feel (note the word feel) threatened.

Dr. Schieb has written a wonderful book:
Challenging Invisibility: Practices of Care With Older Women
by Karen D. Scheib

Women older than 65 are a large subgroup of the average congregation, yet women are noticeably absent in the literature and training in pastoral care and counseling. They outnumber same-aged men in the general United States population by more than 40 percent, but are underrepresented in studies and disappear from the media, which offers few positive images of older women in television, movies, and advertisements. In an in-depth study of women over the age of 65, Karen Scheib asked women how they feel they are perceived in their churches. Their answer: “invisible.”

Karen Scheib believes that invisibility results from social, political, and economic factors that provide the context in which women age. This social context is not neutral toward aging, but defines or constructs what it means to grow old and to be old. Scheib draws on her extensive research; insights of gerontology, sociology, psychology, and anthropology; and her experience as a practical pastoral theologian to develop a new approach to pastoral care with older women, an approach that takes into account social context, as well as individual analysis, and theological reflection. She proposes a model of care and a set of practices that challenge women’s invisibility and assist congregations in creating an environment that values contributions of older women.

A short article by Dr. Schieb from the Circuit Rider magazine.

My rule #1 is “No behavior exist in a vacuum. Including mine.” And it doesn’t. Sometimes we can figure out where it comes from, sometimes all we can do is cope. I’m learning to cope. I struggle with this almost every Sunday. I still don't "see" these women. I get really, really irritated with them. I get mad and frustrated at the petty bickering. But I know one day I will *be* one of these women.

*not their real names.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Prayers of the People for Easter 5A

Dearest Lord, You have always been our protection and strength. In You, O LORD, we seek refuge; You are indeed our rock and our mighty fortress; Incline Your ear to us today. Help us take our stones and not throw them at each other out of anger and frustration and bitterness, but build upon Your cornerstone, Your solid rock, Your Son Jesus Christ. Be a rock of refuge for us, a strong fortress to save us. Our lives and times are in Your hands; deliver us from the hands of our enemies and persecutors. Let Your face shine upon Your servants; preserve us in Your steadfast love

Dearest Lord, with Jesus and Stephen we cry out “Into Your hand I commit my spirit” -- You have redeemed us, O LORD, our faithful God. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, let us gaze into heaven and glimpse Your glory.

We confess, Lord, we have not been Your faithful people. We have used our words, throwing them at each other to hurt. We have used our words to tear down and not to build up. Forgive us. Help us build up the body of Christ in this world today. Help us to become Your Holy nation, Your royal priesthood. Help us find a home, a dwelling place in your Word. We thank You that You have prepared for us a place. We thank You that You have promised to show us the way. You are, indeed, the way, the truth and the life.

Dearest Lord, we pray today for those who are suffering in body and in spirit. We pray for those with cancer, for those with broken bones, for those with broken bodies, for those with broken minds. We pray for those imprisoned, both in the body, but also for those imprisoned in their soul. Free us for joyful obedience. Help us continue Your work here on earth. These things we pray in the name of Your beloved Son, Jesus the Christ, who taught us to pray saying… Our Father….

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

The story behind the Chicken Salad Sandwich comment. It started at a UMW meeting last Fall. I attended and made the sandwiches. I used a recipe that had mandarin oranges, apples, grapes, walnuts, celery and rosemary chicken. I served it open faced on croissants. The comments:

"Well, look at this! Who does she think we are! A country club!"
"Doesn't she think she's Hoity-Toity."
"Fancy stuff doesn't impress us."
"What's wrong with just plain chicken salad? Isn't it good enough for her?"

This spring, I made the sandwiches again. But this time with just plain boiled chicken, mayo, celery, salt and pepper. On plain loaf bread.

"What! We're not good enough for her 'gourmet' cooking anymore?"
"I guess she just didn't want to bother, after all we're just the old women and not as *important* as other groups."
"Blah blah blah"


Now my husband will make the sandwiches -- wait! Not a good idea. I can hear the comments now...
Let's just order pizza.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

What I Have Learned

Note: the imperatives are meant for me: this is a list from me to me. Not to you. So when I say "be aware" it's a reminder to me. Third edit to fix spacing. Third time's the charm?

I am finishing my second year of Contextual Education (similar to Supervised Ministry, Internships, many other things at other seminaries.) I've written my self-evaluation -- not in the format that is desired, but it's a little more authentic.

