Thursday, March 30, 2006

And hasn't anyone posted this yet?

Top Eleven Reasons for Not Ordaining Men

11. Most men haven't the slightest interest in church.
10. A man's place is in the army.
9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.
8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be "unnatural" for them to do other forms of work.
7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments (March Madness??)
5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.
4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, and maybe even lead the singing on Father's Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.
1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.


Life's busy.
I'm tired.
More later.*

*in the style the short summary of all Jewish Holidays.
They tried to kill us.
We won.
Let's eat.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Morning Prayer

Every morning mercies new
Fall as fresh as morning dew;
Every morning let us pay
Tribute with the early day:
For your mercies, God, are sure;
Your compassion does endure.

Most merciful 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. 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. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in eternal life. Sprinkle us with showers of blessing -- the blessings that fall like rain on this parched world. Help us to be cisterns of blessing for others -- full of your living water. Help us live for You in this world, by Your Word and precepts and not by the conflicting voices that we hear around us.

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Morning Prayer

Wake my soul with all things living
thanks be giving to the Source of life and day
Sunlight comes and gone confusion,
night's illusion, like the starlight
fades away.

All your hopeful plans confessing
ask for blessing on that good which you would do
but if you should need correction, ask direction
pray for purpose
clear and new.

Cry for help, when griefs assail you,
good friends fail you, life seems hopeless, death appears.
One whose child knew deep affliction,
ever waits to dry your tears.

Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myself. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me; that I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, free me for joyful obedience.

God, I know I’m going to be busy today -- and today will be very long.
Help me not to be so busy that I miss the most important things -- that I care for your people as you care for them.
Help me not to be too busy listening to contentious and arguing voices
that I cannot hear your small still voice speaking.
Help me not to fail to listen first and not talk to those
who are in trouble or hurting.
Help me not to be too busy to sit still for a moment and be thankful.
Help me all through this day to remember that as I work
my hardest, sometimes I must be still. Amen.*

*Adapted from unknown source.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


This picture* reminded me of this poem:

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

*A British soldier passes a poppy field on March 23, 2006 in Musa Qala in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.
**posting number 550 Woo hoo!

The Sermon

today went really well. Just the right length, well delivered (IMHO) and gave people something to think about. I've got to think about what was different. First off the top of my head is that I did NOT write it all out. No manuscript at all, just an outline that I rehearsed in my head many times, so that I went up with no papers in my hand.

Not carefully WRITTEN, but carefully PREPARED. It was John 3:16-21 -- not the easiest text, so I started by saying it wasn't an easy text. Honesty. And when I didn't have things exactly go smoothly (lighter was missing, so the acolyte was anxious) I decided to be a "non-anxious" presence. It felt good.

I was very clear with myself about both the focus and the function -- and didn't let myself get distracted by cool stories or illustrations. Stuck to the text and didn't bite off too much.

A good learning experience.

For the Table portion of the service, I went for delivery rather than accurate movements -- and it went smoothly as well. Although I missed the second elevation, I left out a phrase in the verba and a "blessed like a Bishop" it was good. I may chant next week. Or not. =o).

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Morning Prayer

Precious is the heart of love;
may, at length, such hearts be ours;
God, please send down from above
your love and truth divine.
And may they cleanse our willing souls
of earthly ills and make them whole;
for Christ did come to share our toil
and will not spurn our prayers.

Selections Psalm 69
A David psalm

1 God, God, save me! I'm in over my head,

2 Quicksand under me, swamp water over me;
I'm going down for the third time.

3 I'm hoarse from calling for help,
Bleary-eyed from searching the sky for God.

4 I've got more enemies than hairs on my head;
Sneaks and liars are out to knife me in the back.
What I never stole
Must I now give back?

5 God, you know every sin I've committed;
My life's a wide-open book before you.

6 Don't let those who look to you in hope
Be discouraged by what happens to me,
Dear Lord! GOD of the armies!
Don't let those out looking for you
Come to a dead end by following me--
Please, dear God of Israel!

10 When I poured myself out in prayer and fasting,
All it got me was more contempt.

11 When I put on a sad face,
They treated me like a clown.

12 Now drunks and gluttons
Make up drinking songs about me.

13 And me? I pray.
GOD, it's time for a break!
God, answer in love!
Answer with your sure salvation!

14 Rescue me from the swamp,
Don't let me go under for good,
Pull me out of the clutch of the enemy;
This whirlpool is sucking me down.

15 Don't let the swamp be my grave, the Black Hole
Swallow me, its jaws clenched around me.

16 Now answer me, GOD, because you love me;
Let me see your great mercy full-face.

17 Don't look the other way; your servant can't take it.
I'm in trouble. Answer right now!

18 Come close, God; get me out of here.
Rescue me from this deathtrap.

19 You know how they kick me around--
Pin on me the donkey's ears, the dunce's cap.

20 I'm broken by their taunts,
Flat on my face, reduced to a nothing.
I looked in vain for one friendly face. Not one.
I couldn't find one shoulder to cry on.

26 They gossiped about the one you disciplined,
Made up stories about anyone wounded by God.

29 I'm hurt and in pain;
Give me space for healing, and mountain air.

30 Let me shout God's name with a praising song,
Let me tell his greatness in a prayer of thanks.

31 For GOD, this is better than oxen on the altar,
Far better than blue-ribbon bulls.

32 The poor in spirit see and are glad--
Oh, you God--seekers, take heart!

33 For GOD listens to the poor,
He doesn't walk out on the wretched.

34 You heavens, praise him; praise him, earth;
Also ocean and all things that swim in it.

35 For God is out to help Zion,
Rebuilding the wrecked towns of Judah.
Guess who will live there--
The proud owners of the land?

36 No, the children of his servants will get it,
The lovers of his name will live in it.
A David prayer

It always strikes me how constant is the human condition. I am used to reading this Psalm in other language -- KJV for comfort or NRSV for study. The Message translation puts fresh eyes on me. How contemporary is this? Can you hear how it speaks today to our human condition. It stuns me.

And from 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 (NRSV)
11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall.

