Wednesday, January 31, 2007

OK, confession time

I suppose I'm making life more complicated than it has to be because I'm auditing an additional class (so that makes like 17 semester hours). It's the ONE class I really wanted to take -- it's Dr. Salier's last class at Candler (Theology of the Liturgy) -- a seminar class and I am just going to sit in and listen (no papers or whatnot, just reading what I can on top of all the other and listening).

And I am reminded of the true nature of a University Degree. It's all about the passion for a topic and the desire for learning. Originally, the Degree was just a piece of paper saying you had mastery over the topic. Our grading systems and writing of papers was unheard of, really.

I will use the time wisely, though and absorb what I can for use in other classes. I think of it as cross-pollination. It will segue nicely into the "Theology of Sacraments" class that I am taking. Dr. Salier's in more into the Meta-theology, the grammer and language that Theology lends us to speak of these things -- the Theology of the Sacraments will be much more nitty-gritty (and probably mucho easier.) I think my problem with the second class is that I will OVER think everything.

So I'm taking a class for recreational purposes. This is PROOF that I am a nerd.

It's 102 days to Graduation

And I am tired from yesterday -- Tuesdays are a very class heavy day. I'm a smidge behind in my readings, but OK (just a smidge). It's a blah time of year, virus abound and the Loving Husband is sick. It's just a time to put your nose to the grindstone.... I will surely be glad when it's all over and I sure will be glad when we get more sunshine everyday.

I'm building structure to reduce stress -- but still am working on it. 102 days. 3 months plus a week and a couple of days. It's like a Marathon...

Picture 31/365

My efforts to become more organized are moving right along. I need to work on under the desk and clearing the very small working surface off. What I really need is some sort of long desk for in front of the windows and bookshelves to put all my nicely labeled boxes on...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Picture 30/365

I've noted before that I'm raising a lawyer -- I asked her to empty the dishwasher. That she did; but she didn't put any away in the cabinets. when I asked her about it, she told me "You didn't tell me to put them up; just to unload it."

I told her that it was implied.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Picture 29/365

Goody! My books came yesterday! It's like Christmas all over again, but different. Very different, because I'm already behind in my reading.


I've caught up and so now it's just one picture a day for the rest of the year. How many pictures of the cat do you think I'll get?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Picture 28/365

I did a "joke" in the kitchen with the labels. If you will notice, one shelf is the "Tomato Soup" section -- the other shelf is "All Other Foods." The family hasn't notice OR they don't see anything humorous about it.

Oh well -- I tried.

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I've developed this "thing" about Tomato Soup. I've been eating tomato soup basically every day or every other day for lunch. Sometimes (like here) with a handful of cheese, sometimes cheese with pepperoni, sometimes croûtons, sometimes salsa and sour cream, sometimes with salsa and cheese, etc...
I've actually started losing weight by substituting a salad and tomato soup for whatever I was eating for lunch.

And I just crave it....

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Loving Husband

The Loving Husband's Soapbox for straight key night. (He's AA4LR.) I think he should start a ham radio blog.

I like new Blogger

It's been a pain to move stuff over and catagorize postings, but I like it. It's been more cooperative than old blogger.

Funny, though. I didn't go for a new template -- I took pains to make it look just like the old one. I guess when I like something, I like it. It took me a while to figure out the widgets -- and I'm still playing with them. But I just have grown so accustomed to the old look, that I kept it (actually it took me a while to make them look the same...)

I wonder what that says about me? Hmmm....

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More of the obsessive compulsive behavior. I am sorting photographs, as well and updating the "School Bus" photoframes. The temptation is not to keep too much, but to throw too much away. I get in the "throw it away" mood and I start flinging stuff in the trash can.... Then a couple of months later, I regret it. So I am not going to throw away more than I keep. I really am going to try.

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I've not finished putting up all the Christmas decorations. I've been obsessive/compulsive, no doubt, because I purchased plastic boxes and have been sorting them out into piles of "keep, donate and throw away." Then I've sorted the remaining ornaments into "angels," "handmade," "sentimental" and so on. I just feel this overwhelming urge to get all of my life in order before I graduate. Some of the tasks are realistic and some are not, I realize, but I can try!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Picture 24/365

A peacock feather. A good friend sent me a bouquet of peacock tail feathers about a year ago and I just dearly love them.

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Silly Kitty. Entropy gave me this black sort of circular cat pillow that has a removable do-ma-hicky that you can microwave and get all nice and toasty warm. The intent is to place it around your neck to soothe sore muscles. Well, I heated up the pillow and went back into the kitchen to get my coffee. When I returned, Little Kitty had taken up residence... Silly Kitty (rather, really smart kitty!)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

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Picture 22/365

From a letter to John Wesley by Susanna Wesley

... I cannot yet dismiss this subject, as self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children, insures their after-wretchedness and irreligion: Whatever checks and mortifies it, promotes their future happiness and piety. This is still more evident, if we farther consider, that religion is nothing else than the doing the will of God, and not our own: That the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness being this self-will, no indulgences of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable. Heaven or hell depends on this alone. So that the parent who studies to subdue it in his child, works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil's work, makes religion impractible, salvation unattainable; and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body for ever.