What have I learned this year?
1. Behavior does not exist in a vacuum. Including my own.
2. It’s really hard to do Con Ed in my own congregation.
   a. It’s hard to have a friend as my Con Ed Site Supervisor.
3. Criticism should be taken seriously, not personally.
4. Listening never hurts.
   a. Learn to bite your tongue.
   b. It’s easier to just listen than back up and try to take it back.
5. When you become church staff instead of church member,
   you get to go under a microscope.
   a. Things the members will criticize:
     i. Your earrings.
     ii. The way you speak to your children.
     iii. The way you treat your spouse.
     iv. The way you make Chicken Salad Sandwiches.
6. Criticism should be taken seriously, not personally.
7. It was a good thing to put my kids in childcare that isn’t my church.
8. Family is more important than anything at church.
9. For most people, the perception IS the reality.
10. I can’t make everybody happy. Get over it.
11. Remember the parable about the lead, rubber and glass balls.
   Know which ones can be dropped,
   know which ones should be let go of.
   Know which I should protect.
12. Boundaries sometimes are bad,
   knowing the location of the foul lines is good.
   a. Be prepared to handle the fallout if I cross the foul line.
   b. Small course changes done early can save large course
     changes later.
13. Spaces between people, if not filled with useful communication,
   will be filled with garbage.
   a. One person’s passing on a prayer request is someone else’s
     gossip. Be careful.
14. A church is a network of relationships.
   a. It starts with my relationships: with God and my family.
   b. The best ways to create relationship is by teaching small groups,
     hospital visits, home visits and social events.
   c. The best way to know people is not to talk, but to listen.
15. A church member may not remember your sermon or prayer,
   but will never forget your hospital visit, or your care
   for the family at the nursing home and funeral home.
   a. Don’t worry about what to say at these times.
     My presence is what matters.
16. Meaningful worship is a lot of work – but a large part can be left
   to God.
   a. Some people sweat the details – take care of their anxiety.
     Some people don’t sweat the details – they need to keep lists.
     i. Altar Guild is really big into details.
     ii. The music minister is big into details
     iii. The senior minister is not. Nor am I. Don’t forget it.
   b. It’s hard to hold a volunteer or lay person responsible.
     Time critical things for worship need to be taken care
     or followed up by me personally.
   c. I now know how to properly clean paraments and fill the
     altar candles.
   d. There is a fine line between providing guidance and leadership
     and the perception of “taking over.” Be aware of it.
17. Any and every committee meeting can be and will be improved by
   starting with prayer and devotional.
   a. Especially if it is the Prayer Ministry committee meeting.
18. It’s not my job to fix people. That’s God’s job. Thank God.
19. I love to preach. I love to teach. I love hospital visits.
   I love serving communion.
20. I hate details. I fear being bored. I do not sit still and listen
   for the voice of God. I need to become more disciplined,
   not in my study of the Word, but of my listening in prayer.
   Attend to the holy, and it’s all holy in one way or another.
   Even putting the raisins in the bread.

Meyers Briggs

Another online Meyers Briggs test here. Almost same outcome that I had from that MMPI -- except I show slightly more Extroverted. Last time that came out and "X" meaning I am almost balanced between Introvert/Extrovert. And my Judging is stronger than my Feeling! I think not -- test is really too short to be very accurate.


Extroverted 22%
Intuitive 75%
Feeling 38%
Judging 44%

Qualitative analysis of your type formula
 You are:
slightly expressed extrovert
distinctively expressed intuitive personality
moderately expressed feeling personality
moderately expressed judging personality

Staff meeting today, hospital visits, I need to write a funeral homily for tomorrow, my final self-evaluation for Contextual Education (my fourth semester, ugh), my final paper for Preaching. Three days of classes and the semester is over. I have no finals -- yeah!

And I want to finish my prayer for Sunday. I am taking a different approach -- I am doing the exegesis for the lectionary readings, writing the prayer first, praying the prayer several times and *then* finishing the sermon. I have preached a lot this semester. It will be good to slow down a little.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


From the Ratzinger, 78, was the late Pope's personal theologian, and is the massively orthodox heir to the Inquisition and "enforcer of the faith" who has been fighting to rid the church of all the "heretics" let in by the liberalism of the Vatican's Second Council.

A return to the dark ages?

From News 24:
"Ratzinger is one of the (Catholic) church's most odious cardinals because of his rigidity, and because he humiliated the bishops' conferences and fellow cardinals in an authoritarian manner on questions of faith," Boff wrote in the newspaper O Estado.

Odious? I know he does not support many of the changes of Vatican II, but wasn't he a radical in the '60's? He's definitely anti-homosexual, anti-ordination of women, anti-a whole lot of things ... What is this going to mean?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hibernation time

Long Sunday (16 hour day yesterday, I had a class member in my SS dislocate a hip and spent hours in the ER and then OR waiting room, then 5 hours teaching, then Grocery store at midnight, laundry at 1 am and then couldn't sleep...)