13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Note: Verse 13 -- the "you" is first singular, then plural. This is where the KJV can be superior with it's thee and thou's, you's and ye's. We are tested, yes, but can provide a way out so that you -- in community -- can endure it.

Dearest Lord,
All I can do is pray.
Your Son commanded us to love our enemies:
Lord God, I pray that you lead them and us from prejudice to truth;
deliver us all from hatred, cruelty, and revenge;
Lord in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you
and reconciled to one another.

God, you made us all in your own image
Lord, you have redeemed us all through Jesus your Son:
Look with compassion on all of us;
take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts;
Our hearts are riddled through with worms of bitterness and selfishness
We are throughly tainted with sin.
Break down the walls that separate us
Break through boundaries
Unite us in bonds of love;
and work through our struggle and confusion
So that we may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Since I am teaching a class tonight

on prayer and have been for the last few weeks, and since there have been comments in various and sundry different places about prayer in the Blogsphere this week, I'm going to use this as an opportunity to talk a little about prayer.

First thing I want to say:

Prayer should be intentional.

Sounds obvious? Well, by this I might mean something different that most people think. In our relationships with other people, like our spouse, we KNOW that taking time to have a "date" with the husband or wife gives us space and time to think and talk about important life issues. Getting away and leaving behind all the distractions. If you try to really communicate at the family dinner table or in the car getting the kids, the conversation seems to center on "did you get the laundry?" and "what was that check for $11.95 for?" Important, yes, but not deep and meaningful. Setting apart the time tells the other person "I think you are very important. I want to build our relationship."

We should do the same thing for God. Take space and time every single day. Do not answer the phone, email or the door. Turn off the radio. Center yourself and get ready to really communicate. Do NOT let it go by the wayside. Make your prayers honest -- and meaningfully communicate.

Questions for the blogsphere:
Do you do this? Do you want to? How do you go about it? Where? Do you feel guilt when you can/can't? Tell me about it.

Morning Prayer

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.*

Your word is a lantern to my feet
and a light upon my path.
I have sworn and am determined
to keep your righteous judgments.
I am deeply troubled;
preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.
Accept, O LORD, the willing tribute of my lips,
and teach me your judgments.
My life is always in my hand,
yet I do not forget your law.
-- Psalm 119:105-109

Lord God,
you know that I have no power in myself
I cannot truly rescue myself from that which has captured me;
Protect me and defend me
both within and without
that I may be held safe from all which may happen to my body,
that I may be held strong from and from all that may assault and hurt my soul;
May I say with truth and integrity that
It is well with my soul.

Guide me in all that I do;
Make your will, my will.
Pour your favor on me
and keep the sweetness of your eternal Word
on my lips. Cool my fevered spirit with the gentleness of your Spirit.

I pray for those whose names lay heavy on my heart today;
Grant that those who live alone may not be lonely in their solitude, but that, following in his steps, they may find fulfillment in loving you and their neighbors;
Comfort the suffering, soothe the ill, keep safe those who labor for you.

In the name of your Son I pray,

*This hymn was written after two major traumas in Spafford’s life. The first was the great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which ruined him finan­cially. Shortly after, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of Spafford’s daughters died in a collision with anther ship. Spafford’s wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone.” Several weeks later, as Spafford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, the Holy Spir it inspired these words. They speak to the eternal hope that all believers have, no matter what pain and grief be fall them on earth. The tune is named after the ship on which Spafford’s children perished, the S.S. Ville de Havre. Ironically, Bliss himself died in a tragic train wreck shortly after writing this music.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Morning Prayer

Every morning mercies new
Fall as fresh as morning dew;
Every morning let us pay
Tribute with the early day:
For your mercies, God, are sure;
Your compassion does endure.

Still the greatness of your love
Daily does our sins remove;
Daily, far as east from west,
Lifts the burden from the breast;
Gives unbought to those who pray
Strength to stand in every day.

Restore us, O God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angered
despite the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
--Psalm 80:3-5

Lord God,
you are the creator and preserver of all,
God I humbly bring to your throne of grace all sorts and conditions of people;
make your ways known unto them,
make known your love to all nations.
More especially I pray for your Church;
that this body of Christ may be so guided by your good Spirit,
that all who profess your name
and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth,
and hold fast to their faith
May they find unity of spirit,
May they find joy in the bond of peace,
May they find eternal life in your righteousness.
Finally, I bring before you all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed,
in mind, body, or spirit;
comfort them and relieve them their burdens;
Give them patience under their sufferings.

Thanks be to you, Lord God,
Who will turn our tears into joy
And who will reclaim our lives and bear our sufferings.
All praise be to you.

Deep conversation

A conversation on RLP’s chat in which you see what pastor/preacher types REALLY talk about Sunday night -- in which we wander around a lot and discuss disparate things, including bell towers, St. Casserole’s cats and we end up talking about the south-side of a north-bound moose.