Compare this news story.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Picture 20/365

Sweet Gum balls -- the only thing left on the trees and a flash of blue sky. It's been grey and gloomy for the most part, overcast and cold.

Picture 19/365

The paper chase starts with lots and lots of books. My books for this semester ran about $400. Goody. Here are the ones that I have not put up yet from earlier in the year.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Picture 18/365

The Ear of Entropy.

(I just think it's a really cute ear, but then again, I'm the mommy.)

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Painting outside of the Dean's office in Bishop's Hall at Candler depicting John Wesley, "a brand plucked from the burning" from the Parsonage fire of 1709. Dr. Matthews referred to it today in his lecture, stating that the fire could have been arson.

UMNS would be all over that like a duck on a Junebug. After all, they released a story (again) about the SMU/ Bush Library thing this morning.


Monday, January 22, 2007

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The cross on top of Cannon Chapel at Candler. Did I mention it was T-minus 112 days to Graduation? Did I?

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School Dayz -- the Winter Edition. This is the eagle out in front of Candler's Pitt's library (or out the back, depending on how you look at it. It's back to school for the Rev Mommy and I am getting all my bits and pieces in order. I have 5 folders -- one for each class, for handouts (not notes -- who takes notes with pen and paper anymore!), in appropriate colors (known only to me: Green for BioMedical Ethics, Light Green for Ethics, Red for Wesleyan Theology, Purple for Theology of the Sacraments and yellow for Teaching Parish.) I've received all the syllabi, entered them into a Wiki (using VooDoo Pad), created my readings spreadsheet (to keep track of what I need to read and when), created a spreadsheet for keeping track of all the 25 books I have ordered, created a spreadsheet for the family to know where to go, when, and with whom. I've started three papers already and I want to stay ahead of the power curve this semester.

School! The place I either hate to love or love to hate.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Picture 14/365

Another picture from my living room. A picture of a picture. This is a painting that a family friend of my g'grandmother's brought back from a Presbyterian mission in the Belgian Congo. It seems (so the story goes) that the missionary's wife taught a few of the people to paint using oil paints and then would take the paintings and sell them in the states and other places for an income stream into the village. The man who painted this picture did it from memory -- it was a scene from his childhood. I would love to know more about it, but I think the rest of the story is lost in time.

What stories will I tell of my life? What stories will my children remember?

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A red wreath made of feathers on my front door. The house looks a little empty without the Christmas decorations. I wanted something different and I put back up the read feather wreath. I'm going to make a Magnolia wreath for the outside, as well. It's hard to decide what would be timeless and appropriate for this time of year. It's not time for spring flowers -- and the fall foliage wreath either. It's just a sort of "in between" time. I've often wanted different green paraments for the church, other than the green we use during the summer. This ordinary time feels different to me.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Picture 12/365

Here's another picture from Simpsonwood: it's a small wooden outbuilding just outside the field chapel. It looks like it was a little tool shed or corn crib. I love the aged wood and the geometric shapes.

I have nothing theologically significant to say today. I did my prayer time, but spent more time listening rather than being in a structured prayer. I'm just not into words today.

I've cleaned somethings, picked up some things and just done some concentrated nothing. School starts bright and early on Monday morning and I have a report due (that I really haven't written out.) Tuesday I start classes at Emory -- I'm only taking two on TTh officially on the Candler campus, Teaching Parish is in Covington on alternate Mondays for a few weeks and then I do two Friday/Saturdays a month out of town: one in Greenville for 4 Saturdays and one in Due West at Erskine for 3 Friday/Saturdays. Complicated schedule, but I like doing a class for 8 solid hours -- and only 4 sessions. Sort of the 'get it over with' thing. If all goes well, graduation is in May -- then a year of CPE and preparing ordination papers, then who knows? PhD programs? Parish? More CPE? I really like CPE; in fact I would love to be in a CPE program at this very minute.

More decisions.

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On a path at Simpsonwood: gravel, a rock and a crook in the sidewalk. For some reason, this picture makes me think of decisions. A crook in the sidewalk, a bend in the road. I don't know what lies beyond, but I can see it coming. There are hard rocks in the way -- I can trip and fall, but I know the journey is worth it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Just for John the Methodist, Bunny and Zombie Lover

This one's for you John!

Mr. Deity

Nice series.

Patches the Horse

I think I want some cheeseburgers.

Morning Prayer -- Through the Night Your Angels Kept; Eph 6:7-8

Through the night your angels kept
Watch beside us while we slept;
Now the dark- has passed away,
Thank you, God, for this new day.