Haloscan is down, no comments.

And I have discovered an addictive game here.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

But, of course

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% Dixie

20% General American English

10% Yankee

5% Upper Midwestern

5% Midwestern

Friday, April 15, 2005

My Favorite Poems

Include this by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Random 10 -- now playing on the ipod....

1. Shades Of Paranoimia [the carl cox mix], The Art Of Noise, The Fon Mixes
2. Be Thou My Vision, 4HIM, Hymns
3. Photographs And Memories, Jim Croce, Greatest Hits
4, Where the Soul of Man Never Dies, Pat & Al Hess, Anniversary Memories
5. I Turn Everything Over, Switchfoot , New Way To Be Human
6. Tryin' To Get Over You, Vince Gill, Souvenirs
7. Softly And Tenderly, Willie Nelson, Gospel Favourites
8. Take Me Out To The Ballgame, Carly Simon, Baseball A Film By Ken Burns
9. Jamaica Heartbeat, Acoustic Alchemy, Arcanum
10. Ghost Riders In The Sky, Rick Devin, Row Of Doors


Friday Catblogging

Here's Little Kitty "helping" my older daughter (better known as "Chaos") with her homework. Little Kitty has such a strong perching instinct, yet she craves human contact -- she will perch on almost anyone, almost anywhere.

Easter 5C Revelation 19:1-10 -- Sermon

Title: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
Text: Revelation 19:1-10

19:1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
    2for his judgements are true and just;
he has judged the great whore
   who corrupted the earth with her fornication,
and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’
3Once more they said,
The smoke goes up from her for ever and ever.’
4And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who is seated on the throne, saying,
‘Amen. Hallelujah!’

5 And from the throne came a voice saying,
‘Praise our God,
   all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
   small and great.’
6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,
For the Lord our God
   the Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and exult
   and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
   and his bride has made herself ready;
8to her it has been granted to be clothed
   with fine linen, bright and pure’—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ 10Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades* who hold the testimony of Jesus.* Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’

When I arrived here at seminary, I had to learn a few new words: hermeneutic, homiletics, Exegesis. Some of them ended with “-ology” – starting with theology, soteriology, epistemology, eschatology. Actually, eschatology is one of the hardest things for me to think about – I don’t like to think about the end times. I used to have visions of the end of the earth – influenced by people like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye. Thinking about these things can give me the "Heebie jeebies" -- and yes, we are facinated with it.

However, I have come to realize that there is hope in the message that is meant by the word “eschatology” – hope in the end times, hope even in Judgment. Yet we still approach the subject with fear and even dread. Eschatology is the center of attention for some groups who dwell on the fringe – so much so that it can loose it place from our round table of theological discussions – and perhaps so to our detriment.

This subject, his book, this passage can be disturbing. It’s not a pleasant or comfortable thing to consider the end of time. It’s not a pleasant thing to contemplate the burning of the Great Whore of Babylon. If I were Phyllis Trible, I might even consider this a “Text of Terror” because of the seeming violence against women.

It’s not a pleasant thing to think about coming to final judgment – we hold on to the fear we aren’t really good enough.

It’s not a pleasant thing to think about eating wedding cake while we are surrounded by the smoke from a funeral pyre – the black smoke and soot of the fire in sharp contrast with the bright white of a wedding dress.

This book was written late – it was probably the last book in the Bible written – around 90 AD. It was written, not to strike fear in the hearts of believers, but to give them something to hold onto during a time of great persecution. It was written in a way that seems coded to us – we don’t understand all the meanings of John’s symbols. Some are clouded with time, some confusing, none to be taken literally. This book was written to give hope. And it causes me to ask – What is Christian hope? How do we determine what theses symbols really mean for the original listener and for us today? Is there really a Christian hope? In what is our hope based?

When I first looked at this passage, I realized that this particular passage was all about worship. Adoration and Praise to God for what God has done. The word Hallelujah is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that means “Praise God” and only appears 4 times in NT, all in this passage. This phrase is used in the Greek many times in the NT – 23 times, once in this very passage. But the word “Hallelujah” appears 40 times or so in the OT – why not here the Greek words for Praise God, but a Hebrew transliteration? Maybe for the same reason that the 24 elders are the 12 sons of Israel and the 12 apostles – to show that all people, Hebrew and Gentile, will fall down and worship God. All of creation will say Hallelujah! In fact, first those in heaven sing out Hallelujah, then the 24 elders and 4 creatures, then a sound of the great multitudes. We get so many hymns of praise from this passage – I counted at least 50 before I stopped counting.