[revstacey] 9:01 pm: wb rm
[revsparker] 9:01 pm: you safe?
[reverend mommy] 9:01 pm: Ok, I'm home
[reverend mommy] 9:01 pm: after locking 16 doors.
[revsparker] 9:01 pm: glad to hear it, rm
[reverend mommy] 9:01 pm: more than half the doors to the outside were left unlocked.
[enz] 9:02 pm: gah!
[revsparker] 9:02 pm: that is NOT good
[reverend mommy] 9:03 pm: You got it.
[reverend mommy] 9:04 pm: I want a cat for the church office.
[reverend mommy] 9:04 pm: That would be nice.
[reverend mommy] 9:04 pm: a church cat.
[revsparker] 9:04 pm: that would be cozy
[revsparker] 9:04 pm: and keep the rats out
[reverend mommy] 9:06 pm: Actually I have a friend whose church had rats, cats and bats.
[reverend mommy] 9:06 pm: someone introduced the cats to get rid of the bats and rats.
[revsparker] 9:07 pm: but bats are good
[reverend mommy] 9:07 pm: The cats didn't eat the rats or bats, just had lots and lots of kittens.
[revsparker] 9:07 pm: lovely
[reverend mommy] 9:07 pm: Bats poop in bell towers.
[spidey] 9:07 pm: lol
[reverend mommy] 9:07 pm: making a mess.
[Being Shielded] 9:07 pm: uh oh
[spidey] 9:07 pm: remind me not to go to that church
[reverend mommy] 9:07 pm: guano.
[revsparker] 9:07 pm: yes they do, but they also eat a lot of bugs
[reverend mommy] 9:08 pm: The rats infested the baptistry.
[revsparker] 9:08 pm: and how many people hang out in bell towers?
[revsparker] 9:08 pm: now THAT stinks
[reverend mommy] 9:08 pm: and chewed holes in the liner.
[Being Shielded] 9:08 pm: or in baptistries?
[reverend mommy] 9:08 pm: so that it leaked.
[revsparker] 9:08 pm: and is quite damp
[spidey] 9:08 pm: oh gee
[revsparker] 9:08 pm: i want a kitten...
[reverend mommy] 9:09 pm: and the cats were under the chancel area having kittens.
[revsparker] 9:09 pm: mew mew mew mew
[reverend mommy] 9:09 pm: She wanted to rename the church "my lady of cats, rats and bats."
[reverend mommy] 9:10 pm: She took a new appointment.
[revsparker] 9:10 pm: let us take a moment for silent prayer...mew mew mew mew mew mew
[Being Shielded] 9:10 pm: there's a book i read once about a cat in a cathedral...very nice until it made its way into a service
[reverend mommy] 9:10 pm: live traps for the cats, repaired the baptistry and eliminated the rats. Bats are still there.
[Being Shielded] 9:11 pm: the minister trod squarely on its tail and it yowled to high heaven
[spidey] 9:11 pm: lol
[revsparker] 9:11 pm: heh
[revsparker] 9:12 pm: we used to have a cat that would come to church
[spidey] 9:12 pm: has sent email, updated blog, and will now find dinner.
[reverend mommy] 9:12 pm: I want a church cat.
[reverend mommy] 9:12 pm: oooo... updated blog.
[Being Shielded] 9:12 pm: just a neutered one
[revsparker] 9:12 pm: today, at the beginning of the sermon, a small child said loudly, "Mommy, I have to go poop."
[spidey] 9:13 pm: LOL sparks
[enz] 9:14 pm: hey, could you get me one too?
[Being Shielded] 9:14 pm: i think they'd be like whistle and fish if i had cats in a church -- into everything!
[reverend mommy] 9:14 pm: We have a new group at church.
[reverend mommy] 9:14 pm: Called "party of one"
[reverend mommy] 9:14 pm: the initals are POO.
[reverend mommy] 9:14 pm: They are the Poo group.
[reverend mommy] 9:15 pm: "so you are single? Have you tried Poo?
[revsparker] 9:15 pm: heh
[reverend mommy] 9:15 pm: “Nice to meet you! You might want to try our Poo.”
[revsparker] 9:15 pm: our Poo group? group Poo?
[reverend mommy] 9:16 pm: So how did you respond to the Poop comment?
[reverend mommy] 9:16 pm: Yes! We have group Poo!
[revsparker] 9:16 pm: i just chuckled and preached on
[reverend mommy] 9:16 pm: We also have "Parents of Teens"
[revsparker] 9:17 pm: Pot and Poo!
[revsparker] 9:17 pm: they could meet together
[Being Shielded] 9:17 pm: any sweet smells coming from their room?
[revsparker] 9:17 pm: PooPot
[reverend mommy] 9:17 pm: and the "Agape Room" is now the "Love Shack"
[reverend mommy] 9:18 pm: "Love Shack, Baby, Love Shack!"
[Being Shielded] 9:18 pm: very progressive with the names there!
[revsparker] 9:18 pm: now that song is going to be stuck in my head
[enz] 9:19 pm: so when the Parents of teens have a party...
[Being Shielded] 9:19 pm: it's better than what has been stuck in my head == i'll go with it
[revsparker] 9:19 pm: my internship church was in Kensington, Ca
[reverend mommy] 9:19 pm: Yes?
[revsparker] 9:19 pm: they had always been the First Unitarian Church of Kensington
[revsparker] 9:19 pm: do NOT use the acronym
[Being Shielded] 9:20 pm: lord have mercy!
[reverend mommy] 9:20 pm: like (real name) the Methodist church in cumming, ga
[revsparker] 9:20 pm: they finally changed their name to the UU Church of Berkeley
[revsparker] 9:20 pm: even tho they were officially in Kensington
[reverend mommy] 9:20 pm: Cumming First United Methodist church.
[Being Shielded] 9:21 pm: nobody thinks when they name churches, do they?
[church nerd] 9:21 pm: this is where the party is, eh?
[enz] 9:22 pm: bye pirates. Party on!
[reverend mommy] 9:23 pm: I just re-read my sermon for tonight. It really did suck big hairy moose butt. Horrible sermon.
[church nerd] 9:23 pm: we're all allowed big hairy moose butt sucking sermons every now and then, revmommy
[reverend mommy] 9:23 pm: I will hope that there is grace in all this and SOMEONE got SOMETHING out of it.
[revsparker] 9:23 pm: good thing there's God, rm. amazing what people hear when the Spirit gets involved
[church nerd] 9:23 pm: it helps people appreciate the ones that are really good
[revsparker] 9:23 pm: that too, nerd
[reverend mommy] 9:24 pm: Thanks nerd. I can always be a BAD EXAMPLE.
[church nerd] 9:24 pm: i mean, if EVERY sermon you preached was amazingly worded and delivered... then how would they appreciate them??
[reverend mommy] 9:24 pm: The communion and healing part went OK.
[revsparker] 9:24 pm: i thought my sermon today was really disjointed
[revsparker] 9:24 pm: but i've been getting compliments on it all day
[reverend mommy] 9:24 pm: And the music was fabulous.
[church nerd] 9:25 pm: and, God spoke through the mouth of an ass! surely God can speak through the mouth of a hairy moose butt sucker
[church nerd] 9:25 pm: AND i've noticed that the sermons that i think are bad are usually the ones that get a lot of positive feedback from people
[reverend mommy] 9:25 pm: No misplaced modifiers, please. I am not hairy. The big moose butt is hairy.
[revsparker] 9:25 pm: i find the ones I think are good are usually too full of me
[reverend mommy] 9:26 pm: This was not full of anything. Of course the text was John 3:13-16.
[reverend mommy] 9:26 pm: Gah.
[church nerd] 9:26 pm: there was no intended implications of your hairiness, revmommy
[reverend mommy] 9:26 pm: Thank you nerd.
[church nerd] 9:26 pm: you're welcome
[revsparker] 9:26 pm: sucker of hairy moose butts?
[revsparker] 9:27 pm: it took me that long to figure out another way to say it
[reverend mommy] 9:27 pm: yuck! Put that way.....
[church nerd] 9:27 pm: to each their own, i suppose
[reverend mommy] 9:27 pm: Actually, I don't think i've ever even seen a moose butt in person.
[revstacey] 9:27 pm: I understood the sermon to be the sucker of hairy moose butts, not rm
[revsparker] 9:28 pm: tis true
[church nerd] 9:28 pm: yes, that was the way she put it. but we've twisted it. it's what we do best.
[revstacey] 9:28 pm: I have seen a moose butt. it was indeed big and hairy
[church nerd] 9:29 pm: i'm guessing most everything about a moose is big and hairy
[revsparker] 9:29 pm: they are impressively big, actually.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I'm preaching