North and south and east and west
May your holy 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 evil things away
From your people here- today.

-- W. Canton (19thC)

7 Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8 knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.
-- Eph 6:7-8

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Picture 10/365

My district had a meeting at Simpsonwood last week. I really like Simpsonwood. It's embedded in a residential area right on the Chattahoochee river. It's a little further north than here and higher slightly in elevation. This combined with with coolness off the river makes for a slightly different ecology. They grow Mountain Laurel and ferns there.

This is the "door-knob" at the main lodge at Simpsonwood. To enter the building and open the door, you have to take the hand of Jesus.

That's all that needs to be said.

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The Flowering Quince in the backyard has bloomed. It seems really early this year, especially seeing that it's one of the coldest weeks we have had all winter and are looking at more cold weather. They are related to the rose family, I think. This small and spiny shrub becomes a slash of color in a landscape of greys, muted greens and tan. It seems to be blooming out of season -- either really early or really late, but it blooms as and when it was meant to bloom.

There are days that I think that I am blooming late: after all, I am becoming that which has been my calling later in life than some. Yet I am blooming when I was supposed: I am blooming and bearing fruit as God would have me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Picture 8/365

I'm still putting away Christmas decorations. This is an angel I made for our tree many years ago out of a clothespin, a crocheted doily, some sliver ribbon, chenille yarn and a wooden bead.

I’m taking my time putting away the decorations, sorting them into new plastic shoeboxes and setting a large quantity aside to give away. I’ve accumulated quite a number, but so few of them really carry sentimental meaning. Real value is not necessarily monetary but is imbued by relationship: the cat ornament that my friend Cindy gave me the first year Bill and I were married, the silver snowflake that was on my Grandmother’s tree, and of course, all the ornaments with the girls' pictures on it.

The rest I am packing in nice shoeboxes to store in the garage until August or so – Goodwill and Salvation Army don’t want them until then. I’ll set them aside so that another can use it. Hoarding things is a sin – pure and simple. There was someone who wrote in a book (now isn’t that specific!) that all we need is enough and that one dollar over enough makes us wealthy – and that we need to share that wealth with those who have to live without enough.

Where else in my life do I have enough? And I how can I share that bounty that I have been given that is over enough?

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Karate is a real portion of our lives. The kids have been training for four years now. Both of them are black belts; Entropy has her black belt ceremony next month. I've been sitting in chairs and paying the bill for four years.

There is a natural ebb and flow in our lives; times of activity, periods of rest. Schedule and predictiblity set structure. Discipline is important for our growth and health. Our society tends to overschedule which causes stress -- too little structure and schedule leads to anxiety, too much structure and schedule leads to stress. It's all in the balance.

Where do I become anxious? When am I stressed? Perhaps a real spiritual discipline would be to examine my schedule and strive for moderation and balance.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

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I love my Advent wreath. I made the candle holders out of glasses I bought one Thanksgiving and some flattened marbles. I keep meaning to grout between the marbles, but I've grown used to the way they look. A lot of the glass factories in WVa will send the flawed and broken pieces of whatever they are making and the cullet to marble companies and they, in turn, will turn the broken bits into marbles. Well, even some of the marbles don't make it -- these are those marbles. Twice recycled, now repurposed into candle holders that I use as we wait for the birth of the one who redeems.

Redemption. Beautiful. I think I'll keep using the Advent wreath for a while -- I'm still in that Christmas mood.

*note: I did remove the greenery -- it was getting really crispy and I was afraid of a fire. I'm not ready for Pentecost yet.

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This is a lighting fixture at the hotel in Myrtle Beach. What struck me was how pretty it was. All pretty shiny pots and twinkling lights on a beautiful oval pot rack. Then the second thing that struck me was how totally useless the pots were now. You may or may not be able to see in the picture, but the pots cannot be removed -- they are bolted in.

How many things in our lives do we make beautiful but totally useless? Can there be true beauty without utility? I think I'll keep my pot rack -- it's pretty too, but my pots have a beautiful patina that can only come from use. Wear and patina can only add to the beauty of a copper pot. How about with a person?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Tee-Shirt Design

I was inspired today by St. Casserole's new tee, that I needed to design a shirt for myself and Chaos. What do you think?

Now to add it to my CafePress store....

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Another picture from the Congress on Evanglism -- a little cognative dissonance here for some, but it causes me to wonder. Where would Jesus really be found in today's world? We really put God in a box -- one with a steeple and pews and don't see God where God is.

There was a saying we used to use in CPE: Remember when you get to a room, you are not bringing God into the room -- God's already there. Can God be here, too?

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RevGals (and BlogPals) at the Congress on Evangelism. This is Gavo, JNorm and Beth Quick. I cannot tell you how much fun we had. I think the bloggers had more fun than anyone else at the convention. Even though it was the first time most of us met F2F, it was like we had known each other for a long long time. There just was a sweet Spirit in the place. We can have a lot of ideological differences, but in person a lot of the differences seemed to disappear.