So this is about worship and praising God – and don’t we know that is our purpose? In the Westminster Confession of faith, the first statement is “What is the purpose of man?” and in one edition it states “To worship God and enjoy Him forever.” To worship God is our purpose – and that is what will happen at the end of this age – we will worship him. In fact, our Christian doctrine teaches us that, from the beginning, that is what God intended us for.

How does this give hope? It reminds us that this is not the end. As we face our own particular trials, we know this is not the end. It can give us hope as we face our own death. We know that one day we will join in that great Hallelujah chorus. It gives us hope for the return of Jesus Christ – the parousia. This hope of the second coming has given strength to countless thousands of people. It gives us hope for the coming kingdom of heaven – that kingdom that is already and not yet. The scene of a wedding is one that always gives hope – in fact in traditional literature a wedding is always seen as the happy ending. The wedding is a new beginning of a new relationship, just as the church will begin a new relationship with God and Christ in the New Jerusalem.

Does this hope abrogate, or annul or put away my feelings of discomfort in the passage? I still struggled with this until last week. My children were home watching our DVD collection – Lion King, Mary Poppins – things I have seen a thousand times. I sat on the couch and read Revelations 19, contemplating the great whore. They put in “The Wizard of Oz” and I started to hum “Ding Dong the Witch is dead…” And I sort of understood – and it may seem a little reductionistic, but it allowed me to approach the text without all that fear and trepidation. The Muchkins rejoicing were in some small way similar to the praises that are going to be sung by the multitudes – Frank Baum, the author of the Oz books was influenced by the book of Revelation – maybe the kingdom is to be found “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” we are called to “Follow the Yellow Brick road” but our road is red with the blood or Christ and of the martyrs killed by the great whore. Maybe we are to look to God for our heart, our courage our knowledge. Maybe Dorothy is like John, calling out “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” and the angel is like the man behind the curtain. We continue to seek out that Emerald City – a city that will be greater than Babylon in all her worn out splendor.

Let us always remember – there is always hope, even in trials. Jesus himself told us “in my father’s house there are many mansion.” There is really no place like home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

As clear as Mud

I re-read my posting from yesterday morning and I realize that I made myself as clear as mud.

I don't have much time this morning either, so this will either confuse my point more, or maybe not.

I wasn't really thinking to bash all those who compete, but those who compete and seem to Miss The Point of the exercise. We have a number of students who are very competetive academically, but have the social and pastoral skills of a slightly dry snail. These students are quick to bash others (which actually I am doing right now.....), searching for that perfect academic record -- and yet the understanding of the 'why' we are doing this seems to have passed them by. For a number of the God-bloggers, this seems the case as well. There were a number of mailing lists that I was reading and not longer read because it seemed that they had lost the point as well. There was one particular discussion that I participated in that the language became quite abusive -- all on the "Person of Jesus."

The mud, rocks and arrows flew back and forth -- I added my voice (and why, I still don't know -- I thought I was trying to find truth). "Our side" won -- or at least threw the last rocks. When it was discovered that I was a woman, the rocks and mud came my way -- the other side declared victory because my arguments were nulified because I was a woman, the winning side attacked me out of their shame of having me fight with them.

So, my reaction to Bene Diction's was viceral -- not a logical one, but an emotional reaction.

A strong drive for a ministerial student is not a bad thing. Would you want a pastor (or doctor) who did not put forth best effort? But an examination of the "why" is important -- and is it feeding their nerosis? Is it a healthy drive? It is done to stroke ego? To please a professor?

Time to go -- I don't know if I made this any clearer.....

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Just all me Sister Hand Grenade of Love

I found this wonderful article all about the Unitarian Jihad. Thank you Phantom Scribbler. I especially like the phrase "Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum." Hugging as a terror regime. Ha! That's me!

While we are planning the Jihad, we can play with dolls. I need me a Talking Jesus. But I'm afraid that the kids would lose His clothing and then throw the naked Jesus in a box full of naked Barbies. Or they could cross-dress Jesus. But would Jesus mind? Didn't he hang with the cast-outs? or was that the outcasts?

Long day, lots and lots of pollen. A good day with the girls -- they are teaching me Runescape. Neat little interactive game, reminds me of the virtual church. Songbird, check it out. Sorta like role-play online.

And then there's this at Bene Diction.

'm so tired of some of the theological debate on god-blogs. Intentionally or not, I find myself thinking about wolves in sheeps clothing. If we cannot show grace what good is a debate on paeo-baptism?