in exactly two hours, minus one minute (more or less....) a sermon that isn't really finished yet. I just got something about snakes -- "The Holy Man and the Snake" SOMEWHERE and rlp just quoted Emily D.'s poem I had forgotten about.

Healing services are not exactly easy --and I chose to use next week's gospel from John 3: 13-16. Not an easy one to begin with.

To top it all off, I'm not well myself. Stress and medical conditions have caused my Bell's palsy to flare up -- no drooping but horrible pain and a distressing loss of vision in my right eye.

So, I'm preaching a healing service and I'm preaching to myself, again. Prayers, please?

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I'm baking the bread for communion tomorrow (yes, Saturday) for the Grayson Day of Service. I baked a double batch of bread because we are expecting perhaps 200 people for breakfast and communion. But I didn't make two loaves, I made a double loaf. When I pulled it out of the oven, Chaos remarked, "Look! Mama made a huge sin-crushing loaf of bread!"
Yes, we would your Word embrace,
Live each moment on your grace,
All ourselves to you consign,
Fold up all our wills in yours,
Think, and speak, and do, and be
Simply that which pleases you.

Hear us, Christ, O, hear our prayer;
Hear, and bless our deepest care.
May your love to us impart,
Loyal singleness of heart;
So shall this and all our days,
Christ and God, show forth your praise.

make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I pray today for my church family, as they prepare to go forth and serve our community. I pray for traveling mercies for them as they are on the road. I pray for wisdom, discernment, courage and strength.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Morning Prayer

When spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil;
When summer’s balmy showers refresh the mower’s toil;
When winter binds in frosty chains the fallow and the flood;
In God the earth rejoiceth still and owns his Maker good.

The birds that wake the morning and those that love the shade;
The winds that sweep the mountain or lull the drowsy glade;
The sun that from his amber bower rejoiceth on his way,
The moon and stars their Master’s Name in silent pomp display.

Shall man, the lord of nature, expectant of the sky,
Shall man alone, unthankful, his little praise deny?
No; let the year forsake his course, the seasons cease to be,
Thee, Master, must we always love, and Savior, honor Thee.

The flowers of spring may wither, the hope of summer fade,
The autumn droop in winter, the birds forsake the shade;
The winds be lulled, the sun and moon forget their old decree;

I will praise the Name of God in song;
I will proclaim his greatness with thanksgiving.
This will please the LORD more than an offering of oxen,
more than bullocks with horns and hoofs.
The afflicted shall see and be glad;
you who seek God, your heart shall live.
For the LORD listens to the needy,
and his prisoners he does not despise.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him,
the seas and all that moves in them;

-- Psalm 69:32-36

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
his riding up he heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.
But we, in nature’s latest hour, O Lord, will cling to Thee!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Unfocused Musings

I've been thinking quite a bit about Tom Fox.

I thought about him last week when the lection was: Take up your cross and follow me. Oddly enough, you can put his name in a cross:


He made his point by being in the way --
The early Christians called their movement "the way"

I've been thinking about him this week, as the lection is based on Jesus' outrage in the temple.

Maybe it's putting too fine a point on it, but...
Is not what Tom Fox did much the same as Jesus in the Temple?
Jesus took no weapon into the Temple -- he made a whip from cords, probably from tethers from the animals. He did not whip the moneychangers themselves, but used the whip to drive the animals from the temple. His anger is from outrage -- outrage at the moneychangers cheating the people out of their wages/money. Outrage at the corruption. "Why are we here?" -- isn't this Jesus' question as well?

I have read that the word in the Greek Bible that is translated as "love" is the word "agape." Again, I have read that this word is best expressed as a profound respect for all human beings simply for the fact that they are all God's children. I would state that idea in a somewhat different way, as "never thinking or doing anything that would dehumanize one of my fellow human beings."

It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death.

"Why are we here?" We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exist within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.
-- Tom Fox

And a quote from MLK jr:
Civil disobedience, "does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had."

And what does this have to do with a part-time pastor in Suburban Gwinnett County? Are there tables that need to be overturned here? Are there oppressed people who need an advocate? Am I standing in solidarity with the downtrodden? Who am I dehumanizing?

And then: Is this (my own neighborhoods) not a brutal environment? Especially when the headlines read: Police Shoot a Man Beating a Child; Woman Slain in Fight Over a Car; Bomb Sniffing Dogs React; Woman Indicted on Sex with Teen Charges.

Why are we here? How can I stand with God's children? Where do I start?

Morning Prayer

Theme: Christ Crucified
God Point: I Cor. 1:22-25
Prayer Point: For the courage to proclaim Christ
Service Point: Write a letter to someone telling of your experiences with Christ

Morning Prayer
Wake my soul with all things living
thanks be giving to the Source of life and day
Sunlight comes and gone confusion,
night's illusion, like the starlight
fades away.