Maybe that's the mystery of the Incarnation in a nutshell. A Spirit of love and real relationship.

Morning Prayer -- Be Known to Us in Breaking Bread; St. Ephraim the Syrian

Be known to us in breaking bread,
But do not then depart;
Savior, abide with us, and spread
Thy table in our heart.

There eat with us in love divine;
Thy body and Thy blood,
That living bread, that heavenly wine,
Be our immortal food.

-- John Montgomery, 1825

As for me, I will live with integrity; *
redeem me, O LORD, and have pity on me.
My foot stands on level ground; *
in the full assembly I will bless the LORD.
-- Psalm 26:11-12

22You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.
-- Eph 4: 22-25

Dearest Lord,
I look for you in prayer, for in you all things are known.
May I be enriched in you, for you are more than the riches in this world; riches that do not stand the test of time.

Let your chesed come to my assistance -- and may your grace defend me.
From your bounty pour your Spirit of restoration on my wounded soul.

I look for you before anything else and look for nothing but you,
knowing that all we seek will find.

In you we find all we need; bounty for the poor in spirit, joy for those who mourn,
healing for the wounded, consolation for all who grieve.

Accept the sacrifice fo my prayer, O our Lord, and grant to me your Love.
May I live in you, may I possess you instead of all else, for then all is mine.

Accept these prayers from me, O my God, Who hast descended to your children.

Accept the tears of this sinner and show mercy to the guilty.

Establish peace in my soul. Amen.

modeled after a prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Monday, January 15, 2007

Picture 2/365

LIttle Kitty is now 18 years old and slowing down. She sleeps all the time -- or so it seems. She loves the back of the sofa and the top of the chair in the living room. I love this little cat. I've loved all my cats, but some tug at different places in my heart. This little one has always been very small and very smart. The word "fiesty" comes to mind frequently. But I know she's an old lady cat. I don't even try to guess at cat years anymore.

And I don't want to lose her. I know that she is not going to live forever; maybe another year or two, but she's getting slower in her movements and her fur is getting that "old cat" feel to it. I cried at an Aricept commercial today; I would do almost anything to have my grandmother or mother puttering around in the kitchen.

So I'm dreading the loss. It's like pressing on a bruise to see if it still hurts.

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The aftermath. Presents still to deliver; fluff on the floor. Christmas for us lasts until January 6th -- until the Magi come. Yet I don't even get into Christmas until way after Christmas Day. I suppose it's because for years Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are only second to Holy Week and Easter in stress levels. So for the next few days, I'll be in that spirit -- and I won't want to take anything down.

What else do I hang onto and why do I wait so long to engage into things? Questions to think on and ponder.

A Picture a Day

There's something floating around called Project 365 where some post word-pictures and some post photographs -- I have really enjoyed the blogs -- so I think I'll do the same, but here, on my main blog. After all, there enough blogs in this world already. So I'll just label them with the number. So the next posting will be my first picture -- I may have to do two pictures a day to catch up.

Star Trek -- 2008 -- Yes!

White & Nerdy -- It's so ME. (Sorta)

"Weird Al" Yankovic's music video from his new album "Straight Outta Lynwood" (in stores Sept. 26)

Morning Prayer -- Heavenly Sunlight, Eph 4

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding our souls with glory ablaze:
Hallelujah, we are rejoicing,
Thankful for blessing, singing our praise.

Shadows around us, shadows above us,
Never conceal our Savior and Guide;
Christ is the Light, in Christ is no darkness;
Always we're walking close to Christ's side.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,
Flooding our souls with glory ablaze:
Hallelujah, we are rejoicing,
Thankful for blessing, singing our praise.

-- Henry J. Zelley, William Kirkpatrick , Henry Gilmour (19thC) adapted

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.

8 Therefore it is said, 'When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.' 9( When it says, 'He ascended,' what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

-- Eph 4: 1-16

God, the creator and preserver of all,
we humbly beseech you for all sorts and conditions of people;
that you would be pleased to make your ways known unto them,
your saving health unto all nations.
More especially we pray for your holy Church universal;
that it may be so guided and governed by your good Spirit,
that all who profess and call themselves Christians
may be led into the way of truth,
and hold the faith in unity of spirit,
in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.

Finally, we commend to your fatherly goodness
all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed,
in mind, body, or estate;
that it may please you to comfort
and relieve them according to their several necessities,
giving them patience under their sufferings,
and a happy issue
out of all their afflictions.

And this we beg for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wedding at Cana

I like John – favorite gospel. Speaks to me – Luke was my favorite, then Mark, now John.
Stresses different stories – ask your spouse the story of your relationship, you will get different stories/ what the other sees as formative/important.