And if I may personally bottom line it, a lot of theological posting is about ego.
I said it.
It's like some god-bloggers are desperately going for an invisible A+.
Or they have something to prove to alpha males they respect.
Or perhaps there is deep insecurity. I don't know.
I hear the love of God, but I don't hear the love of God.

And I think "oh yea! Uh huh!" And the same is true at seminary -- we have a knick name for those students, but it's too rude to use here. That's why I love the Course of Study students -- they really *know* where ministry occurs. And it's all about the love of God. And note the phrase in bold above. Hey, ya'll, it's not a competition.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Perhaps it is just a common slang thang? Here are two pictures at Enjoy.
Nabisoc Communion Wafers

BTW, I think I am in major task avoidance -- I have a sermon to give on Thursday on Rev 19:1-10. Not an easy text, and I have been putting it off. I am going to disconnect my router so that I cannot get on the internet. An internet fast. NO MORE BLOGGING TODAY. Really.



From Georgia's Poet, Sidney Lanier.

A Ballad Of The Trees And The Master
 Into the woods my Master went,
Clean forspent, forspent.
Into the woods my Master came,
Forspent with love and shame.
But the olives they were not blind to Him,
The little gray leaves were kind to Him:
The thorn-tree had a mind to Him
When into the woods He came.

Out of the woods my Master went,
And He was well content.
Out of the woods my Master came,
Content with death and shame.
When Death and Shame would woo Him last,
From under the trees they drew Him last:
'Twas on a tree they slew Him -- last
When out of the woods He came.

There is some evidence that Christ was actually crucified on a twisted and gnarled olive tree -- and that he prayed under the same type of tree.

Prayers of the People for Easter 4A

Dearest Lord, Holy Lamb of God, Shepherd of the world, You lead us to respite and relief. You are our provider and sustainer and through Your providence, we will never want for Your Presence. You lead us to fields of plenty and You refresh our souls with the cool clear waters of Your spirit.

Holy Lamb of God, You are the Good Shepherd. We follow You Lord because we know Your voice. We know that You will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death. You are Yourself the Gate – we can only come to the Throne of Grace through You. And You are truly with us -- Emmanuel, God with us -- so we will not fear evil but be comforted. You came to give us life and give it to us abundantly – You have prepared Your table for us and anoint us for service. Anoint us with Your Holy Spirit, help us to devote ourselves to Your good teachings, to worship, to fellowship and to prayer. We eat the food that You have given us, both spiritual and physical and You nourish us.

Holy Lamb of God, today we pray for our sisters and brothers, especially for those who suffer. We pray for the children – those who live in plenty, but also for those who live in want. We pray for all of those who live alone, the homebound and the aged. We pray for those who are absent from us – those who live far away, or are stationed in far places and live in great danger or those who are absent from us even though we share a house with them. We pray for those who grieve and mourn. We pray for those who are imprisoned by addiction or disease.

Holy Lamb of God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. All of us are like sheep who have gone astray -- We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. Forgive us and free us for joyful obedience.

Help us to follow the example of Christ -- He left his petitions in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. Help us to remember that He personally carried away our sins in His own body so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. Help us to rejoice that we have been healed by His wounds! Once we were wandering like lost sheep -- But now we have turned to Your Shepherd, the Guardian of our souls. All we can say is thank You and pray that Your goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. These things we pray in the name of your Son, the Holy Lamb of God, who taught us to pray saying…Our Father……

Saturday, April 09, 2005

probably a boring post

It’s been an interesting week. My Really Big Project looks as if it may actually become a reality. I am going to take a book about Mission that my mission professor wrote and turn it into a 30 to 32 week curriculum. He writes well, but the text needs some tweaking – a sentence like:

“Complex Greco-Roman cultic practices and rituals, while anathema to the early Christians influenced by the wandering Q prophets, did influence the early practices and rituals of the 1st century church.”


“Idol worship by the Romans, even though it disturbed the early Christians, helped shaped their practices and worship in the 1st century.”

Not exactly the same, but more approachable to the general public. I also am moving all those passive voiced verbs to more active verbs. I have a friend who has some influence with the publishing house and he is going to show it to them next week. I have almost finished the first unit. I am doing this for 6 hours of credit this summer – 3 in “Area 2” and 3 in “Area 3” of my required hours. So, I will be able to be at home with the girls, only going down to school when necessary, work on the project 6 to 8 hours a week, earn credit and may have the work published. The best of all possible worlds (now I sound like Candide.) I also have a couple of people who will collaborate with me (Rev. Dr. Sr. Pastor, Rev. Dr. Wolfman, Rev. Dr. Christian Ed Professor, Rev. Dr. Teaches in Kazakhstan among others.) Cool, cool, cool.