Cry for help, when griefs assail you,
good friends fail you, life seems hopeless, death appears.
One whose child knew deep affliction,
ever waits to dry your tears.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8, 9

In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;
let me never be ashamed.
In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe;
you are my crag and my stronghold.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from of the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.
For you are my hope, O LORD God,
my confidence since I was young.
I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;
from my mother's womb you have been my strength;
my praise shall be always of you.
-- Psalm 71:1-7

Almighty God,
Your own Son had nowhere to lay his head:
Be with those who live alone today so that they may not be lonely in their solitude,
Help them live according to your example and follow in your steps,
May they find fulfillment in loving you and
May they find fulfillment in the love of their neighbors.

For those in the hospital today

Dearest Lord,
Be with us and be the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers:
Mercifully accept our prayers,
And give to those suffering the help of your power,
that their sickness may be turned into health,
and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sanctify those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing,
and to the prevention of disease and pain.
Strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit,
that by their ministries
the health of the community may be promoted
and your creation glorified; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Morning Prayer

North and south and east and west
May your ho-ly Name be blessed;
Everywhere- beneath the sun,
As in heav'n, your will- be done.

Give us food that we may live;
Every thoughtlessness please forgive;
Keep all e-vil things away
From your people here- today.

Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: Come let us adore him.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Long may he live!
and may there be given to him gold from Arabia;
may prayer be made for him always,
and may they bless him all the day long.
May there be abundance of grain on the earth,
growing thick even on the hilltops;
may its fruit flourish like Lebanon,
and its grain like grass upon the earth.
May his Name remain for ever
and be established as long as the sun endures;
may all the nations bless themselves in him and call him blessed.
Blessed be the Lord GOD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous deeds!
And blessed be his glorious Name for ever!
and may all the earth be filled with his glory. Amen. Amen.
-- Psalm 72: 15-19

You made me in your own image,
You redeemed me through your Son.
Look with compassion on all of us,
The whole human family;
Take away arrogance and hatred that infects our hearts;
Break down the walls that separate us;
Unite us and bind us together in bonds of love;
work through our struggle and confusion
So that your purpose on earth will be done.

Dearest Lord,
You cared for all who came to you
Each in their own season.
Rain your compassion down on all who suffer,
Those who are ill, even to the point of death,
Those who cannot find the strength for one more day,
Those who are overwhelmed with responsibilities,
Those who cannot imagine being free to take responsibility,
Those who through addiction have lost their health and freedom
Those who mourn.
Restore to us the assurance of your unfailing mercy;
Restore to us the knowledge of your grace,
Restore to us the comfort of you love,
Remove from us the fears that overwhelm us;
Strengthen us in the work of our own redemption,
Give to us patient understanding and persevering love. Amen.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Morning Prayer

The sun that bids us rest is waking
our family members far away
Who, while we sleep are gladly taking
their turn to worship you and pray.

So be it, God, your reign shall never
like earth's proud empires, fade and fall.
Your reign endures, and grows forever
till all your creatures heed your call.

Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myselves. I am truly sorry and humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me; that I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

You sent a gracious rain, O God, upon your inheritance;
you refreshed the land when it was weary.
Your people found their home in it;
in your goodness, O God, you have made provision for the poor.
The Lord gave the word;
great was the company of women who bore the tidings:
"Kings with their armies are fleeing away;
the women at home are dividing the spoils."
Though you lingered among the sheepfolds,
you shall be like a dove whose wings are covered with silver,
whose feathers are like green gold.
-- Psalm 68:9-13

O God,
Your glory is your mercy:
Your mercy is glorious.
We wander away -- and your mercy follows.

Draw my heart to you.
Guide my mind so that I might guide,
fill my imagination so completely that I cannot imagine,
control my will so that I will be yours,
make me utterly dedicated to you;
Then and only then use me,
as you will,
use me to your glory
use me to the welfare of your people.
I have found my home in you.
Help me return and rest in you,
Help me be still and know that
You alone are God.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I've been playing

I've been playing with Google Mars. Today.
Like Google Earth, but, you know, with Mars.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Craddock Notes on Preaching the Death of Jesus

NOTE: I gave up on making these complete sentences. They are notes. Just notes. So they look like notes. There's a little of me in here too, btw.

Preaching the Death of Jesus
The first task of preaching the death of Jesus is to find a way to give it meaning and open the doors of the church to gentiles without kicking the Jews in the groin. The ultimate task is to interpret the execution of Jesus – a shameful death as a convicted criminal, a demeaning death – as having some sort of benefit to the followers.

In some parts of Appalachia, people place the cross on their Christmas tree as an ornament. This seems strange to some of us; not so strange to others. There’s a old picture of the crèche in a barn – a lantern nestled in the beams in a barn throws a shadow of a cross on the baby Jesus. Yes, this is a participation in the concept of “Eternal Time” and yet -- it collapses the story to be like a single event; without understanding the mystery of that event in and of itself.

The view of some is that the Gospel begins only at Golgotha – with the stories of Jesus just a preface. Rudolph Bultmann – in his treatment of the earlier gospel stories, calls then a preface. Not Craddock – do not focus on the cross and resurrection OR the life and teaching as if you can separate them. Are you preaching anything less than the gospel if you preach only one or the other? Craddock sees the entire gospel as a continuum – you must preach the entirety of the gospel, not just the cross. The cross can lead you into violence – where the cross is preached too much then there are marginalized people. Some use the cross as an excuse for abuse – Abram “Preachers Present Arms” – chill you to the bone. If you really love your enemy you will shoot them because they live under a oppressive government. Can give impetus to violence.

Treatment of pain – Jesus endured the cross, so you can endure this – other is doctors afraid to prescribe.

Make too little of it – crystal cathedral – architect said in a lecture about the instruction was that there was to be no crosses inside or out. If you want your church to succeed, don’t preach the cross – people want success

God without wrath…. Christ without a cross. “Social Justice” – Niebuhr.

No theories of atonement, washed in the blood, but to build on the text exegetically. No atonement theories. Deal with the text, do no conflate scriptures. Dominate is Paul – and central is the cross. John 3:16 has no cross in it, but it’s easy to go there if you are full of Paul. It’s not what John is saying.