John starts with a beautiful word poem – parallel to the most important point in history to that point, creation. God spoke the Word and the world was created – now the Word has become flesh and is dwelling (pitching tent and all that implies) among us.

New beginnings. Then moves to John the Baptizer – different points than the story last week – John the Gospel makes it very clear about who John the Baptizer really is: not the Messiah, not Elijah come again, but a voice crying in the wilderness –

John calls Jesus Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world – and testifies to the movement of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life.

The next day (parallel here to the days of creation), he gathers together two of the disciples – those who will be beacons of light to the world – Nathaniel and Phillip, telling them to “Come and see.” (phrase found a lot in John) They join Andrew, Peter and John as disciples so by this point there are 5 of them.

Then we get to our text – John 2:1-11.

This is the way the gospel of john starts Jesus’ ministry – at a wedding. This is a strange little story, really. It’s the third day in John’s gospel – parallel for John to the day God called forth the vegetation of the fields, trees bearing fruit, plants bearing seed, ripe grapes called forth on the vine. On this day, there was a wedding in Cana.

Don’t know where Cana really is – scholars debate, but it was maybe 5 to 6 miles from Nazareth. Close enough to walk, but far enough away to stay in Cana during the wedding. Weddings – days and days and days. Week long celebration starting on a Tuesday night about midnight with the father of the bride leading the bride from house to house around the community. It was a community experience – a time for joy.

Years ago when Johnny Carson was the host of The Tonight Show he interviewed an eight year old boy. The young man was asked to appear because he had rescued two friends in a coalmine outside his hometown in West Virginia. As Johnny questioned the boy, it became apparent to him and the audience that the young man was a Christian. So Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday school. When the boy said he did Johnny inquired, "What are you learning in Sunday school?" "Last week," came his reply, "our lesson was about when Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine." The audience roared, but Johnny tried to keep a straight face. Then he said, "And what did you learn from that story?" The boy squirmed in his chair. It was apparent he hadn't thought about this. But then he lifted up his face and said, "If you're going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus!" The little boy was on to something. Weddings are time of Joy.

Don’t know who was being married – maybe related to Mary. Maybe Mary was helping out at the wedding – a sort of wedding director for the 1st century.

Vivid imagination – no mention of Joseph – Mary is a widow by this time. Jesus only relative mentioned being with with Mary – the bachelor son. Maybe just Mary was invited – the way it’s phrased “Jesus and the disciples were “also invited.” Maybe it was a pity invite. It’s uncomfortable to be a single person at the wedding. Bittersweet maybe. Did he go home after calling out Philip and Nathaniel? Or did he drop by to collect Mary on the way? Gospel unclear. But he went – as well as his 5 new disciples.

After a while, the refreshments ran out – specifically the wine. I wonder if it was the strain of having extra guests that caused them to run out, 6 extra people. And we don’t know how far into the wedding it was, but I know that stress of running out of food at a party. I’m sure if they could afford it, they would have had more, but this part of Galilee was not wealthy and I can imagine that 6 extra people would really put a strain on the host. And there is not only that strain, but it could be seen as an omen that not only would the wine run dry, but that the marriage was doomed for failure, never reaching it’s fullest potential. Maybe joy was not meant for these people.

Mary remarks about this “They have no wine.” Actually she doesn’t use Jesus’ name – nor is she named in the gospel, but one referred as “The Mother of Jesus.”

To this Jesus responds “Woman! What concern is that to you and me?” – OK, I have often wondered about this comment. It’s not always translated that way. I understand the “Woman!” was not a rude way to talk in that society, but it wasn’t particularly intimate. He didn’t call her mother – again I have to wonder why. Maybe he was distancing himself from his family in order to begin his ministry; I don’t think we will ever really know. It seems harsh – maybe he was angry that she was pushing him and he replies --

My hour has not yet come.

The hour is not yet come. There are two different word to indicate the passage of time in the NT – Chronos and Kairos – the word here for hour is usually used with Kairos – God time. But Jesus’ hour has not yet come. It’s early yet. It’s not yet time but …

Jesus has the servants fill six jars with water – about 120 to 180 gallons. That’s a bunch of water. They may have been just sitting around because the bride or groom had just gone through ritual purification in order to be married. You see, the Jewish people knew they needed to be cleansed and so they had these rituals for purification – from sin both of commission and omission. It wasn’t right to enter into a marriage without being cleaned from that sin.

And then it happened – Jesus tells the steward to draw some out and taste it – and it was wine. Water from the purification jars had turned – transformed – into something else. And not only was it wine, it was very very good wine. It had been transformed into something that showed he was master over both matter and time. You see, it takes time to make a good wine – you know the saying, “We will sell no wine before it’s time.”