Then next semester (Fall) I have been asked (or I asked, it was sorta mutual) for a Independent Study with Dr. Long – he had to cancel a class I really wanted to take. He's asked or been asked by two of us for this Independent study. I am going to do this instead of teaching the preaching 501 classes. One to two ratio is just too good to pass by. Then I am taking RE501 with Dr. Brian Mahan, some Greek, Teaching Parish (*more* teaching parish, oh boy) and I only have to drive to school two days a week.

I am thinking about abandoning the DMin idea and going for that PhD – in practical theology. Too many people are getting a DMin instead of the PhD and that is effecting accreditation of a lot of schools. It’s the reason there are so few Methodists in Methodist seminaries.

Well, that was a boring post. And I am *not* going to look up "affect" and '"effect" again. Ah, well.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Friday Random 10

. ipod madness.

Cabinessence, The Beach Boy, The Absolute Best Volume 2
Help Me, The Birmingham Sunlights, In The Garden
Darling Corey, The Seldom Scene, Creators Of Urban Bluegrass
Recapture Me, Michael Card, The Ancient Faith (Disc 2)
Penny Whistle Song, Hans Zimmer, The Power of One
Praise Awaits You,, Don Chapman
Weeping Sad And Lonely, Matt Glasser, Jacqueline Schwab & Jesse Carr, The Civil War
The Solid Rock, 4HIM, Hymns
Still The Same Me, Sweet Honey In The Rock, Still The Same Me
If You Miss Me From Singing, The Birmingham Sunlights, In The Garden
Rock Of Ages, Various Artists, Church In The Wildwood

Hmmm.... heavy on the Praise and Worship side, with a nich showing of Grass.


Friday is Catblogging time.
Here's my youngest playing the game "squash the kitty." They are sitting in the old brown recliner that has become a family institution. Actually, I'm sitting in it now. And believe it or not, Little Kitty was purring. Silly kitty.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Just a Little Strange

From the Back Seat:
Mommy, mommy, I'm hungry mommy.

Just a few more minutes and we'll go home for dinner.

But I'm hungry NOW mommy!

Just a few more minutes.... Here have some water....

Hey, mommy can I have some of the body of Christ?

(me, Huh?)

Up front, mommy!

(I look down, I have about 50 communion wafers (in a nice little case) in the center console left over from last week. (not consecrated, btw))

Other Child: Yeah, mommy, we want some Jeezits.

(She comes up with this one as I am drinking some water, which then comes out my nose.)

Jeezits! Yeah mommy, Jeezits!

The Jeezits are now safely placed with the rest of the communion supplies at the church.

These are the same children who came up with "Chip and sip" for a wafer and little communion cup and "rip and dip" for intinction. I don't know if I should be amused. It just seems so, well, so sacreligious.


I live in a yellow city, drive a yellow car and live in a yellow house. Of course, they are only yellow for 2 or 3 weeks out of the year. Even the sky is yellowish today. The pollen is drying out my hair and my skin and irritating my eyes and nose. Oh to be anywhere else this time of year.

They call pollen more than 250 ppm "extremely high." What do you call pollen counts of 2000 to 5000 ppm? Astronomical? It's gritty and acidic and yuck.

My eyes are running and my cough is getting worse. I hope it rains soon.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Easter 3A -- Prayer of the People

Let us pray, sisters and brothers, for the Spirit of God to move around us and within us today.

Eternal and Everlasting God, today we come together to worship you and to praise you and to declare our love for you. We thank you for answered prayers. We thank you for your loving care and attention and we will pray to you for as long as we live. You alone have rescued us from our useless lives – rescued us by the precious blood your Son Jesus the Christ, who was your spotless and innocent lamb. You have lead us to have faith in the one you raised from death and honored and glorified. We put our faith and hope in you alone, God.

Today we lift up your cup of salvation and call upon your name. Today we remember you in the breaking of the bread. The scales fall from our eyes and we remember you – our despair lifts and our hope is rekindled and our hearts burn with fire. Today we are your servant and you have loosed our bonds. We offer ourselves, our hearts and our lives as a holy and living sacrifice to you. We know of your call to repentance – help us to turn around our lives and take hold of your promises -- the promise you have given to us and our children, but also to all who are far from you and do not know of your love.