Luke, John, and Paul.

Paul interprets everything by the cross – Hebrews is the second most influential – but by a priestly, liturgical way.

Paul uses Christ crucified. No empty cross.

Israel – Christ – Church The middle of time with Camelot in the middle. From the temptation to Judas, there is no Satan in the ministry of Jesus in Luke. Luke has a favorable view of the temple – no other gospel does. There in the temple – healing at the gate of the temple. The temple is it. The synagogue is central – continuity with Israel. Different than John. In this continuity, it is necessary for the Messiah must suffer and die.

Luke 24:44 -- this is what the risen Christ says. There is no doubt in Luke’s mind that the Law, the prophets and the Psalms that the Messiah must suffer. Isaiah 53 – the suffering servant is ISRAEL. Not a reference to a crucified Messiah according to the Jews.
1) referring to the way that true prophets are always treated – suffering at the hands of their own people. Elijah – healed a Syrian army officer, Elisha – healed a Syropheonician woman.
2) a belief that their would be one that would be the righteous one – that would bear on himself the wickedness – legend of the Just. Witness of the centurion -- Not Surely this man was innocent BUT the righteous one or the Just one. To bear at the risk of their own life the suffering of others. Noble death. (cmp. Scapegoat stuff)
3) Luke MAY have in mind the suffering servant. Isaiah 53. Who would tell his stories? Who would recite his genealogy? But we know this because of the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. Who would declare his genealogy? About whom does the prophet speak? Of himself – or is he speaking secretly to me? That’s why people read their bibles – they are looking for their own name.
4) There is no atonement theory about Jesus in the writing of Luke.

What then do you preach? If you preach the cross, you are not preaching Luke. To all nations that you will preach – that repentance and forgiveness of sin is the gospel. Luke contains more repentance than any other book. Ignorance is there as well. God has given the repentance from sin for us to preach.

Mark has agony in the garden, so does Matthew. Luke doesn’t – knelt and prayed. Scribes add the drops of blood? Luke has Psalm 31 on the cross, not Psalm 22. When they had done everything that the scriptures had said, then they killed him. Resurrection and ascension fulfill the story.

In Luke, he says take up your cross everyday – that the cross is not dying but living. You cannot die everyday, but you can live for others everyday.

John’s Gospel
A child can swim in John and an Elephant can drown.

Pre-existence – opposite 180 degrees from Paul. He was NOT empty – he had NOT emptied himself. From Glory to Glory in John because in John’s gospel, salvation is by revelation. It is life eternal to know God. Jesus came into the world to reveal God. God is revealed by Jesus – seven signs then speeches. One time the speech comes first then the sign.

Come and see – invitation to faith.

The cross is the way the Jesus leaves – he becomes “lifted up” – revelation of God – what is God like – look at Jesus. Secondly, there will be a comforter who will be with you. The cross is the means by which he goes back to God.

Two expressions that speak of his death:
Lifted up

Two occasions chpt 10 and chapt 15 speak of his death as a Noble death. Some find there some sort of atonement theory.

Key significant event among the Jews that gives John his view is the Passover. Throughout the gospel, it was Passover time. Passover lamb is not a sin lamb but a liberation lamb – Jesus is the Passover lamb. Jesus launches the new exodus – the liberation from sin. I will draw all people to myself.

Paul does not use Passover, but Yom Kippur.
Obedient to death – as unto death. Completion of his own work.

Paul somehow is completed with Christ – I want to share in the story. For me to live is Christ. Easy to preach these sermons as a romantic thing, but they are big texts. Sermon – “the view from Mount Nebo” – great sermon of American pulpits. I preach Christ crucified. Christ is not gotten by philosophies etc, but through the cross. Central to the sacraments in his liturgy. Center of 1 Corinthians 11 is the cross. Center of baptisms, but center of his own life as well. Rare and powerful message.

Man in a lot of pain – beaten with rods and 5 times whipped. Night and a day hanging on a hunk of wood in the water. Stoned and left for dead. The Corinthians said that he was a poor speaker and he had contemptible appearance. As to one untimely borne – 4 times in Bible – three times in Old Testament – stillborn. Nickname – the monster? Totally unattractive. He longed for release from his body. What enables him to live like this is the cross. Use metaphors like legal language and economic terms, social terms – uses everything within reach.

Romans 3:25

Sin offering – goat
Scapegoat – Leviticus 16

Ritual – Christ is our Mercy Seat – and the Scapegoat 2 Cor 5: 21

Christ bearing the curse – Galatians 3:10 – 14

Paul never claims that HIS suffering will be redemptive. Close – Romans chapter 9. That I have unceasing sorrow and anguish for the people of Israel – I could almost wish myself to bear the curse if it would save the Jews – to be on the verge, but not quite there.

Story of a student who translated this passage – it was smooth. After class “What do you think about that?” “It’s unprofessional. You should never get that close.” Many years later – CEO of major company – “God just expects too much from ministers. I had to get out of it.” That’s what he mean by unprofessional – it requires too much.

Kiekegaard – Purity of Heart – see one thing. Thus, purity of heart is to will one thing, but to will one thing could not mean to will the world's pleasure and what belongs to it, even if a person only named one thing as his choice, since this one thing was one only by a deception. Nor could willing one thing mean willing it in the vain sense of mere bigness which only to a man in a state of giddiness appears to be one. FOR IN TRUTH TO WILL ONE THING, A MAN MUST WILL THE GOOD. This was the first, the possibility of being able to will one thing. But in order GENUINELY TO WILL ONE THING, A MAN MUST IN TRUTH WILL THE GOOD… If, then, a man in truth wills the Good, then HE MUST BE WILLING TO DO ALL FOR IT or HE MUST BE WILLING TO SUFFER ALL FOR IT.

The double-minded man stands at a parting of the ways, and sees there two apparitions: the Good, and the Good in its victory, or even in its victory through him. … With the eye of his senses he is not permitted to see the Good in victory. Only with the eye of faith can he strive after its eternal victory. Therein lies his double-mindedness. For as there is a double -- mindedness which divides up the nature of the Good which the Good has united for all eternity: so is his double -- mindedness of that sort that unites what the Good in time has set apart. The one double-minded person forgets the Eternal and on that account misuses time, the other misuses eternity.