This was the first sign Jesus did to reveal his glory – to his disciples. The servants didn’t know what was going on, the bride and groom didn’t know, the steward didn’t know – only Jesus, his mother and the disciples. There was joy there that day…

But the clock has started and we will end this journey with Jesus at the cross, where another cup of wine will be offered, thick with bitter herbs and then the pronouncement – it is finished.

What was Jesus trying to say with this miracle? That he was ready to begin his ministry? That he was an obedient son? Or was he saying that the old, tried and true ways that we use to try to clean ourselves just don’t work any more and that we need the transforming power of God Incarnate to turn our watery tasteless existence into the cup of salvation?
Have we experienced that change – that act of creation of new life? How are you experiencing it today?

There is a question that BBT asks herself – how am I being saved today? So I am asking you – how are you experiencing the transformative power of Christ in your life today?


I googled "water into wine" and found this, a claymation called "Moral Orel." It's really satrical -- this episode is called "In God's Image."

I don't think I can use it in my sermon tomorrow....

Morning Prayer -- Let Our Prayers Each Day Prevail, Eph 3

Let our prayers each day prevail,
That these gifts might never fail;
And, as we confess the sin
And temptation's pow'r within,
Every morning, for the strife,
Feed us with the Bread of Life.

As the morning light returns,
As the sun with splendor burns,
Teach us still to turn to You,
Ever blessèd Trinity,
With our hands our hearts to raise,
In unfailing prayer and praise.

-- Greville Phillimore

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
-- Eph 3:14 - 19

Almighty God,
who after the creation of the world rested
from all youR works
and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures:
Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties,
may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary,
and that our rest here upon earth
may be a preparation for the eternal rest
promised to your people in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Anime and Theology

OK, the kids and my husband are watching Naruto, usually Japanese on YouTube. This is the opening song -- taken from the internet. Spelling errors are theirs.

Rocks by Hound Dog

Come On!
I Hurry As If I'm Being Chased
My Dried Chest Drives Me To Do So
Doing It For No One Else, And It Belongs To No One Else
Our Now Is...
Undo The Pain, Undo The Heart, And Undo The Shadow
Hold Your Breath And Cut Through The Darkness
Fighting And Loving Another...
...Will Never End. On The Way
I Wanna Rocks
Rocks To The Chest

So, I'm now watching too. It's OK -- it's not very complex and you can tell it's meant for teens and pre-teens, but it's holding my interest. The episode where Kakashi is teaching his little "group" of Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura on their first "mission" is an illustration about how different the Eastern mind can be. The group has to choose between obeying Kakashi or building the group. Kakashi tells them that if they choose to build the group, they will fail. They choose to build the group (by feeding Naruto, who is tied up to a post some rice.) Kakashi tells them that they pass -- by choosing the good of the team over individual good.

There are parallels in this and the story of the Fall -- Kakashi passes them, even though they should fail. God doesn't kill Adam and Eve, even though God told them that God would. It's an Eastern type of mind set -- another place where it's evident to this humble author that the Judeo/Christian ethos is basically an Eastern one.

Anyway, Neon Genesis Evangelion is probably deeper and more theological, but Naruto is OK.

Now to put on my Leaf Village Headband and watch more episodes. Should I wear it like Kakashi or Sakura? Hmmm.....

Evening Prayer -- Choral Evensong; Eph 3:5-7

Choral Evensong

5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power.
-- Eph 3:5-7

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Today and This Sunday

Today is the first choir practice in my new church (that's really an old church) in quite a while. The music program never seemed to be huge -- much of the music library is from the 1960s to 1982 or so -- and so I'm starting out really really simple. I haven't been the choir director in 22 years (yes, I WAS a child prodigy!) and have a certain amount of nervousness.

I'm also preaching for the first time this Sunday -- and feel free enough to really preach to this context. So I'm a little nervous about that. Butterflies are not bad -- I just know that the first time in preaching class, I almost freaked myself out -- I even got dizzy. So, I'm going to do the deep breathing thing a lot and hand it all over.

So, off to choir practice! I am going to do something out of the hymnal this Sunday, Tallis' Canon (a really nice arrangement) for next Sunday, "Be Thou My Vision," "Down to the River to Pray" and "The Gift of Love" for later. All simple unison or two part harmony. I'm going to work on technique mostly for the next few weeks -- how to breathe, how to stand, how to enuciate. Basic but essential.

A little prayer would be welcome, too.

Evening Prayer -- Be Thou My Vision; Eph 2:19-22

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm Irritated in the Extreme

I am stating now that I will probably never ever shop at Target again and I would encourage you to do the same.

First there was the "you can't charge that much on anything but a Target charge card."

Then there was "we don't allow Salvation Army bellringers."

But now, my eldest tried to return a Christmas present of more than two items -- and couldn't. The person purchasing the present didn't realize that you couldn't return more than two items PER YEAR without a receipt. Period. End of discussion.