Lord, we know you really are alive. Walk with us along our roadways and help us to always seek you out, to recognize your face, to keep our hope alive and remember you when we share bread with each other. Warm our hearts. In the name of your Son Jesus, who taught us to pray saying….

The Day Will Come

The day will come,
As it has come before,
When His spirit will come to me like
A lightening strike.

Holding up my hands it will come to me while
I am clothed in the chasuble of obedience.
Clothed in the white and gold of His own giving,
I stand on tiptoes to greet Him.
I welcome the light and the astonishing shock of His presence.

Raising my hand, I feel the power
That he promises all of the obedient.
Raising my hand, I hold the elements
That drift in and between
Thin spaces -- two realities,
As He has given them to His children.

My heart is on fire with His words,
They burn within me and I know Him
In the intimacy of my/our body in
The breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup.

The past remains with me
Always in me.
But is purified by fire and lightening,
The voices of the past I hear in the night as
The rumble of distant thunder, a distant earthquake

And I remain vigilant to the danger of being overcome
I remain aware of the power and the nails being drawn forth.
I remain aware of the power streaming and sounding
As through a soundboard
I remain
Blasted and overwhelmed, heated and transformed and
Hopeful always of the same.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

cassie and cassie

My little one -- my youngest -- was about a year and a half old when my mother gave her a little “beanie baby” lion. The lion was promptly named “Cassie” after a character on one of her favorite television programs. Cassie became my youngest daughter’s lovie – a transitional object. That little beanie baby was her constant companion, going everywhere with her. She slept with Cassie, she ate with Cassie, Cassie rode to church in my pocketbook or Daddy’s pocket. Cassie helped her through her first year in pre-school, doctor visits, long car rides and thunderstorms. After 18 months, Cassie became a little ragged and shopworn. I had to repair her tail and ears and she became a little “deflated” because she leaked some of the plastic beads that filled her up.

While shopping one day, I found another Cassie – a beanie baby that was exactly like our beloved lovie. Thinking it would serve as a “spare backup Cassie” – a just in case sort of thing, I bought it. However my little one saw the new spare backup Cassie in the back of the car and thought I was so thoughtful to buy Cassie a twin – a nice clean twin with no repairs. Now Cassie would never, ever be lonely. She named the new beanie baby – Cassie.

Cassie and Cassie slept with her every night. Over the next few years there were some emergency rescues – one fell into a toilet, we left one at a McDonald’s on the way home from Florida and had to drive an hour back to get her. One was dropped in the parking lot at my husband’s mother’s funeral – we went back to get her and she had been run over and was a little flattened and soiled. I sat in the lobby of the funeral home and held my little one and we cried together – for the loss of my mother-in-law and for Cassie.

Over the next couple of years, my little one developed a passion for anything with lions. We now have lion blankets, stuffed animals, cookie jars, books, pajamas, coloring books and even a lion cat-nip holder for Little Kitty. My little one would put all the lion stuff in her twin bed and crawl in. I would lose her amid all the lions – nothing showing but a mop of curls. This went on for several years. Recently however I have noticed a trend. Most of the lions have been placed in the toy chest. A few at a time, they have been moved away until the only ones left in the bed with my daughter are Cassie and Cassie. I asked her why the other night. With her 8 year old wisdom she said, “Mama, those lions are just stuff. Only Cassie and Cassie are real.”

Only Cassie and Cassie are real. One day I know Cassie and Cassie will be put aside as well. I wonder what she will keep in her heart then? I hope that she will keep the love that was given to her when my mother gave her the first Cassie. I hope she will hold onto the memory of arms around her as she cried. I hope that she remembers to keep only the things that are real. Things like love and comfort during sorrow and having something to hold onto during the scary times in life.

Here is a picture of my little one, holding Cassie and Cassie and friend Unicorn at Granddaddy's wedding this Christmas. I understand she looks a lot like me...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Prayers of the People for Easter 2A

Dearest Lord, today we praise You and thank You for giving us Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. You alone are the source of all that is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, You have given us new life and a hope that lives on forever. Lord God, we thank You and praise You because we know You have something stored up for us in heaven, A place where we will have life that will never decay or be ruined or disappear. You have chosen us as Your people and by Your Spirit you have made us a holy people, marked by Your love and the life, death and resurrection of Your Son Jesus.

Dearest Lord, we ask that You will keep on giving us Your peace. Strengthen our faith. Protect us with Your power so that we can rejoice even when we suffer trials. Lord, even though it is difficult, help us rejoice in our trials and help us see how our faith can be strengthened and purified like gold in a fire. Help us in our own unbelief – in those times where we cannot feel Your Spirit or rest in Your Presense or rejoice in our trials. Help us believe in You, even though we have never seen You or Your Son Jesus. Help us love Him and have faith in Him and be glad in our faith. We have pitched our tent in the land of hope and You have shown us the way and set our feet on the life-path with Your face shining sun-joy all around.