You might be forgiven but there is always your trash lying around – sin is forgiven but you suffer the consequences of it.

Fred Craddock met Albert Schweitzer when he dedicated an organ at some Indiana University. Fred was a 21 year old student who had loaded up with questions -- wanted to ask a question about “The Historical Jesus.” The kind of question you ask as a student to let the other person how smart you are. You know that kind of question. Schweitzer said that You get to know Jesus by following him. He was 75 years old and much taller than Fred expected. Fuzzy face, Bushy hair. French accent. After the organ recital and lecture he said, “I Appreciate the hospitality of you people, I’d like to stay a while longer, but I can’t. There are people who need me at home – there are children and their mothers and fathers dying at home. I have to go. Would anyone go with me?” The smart assed questions died on Fred’s lips. Fred said, “Say what you will about Schweitzer’s liberal protestant theology – think what ever you want – but I have not even given up a meal.” Jesus’ life gave him something to follow – to sacrifice for.

Friday, March 10, 2006

From the National Cathedral

In a rare public appearance, acclaimed author and Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner will engage in a lively panel discussion about the impact of his writings on American religious life Wednesday, April 5, at 7 pm.

The three panelists—the Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard University; the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopal priest who teaches religion at Piedmont College in northeast Georgia; and Dr. Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta—will share their insights into Buechner’s sermons, including his new collection featured in his latest book, Secrets in the Dark, A Life in Sermons.

More here.

Boy, do I want to go to this! What an evening of excitement! (OK, maybe not YOUR idea of excitement, but it is for me!)

One of those flashes of insight

I was typing up my Craddock notes (trying to make complete sentences (a hard task for me right now)) and I came across one of my favorite quotes:

H. Richard Niebuhr’s comment on the theology of liberal Protestantism: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

And I had a flash -- it's the message that Joel Osteen preaches! I went to the Lakewood Church website a while back and I had to dig around for the words "God" and "Jesus." They just aren't there. But the words "Joel Osteen" and "Ministries" are everywhere. There's no sin or judgement or even kingdom -- much less a Christ on a Cross -- suffering.

BUT Niebuhr's comment was made about the LIBERAL wing of the church -- and Osteen appeals to the conservative right. Wow!


While looking through my iPhoto stuff for a photo of my hair, I realized that I take all the pictures. 10,000 pictures and none of me. Wow. Maybe I'll get Chaos to take one of me -- after suitable applications of hair spray and makeup.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I suppose I'm just

easily disturbed -- or this is just particularly disturbing.

I'm more disturbed now that I know that it was just a prank. Somehow the idea of it being a hate crime is more palatable -- it's a showing of emotion, of passion. The idea of it being a prank makes me sick to my stomach.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

I think Gavin (quoting Ian) may have started something. He's relating ministry stories that end "it seemed like a good idea at the time." Hmm....

In 2002 (or was it 2001?), I did a Daycamp -- for the Girl Scouts. It was using the "God and Country" materials. It was great. 60 plus girls, almost as many adults. We did 6 to 7 hours of camp a day and at the end of the week we were going to give the girls their awards at the end of a worship service.

Well, one of the leaders suggested that the girls do their shadowpuppet show at the worship service. I (as grand poo-bah of the worship service) thought "OK, that'll work." What I didn't realize was that the girls were hams. At the first rehearsal, we let them go across the stage while wiggling the shadow puppet on the screen. It took just a few minutes -- the reading was Genesis 1 and the shadow puppets were all about the 6 days of creation.

And the girls loved it. They liked to play with the puppets. Rehearsal went great, but the day of the performance, they realized that Mommy and Daddy were watching. The first half dozen went as expected. Then they started stopping and playing with the puppets walking v-e-r-y slowly. What took just a couple of minutes the previous day started taking longer and longer and l-o-n-g-e-r and l-o-o-n-n-g-g-e-e-r. It took almost 15 minutes to push them off the stage. By that time no one was paying attention -- people were talking to each other, getting up to go to the bathroom, congregating in the back and yacking.

I caught it from the staff the next day about the sheer length of the service -- who was to know that these girls were such hams? I mean, it seemed like a good idea at the time....

OK, you're next. If you choose to play, make a note in the comments.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Craddock Report

The trip on Monday was indeed 2 plus hours up and 2 hours home. It would have been shorter if I had gone the back ways because there were horrible pile-ups on the Perimeter.

An aside: Some college students did an experiment in Atlanta -- the lined up cars across the Perimeter and went the speed limit. Look here and click on the "Meditation of the Week." Or try here.

Dr. Craddock somehow reminds me of the line "a jolly old elf" -- not because he looks like Santa, but because he definitely is jolly, round and has elfish features. He's just a tad taller than me, sharp nose, slightly pointed ears. However he exudes a certain something that demands attention, even though he would be the first to say that he speaks as one without authority.

The gist of the lecture: when preaching Lent, Holy Week and the death of Jesus, let each lection stand by itself. Look for it's unique voice. When using Luke, listen to Luke NOT Luke through the eyes of Paul. We are tempted to just jump directly to "I preach Christ crucified." Listen to each of the unique voices and discover them anew. Start with the text and stick to the text. Exegete THIS text without prooftexting and without using an hermenutic not found in that particular Gospel.

There were a couple of wonderful Craddock stories. I'll transcribe them later today.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Meme: Do you wear a cross?

Do you wear a cross? Yes, most of the time.

Is there a particular time or place that you consider wearing a cross? I don't leave home without it.

Where do you were it? Necklace, usually outside of my clothing -- except when I'm driving -- it gets caught in the seat belt shoulder strap.

What does the cross look like? a little crooked -- it's a budded cross made of reclaimed white gold and awful diamonds. The diamonds are the type that diamond cutters use to practice on -- and then throw away. Each is grey with inclusions -- they are almost industrial grade diamonds. It's on a gold chain with a little sterling silver Bible.