They can keep their merchandise. I will no longer be shopping there. Immediately next to the local Target are several other stores that WILL allow more than $200 on a Mastercard, that WILL allow Salvation Army bellringers, that WILL allow the return of more than two items per year without a receipt.

I bet they don't practice the Fair Trade stuff either.

I encourage any and all of you to call Target or email them or Clark Howard about this. I have and I may do it again tomorrow.

These measures make me angry. I bet they don't allow Girl Scouts to sell cookies either so they can sell more of their "Target Brand cookies."


Monday, January 08, 2007

Morning Prayer -- Thankful for the Morning Light; Confession; Eph 1:3-10

Thankful for the morning light
shining over earth and sea;
thankful for the sky so bright,
Creator, God, to you.
To you with all our hearts we pray,
now at the dawning of the day;
we know you have us in your care
and you will hear our 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.

-- James Reed

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

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.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
-- Eph 1:3-10

Lord Jesus Christ,
you stretched out your arms of love
and we placed them on the hard wood of the cross.
May people know of your love
So that everyone might come within the reach of your embrace.

Clothe me in your Spirit
Help me reach my hand out with your Love
So that I can bring your Love into this world to those
Who do not know you.

All for your honor.

(an appropriate comment -- just "Amen". This from a discussion of proper commenting techniques at the Congress on Evangelism.)

Quiet Time and New Year's resolution

I am not a New Year's Resolution kind of person. I want to think about things when I want to think about them. I guess that's why I'm not a RevGal Friday Five kind of person either.

But today, it does seem like a new day -- for various and sundry sorts of reasons. And I will say that during the Christmas break and rush, the New Year's rush and the conference last week, I was missing my quiet time.

It's called all sorts of things: prayer time, quiet time, contemplative time, whatever -- but it's necessary. We usually don't spend a long time in prayer unless it is intentional. I figure that I take time to be with my husband and build relationship -- a daily "let's really talk and not about laundry" time and we have intentional "dates" when we eliminate all distractions. We do this to build real and lasting relationship.

Why don't we do it with God? I tithe my resources to God -- how come it's so difficult to tithe a portion of my day to God? (It's really easier to write a check, now isn't it?? Be honest!)

To have a tithe of my waking time would be at least 1.5 hours. 90 minutes. So that's my goal. 90 minutes of quiet time for study, prayer and relationship building with God. Oh, yeah. And that doesn't include stuff I'm supposed to do; exegesis for papers, sermon writing and what not. Just time built into the schedule for sitting and listening in prayer and reflection. Lectio Divina type of stuff.

It's not going to be easy. Too many things will push their way into my consciousness -- I'm going to have to turn the cell phone and house phone off. But that is indeed my goal.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bishop Woodie White's Annual Letter to MLK Jr.

Dear Martin:

My greatest temptation in writing this year is to not mention the burden of my heart: the war in which our nation is engaged. I am certain if you were here, your voice would be heard, as the prophets of old.

This leads me to consider how profoundly your voice is missed. There have been so many occasions when I have longed for your voice. Yours was unique. You spoke with such passion, clarity and moral authority. You had the ability to change hearts as well as actions.

We seem to be at a curious juncture in America in the area of race. On the one hand, systemic and institutional racism are giving way to a more racially inclusive society. On the other, individual daily acts of prejudice and racism can still be encountered routinely.

White America, I believe, does not fully appreciate that black Americans live with the uncertainty of where and when these acts will occur. They could show up in the actions or comments of a waitress, taxi driver, supervisor, co-worker, clerk or even a "friend."

Martin, I was elated at the election of an African American as governor of Massachusetts. I remember quite vividly the riots and violence that occurred during school busing in Boston. Yet this significant milestone received little attention in the national media or even the larger black community.

Have such groundbreaking racial "firsts" become so common as to warrant less attention? I suppose in some ways that's a positive step, yet to not be celebrated is to minimize its greater significance.

Almost at the same time, a popular white comedian, enraged by some heckling from two black people in the audience, unleashed an avalanche of racial epithets from the stage. This drew national media attention and response from national leaders. The black community has begun a renewed conversation over the use of the "N" word, as people now refer to that racial slur.

Interestingly, the latter event is cited as evidence of how far America has to go, while the former is not cited as how far America has come!

Martin, I have arrived at the sobering conclusion that individual acts of prejudice and racism will have to be confronted for a long time. They seem endemic to the human psyche. Racism and prejudice can run deep. They do not automatically disappear with succeeding generations. Indeed, I have sadly noted that some grandchildren are more prejudiced than their grandparents! The issues of racism and prejudice must be addressed in every generation.

But changing policies and procedures to create a new order is not the same as changing the persons who must implement them. I have long held that saying nothing about race does not assure a positive climate. On the contrary, the church, schools and other character-forming institutions must be pro-active in fostering favorable racial attitudes, images and experiences.