Protect us Lord, when we run to You for safety – You are alone are our Lord and every good thing we have is a precious gift from You. We thank You for Your people – the faithful who have gone on before us, the faithful who worship here today with us, for the encouragers among us and for the body of believers worldwide. You Lord, are all we want. We pray especially for those who are not here today. For the sick, the suffering, those who have felt despair, those in the depths of depression, those with cancer, those imprisoned in spirit or in flesh, for the dying and the mourning. Lord, you know the things that lay heavy on our hearts. Help find meaning in trials and help us believe even in the midst of our unbelief. Let Your will be done among Your faithful. These things we pray in the name of Your Resurrected Son Jesus, who taught us to pray, saying……Our Father…..

Considering a Big Project

Many things to think about today.

What I am going to do next year (starting July actually) and where I am going to live and what church I will be at is occupying much of my brain right now. Shall we say, I am actually worrying about it. A lot. And I would love to blog about certain things, but since I am "out" and not anonymous, I can't. Not really. Why did I come out again?

I am also considering a Very Big Project. I have an opportunity that looks Golden. But it's the old "grad student slaving away and giving lots of life energy to a project and Dr. Big Name getting all the credit, grad student getting name in very fine print way, way, way down the page." It would be a way to get six hours of credit in two different areas that I really need in a way that I could stay home all day and not go to school. It would also be resume fodder. It would be fun. I might get paid. I might get royalties. I *might* get credit on the front cover. So, I think I am going to go for it. Lots of work. I think Dr. Big Name is actually OK with giving credit where credit is due. I think.

I also need to decide my schedule next year -- what I am going to take and when. Do I want to teach a colloquy? Do I want to teach Dr. Fry-Brown's or Dr. Long's (DR. LONG'S, duh!). But they are both at 8:00 am 30 miles away and I would have to leave the house at 6:45 -- get up at 5:30 or earlier. And if I teach Dr. Long's colloquy, that means school 4 days a week -- with one day with classes from 8:00 am to 9:30 pm. Wowsa! Is sitting through Dr. Long's lectures worth it? He really is Dr. Big Name (a different one than previous paragraph...) -- he's been listed as one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English speaking world. (or maybe I can just buy the CDs...) School 4 days a week, 30 miles away with gasoline at more than $2.00 per gallon. Hmmm...... Or maybe I'll just wait and do some independent study with him. Hmmm.....

The wind is *blowing* today. I think that the girls and I are going to go fly kites. (a favorite family occupation). What are you doing today?

Friday, April 01, 2005


Little Kitty is 15 years old and considers me to be her human. If I sit, she sits on me. If I am in the kitchen, she's in the kitchen. She likes to perch on me, to the point she will ride around on my shoulder. Last week, when she couldn't find a good place to perch on me, she tried to perch on my head. It didn't work. Here's a picture of her sitting on the sofa back, right behind my head -- she will stretch out a paw and touch me, just to make sure I'm still there. I think I have learned more about resting in the Presence and about prayer from Little Kitty than anywhere else. She's just happy to be near me and happy to know I'm there. How often do I go to God in prayer and just rest in the Presence, happy to be there? And I think that God gets the same pleasure out of his children just being there as I do with Little Kitty just being there. Just the desire to be there with Him pleases Him. After all (for you Presby types) what is the first question in the Westminster Larger Catechism?
Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.
Yes, to enjoy God forever. Beautiful.

So I am going to sit here for a while, with Little Kitty on my lap, sit in the Presence and just let God love me.

O Death

Terry Schindler Schivo

December 3, 1963 - March 31, 2005

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

There are no winners today -- only losers. This was never a win-win scenario. Only a lose-lose. Our country is a little less innocent tonight. There will be an autopsy and a cremation. There will be grieving parents and a grieving husband. This should have never been a platform for political agendas. If Terry were a 70 year old stroke victim, this huge spectacle would have never been. And if she were a mentally retarded child, it never would have been considered. I grieve for the family and for our country tonight. How do we weigh life? How do we value it? Where are lines to be drawn? Should lines be drawn? Are all lives to be treasured? Should those who are terminally or critically ill be allowed to slip away home? When do we stop playing God? Dr. Long talked the other day about little "d" death and big "D" death. I understood his distinction at the time, but now the lines are fuzzy. God have mercy on this wicked, confused, beautiful world.