Who gave the cross to you or did you choose it? I had it made with some diamonds from my uncle Walter (when he was in S. Africa in the 19-somethings). And a fitting I bought seperately.

Is this your favorite cross, if so, why? Yes, because it reminds me we are all flawed diamonds -- individually ugly with dark inclusions, but we can be reclaimed and made together into something of beauty.

What does wearing a cross mean to you? I unconciously reach up and hold on to it often. It's a habit. It's a reminder. It's who I am.

Wanna play? Tag yourself and tell us if, when and why you wear or don't wear a cross.

Road Trip Today

I'm going to the Craddock Center to listen to Fred Craddock. It's probably a 2 hour plus drive. He's teaching on "Preaching the Death of Jesus."

I'm excited!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday Sermon

Text Joel 2:1-2,12-17

Start with clips from this.*

And then tell people bits of this.*

We were Unprepared and Overwhelmed.

Unprepared and Overwhelmed.

You see, it’s been exactly 6 months today since Hurricane Katrina. 6 months of suffering. Six months of cleaning up and picking up.

We see it also in our text for today. The people of Joel’s time were overwhelmed by Locusts and unprepared for the threat or the promise of the coming day of the Lord.

Did they listen to the words of the prophet? I listened to Joel and was struck by one singular thought – They were overwhelmed but Joel never told them why. Joel never said – “You sinners!!” He never told them they brought it onto themselves – Just “Repent!”


Are we listening today? Do we hear condemnation? Or sadness?

Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.

Unprepared and Overwhelmed

Lent is a time of preparation. We are preparing for Holy Week and Easter.
It’s Reminder of our own ephemeral nature.
We gather together not only to remember who we are,
but who God is and what God has given.

unprepared and overwhelmed
How many ways are we being overwhelmed today?

We are
Overwhelmed by:
– full inboxes – each message either a demand “you need those papers in today” or a promise “free mortgages” “end all spam” to the point where we forget why we are getting email

By Parenting:
Do you feel you have no control over what happens to you or your family? Have no time in the day for yourself? Try to do too many things? These are all common feelings for parents…. too much stress affects our thinking and makes it harder to solve problems. We forget the joys that come from our family.

By work
A study conducted by the Families and Work Institute a few years ago showed that more than one third of employees in the United States feels overworked, or overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do…We forget the reasons we work and the fulfillment it can lead to.

Overwhelmed by nature – Last year it was the Tsunami – this year it was Katrina.
Even if it was 6 months ago,
Survivors, counselors overwhelmed
Many victims too traumatized to discuss the tragedy yet
Deeper still lie the invisible scars of those whose families, homes, and livelihoods were swallowed up by the angry hurricane. The despair and emotional trauma of survivors … across the region are likely to linger long after the aid shipments have stopped. Among the most overwhelming feelings is guilt and depression.

Overwhelmed by emotion/grief/guilt/depression
''I wonder why I remain. I want God to take me, too," said Anna. She lost two of her four children when the water came rampaging into her living room. ''I struggled to find them. I swam, I shouted, but gave up because I had to use all my strength to cling onto a pillar." Overcome by grief.

What does it mean to be overwhelmed? From Websters:
Etymology: Middle English, from 1over + whelmen to turn over, cover up
2 a : to cover over completely : SUBMERGE b : to overcome by superior force or numbers c : to overpower in thought or feeling

How are we to prepare during this season of Lent if we are being overwhelmed?
Repent and Remember. Even Now! Repent! Rend your hearts and not your garments! Become overwhelmed with conviction of your sin and turn to the Lord your God.

In this text – people of Israel are called to repent and remember
shoob – turn around, repent – if you do – with your heart – rending your heart and not your garment, perhaps God himself will turn and leave behind a grain offering and a drink offering.

Is repentance confession?
We are a confessing society – Jerry Springer – confess to all sorts of things – is this repentance?

True repentance – complete turnaround – turn away from self, turn to God – more than a “I sorry” but more of a psychotic break / break with everything we knew before and leave it all behind. It’s overwhelming

Ash Wednesday starts the 40 days of Lent, before Holy week/Easter
40 Represents : the days of Noah, the years of Moses in wilderness, 40 days of Jesus in the wilderness. And so our 40 days of fasting and prayer and study and service.

The imposition of the ashes is a powerful thing. It’s a powerful symbol of how we can be overwhelmed by life. This last Ash Wednesday it seemed so odd to I traced the ashes onto the forehead of my own children. It was overwhelming to place that reminder of mortality onto my own children’s forehead. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

And is this not also the story of God and his beloved children? Gather my children together -- Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; Repent and remember the gospel! And what is that Gospel for us today?
That after repentance comes reconciliation
Definition ; restoration to harmony; renewal; removal of inconsistency; reunion; pacification; appeasement; propitiation; atonement; expiation.

Reconciliation – related to the word for forgivness in the Greek
Reconciliation mean to change places with the other, so much that
you will walk in their shoes,
you will laugh their laughter,
weep their tears,
hold their dreams and feel their joy.

What is the Gospel?
That we are indeed reconciled to God, through His son Christ. Through repentance we are reconciled – and he will turn and leave us a grain /drink offering / sacrifice.

In Joel, the locusts had consumed everything – they ate up all the grain, they consumed all the grapes. We are so hungry for reconciliation. How can WE offer a grain offering and a drink offering? How Can we?
God himself has to offer the bread and the wine. Can you imagine Israel’s hunger? Can you imagine how good that freshly baked bread was? How refreshing that cool wine? Can you imagine their hunger?
What do we have to offer? What is it that God wants? Rend your hearts and not your garments.

Are you hungry?

We will not be receiving communion tonight. We will not fill ourselves with the bread and slake our thirst with the cup. Instead we are going to leave hungry. Tonight is a time of preparation. We will come forward and offer to God our repentance. We will prepare – and pray for God to overwhelm us with his Grace and love – and leave hungry for right relationship.

Are you hungry?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they will be filled.


*I am blessed by knowing St. Casserole. This sermon and my prayers are for her and the people of the Gulf States who are still suffering. It's also for Wayne and Reagan, Brent, Ken and Dwayne and those who have given of their time, energy and money to help rebuild.