America has long been a racially and ethnically diverse society, and is becoming so in ever-increasing numbers. Racism, prejudice and ethnocentrism are never too far from the surface. It takes very little to reveal unexpressed racist attitudes, hostilities and fears.

Martin, even as we witnessed the election of an African American as governor, other African-American candidates faced racist attitudes from voters and racist campaign tactics from political opponents. At the same time, ironically, an African American is being seriously discussed as a potential nominee for his party as president of the United States!

I am glad, Martin that I have lived to see such significant progress in race in American life. Yet, I am utterly disappointed in how race continues to divide the American people.

So, as we celebrate your birth date in 2007, if I were asked if race relations in America are better or still a problem, I would respond, "Yes!"

Happy Birthday, Martin, and I am confident,

We Shall Overcome!

Atlanta, Ga.
January 2007

Retired Bishop Woodie W. White is bishop-in-residence at United Methodist-related Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Here's a whine.

Why did I wait so long to do these papers?? Why??
I don't wanna do these papers. It's going so-o-o-o slo-o-o-ow. I wanna go out and play.


Two Moments

I am going to have to work HARD on two papers that are due on January 8 today and tomorrow, so I can't finish the uploading to google video right now, so sorry! I'll get to it hopefully as soon as the papers are finished -- and the overnight District Meeting is over. I'm shooting for Wednesday.

But I did want to say there were two moments at the Congress on Evangelism that were transcendent. The group was really rowdy and boisterious. However, even through all the merriment, we had real moments of connection. There was a moment after we had attended the Jesus Pep Rally (or WorshipTainment) and had all put on really nice and tasteful bow ties, to honor one of my favorite youth ministers and gone to dinner. The blessing consisted of us doing the "God made the sun, God made the sea, God made the fishes and God made me" blessing, complete with hand motions (appropriate for all ages).

During a very energetic discussion of our basis thesis statement -- that chuch can indeed be found in digital venues, we were talking about what church really is. We talked about the hymn "We are the Church" -- I didn't know there were hand motions! So I asked for a demonstration and we sang the hymn together, complete with hand motions at Captain Jack's Seafood Shack. It was a real transcendent moment -- at that moment, we WERE church. It gave me chill bumps.

The second moment was when we retired back to the hotel and met in the local watering hole (establishment) in the hotel lobby. Ok, it was a bar. We had some laptops on the table and we had really good conversation (in the classic Methodist style -- agreeing to disagree on some items, but unified in others.) I had brought my portable communion set and we set it up and invite the local barkeep to join us -- and we went for a second round. Our communion in the bar was honest and real and it was full of promise and meaning. A moment of transcendence.

Both of these incidents were coloring outside the lines -- but we brought Christ back into our world and shared grace.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Workshop on Internet Evangelism

I was going to post my notes on the portion of the workshop Jay and I presented, but Gavin took notes.

Wow. Someone DID stay awake!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Internet is Our Parish

Gavin and Jonathon. A 90 minute lecture, in 10 minute chunks.

Chunk 1

Chunk 2

Chunk 3

Posting from the "Internet is my Parish"

Posting from the actual "Internet is my Parish" room AS the lectures continue.
The Two Muskateers (Jonathon and Gavo) are presenting now.
Jay V. and I did earlier and I sweated it. Literally. It was hot in here and I'm wearing a jacket and a turtleneck.

The Internet is Our Parish

My Parish?
Our Parish?
We are in Myrtle Beach and this morning there were so many evanglists in the hotel that there is scarcely any hot water...
Abi had a LONG drive -- together it was only 7 hours; she drove at least 14 hours. Long way.
Amy had a bad bolt in her airplane and will not be here until this morning.
More later.

I will resist temptation to whack certain persons with my Bible and ask "If you were to die tonight will you go to heaven or hell?" I will resist.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I'm Open for Business

I've just listed some books (including our Advent book) on Amazon. I even have my own storefront.
Please shop at your leisure...

Watch Night

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
thou art mine, and I am thine.

O blessed Jesus, I come to you,
hungry, sinful, miserable, blind, and naked,
unworthy even to wash the feet of your servants.
I do here, with all my power, accept you as my Lord and Head.
I renounce my own worthiness,
and vow that you are the Lord, my righteousness.
I renounce my own wisdom, and take you for my only guide.
I renounce my own will, and take your will as my law.

Through your grace I promise
that neither life nor death shall part me from you.
God has given holy laws as the rule of your life.
I do here willingly put my neck under your yoke, to carry your burden.

And now, glory be to you, O God the Father,
whom I from this day forward shall look upon as my God and Father.
Glory be to you, O God the Son,
who have loved me and washed me from my sins in your own blood,
and now is my Savior and Redeemer.
Glory be to you, O God the Holy Spirit,
who by your almighty power have turned my heart from sin to God.

So be it.
And let the covenant I have made on earth be ratified in heaven.

-- John Wesley